Archive for June, 2009

Police: Driver gave false name

June 30, 2009

A Jones County woman involved in a traffic accident June 10 that killed a Gautier man has been charged with providing false information to police and driving with a suspended license, authorities said Monday.

Tracy L. Vance of the 30 block of Fred Ellzey Road in Soso was traveling east on Martin Bluff Road in Gautier when her 2008 beige Lexus clipped a 1996 Ford Explorer that was ahead of her.

Vance then struck Herbert Tscheuline, who was driving west on a 2008 Sunl moped, a police report reflected.

Tscheuline, 76, was thrown several feet into the intersection at Martin Bluff and Hampstead roads. He died of massive hemorrhaging while in surgery at Singing River Hospi tal, police said.

Police Capt. Jason Pugh said that Vance provided a drivers license belonging to her mother, Tasha Ellzey.

“When we discovered it wasn’t her, she was arrested on June 16,” said detective Mark Rodriguez. Police further learned that Vance’s license had been suspended, Rodriguez said.

Pugh said that Vance posted bail totaling $534 for both charges.

Officers in the city’s traffic division are reconstructing the accident, and all evidence will be sent to a Jackson County grand jury, Pugh said.

“We feel that it’s our duty to present this to the grand jury to make sure we’ve covered all angles,” Pugh said. “We’re doing all that we’re supposed to do.”

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Gautier’s attorney resigns

June 30, 2009

Amy St. Pé, Gautier city attorney, resigned Monday, noting an obvious lack of support from the incoming City Council.

“We have been made aware that our contract will not be renewed by the new council,” St. Pé said. “I have enough respect for the new council that I wanted to clear the way for them to hire another attorney, but it’s very disheartening. The city was more than just a client to me.”

St. Pé was appointed in November 2007 by a unanimous vote of the current council.

“I was told that it was more of an economic decision than a performance one,” said St. Pé, who serves with the law firm Wilkinson, Williams, Kinard, Smith and Edwards.

She said that the Planning Commission meeting Thursday would be her last function as city attorney.

The new council will be sworn in next week. The event is set for 6 p.m. Monday at the Gautier Convention Center.

The membership consists of Tommy Fortenberry, mayor; Don Nash, councilman at large; and Councilmen Adam Colledge, Gordon Gollott, Hurley Ray Guillotte, Johnny Jones and Scott MacFarland. Guillotte is the only incumbent returning.

The city attorney position is one of three filled by council appointment. The others are city clerk and city manager.

Fortenberry said there was no reason for St. Pé to resign.

“We’re not even sworn into office yet,” the mayor-elect said. “We have not come to that decision, and if we did come to that decision it would be purely financial.”

But Fortenberry confirmed that all seven members of the incoming council attended an unsolicited meeting with a local law firm that made a pitch to handle the city’s legal business.

“And we have taken résumés, but they were also unsolicited,” Fortenberry said, refusing to name the firms. “Gautier is just one big rumor mill that spins out of control.”

Asked if he would have liked for St. Pé to remain, Fortenberry said, “I would like to see the position left alone at this time. Everyone knows how to be mayor but me. Everyone wants to jump on the train and ring the bell, but when it derails, it’s me that everyone will blame.

“I think she’s done a good job. Leaving may be the best for the firm, but I’m not sure it’s best for the city.”

Robert Wilkinson, a partner with Wilkinson, Williams, Kinard, Smith and Edwards, which the city hired to provide legal services and an attorney, said he was told that the new coun cil was already accepting applications from potential replacements.

“We’ve been told they’ve also done interviews,” Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson said he’s proud of St. Pé’s work of the past

18 months.

“Since we’ve been with the city, we’ve fired a city manager,” Wilkinson said of former City Manager Johnny Williams. Williams was terminated in March 2008 amid internal struggles. He was in the position four months.

Wilkinson cited the firing of former City Manager Don Pickard in 2005 as one of the current council’s main hurdles to overcome.

“That lawsuit cost taxpayers several thousands of dollars,” Wilkinson said. “When Johnny Williams was terminated, there was no lawsuit, and I credit the way Amy handled the entire situation for that outcome. Everything she did was presented to the council legally and correctly. It cost the city no tax dollars.”

June 30, 2009

peyton

I’m ready, let’s go

This is our 2 year-old daughter, Emily, imitating Mommy – reading People magazine with glasses on – upside down!

