Like everyone else, we've been reading everything we could get our hands on about the virus. But we still had several unanswered questions. We put them to infectious disease specialist, Dr. Nicholas Conger.
Shoppers looking for pre-owned treasures are having a field day, thanks to a trio of new shops on Highway 90.
-- Story by Lisa Monti
A 96-year-old WWII veteran is making his second run across the U.S. to raise money for a memorial. You're invited to join him on Saturday, January 25!
- story by Lisa Monti
- photos courtesy Coast2CoastRuns Facebook page
The famous Budweiser horses drew big crowds of fans last year in Bay St. Louis - now they're returning on January 31st at 6pm for a repeat ride through the city.
-story by Lisa Monti
- photos by Brenda Comer
Two local retailers - and longtime Shoofly Magazine sponsors - hit the "reset" button in time for holiday shopping: California Drawstrings and Pass Books.
- story by Lisa Monti
Their home and community in the Bahamas destroyed by Hurricane Dorian, a couple and their newborn find temporary refuge in a place that understands that kind of loss - Bay St. Louis.
- story by Lisa Monti, photos by Ellis Anderson
Tired of spending endless hours of searching for events, artist Kathleen Johnson and volunteer Shay Raphael have compiled a comprehensive list of virtually every market, festival and art show within 250 miles of Biloxi.
- Story by Lisa Monti
Johnson came up with the idea about five years ago and began collecting information in earnest a year ago. She figures she spent about 800 hours gathering details on some 400 events featuring arts and crafts including farmers’ markets.
Shay Raffael working with Kathleen Johnson on the Southern Events List Data Base. Shay, not an artist herself, recognized the enormous impact this list could make to the art community and stepped up to offer her expertise to incorporate the data into an Excel spread sheet - an enormous task as the list is 100 pages at this point.
Shay Raphael signed on to help with the project and has input all the information into a 100-page spreadsheet. The list can be sorted by event name, date, miles from Biloxi, cost to participate, contact information and any deadlines that may apply.
Johnson said the smaller Beta version is available for $15 and the final version will be available Oct. 1 at no charge. Updates to the Excel Spreadsheet 2013 version built for Windows 10 will be available for $5.
The beta release is just in time for the holidays, the most lucrative season of all for artists and crafters. “We pulled everything we could together to meet the Christmas rush,” she said. “I don’t care as long as it’s a market serving the creative economy. It goes on the list.”
To make the list as accessible as possible, Johnson said she’ll meet with anyone who needs help for a lesson in how to use the spreadsheet. She’ll even print out the list for anyone who needs a paper copy.
For more information, go to the Southern Event List Facebook page.
Thanks to the Alice Moseley Museum, Fun Fest brings back regional favorites - including Amanda Shaw and Monsters at Large.
- Story by Lisa Monti, photos by Ellis Anderson
“Monsters at Large are the best known local band, and Amanda Shaw and Ryan Foret are top regional bands from Louisiana," said Tim. "We’re very excited to have all of them perform this year."
Other performers will be local favorites Bay Ratz Marching Battery, the Dave Mayley Band and Coastal Native Delights - plus Faith Becnel, a dynamic young singer from the New Orleans area.
The Fun Festival will also showcase loads of local artists. For young fest-goers, there will be a kid’s play zone where they can enjoy bounce houses, slides, a chalk art contest and face painting.
Delicious food and refreshments will be available throughout the day.
Francina’s Foods & More will be preparing “home cooking right there on the spot, including beef brisket and other local favorite dishes,” said Lonnie Falgout, who since 2004 has been executive director of the museum, serving on a volunteer basis. The Daiquiri Shak will be selling beer, wine, soft drinks and water. Snowballs also will be available.
“It’s going to be a great time,” said Lilyana Gandour, the museum’s operations director. “The museum will be open and welcoming everyone to come in and look at Alice Moseley’s wonderful art.”
Like the festival, the museum is free. That’s in keeping with Miss Alice’s philosophy that art should never have an admission charge.
The museum attracts large numbers from out of town, and organizers hope more locals will drop by to see what’s new at the ever-evolving collection.
“We get fantastic snowbird visitors, but we want local people to give it a second look,” said Tim.
For two decades this annual event has been working to empower women across the coast in all aspects of their lives.
