‘Butterknife’ team ready to hand over keys Saturday

A Biloxi couple whose North Bay home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina will receive the keys to a new three-bedroom home Saturday afternoon, thanks to a group of volunteers from a church in a small midwestern town.

A couple from the small town of Frederic, Wisc. visited Biloxi after the storm and were so moved by the destruction that they vowed to return with a host of skilled volunteers to construct a home for Chuck and Kathy Billeaud, whom they had met in a North Bay neighborhood.

The project became known as the “Butterknife House,” a reference to a silver butterknife, one of the few items that Chuck found among the debris that had once been his home. Contractors also included handicapped accessible features to help Kathy, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

“This has been an inspirational project all the way around,” said Councilman Ed Gemmill, who represents the area where the home is being built. “The folks from Frederic used the internet to inspire volunteers from a half-dozen other churches across the country to be a part of the project. It’s been very moving to see the progress and visit with such a caring and devoted group of individuals.”

Gemmill, whose nearby home was also destroyed by the storm, said the volunteers also praised the city’s permitting division and its team of inspectors for helping keep the project on schedule with timely inspections.

You can find video of the home on the WLOX web site. Go there by clicking here.

To read the daily journal about the project, and learn how it came to be known as the “Butterknife House,” click here.

City Council meets Tuesday afternoon

The Biloxi City Council, which this month returns to a modified version of its pre-storm meeting schedule, will meet Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 at City Hall. The agenda for the meeting and available resolutions will be posted Monday.

The council will return to its pre-storm schedule of meeting the first, third and fourth Tuesday of each month; however, all meetings will be at 1:30 p.m. Prior to the storm, the first meeting of the month was at 6 p.m.

Holloway tells ‘Biloxi story’ to national audiences

You can now see Mayor A.J. Holloway’s address to the 74th annual winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors last week in Washington, thanks to online video from the gathering.

During his 16-minute presentation, the Biloxi mayor thanked the audience of more than 300 mayors for the many calls and e-mails offering assistance in the weeks and months since the Aug. 29 storm.

Holloway also updated the mayors on the ongoing recovery effort in Biloxi, the challenges facing the city, and he described his vision of the role government should play in guiding our community. He also previewed several minutes of the city’s “Katrina & Biloxi” documentary.

Best line of the presentation: Holloway’s recounting of a conversation he had with Sen. John Warner, who was among a group of senators visiting Keesler Air Force Base in the wake of the storm. Said Holloway to the audience: “Sen. John Warner pulled me aside and said, ‘Mayor Holloway, I’m an old man. I’ve been through three wars and five wives, but I’ve never seen anything as bad as this.’ ”

To see Holloway’s presentation, click here.

WLOX weekend program to revisit bridge issue

The ongoing issues surrounding a new U.S. 90 bridge to link Biloxi and Ocean Springs – whether it should have a draw span is the latest wrinkle – will be the subject of a segment with Mayor A.J. Holloway this weekend on “WLOX News This Week.”

Holloway was invited to appear on the program in the wake of his releasing a guest editorial about the issue to several media outlets earlier this week.

You can see the WLOX program Saturday at 6 p.m. on WLOX-TV, and you can read the mayor’s op-ed piece by clicking here.

C-SPAN to quiz Biloxi mayor in upcoming program

Mayor A.J. Holloway is scheduled to provide answers to questions asked by longtime C-SPAN fixture Brian Lamb during an upcoming national cablecast of the Sunday night program “Q&A.”

Lamb conducted an hour-long interview with Holloway at C-SPAN headquarters in Washington, where the mayor had addressed the U.S. Conference of Mayors a day earlier.

C-SPAN plans to air the Holloway “Q&A,” along with excerpts from the city’s “Katrina & Biloxi” documentary, on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 7 and 10 p.m. CT.