City Line - News and information from the City of Gulfport, MS
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A statement from Mayor Billy Hewes:

I have always favored Mississippi’s first official flag, adopted in 1861 - the Magnolia Flag, and believe the 2001 referendum might have seen a different outcome had Mississippians had a viable, historic design alternative to choose from. Southerners of all races and creeds feel strongly about their heritage, but when a symbol is used to distort that history, perpetuate cultures of hatred, retard our progress, and stigmatize our great State to the point that businesses, developers, and visitors take pause, it is time for us to find a resolution.

The hallmarks of decency, civility, and mutual respect hang in the balance in an America where we have too many looking for reasons for outrage, rather than seeking common interests and solution. There will always be those who would divide us because of our differences, but instead we should be celebrating our diversity and relishing the common ground that makes our rich and unique cultural gumbo. 

Most people, engaging in a civil discussion, acknowledge the passion on both sides of the debate, but tend to circle to an aspect of maintaining some components of our cultural heritage. Re-adoption of the Magnolia Flag would go a long way to addressing this matter.

Gulfport donates big gift to city in need

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It was like Christmas morning for the mayor and city leaders of Kilmichael, MS.

“As a small town, our funds are very limited as far as fire trucks. We have a volunteer fire department. It just means a lot to us to have a city to take care of us like that,” said Mayor Ryan Wood.

Gulfport city leaders learned about Kilmichael's situation through councilman R. Lee Flowers, who knew Wood. Councilman Flowers says after presenting the situation to the council, donating the truck was an easy decision.

“After Katrina, we actually received the truck that we're giving to Kilmichael from another community. We received so many blessings after Katrina from so many communities and cities around the world that the only way to ever repay that debt is to pay it forward,” said Flowers.

The Gulfport Fire Department acquired five new fire trucks a few months ago, and they were looking to auction off a few of the older ones, but Chief Michael Beyerstedt said donating this one is worth way more than money.

“The tax payers here and the council really do support our mission, so when you hear of a story like this, it kind of makes you realize how good you do have it,” said Beyerstedt.

The truck is over 15 years old, but Beyerstedt wanted it to look brand new when it arrived in Kilmichael.

“We cleaned it up. We gave it a nice polish job, and there's some equipment on there too. Some hoses we had spare and a few hand tools and things like that. So, it's not just a stripped down piece of equipment. They're getting a little bit of stuff with it too,” said Beyerstedt.

One of Kilmichael's city officials actually left his car here on the Coast, saying getting that fire truck back was more important. WLOX-TV

Geri-Care Breaks Ground on a New Plant in Gulfport

Two hundred jobs will be coming to Gulfport in the near future. This week, Geri-Care broke ground on a new pharmaceutical manufacturing plant that is located adjacent to its current facility.

Geri-Care, the largest manufacturer of liquid antacids, produces the majority of their goods in Gulfport and today the company broke ground on a new 178,000 foot expansion.

Eli Shindler with Geri-Care Pharmaceuticals said, “We hope to grow it into the best pharmaceutical factory in the county.”

Geri-Care products line the shelves in many major pharmacies across the county and part of their appeal is that all of their products are made domestically, either right here in Gulfport or at their main facility in New York.

Executive Vice President of Wal-Mart Michelle Gloeckler said, “For Wal-Mart, American made products have always been part of our heritage and any time you can make something closer to where the customer is, it’s a really good thing for business.”

Geri-Care first came to the Coast in 2012, when they acquired a defunct plant, which saved almost 100 local jobs. Executives tell News 25, they fell in love with the people of the Coast and have no doubts this is the place they want their company to grow.

“We were so amazed. We go around the county, but the people here, the work ethic, their dignity is just unparalleled around the country,” said Shindler.

Construction on the facility expansion will begin shortly and Geri-Care executives are excited to make the Coast a more permanent home for their business. Katarina Luketich WXXV News 25




Gulfport businesses excited about premiere of Astronaut Wives Club

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The television series started with a blast recently on ABC, and if you're watching this summer, you may see some familiar settings from South Mississippi. One of the scenes was shot on the beach in Gulfport, just east of the Marriott hotel on Highway 90. Two other well-known places in downtown Gulfport also served as backdrops for the production.

Karen Harris is known for her burgers and beignets at Triplett-Day Drugs in downtown Gulfport. But last October, the production crew of the new ABC series "Astronaut Wives Club" asked her to make a different dish.

"She called me the ‘Picasso of the Reuben'. That's what the main character ate," said Harris.

But her work-of-art didn't stay that way.

"They destroyed it. They had to make it look like somebody had taken a bite out of it and crumbs all over the plate and I was like, 'Holy cow! I just went through a lot of trouble. But it was nice," said Harris.

Harris' Reuben sandwich was part of a retro diner scene that was shot inside Triplett-Day's soda fountain.

"Oh yeah! It was quite an exciting day, a lot of busyness around here, a lot of people, a lot of changing the sets and things. We had a good time watching it," said Triplett-Day Drugs Owner Poem Love.

The business shut down for two days while the cameras rolled. The employees couldn't wait to finally see their small business make its national debut.

"It's great! I'm hoping everyone likes it and watches it, and they come back for more," said Love.

