A workshop with Hancock County Supervisors and library advocates on February 13th will help determine the fate of five local libraries. Find out meeting details in this Big Buzz story.
- by Ellis Anderson
Supporters of the Hancock County Library System will be meeting with Hancock County Supervisors and city representatives from Bay St. Louis and Waveland in a workshop on Monday, February 13th, at 3pm to discuss a proposal to privatize the system. The meeting will be held at the Hancock County Government Annex, 854 Hwy. 90, in Bay St. Louis.
The idea of privatization surfaced in January at a supervisors’ meeting. As word spread, local consultant and long-time volunteer Laurie Johnson suggested on social media that advocates of the library system should do a bit of investigation.
“My phone blew up,” said Johnson. “People who love the library as it is came forward to help. As we’ve learned more, the support [of the system as it is] has been unanimous, from across the political spectrum.”
The group has started an online petition where people can register their opposition, and a Facebook Page (Hancock County Library Advocates). Dozens attended a regular supervisors’ meeting on February 6th when the board announced a special workshop on the 13th to address the matter.
In an initial presentation to the board in January, a company that manages several privatized libraries across the country, Library Systems Services, LLC (LS&S) claimed they could save the county between $1 million to $1.5 million over a five-year period.
According to Hancock County Board of Supervisors President Blaine Lafontaine in a phone interview with the Shoofly on Friday morning (2/10), a full proposal from LS&S was expected that day, so the board was hoping to have time to go over it thoroughly before the meeting. Lafontaine also said that when the supervisors receive the full proposal, it would be made available to library stakeholders and interested members of the public.
Lafontaine said that the meeting Monday will be a round-table discussion with leaders from Waveland and Bay St. Louis and the library foundation. In addition to considering the proposal from LS&S, the board will be looking at levels of library service and "comparing our operating costs to other regional libraries."
"The process may require conversation that we may not like, but that it's healthy to have."
Also on the table will be the current inter-local library agreement between Bay St. Louis, Waveland and the county.
"The inter-local agreement has been in effect for 25 years and it's never been revised, even though there have obviously been changes," said Lafontaine. "If we opt not to privatize, we would need to start looking at revising the agreement... and see if there's a possibility for Diamondhead to opt into the agreement."
Lafontaine said in a January 24th article in the Sea Coast Echo that "We are asking questions we believe are appropriate and doing what's in the best interest of our citizens. We will be working with the cities and figuring out what's in our best interest long-term."
While Johnson and other library advocates say they understand the drive to save taxpayers money, they distributed packs of information to supervisors at the February 6th meeting filled with information that suggests the move to privatize may be “pennywise, but pound foolish.”
These documents included:
Johnson pointed out that the Hancock County Library System currently employees 31 people in five different library branches (Bay St. Louis, Waveland, Kiln, Pearlington and Diamondhead).
“Many of these people have worked for the library for years, under the assumption they would eventually be vested in the Public Employees Retirement System," said Johnson. "If LS&S takes over, every current employee will be forced to reapply for their jobs."
Other concerns the advocates intend to address at the workshop:
“Bottom line,” said Johnson. “The supervisors would be taking tax money already earmarked for the libraries and sending it out of state. That doesn’t enhance our economy or our quality of life here in Hancock County.”
Johnson expects “a large number” of people to attend the workshop on Monday, as well as leaders from the municipalities who will be affected by the privatization and potential closures of libraries.
Lafontaine said that there should be time at the end of the roundtable part of the meeting to hear comments from concerned members of the public.
"It's our job [as supervisors] to collect data and then make decisions," said Lafontaine. "I hope all the stakeholders can reach a conclusion and we can move on in the next 30 - 60 days."
Local realtor/broker Holly Lemoine-Raymond guides her clients - and HGTV viewers - though Bay St. Louis in an episode of "Beachfront Bargain Hunt."
- by Ellis Anderson
In February, millions of HGTV viewers will tour Bay St. Louis in an episode of the network’s popular Beachfront Bargain Hunt.
