Three Forums For City Candidates
Three non-partisan forums give voters a chance to get to know the candidates running for Bay St. Louis City Council and Mayor. Candidates will also have opportunities to answer questions and state their platforms in a race some believe is pivotal for the city's future.
- by Lisa Monti
Seven Compelling Reasons to Shop Local
Patronizing local merchants instead of online or big-box merchandisers has powerful year-round impacts for our community.
- story by Lisa Monti, Ellis Anderson, photographs by Ellis Anderson
Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon
Organizers of a new marathon event anticipate attracting runners from across the country. While the marathon route runs through Harrison County, two fun pre-events will take place on December 9th in Bay St. Louis.
- story by Lisa Monti
The marathon weekend kicks off Fri., Dec. 9, with a daylong health and fitness expo at the Mississippi Coast Convention Center in Biloxi.
While the routes for the half and full marathon run from Pass Christian to Biloxi in Harrison County, two fun pre-events take place in Hancock County on Friday. The Poker Run in Bay St. Louis is an untimed event that starts and ends at 6:30pm on the corner of Beach and Main Street. The Beer Mile starts at 7:30pm at the same location.
On Saturday, Dec. 10, there’s a 5K and a kid’s 1.2-mile fun run and on Sunday, Dec. 11, it’s the full marathon and half marathon.
All three races end at MGM Park in Biloxi where runners will be welcomed by cheering crowds to a celebration complete with great Gulf seafood, delicious barbecue, cold beer and live music.
The Coast’s shore-hugging route is in some exclusive company when it comes to the scenery, Bourgeois said. “There are lots of runs along the coast but only Big Sur, Calif., and ours have so many miles of beach views.”
Bourgeois said that besides the appeal of the beach race path, the new marathon is coming together so well because it’s modeled after the five-year-old marathon in Baton Rouge, which is expected to break the 9,000-participant mark this year.
The Baton Rouge marathon has raised more than $500,000 for nonprofits, and its economic impact on the area is impressive. The out-of-town participants have had a $17 million impact over the five years the race has been run, Bourgeois said. “That’s not counting the locals, just those who travel to the race. We’re hoping to go down that same path,” he said of the upcoming marathon.
And speaking of paths, Bourgeois sketched out what the runners will experience during the Gulf Coast Marathon: “The wind at their back, sun in their face, on the right are rolling waves and ahead are miles of flat, fast and festive running.”
For information about the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon, click here.
History Haunts the Cemetery Tour
Hancock County Historical Society’s Cedar Rest Cemetery Tour has brought the spirit of Halloween to Old Town Bay St. Louis every year since 1993. 5:30 - 8:30pm, Monday, 10/31.
–story by Ana Balka, photos Ellis Anderson and courtesy Hancock County Historical Society archives
The first official tour took place in 1993, making 2016 the 23rd annual tour. The only years the tour didn’t happen were 2005, due to Katrina, and 2015, because of storms. In the spirit of tradition (as well as a continuing desire to prevent Halloween vandalism), the tour always happens on Halloween night, regardless of what night of the week it is.
The tour now functions primarily (according to literature provided by Eddie Coleman, society newsletter historian and editor) to preserve and pass on knowledge of the area, to provide an annual community function that promotes the society, and to accept donations for its upkeep.
HCHS needs volunteers, including 10–12 actors to play historical characters, 10–12 cemetery guides, and also volunteer hosts for the night’s gathering at society headquarters, the Kate Lobrano House at 108 Cue Street. Visitors may meet there for hotdogs, homemade snacks, and punch after they’ve completed the tour. Volunteers are also needed to set up candles and mark the path through the cemetery.
Volunteer actors are required to be HCHS members, but guides and hosts may be people who are interested but have not yet joined. “This is a way members can support the society through the year,” says Coleman. “We [also] accept donations of cookies and cupcakes and things like that to serve when people finish the tour.”
A unique aspect of this tour is that all characters represented are buried in Cedar Rest cemetery, not simply historic figures from the area at large. Also of note: entrance to the tour is free, though donations are gladly accepted.
Kate Lobrano, 1871–1921, whose former home is the society’s headquarters, is the only historical figure who has a permanent place in the tour’s cast of characters. Jackie Allain, Second Vice President on HCHS’s Board of Directors, who along with Eddie Coleman organizes the tour, does annual research to determine each year’s characters.
