Biloxi Natatorium hosts short course state championships

The Biloxi Aquatics Division, boastful of its Olympic-size swimming pool, will host the Mississippi Swimming Short Course State Championships this weekend at the Biloxi Natatorium.

The three-day meet is a USA Swimming event with member swimmers from across the state competing in short course, 25-yard, competition in freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly and relays.

“We are expecting around 400 swimmers to compete this weekend,” said Jamie Lee, Biloxi Recreation Superintendent and Biloxi Elite Swim Team coach.  “We have all ages, youngsters, adults and seniors swimming with teams from a dozen cities in the state.”

Among the cities represented will be Jackson, Cleveland, Tupelo, Oxford, Starkville, Hattiesburg, Vicksburg, Meridian, Columbus, Laurel and Hattiesburg, along with Biloxi’s BEST.

The championships, last held in Biloxi in 2012, begins Friday at 9 a.m. and ends on Sunday evening.

During the championships, the Biloxi Natatorium will be closed for public swimming but open for spectators. 
See more about the Biloxi Aquatics Division
See more about BEST


New fire boat turned red for Valentine’s Day

The folks constructing the city’s new fire boat must have a sentimental side, Biloxi Fire Chief Joe Boney says: On Wednesday, Valentine’s Day, they sent photos of red paint being applied to the 33-foot vessel, scheduled for delivery in April.

The all-aluminum craft replaces the city’s 17-year-old 27-foot fiberglass fire boat, and the new vessel will be a dramatic upgrade in all manners.

The $260,000 vessel, which can operate in water as shallow as 34 inches, will have water guns on its bow and stern with a firefighting system powered by a Chevrolet V8 engine that can deliver 1500 gallons of water per minute, compared to the 500 gpm of the current fire boat or the 1200 gpm capability of most of the city’s fire trucks. The boat itself will be stationed on a floating dock at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, able to be underway in 30 seconds once boarded and has twin 300 horsepower Yahama outboard engines that can propel it to speeds of up to 42 mph.

Said Boney: “It’s pretty much like putting a fire truck on the water.”

But it’s also like putting an ambulance on the water as well.

Firefighters will be moving from the existing open fisherman to a vessel with a climate-controlled cabin with two patient bays and capable of comfortably accommodating a crew of three with five passengers.

“This gives us the capability to go out safely in inclement weather,” Boney said. “The fire guns fore and aft can be operated remotely, from inside the cabin, and in addition to safely transporting patients, we’ll be able to work on them while transporting.”

The boat is being constructed in the Northwest, by North River Boats, in Roseburg, Oregon, nearly 3,000 miles away from Biloxi.

“They are one of the few places in the country that build fireboats of this size,” Boney said. “In fact, they specialize in police and fire boats and they’ve built quite a reputation.”

The Valentine’s Day update from project manager Doug Perron said the boat had moved from paint to the outfitting shop that day. The vessel was expected to be outfitted with the latest electronics gear and then be ready for sea trials.

After successfully completing sea trials, it will be loaded onto an 18-wheeler and begin the 2,600-mile trip to Biloxi.
Gallery:  See images of the fire boat progress


News and notes: Joann store, Sweetheart Dance

Say hello to Joann: This morning the doors opened on the new Joann Fabric and Craft Store in Biloxi in the former Hancock Fabric location at Edgewater Square on Pass Road.  To see images of the ribbon-cutting event and learn more about the store, click here.

Sweetheart dance: The Parks & Recreation Department will host its fifth annual Daddy-Daughter Sweetheart Dance on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Biloxi Civic Center.  The event is free and open to all fathers and daughters.  To see the flyer, click here