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Piers added to harbor projects

Posted: April 21st, 2014, by editor

The board of aldermen Tuesday approved changes to piers at both harbors and authorized a noise mitigation project at the Randolph Center.
A $175,000 change order was approved for Silverton Construction at the harbor expansion project to install piers at the seafood processing area.
One pier will be used to unload shrimp. The other will be used for loading ice and fuel.
The two piers replace a single ell-shaped pier in the original design.
The change order extends the harbor contract by 85 days.
Aldermen also named the access road to the commercial side of the new harbor East Harbor Drive. The road is an extension of Davis Avenue.
At the existing harbor, aldermen approved a plan from Joey Garriga to extend the skiff piers by the boat launch for charter boats.
The plan increases the width of four slips and adds a fish cleaning station.
Garriga said last year about 350 charter trips were made from the Pass Harbor.
In other action, the board heard from Larry Rogers and Will Koolsbergen of Pass Theatre Project about adding carpet and sound battens to the main room of the Randolph Center.
Koolsbergen said the room is essentially a big empty box with concrete floors which make acoustics a problem.
Rogers said the additions will help with acoustics and make the facility more usable for the theatre and other events.
The Theatre Project will pay for the sound battens and asked the city to hang them.
The carpet has been donated by The Flooring Mart of Gulfport and labor would be provided at a discounted rate.
The board approved the proposal contingent on approval of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
In other action:
• The board opened two bids for operations, maintenance and utility billing.
Clearwater Solutions, of Opelika, AL, was the low bid at $468, 963.
Wastewater Plant Service Company (WPSCO) of Pass Christian was the high bid at $469,884.
The board took the bids under advisement until a later meeting.
• Police officer Edward Walley was suspended for six work days for failing to report an accident involving his patrol car. The incident occurred in Gulfport with a bicyclist. No one was injured.
• In the public works department, aldermen declared a tractor and two vehicles as surplus and advertised for bids to sell them.
The tractor is a 2006 Kobleco track hoe. The vehicles are a 1994 Ford F-150 and a 2005 Ford Escape.
• In the recreation department, the board accepted a $2,500 donation from Walmart to assist with sports programs.
• Aldermen approved property insurance renewal for $104,000 from Wellington Associates of Gulfport. The renewal saves $7,000 from last year’s cost.
• No bids were received for the modular office on Second Street that served as the Boy Scouts’ meeting room.
City attorney Malcolm Jones said the city would either declare it surplus with no value and dispose of it or tear it down.
• The aldermen hired Mark Necaise as part-time harbor patrolman for $9 an hour effective April 16.
• Aldermen approved a proclamation declaring May 4-10 as National Goodwill Week.

Theatre Project to produce ‘Scenic Drive’

Posted: April 4th, 2014, by editor



“From the start, it has been the theatre’s business to entertain people…it needs no other passport than fun.” Bertolt Brecht, A Short Organum for the Theatre. 


Two Gulf Coast natives are bringing the theatre to Pass Christian and calling thespians of all ages to action.

Dr. William J. Koolsbergen, Artistic Director and Larry Rogers Managing Director of the Pass Christian Theatre Project attended last Friday’s Coffee with Friends at the library and spoke about their upcoming theatrical projects.

Rogers serves as managing director and is a Gulf Coast native, originally from New Orleans until his parents moved to Bay St. Louis.

“I lived in New York for about 30 years,” Rogers said. “Before I left for New York, I worked in a New Orleans little theatre.

“In New York I was vice-president of Citibank in marketing and sales.”

Rogers taught business communications at City University in New York for five years.

“I took over managing a small medical practice in New York,” Rogers said, “which I still manage today.

“Then we decided to retire a little early and come home and we’re very excited about getting this project off the ground.”

Koolsbergen, a Pass Christian native, serves as artistic director.

Koolsbergen has an A.A. in English from the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, a B.A. from Milsaps College, a M.A. in Drama and Communications from LSU,  a M.F.A. in Directing from UNO, a M. Phil. and Ph. D from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and is professor emeritus of City University.