“I think the most interesting one that I came up with was the Yellow Fever Victim,” she says. “We do know there was an epidemic in town and many people died, but we don’t know where they’re buried.” (The HCHS website shows that the first cases of yellow fever in Bay St. Louis were confirmed on October 17, 1897, and the fever claimed at least a half dozen lives in the area that fall.)
A broken-down rocking chair once sat undisturbed outside the Society’s front door in honor of past member Dorothea Martin, whose character in the first few years of the tour was the “Nearly Departed,” and who was positioned in that chair at the cemetery gates with the donations basket. Katrina destroyed Dorothea’s home and she went to live with relatives in California, but she remained a member and stayed interested in the Hancock County Historical Society until her death in 2007.
Click on any of the thumbnails below to open gallery! All images courtesy of the Hancock County Historical Society
Society member and Bay St. Louis resident Karen West portrayed Hancock County’s first librarian, Louise Crawford in 2013 and this year conveys the story of Ella Ioor, Bay St. Louis Postmistress 1885–’94. “I love being able to find out about these people,” she says, “and I love looking up period costumes.
“It was just fun to stand up there and tell people about it. I enjoyed sharing what I learned about them.”
A relative, possibly a niece, Karen recalls, of Louise Crawford even approached and said she appreciated Karen’s portrayal.
Organizers Jackie and Eddie say that at least two more actors (male or female) are needed for this year’s character portrayals, as well as several cemetery guides and Lobrano House hosts. Those who portray historic figures will get plenty of information and a script to go on. Interested volunteers can call the Lobrano House at 228-467-4090 or stop by from 10–12 and 1–4 any weekday.
The HCHS has a good reputation nationwide for the scope of its records, for its broad membership, and for its ongoing digitization project, which seeks to make files available to all via its website. The cemetery tour plays a major role each year in keeping this and all HCHS resources available to the citizens of Hancock County.
Coleman anticipates a busy night this Halloween. “This is something that you can do on Halloween that’s not just trick-or-treating, and it’s not a scary thing — the kids can come and learn about the history of the area.”
Mermaids Arts and Crafts Show
After a twenty-year hiatus, Bay St. Louis will once again by hosting a dedicated arts and crafts show. This first-time fundraiser for the Nereids Mardi Gras Krewe is expected to attract dozens of artists and thousands of shoppers on Sept. 17 - 18.
- story by Ellis Anderson
The show will take place on September 17th and 18th on the grounds of the Bay St. Louis Depot. Saturday hours are 9 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday, the show will be open from 11a.m.–4 p.m. Organizers have mapped out space for 100 vendors and at press time, more than half have been spoken for.
Beth Gruzinskas, a longtime Nereids member and in charge of publicity for the arts and crafts show, says that the depot grounds location is perfect in more ways than one.
It offers paths and shade that vendors and patrons both love and lots of parking nearby (St. Stanislaus is offering their field across the street for the event). The historic depot is also just a few blocks from the retail action and restaurants in Old Town’s commercial district.
“We’re calling it a destination weekend,” says Beth. “While people are at the show, they can shop around the rest of Old Town, restaurants and all the businesses. The hotels, the bed and breakfasts and the vacation rentals will also benefit. We’re working to promote the whole area, not just our show.”
The depot location also gives plenty of room for potential expansion in the future. And there’s good reason to think that they’d need it. Bay St. Louis already has a regional reputation as an artists’ colony. While it hosts the popular Arts Alive event each spring, with demonstrating artists and art competitions set up throughout the commercial district, there hasn’t been a dedicated art show in the Bay for at least twenty years.
The idea for a show in Bay St. Louis came about last fall, when members heard that the long-standing Diamondhead Arts and Crafts show was being disbanded. They decided to fill the vacuum by hosting the Mermaids show in Bay St. Louis on the same weekend. While the Diamondhead show was later revived by another group and will also take place that weekend, organizers believe that the two can complement each other, instead of competing.
Mary Ann Pucheu, who’s in charge of the vendors, says the goal is quality. Participating artists must make at least 50 percent of the product they’ll be selling. For instance, a vendor would be able to sell a picture frame, but only if they’ve decorated it themselves.
