Whale sightings expected this summer; other news and notes

The city’s Beach Boulevard tree-sculpture project will have its grand finale in the next couple of months when sculptor Marlin Miller creates a family of humpback whales from a dead oak tree in the center median south of the Biloxi cemetery.

The final sculpture will cap a project that has seen the creation of 20 marine-related sculptures – some as tall as 20 feet — in the 8.2-mile stretch of U.S. 90 in Biloxi.

Miller, an award-winning tree-sculptor from Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was inspired to create the works of art after seeing the city-commissioned carvings in a sculpture garden a couple blocks west of the Biloxi Lighthouse.

“Marlin saw what we were doing and wanted to volunteer his time and talent, and over the past several months he’s created quite a collection, a gift of crowd-pleasing sculptures,” Mayor A.J. Holloway said.

“As much as people have complimented the work,” Holloway added, “we challenged him to come up with something different for his grand finale, and I think he’s done that with his plans for a family of humpback whales.”

Contractors with the Mississippi Department of Transportation, who over the months have trimmed all of the trees involved in the tree project, are expected to begin preparing the final standing dead oak in the next several weeks.

Although the city paid $7,000 to “chainsaw artist” Dayton Scoggins for the initial seven carvings, Miller’s work has been without major cost to the city.

The IP Casino Resort Spa has donated hotel rooms for Miller’s visits, except for free rooms from the Beau Rivage in one instance.

“This has been an outstanding community project,” Holloway said. “It shows the community’s creativity. It creates new landmarks. It shows how we can improvise, how we can make lemonade from lemons, and, let’s not forget, it’s all been possible because of the work of one of the thousands of volunteers who have come into our community.”

Photo gallery: To see a collection of albums showing progress on the tree-sculpture project, click here.

News and notes

Taylor Town Hall meeting: Congressman Gene Taylor will conduct a Town Hall meeting at Biloxi City Hall this evening from 6 to 7:30. For more information, call 1-800-273-4363.

New three-way Stop: City Public Works crews on Tuesday will implement a new three-way Stop at the intersection of Wash Fayard and John Lee roads. Motorists are asked to use caution at this intersection. The change in the status of the intersection was first announced last week in the city’s weekday Traffic Update. To see the latest Traffic Update from the Public Works Department, click here.

Planning agenda: The Biloxi Planning Commission will meet Thursday at 2 p.m. in the auditorium of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Municipal Building. To see the agenda for the meeting, click here.

New school web site: The Biloxi Public School District this morning rolled out a new look for the district web site. To see the new site, which employs a design and e-news feature similar to the city’s multi-award-winning web presence, click here.

Fresh photos: To see photos from the “Thursdays in May” tour of the Biloxi City Cemetery last week, click here.