“I taught theatre there for 25 years,” Koolsbergen said. “Most of that time, I ran a program training young actors, specializing in the freshman and sophomore group.

“I did on average five or six shows a year, so in the course of that time I directed well over 100 shows.”

Koolsbergen started out as an actor, performed work off-Broadway and has numerous television and film credits.

“My focus was always to be a director,” Koolsbergen said. “I love that, by definition, the director is the first audience member.

“The director is the first one to read that play and then visualize what that play should be and then pick the actors and designers and guide them through to bring that vision to fruition.”

The first project for the group, is one that originated right here in Pass Christian.

Scenic Drive was written by Trey Fayard, a local playwright,” Koolsbergen said. “It’s a murder mystery and comedy and a very clever, fun play.

“It is set in Pass Christian with many local references and it was written for the Randolph Center.”

The Randolph Center has a theatrical story of its own.

It was the city’s first African-American public school.

The center was established in the late 1800s, rebuilt in 1928 as Harrison County Training School for Colored and the name was changed to Randolph.

After Hurricane Camille, the school opened as Pass Christian Middle School.

The school closed in 2000 and the district donated it to the city.

After Hurricane Katrina, the center was considered for demolition.

A group of school alumni, city leaders and others fought to save the building and it is now used as a senior citizen and community center.

The play is about a playwright, his wife, their crime solving housekeeper and a philandering politician.

Auditions for Scenic Drive will be held on Thursday April 10 at 6 p.m. or Saturday April 12 at noon at the Randolph Center at 320 Clark Street.

There are seven characters in the play and ages range from the mid 20’s to about 60 years old.

“Normally I do cold auditions,” Koolsbergen said. “This time, because we are all really new to one another, I want everyone who auditions to come prepared with a one-to-three minute speech from a contemporary comedy.

“You can choose a play, T.V. or film script. You do not need to memorize, you can read. I want to see how you can handle contemporary comedic lines.”

Coming attractions:

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, September.

The Lion in Winter, December.

After the Rain, March 2015.

House of Blue Leaves, June 2015.

“This summer, we will hold both youth and adult acting workshops for free leading to You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” Koolsbergen said. “This musical will have both a youth and adult cast.

“This is what’s it’s all about, bringing this community together.”

For more information, contact Koolsbergen and Rogers at or 228-206-0857.

Harbor expansion slated for mid-May completion, aldermen outline details

Posted: March 28th, 2014, by editor


With the harbor expansion project about 40 days from substantial completion, the board of aldermen on March 20 held a workshop review details and answer questions from the public.

Mayor Leo “Chipper” McDermott said the $35 million harbor project has been over six years in the making. It has been through two governors, two secretaries of state, three board of aldermen, two grant administrators, two project managers and three redesigns.

“Everything has been tough, tough, tough to get going,” he said.

The new harbor will become the new home for the three existing seafood vendors: Pass Purchasing, Jerry Forte Seafood and Kimball’s Seafood.

“The whole purpose is to put in a commercial harbor and move vendors from where they are to over there,” the mayor said. “It’s like moving into a new house, whenever they get over there and get situated, they are going to wonder how in the hell they lived where they are.”

The new harbor is ten-feet deep and will have 102 commercial slips. Two pavilions on the east side of the new harbor will house the vendors.

The access road on the east wall is built for tractor trailers drive down, pick up seafood and turn around.

“The east side is theirs and theirs alone,” McDermott said.

In time, the mayor said he wants to get a traffic light installed at Davis Avenue and Highway 90.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation has jurisdiction over the light. A new light costs $350,000 to install and so far MDOT has said no light is justified, the mayor said.

“At some point, we will get a red light. It has to happen,” he said.

The new harbor will also have 62 recreational slips, 96 truck and trailer parking places, 215 automobile parking spaces, four boat ramps and access for public fishing.

Two portable bathrooms will be installed as well. One on the east side and one on the west.