She says that the applications are coming in daily and will be considered until the show has filled all the available slots. So far, the show has accepted artists who’ll be showing handmade jewelry, pottery, glass and fine art. Vendors can get an application HERE.
Photos of vendors’ work are being posted almost daily on the Mermaid Arts and Crafts Facebook page.
Over the weekend, Nereids will have a booth selling hot dogs and hamburgers, while Phil Williams, the Bay St. Louis bbq legend, will also be offering his smoked specialties. But the focus will be on art. Shoppers will be encouraged to check out local restaurants in the Depot District and in the Old Town commercial district a few blocks away. Don’t feel like walking far? The Bay St. Louis trolley will be running throughout the weekend, stopping at the depot grounds each hour.
Although the Visitors’ Center, the Alice Moseley Museum and the Mardi Gras Museum in the historic depot will be closed during the event, shoppers will hopefully want to return later. Those who do will find that the Mardi Gras Museum stars a collection of retired Nereids’ costumes.
“All the fantastic costumes on display were designed and made for Nereids,” says Beth. “They’re all amazing — each one is a work of art.”
INFINITY Education Mission Gets Major Boost
The booster of the most powerful rocket in history is on site and ready for its home in a new wing at INFINITY as a star exhibit. But there's more - much more - to come. Find out what's new and soon to come at the state-of-the-art science center.
- story and photos by Ana Balka
The S-1C was designed to fire up its five F-1 engines and to boost an entire Saturn V 3-stage rocket 61 kilometers into space before disengaging from the other two stages and falling to an ocean grave. Had it fulfilled its intended use, astronaut and Biloxi native Fred Haise would have been commander as it went up for Apollo 19, but budget cuts scuttled the mission in 1970.
Now instead of sitting at the bottom of the ocean, this world-renowned relic—the last remaining piece of flight-ready Apollo hardware that hasn’t been conserved or preserved—will welcome eastbound I-10 travelers to Mississippi from its perch on the edge of a nature preserve.
“We’re hoping that big icon of the S-1C will attract attention,” said Haise, now one of INFINITY’s board of directors’ most hands-on members. Haise anticipates the selective clearing of more land on the approach to INFINITY to increase visibility and lure more visitors from the 8.5 million cars that pass the Center each year.
(We’ll follow up next month with more about my conversation with Mr. Haise, with whom I spoke just as this article was going to press.)
According to John Dumoulin, the INFINITY Center’s Director of Strategic Planning, housing the S-1C is just part of what will end up being significant expansion and increased learning opportunities at the Center.
The S-1C requires complete restoration; originally tested for flight at Stennis in 1970, it returned to the Michoud facility upon cancellation of the Apollo program, and has sat unprotected from the elements since 1978. The S-1C will be assessed, restored, and housed in an enclosed structure in view of I-10 traffic in what will be a new wing of the INFINITY campus, unnamed as of yet but slated to be dedicated to Apollo program history.
You can’t see examples like this of the S-1C just anywhere. Three complete Saturn V restored rockets are on display in the U.S.: one at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, one at Johnson Space Center in Houston, and one at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. There are no parts left to build another complete Saturn V. As for the huge F-1 engines you see on the S-1C, “There aren’t many of these left, except those attached to the Saturn V,” Dumoulin explains, since their job was to be discarded after use.
This being a complete, ready-to-go booster, I asked whether visitors might eventually get to see the inner workings. Dumoulin pointed high up on the side, to some panels that could be accessible by future walkway. “We envision being able to take some of those panels off, lighting on the inside to let you look at those inner tanks, the ribbings, the struts, and stays that are up in there to see how it’s all put together.”
Part of Dumoulin’s job is to raise funds for the project. He puts preliminary estimates at $5.4 million, divided between assessment (estimated at $65,000) and subsequent restoration and preservation of the S-1C (around $900,000), the actual surrounding structure at around $3 million, and an estimated $1.5 million in exhibits.
Proposals include a collections room for memorabilia and smaller items, and a records room for research on the Apollo program, especially as pertains to this area. Documents obtained as people retire from Stennis and the Michoud Assembly Facility contain information that libraries don’t have, with which there is potential “to build a collection that is unique, from a Gulf Coast, Mississippi, MAF/Stennis perspective, that you might not see in the Smithsonian,” Dumoulin says. An Apollo 4 capsule now at Stennis will also be brought over for display, as well as Apollo artifacts currently in the Space Mezzanine area of the building.
NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) vehicles, currently under development and designed for flight to Mars, will be built at MAF and tested at Stennis, also providing a unique opportunity for INFINITY to show continuity between the Apollo and Mars stories through the eyes of the Gulf Coast.
“One advantage we have over any other museum,” Fred Haise said, “is we have a reservoir of some of the greatest technical experts in the country.” INFINITY works with teams from NASA, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA, from companies like Rolls Royce and contractors like Lockheed.
The thought, he says, is to get working groups from the various entities working with INFINITY together periodically to review the exhibits and tell the Center what should be updated. “We can take advantage of those smarts. No other museum in the country I know of would have that locally.”
Dumoulin and I discussed the S-1C and developments at INFINITY in part while walking—then jogging, and finally running back to the building as rain began falling—on the Center’s Biome Boardwalk, an oasis of plants and wildlife between INFINITY’s building and I-10. Here, visitors will be able to view the far side of the S-1C from an observation deck currently under construction, and can traverse 1,400 feet of diverse habitats including lowland pine, pitcher plant bogs, bayhead swamps, and upland savannah. The boardwalk is designed in the shape of a lemniscate or an analemma, like the INFINITY logo itself.
Moneys from Deepwater Horizon oil spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) fines—which went to the state and then to a number of state-proposed restoration projects—funded Biome Boardwalk, new electric vehicles for INFINITY’s 6-mile round-trip Possum Walk tram tours, and some of the indoor exhibits soon to open.
These funds will go to create two classrooms to augment the five that exist now—one “wet,” with a laboratory, and one that might also be used for events. Also, a domed digital theater will seat approximately 60 people in reclining chairs for viewing films made especially for the structure.
August is a big month for INFINITY and its visitors: the plan is to open four new exhibits at the same time, sometime between the middle of August and summer’s end. In the Hurricane Prediction Lab, participants will build hurricanes and “launch” them toward targets to teach how parameters make up hurricanes. An Environmental Monitoring exhibit will look at the different ways we monitor things like water, air, and river quality, river flow, and other environmental factors; an exhibit called “Wetlands Pachinko” uses a Japanese gambling game in which balls are sent tumbling through vertical arrays of pins as an analogy for the way wetlands filter out different particulates.
The fourth (and possibly most “gripping”) exhibit features carnivorous plants like the Yellow Pitcherplant, indigenous to our area and which visitors will actually be able to feed mealworms. The plants, incidentally, will be rotated between a large, airy new indoor greenhouse close to the entrance and one that is soon to be constructed outdoors for optimum plant health.
Current exhibits already make INFINITY fascinating. Immersive film presentations show each half hour at Science on a Sphere immersive theater. Also, there are two screens on which various 3D films of bird flight runs on a loop. Spectacular footage and a poignant soundtrack make these pieces mesmerizing.
The main floor holds the Omega Flight Simulator, described as a “high tech thrill ride” in which you can experience the thrill of flight in a moving, high-definition theater. “Swamps to Space” shows Stennis Space Center’s beginnings in the marshes of Hancock County, along with recognition of the area towns displaced when the government invoked eminent domain in 1961. There is even a binder with listings of all the people who sold property in Stennis’s buffer zone.
Upstairs in the Space Gallery is a Shuttle flight deck with landing simulator and a mock-up of the International Space Station’s Destiny module, not to mention model planes, a moon rock, real space suits, and a mid-century recreation of German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun’s fabled office that once overlooked Stennis from the tower on the space center’s campus.
The main floor also holds an inflatable dome where the Center shows films at intervals, as a precursor to the domed theater that will be in the new wing. I filed in (four at a time, so as not to deflate the dome) with a group of Boys’ and Girls’ Club kids who had to leave five minutes later because they’d neglected to mention to any adults present that their bus was leaving, as kids will do. I admit being bummed for them that they had to miss “We Choose Space,” a short history of space flight, although those who chaperone herds of middle school students are the unsung heroes among us.
That’s a great thing about INFINITY Science Center. There is appeal and inspiration here for groups, individuals, families, experts, and novices of all ages, and the Center is growing and changing quickly. Keep an eye on INFINITY’s website for news of exhibit openings and progress with construction on the S-1C housing and Apollo wing, and visit often. It’s a resource that is not in every backyard.
