MLK to have an MGM flavor this year

The streets in downtown Biloxi on Monday will be filled with marching bands in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and this year’s event will culminate with the Battle of the Bands in MGM Park.

The MLK “Marade” and Battle of the Bands will begin at 11 with a parade that will travel west from the Dr. Frank Gruich Sr. Community Center, 591 Howard Ave., west along MLK Boulenvard, to Reynoir Street, west on Howard Avenue to Caillevet Street and ending at MGM Park.  Once at the park, the celebration will continue with a program of speakers and a battle of the bands.

“Our theme this year,” said spokesman Gordon Jackson, “is ‘If not us, who? If not now, when?’ where we are reflecting on the relationship between John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. We want to encourage people to take a cause of action in their lives to make a positive difference in the community.”

Jackson, who is media committee chairman of the MLK Coast-wide Celebration, said gates at MGM Park will open at 11 a.m. with presentations from 12:30 to 1 p.m. and the Battle of the Bands at 1:10 p.m.  Admission into the park will be $1. Among those participating will be Alcorn State University, McKinley High School of Baton Rouge, Moss Point High, Lakeside High and Medard Charter of New Orleans, along with several middle school marching bands from across the Coast.

Details: Gordon Jackson at 469-867-6009 or committee president Dr. Persharon Dixon at 228-234-5582.
See the overall weekend entertainment lineup


City Council rejects Renda bid, discusses water rates

The Biloxi City Council this morning approved Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich’s recommendation to reject the bid of Oscar Renda Contracting  for infrastructure work south of the CSX railway, and authorized the mayor to work with contactor Hemphill Construction for a price closer to Renda’s $82.9 million proposal.

Councilmembers voted to reject the Renda bid because it failed to include state-mandated information. Hemphill, which has completed work in west Biloxi for the infrastructure project, had the only other bid, for $93.7 million, for the federally funded project.

The council also tabled a measure Gilich proposed to see as much as $600,000 in emergency paving on roadways in the areas north of the CSX railway, where Oscar Renda has removed asphalt from 55 miles of streets as part of its $117 million, three-year infrastructure repair and replacement contract.

Councilmembers discussed different options for an across-the-board rate increase for the city’s 13,000 water and sewer customers, and planned to revisit the issue during their meeting on Tuesday.


Podcast: On working together, Shuckers and more

F. Cliff Kirkland, the city’s Chief of Innovation and Development, updates progress on the ongoing broadband initiative and the city’s efforts at the state capital in this week’s City Desk podcast. Kirkland also discusses Mayor Gilich’s work with his fellow leaders across the Coast and speaks about the new Shuckers general manager.
Listen to the City Desk podcast


Gilich encouraged by talk of new passenger rail service

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich says he is encouraged by a new report by Amtrak that shows a number of scenarios where daily passenger service could return to the Gulf Coast.

“The most important thing about this Amtrak study is that is it an acknowledgement that daily passenger rail service for the Gulf Coast is viable,” Gilich said. “The daily service is something that Biloxi, the cities on the Gulf Coast and the Southern Rail Commission have advocated for years. This is about economic and tourism development across the Gulf Coast.”

The new study, which Amtrak completed at the request of the multi-state Southern Rail Commission, reviewed a number of options that would see the return of passenger rail service, which was suspended just before Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.
Read the story and see the report


News and notes

Formally speaking: The Parks and Recreation Department will host a Special Needs Winter Formal tonight from 6 to 9 at the Donal Snyder Community Center, 2520 Pass Rd.  All physically and mentally challenged children, adults and their parents are invited to attend the free event.  To see the flyer, click here.

BHS baseball yard sale: Supporters of the Biloxi High School baseball team will hold a giant yard sale Saturday from 7 to 11 a.m. on Popp’s Ferry Road at the City of Biloxi water tower adjacent to the Margaret Sherry Library. See some of the merchandise on the BHS Baseball Facebook page by clicking here.

Council agenda: The Biloxi City Council will gather three times on Tuesday: a 10:30 a.m. workshop to discuss establishing a heath care industry zone, a regularly scheduled 1:30 p.m., followed by meeting to discuss regulation of motor vehicles for hire. To see the agendas and supporting documents for all three meetings, which are open to the public and will be at City Hall, click here.

Fair housing help: Do you know your rights under the Fair Housing Act? The city will conduct a Fair Housing workshop next week at the Community Development Department on MLK Boulevard. To read more about the free session, click here.

Development report: The Biloxi Planning Commission has OK’d the re-zoning of property on Meaut Street to open the door to short-term rentals, and the Development Review Committee signed off on a site plan for a Mexican restaurant on Pass Road. To see the Community Development report, click here.

Popp’s Ferry reminder: The section of Popp’s Ferry Road east of Cedar Lake Road will be closed Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For details, click here.

Holiday: Non-emergency municipal offices in Biloxi will be closed Monday in observance of Great Americans Day.