Work to return D’Iberville statue underway at Visitors Center

A project to return the statue of the explorer Pierre LeMoyne Sieur D’Iberville to near its pre-Katrina beachfront site is now underway at the Biloxi Visitors Center.

Workers with George P. Hopkins Construction Co. this week are preparing the forms that will support the new concrete base for the statue, which will stand just west of the Biloxi Visitors Center.

The statue, created by local artist Mary Ott Tremmel Davidson, depicts the French explorer Pierre Le Moyne Sieur d’Iberville who, in his quest for the mouth of the Mississippi River, landed on the shores of present-day west Biloxi on Feb. 13, 1699, and named the area after a Native American tribe he had befriended, the Biloxis.

“We’re also going to be replacing the bricks and marble tablets that had surrounded the base of the statue,” said Bill Raymond, the city’s historical administrator and manager of the visitors center. “We saved all 72 of the marble tablets, and we’re re-creating the hundreds of bricks because we can’t remove the mortar from the old ones.”

The bricks and tablets bear the names of Biloxi families and were part of a fund-raising drive to create and erect the statue. The project was part of the city’s year-long Tricentennial celebration in 1999.

No new bricks or marble tablets are being sold because of space limitations, Raymond said. The project, which was designed by Visitors Center architects Dale Partners, is expected to be completed in November. Funding is being provided by FEMA and the state-managed Tidelands Trust Fund.

Photos, then and now: To see photos of the D’Iberville statue from the day before Katrina in 2005 to the work being done today, click here.

The bricks: To see the names of the bricks that will be placed around the base of the statue, click here. If you see a misspelled name, email Bill Raymond by clicking here or leave him a message at (228) 435-6244. Deadline for corrections is July 19, 2013.

Baseball proposal takes another step forward

The city’s bond counsel and financial analyst are expected to appear before the City Council by late July with proposed interest rates and terms for borrowing $21 million toward construction of a downtown baseball stadium.

The current City Council set the wheels in motion when it voted 4-2 Tuesday to authorize the firms of Page, Mannino and Peresich, and Government Consultants to prepare the necessary documents to issue bonds.

The next City Council, which will be inaugurated on July 1 and have its first meeting on July 2, will ultimately decide if those bonds are to be sold — presumably after hearing terms of the proposed lease of land from the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, prospects of landing a Double-A baseball team, and how the stadium itself would be operated day-to-day.

Photos: To see photos from the council meeting Tuesday, click here.

The measure: To see the bond resolution approved Tuesday, click here.

Background: To read more about the stadium initiative and to see renderings, as shown during the governor’s announcement on May 30, click here.

News and notes

Community meeting: The city will preview upcoming infrastructure work for residents who live along and near the Channel Mark and Cove drives during a meeting this evening at 6 at the Fine Arts Auditorium on the Jeff Davis campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. To learn more about the meeting and to see impacted streets, click here.

Weekend preview: For an early peek at this weekend’s entertainment lineup, click here.

Fire Academy: Acting Biloxi Fire Chief Mark Dronet says another 43 children ages 7-12 are in this week’s Fire Academy for Kids. The free week-long, half-day sessions offer children a chance to learn fire safety tips for around the home and learn about firefighting techniques from the firefighters in the Biloxi Fire Department. Dronet said a class of 42 attended last week, kicking off the annual two-week sessions.