City makes most of $14 million in streets, drainage work

The Biloxi City Council approved $725,000 in contracts for three streets and drainage improvement projects in Woolmarket the other day, and the trio of projects represented the winding down of a $14 million streets and drainage initiative begun two years ago.

Although $14 million was borrowed in 2014 and nearly $10 million was spent or committed before he became mayor, Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich has made the most of the remaining money:

“We knew that there was an immediate need for some relief in east Biloxi,” Gilich said, “so we moved forward with $600,000 for temporary paving. It would have been a sin not to do that, and I think those who drive the streets of east Biloxi were appreciative of that.”

But the temporary paving was only part of the story of the $14 million bond. In all, more than 180 streets have either been paved or rebuilt. The money included big ticket items such as the city’s share of the Popp’s Ferry widening ($979,000) and the Lorraine Road bridge ($857,000), along with improvements to Atkinson Road ($596,000), John Lee Road ($311,000), Pass Road drainage ($286,000), Veterans Avenue ($252,000), Howard Avenue ($231,000) and Eisenhower Drive ($225,000).

The work also included the first phase of a drainage analysis in the Woolmarket Road area, which is the first step in work to help develop a comprehensive plan for Woolmarket water, sewer and drainage.

The three Woolmarket projects approved Nov. 15 – improvements on Woolmarket Road East, Hudson-Krohn Road and Kayleigh Cove – left about $1.6 million remaining of the original $14 million program.

“We just started the ball rolling on another major bond issue, for $7 million, to help our work continue moving forward,” Gilich said. “Years ago this city made pledges for quality-of-life improvements in Woolmarket, and our goal is to follow through on those commitments. At the same time, we want to continue a program of work throughout the city and do it all without raising anyone’s taxes.”
See the $14 million in improvements


Be safe! The holidays usually bring a rise in house fires

The holiday season brings more cooking, holiday decorations, candles, and heating. And it also brings more fires, so Biloxi firefighters are reminding residents to use caution during the holidays.

“Many fires can be prevented,” Biloxi Fire Chief Joe Boney said.  “Overall, last year we had 29 structure fires with 11 being kitchen fires.  That means almost half of the fires were in the kitchen and that is huge.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking is the No. 1 cause of home fires and home injuries, and heating equipment is the leading cause of home fire deaths.

And nationally on Thanksgiving, there are four times as many house fires than any other day of the year.

“We may see one or two fires on that day in Biloxi,” said Boney, “mainly from things being unattended.”

Officials say to make sure that someone is always in the kitchen monitoring the food that’s cooking, and if deep frying a turkey, do it outside.

“Never fry a turkey under a carport or structure,” Biloxi Assistant Fire Chief Mark Dronet said.  “Make sure that when frying a turkey it is done at least 10 feet away from any structure.”

Dronet also says to make sure that the turkey is completely thawed and dry and turned the burner off before placing the turkey in the hot oil. 

Officials say to also have working smoke alarms in the home and a fire extinguisher nearby.  These are critical in protecting against fires.

Said Boney: “If you get uncomfortable with something and see a flame, call 911.  We can put it out safely and cause less damage.”
See winter fire safety tips


Have your say on the proposed new ward lines

The Biloxi City Council will hold a public hearing at City Hall on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. to hear comments on the proposed new ward lines that will be used in the municipal elections in 2017. Biloxi’s seven ward lines will be redrawn to incorporate the annexations of 2013 and 2014, meaning some residents may find themselves in new wards and voting at a different polling place when municipal elections take place in May 2017.
See maps and background on the ward lines


The week that was: Construction, police and fire

The Community Development Department issued 64 permits with a total valuation of almost $100,000 last week.  Meantime, the Biloxi Police Department reported 2210 calls for service, making 145 arrests.  The Biloxi Fire Department reported 127 calls for service, including 89 for medical and 6 for structure and vehicle fires. 
See the complete weekly report


News and notes

The Giliches in D.C.: Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich and his wife, Serena, discussed the visit to the White House last week and the issue of veterans homelessness on “WLOX News This Week” on Sunday. To see the six-minute segment, click here.

Special needs Thanksgiving dinner: Nearly 200 individuals attended the Special Needs and Family Thanksgiving Dinner on Sunday at the Donal Snyder Community Center.  To see images from the gathering, click here

Division Street fire: To see video from the Saturday night fire at Visions of Hope on Division Street, click here.