The "Astronaut Wives Club" follows the wives of the Mercury Seven astronauts during the launch of the space age in the early 60s. In one scene, the wives showed up at a dress shop. The setting for that scene was Back on the Rack Upscale Resale, at the old train depot in Gulfport.

"We're very excited! It was a very big ordeal. They basically had their set designers take our whole store apart. I mean, everything was moved out," said Back on the Rack Stylist Tamarah Yotov.

The store's scenes are expected to air in next week's episode.

"It's very exciting and I think it's great for the rest of America to see this part of us, see the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We have so much to offer and I hope they keep coming back," said Yotov.

Karen the cook will also be watching.

"It's pretty cool. I can't wait to see it, even if it's two seconds. I'm like, 'That's my food!'" said Harris.

The Astronaut Wives Club airs Thursdays at 7pm on WLOX-TV

The Gulfport Main Street Association(GMSA) celebrated its achievements with Mississippi Main Street Communities at the 26th Annual Awards Luncheon in downtown Jackson.  

The presentation of awards was made by the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) Executive Director Bob Wilson and 2015-2016 Board President Suzanne Smith.  

The annual awards luncheon honors Main Street managers, board members and volunteers and recognizes the best downtown development projects from Main Street communities in Mississippi.  

GMSA is proud to announce that they were named as one of the Award of Excellence Recipients for the following awards:

1. Mayor Billy Hewes was recognized with the “Spirit of Main Street” a Special Service Award for his contributed leadership and support for downtown Gulfport, and his commitment to the goal of revitalization. 

2. The Master Façade Grant program “Best Public-Private Partnership Award” based on the success of the program, its impact on revitalization in downtown. $4.25 Million Dollars was funded and overseen by GMSA with approximately 80 privately owned buildings receiving grants $25,000 to $100,000 to improve building facades.

3. The Streetscape Project won the “Best Public Improvement Project” in the Design Category. This program was designed to implement sympathetic improvements to the downtown district. The visual impact created has helped to establish a walkable downtown that is both business and family friendly.

"This award reflects the commitment of many individuals and groups who champion what Main Street is all about - developing the heart of our communities, our historic downtowns, and enhancing quality of life for everyone," Wilson said.

The Annual Awards Luncheon recognizes the managers, board members, financial partners and volunteers who make Mississippi Main Street communities desirable places to be. 

In 2014, Mississippi Main Street cities generated 303 net new businesses, 79 business expansions to existing businesses, 1,238 net new jobs, 93 façade rehabilitations and 127 upper floor housing units. More than 77,348 volunteer hours were recorded. “GMSA is proud to be part of the Main Street Community on the State as well as the National level,” said Laurie Toups, director Gulfport Main Street. 

So far in 2015, Mississippi Main Street cities have generated 73 net new businesses, 29 business expansions to existing businesses, 786 net new jobs, 29 façade rehabilitations and 163 upper floor housing units. Over 13,702 volunteer hours have been reported

Inaugural Tour de Gulfport brings community together

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A unique event got rolling Saturday through the streets of Gulfport. The inaugural Tour de Gulfport Criterium bike race was held in the streets of downtown. It wasn't just the race that made the event special.

The city of Gulfport sacrificed a few city blocks to the races that brought hundreds from around the southeast to our area. And according to Economic Development Director, David Parker, getting the Tour de Gulfport up and rolling was no small task.

"Without our volunteers and sponsors, this wouldn't be possible and here in Gulfport, everybody likes to put on a party so it's not hard to get help to do that," said Parker.

It's been about a decade since the last semi professional bike races were held in the city. This race was a championship in the form of a criterium. "It's roughly a one mile course and they will race for a certain amount of time," said Parker.

The racers took to the course in seven different categories including a masters class, women, and youth. At 14, Jacob Waters was one of the youngest racing in one of the adult categories. "It's fun because it's everything you have and you're just trying to beat the other guys," he said.

Waters is originally from Louisiana and was born with a condition that caused him to lose his left leg, but not his spirit. "It was always easier for me than swimming or running but I liked to be active. So I started riding. Then I decided to try a race. Ever since then I loved it," said Waters.

But it wasn't just the cyclists who made the event special. There was a street festival with music and food, as well as several community outreach programs. 

Carol Davis, who has watched her husband race in countless events throughout the country says this kind of set up is unusual. "This is the first event I've seen that actually has gone through for the family and the little ones. I wish I'd see more of this," said Davis.

Memorial Hospital gave away free helmets to children ages 3-12. Lauren SantaCruz, says this was a great opportunity to promote safety. "We're really excited that kids can come out and see that professional bikers wear helmets," she said.

James Bates was also on hand accepting donated bikes for the homeless. He loved seeing the citywide effort to do good in the community "It makes me proud to be a resident of this city," he said.

According to city officials, plans are already in the works to bring the tour back to Gulfport next year. Jonathan Brannan WLOX:

Gulfport's Ronda Cole represented our city at the annual “Parade of Flags” ceremony on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 at the Opening General Session of the 84th MML conference.

Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes & Biloxi Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich gave the "Welcoming" 

Over 3,000 municipal elected officials, state agencies' employees, legislatures and exhibitors  participated this week.

The theme of 2015 MML conference was "Cities Mean Business." #OneMississippi #OneCoast

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