Vancleave home to blueberry field open to public

Memorial Day weekend marks the end of school, the beginning of summer, and the kickoff for blueberry season in Jackson County.

Anyone who loves blueberries, whether using them in a favorite dessert or just eating a handful of berries as a snack, should not miss the opportunity to pick their very own blueberries, which anyone can do right here in Jackson County, thanks to Vancleave’s own Blueberry Heaven.

“A man by the name of Mr. Turner and his wife Martha planted this field about 20 years ago,” said Sissy Inabinette. “They planted the field when he was in his 60s, over 6,000 bushes. As he grew older, he decided to sell it. My brother [Lewis Faulk] ended up with it, and I ended up working it. Lewis and Mr. Turner were visiting one day and all this was in bloom and my brother said, ‘Oh my goodness, this must be what heaven looks like.’ So they ended up naming it Blueberry Heaven.”

Today, Blueberry Heaven has 6,500 mature blueberry bushes that all produce fruit for public picking. For $10, anyone who visits Blueberry Heaven can pick their own berries straight from the berries. For $20, a visitor can get a gallon of pre-picked berries.

“You never really know what a blueberry tastes like until you can pick it off the bush and eat it,” Inabinette said. “We don’t spray any pesticides, and in the super market a gallon of blueberries could cost you around $48. We encourage people to go have lunch or dinner then come and have dessert here on us.”

Blueberry Heaven offers four varieties of blueberries, allowing visitors a longer time frame to pick their own fruit.

“Normally, there is a short window to pick blueberries, which lasts from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July,” Inabinette explained. “We have Bluetifs, some Premiers, some Climax and some Brightwells. The good thing about having four varieties is you’ll have one variety that starts at the end of May, and then another one that starts at the first of June. Then there is a late variety that comes in at the end of June, so there will be berries that will be here well into July. We encourage people to come pick in July, if they can handle the heat, and enjoy the late variety as well.”

With thousands of blueberry bushes available to her, Inabinette has had plenty of chances to experiment with different blueberry recipes.

“I’ve made lots of jelly, lots of jam, lots of pies and now I’m trying a little bit of blueberry wine,” she said. “One recipe I like to share is really simple. You take a can of crushed pineapple and put it in your casserole dish. You add four cups of blueberries on top of it. You take a yellow cake mix and a stick of butter and mix it together. You crumble that on top of the fruit and put some walnuts on it. Bake it for about 35-40 minutes, and it is so delicious.”

Inabinette encourages anyone who enjoys blueberries, or anyone looking for something fun to do outdoors, to take a visit to Blueberry Heaven.

“Come and be amazed. It’s an awesome place to come and bring your children or bring your mom and dad,” she said. “It’s one of the best kept secrets of Jackson County.”

Learn more »
Comments Off on Vancleave home to blueberry field open to public

Developers hold condominium groundbreaking

The groundbreaking for a new mixed-used development was held Thursday afternoon in Ocean Springs.

Inlet will be located between Bienville Boulevard and the Old For Bayou Coastal Preserve, and is planned to house 95 condominiums and roughly 18,000 square feet of space for commercial or community amenities.

“The location [of Inlet] offers a great proximity to the great school system Ocean Springs has, downtown, and the hospital,” said Walker Thrash, one of the lead developers of Inlet.

Plans include having 34 one-bedroom, 48 two-bedroom, and 13 three-bedroom units, offering options for everyone from the young single professional to the family creating a home.

“Nationally, condominiums are a growing trend, so it’s taken a little bit to reach the Southeast,” Thrash explained. “But condo developments are on the rise, so this will be a great addition to Ocean Springs.”

With attendees such as Mayor Connie Moran, numerous alderman and representatives from the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce, it is clear there is a lot of excitement surrounding this new addition to Jackson County. 

Learn more »
Comments Off on Developers hold condominium groundbreaking

Northrop Grumman gets F-35 contract

Northrop Grumman Corp. will make part of the F-35 fighter jet in Mississippi, investing $3.7 million and adding 60 jobs to the area over the next four years.