Local realtor/broker Holly Lemoine-Raymond leads the hunt in the show that premieres Sunday, February 12, at 7:30pm CST. There's an open-to-the-public premier party at the Blind Tiger, 119 N. Beach Boulevard in Bay St. Louis, starting at 6:30pm (see flyer at end of article).
The episode introduces two of Holly’s clients, Brent and Tracy, a couple who live in a suburb of New Orleans. The pair have been visiting “the Bay” for years and are finally ready to purchase their dream get-away home.
Holly helps the couple whittle their choices down to three properties. Their final choice isn’t revealed until the show’s finale. Along the way, the world-wide audience who follow along is introduced to Bay St. Louis. For most watching, it will likely be the first time they’ve heard of the town.
Holly says HGTV first approached her for another type of show in 2014. At the time, she was owner of the Cypress Café and beginning to launch her real estate career. She eventually sold the restaurant and opened her own real estate firm, HL Raymond Properties, LLC.
“They called me right after I opened my new office in December 2015,” she said. “I went through several interviews during the selection process.”
Holly said one aspect of the show she especially enjoyed during the production last March was seeing a different perspective of her community.
“When you live here, you don’t see what a first time visitor sees. It was fun being a tour guide for this area and letting people see everything we have to offer."
Holly guided the production crews around the town and they ended up choosing several local businesses to feature in the episode, including the Blind Tiger and the Purple Banana.
“The show’s great because it presents real houses and real people,” she said. “We developed a super working relationship and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work with HGTV again in the future.”
She added, “Our little hidden gem is getting out there now. I feel like the show puts Bay St. Louis in a good spotlight.”
As to which house the couple decides to purchase in the end? Holly’s keeping that information close to the vest, saying the answer won’t be revealed publicly until the show airs.
“It’s a real happy ending though,” she says, smiling.
The show also airs on Monday, February 13, at 2:30am CST.
A new article in Country Living Magazine ranks Bay St. Louis first on the list of 26 "Under-the-Radar Southern Cities for Girlfriend Getaways."
- photograph by Ellis Anderson
Country Living Magazine online snags the attention of over eleven million viewers every month - many who are looking for fun destinations to visit. On January 10th, the magazine listed Bay St. Louis as first among 26 cities featured in Under-the-Radar Southern Cities for Girlfriend Getaways.
"The Bay" is in good company: some of the others also listed were Blowing Rock, North Carolina, Jekyll Island, Florida, and Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Writer Perri Blumberg's goal was to present "quirkier gems... surprising southern destinations to book for a rollicking trip with your best sidekicks in the coming year."
Several local businesses were mentioned by name in the article, including Treehouse Yoga, Spa at the Bay and Solar Boat Tours.
Here's Blumberg's take on the Bay:
Seaside allure gets muddled with artistic soul in this groovy southern town that you'd probably just drive right past on your way to New Orleans if you weren't in the know (most aren't).
While in town, you can relax with your posse during a restorative class at Treehouse Yoga, which offers just as much whimsical and free-flowing fun as its name might hint at. It would also be an excellent idea to sign everyone up for a day of TLC at Spa at the Bay, but if time is tight, take the road less traveled and opt for an unforgettable boat excursion, checking out the harbor and surrounding bayous, with the help of Solar Boat Tours.
To read the entire article, click here.
Get the scoop - and the menu - for a second location of Gulfport's popular Tamale Shak opening on Second Saturday (1/14), thanks to local writer/blogger, Lisa Monti!
The popular Tamale Shak on 30th Avenue in Gulfport is branching out to Buoy’s Bar (115 South Beach Blvd) and is planning a Second Saturday opening (January 14th).
Owner Wendy Reed has partnered with Toni Strickland to open Tamale Shak II with the same menu as the original restaurant. Think tamales and more.
Toni said, “Everything is fresh made-to-order, the tamales are made daily and all of the sauces are made fresh.”
Hours will be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday for now, but may be extended later.
Tamale Shak II will sell food only, and you can eat in or carry out orders.
Check out the menu on Lisa Monti's Notebook.
