Municipal league in town, aiming for a home run

More than 3,000 people, elected leaders from across the state, exhibitors and presenters are in town for several days for the annual Mississippi Municipal League summer conference, one of the state’s largest annual conventions.

“The MML Annual Conference is the largest association conference held in the state each year,” said Shari T. Veazey, executive director of MML, which represents 295 city, town and village governments in Mississippi.

This year’s conference, held at the Coast Convention Center, also featured “Stump Speeches” that included candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and others. A host of state agencies conducted seminars during the conference, and more than 200 exhibitors pitched a host of wares to the local officials.

Theme of this year’s conference: “Hitting a Home Run with Home Rule,” which calls attention to the importance of Home Rule, the authority granted Mississippi’s municipalities to regulate their own affairs. The theme also refers to MML’s efforts to thwart any legislation that would pre-empt local authority.

“Our conference,” Veazey said, “offers a variety of educational programs presented by subject matter experts in the areas of economic and retail development, budgeting and finance, human resources, grant writing, infrastructure development and many other relevant topics. Municipal elected officials from across the state also have the opportunity to meet and share ideas and common challenges.”

The conference officially opened this morning with a general session at the Convention Center, but delegates actually began arriving Sunday night and Monday. The conference ends Wednesday night.

Mayors Andrew “FoFo” Gilich of Biloxi and Billy Hewes of Gulfport addressed the general session this morning, and the Biloxi Police and Fire departments presented the colors as part of the opening session. The city also sponsored a booth in the convention center lobby, helping welcome visitors to the area.
Gallery: See images from today at the MML
Video: See a brief interview with Mayor Gilich at MML
Learn more about the Mississippi Municipal League

WLOX to recognize Biloxi police chief

Biloxi Police Chief John Miller, who WLOX says has been “a source of compassion and strength not only for Biloxi but all of South Mississippi” in the wake of the tragic murder of Biloxi Police Officer Robert McKeithen, will be profiled tonight as part of the TV station’s “South Mississippi Strong” series.

The segment will air during the WLOX News at 10 p.m. on the station’s ABC and CBS channels.

Miller, 59, joined the Biloxi Police Department as a patrolman in December 1990. He worked his way up through the Narcotics and the Criminal Investigations units before being named chief in December 2009. He and other department directors continued to serve when Andrew “FoFo” Gilich was elected mayor in 2015 and 2017.

Said WLOX News Director Brad Kessie: “South Mississippi Strong celebrates the achievements of people in our community.  John Miller’s compassion, dedication and leadership were all on display during one of the most trying times for his department and the City of Biloxi. The tone he set exemplifies what it means to be South Mississippi Strong.”
Video: See John Miller’s eulogy of Robert McKeithen
Video: See John Miller’s conversation with the McKeithen family