Gov. Phil Bryant and Northrop Grumman made the announcement May 26. Northrop Grumman currently has 50 employees in Moss Point assembling military drones. Mississippi will be one of the 46 states working on part of the F-35.

The company is in line to get more than $3.4 million in state and local aid.  Jackson County will provide $685,000 for improvements to a publicly owned building at Trent Lott International Airport in Moss Point, which Northrop Grumman is leasing through 2026.

Northrop Grumman will be eligible to receive some worker income tax rebates as well as property tax breaks on equipment. Northrop Grumman would get at least $1 million over 10 years, assuming 60 jobs paying the minimum $42,130. 

Learn more »
Comments Off on Northrop Grumman gets F-35 contract

Mississippi Export Railroad taps youngest female CEO in railroad industry

Mississippi Export Railroad (MSE) announces Kate C. Luce as President and CEO. At age 29, Luce is the youngest female CEO in the railroad industry.

MSE is a freight railroad and transportation services company facilitating the flow of goods between the Gulf Coast and broader North American rail infrastructure.

Luce began her tenure at MSE in customer service, working her way through the ranks of the transportation department; training as Conductor, serving as Trainmaster, and ultimately managing the department. When asked about the new, young CEO, board member Jim Bridges talks of a dynamic and energetic Luce.

“Kate has been key to the long-term succession plan of MSE for several years,” Bridges said. “She has a strong history of achievement in all her endeavors and I have complete confidence that she will be equally as capable as CEO. Her leadership skills combined with a drive to create and recognize new opportunities will assuredly increase our shareholders’ value.”

After cutting her teeth at MSE, Luce left the company to broaden her business and industry perspective. Her outside experience includes working in General Electric’s Transportation division under the Experienced Commercial Leadership Program and as a consultant with Bain & Company in Atlanta. Luce returned to MSE as Chief Operating Officer in 2016.

Luce’s education, experience and integration in the MSE business provide her with a refreshingly comprehensive perspective on the rail industry and a vision for taking MSE into this next era.

“We are at a turning point in the rail industry,” Luce said. “I’m most excited about the focus on determining the product and service mix of the future in rail and finding new ways to better serve the customer.”

Her energy is matched by an innovative spirit and a strong desire to see the rail industry fully realize its potential in today’s transportation climate.

“I love the problem-solving nature in what we do and I truly believe in rail as the safest transportation option for our citizens. Additionally, rail is far more environmentally friendly,” Luce said. “I’m lucky to be surrounded by a talented team of people who share my desire to serve a larger customer base by converting more long haul traffic from truck to rail.”

The young CEO speaks of her vision with a focus on MSE’s core values and an eye toward the bigger industry picture.

“I look forward to playing an even greater role in helping our customers find meaningful solutions to their problems and growing in our success together,” Luce said.

Luce holds a BSBA in Supply Chain Management from Auburn University and a Master of Business Administration from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, with emphasizes in both Financial Analysis and Leadership and Ethics. During her time at Duke, Luce served as SGA President and a Fellow at the Coach K Center on Leadership and Ethics. She is a recipient of the Keohane Leadership Award for exceptional leadership and currently serves on the Board of Advisors at the University of South Alabama’s Mitchell College of Business.

Learn more »
Comments Off on Mississippi Export Railroad taps youngest female CEO in railroad industry

Taste of Ocean Springs winners announced

The Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce has announced the winners for the 9th annual Taste of Ocean Springs.

Every year, attendees to Taste of Ocean Springs vote for their favorite entry from the participating restaurants and wine brokers in the categories of Best Drink, Best Entree, and Best Dessert.

This year, Vestige on Best Entree for their Grilled Pork Loin topped with Chicken Cracklin.

French Kiss Pastries won Best Dessert for their Tuxedo Cake.

Coastal Pacific Wine & Spirits won Best Drink as well.