Get the scoop - and the menu - for a new Mexican restaurant slated to open on Highway 90 in Bay St. Louis, thanks to local writer/blogger, Lisa Monti
A new Mexican restaurant named Avocado’s is coming to Bay St. Louis in the new year.
The owners are completely remodeling the old Scafidi’s Wheel Inn site at 820 U.S. 90 for the restaurant which is scheduled to open in mid-February.
“We’re doing the whole building – the plumbing electrical, walls, ceilings and bathrooms,” said co-owner Alex Nunez who is overseeing the project.
The restaurant will have a dining room with 35 tables and a separate bar. Avocado’s will be open daily for lunch and dinner.
Co-owner Yahve Camarena has about a dozen restaurants in Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. He owns La Terraza restaurants in Greenwood and Starkville.
Avocado’s will be modeled after two restaurants of the same name in Monroe and West Monroe, La. The emphasis is on fresh ingredients, Nunez said, “and we’re adding some new items, including fajitas, enchiladas and margaritas.”
Read more and check out the menu on Lisa Monti's Notebook.
The Mississippi Development Authority has teamed up with the Bay St. Louis Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) to offer a free workshop in the city on Friday, December 9th, from 9:30am – 2:45pm. The event will be held at the Bay St. Louis library, 312 Hwy. 90 and includes a catered lunch by Trapani’s Eatery.
The workshop, “The Bay St. Louis Historic District: Community Asset + Economic Driver” will feature a roster of five speakers, all well known throughout the state for their expertise in historic preservation, city planning and economic development.
The workshop is limited to 40 people and as of press time December 5th, only 15 slots were still available. Attendees can register at www.historicbsl.com . Continuing education credits are available for municipal officials and architects.
Organizers say that the information presented will be of special interest to city, county and tourism officials, real estate and design professionals, developers and business leaders who will learn how preserving the Bay’s heritage for future generations also stimulates the local economy.
Workshop leaders will be Ken P’Pool and Todd Sandars from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Roy Decker, Duvall Decker Architects, Donovan Scruggs, City Planner for Pascagoula and Kay Miller, Biloxi Main Street Association.
Topics covered are “Zoning and Planning Make a Big Difference,” “The Importance of Historic Preservation and Preservation Commissions,” “Historic Preservation Commercial Tax Credits,” and “Main Street, A ReFreshed Approach.”
Bay St. Louis HPC chairman Kevin Fitzpatrick says, “We will all need this knowledge in the days ahead. The city is fortunate that MDA has provided this opportunity to learn. We’re hoping business and civic leaders will take advantage of the workshop. And the timing’s perfect since the city elections are in 2017. Both incumbents and candidates who will be running for office will be able to attend.”
HPC member Ellis Anderson agrees. “Our city is on the cusp of a tremendous growth spurt, so we all need to be on the same page,” she said. “While these are exciting times, we have to be very careful we don’t kill the goose that's laid the golden egg.
“We’re all aware that the Bay's main draw as a place to live - and as a visitor destination - is its “Mayberry by the Sea” sort of charm. Our Historic District is the heart of that. If we're smart, we can leverage that community character by protecting it. That way, we prosper while keeping our heritage and quality of life intact for future generations."
The workshop is sponsored by Mississippi Development Authority – which organized the program and is covering workshop costs - the Bay St. Louis Preservation Commission, the Hancock Chamber and the Bay St. Louis Heritage Trust, which is providing lunch at no cost to participants.
For complete information and to register online now, go to: www.historicbsl.com
Make the holidays brighter for a local child: Our local CASA organziation (Court Appointed Special Advocates for children) is currently serving 160 Hancock County children in foster care. Fifty of those children have turned in Christmas wish lists to their CASA volunteers.
Individuals and businesses interested in "adopting" one of those 50 children and filling their wish list can stop by the CASA office. 412 Hwy 90 Suite 3.
Unwrapped gifts need to be returned to the CASA office by December 1.
