Biloxi leaders to take oaths of office Wednesday

Biloxi’s elected leaders will begin a new four-year term Wednesday when the oaths of office will be administered to the mayor and City Council.

The ceremony will take place at 5:30 p.m. at Biloxi Junior High School Auditorium, which will give residents a first-hand look at the 1,000-seat facility that underwent a half-million-dollar facelift in 2007.

The ceremony is open to the public. Doors open at 5 p.m., and a reception will be held afterward

U.S. District Judge Walter J. Gex III will administer the oath of office to A.J. Holloway, who was elected to an unprecedented fifth four-year term in June.

Also being sworn in on Wednesday will be council members George Lawrence of Ward 1, William “Bill” Stallworth of Ward 2, Lucy Denton of Ward 3, Clark Griffith of Ward 4, Tom Wall of Ward 5, Edward “Ed” Gemmill of Ward 6 and David Fayard of Ward 7.

To see a copy of the inaugural program, click here.

Food, food, food

Those attending the post-inauguration ceremony at Biloxi Junior High School will be treated to a wealth of donated local delights from the Biloxi casino industry and others.

Among the dishes: seafood jambalaya, shrimp salad, mini po-boys, chicken wings, potato salad, deviled eggs, finger sandwiches, pasta salad, chicken strips, and mini desserts and fruit trays.

Among the firms providing food: Beau Rivage Casino & Resort, Boomtown Casino, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Isle Casino, Grand Casino, Palace Casino Resort, Biloxi Regional Medical Center and Sweet Stuff.

To see the menu, click here.

Leftover food will be donated to the Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen in Biloxi.

Location, location, location

With the number of city-owned venues, why is the inauguration being held at the Biloxi Junior High School Auditorium? Because city venues aren’t available on Wednesday for one reason or another, according to Municipal Clerk Brenda Johnston, who has worked with First Lady Macklyn Holloway in arranging the inauguration.

The Saenger Theater, site of the 1997 and 2005 inaugurations, is booked with other events, as is the Donal M. Snyder Sr. Community Center, site of the 2001 inauguration. City Hall was deemed too small to handle an indoor crowd, and humid temperatures ruled out an outdoor event. And the newly restored Biloxi Community Center, which hosted the 1989 inauguration. is awaiting a newly restored Howard Avenue, which is expected to be completed in several weeks.

A growing number of community events, incidentally, is being staged at the Biloxi Junior High School auditorium

In December 2007, Biloxi Public Schools raised the curtain on a half-million-dollar renovation of the 1,000-seat showplace. Among the additions: new theater seating and handicapped seating areas, new stage flooring, new lighting, and a state-of-the-art sound system.

To see photos of the auditorium taken during a May 2008 event, click here.

Music, music, music

Ronny Broussard, a longtime community theater headliner, will be on hand to perform the national anthem during the inauguration ceremony. Broussard had to remind MDOT that he sings the anthem a capella during the dedication of the Biloxi Bay Bridge dedication ceremony back in 2007. As he approached the podium on the bridge that day, the singer called a halt to the taped music. Said he to the audience, “I’m sorry, I work alone.”

Other performers on tap for the inauguration: local singers Aime, Michaela Moore and Shay Lawson, Chris Moore and guitarist-singer Paul Kirkland, who will entertain during the post-inauguration reception.

Inauguration by the numbers

New faces: Two new councilmembers will be sworn in during the ceremony Wednesday: Lucy Denton of Ward 3 and Clark Griffith of Ward 4.

Setting the standard: A.J. Holloway is the 29th person to serve as mayor of Biloxi and only the third to serve as mayor under the Mayor-Council form of government, which the city switched to in 1981. Holloway was first elected to the Ward 3 seat on the City Council in 1989, where he served one term before being elected as mayor in 1993. To see the list of Biloxi mayors through the years, click here.

Wall to wall: Ward 6 Councilmember Tom Wall will be making a bit of history, too, on Wednesday when he begins his fifth term as a member of the City Council, the longest-serving councilman in Biloxi history. Wall is best-known for his no-nonsense approach in council meetings. He once cut short a consultant whom he felt was not answering his question: “Hey,” Wall said, “I asked you what time it was, not how to build a clock.”