Congratulations again to this year’s winners.

Learn more »
Comments Off on Taste of Ocean Springs winners announced

Brady’s brings new dining option to Pascagoula

Pascagoula has a new downtown dining option in Brady’s Steaks and Seafood. 

 

“It’s a family concept that my brother Chad and I developed so we could keep people in Pascagoula, give people another option here in Pascagoula, and give Jackson County and the Gulf Coast another eatery close to home.” co-owner Steven Brady said. “It’s all family oriented. My brother Chad and I, our wives, our sister, and even our kids are all involved in the restaurant.”

One of the most instantly attractive aspects of Brady’s is the location.

 

 

“We knew we had an unbelievable opportunity for some waterfront dining, and we don’t have a whole lot of options here in Pascagoula for something on the water,” Brady said. We started working with the city a couple of years back, and this particular property had been for sale for several years, so we started sizing up our endeavor and the size of the property and it all worked out.”

Brady’s location brings something new and unique to downtown Pascagoula.

“We wanted to keep this place close to downtown to keep downtown as thriving as possible,” Steven explained. “The more options we have, the better we’ll do.”

People are coming from all over the area to try this new eatery.

“We’ve definitely seen activity from our neighbors in Ocean Springs and Grand Bay in Alabama,” Steven said. “We’ve seen people come from Bay St. Louis, St. Martin, D’iberville, Vancleave, Lucedale, Mobile and just all over the area.”

So far, feedback on the restaurant has been outstanding and business has been phenomenal.

“We wish we had built bigger, but hindsight is 20/20.”

With the overwhelming response, it gets the Bradys excited for all of the plans they have to expand the restaurant.

“We will be starting lunches soon in the next couple weeks,” Steven explained. “Right now we are just doing dinner from 5-9 p.m. When we add lunch we will also do a happy hour special around the middle of the afternoon, so we’re excited about that. We also have some plans for our downstairs area like outdoor activities and some seasonal boils.”

Ultimately, the family would just wants everyone to give them a try.

“We’re not fine dining, so we don’t want people to be put off thinking we’re too upscale,” Steven said. “We’re a family restaurant. We’re the place you can go after the baseball game or after church or have an anniversary dinner. We want to serve everybody. We’re excited to help the businesses here by bringing people from all over. We want everyone to just come try us out and make their way around the menu. We hope everyone can come and enjoy the view and to bring their family and friends.”

Brady’s Steaks and Seafood is located at 3801 Magnolia Street in Pascagoula.

Learn more »
Comments Off on Brady’s brings new dining option to Pascagoula

Chevron brings the heat in Dragon Boat race

Things were heating up in Gulfport with Chevron at United Way of South Mississippi‘s second “Fire on the Lake” Dragon Boat Race.

 

A dragon boat is a human-powered water craft decorated to resemble the mythical creature with origins tracing back to ancient Chinese civilizations. In modern day, dragon boats serve as the vehicles in racing competitions with teams consisting of 20 rowers and one drummer to keep paddling in rhythm. 

Teams from all across the Gulf Coast representing various businesses and organizations gathered at The Dock Bar and Grill Saturday morning. Teams from other sponsors like Mississippi Power, Yates Construction, Coca-Cola and IP Casino Resort Spa competed in the races.

“We actually did dragon boat racing last year in Mobile,” said Alyssa Brannan, a design engineer at Chevron and one of the rowers. “At that event we supported the Fuse Project, which supports children in the Mobile area. This year we decided to come back across the state line to help Jackson County.”

Even though the event was held in Harrison County, Chevron was able to have some of their funds put toward helping the United Way in Jackson County.

Teams competed in a total of three races that lasted little more than a minute each. Even though not long, the races were intense for the rowers.

“We got our trainers at work to give us a couple of workouts to prepare us,” Brannan said.

Friends and family of the Chevron team gathered around the tent, making the race more than a competition, but rather a festivity. 

However, by the end of the day, everyone was exhausted. 