Waveland's Ground Zero Museum Under New Director
A place that honors the survivors and volunteers who experienced the wrath and the aftermath of the most destructive hurricane in American history.
- story and photos by Ana Balka
If one did not take a close look at these, one might assume they were a post-Katrina gesture from a quilting society somewhere, but no: these are all the work of master quilting artist Solveig Wells, who had homes in Canada and Bay St. Louis and who completed these all from salvaged fabrics over 16 months in 2006-’07. Wells’ husband David donated the exquisite collection to the museum following Solveig’s death in 2013.
Museum volunteer and Waveland resident Carol Kerr says that in the weeks since the museum’s reopening visitors have reacted positively and sometimes emotionally to the museum’s collection of photos, art, and artifacts, which paint a distinctive portrait of Waveland before, during, and after Katrina.
Carol showed me the auditorium, where local students in Waveland’s M.A.P. (Music, Arts & Practicality, a non-profit enrichment program providing free theater and choir experiences for area students) summer theater camp have been rehearsing “The Lion King” for presentation on the auditorium stage July 16-17.
This is a facet ofnew director Kathy Pinn’s long-range vision for the Ground Zero Museum building as a gathering place: a place that builds community, as well as being a center for learning about the storm, about Waveland history, and about what makes Waveland such a special place.
Pinn has long fostered community in Waveland. A former president of both the Coleman Avenue Coalition and the Waveland Community Coalition (and incidentally a M.A.P. co-founder), Pinn and her husband Ron are moving back to Waveland after five years in Illinois specifically to get back to the home they love, and for Kathy to assume her role as museum director.
Pinn says that the dozens of museum visitors in its first month have included residents of 15 other states, some who had never been to the area, some post-Katrina volunteers. For locals, touring the museum can be cathartic.
“Seeing the waterline, seeing the pictures on the wall, then the H.C. Porter exhibit, it’s very moving,” Pinn says.
“Backyards and Beyond” is a multimedia exhibit by artist H.C. Porter and collaborators Karole Sessums and Gretchen Haien. Porter and Sessums photographed and recorded hundreds of Mississippians in the year following Katrina, creating a nationally touring exhibit that features Porter’s mixed media paintings and accompanying audio in which the portraits’ subjects express the reality of displacement and loss through their own stories.
Ground Zero’s Porter exhibit, sponsored by Mississippi Power, contains eight of the paintings, with audio guides. The floor is covered in photo-printed tiles that together comprise a life-sized portrait of the slabbed remains of a Waveland home.
The room feels chapel-like, bringing human shape to the unspeakable. I can see how it might uncover long-buried emotions in those who survived the storm.
“All of that is sometimes a little overwhelming,” Pinn says, “But then we go into the Waveland room.”
Many displays in the Waveland Room represent steps toward healing. There are binders with hundreds of handwritten, individual “Storm Stories” by survivors that visitors can thumb through, and throughout the room there are photo collages, quilts, signed shirts, and other outpourings of love from well-wishers and volunteers around the country.
A large cardboard “Gratitude Tree” stands covered in names and quotes. I photograph volunteer Carol next to her own words about home being wherever she is, because she cannot go home. In a corner, an assemblage by mixed media artist Lori Gordon depicts the clothes that hung from trees after the storm.
The room also contains historical artifacts: one wall is festooned with hand-painted versions of Boy Scout merit badges from the days Scouts held meetings in that very room in the ’50s, as well as photos of students, teachers, and sports teams from Waveland Grammar School days in the ’30s and ’40s. A glass case contains memorabilia from hurricane Camille.
A somewhat surreal herd of carousel animal figures gallop, hop, and swim at the back of the room, but that is part of the museum’s evolving nature. The Port Townsend (Washington) Carousel Association donated the Carousel of the Olympic Sea, an original by Bill Dentzel of the Denztel family of carousel makers, to Waveland after Katrina. Its size prohibits assembly in the museum building, so while the carousel has a permanent home at the museum, its location has yet to be defined.
Pinn knows that visitors will come away from the museum experience with a positive awareness of all that Waveland is and has achieved: “I’d like people to understand that part of it: It happened, we got through it, and now look at us.”
