Edd’s Drive-In expands to Hurley

The residents of Hurley  now have a new dining option thanks to the expansion of a Pascagoula original.

For nearly 60 years, Edd’s Drive-In was a Pascagoula exclusive, offering delicious chocolate malts and chili cheese dogs since 1953.

“It was originally built as a Dairy Queen, but after several years Ed McElroy changed it to Edd’s Drive -In, in order to not be restricted on the menu,” said Walker Foster, one of Edd’s original owners.

So what made the owners decide to expand to Hurley?

“We felt a lot of people had moved from [Pascagoula] after Hurricane Katrina, and we felt that the people in Hurley would enjoy it,” Foster said. “It gives them another eating spot there, and it gave us an opportunity to branch out on our menu.”

Not only is the Edd’s location in Hurley offering the classics that have been found in Pascagoula all these years, but also some new items have been added to the menu, including catfish plates and chicken nuggets. The Hurley location is also the first to allow diners to sit down and enjoy their meal.

Check out the Jackson County classic for yourself at 3834 Market Street in Pascagoula or 19400 Hwy 63 in Hurley.

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River tour offers unique look at coast habitats

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A true gem of Jackson County is the Pascagoula River, one of the largest free-flowing rivers left in the nation. A habitat for so many different species of plants and animals, there is so much one could see while exploring the Pascagoula River. One Jackson County business that helps make that possible is McCoy’s River and Marsh Tours.

“We do eco-tours out of Pascagoula River Audubon Center,”said Capt. Benny McCoy. “We take birders out. We do help the Gulf Coast Research Lab do their research, but mostly we do eco-tours.”

No two tours are the same. You never know when you are going to see with McCoy at the helm.

“Depending on the time of year, you can get your birds, different types of birds, your plants, maybe some history of the area,” McCoy said. “Mostly we see how marshes and swamps kind of intertwine with each other and what the purpose is of each one of them. These areas are very important for the seafood industry and things we like to eat because this is where a lot of it is grown and nurseries are formed. You just learn about the nature of the Gulf Coast.”

As part of his job, McCoy gets to take people from all walks of live through the Escatawpa and Pascagoula rivers and see how they react to the unique natural habitat.

“We get people from all over our country and overseas, and they say it’s one of their greatest memories here on the Gulf Coast,” he said. “It says a lot, not only about the tour, but also what we have on the Gulf Coast.”

“I was visiting friends in Ocean Springs and I looked up the tour,” said North Carolina resident Lou Kraus. “So far, this has been a real highlight for us. The captain is a good story teller and very informed. I’m very pleased and privileged to be here.”

Even after doing the tours for 17 years, McCoy sees no signs of slowing down because of what he gets out of doing the tours.

“I’ve been doing this for 17 years, and mostly what I get the thrill out of is meeting new people,” he said. “I get to meet a lot of great people throughout our country and all over the world. I get to learn their stories, and they get to see the beauty of the area. It pretty much sells itself because it’s amazing what is out there. Every season has something new out there, and they get to relax and get out on the water.”

Ahead of National Get Outdoors Day on June 10, McCoy has one piece of advice for anyone who hasn’t been able to explore the river yet.

“Come on out and get on the water and see what we can find out here,” he said. “There are all kinds of critters you can see and look at. Come on out and enjoy the outdoors. Get out of the house and get some sun.”

For more information about McCoy’s River and Marsh Tours, visit their website.

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Shearwater Pottery stays alive in Ocean Springs

One of the unique forms of art that calls Jackson County home is Shearwater Pottery, which has continued through the ages thanks to the Anderson family.

“[Shearwater Pottery] was founded in 1928 by Peter Anderson, and Peter founded the pottering doing throwing and glaze ware,” explained Business Manager Beth Ashley. “Then a couple years later his brothers Walter and Mac joined. They designed figurines and decorated pots. We continue on as a family today to make pottery.”

According to the business’s website, Shearwater Pottery is crafted using two distinct clay bodies. First, a white bodied clay from Tennessee is used to create “underglaze” castware. The cast pieces are hand painted or originally decorated. A buff bodied clay made largely from clay obtained from local Mississippi and Alabama sources is used to create thrown, jiggered or cast pieces, and, unless decorated, is glazed with one of Shearwater’s unique glazes.

“We continue to do Walter and Mac figurines, and we have younger generations doing their own decorative ware,” Ashley said. Three of Peter’s four children are still active in the ongoing production of Shearwater Pottery.