In addition, sponsors are needed for the annual Children's Christmas Party organized by CASA partnering with the county Youth Court. About 200 children attend the mid-December event, which includes Santa, games, and food. Individuals and businesses can sign up by calling CASA at 228-344-0419 or the Youth Court at 228-467-4728.
Bay St. Louis blogger Lisa Monti posts big news about the historic A&G Theatre on Beach Blvd. in Old Town.
Built in 1927, the A&G Theatre, 150 Beach Blvd. is one of the iconic historic buildings in Bay St. Louis. According to local blogger (and Shoofly correspondent) Lisa Monti, the building may once again become a hub of local activity:
The Hayden family put the historic theater and a couple of adjacent lots on State Street up for sale in 2014. New Orleans developer Jim MacPhaille is in the process of buying the property for an undisclosed amount. The Haydens’ original asking price for both tracts was $1.2 million.
Click here for more details on Lisa's Notebook.
The A&G Theatre was designed by noted coast architect William Thomas Nolan, who also designed several other beloved buildings in Bay St. Louis, including the St. Augustine Church and Seminary and the old high school on Second Street - as well as the former school that's now home to the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs.
Named for the two families who originally built and opened the theatre, Ames and Gaspard, the theatre was heralded on opening as a "thing of joy and beauty forever." Although heavily damaged by a fire just months after it opened, it was repaired and operated as a theatre until the late 1960s.
According to local historian Pat Murphy, the building then became home to an alcohol-free and teenage-friendly music venue called "The Purple Pickle." Click here to read more about the A&G in the Shoofly's September 2015 "Growing Up Downtown" column by Pat Murphy.
Hurricane Katrina nearly demolished the building in 2005. Yet, after many repairs, including structural work to stabilize the front facade, the building earned a 2010 Award from the Historic Preservation Commission.
Italian Garden opened on October 14th, offering authentic Italian meals in a spacious Hwy. 90 location (828 Hwy 90). Lisa Monti introduces co-owner Giovanni Karelli and shares the menu.
- photos by Ellis Anderson
The old 84 Lumber facility at Nicholson and Hwy 90 has been abandoned since 2011, but soon it will be the home of a fascinating new business. Lisa Monti reports for Mississippi Business Journal.
Bay-Waveland residents may have noticed a flurry of activity at the site of the old 84 Lumber site, on Nicholson Avenue, near the intersection of Hwy. 90. An unsightly chainlink/barbed wire fence across the front of the facility has been removed and the faded blue paint of the main building now has a fresh coat of white.
The facelift is just the most obvious sign of change, and the most ironic: the facility is being repurposed to serve as a home for a company that builds storefronts for several popular national retailers.
Mississippi Business Journal published a detailed article by Lisa Monti earlier this week. Below is an excerpt with a link to the full story!
Infinity-AP is moving its custom storefront fabrication operation from Chalmette, La., to the vacant 84 Lumber location off U.S. 90 in Waveland. Co-owner Rick Bradley said the goal is to open in early 2017 with up to 15 employees.
The company designs, engineers and fabricates custom storefronts for international retailers. Bradley said their best known customers are Abercrombie & Fitch and its subsidiary Hollister Co., and Victoria’s Secret and its PINK chain of stores for younger customers. Infinity-AP also has done work for American brands around the world, including the Middle East, Central and South America and the Caribbean.
The company outgrew the 10,000-square-foot building it leased in Chalmette. The new location has a 20,000-square-footbuilding, a 10,000 square feet building and two canopied areas with 9,000 square feet each. The entire site covers almost five acres.
Read the whole article on the Mississippi Business Journal website.
Internationally-acclaimed author Erik Larson will be speaking about his latest book, "Dead Wake," at the Randolph Center in Pass Christian on Wednesday, October 5th, starting at 7pm. The event is free since it's a part of the "One Book/One Pass" reading program!
Who: Erik Larson, best-selling author of "Dead Wake," "In the Garden of Beasts," "Thunderstruck," "The Devil in the White City," "Isaac's Storm," "Lethal Passage," and the "Naked Consumer."
When: Wednesday, October 5th at 7pm. Admission is free.
