Archive for February, 2011

Grimm to give free concert after Nereids parade

February 11, 2011
By DONNA HARRIS – dharris@sunherald.com

HANCOCK COUNTY 

 “America’s Got Talent” winner and Michael Grimm will give fans a free show at Silver Slipper Casino on Feb. 27 after the Krewe of Nereids parade in Waveland.

Grimm, who was raised by his grandparents in Waveland, will perform at a the Slipper’s Original Stage Bar.

Earlier in the day he’ll serve as grand marshal in the 44th annual Krewe of Nereids Mardi Gras parade.

Read more of this story in Saturday’s Sun Herald

Read more: http://www.sunherald.com/2011/02/10/2853698/grimm-to-give-free-concert-after.html#ixzz1DeqkUqOs

Goat leads police on two-hour chase

February 9, 2011

The Waveland and Bay St. Louis Police Departments were in hot pursuit Sunday evening. However, it was not a hardened criminal or fugitive that was on the lam, but rather, a two-feet tall domesticated goat.

The chase began in Waveland, crossed into Bay St. Louis, then back into Waveland, and finally ended in Bay St. Louis, officials said.

Bay P.D. Executive Officer Christine Johnson said Monday that Bay police overheard radio traffic of a free-roaming goat in the Kmart parking lot about 10:25 p.m. Sunday.
The white-colored adult goat had apparently gotten loose from its home and began loitering near Auto Zone.

It is apparently owned by a resident on Old Nicholson Road, Johnson said.

“We sent officers to Waveland to assist in apprehending the goat, because it was a traffic hazard,” Johnson said.

Once officers located the goat, catching it was not so easy, officials said.

The goat evaded officers in the Kmart parking lot and then made its way into the Lowe’s parking lot a few hundred yards away.

Four police units chased it around the Lowe’s building, and at one point, officers attempted to trap the goat in between police cruisers, but to no avail.

The goat continued to elude officers and ran onto Highway 603 and into the DuRussy Motors parking lot. Once again, officers chased the goat around the building, and once again, it eluded them, running north on Highway 603 in the south-bound lanes of traffic, almost causing an accident.

Police blocked traffic for a short time until the goat took a left turn onto a dead end road west of Highway 603, Johnson said.

Officers then lost contact with the animal then in a wooded area, she said.

Bay St. Louis Animal Control officer Darty Necaise soon arrived, but the goat was not found until about 1 a.m. when neighbors on Old Nicholson Road were finally able to corral it, Johnson said.

The goat was later returned to its owner.

By Dwayne Bremer
The Sea Coast Echo

Bay eyes ‘Go Zone’ incentives

February 9, 2011

Bay St. Louis officials are working on details of an economic package intended to attract large-scale new businesses by offering tax breaks or other incentives to companies that locate, build, and hire employees in the city.

Establishing “Go Zones” to lure hotels, large retailers or other businesses is a necessary step for a city that has seen precipitous drops in property taxes, population, and sales tax collections since Hurricane Katrina, city officials said.

Finite details of the plan have yet to be worked out. But during a City Council workshop Monday, officials indicated the plan would be geared to large commercial projects, including big-box retailers and hotel-motels. Projects in the $1 million or higher range would likely be sought.

Gulf Opportunity Zones have been authorized across the Gulf Coast in areas that were affected by Katrina and Hurricanes Rita and Wilma. Hancock is among the Mississippi counties where GO Zones are allowed.

In the case of Bay St. Louis, qualifying new businesses could be forgiven for property taxes for a specific period, perhaps as long as seven years.

The size of the tax breaks allowed could depend on several factors, including amounts invested and numbers of employees hired.

“I would think very strongly about not applying it to anything but very significant construction,” Mayor Les Fillingame told council members.

The council has tentatively drawn a list of 12 possible GO Zone sites scattered throughout the city, sometimes with several located in a singe ward. But City Attorney Donald Rafferty said the list is too long.

“We know it’s not going to happen,” he said, requesting that the list be whittled down.

The administration and council agreed that a prime potential GO Zone location would be the corridor at Interstate 10 and Mississippi 603, where few businesses currently exist. Officials intend to keep working on the plan and come up with an acceptable formula.

“The most important thing about doing something like this is that you don’t hurt the folks who are already here” by giving new businesses unfair advantages, Tax Assessor-Collector Jimmie Ladner, Jr. said.

No matter how the final plan evolves, officials agreed, a GO-Zone program is long overdue to attract businesses.

“They’ve got to have something, to walk into the bank and make a million-dollar loan, or a $500,000 loan,” Council President Wendy McDonald said.

“We can’t just sit here and hope they come,” Councilman Joey Boudin said.

By J.R. Welsh
The Sea Coast Echo

Harbor meetings to open to public

February 9, 2011

Meetings of the Bay St. Louis Harbor Committee that have been held in closed sessions for months will now occur on a regular basis and be opened to the public, officials decided this week.

The first open meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday at the Bay St. Louis City Council Chambers and Conference Center, 598 Main St.

The Harbor Committee was formed more than two years ago to promote and plan a multi-million dollar, federally funded project that includes waterfront improvements and a municipal marina at the foot of Main Street. The City Council recently voted to approve several administration actions that will move the project forward.

