Baseball plans expected to move forward next week

Architects and engineers will brief members of the Biloxi City Council about details of the proposed downtown baseball stadium in a special meeting Tuesday at 10 a.m. at City Hall, and on Thursday at 2 p.m. a ground-breaking ceremony is planned at the stadium site, at the foot of Caillavet Street.

The Tuesday morning meeting and Thursday afternoon groundbreaking, which were announced today by Mayor A.J. Holloway, will be open to the public. Gov. Phil Bryant is expected to join Holloway and other city and baseball dignitaries for a brief program, which will signal the beginning of construction on the $36 million stadium development.

Those attending the groundbreaking will be able to register to receive season ticket information for the 2015 season. Also, a special drawing will be held with the winner receiving two free season tickets, and being recognized as the first season ticket holder of the new Biloxi franchise in the Double-A Southern League.

A Southern League team, re-locating from Huntsville, Ala., is expected to begin play at the Biloxi stadium in April 2015.

Team move: To read the Southern League announcement of the team move to Biloxi, click here.

Original announcement: To read the original, May 15, 2013 announcement of the Biloxi baseball initiative, and to see renderings of the stadium, click here.

Biloxi Fire Department names deputy chief of operations

Jeff Merrill, who this year marks his 20th year with the Biloxi Fire Department, has been named the department’s deputy chief of operations and combat. Biloxi Fire Chief Joe Boney made the announcement, filling the final position in the command staff of the 148-member department.

Jeff Merrill

As deputy chief for operations and combat, Merrill, 48, will oversee day-to-day operations of the department, focusing on the readiness of the department, including equipment care and maintenance, and overseeing staffing and shift levels at the city’s nine fire stations.

Merrill joined the department in 1994 as a firefighter, was named a captain in 2003, and became a battalion chief in 2006.

“Jeff Merrill is the best-qualified person in the department for this position,” Chief Boney said. “He has the education, the training and the experience to do a good job for the department and the citizens of Biloxi.”

Merrill is a graduate of Brevard High School in Brevard, North Carolina and holds an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science Technology from City College in Chicago. He is a nationally certified Emergency Medical Technician. He also served in the United Sates Air Force for eleven years and held the rank of Staff Sergeant. During his time with the military, he also participated in Operation Desert Storm.

Merrill is married and has four children and one grandchild.

With Merrill’s promotion, the fire department’s command staff is now composed of Boney as chief, Mark Dronet as assistant chief, and deputy chiefs of training (John Jennings) and fire prevention (Vincent Payne).