- story by Lisa Monti
Labat said the celebration’s purpose from the start was to give women time together to talk about things of common interest and allow them to share their thoughts.
“We are trying to keep this program going and empower women to see that they can do even more than they think they can,” she said.
The celebration on Saturday at the St. Rose Parish Holy Spirit Center (on Necaise Avenue in Bay St. Louis, across from the church) includes informative forums on health, education and politics led by professionals in each field.
Leading the Health Forum discussions will be:
The education issues forum participants will include:
Other speakers with connections to Bay St. Louis and St. Rose include:
Also on Saturday, the Book Review Forum will be led by Dorothy Wilson, Publisher and Editor of Gulf Coast Woman Magazine and co-founder of the Success Women’s Conference.
She will be joined by locals:
The day will conclude with a reception for participants and presenters.
On Sunday, participants will be recognized at 9 am Mass at St. Rose Church (301 Necaise), where the Women’s Mass Choir will be directed by Sherry Hill and the Liturgical Dance will be choreographed by Marion Brewer.
We had lots of questions and wanted reliable answers - so we asked the folks who know. Here's what we found out.
- story by Ellis Anderson
UPDATE - July 17: MDEQ conducted water tests after Barry passed through and says the results warrant leaving the water contact warnings in place. Click here for the full July 17 press release.
A shady new location and a record number of sponsors promises to make this popular benefit the biggest and best yet.
- story and photos by Ellis Anderson
Which is good, because according to Chauvin, the poker-run is shaping up to be the biggest yet.
“We’ve surpassed our goals in terms of sponsorships,” she said, “and the response on social media has been very enthused.”
The event coincides with Old Town’s popular Second Saturday Artwalk. Each July, the Artwalk is dubbed “Frida Fest” because it celebrates the birthday of iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Frida Fest draws hundreds of visitors from across the region.
“At Dan B.’s, we’ll be more visible to folks who’ve come for Frida Fest,” says Chauvin. “And we’ll get a cooler breeze.”
One doesn’t need to be a gambler to participate in the benefit, or even be present on the day of the event to win one of the three prizes.
Poker hands cost $20 each. Hands (and event t-shirts) can be purchased in advance at the following times:
Poker hand sales start at 10am the morning of July 20th at Dan B’s.
Hands must be purchased in person. If a purchaser can’t make the actual event, CASA tucks those hands into an envelope and the cards will be dealt at the culmination of the event.
Poker “hands” are actually event cards that have to be physically punched at four of the twelve participating locations. Players can use their preferred mode of transportation – boat, car, golf cart, or bicycle. Since several of the locations are within a block of each other in Old Town, walkers will have it easy as well.
“We listened to feedback from last year and reached out to more water stops this year,” said Chauvin. “The Lazy Gator in Diamondhead is one, and so is Hollywood Casino. The casino will have beer and water right at the dock, along with someone to punch your card.”
At the Bay St. Louis Harbor, players arriving by boat will have several more choices (see the full list of participating businesses below).
In mid-afternoon, players bring their punched cards back to Dan B’s. Players must be in line to get their actual poker cards dealt by 4pm. Chauvin says there’s no wiggle room on the deadline rule.
Professional dealers from area casinos have volunteered to deal each player five cards. For an extra $5 donation, players can purchase a sixth card before their hands are dealt.
The three people with the top hands when the cards have all been dealt win an impressive array of prizes. The top prize is a condo stay in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
People who aren’t actually playing will be welcome to support CASA by buying t-shirts and tickets for a 50-50 raffle. There’ll also be a live and silent auction. All day, a DJ at Dan B’s will be keeping the energy upbeat. To cap off the day, beginning at 6pm, “The All-Nighters” band performs.
Chauvin says the event’s focus is squarely on community and charity - not on consumption of adult beverages.
“The poker run is about spending time with friends and family and being out on the water for a great cause,” she said.
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Several new businesses have opened in Old Town in the first six months of this year, the lion's share of them on the first block of Main. Meet some of the business people behind this flurry of entrepreneurship.
story and photos by Ellis Anderson
Field’s Steak and Oyster Bar
As the Bay St. Louis Municipal Harbor reached its fifth year of operation this month, local officials announced plans to add more slips to the popular harbor. Work is expected to get underway sometime this fall to add Pier 5 with 43 slips. Work is slated for completion six months later.
