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Gautier’s Mullet Festival Hopes to Draw Crowds and Offer Family Fun

Mullet-Fest-Image Gautier's Mullet Festival Hopes to Draw Crowds and Offer Family Fun

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Gautier is gearing up for a day of fun and entertainment at its 27th Mullet and Music Festival, presented by Waste Pro, Mitchell Distributing, City of Gautier and Jackson County.  With events beginning at 9 a.m., the day features two music stages with all day performances including artists Kristian Cowart, the Highway Sisters, Amanda Jones Band, Deuces Wild and country music legend Ronnie McDowell. 

McDowell, who highlighted the festival two years ago, will return to the stage and perform from 7-9 p.m. followed by a fireworks show.“He brought a big crowd then, and we hope he will draw another great crowd this year,” said Jan McQuillen, chair of the festival.

Over 100 craft and food vendors will be on site to sell their wares and delectable treats. “We’ve had some returning vendors and have new vendors from all over,” adds McQuillen.

Also available on Saturday will be the official festival print from artist Willie Dees. Dees print, “The Magic of the Mullet Festival,” was selected as the winner for this year’s Mullet Festival art competition.

Car enthusiasts can take part in the Car and Truck Show from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.   On site registration is available for the classic car show, and cash awards will be given to the crowd’s favorite.

Children are included in this year’s event and can enjoy the day at the Kids Zone, an area especially for them. The Kids Zone includes includes bounce houses, McDonald’s Play and Learn Zone, bubble balls and concludes with a glow stick disco party from 7-9 p.m.

You can even bring your pets to the Bicentennial Pet Parade from 1-2 p.m. Pet owners are encouraged to dress their pets in bicentennial attire, and prizes will be given for best costumes

“This is Gautier’s biggest festival, and we are hoping to draw a crowd to our city and bring our community together for a day of fun,” said McQuillen. “In year’s past, we’ve had 10,000-15,000 people at the festival, and we are hoping for good weather and a good crowd”

For more information on the festival, contact McQuillen at 228-215-0828 or check out their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/gautiermulletfest/.

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Gautier: Meet your new Mayor Phil Torjusen

IMG_7268-e1498708827126-300x300 Gautier: Meet your new Mayor Phil TorjusenGautier, meet your new mayor Phil Torjusen.

Mayor Torjusen is a native of south Jackson county, and a resident of Gautier since 1984. Mayor Torjusen and his wife have been married 34 years and have raised four kids right here in Gautier. They still reside in the same house they built in 1988. His past career experience is with Nationwide Resort Development Company and Nationwide Campgrounds, and now works primarily in commercial and residential real estate. Mayor Torjusen has also served on the Gautier planning commission and the civil service commission for the past 12 years in various roles.

“I never pictured myself in political office, but it kind of evolved. I think this year with the national election people got more in tune and more engaged with any election they have in their whole life. To me, it was a very critical election for the future of this entire country. I think it’s going to try to right the ship so to speak and it really encouraged me to jump into the race. I saw an opportunity for me to better apply my experience to use it better than what I was using it as,” explains Torjusen. He also explains, “I had some people approach me about running for Gautier’s mayor and I just waited to see what would happen, I actually didn’t get into the race until there was fifteen minutes left for qualifying. Nobody jumped in to run against the incumbent, so I did.”

Mayor Torjusen plans to use the economy that is moving nationwide. Some plans he has is using his knowledge of building infrastructures for campgrounds and resorts regarding quality water and sewage at a fair price. He also wants to improve the infrastructure in order to properly do economic development. “We lost our revenue and tax stream when the mall was demolished, and we haven’t replaced it. Our citizens services were cut due to that. We have a low paying police force, a low paying fire department, the lowest on the coast. We need to get our revenue right and improve cash flow so we can stabilize these issues for our citizens,” says the new mayor.

Phil Torjusen is a graduate of Pascagoula High School and University of Mississippi in 1978.

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Teacher lays foundation for academic career

Mrs.-Young Teacher lays foundation for academic career

It seems like kindergarten used to just be nap time, the alphabet and chocolate milk. However, times have changed, and children are expected to know so much more, from computer skills to narrative writing. Considering for some children it is their first time in a classroom, it is a lot to learn in a year. This is where teachers like Margaret Young come in.

“I have been teaching kindergarten at Gautier Elementary School for 10 years now,” Young said. “Before that I taught 2nd grade for two years.”

As a kindergarten teacher, Margaret works to make her classroom a fun learning environment.