Pirate Day in the Bay
Ahoy, mateys! On June 24th, pirates take over Old Town for one of the most popular family events of the year. Swashbuckle your way through the weekend with our event rundown!
- story by Ana Balka, photos by Ellis Anderson
Last year’s first official Pirate Day in the Bay brought out somewhere around 1500 people, Rafferty said, and this year is likely to attract more.
The whole thing revolves around Captain Longbeard, who storms yearly into Bay St. Louis on a mighty ship with his crew — this year, on Friday, June 24 — intent on “recruiting new conscripts, and ... entertaining the young ladies of the city” (from Longbeard’s publicity page on Pirate Day’s website; a pirate has to have a good social media presence these days).
According to organizer John Rosetti, Longbeard will meet with Mayor Les Fillingame and “discuss taxation of his commodities.
“We anticipate a heated dispute in which the mayor will more than likely be placed in jail and the pirates will control the town,” Rosetti reported.
Those who wish to actually be an “arriving pirate” (by boat, that is) on Friday should sign up for the “Pirate Recon River Run & Pirate Arrival,” and be at the BSL Harbor Event Deck at noon. From there, participants will cruise to Hollywood Casino, where they are free to plunder for treasure, and return with the boat at 5:30 for the Pirate Arrival. Get tickets here.
The pirates’ arrival and showdown with the Mayor officially happens at 5:30, and will immediately be followed by the Pirate’s Pub Crawl and Scavenger Hunt (for which you may purchase tickets here). At least 11 bars are Pub Crawl and Scavenger Hunt Stops; find hidden treasures and compete for over $1000 in prizes and gifts.
Pirates may also take part in Saturday’s 3 p.m. “Pirate Cruise and Invasion,” which will take buccaneers on a cruise of the Bay of St. Louis, returning to the Harbor event deck by 5 p.m. for the Pirate Invasion. Tickets here.
But wait! There is so much more to Pirate Day in the Bay! Whether you take part in one of the cruises or not, you (and your kids, and your dogs, and your parrots, yarrrr) must dress in your finest privateering pantaloons and buccaneering blouses and enter in the costume contest. Judges Rory Rafferty (President, Mystic Krewe of the Seahorse) and Jaimee Dorris (entrepreneur, advocate of all that is fabulously feminine, blogger, and Mrs. Congeniality of the 2016 Mrs. Mississippi pageant) will judge the 2 p.m. Saturday proceedings.
There will be music throughout the weekend, with the Bay’s own Brandon Tingstrom rocking the stage 7-10 Friday night, and upbeat New Orleans band Karma playing Saturday from 8-11.
The Mayor takes back the city and proclaims it safe by 7:30 p.m. Saturday, but pirates will keep reveling as the music goes through the night. Then, thrill to the glory of the cannons — or rather, a big and gorgeous fireworks display, sponsored by the Silver Slipper at 9.
Then we can all go home and rest easy that Captain Longbeard and his dastardly cohorts have sailed away for another year. Ahoy!
St. Clare Seafood Festival
Bike, walk or drive down the beach to Waveland on Memorial Day Weekend, but arrive hungry! The St. Clare Seafood Fest kicks officially kicks off the summer in Bay-Waveland.
- story by Ana Balka, photos by Ellis Anderson
Arts Alive! Takes Over Old Town
One of the liveliest festivals on the coast, Arts Alive! embraces all types of art - including visual, literature, culinary arts, theatre and music - with lots of fun competitions!
- story by Ana Balka, photos by Ellis Anderson
Dolly meets Bay St. Louis - can you imagine a more delightful combination? Find out all the happenings!
- story by Ana Balka
Samples of the Art Show at Smith & Lens
Dolly as an inspiration - in more ways than one!
“I hope we have a hundred or more Dollys walking around,” said Alicein Wonderland of Mockingbird Cafe, where Poplarville bluegrass band Cross Ties will perform on the outdoor stage in full western regalia.
No justification is needed for throwing a party in honor of Dolly Parton, but Dolly’s well-known philanthropy inspired Smith & Lens co-owners Ann Madden and Sandy Maggio when they brainstormed a follow-up to Frida Fest, which brought enthusiastic crowds to the Bay in celebration of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo last July.