Where: Randolph Center, 315 Clark Ave., Pass Christian, Mississippi.
What brings a writer of Erik Larson's stature to the Mississippi Gulf Coast: The author will be making a 50-minute presentation about his latest book, "Dead Wake," followed by a Q&A period.
Larson is appearing as part of a five-month community reading program called "One Book/ One Pass," that began in April.
The purpose of "One Book/One Pass" is to promote the value of reading by recommending a compelling book that links the community in a common conversation. The program hopes to encourage dialogue about a particular book and also foster lifelong learning and the development of a strong community identity. Each year, a new book will be selected.
For 2016, the book selected was Larson's "Dead Wake," a spell-binding story about the luxury liner "Lusitania" which was torpedoed by a German sub in 1915. Larson's talent of combining meticulous historical research with a compelling narrative has made him one of the country's most revered - and best-selling - authors.
"One Book/One Pass" committee members include Scott Naugle, Margaret McMullan, Patrick O’Connor, Wendy Allard, Sally James, Mellissa Harris, Leslie Leyser, Merri Haines, and Carol Church.
For more information, contact Wendy Allard at the Pass Christian Public Library - 228-452-4596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa Monti gives the scoop on the opening of Cuz's restaurant in its new Old Town location, just across from the harbor! Spoiler alert: Wendesday, September 28th. Lisa's got the details!
Cuz’s Old Town Oyster Bar & Grill at 108 South Beach Blvd. will be open for business at 4pm Wednesday, September 28th.
Owners Cuz and Christy Barnes will offer the same seafood-filled menu as the one at their popular restaurant on Highway 603, and then some. There will be the signature boiled seafood, appetizers, fried seafood, homemade gumbo, homemade seafood bisque and more.
Cuz’s new restaurant will take up most of the bottom floor of the French Settlement building next to Hancock Bank in downtown Bay St. Louis. The dining room has tables, booths and a full bar. More seating will be available in the courtyard, just in time for the fall weather and Cruisin’ the Coast.
Lisa Monti's Notebook blog has more details and photos.
Twelve Bay St. Louis residents have been featured in video interviews by the Mississippi Museum of Art as part of a project called Modern Mississippi. The Shoofly has embedded all the videos in this post, so have fun sharing!
Mapping a Modern Mississippi is a project of the Mississippi Museum of Art, presented in partnership with Visit Mississippi, the state's Tourism agency. A team from the project visited Bay St. Louis in July and interviewed a dozen artistic movers and shakers who have created positive reverberations throughout the state. Join the Shoofly Magazine in celebrating these champions of our community.
The Bay's already known as one of the Coolest Small Towns in the Country. Three more recognitions in August only add to our coolness quotient.
- by Ellis Anderson
Bay St. Louis brought home what might be called a national trifecta for all-round coolness in August when it was named one of the 10 places in the state "Where Life is Still Simple," and one of 50 top "Hippie" towns in the United States and “One of Safest Beach Towns" nationally.
One town wag observed that the “Safe” status is probably made possible by the town’s “Simple” and “Hippie” character traits. That may be true, so to celebrate, we'll don our tie-dyed t-shirts and head down to the beach in the VW van.
Below are links to the articles and excerpts:
The Only In Your State website published an article on August 29th naming ten small towns in Mississippi "Where Life Is Still Simple." Here's why BSL made the grade:
Named one of the “Coolest Small Towns in America” by Budget and Travel Magazine, Bay St. Louis has it all – oceanfront views, a small town vibe, and a hip Old Town area filled with great restaurants, galleries, and more. As if it couldn’t get any better, the art scene is really flourishing thanks to city’s monthly “Second Saturday Artwalk.” The one-day fest includes art shows, live entertainment, and local cuisine.
