Six hours in the White House and a chance encounter

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich and his wife, Serena, heard from the First Lady and key members of the Obama Administration about the challenges of veterans homelessness during a six-hour gathering at the White House Monday, and it was informative, the mayor says, once you got past the awe-inspiring trappings of the White House.

The Giliches, the only participants from Mississippi, were among 150 local leaders invited to the White House by First Lady Michelle Obama and took part in sessions with Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, and the two cabinet members, HUD Secretary Julián Castro and Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald.

The Biloxi leaders were chosen because of the city’s successful participation in a local effort to end veterans homelessness.

“There are 41,000 homeless veterans nationwide,” Gilich said today, after returning to City Hall. “The government knows who they are, but the challenge is to get these veterans to avail themselves of the tapestry of services available through HUD and Veterans Affairs and across the federal government.

“This issue is that these veterans, who have earned these benefits as a result of their service, view these services as handouts, even though it’s something they are owed by this country.”

Of course, the entire session, which began noon and ended with a 6 p.m. cocktail party, was set against the backdrop of the White House.

“It’s beyond words,” Mayor Gilich said. “When you look at that East Wing and the hallways with the many historic photographs, there’s history in every nook and cranny of the White House. We saw and went everywhere the Marines allowed us to go. In fact, I think I did everything in the East Wing but play the piano.”
See Serena Gilich’s photos from D.C. and the White House


And lest we forget: The Woody Harrelson encounter

Walking back to their hotel room a block away from the White House, the Giliches spotted a familiar face among three men milling in the hotel lobby. 

“I told Serena, ‘Is that Bruce Willis?'” Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich recalled later with a laugh. “She looked and said, ‘No that’s Woody Harrelson.'”

And then what?

“Well,” the mayor said, “we walked up to him and his two friends, and I said, ‘Excuse me, I hope this is not rude, but I’m the mayor of Biloxi, and I know you were in our area (in New Orleans filming the HBO series ‘True Detective’), and I just wanted to say hello and say thank you.”

Harrelson was gracious and struck up a conversation about his experiences and he even talked about going to an Ole Miss game a few years ago, the year the Rebels beat Alabama.

“He said that was a great game,” the mayor said, “but Serena and I told him that we love Ole Miss, but we had a grandson at LSU, so we’re LSU people.”
See photos of the Giliches with Woody Harrelson


Small craft harbor boat launch closes this evening

Workers at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor will be closing the boat launch and parking areas near the boat launch this evening so contractors can begin removing aging pavement on Wednesday morning.

Access to the Biloxi Harbor Bait and Fuel Dock will be maintained, and parking areas at McElroy’s Seafood Harbor Restaurant also will remain open.

The area from the Port Division Building to just east of the Biloxi boat launch, including the boat launch, will be closed to allow milling work, which will be followed up by paving. No word on when the work will be completed.


Paving still underway at Cedar-Popp’s

Crews will be applying the final layer of asphalt at the intersection of Cedar Lake and Popp’s Ferry roads this evening, working from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. to minimize inconvenience to the 29,000 motorists who travel that intersection on an average day.

Workers hope to complete the paving of the intersection Wednesday night, when they will also be working from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. The two-night job had been expected to be completed this evening, but workers were unable to work Monday night.
See the status of road work citywide


Council OKs funding measure, fire stations agreement

The Biloxi City Council this afternoon unanimously approved Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich’s recommendation two approve two measures:  a resolution to begin the process to borrow up to $7 million, primarily for water , sewer and drainage improvements improvements in Woolmarket, and to enter into an agreement with the South Mississippi Planning and Development District for a lease-purchase agreement for the construction of two fire stations in north Biloxi. 
See photos from the meeting
See the agenda for the meeting


News and notes

Gilich and a sous chef:  Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich and four other local mayors will team up with Executive Sous Chefs from top Coast restaurants to present cooking demonstrations at the Five Course Feast presented by the Beau Rivage on Thursday evening.  The sold-out event, taking place from 7 to 10 p.m., will benefit Extra Table, an organization that purchases and delivers healthy food in bulk to Mississippi food pantries and soup kitchens each month.  

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