By: Amanda & Joshua John

Big bucks paid for offshore drilling leases

June 30, 2009

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The federal government has accepted $690.2 million in high bids for 328 offshore petroleum leases off the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Seventy energy companies submitted 476 bids on 348 tracts in March’s sale of leases in the Central Gulf of Mexico by the federal Minerals Management service.The MMS says it rejected high bids of $12.8 million on 19 tracts because the bids did not reach fair market value. The single highest bid was $65.6 million by Shell Gulf of Mexico for a deepwater lease.

KFC robbers sought

June 30, 2009

GULFPORT — Gulfport police are asking the public’s help to identify four suspects in the armed robbery of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant.

Four armed young men with bandanas over their faces held up the restaurant at 817 Cowan Road around 10:15 p.m. on Monday.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Gulfport Police Department at 868-5959 or CrimeStoppers at 1-888-8CRIMES (827-4637).

New Bay mayor eager to start

June 30, 2009

          Fillingame

BAY ST. LOUIS — Incoming Mayor Les Fillingame won’t be sworn in until July 2, but he’s already working on a transition plan that includes increased communications with the City Council and local media, as well as possible personnel changes at City Hall.

“It’s not going to be a massive, overnight overhaul,” the new major said of administrative and personnel changes, but some will be occurring. Staff shifting in the city administration will consist of “restructuring for maximum effectiveness.”

Fillingame’s inauguration will be at 6 p.m. July 2, on the front steps of City Hall. Most City Council members will be sworn in for their new terms at the same time. Ward 5 Councilman Joey Boudin chose to hold his swearing-in separately.

Fillingame won the June general election to replace retiring Mayor Eddie Favre, who held office for 20 years. Fillingame already was a City Hall insider, having worked as disaster recovery coordinator since Hurricane Katrina.

One of Fillingame’s ideas is to overhaul the format of City Council workshops, which are held two Monday evenings per month, the night before the regular Tuesday council meetings. Some councilmen have said the workshops are only practice runs.

Fillingame said this week that he would like to transform the workshops from being a warm-up meeting to a combined gathering of council members and his top staff. Department heads could use the opportunity to keep council members better informed of City Hall programs and issues, and keep local media better informed.

“During the course of the workshops, we can have the administrative staff there,” he said. “A whole secondary byproduct of the workshops will be to create better communication with the media.”

City Council President Bobby Compretta said Friday that while he didn’t have details on Fillingame’s plan, he would welcome better communication with City Hall. Council meetings have frequently been marked by acrimony between the elected council and the administration.

Fillingame and Compretta worked together years ago in the private sector, as co-managers of a grocery store. “I know that Les plans better communication with the whole council,” Compretta said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that he will work hard and communicate better.”

Fillingame said he will unveil some of his proposals for the administration to council members at the next workshop, scheduled for July 6. “I will let them know what each individual’s responsibility will be going forward” at City Hall, he said.

Hotel coming to D’Iberville

June 30, 2009

          Submitted Photo The new Courtyard by Marriott in D’Iberville will be within walking distance of the movies and bowling and close to many shops and restaurants.

D’Iberville — Add a Courtyard by Marriott to the projects under construction off Sangani Boulevard.

Groundbreaking for the $16 million Go-Zone project was Tuesday, and beyond the tent for the ceremony, the walls were already going up on the 125-room hotel. The site is across from the Grand Theatre on Cinema Drive.

“It’s a natural fit to put a hotel here,” said Glenn Pedersen, president of Pineapple Management Services, which will manage the Marriott.

Over the past 10 years, Bharat Sangani has built many of the retail and restaurant complexes off Sangani Boulevard. Other developers are now building a bowling alley and The Promenade shopping center that will open in October.

“Anything a guest would look for is here,” said Pedersen.

Encore Enterprises, owned by Sangani, plans to open the new hotel by April or May 2010. The hotel will employ about 30 people with an annual payroll of $750,000.

The hotel will have Marriott’s redesigned bistro lobby with Starbucks Coffee, a restaurant serving breakfast and dinner and a lounge. Among the amenities will be an indoor swimming pool, exercise room, meeting room and business center.

Linda Hornsby, executive director of the Mississippi Hotel & Lodging Association, said the Marriott is another step toward adding more hotel rooms lost to Hurricane Katrina. The economy has caused some hotel projects to be postponed, and she said with the Marriott brand “they’ve got a dedicated fan club.”

City Manager Richard Rose said one hotel was demolished to make way for The Promenade. Besides the movies, bowling, restaurants and shops that will be accessible to Marriott guests, he said a city park is being built just east of the hotel.

Councilman Henry Toncrey Jr. represents Ward 2, where the hotel is being built. He said a new interchange is planned off Interstate 10 to make the area more accessible. The Sangani and Promenade roads will be expanded to five lanes.

