Renaissance updates; volunteer awards; flooded streets

Updated progress reports from several of the committees working on the city’s Reviving the Renaissance initiative are now on the Biloxi web site.

To see the meeting notices and minutes from recent committee meetings, click here.

Visitors to the Renaissance site also will find a video of Mayor A.J. Holloway’s remarks at the March 30 kickoff of the initiative. To see the video now, click here.

Volunteer Awards set for Thursday

The City of Biloxi will recognize the efforts of hundreds of volunteers — locals and relief workers from across the country – during the annual Volunteer Recognition Awards Ceremony, which will be Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Donal Snyder Sr. Community Center at 2520 Pass Road in west Biloxi.

The ceremony, which will include food and refreshments, is free and open to the public.

“This is our 23rd annual ceremony,” city Special Events Coordinator Emily Burke said. “Typically, we recognize dozens of local volunteers in a number of fields, but this year we’ll also be recognizing a host of volunteers who took part and are continuing to take part in the city’s recovery efforts. We’re hoping for a great turnout for these deserving folks.”

Downpour will take toll on city streets

This afternoon’s torrential downpour, while a welcome respite from the lingering drought, flooded a number of city intersections illustrating the damage to drainage systems throughout the city.

“We spent more than $200 million improving streets and drainage in the decade before Katrina,” Mayor A.J. Holloway said Tuesday afternoon, “but much of that work was negated by storm damage and the debris that still impairs drainage lines under streets citywide.”

Another effect of the rainfall will be an increasing number of sinkholes and potholes, which are the result of those damaged drainage lines.

“We’re advising motorists to use extra caution on the roadways these days,” Holloway said. “Our Public Works crews will do all they can to correct as many of the problems as they can, but the overall fix is going to be a massive and expensive proposition. We’ll get it done, just like we’ve done on a number of other issues. We’re asking people to be extra careful in the meantime.”

News and notes

Grand plans: City Council members this afternoon unanimously approved a change in zoning that would allow Grand Casino to open a temporary gaming facility in its Bayview Hotel north of U.S. 90 on Casino Row. The vote, Mayor A.J. Holloway, signals the promise of hundreds of new jobs and opportunity in Biloxi’s recovery.

More flood talk: City Council members on Tuesday heard from FEMA representatives regarding the need for the city to enact FEMA’s proposed flood elevations in Biloxi. No action was taken on the issue, which Mayor A.J. Holloway originally proposed in February. A FEMA rep is scheduled to appear on the “City Desk” webcast, which is scheduled to be on the city’s web site mid-afternoon Thursday. Meantime, you can see the proposed new flood elevations by clicking here.

CNN coverage: The discussion over building a new east-west corridor in place of the CSX railway is scheduled to be featured on Cable News Network tonight.