Mayor Billy Skellie has started saying his goodbyes. Although he’s technically not leaving his post as mayor of the Friendly City until June 2017, Skellie on Wednesday morning gave his final Breakfast With the Mayor address to a packed house gathered at the USM Gulf Park campus.
“This is my last opportunity to speak to y’all as a group like this,” Skellie said.
Skellie was sworn into office a few months before Hurricane Katrina hit the Coast in 2005.
“In 12 hours, more than a third of our city was destroyed, but I think we have recovered nicely so far and we have added about 2,000 people back to our population since the storm,” he said.
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The mayor touched on five of Long Beach’s recent accomplishments:
Harbor View Cafe
Dining at one of Long Beach’s favorite eateries will soon be easier, thanks to a $500 small-business grant awarded Wednesday to the Harbor View Cafe. The grant, issued through the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, will allow the restaurant to improve its online ordering service.
Redesigned Jeff Davis Avenue
Skellie said this was one of his pet projects during his three terms as mayor is the redesign of Jeff Davis Avenue, which includes additional public parking spaces, the town green area and a new City Hall.
Crime is down
Skellie said between November 2015 and November 2016, there has been a drop in arrests for criminal activity in Long Beach. However, he said, warnings for misdemeanor crimes such as speeding were up.
“We would rather be giving out warnings for speeding than having crimes we have to prosecute,” he said.
14 new businesses
“We’re doing quite well for ourselves as a community,” Skellie said when talking about the new businesses that have opened in Long Beach since November 2015.
Downtown Long Beach
Many of the downtown merchants are also participating in monthly Fourth Friday events by extending store hours and offering sales.