Holloway, no Senator he, gives update to Rotary

Mayor A.J. Holloway gave members of the Biloxi Rotary Club an update on myriad city projects – and a scare of sorts during his luncheon speech today.

“I intended to give you a progress report today,” Holloway said, “but I feel compelled to make an announcement. I’ve been mayor for a number of years now, and I’m proud of the accomplishments we’ve seen and the support you’ve given me.”

“But today,” the four-term mayor intoned to the attentive audience, “I announce that I will not seek – and I will not accept – the nomination of my party to serve as . . . your next U.S. Senator.”

The audience, which not unlike the rest of the Coast had listened to weeks of speculation about a successor to Trent Lott, responded with a outburst of laughter.

“I tried to call Haley a couple of weeks ago to give him the news,” Holloway said, “but his number was busy. It seems that more people called to be taken off the list than were even on the list to start with.”

Holloway said he looked forward to working with newly appointed Sen. Roger Wicker, who he said had been a valuable ally in the state’s and Coast’s recovery efforts.

Turning to more serious city issues, Holloway announced that the city would soon begin construction on a new fire station – budget of $1.5 million – on city property just east of Cedar Lake and Popp’s Ferry roads, near the public safety communications center.

The mayor said firefighters could be working in the new station in 12 to 16 months.

In other news, the mayor announced that:

— The Biloxi Community Center, fresh from a $2.4 million refurbishment, would reopen with its first carnival ball this weekend.

— Repairs to the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, a $6.7 million undertaking originally expected to be completed in March, are running behind schedule because of difficulty in removing pilings.

— Repair work at the Biloxi Sports Complex, is expected to be completed in March, as scheduled; and the Natatorium is closed until May when the city will unveil a $1.2 million facelift of the facility.

— Work will soon begin on the East End and Back Bay fire stations, which were both damaged by the storm. “Both of them sustained flooding,” Holloway said. “East End, which took on about six feet of water, is a $336,000 project and should be completed in four to six months. Back Bay is about $118,000 and should be completed in six to eight months.”

— Architects are working on design specifications for the new Visitors Center north of the Biloxi Lighthouse, and the new library and cultural center on Howard Avenue, and on construiction specifications for the Old Brick House, Magnolia Hotel and Biloxi Lighthouse.

You can read the mayor’s entire speech by clicking here.