The Dollywood Foundation runs Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, close to Dolly’s girlhood home. According to its website the park provides over 3000 jobs and hosts more than two million visitors annually. In 1995 the foundation launched the Imagination Library, which gives more than 10 million books to children under the age of five every year in communities across North America and the United Kingdom.
Dolly’s work in literacy and her commitment to giving back to her community were things that Madden, who is a photographer, and silversmith Maggio wanted to promote in Bay St. Louis.
“A big thing that draws us to Dolly is she came from Pigeon Forge, and she has brought so much back to that community,” says Sandy. “Their economy has boomed because of her. She shined a light on them. Plus, she seems game for anything!”
Smith & Lens opened in January 2015 as a venue for Madden and Maggio’s work and as a place for them to curate shows by other regional and nationally known artists. But larger participatory events like Frida Fest and “Surrender” — a mass collaboration in which artists “surrender” an incomplete work and then finish the work of another participant — are events that will go on annually, and which reveal community-building vision that goes beyond commercial aspiration.
“Bringing back to the community is big,” Sandy says. “We strive consciously to bring visibility to the Bay. We want people to know what’s here.”
“We want the community to be a part of it,” she says of Smith & Lens’s events. “We try to be super, super inclusive with everything we do. It’s not always about selling the art; it’s about just being exposed to it.”
And in case you were wondering, Dolly has indeed been notified of the citywide shindig, and is “Interested! As are all of her impersonators,” laughs Ann.
Will she show up?
“There are rumors,” says Sandy.
Power Up and Sharpen Your Technology Skills
December seminars for small businesses and homeowners aim to provide locals with the know-how to build better lives and a better community. Includes complete list of workshop offerings!
Winter sessions will move to the recently opened Bay-Waveland Habitat for Humanity / Hancock Chamber Training Center in Bay St. Louis (103 Central Ave., BSL) in a series of workshops geared toward homeowners as well as small business owners (see complete list of workshop offerings below).
“We had the space and computers, and the Chamber had the training furniture,” said Wendy McDonald, executive director of Habitat. “Put these resources together with the educational expertise of PRCC and MSU, and you have a winning partnership,” she said.
“Partnerships work,” said Tish Williams, executive director of the Hancock Chamber of Commerce. “When we work together to achieve community goals, we can make sure that our residents and businesses have the resources they need to connect, grow their customer base and enhance their skills.” Through these sessions, Williams says these partners want to empower people to achieve at their highest levels.
December’s workshops — which are free to attend — focus not only on technology like Excel basics and Microsoft PowerPoint, but include sessions on women’s empowerment, with speakers like Dorothy Wilson, publisher of Gulf Coast Woman magazine and co-founder of SUCCESS Women’s Conference. Upcoming workshop topics the group has considered for 2016 include a seminar on writing wills, and another on how to locate affordable homeowner’s insurance.
“We will find out what is important to homeowners and business owners and custom design these seminars to meet their needs,” said Williams.
For seminar registration, contact Brenda Wells at 601-403-1379 or email@example.com. To participate, you must know your email address, social media logins, Apple ID and passwords. Attendance is limited to the first 12 to register. Habitat for Humanity will provide computers to use during the session. You may register for one or all of the seminars offered. Seminars take place at the Bay-Waveland Habitat for Humanity / Hancock Chamber Training Center, 103 Central Avenue, Bay St. Louis.
For further business resources contact the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce at 228-467-9048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
December Habitat for Humanity / Hancock County Chamber Technology Seminars
Like the proud parents of an honor student on graduation day, supporters of quality education in Hancock County have a lot to feel good about. Our public and private school students, teachers and administrators are high achievers in not only academics but the arts and athletics as well.
Despite being underfunded by the state in recent years, local educators have worked wonders with what they had (and just imagine what they could have done with their fair shake of funding from the state!). Take a look at these well rounded accomplishments:
Talk of the Town
Bay -Waveland School District
- Bay High School, which ranked 13th out of 249 high schools in Mississippi for statewide testing scores, has the highest graduation rate on the Mississippi Coast and the third highest rate in the state. And for the last three years, it's also had the lowest drop-out rates in the three coastal counties.
