He's proud to represent his clients and is working to improve life in Bay St. Louis through improving our court system.
- story by Dena Temple
“Our job is to clarify and then handle the immense amount of paperwork to expedite their claims."
“I get paid for helping people. What could be better?” says Brehm with a smile.
Brehm met his future wife, Jenny, while in college. Jenny is a Methodist, and Brehm is a member of the Mormon Church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
In another family this difference of faith might cause problems, but the Bells’ beliefs comfortably co-exist through mutual respect and understanding. The couple even attends each other’s church services once a month. Jenny runs a respected advertising agency and is a graphic designer.
The Bells raised three sons and a daughter in Bay St. Louis. The pride is evident in Brehm’s voice when asked about their current lives.
“Our eldest recently moved back to Bay St. Louis and is pursuing a career in printing,” he begins. “My second son graduated from Emory University with a divinity degree and is working as a Methodist youth minister in the Atlanta area.”
He pauses, then continues with a smile. “My third son is a senior at Mississippi State University studying business, and he intends to be an entrepreneur. Our youngest child, my daughter, is currently attending Southern Mississippi University.”
Volunteerism keeps Brehm Bell very busy. He is active in the Young Men Organization, an auxiliary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which promotes the growth and development of young men ages 12-18.
In addition, Brehm is still involved with the Hancock Chamber of Commerce Education Committee and its Teachers’ Appreciation Dinner, and the Bookworms program, in which volunteers read books to elementary-school classes to help engage students in books and reading.
A particular source of pride for Brehm Bell is Hancock County’s Youth Court system. Ten years ago Bell served as a Youth Court judge. At that time the position was part-time, and support staffing was inadequate to properly manage the case load.
Bell was instrumental in establishing a full-time Youth Court judge for Hancock County. Today, Judge Trent Favre holds the position full time, supported by a fully staffed DHS office. Backlogs are gone, and the public is far better served.
Bell and others sought to create the local County court system for reasons related to not only the Youth Court. Previously, Hancock County employed the Circuit Court System for handling all civil and felony criminal cases.
Bell explains, “We have four circuit court judges. Two spend three weeks in Hancock County each year, and the rest of their time is spent serving other counties. The other two circuit court judges serve here twice a year for three-week stints. These are all fine judges, but they have other duties serving Stone County and two separate courts in Harrison County, one in Biloxi and one in Gulfport.”
Bell pauses. “It was their responsibility to hear all the criminal and civil cases in the county. If there were more cases than there was room on the docket, the cases were postponed, sometimes for months or years. That wasn’t efficient, and it wasn’t fair to people who look to the courts for help with civil claims.”
Today, a full-time and fully staffed County Court judge can hear most civil cases without having to burden the Circuit Court judges. Hancock County Judge Trent Farve can hear most civil cases and youth court cases. This is helping to relieve the system of its logjam.
Improvements in the courts system help make life in Bay St. Louis a little better for its residents, and Brehm Bell is proud to have been partially instrumental in the creation of a full-time County Court judge position for this purpose. What else paints a bright future for BSL? Bell says smart downtown development will bring more visitors – and more tourism dollars – to our town.
What does the future hold for Brehm Bell? He says he has no plans to retire, but when he does, he is not leaving Bay St. Louis. “My home in Old Town will be my last,” he says.
“We love living here. We have everything we need –beaches, galleries, restaurants, and most of all, family and friends.” And Bell is working to make Bay St. Louis a better place, thanks to his tireless advocacy and desire to serve the community.