The popular national men's website, Thrillist, named their choices for the "Best Hippie Towns in the United States." We're not sure what their criteria was since Fairhope was the representative for Alabama and Key West was Florida's pick, but it just goes to show that we're in good company. Here's what they said about Bay St. Louis:
Mississippi is about as known for hippie culture as Oklahoma is for seafood. But once you head south of I-10, it’s an entirely different ballgame. And while the beach culture, casinos, and welcoming attitude of the Mississippi Gulf Coast give the whole region an almost-hippie feel, nowhere is it more prevalent than in Bay St. Louis. Here the old main street is lined with art galleries and antique shops, complete with a fantastic pay-what-you-want restaurant at the Starfish Café. The town feels like California got dropped right at the end of the Mississippi River...
A national security blog named 12 beach towns in the United States to help readers "Plan a Safe and Secure Summer Family Vacation." The list included heavy hitters like, Gulf Shores, AL, Mystic, CT and Neptune Beach, FL.
Bay St. Louis, MS
If you live in Mississippi, Bay St. Louis makes a perfect vacation spot. This small community is bursting with southern charm and safe beach spots, since the overall crime rate in Bay St. Louis is 22% lower than the national average. Mockingbird Café is the place to go to experience local twists on classic meals. The vintage venue has been around since 1868 and is only two blocks from the Beachfront, Old Town Bay St. Louis. Spend a day on Ship Island with a Ship Island Excursion. Bring the family, sunblock, and an umbrella to relax on the best beaches in the area. You may even spot a dolphin in the wake of your boat on the way there!
S&L Office Supply, the only dedicated office supply company in Hancock County, is expanding exponentially in the coming months.
Later this year, the business will be moving from its present location 129 Hwy 90 in Waveland to 1201 Hwy 90, across from the Bay St. Louis post office.
The large building at 1201 was formerly home to the “Shieldsboro Bazaar,” an indoor flea market. Currently, it’s being renovated and remodeled. Bay St. Louis architect Ed Wikoff worked with S&L owner Chris Cochran to redesign the building’s interior, and work is underway for a complete makeover.
Now you don’t even have to leave home to attend City Council Meetings in Bay St. Louis.
The city’s Facebook Page now streams meetings in real time as they’re occurring. Better yet, the videos stay on the page, so if you can't "make a meeting," you can check them out later.
The 2nd annual Mississippi Book Festival in Jackson on August 20th will feature 200+ authors, including five prominent coast writers/artists who will be participating in panel discussions. We've got the scoop on who, what and where, along with festival details!
- story by Ellis Anderson
Five coast residents are featured on the schedule for the 2nd annual Mississippi Book Festival taking place in Jackson, Mississippi on Saturday, August 20th.
The inaugural fest made a regional splash last year (read Shoofly book columnist Carole McKellar’s story about the 2015 event). More than 3,700 people attended the first event held on the lawn of the State Capitol and 100+ authors were present, including John Grisham.
Two new condo projects are in the works for Bay St. Louis, which will add a total of 27 residential units to the Old Town beachfront. Lisa Monti, reporting for the Mississippi Business Journal, interviews one of the developers, Chet LeBlanc.
On August 8th, the Bay St. Louis Historic Preservation Commission gave conceptual approval to a new "condo-tel" project proposed for the corner of Beach Blvd. and Court Street. Preliminary plans for the "Pelic-Inn" show a three-story structure with parking on the ground level and 18 condo units on the two upper floors.
Also this week, Mississippi Business Journal published "Condos Coming to the Bay" by veteran business writer and blogger Lisa Monti, including an interview with one of the developers, Chet LeBlac. An excerpt and link to the full article are below:
On August 1st, two separate events will honor the professionals who serve Hancock County. "Blue, Red and First Responders Day" is the result of a grass-roots effort spearheaded by local citizens and officials. Meanwhile, 300 area educators are expected to attend the annual Hancock Chamber Education Committee Appreciation Dinner.
On Monday, August 1st, a grass-roots effort to build community and show appreciation for first responders coincides with the annual Teachers Appreciation Dinner hosted by the Hancock Chamber.
"Blue, Red and First Responders Day" offers free breakfast and lunch to all police, fire, emergency management and ambulance professionals working in Hancock County. The event will be held at the Bay St. Louis Community Center on Blaize Avenue.
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