Harrison County

Beverly Martin stirs things up in Harrison County

BILOXI -- Ninety days into her new position as Harrison County supervisor, Beverly Martin is learning the job and stirring things up, she said Tuesday at the Biloxi Chamber's Morning Call.

"I have discovered that people do not like change," she said at the 8 a.m. meeting at The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Biloxi.

One of those changes is to have beach crews work special event weekends and holidays to get the beaches cleaned quickly.

Especially on a Monday holiday, like the Fourth of July will be this year, she said the county can't wait until Wednesday to pick up the trash.

Crews start at 4:30 a.m., she said, and they moved quickly to remove litter left after the weekend's festivities.

Charles Loftis, director of the county's Sand Beach Authority, said he had 8 to 10 employees working Saturday and Sunday during the Biloxi Black Beach Weekend. He expected to have the beach cleaned up by noon Tuesday on the stretch where most people congregated.

"We had roughly 35,000 people in a two mile area," he said. His department also will work Memorial Day Weekend and the Fourth of July.

Martin said the beach is a focus of her job.

"My entire adult life I've been involved in tourism," she said, and she opened her presentation with details of a boardwalk that will run along the water from about Treasure Bay Casino east to Rodenberg and maybe beyond.

"It will create a synergy similar to what Casino Row did pre-Katrina in East Biloxi," she said. The county also has a Tidelands grant for boat launches in East and West Biloxi, and she planned to meet with city officials Tuesday to determine where they should be built.

She is encouraged by the new Margaritaville Resort and other tourism businesses coming to South Mississippi. "We need more things on the beach," she said. "That's what the tourists see."

Martin said she personally is against House Bill 1523, Mississippi's legislation that allows a business to refuse service to gay individuals. "I'm not happy with it at all. It's unnecessary," she said. "It's already cost us some business.

Martin also reported:

-- She spoke with MDOT Southern Transportation Commissioner Tom King, who assured her lighting on the Biloxi Bay Bridge will be fixed in the next two weeks.

-- The county is adopting a uniform pricing system for renting civic and community centers. Rent for the D'Iberville Civic Center, for instance, will go from $300 to $500, which she said still is a bargain. Rent at some other centers will be reduced to $500.

-- Harrison County will pay half the cost of paving several Biloxi roads in districts 1 and 2.