McDermott said no restaurants will be built over water in the new harbor, like Shaggy’s in the old harbor.

“There will never be another Shaggy’s in the United States. You can’t build over water anymore. It’s a federal rule,” the mayor said.

The mayor said once all the commercial fishing details are worked out, land behind Mother Cluckers could be leased from the secretary of state for a new business or restaurant.

The current fuel dock, owned by Pass Purchasing, may move to the new harbor, but that is up to the owner, the mayor said. The secretary of state has given Pass Purchasing an exclusive to move to the other side since a fuel dock is a necessity and the business is already there.

“The secretary of state owns the harbor. We have to ask him for everything,” the mayor said.

The price for slips will be the same at the new harbor once boats move in. Currently pleasure boat owners pay $3.50 per foot and commercial $4 a foot.

The mayor said the price is well below other harbors on the Coast. Pleasure boats pay $5.75 a foot in Gulfport and $6 to $7 a food in Bay St. Louis, the mayor said.

Aldermen-at-large Kenny Torgeson, who called for the harbor workshop last week, said the meeting was a success for everyone involved.

“I learned more in 30 minutes than I have in six months,” he said.

The harbor expansion project began in 2008 when Gulfport announced that it would stay in the port. The question Coast-wide became what would happen to the commercial boats. Pass Christian said they could come here, the mayor said.

In October 2009, former Gov. Haley Barbour announced a $25 million grant for a commercial harbor from the Mississippi Development Authority.

“We got the money not because we wanted to make something pretty or go sailing, it’s because of commercial boats,” the mayor said.

The city paired the MDA grant with a $3 million grant from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program and with a $5 million grant from BP for dredging.

Later the city received an additional $2 million from MDA as well.

Work began December 2011 when Great Lakes Dredge and Dock began dredging over 350,000 cubic yards of sand from the area.The sand was pumped across the Bay of St. Louis for beach renourishment projects in Hancock County.

In April 2012, Silverton Construction began driving breakwater pilings which form the borders of the harbor.

In December 2012, Silverton began work on the final phase of the project which is expected to be substantially complete by mid-May.

Pirates win district opener; Lady Pirates .500 after eight games

Posted: March 21st, 2014, by editor


The Pass High Pirates baseball team won their opening district game with a huge fifth inning at home against Vancleave on Tuesday night. The Pirates scored seven runs in the inning off of six hits on their way to a 8-0 shutout win.
“It was a real good inning for us,” said Pirates coach Marcus Whitfield. “We got good pitches to hit. Hunter hit the ball well all night. He came through clutch for us. He did what he needed to do. He is a senior. He’s been one of the leaders on the team. He came up, got his pitch; he didn’t try to do too much. Then Tyler came up and got on. And Kody came up and got a hit, and it just kind of snowballed from there. It was a total team effort.

“It’s very important to open district with a win,” added Whitfield. “The bigger thing is to follow it up with a win on Thursday. You don’t want to win one then give one away. We’re where we want to be.”

With two outs and runners on first and second, Hunter Ladner got the scoring started with a RBI single, scoring Ethan Necaise to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead. Then Kody Ladner’s single scored John Moore. Hunter Ladner scored on a wild pitch with Tyler Ladner at the plate.

Tyler Ladner singled and Kody Ladner scored and the Pirates were up 5-0. Dylan Prince tagged his second pitch with a single to left field, giving the Pirates base runners on first and second. V.J. Swanier got on by an errant throw by the Vancleave shortstop to first, and Tyler Ladner scored to increase the lead to 6-0.

With Prince on third and Swanier on second, Blake Keel ‘s RBI single scored both runners to close out the game’s scoring.

Vancleave loaded the bases in the sixth inning, but Necaise struck out the final two batters to complete his work for the night.

“He really shut the door on them,” said Whitfield of Necaise. “It was two innings where that happened. He did what he needed to do. He pitched well all night.”