“It’s only a minute-long race, but it works you,” said materials engineer Jackie Modist.

While Chevron did not place, coming in fifth out of the 21 teams, the team walked away helping the United Way and knowing how to improve for next year.

Learn more »
Comments Off on Chevron brings the heat in Dragon Boat race

Coast couple uses business to explore waterways, promote conservation

Click the image above to view larger.

Imagine that you have never visited Jackson County before. You aren’t from the area at all, and you want to know what to do on your first visit. Considering this area of Mississippi is home to one of the largest free-flowing rivers in the United States, that is a site that should definitely make the agenda, and one of the best ways to see it is through Eco-Tours of South Mississippi.

 

Owned and operated solely by Captain Kathy and Jeff Wilkinson, the couple bought the business in the spring of 2006 after Hurricane Katrina.

“My husband and I have had boats and spent time on the water our wholes lives, so it was just a natural progression,” said Kathy Wilkinson. “All along we had hoped to do some kind of business that involved boats. We tossed around a lot of ideas over the years, and we settled on the eco-tours because the river is such a valuable resource. We thought it was important for people to get out and see it and the wild life and ecosystem first hand. They can also see the importance of conserving it because it’s such a unique resource.”

 

They enjoy being one of the unique small businesses in the Jackson County community.

“We’ve had guests from all over the world,” Kathy explained. “We feel like we’re making a good contribution to the economic impact that tourism has on our area. Visitors tell us they will plan their eco-tour before they even leave their homes, so they ask us where to stay and where to eat. That gives us a chance to refer them to local small businesses, and we enjoy that opportunity. Your typical eco-tourist appreciated the opportunity to patronize small businesses.”

 

The couple also works to do community outreach with their small business.

“This Saturday we are partnering with the city of Gautier for Earth Day and offering free boat tours,” she mentioned. “We also do little outreach events through out the year like that one. We will donate boat trips to charities and fundraisers. In fact, one of the offshoots of our Eco-Tours business is that my husband started a nonprofit to promote having litter-free waterways.”

Kathy said there were instances when she would be conducting a boat tour and as the boat turned a bend, there would be coolers and refrigerators littering the area.

“It distracts from the message that this is supposed to be a pristine, natural environment. It’s kind of shocking for some people to see that, but it also relays to people the importance of volunteering in the community. When I hear people complain about any trash they may see, I tell them don’t wait for the city to do it but to go out yourself. I try to stress the importance of securing things so they don’t blow out of your boat or truck and get washed into the river.”

The Wilkinsons will try to pick up any trash they do come across during any tours, but it’s not easy keeping the area clean.

“We don’t go out looking for trash or make it it a mission to pick up all the trash because we just wouldn’t finish our tours in time if we picked up every piece of trash we saw.”

Not only does the business offer motorboat tours, but also kayak tours, overnight trips and rides out to the barrier islands. 

“We started our business doing two-hour motorboat tours. We spent more and more time doing those motorboat tours and I ended up not having time for my personal kayaking, so I decided to add that to the business. We decided to add the trips to the barrier islands because we love to go out to Horn Island and Petit Bois Island, which are both nationally designated wilderness areas. We like going to those islands because not everyone gets the chance. There aren’t any ferries going to those islands, and I hope there never are. Ship Island, for example, is a lot more developed, but Horn Island and Petit Bois Island aren’t like that. It’s not for everyone, but it’s something really special and unique for people to do. We figured the more services we offered, the more opportunities have to serve people.”

Because the couple are the only ones that operate the business, they have a lot of responsibility.”

“We work really hard and work year-round. We do everything. We maintain the boats and wash kayaks and do the tours. We when have overnight trips we do all the food prep. We work together to do it all, so it’s a really good bond for us too. We enjoy working the business together.”

However, this also offers some flexibility.

“We’re able to offer tours all year long and we can customize our trips to do just about anything, except fish and jet ski.”

While they do operate a business, the Wilkinsons are still very passionate about conserving the Pascagoula River.