Business, tousism on agenda for Long Beach

June 30, 2009

Long Beach mayor Billy Skellie

long beach — The mayor and Board of Aldermen, who take office early next month, are looking forward to helping the city progress in its recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

Residents had a chance to meet Mayor Billy Skellie and the aldermen last week at a breakfast held by the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce at First United Methodist Church.

Officials told the group they want to work together to bring more business to the city and market it to developers and tourists.

Some of the city’s projects, such as the police station and the new senior citizens center on Daugherty Road, are complete. Other projects are under way, including replacing water and sewer lines south of the railroad tracks and along 28th Street, building a new City Hall and fire station downtown, and creating a Town Green where the old Harper McCaughan Elementary used to be.

One of Long Beach’s biggest projects is Jeff Davis Avenue. Contractors are repaving the road, adding curbs and sidewalks and burying utilities, as well as putting in decorative street lights and landscaping.

“It’s going to be a beautiful street,” Skellie said. “I think developers are going to want to be there. At this point in our city’s history, it’s the engine that’s driving our city.”

He asked residents and business owners to be patient as the work is completed over the next couple of years.

“Katrina has taken so much from everyone, but we’ve been very blessed to get these things online.”

New taxiway links Fire Scout with airport

June 30, 2009

          Courtesy Jackson County Economic Development Foundation The 110-000-square-foot Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Center is located next to the Trent Lott International Airport in Moss Point.

        Courtesy Jackson County Economic Development Foundation An aerial shot of the Trent Lott International Airport shows the Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Center next door.

MOSS POINT — A taxiway linking the Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Center to the Trent Lott International Airport should be fully operational soon.

The taxiway, which allows for runway access, is finished and only an issue with lighting is keeping the project from being complete, said Carol Snapp, the airport’s executive director.

The MQ-8B Fire Scout is a vertical takeoff and landing unmanned aerial vehicle assembled at the 110,000-square-foot aerospace facility on Mississippi 63.

Without the taxiway, NGUSC workers loaded the Fire Scout on flatbed trucks and circled around to the airport by way of Saracennia Road.

“For being so close, they were cut off from the airport,” she said.

The Fire Scout, which resembles a helicopter, is used for reconnaissance mission by NATO, Air Force, Navy and Germany, Snapp said.

Jackson County Economic Development Director George Freeland said the addition of the taxiway allows Northrop Grumman to complete more of the Fire Scout testing in Moss Point. This could create at least 16 more jobs at the center, Freeland said.

Having the 419-foot taxiway improves Northrop Grumman’s efficiency and the competitiveness of the facility, which also manufactures fuselages for the Global Hawk, a high-altitude unmanned reconnaissance plane.

Freeland said the taxiway was built using a Community Development Block Grant.

Freeland said the airport upgrade allows customers to see what the aerospace division offers in Moss Point.

“Six short years ago, Jackson County didn’t play any role in aerospace engineering,” Freeland said. “Now we’re building, testing cutting-edge aircraft.”

The Navy last month awarded Northrop Grumman a $5 million contractor logistics support contract for Fire Scout. The contract, which includes an option for three additional years, is the first step to a long-term maintenance program at the center, he said.

Work Progressing On Beach Boardwalk

June 30, 2009

GULFPORT, MS.

December of this year is the target completion date for the new boardwalk in Harrison County. The boarwalk is being built at a cost of nearly 10-million dollars, with it being paid for entirely by the federal government.  Sand Beach director Bobby Weaver is overseeing the project for the county.

 

“Sometimes, I drive down and look at those long stretches, and it is just a nice view,” Weaver told WLOX news.

When Weaver talks about the beach boardwalk, you sense the pride in his voice.

” I think it is something that can be looked back on over the years and say, that was a well thought out project.”

Work is about 60 percent complete now.

This boardwalk is very different than what Harrison County has had in the past.

” I am extremely pleased that we were able to go the concrete version,” Weaver said.

The old boardwalk was built was timber, Katrina, ripped it to shreds.

Now, with concrete, Weaver is convinced, that will not happen again.

“it is a very formidable structure that is out there, the seawall withstood many hurricanes and this is basically built to seawall standards,” Weaver pointed out.

The actual work started last summer, and although Harrison County has about 24 miles of beachfront, the boardwalk will cover only about 8 miles.

Weaver says that is because of the government regulations. “Under the FEMA regulations, you can only repair what we had in place and that is all we had at the time of Katrina.”

Work will not start in heavy tourist areas, until September, but Boby Weaver remains optimistic it will be finished by the target date of the end of this year.