Hunter Ladner came in the seventh to finish for the Pirates, facing five batters. The game ended with a fly ball to left field handled by Swanier.

“That’s a good Vancleave team,” said Whitfield. “They are young. They will be alright.”

The Pirates played their second district game last night on the road at Vancleave. Going into that game, the Pirate’s were 5-4 (1-0, district).  The Pirates split games this past weekend, defeating Gautier 14-4 on Friday night, and losing to Biloxi 1-0 on Saturday.

Lady Pirates are at .500 after eight games

The Lady Pirates softball team picked up a win between two losses in their last three outings, defeating Gautier on Saturday 6-4.

“We had an eighth-grader on the mound, and she threw really well,” said Lady Pirates coach Emily Howard. “She did a very good job getting ahead in the count. She pretty much carried us through the game.”

Junior first baseman Jordan Switzer led the Lady Pirates at the plate with a double and a RBI home run.

“Bri Smith is also doing real well for us,” added Howard. “She is our 9-hole hitter. We’ve got her there for speed. She is our starting right fielder; she may be playing some third base now also. She has been hitting the ball really well.She is able to go with pitches. She is able to see the ball; if it’s in or out, she’s able to go with the pitch. She’s almost got a 500 batting average.”

“We have an eighth-grader starting at pitcher, Amber Funderburk,” said assistant coach Kayla Cooley. “We’re battling some injuries. Amber Jacobson has been released. We’re currently trying to get her back into game shape. She’s throwing some pitches everyday at practice, building her pitch progression everyday to get her ready for game situations. Jeney Hudson’s having some trouble with her back; she did start for us the first four or five games.”

“So right now, we’re using our youngest players on the mound,” said Howard, “and they are leading the team, and team’s really depending on them. So they’re really having to step up right now.”

On Friday night, the Lady Pirates lost to Greene County. “We started slow. We didn’t start out hitting the ball. We weren’t ready,” said Howard. “We didn’t come out hot. We tried to start coming back towards the end, but it was too late. So that’s what we’ve been trying to work on with the girls. The first pitch of the the first inning, you’ve got to be ready.”

“It was a real streaky game,” said Cooley. “Greene County came out hot initially; we came out flat. Then we answered; scored a couple runs, got back in the game. High-intensity game, really good softball game.”

Eighth-grader Brooke Roach led the Lady Pirates at the plate with a home run.

The Lady Pirates lost to Pearl River Central on Tuesday night. “They played a good game,” said Howard. “They didn’t make a lot of errors. They hit the ball well. We had way too many walks. And you can’t win a ball game with ten errors. We just struggled. We didn’t start hitting the ball until later in the game. We came out really flat. We’ve just got to get that intensity right at the beginning of the game. If we can get that, we’re going to be fine. We’re working on it; we just went back to basics today at practice.”

The Lady Pirates’ record was 4-4 going into their game last night at Gautier. They play in the D’Iberville Tournament on Saturday and begin district play next Thursday, hosting Poplarville.

St. Patrick’s parade rolls today

Posted: March 15th, 2014, by editor

The Pass Christian Krewe of Blarney Half-Fast Walkin’ Club St. Patrick’s Day Parade begins today at 1 p.m. with a blessing and toast by the mayor at 1 p.m. at City Hall.
The parade will roll at 1:30 p.m. starting at City Hall (Heirn and Scenic), east to Davis Avenue, north to A Port in the Storm, 234 Davis Avenue.
The krewe is pleased to announce the 2014 Grand Marshal Keith Voigts and Colleen Sydney Schmidt.
This year, the krewe is honored to have krewe founder Dan Ellis joining us as Honorary Grand Marshal. Dan founded the krewe and parade in 1995. After Hurricane Katrina, Dan moved to Eureka Springs, Ark., and the krewe disbanded for a number of years before re-forming again in 2010.
Walking groups and golf carts are welcome to join in the parade. Please line up at 1 p.m. near City Hall. For more information, contact parade organizer Robin Rafferty at 228-547-4873.

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