“I have tried to foster a family relationship in my classroom,” she explained. “We do a lot of talking and sharing of feelings and emotions and ideas. We do learning through music, movements and gestures to help the students remember the lessons. I have learning centers to incorporate art and games to make them want to learn.”

Making learning engaging for the students can make it easier for them to learn the more challenging coursework.

“The work is very rigorous now, so that’s why I try to make it fun,” Young said. “Now they are writing narratives and informational text by the end of the year. They know how to read data because they have to do that on the computer every day. It is more challenging now than in previous years. We in Mississippi were falling behind in education in the nation, but now we have some of the most rigorous standards so we can catch up. It’s a lot of work, and there are tears from the kids, but they are excited to learn.”

Margaret was inspired to be a teacher by one of life’s first role models: her mother.

Mrs.-Young Teacher lays foundation for academic career
Mrs.-Young Teacher lays foundation for academic career

“My mom was as assistant teacher who worked in kindergarten and special education, so I’ve always been in that environment,” she recalled. “I’ve always loved little kids, even when I was a little kid. I’ve always sort of had this parental instinct and used to pretend to play teacher. I’ve also had some really great teachers, especially one of my math teachers at Colmer Middle School. I was having trouble in math, and she would always work with me and stay with me after school without getting paid anything extra to help me.”

As a kindergarten teacher, Margaret is often working with students who have never been in a classroom environment before.

“I would say my class is about half and half,” she said. “Some kids how been in a pre-k class or Head Start program, but it is an even split between those children and the children who are coming straight from home. They do cry the first few weeks because they miss being at home, but we use that time to teach them the rules and routines to make them more comfortable in the classroom. At that age, children really want to please you and do the right thing. The only challenge comes in that there’s 24 students to teach everything to between just my assistant and myself. But they see the reward, so they want to learn.”

As the school year comes to an end, it is once again time for the students to say good bye to Ms. Young as they move to the 1st grade.

Mrs.-Young Teacher lays foundation for academic career

“In these last few weeks, I’m trying to make sure they are excited to move on and prepare them for the 1st grade,” Young explained. “I know all of the teachers they are moving to, so I’m not worried about them having a good experience next year. I’m happy to see how they’ve grown.”

Mrs.-Young Teacher lays foundation for academic career

 

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.

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Gautier holds first farmer’s market

market-1 Gautier holds first farmer's market
market-1 Gautier holds first farmer's market

Gautier residents have a new place to shop for their summer produce. May 13 saw Gautier’s first farmer’s market of the season.

Located in George Martin City Park from 8 a.m. until noon, visitors were offered selections from numerous local vendors. 

“We had Havens Down Home Creamery selling milk, eggs, cheese, and grass-fed beef,” said April Havens, Grants and Projects Administrator for the City of Gautier. “We had Gautier Gold Honey, Butts’ Bees Honey, and Island Sweets by Kay and Tay selling cakes, pies, pretzels, and popcorn. There we also local growers of vegetables of fruits selling things like snap beans, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, cucumbers, okra, fruit trees, shrubs, flowering plants and so many more.”

Farmer’s market are such a valuable resource due to the unique products they offer.

“It’s important for residents to support their local growers, who provide healthy and wholesome items at a good price,’ Havens explained. “It supports our local economy, encourages our entrepreneurs, and provides delicious options for our dinner tables. Markets such as these make fresh good easily accessible to our community.”

While this is the city’s first farmer’s market, Havens hopes it becomes a staple in the community.

“We plan to hold one the second Saturday of every month from May through October, though additional weekends may be added based on the overwhelming response from the first event,” Havens said.

The next market will be held June 10.

 

market-1 Gautier holds first farmer's market
market-1 Gautier holds first farmer's market
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Bacot McCarty experiences ‘Jolly’ weekend

It’s that “Jolly” time of year again. This weekend saw the return of the Bacot McCarty Foundation‘s annual two-day fundraising event, which consisted of a Gala held at the IP Casino & Golf Classic at Shell Landing.

The Jolly is the foundation’s largest fundraiser, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to help improve the lives of young people through educational and cultural programs across south Mississippi.

This year’s Gala had an “Austin Powers” theme, filled with costumes, bright lights and even a go-go dancer or four. Music was provided by Doctor Zarr’s Amazing Funk Monster. Various items were donated from community members and organizations for a silent auction to benefit numerous Gulf Coast charities, such as the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center and the American Heart Association.

Appearances through the night were made by the Ocean Springs, Gautier, and Pascagoula high school’s cheerleaders, the Pascagoula High School drum line and even Miss Mississippi Laura Lee Lewis.

