Harrison County

Gilich starts year 2 with talk of Margaritaville, speeding tickets

BILOXI -- Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich reflected Wednesday on his "nonstop" first 365 days in office and looked ahead saying, "We're at a position to really make a leap."

Speaking at the Biloxi Chamber's Breakfast with the Mayor at Edgewater Mall, he began to say, "Hopefully next year at this time "

Then he stopped, knowing a year from now will be election time and as mayor it's too soon to talk about some economic-development projects proposed for the city.

He's peeked inside and can talk about Margaritaville Resort Biloxi on the beach, set to open in June.

"It will be a destination," he said, with its arcade the size of a football field, a 48-foot stone climbing wall shaped like a volcano, and Margaritaville and other restaurants.

It will help Biloxi draw more tourists. "You get them here one week," he said, "We'll take care of business."

South Mississippi now is back to 14,000 hotel rooms, 7,000 of them in Biloxi, he said. Though several new hotels are proposed or under construction in the city, Gilich said, "we need to get 4,000 more hotel rooms."

Gilich is a numbers guy and his mantra is "Numbers don't lie."

"If you can measure it you can manage it," he said. "We're trying to measure everything."

Serena Gilich said it's been a most interesting year since her husband was sworn in as mayor. "He has a passion and he loves it," she said. "He wants to do so much for Biloxi. The opportunities are there."

The highlight of the year for her was seeing his vision for the city come forth. For him, the best part was "the action." In every decision he makes, he said, "the reward is just doing the right thing, big or small."

Gilich isn't ready to say whether he will run for re-election, but did say he ran in the special election because he believed there wasn't anyone better to do the job the right way.

"I've got unfinished business," he said. "I'm here to finish."

Gilich also announced:

-- The city has a $700 million wish list that includes extending services to Woolmarket. The 4,000 residents pay higher taxes because students go to Harrison County rather than Biloxi schools, something he's working to change.

-- Biloxi has ordered 22 flashing speed signs to slow drivers. "Better to see (lights) flashing in front of you than behind you," Police Chief John Miller quipped.

-- Automated readers will be used to scan licenses when drivers are stopped by police.