“Right now we are at capacity,” said harbormaster Chuck Fortin. “There’s nothing available for long-term lease, and the majority of boats we are turning away are 50-foot plus.”
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Fortin said the harbor has experienced growth in occupancy and fuel sales since it opened in June 2014. The popularity of the harbor among boaters has brought customers to downtown restaurants, shops and galleries and has spurred new business growth and expansions, city officials said in making the expansion announcement.
According to the city’s economic projections, the harbor generates approximately $30,000 per year in Mississippi sales tax and $9,000 annually in state fuel tax. In the last fiscal year, it also generated $314,000 in slip fees, $75,000 in utilities and $298,000 in fuel sales. Transient dock age and ice were another $5,000.
The addition of Pier 5 with 80 percent occupancy will generate an estimated annual revenue of $81,192 for the harbor and $5,683 in State sales tax revenue, according to a statement from the city.
The last major project was adding a wave screen to reduce the wave action inside the harbor.
Hancock County committed $1 million to build the new pier, which is expected to cost around $1.5 million. Tideland funds will make up the difference. In announcing the partnership with the city, Board of Supervisors President Blaine LaFontaine said, “The expansion of Bay St. Louis Harbor will continue to invest in our downtown and assets at a time where we are seeing unprecedented growth and tourism in Bay St. Louis.”
Fortin said the majority of slip holders are from out of state, with most of those from Louisiana. Others are from Texas, Arkansas, Florida and Tennessee. “It’s their getaway. It’s almost like a second home for a lot of folks. Some people get a cabin in the woods or a house on the beach, and some people get a boat.”
Boaters stay overnight or for three to four weeks. Many will boat over to a barrier island or to Biloxi casinos. Recently a few boaters left their Bay St. Louis slips and headed for visits to Florida and the Bahamas.
- story by Lisa Monti
Two Hancock County signing events will be held with the four women from Bay-Waveland.
The first will take place at the Women’s Leadership Roundtable on Tuesday, June 25, from 5pm – 7pm at the Waveland Ground Zero Museum, 335 Coleman Ave. in Waveland. Publisher Dorothy Wilson will be present, as well as the four local writers.
A second Hancock County Unboxed event will be held Thursday, June 27, at Brandi Stage Portraiture, 833B U.S. 90, Bay St Louis. There will be light refreshments, drinks and networking starting at 6pm, with the writers sharing more about their stories.
Twenty-five women share their inspirational stories about how they unpacked negativity and rejection and stopped being boxed in by the expectations of others.
The result is the Unboxed Book Project, an anthology that’s filled with lessons on how to move forward and upward in your life and career.
The project is led by Dorothy Wilson, publisher of Gulf Coast Woman magazine and an accomplished leader in marketing and strategic planning. She brought together 25 Coast women to share their stories of becoming “unboxed,” from circumstances and people who had kept them from achieving their best life.
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Publisher Dorothy Wilson says that although she believed the finished project would be inspirational, even she was surprised by the completed manuscript, once all the stories were assembled.
“I knew this had the potential to be powerful,” says Wilson. “I had no idea how powerful until I read the final version before it was sent to the printer. I was overwhelmed and so, so empowered and encouraged to see what these women had overcome. I thought I knew them all, yet discovered so much more about them.”
All four of the Hancock County writers say that the project helped them grow further by pushing them to record their pivotal life experiences.
“I had learned to soar early on. My mom that taught me I could do anything I set my mind to do. I believed her, even in the midst of trials and tribulations that are inevitable in life.”
Local real estate broker, Holly Lemoine-Raymond, also wrote about her mother’s encouragement. “She helped me find the courage to pursue my career in real estate, even though it seemed riskier to step out on my own," says Lemoine-Raymond. Her mother passed away in 2005.
"Owning your own company is something you have to grow into. Mom helped me understand that it is a process and that I’d learn along the way. She's no longer alive, but it seems that she still here encouraging me.”
Southgroup Insurance company owner, Angelyn Zeringue, says she found writing for the Unboxed book “very introspective and humbling.”
“It made me realize that all the bad times and good times define who you become,” she says. “For the project, we were invited to share an inspirational story from our lives.
"I am always inspired by learning how others overcame obstacles and accomplished great things."