Saturday, participants gathered at the Shell Landing Golf Club in Gautier for the golf tournament, which has become one of the largest golf classics in Jackson County history. Executive Director Todd Trenchard started the morning by once again thanking all who participated in the weekend’s events to raise money for youth education and all of their continued support of the foundation.

This year’s event was a great success, with $30,000 more raised at the beginning of the gala than previous years. While participants had fun, everyone remembered that they were all there for one reason: the children.

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Coast couple uses business to explore waterways, promote conservation

17758573_10154729347034412_7066742658905596963_o Coast couple uses business to explore waterways, promote conservation

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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.”

 

17758573_10154729347034412_7066742658905596963_o Coast couple uses business to explore waterways, promote conservation
17758573_10154729347034412_7066742658905596963_o Coast couple uses business to explore waterways, promote conservation

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.”

17758573_10154729347034412_7066742658905596963_o Coast couple uses business to explore waterways, promote conservation
17758573_10154729347034412_7066742658905596963_o Coast couple uses business to explore waterways, promote conservation

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.

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Morning egg hunt gets Gautier Easter-ready

As Easter Sunday closes in, children across Jackson County are getting their baskets ready for all of their candies and treats.

Dozens of children and their parents gathered early Saturday morning at Shepard State Park in Gautier for a chance to claim the honor of getting the most Easter eggs. 

All attendees were let loose to hunt promptly at 9 a.m., and by 9:15 everyone was checking their baskets for goodies. 

Not only did children get the chance to hunt for Easter eggs, but there were also face-painting stations, free hay rides and an Easter Bunny poised for pictures. All of the makings were there for a fun-filled morning.

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Gloria Young named MGCCC 2017 Difference Maker

GYoung_DSC_6203fxs Gloria Young named MGCCC 2017 Difference Maker

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College held its annual Spring Reception on March 23 at the Hospitality and Resort Management Center in Biloxi in honor of the 2017 L. N. Dantzler Difference Maker Award recipients. Each year since 2003, four employees have been recognized with this award for demonstrating an exceptional work ethic, a deep sense of college and community involvement, and a tremendous commitment to students. 

Gloria Young, of Gautier, was chosen as the 2017 Difference Maker for the Jackson County Campus.  Young has been a custodian at the campus for 24 years.  Her family is tightknit and have remained in the area and her three children are all college alumni. Her two daughters work at the Jackson County Campus – Sarah is the administrative assistant in the Maintenance Department, and Amy works at the campus childcare center. Her son works for the Jackson County road department.  She also has one of her two grandchildren on campus. Her granddaughter is a student in the Radiologic Technology program.

“So many things have changed at the college over the years,” she said. “The campus has grown and it is really such a beautiful campus. One thing that is the same as it always has been is the people. The people, from students to faculty to all employees, are just great here.”

 Gloria is an outstanding ambassador for the campus, as she greets everyone who passes her in the hallways with a smile. “I’ve found that if you help people when you can and always treat them with kindness that you most likely get the same attitude in return. And when you don’t, it is probably because they are having a bad day, and your smile might make the difference for them and brighten things up a bit.” 

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MGCCC announces summer camps for Jackson Co. campus

Parents looking summer camps for their children have more options thanks to the Jackson County campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

The Outdoor Adventure Camp will be held through June 5-9 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day.

The camp is for children ages 13-15, and all participants must be comfortable in and on the water, including being competent swimmers.

Activities will include kayaking, swimming, canoeing, hiking, nature walks and a ropes challenge course.

The Robotics Camp will hold two session for varying skill levels.

Those with basic robotics skills from ages 10-15 will have a session on June 19-23, and those with intermediate skills ages 12-17 will have a session June 26-30. Each session will be held  from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day

This interactive camp will include building robots and stomp rockets as well as a competition among the campers using their robotic creations.

The Chemistry Camp will offer two sessions, one from July 10-14 and the second from July 17-21. Both sessions will last from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day.

Campers ages 11-14 will be able to create slime, glue, plexiglass crystals and much more. They will compete in a quiz bowl style competition and experience a trip to First Chemical.

Campers interested in Learning to Swim will have three opportunities with three sessions from June 5-16, June 19-30 and July 1-21. Classes will be at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. for each session.

Children ages 3 to 12 will experience a fun and instructive course overseen by lifeguards and certified instructors. Classes will meet for 50 minutes each day and are limited to 30 students each.

Visit the website for details about prices and registration, or contact Terri Sasser at terri.sasser@mgccc.edu or at 228-497-7633.

 

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