MLK parade, Battle of Bands on tap for Monday

Sunny skies and a temperature of 61 are forecast for Monday’s MLK parade and Battle of the Bands in Biloxi, but even if it gets cold, don’t worry about it, says Vernon Mangum, one of the organizers of the city-sponsored celebration.

“Be bold and come out in the cold,” says Mangum, first vice president of the Biloxi branch of the NAACP, one of the groups that organizes Biloxi’s huge MLK observance, which begins with a parade through downtown Biloxi and wraps up with a Battle of the Bands that attracts thousands to Biloxi’s Yankie stadium.

Among the out-of-town bands participating in this year’s celebration: the Alcorn State University Marching Band; Lanier and Provine high school and Siwell Middle School bands, all from Jackson; and the St. Mary’s High School Band, an all-female group from New Orleans.

This year’s MLK Day parade begins at 11 a.m. on Howard Avenue, in front of the Biloxi Community Center. It will travel west on MLK Boulevard, north on Reynoir for a block, east on Esters Boulevard, turning north onto Main Street, to Division Street, where it will turn east and end at Yankie Stadium for the Battle of the Bands.

Dinosaurs, big-name entertainment in town this weekend

“Walking with Dinosaurs,” a production that features 15 life-size animatronic dinosaurs, will take over the Coast Coliseum in Biloxi this weekend, and you’ll find a host of stars at the Biloxi casino resorts: Tony Bennett at the Beau, Travis Tritt at the Hard Rock, and Jason Alexander and Willie Nelson in separate shows at the IP. For details on these events and others, click here.

Holloway on FEMA forgiving loans: Don’t celebrate just yet

Mayor A.J. Holloway said he welcomed Vice President Joe Biden’s comments regarding the federal government’s position on forgiving emergency loans it made to local communities in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, but local leaders shouldn’t begin celebrating just yet.

”Congress gave FEMA the authority to forgive these loans back in 2007,” Holloway said, “but there’s still some question about which cities are eligible to have loans forgiven.”

Under the terms of the legislation, FEMA has the authority to cancel all or part of a Community Disaster Loan only if municipal revenues were insufficient to meet operating expenditures for three years after the storm.

In the case of Biloxi, which received $14 million in CDLs in the wake of the storm, Holloway says the city should not be penalized for any insurance payments or FEMA reimbursements, which were earmarked for rebuilding, not operating expenditures.

Said Holloway: “We’re very appreciative of every bit of federal assistance that we’ve received, and we’re confident that we’ll be treated fairly on this, too. What we want to avoid is being penalized for having good fiscal policies and good insurance.”

News and notes

MLK Day: Non-emergency municipal offices in Biloxi will be closed Monday in observance of “Great Americans Day,” the official city name for the holiday. All offices will re-open Tuesday at their appointed times.

Council meetings: Mayor A.J. Holloway has called a special meeting of the Biloxi City Council for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday to discuss an economic development initiative. The City Council will hold its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. Both meetings are open to the public and will be conducted in the auditorium of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Municipal Building, on MLK Boulevard. To see the agendas and available resolutions, click here.

State of the City 2010: The economy and economic development will be among the myriad topics that Mayor A.J. Holloway will touch on during his State of the City address on Jan. 27. The Biloxi Bay Chamber reports that only about 90 seats remain for the 600-seat luncheon, which takes place at the Beau Rivage. To order your seats, click here.

Traffic Update: To see the latest on road construction work throughout the city, click here.