City purchases million dollars worth of equipment

The City of Biloxi has ordered more than a million dollars worth of equipment and supplies — more than a dozen vehicles and heavy equipment, boats, four-wheelers, barricades, boots and goggles — to help equip city workers who may support oil clean-up and prevention efforts.

The equipment represents more than half of the $2 million given to the city by BP, and part of the remaining $800,000 would be available for an agreement that would have an oil remediation and pollution firm on standby, similar to the city’s successful debris-removal contracts.

“We’re doing the same thing that we’ve been doing since this threat became so imminent weeks ago,” Mayor A.J. Holloway said, “and that is to be in a position to support the remediation and clean-up efforts. Our staff is continuing to work with the Department of Marine Resources and Harrison County to have BP protect critical areas, such as outfalls along the beach, any rock jetties, any marsh grass areas, including those along the beach and in the Bay of Biloxi.”

Among the equipment on order for city employees: nine pickup trucks; two flatbed trucks; three four-wheel-drive SUVs; a vacuum truck; 18-foot and 24-foot boats; a tractor, backhoe and mini-excavator; 400 steel barricades; 200 traffic cones; two road-side message boards; and $18,000 worth of fuel.

“If this seems like a lot of equipment, that’s because it is,” Holloway said. “We have to look at this in a broad context. This is not just about being ready to respond to an oil spill, this is about being ready to respond to an oil spill during hurricane season. If a hurricane or even tropical storm were to strike our community with oil in the water, I suspect we’d need every bit of this equipment.”

To see the complete list, click here.

In other news:

— The city is continuing to review proposals it received from contractors who specialize in oil pollution protection and removal. The mayor expects to brief the City Council at its next meeting.

— Last week, nearly three dozen city employees — 15 from the Police Department and 17 from the Public Works Department — completed a 40-hour hazardous materials training course.

— Mayor Holloway today was invited to speak to the National Commission on the DP Deepwater Horizon Spill and Offshore Drilling, a presidential commission that will have its first public meetings in New Orleans on Monday and Tuesday. To read more about the commission and the meetings, click here.

News and notes

Excellence: The Biloxi Excel by 5 coalition, a group working to see Biloxi become a certified Excel by 5 community, will hold a Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, July 15, at the Donal Synder Community Center. The meeting, which is one of the requirements to become a certified community, will begin at 6 p.m. and should last no longer than an hour. To print a flier about the event, click here.

School days: Biloxi Public Schools will hold registration at the end of this month. To read what you need to know about registration, to get a preview of a four-page newsletter headed to homes throughout the district, and to read other news about the district, click here.

Gulfathon: A number of Tea Party groups are staging “Gulfathon,” a nationwide telethon and radio-a-thon to help the people of the Gulf Coast. Reps will be in town this weekend to film locals telling their story. To read more about the event, click here.

Oil updates: To see the latest update released by the state, from Wednesday evening, click here. To visit the city’s Spill Info center, click here.