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Coast had its share of senseless crime and bad government but also some good news in 2015

JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD/FILE 
 Jason Rife, right, of Vancleave, right, holds a candle in memory of his slain friend, Waffle House server Julie Brightwell, during a memorial service for her on the beach in Biloxi on Dec. 4.
JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD/FILE Jason Rife, right, of Vancleave, right, holds a candle in memory of his slain friend, Waffle House server Julie Brightwell, during a memorial service for her on the beach in Biloxi on Dec. 4. SUN HERALD

1. Singing River Health System : ended the year close to having a plan to end lawsuits and attempt to prop up its faltering pension plan. The county Board of Supervisors agreed to give SRHS $13.6 million over the next 10 years in exchange for a new board of trustees and allowing a turnaround team to take over.

2. The BP settlement: brought a promise from Gov. Phil Bryant to use $54 million of the money in projects on the Coast. Among them are $17 million for an aquarium Gulfport wants to build, $5 million for a gigabit Internet project and $8 million for a loading dock at Port Bienville. Still up for grabs is $750 million, which will go through the legislature. Coast lawmakers have promised to battle for that.

3. Mississippi Power: customers saw their rates go up 15 percent after an 18 percent rate increase was ruled invalid by the state Supreme Court. The 15 percent increase replaces an 18 percent temporary increase granted because the utility company, after the court, ruling said it was running out of money. The rate increase were brought about by the Kemper County power plant project, which is years behind schedule and billions over original estimates.

4. The Biloxi Shuckers: wrapped up their inaugural season with a trip to the Southern League championship series. Honors poured in for the team, including Baseball America's Minor League Team of the Year. The team will have a new general manager next year -- Buck Rogers left for California -- and MGM Park will have all the finishing touches in place.

5. Boards of supervisors: across the Coast will have many new faces in January. In Jackson County, there will be two new members after an election fueled in part by problems with the Singing River Health System. In Harrison County, two supervisors were embroiled in scandal; one committed suicide, the other went to prison. A third, Windy Swetman decided not to run after losing the Biloxi mayor's race. As a result, that Board of Supervisors will have a majority of women in January. In Hancock County, three incumbents were defeated and a fourth did not run.

 

6. A new sheriff:is coming to Harrison County after former deputy Troy Peterson defeated two-term incumbent Melvin Brisolara. Peterson's transition team quickly got to work with a plan to reorganize the staff and grant salary increases.

7. A K-9 named Lucas:saved the day after a Hancock County deputy was jumped by three men in the rural western part of the county, who tried to drag him into the woods at a rest stop. The deputy was able to use a remote control on his belt to open the squad door and release Lucas, who successfully intervened on the deputy's behalf.

8. An airborne mystery:was solved by Keesler Air Force Base airmen who investigated the strange malady that had for years been bedeviling the crews of C-130s. The culprit was a rivet that was corroding and sending metal particles into the planes' pressurization systems. That defect would cause the system to malfunction, resulting in discomfort, vomiting and sometimes excruciating pain.

9. Biloxi has a mayor called FoFo:after Andrew "FoFo" Gilich overcame the odds to succeed longtime Mayor A.J. Holloway in Biloxi. Gilich's runoff opponent, Supervisor Windy Swetman, was very well financed and backed by some of the top names in the state Republican Party, including Gov. Phil Bryant. Gilich and Swetman advanced to the runoff from a field of 10 that included a former DA and four sitting council members.

10. The Waffle House tragedy:was the worst of the Coast's share of crimes both senseless and bizarre. Friends and co-workers described Waffle House waitress Julie Brightwell as "so friendly" and "so nice" but when she told customer Johnny Max Mount he couldn't smoke his e-cigarette in the restaurant, he pulled out a pistol and shot Brightwell to death. The community and a Waffle House corporate official turned out for a vigil.

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