Although nearly $18 million in federal funding has been worked out, numerous meetings held, and permits applied for and issued, meetings of the five-member committee have never been publicly advertised. Harbor Committee members have included Chet LeBlanc, Jeremy Compretta, Lee Seal, George Williams, and Jim Wyly. The committee has been steered by City Hall official Buz Olsen.

At a Monday night workshop, members of the city council said things should change. Subsequently, a decision was made to hold monthly Harbor Committee meetings, open them to the public, and advertise the meetings in advance.

Councilman Joey Boudin has already called for opening the meetings, and was joined Monday by Councilman Doug Seal. Some previous committee meetings that had been unannounced were sporadic and technical in nature, Seal said Tuesday.

“I understand the initial process. But now we’re getting to a more finite process. We need to be more cognizant of the need to notify the public,” he said.

Councilman Bill Taylor agreed Tuesday that Harbor Committee meetings should be open to the public, even if they are technical or dull. But he also said he thinks occasional routine meetings between commission members and project contractors, such as engineers, may not have to be announced.

However, the public should be welcomed at regular full Harbor Committee meetings, Taylor said.

“I don’t think there was any wrong intent” in not opening commission meetings in the past, he said. “But they should have had regular meetings and advertised them. I think they should be open.”

By J.R. Welsh
The Sea Coast Echo

Trials set in alleged machete murder

February 9, 2011

October trial dates have been set for two defendants charged with helping dispose of the remains of a Bay St. Louis murder victim nearly two years ago.

On Monday, Circuit Court Judge John Gargiulo scheduled October 13 trials for Jamie Deven Welch and Oliver Gordon Sayers. They are charged with accessory, aiding, abetting and concealing, in the killing of 54-year-old William Terry Self.

The trials will follow an August 1 trial for Christopher Joseph Smith, who is charged with murdering Self in late March of 2009. Smith was 28 and Welch, described by authorities as his girlfriend, was 17 when Self was killed, his body dismembered, and dumped into Bayou LaCroix.

Police said the murder occurred after Smith, Welsh and Self had been drinking in a wooded area off Washington Street, near U.S. 90. Smith allegedly killed Self, an acquaintance, and placed his body on a burn pile. When the body did not completely disintegrate, Smith is charged with dismembering his victim with a machete and disposing of the body parts in the bayou.

Welsh and Sayers, who was 40 at the time, are charged with helping Smith dispose of Self’s remains.

Self had been reported missing by his brother, who had searched for him and discovered a package of cigarettes bearing traces of blood in the woods off Washington Street. The cigarettes were Self’s brand.

The discovery led to a search of the wooded area by Bay St. Louis police and investigators from the state crime lab. The ensuing investigation also involved a dive team from Harrison County, whose members discovered body parts in Bayou LaCroix.

Smith was charged with murder, and investigators later filed accessory charges against Welch and Sayers. Deputy District Attorney Crosby Parker said Monday that Welch and Sayers will likely testify in Smith’s August trial.

BY JR Welsh

The Sea Coast Echo

Two new lawsuits filed against Waveland Police Department

February 9, 2011

Two new federal lawsuits have been filed against the city of Waveland claiming various abuses by several current and former members of the police department.

The suits were filed individually on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Gulfport.

Attorney Bobby Moak of Bogue Chitto filed the complaints on behalf of Calvin “C.W.” Parker, and Tammy Holland.

“The defendants’ overall conduct on the date in question was so outrageous that it shocks the moral and legal conscience of the community,” Moak said Parker’s suit. “Because of those actions, he was violated and unable to live a peaceful, un-fearful, and normal lifestyle.”

Moak said Tuesday that he has received many complaints over the past few years about the conduct of Waveland police officers.

The new lawsuits come on the heels of three federal lawsuits filed against the city in December.

Those suits prompted Mayor David Garcia to strip officers of their Tasers, but it has apparently not stopped the lawsuits from coming.

“The city of Waveland appears to be taking positive movements with their new administration,” Moak said. “But it does not affect what happened in the past.”

City attorney Gary Yarborough said Tuesday that he had not yet had a chance to view the new suits.

The city is a member of the Mississippi Municipal Liability Insurance Plan. Previous claims against the city have been handled by MMLIP attorneys in Jackson.

Parker, 73, was the first of the five clients Moak represents.

In September 2008, Parker was stopped in front of the Coast Inn on Highway 90 by Officer Clay Necaise. A short time later, Parker was arrested and in handcuffs when he was stunned twice with a Taser.

During testimony at Parker’s trial in Waveland Municipal Court, Necaise said that Parker had cursed him, and that he was being “belligerent.”

“It’s been a long time since I have seen someone so belligerent and non-compliant,” Officer Patrick Barber testified. “Mr. Parker was irate. He was wanting to argue about why he was stopped. He was extremely belligerent.”

During the trial, Moak quizzed Necaise on how many times he had used his Taser in the previous seven months.

Necaise would only say “it was less than 100 times.”

Two Hancock County sheriff’s deputies testified that Parker was cooperating with police when they were on the scene, but they had left before the Taser incident.