Ellis Anderson, digital publisher of The Shoofly Magazine and French Quarter Journal, found the Unboxed assignment challenging, even for a professional writer and editor.
“To reveal how you overcame an obstacle, you have to relive it,” says Anderson. “That’s not always easy. But writing about an experience gives you a better understanding about yourself and a deeper appreciation for all the people who helped lift you up.
The first coast-wide book signing was held June 13 at 5:30pm at the White House Hotel in Biloxi. Several of the authors spoke, followed by a group book signing.
- story and photos by Ellis Anderson
Resumption of passenger rail service from New Orleans to Mobile received a major boost today when the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) awarded $33 million to the Southern Rail Commission.
The money will go toward funding a $65.9 million railroad and infrastructure improvement project along the route needed to upgrade it for passenger trains.
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Southern Rail commissioner Knox Ross agrees.
“Restored passenger rail service will spark economic development along the coast,” said Ross in a telephone interview this afternoon. “The Mississippi coast towns are already set up for it. They have stations downtown, with vital and attractive downtown areas that have been the beneficiaries of substantial investments since Katrina.”
Knox said that presently while there is some limited public bus transportation on the coast, there is nothing that runs between all the coast cities or between the coast and New Orleans. This puts the coast at a distinct disadvantage, because in the field of economic development, “the ability to get around is becoming more important all the time.”
“If someone on the coast needs to go to the New Orleans, they have to get a ride or drive themselves,” Ross said. “People in the Mobile ship building business are renting vans to transport employees across the coast and the New Orleans.”
Ross also noted that the coast is missing out on an important tourism market.
“750,000 people from other countries around the world are visiting New Orleans each year,” he said. “Many would love to take a day trip out of the city and see more of this country, but they can’t get to the coast unless they rent a car.”
The Southern Rail Commission will help put together operating agreements with Amtrak and between Amtrak and CSX Railroad (which actually owns the tracks). Amtrak estimates the improvements will be completed within 24 months.
When it begins service, two passenger trains will run from New Orleans to Mobile each day – one in the morning and one in the evening. A morning and evening train will also run from Mobile to New Orleans daily.
“We’re grateful to Senator Wicker and his team – and all the other supporters who understand what a difference rail service will make,” Said Ross.
Colorful architectural replicas are at the heart of Jenise McCardell and Mark Currier’s business, one that's found a special place in the heart of Bay St. Louis.
- Story by Lisa Monti
It’s been 35 years since ceramic artist Jenise McCardell left New Orleans, moved to Bay St. Louis and opened her own working studio at 220 Main Street.
She and husband Mark Currier’s house is right behind the art deco building that also is home to Gallery 220, a popular artists co-op that has never stopped evolving since the couple opened it in the front part of their building.
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All of the pieces are sculpted from white clay, hand-painted, and fired in kilns right on the premises. Over the years, thousands of Clay Creations nostalgic pieces have been exchanged as gifts, stuffed into Christmas stockings, decorated gift packages and walls and otherwise made their way to the hands of many a grateful recipient.
Clay Creations and Gallery 220 are longtime favorites for everyone who visits Old Town’s shops and stores and both hold a special place in the open door tradition on the Second Saturday ArtWalk.
That’s because after Hurricane Katrina roared through in 2005, Jenise and Mark were the first business to revive the Second Saturday tradition just a few weeks after the storm. With all of the destruction and disruption caused by Katrina, residents saw the return of Second Saturday as a welcome relief from the chaos and a chance to reconnect with the community. The couple even turned the monthly Second Saturday into a weekly gathering at their studio for several months.
Not surprisingly, in 35 productive and successful years, Clay Creations and its owners have been featured in news stories, on television and even in a mini-documentary about Bay St. Louis. Click here to see it on Youtube!
Jenise said that after 35 years, she’s seeing a new generation of customers collecting their own memories from among Clay Creations’ colorful inventory. “They’ll say, ‘My mom collected these,’ so they want to have their own memories for their children.”
Since the storm, the Old Town business district has been steadily revitalized, Jenise said, and there is more traffic in the area, which is good news for the city. “It’s so exciting to see all this vibrancy happen,” she said. “Everybody got on board and did it together.”
Jenise said Clay Creations is “going forward” in the future. “It’s been a really great ride, and we have enjoyed it. It’s our passion.”
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