Council to eye variances Tuesday; other news and notes

The Biloxi City Council, which meets Tuesday at 1:30 p.m., will hear four cases involving variances for residential and commercial property owners as part of an agenda that includes nearly 20 measures.

Also on the agenda: a proposal to increase starting pay for entry level officers in the Biloxi Police Department, an issue that Police Chief Bruce Dunagan says will help recruit new officers for the department.

Boomtown representatives, meantime, have asked the council to postpone until June 5 their request to re-zone parcels of Back Bay land to allow casino gambling.

The four variance issues involve a residential request in the 400 block of Howard Avenue; and commercial requests involving the Best Western Motel, formerly the Swan Motel, 1726 Beach Blvd.; the Surf Style souvenir shop on west beach, and Shady’s New World Restaurant, Pass Road.

To read the complete agenda and available resolutions, click here.

Let the Games begin

Nearly 3,000 people – including more than 1,100 Special Olympics athletes, partners and coaches – will participate this evening in the opening ceremonies for the Special Olympics State Games, which are held annually at Keesler Air Force Base.

The ceremony — complete with lighting of the ceremonial torch and fireworks -– kicks off a weekend of competition for special athletes from across the state.

Keesler airmen serve as hosts for the athletes during the Games.

Biloxi Assistant Chief of Police Rodney McGilvary, a longtime board member of Special Olympics of Mississippi, said a record number — more than 700 law enforcement officers – helped carry the torch in its cross-state trek to Biloxi today.

Said McGilvary of the Games: “This event brightens the day for these athletes. It gives them a goal. And the enthusiasm you see out there on that field cannot be measured by any gauge. It’s unbelievable when you see them participate in these Games and reap the benefits of what Special Olympics is all about.”

News and notes

Senior Village: The Biloxi Housing Authority this morning formally dedicated its Cadet Point Senior Village in east Biloxi. To see photos from the ceremony, click here. To read more about the authority’s ambitious plans for affordable housing, as contained in the city’s recent State of the City report, click here.

Buffett buzz: Harrah’s overnight media tracking found that 93 stations in 65 TV markets across the country carried stories about the Jimmy Buffett-headlined Margaritaville Casino & Resort planned for Biloxi. Alberto Lopez of Harrah’s Entertainment says the story was available to a total broadcast audience of 11.5 million viewers, from the top market in the country (New York City) to No. 203 (Zanesville, Ohio).

Weekend events: Biloxi Little Theater brings down the curtain on its season with “The Battle of Shallowford” at its Lee Street Playhouse. For more info, click here. And the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum hosts the annual Billy Creel Memorial Wooden Boat Show on its pier just west of Casino Row. The show opens on Saturday at 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $5 adults and $3 students, children under 12 free.