Former Municipal Judge Frank Whittmann found Parker guilty of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Barber no longer works in Waveland, and Necaise has not worked there in several months.

However, Necaise still has an active civil service complaint with the city, officials said.

The second suit was filed on behalf of local resident Tammy Holland.

Holland was the girlfriend of Doyle Dahl, who also has a pending lawsuit against the police department.

Moak also represents Dahl.

On March 31, 2008 Holland and Dahl were stopped on Highway 90 on suspicion of DUI.

Dahl admitted to Officer Jeff Guilliot and other officers that he had been at Bubba’s Bar drinking earlier in the evening while waiting for Holland to get off work, a police report said.

After arresting Dahl for suspicion of DUI, Holland was told she could call a cab and go home, the report said.

Instead, she became belligerent with officers, the report said.

Holland appeared to be “extremely intoxicated and refused to get out of the car,” the report said.

The suit paints a different picture than the officers’ account.

Moak claims that officers Eddie Besse and Guillot “inflicted offensive contact to her person.”

“The offensive contact was intended to harm Tammy Holland and/or unnecessarily inflict explicit acts and contact, suffering and distress upon her body,” the suit said.

Tuesday’s filings bring the total number of open federal lawsuits against the city to six. There are also two open suits against the city in Hancock County Circuit Court and, two other federal suits were settled last year. ;

By Dwayne Bremer
The Sea Coast Echo

Senior center is like a second family

February 6, 2011
By JOHN FITZHUGH – jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

BAY ST. LOUIS

 If you’re looking for a place to loaf around, don’t go to the Hancock County Senior Center in Bay St. Louis, where The Dart landed this week. That crowd is always on the go.

“We believe in keeping our seniors active,” director Arlene Johnson said. “We don’t want them sitting in front of the TV all day.”

The center serves about 150 seniors age 60 and above. Coast Transit Authority buses provide transportation for residents of Waveland and Bay St. Louis five days a week and north and west Hancock County three days a week.The center serves breakfast and lunch to up to 30 clients a day and offers a variety of arts activities, such as quilting, painting and ceramics.

Read more: http://www.sunherald.com/2011/02/05/2837369/senior-center-is-like-a-second.html#ixzz1DC5OWvYj

Lawmakers encouraged by census numbers

February 6, 2011
By GEOFF PENDER – glpender@sunherald.com

BILOXI — As legislative redistricting begins this week, Coast lawmakers are somewhat relieved by the first post-Katrina Census numbers.

Census estimates had predicted large population losses for Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties, and lawmakers there had feared the loss of two seats in the state House and two in the state Senate. But the census numbers released Thursday showed Hancock and Jackson County saw growth over the decade despite losses from Katrina in 2005, and Harrison showed only a 1.3 percent drop in population — not the 5 percent projected.

Read more: http://www.sunherald.com/2011/02/05/2837917/lawmakers-encouraged-by-census.html#ixzz1DC3e9nJ8

Sex offenders, alleged embezzlers, drug suspects top list

February 6, 2011

A suspect in an assault at a casino bar, three accused of sex crimes, an alleged armed robber, a deadbeat dad wanted for child desertion, three noncompliant sex offenders and seven people wanted on drug-related charges top the latest list of South Mississippi’s most-wanted criminal suspects.

Buy-out program moving at snail’s pace

February 4, 2011

By Al Showers WLOX NEWS

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS

 It’s been nearly two years since Hancock County leaders announced federal dollars were available to move people living in low lying areas to higher ground. But it could take up to another year before that buy-out money is in the hands of flood weary residents.

“If you have your house flooded more than once, you really don’t want to stay there,” Pearlington resident Linda Gammage said. 

Hurricane Katrina swallowed Gammage’s Pearlington home leaving only a portion of the roof above water.

“We could have another Katrina come through here, and we’d lose it all,” Gammage said.

Fear of loosing it all again is why Gammage and many others signed up for the federal buy-out.

“If the government gives us a chance, I’m ready to move,” said Pearlington resident Leah Baudean.

Baudean said she’s beginning to think that chance will never come.

“About eight, nine months ago I got a letter saying they wanted to know if I was still interested, and I had to go up to the office and sign the paper. And I did that, and I haven’t heard from them since,” Baudean said.

“It’s a long process when you apply for these grants through FEMA,” said Kevin Ladner, who serves as Hancock County’s Flood Plain Manager. He admits the $10 million buy-out program has moved at a snail’s pace.

“The county had to apply to MEMA which MEMA approved the application and now it’s been sent to FEMA for their approval,” Ladner said.

The buy-out program is strictly for residents who live in low lying areas of the county. City residents can not participate. More than 300 people have applied, but so far, only about 111 have qualified.

“It’s in FEMA’s hands now,” Ladner said.

A FEMA spokesman said after reviewing the application, FEMA is now requesting additional information from MEMA.

“It’s big government; You have to remember that. And big government takes its time,” Gammage said.

Once the red-tape has been unraveled, residents still face a property appraisal process, and that could take six months to a year, or maybe longer. The state and federal governments will purchase as many homes as they can until the $10 million is gone.