- The school won the Bronze Award among Best High Schools in America for four years, according to US News & World Report. The 2014 graduation class of 135 were awarded $5.5 million in scholarships. In 2015, 114 graduates pulled in an astonishing $8,374,566 in scholarship offers, setting a new record at the school and topping last year's record by nearly $3 million.
- Forty-five percent of students go on the attend two-year community college and 35 percent attend four-year universities.
- Scholarship carries over into athletics at Bay High, where all varsity team members have a 3.0 or higher grade point average. Recent honors include award winning efforts by the dance team, basketball and soccer teams, cheerleading squad and tennis team which keep crowding the school’s trophy cases.
Hancock School District
- The Hancock County School District’s testing scores ranked second out of 249 high schools and the high school was a top performer for three years in a row.
- Hancock’s graduation rate was in the top 5 for the Coast and the top 15 percent of all districts in the state. The 2015 graduates earned $6.1 million in scholarships. Among 2015 graduates, 48 received highest honors for 4.0 and greater grades; 36 students earned honors for 3.5-3.99 averages.
- More than half of the county’s high school grades enrolled in two-year community college and 36 percent opted for four-year universities.
- Outside the classroom, Hancock High students earned honors for band, dance, art, basketball, Junior ROTC, football, volleyball, fast pitch softball, bowling, golf, track, tennis, cross country and swimming.
St. Stanislaus and Our Lady Academy
- Accolades go to the county’s private schools as well. At the all-boys St. Stanislaus, approximately 90 percent of 2015 senior class earned college scholarships totaling more than $10.5 million. SSC seniors were accepted into 84 colleges and universities.
- Our Lady Academy is a parochial school, the only all-girls Catholic high school in the state. The class of 2015 had an average 25.7 ACT scores - higher than state and national averages. OLA’s 34 graduates in the class of 2015 earned more than $2,685,000 in scholarships, averaging $79,000 per graduate.
Cruisin' All Year Long
- story by Christina Richardson
So, it is the second Saturday of the month and you are driving on Highway 90 near Dunbar Avenue. You see old cars in the parking lot of Market Town shopping center by Froogels. You are seeing a car show held by the members of the Misfists Street Krewzers. The car enthusiasts are showing their rides and talking car parts to anyone who comes by. Many of these cars are ones some old timers remember owning, and younger folks are attracted to the individuality expressed by these classic rides.
The Misfits were formed in 1999 and have been hosting events throughout the area ever since. According to current president Bobby Gavagnie, their 140 members love old cars from pre-’49 street rods to Corvettes. Active members of the club attend five meetings and five cruise-ins per year. Information about joining and upcoming events can be found at www.msmisfits.com.
Talk of the Town
One event hosted by the Misfits is The Annual Misfits Street Krewzers Gnat Nationals Open Car/Truck and Bike show at Our Lady of the Gulf. Gnats was added after the first event because the first event was plagued by gnats. For the 17th Annual Gnat Nationals in March, CASA of Hancock County was selected as the charity. A check in the amount of $6,000 was presented to Hancock County CASA CEO Cynthia Chauvin by Misfits Vice President Donna Holland.
Cynthia said that some of the Misfits’ members heard about the work that CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) was doing for children in Hancock County. After meeting with the members and the board, the Misfits chose to be founding supporters of the Candles of Hope Program.
With support of Claiborne Hill Supermarket, the Misfits make birthday cakes for all the children served by CASA. These cakes are personalized for the boys and girls, some of whom have never had a cake of their own. This relationship is working so well that Misfits is going to name CASA as their 2016 Gnats National charity.
Misfits is a very active group. The annual Halloween Cruise-in takes place Saturday, October 24 at the Depot from 6-9 p.m, and Sunday, December 13 is their annual toy drive, with new toys and donations going to the Department of Human Services and the Angel Tree.
When Cruisin’ the Coast is over and you get the need for an “old car fix,” don’t despair! The Misfits Street Krewzers will be in the area showing great cars and raising money for charity.
of the Shoofly
Across The Bridge
At Home In The Bay
Beach To Bayou
Coast Lines Column
Friends Of The Animal Shelter
Growing Up Downtown
House And Garden
Mother Of Pearl
Murphy's Musical Notes
Old Town Merchants
On The Shoofly
Puppy Dog Tales
Rheta Grimsley Johnson
Station House BSL
Talk Of The Town
Tying The Knot
Wines And Dining