Establishments like Shearwater Pottery help continue Jackson County’s artistic history.

“My great-grandmother always wanted to see an art colony on the Coast,” Ashley said. “She had bought this property in 1917 with that kind of goal in mind, so I think it has become an art colony, especially our Ocean Springs community, but in general Jackson County. I think having a business like this go back that long has encouraged other artists as well.”

For anyone interested in Shearwater Pottery, check out the products and workshop at 102 Shearwater Drive in Ocean Springs.

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Diners offered challenge in Culinary Passport

Ocean Springs offers a variety of restaurants, and now diners have the opportunity to be rewarded for eating out thanks to the Ocean Springs Culinary Passport. 

The concept is simple: pick up a passport at the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce. Spend $10 on food and drink at a participating Ocean Springs eatery (marked with a window decal) to get your passport stamped. After collecting 10 stamps from 10 different participating establishments, drop off or mail the passport to the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce to receive a free gift and be entered for a prize.

“This is the first time to provide a culinary passport in Ocean Springs,” said Cynthia Sutton, executive director of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce. “I have been part of other passport programs from the Heritage Trust stamp to the National Park service passport stamp, so it helped to give me the idea for something similar to showcase and continually promote and publicize our local restaurants and nightlife venues in Ocean Springs.”

The current passports are valid for an entire year, allowing anyone to participate in the program, from a family is stopping in for a vacation and need to know where to eat to an Ocean Springs resident who has trouble deciding what to have for dinner.

“It is a great way to get more exposure and publicity for their individual businesses,” Sutton said. “If locals and travelers know they are going to be rewarded, then it incentivizes folks to eat with us in Ocean Springs. Also, it is a fun tool to get out and challenge yourself to complete the project.”

Participants are also able to share their dining experiences on social media through #osculinarypassport, allowing the perfect opportunity to discover the diverse range of culinary experiences Ocean Springs has to offer.

For more information about participating restaurants, visit the Culinary Passport website.

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Local shop a must-visit for Donut Day

The first Friday in June is annually observed as National Donut Day, and for residents of Jackson County, there is no better place for donuts than Tato-Nut Donut Shop.

Situated in a small yellow building on the corner of Government Street and Kotzum Avenue in downtown Ocean Springs is a business that has been open so long and become so iconic, it has practically reached landmark status. Today, Tato-Nut is lead by owners David and Theresa Mohler.

“My husband’s father [Robert] opened a donut shop back in 1960 called Spud Nut, ” Theresa recalled. “In the early 1970s that dissipated, so they kind of changed the recipe they had been working with and soon after opened Tato-Nut.”

Theresa has been involved with the business since 1988, and involved does not just simply mean as a co-owner.

“We are involved in every aspected of the business,” Theresa explained. “We mix every batch of dough, make all of the glaze and make all of the chocolate the goes on the donuts. We arrive every morning around 2 a.m. to get everything ready to open.”

While it may be a Jackson County original, Tato-Nut is becoming known far and wide throughout the Southeast, and even internationally.

“When we travel, like to Mobile, people know about Tato-Nut,” Theresa said. “We’ll be in Florida or we’ll be in some other place and people have heard of the shop. We actually went up to Ole Miss not too long ago to move our daughter in and people up there even knew about us. I think social media is kind of helping to spread the word. We’ll have people who are in the military that were stationed on the Gulf Coast for awhile and they got to visit and then they will be stationed in Japan and they still keep up with us on social media. We’ll put something and they will comment saying they wish they could get some donuts. People from out of town will come have a visit to our shop on their to-do list for their trip here.”

Being such a staple of the community is something the Mohlers do not take lightly.

“It’s a huge honor. It’s why we get up in the morning,” Theresa said. “We have become part of people’s traditions and, in a way, part of their families. It is a huge honor, but it is also a huge obligation to make sure we maintain that quality, so it is a double-edged sword.”

The Mohlers also make sure to give back to the community that has shown them so much appreciation through donations to the Ronald McDonald House as well as donating the day’s leftovers to the local soup kitchen The Lord is My Help, located just blocks away from the shop.

So what is behind the success of Tato-Nut? Some might say it’s the unique recipe for these particular donuts, but Theresa Mohler has a different idea.

“We do add potatoes to our donuts, but I like to say that they taste the love,” she said. “You taste that we had a hand in everything that goes out of our front door.”

In honor of National Donut Day, Tato-Nut will offer a free coffee with any purchase on June 2, 2017.

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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.”

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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