“It’s a great experience, taking people out there. It’s another opportunity to show people how important it is to conserve natural resources and preserve our area. It’s unique in its designation as a wilderness area. It gets to be a teaching moment. Like, the ride out to the barrier islands is interesting because you can see different sea birds and dolphins and stingrays. At this time of year the water is really clear. It’s not necessarily a secret because a lot of locals go out, but some people don’t really understand what a barrier island is or where they are located. It’s really a great experience.”

After speaking with Kathy about the business, it is clear this couple is passionate about what they do.

“If you can find a business to do that’s your passion, it’s not like work at all; it’s just fun. We get to meet people from all over the world, and they are just like sponges. They are ready to be informed and they’re interested. I feel like it is a privilege for us to be able to do this, and the fact that we make money from it is icing on the cake.”

To get your own Eco-Tour experience, visit their website for details and call to book a reservation.

Pay it Forward Fridays:

JaxCoHome would love to hear about people doing good in our community. If you know someone that is a champion for our community, the environment, education or local business, fill out the nomination form by clicking here.

Learn more »
Comments Off on Coast couple uses business to explore waterways, promote conservation

Community votes for ‘Best of Pascagoula’

The City of Pascagoula called for votes, and the people answered. 

In February, the city launched the “Best of Pascagoula” program asking for nominations in 30 categories of things to see and do in Pascagoula. 

The goal of the program is to bring awareness to the city’s community assets.

The voting closed on March 24, and the winners have been announced.

  • Best Art Gallery: River Art Gallery
  • Best Community Event or Festival: Zonta
  • Best Landmark or Local Attraction: Bozo’s Seafood Market & Deli
  • Best Free Kid’s Activity: Movie Night Under the Stars
  • Best Park: Beach Park
  • Best Place to Fish/Crab/Flounder: Beach Park Fishing Pier
  • Best Place to Take Out of Town Guests: Bozo’s Seafood Market & Deli
  • Best Project you’d like to see happen in Pascagoula: More Restaurants
  • Best Reason to Live in Pascagoula: Coast Life
  • Best Thing Pascagoula Needs: Movie Theater
  • Best Trail: Beach Boulevard
  • Best View: Beach
  • Best Volunteer Opportunity: Coastal Cleanup
  • Best Breakfast: Sarah Sue’s
  • Best Family Dinner: Cornerstone
  • Best Lunch Place: Bozo’s Seafood Market & Deli
  • Best Buffet: Jerry Lee’s Grocery & Deli
  • Best Burger: Edd’s Drive In
  • Best Po-Boy: Bozo’s Seafood Market & Deli
  • Best Sweet Treat: Anderson’s Bakery
  • Best Seafood Place: Bozo’s Seafood Market & Deli
  • Best Pizza: New York Pizza
  • Best Tamales: La Fiesta Brava
  • Best Sandwich Shop: Lenny’s Sub Shop
  • Best Healthy Option: Nura Juice
  • Best Place to Hear Live Music: Jack’s By the Tracks
  • Best Cocktail or Drink: Jack’s By the Tracks
  • Best Beer Selection: Jack’s By the Tracks
  • Best Liquor Store: Liquors Unlimited
  • Best Place to Meet After Work: Jack’s By the Tracks

Awards will be presented to the winners at the City Council Meeting held April 4.

Learn more »
Comments Off on Community votes for ‘Best of Pascagoula’

Bozo’s honored as Family-Owned Business of the Year

Click the image above to view larger.

A Jackson County landmark has been honored by the Small Business Administration as the 2017 Generational Family-Owned Business of the Year Award.

Boasting some of the finest fresh seafood and signature seasonings, Bozo’s Seafood Market and Deli has been a staple of Pascagoula for over 60 years. 

Many reviews rave the restaurant’s seafood selection, so check out the place to judge for yourself.

Learn more »
Comments Off on Bozo’s honored as Family-Owned Business of the Year