OCEAN SPRINGS -- Mayor Connie Moran announced this week to a room full of business people that she plans to challenge the city to lose a total of 20,000 pounds, one pound for each resident.
She's working with Blue Cross/Blue Shield, local clinics and spas to set up a weigh-in system. She said she has a grant for the website where citizens will have their own account and a way to keep up with the loss.
"Let's lighten up Ocean Springs," she told 75 businessmen and women at the quarterly mayor's breakfast. "Let's make Ocean Springs the poster child of fun and a healthy lifestyle."
The idea was well-received and several of the business owners and clinics offered their services.
Moran has set up organizational meetings and plans to kick off the initiative in April, during the annual 1699 Landing of d'Iberville celebrations. She wants schools involved and for restaurants to offer special light dishes in keeping with the campaign.
On the topic of fitness, Moran and Alderman Mike Impey said the city hasn't given up on getting a youth, recreational basketball gym.
The old National Guard Armory building on Pine Street, just east of the Government Street YMCA, has been used as storage for years, and Alderman-at-large Bobby Cox has proposed converting it to a gym with a basketball court for ages 10 and younger.
The clean out has begun.
The idea comes in the wake of the city losing more than $3 million in federal grant money to build a storm shelter/gym further east. Aldermen decided it would be too expensive to build, outfit and maintain that combination structure, even with federal help.
But in this case, Cox told the Sun Herald, the city already owns the building, it's structurally sound and refurbishing it could become a community project.
The armory was reroofed after Katrina.
"We'll spruce it up, paint and renovate the restrooms," Cox said. "We've already had groups step up and offer to help."
Among them are the Poor Man's Yacht Club, the Baptist church men's organization, two Mardi Gras crews and members from the Knights of Columbus. Public Works employees and firefighters have expressed interest. He said others, including businesses, have volunteered to help raise money.
Joey Duggan with Compton Engineering has drawn plans at no charge. The court will be 74 feet by 44 feet and should be able to seat 150 and have 10 sections of three-tiered bleachers.
The next step is compiling a materials list, then the fund-raising can be based on that, Cox said. The gym also may be able to accommodate a volleyball court.
Just talking about the idea with friends, Cox said, many have said they want to work on the project.
"You get the community involved," Cox said, "and they appreciate it more."