Archive for May, 2011

Waveland loses two more police officers

May 24, 2011

The already thin Waveland Police Department got a lot thinner this week when two long-time officers tendered their resignations.

Patrol Sgt. Travis Foreman and Patrolman David Archer both resigned this week citing personal reasons, officials said.
In January, Waveland laid off five full-time officers during a round of budgetary cuts.

The city also had to let go several part-time officers because the officers had not renewed their annual certification.

Foreman and Archer’s resignations were spread on the minutes of Wednesday’s board of aldermen meeting, but no replacements were hired.

Four of the officers laid off in January–Mike Prendergrast, Mac Cowand, Howard Parker, and Brett Ladner– filed suit against the city last month, claiming they were unfairly dismissed and denied due process under the city’s civil service policy.

No court date has been set in the case, but Waveland filed a motion to dismiss the case this week. City Attorney Gary Yarborough said in court filings that the officers were laid off for budgetary reasons and not entitled to a hearing.

It is unclear if the city will offer the open positions to any of the officers who were laid off. All four were administrators, but they all had prior experience as patrolmen.

Mayor David Garcia said Friday he could not comment on the police department.

“I really cannot comment on that right now, because four of those officers have pending lawsuits against the city,” Garcia said.

Traditionally, Waveland has had four officers per shift, three patrol officers and a supervisor.

Those numbers have remained relatively the same despite the lay-offs, with the use of part-timers.

The city has recently attempted to hire more part-time officers to compensate for the ones lost earlier this year.

The board of aldermen entered into an executive session Wednesday evening to discuss personnel matters in the police department, but no action was taken.

BY: Dwayne Bremer

The Sea Coast Echo

Alleged stalker nabbed in Bay

May 24, 2011

A Bay St. Louis man was arrested Thursday for allegedly stalking a school girl.

Bay Police Chief Mike De Nardo said Thursday that Larry Graham, 65, is a six month resident of Notre Dame De La Mer apartments on Hwy. 90. Graham was arrested after officers had investigated a complaint filed from a school earlier this month, along with “numerous other complaints received about his activities.”

Graham was lodged in the Hancock County Jail. Bay St. Louis Municipal Judge George Lipscomb set his bail at $4,000, De Nardo said.

Graham had moved to Bay St. Louis from Biloxi and was scheduled to move to Picayune in a few days, De Nardo said. He is originally from New Albany, Miss.

“Complaints were received from schools, two churches and numerous businesses establishments in the Bay-Waveland area about Graham’s activities,” De Nardo said.

“Graham reportedly approached young women, and in the words of one complainant, he appeared to be ‘creepy’ and tries to ‘smell’ them.”

Graham drives a grey 1999 Cadillac Deville. He is 6 feet tall and weighs 150 pounds.

De Nardo is asking any business owner or individual with any further information about Graham’s activities to call Bay P.D. Investigator Joe Kepfer at 228-467-9222.

BY: Ellis C. Cuevas

The Sea Coast Echo

Bay cuts building official

May 24, 2011

Bay St. Louis Building Official Ron Jones, the second highest-paid person at City Hall, lost his job this week in what Mayor Les Fillingame characterized as a cost-cutting measure.

Fillingame said Jones, who was paid $65,000-per-year, will not be replaced immediately. His job will be filled in the interim by Charles Oliver, a building inspector who earns $45,000 per year.

As building official, Jones had been second in salary only to the mayor, who makes more than $80,000 annually. Other city hall administrators and department heads are paid considerably less than Jones.

However, Jones holds a master’s degree and numerous professional certifications, which Oliver does not. “He’s working on getting his certifications. We’re going to help him,” Fillingame said of Oliver.

Jones’ last day on the job was to be Friday. As building official, he ran a department that issues building permits and handles code inspections on commercial and residential building projects. The department has been important in the city’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

City Hall sources said Fillingame approached the City Council in executive session during its regular meeting Tuesday, and informed members that Jones was being let go. The council has no actual authority over city personnel, but does sign off on issues involving department heads.

“It was strictly a payroll and staffing reduction,” Fillingame said Thursday of Jones’ departure. Also on Thursday, Jones declined through a building department spokesperson to comment. Before coming to Bay St. Louis, he had worked in code inspection for the City of Gulfport.
Jones was hired several years ago to replace former Building Official Bill Carrigee.

Fillingame said the city had received a grant that was used to expand the building department while the city rebuilt from Katrina.

That grant has now expired, and the city needed to reduce costs by cutting two positions in the code department, he said.

The other position is being eliminated with the retirement of Ken Monti, a building inspector.

“I had one person retire, and then eliminated the highest-paid position,” Fillingame said.

The building department has come under fire on several fronts periodically. Specifically, a committee formed in the past by Fillingame to invigorate business development had been especially critical of Jones’ department, saying inspectors went out of their way to make projects difficult for developers.

However, earlier this month, the City Council learned a code inspector had improperly granted a building permit to a Washington Street resident, allowing him to place a storage building that far exceeded the size legally allowed under zoning regulations.

Jones was forced to appear before the council and explain the situation. In that case, he apparently had not known about the permit issuance when it occurred. He told council members the permit had been issued in error.

On Thursday, Fillingame declined to say whether Jones’ departure was connected to the Washington Street incident.

“I’m not going to comment on that,” he said.

BY: J.R. Welsh

The Sea Coast Echo

Reefer Sadness

May 24, 2011

Scientists are expecting fresh water from the Mississippi River to arrive in areas off Hancock County by this weekend, bringing a temporary boon for fishermen that could fade quickly and be followed by the anticipated destruction of the multi-million dollar oyster industry in the Mississippi Sound.

After being inundated by fresh water, oysters that grow on reefs in the western Sound around the Bay of St. Louis and Pass Christian are not expected to survive. “In all likelihood, the oysters will die,” said Ed Cake, a biologist at Gulf Environmental Associates who specializes in shrimp and oysters.

The Army Corps of Engineers began draining water off the Mississippi River through the Bonnett Carre Spillway on May 9, sending millions of gallons of fresh water into Lake Pontchartrain. From there, the water is making its way eastward and will eventually escape through passes into Mississippi waters.

The river is being drained off to prevent flood damage around New Orleans. Other areas upriver have already experienced disastrous flooding.

Cake said Thursday that the fresh water will affect all sorts of salt water-dwelling marine life. Saltwater fish will swim out to stay ahead of the fresh water, as will shrimp, crabs, and other species. The fresh water is expected to impact Hancock County, as well as all of St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana, and could move as far eastward as the Gulfport ship channel, Cake said.

The benefit for local fishermen will come when speckled trout flee the fresh water in Lake Pontchartrain and head to areas off Bay St. Louis. Fishing here should be great, until the fresh water catches up and the fish head farther out, scientists say.

In the midst of that dilemma, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources announced this week that shrimp season in Mississippi territorial waters opens on May 25.

By driving them farther out in the Gulf, the spillway drainage is not expected to heavily affect fish, blue crab and shrimp. “They can avoid the problems with the fresh water,” Cake said. “But the oysters can’t move. They will last maybe a week.”

The oyster reefs will recover when things return to normal, Cake said. But, he added, “it will probably take two or three years” before another crop can be harvested.

BY: J.R. Welsh

The Sea Coast Echo

St. Clares Seafood Festival

May 24, 2011

 

 
Waveland Community Coalition
St. Clare’s Seafood Festival is this weekend! Music, crafts, food, rides and children’s games will fill three days of fun. The festival will be on the church grounds at 236 South Beach Blvd. You have three days to attend: Friday (5-10PM), Saturday (6-10PM) and Sunday (5-9PM). See you there!

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