First Lady Deborah Bryant of Mississippi Reads to Moss Point Preschoolers

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First Lady Deborah Bryant of Mississippi visited the Moss Point School District Family Education Center this morning to read with a group of preschoolers. After Mayor Mario King made the invitation, MPSD superintendent Dr. Shannon Vincent worked with her staff to organize the event. Deborah Bryant is passionate about early childhood education in Mississippi and travels throughout the state to encourage it.

Preschoolers from Little People Learning Center and Mary’s Little Lambs arrived and waited excitedly. Excel by 5 Chairman Debby Renfroe entertained the children before Carolyn Moore, School Board President and chief professional officer at United Way for Jackson and George Counties, welcomed Mrs. Bryant.

The children listened intently to an interactive story about ice cream, dogs and dinosaurs that taught the importance of sharing, and even sang along with some of the words.

“Excel by 5 in Moss Point was honored to be included in this event with our State’s First Lady,” said Debby Renfroe, Chairman of Excel by 5, Inc. “Many thanks to Mrs. Bryant and the Moss Point School District for recognizing the importance of reading to the preschoolers from some of the wonderful child care centers in our city.”

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Pascagoula River Audubon Center Seeks Christmas Tree Donations

IMG_3331 Pascagoula River Audubon Center Seeks Christmas Tree Donations

The site of the tidal marsh restoration project at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center in Moss Point. Photo provided by Mark LaSalle, director of the Center.

If you need to dispose of your live Christmas tree now that the holiday is over, consider donating your tree to restore a local marsh habitat.

The Pascagoula River Audubon Center is seeking donations of live Christmas trees after the holiday season for a project that aims to restore a quarter-acre of tidal marsh in Rhodes Bayou by the Center in Moss Point.

Mark LaSalle, director of the Center, said they have partnered with Jackson County and other agencies to create the restoration project through a five-star urban waters restoration project grant. The tree donations will play a major role in the process.

“Adding the trees will help speed up the process,” LaSalle said. “They will help slow the water down to raise the level of sediment accumulation at the bottom of the marsh.”

Currently, there is a wooden fence outlining the area where the restoration project is taking place, and that is where the donated trees will be placed. The trees will create a barrier to slow down the water to keep it from sediment washing away. The end goal, LaSalle said, is to be able to plant grass in that area within a year or so. 

The restoration project is a result of damage from the area because of saltwater intrusion when historic dredging of the Escatawpa River occurred 50 to 60 years ago. The salt water damaged the fresh-river marsh area and washed the established sediment away. Now, LaSalle said, the Center is helping to restore part of what was lost. 

“We’re happy to honor our wonderful partners and help restore the marsh,” LaSalle Said. “And at the same time we can promote the beautiful tidal marsh habitat.”

LaSalle added that the donated trees need to be as environmentally-friendly as possible – this means they cannot have been flocked, cannot contain ornaments, tinsel or other items and must be live trees (not artificial). The Center hopes to receive anywhere from 50 to 100 trees, but LaSalle said they are happy to take all they can get for the project. Those who would like to donate their trees can drop them off at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center located at 5107 Arthur Street in Moss Point. For more information on the project please call 228-475-0825.

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Celebrate the Winter Solstice with Birds and Brews

Screen-Shot-2017-12-20-at-3.18.31-PM Celebrate the Winter Solstice with Birds and Brews

December 21 marks the start of the winter season, and the Pascagoula River Audubon Center is celebrating the evening with birds and brews.

From 4 to 7 p.m., participants can enjoy a guided hike to look for and listen to the center’s beloved Great Horned Owl pair, enjoy a solstice bonfire, play seasonal trivia and welcome the official start of winter. The event will also include local beer, wine, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.

Pascagoula River Audubon Center Programs Manager Erin Parker said the event is an opportunity for members and those who have never been to the center before to experience what the center does in a unique way.

“We always say it’s a really fun date night,” Parker said. “It’s also a nice way for adults to come without having to watch the kids – a great adult-only visit to the Center.”

Parker said participants can drop in at any time during the 4 to 7 p.m. timeframe. In addition, she said the the Great Horned Owl pair is always a great attraction for this annual event.

“This is one of our most popular Birds and Brews events,” Parker said. “The owls are really active in the evening, and it’s fun for people to go out and look at the owls and listen to them.”

In addition to the guided owl tour, participants can also tour the whole Center, including the art show from the Center’s Plein Air Art Festival earlier this year. The artwork is all done by local artists, and each of the pieces was created in the one-day festival.  

Parker said this will be the last event for 2017, and the events will continue on a quarterly basis with different themes beginning in 2018. 

“We’d like to encourage anyone who’s considering visiting the Center for the first time to come out,” Parker said. “It’s a great way to see the Center and interact with staff. We get a lot of members who come to these events, which we love, and we’d also like to encourage new folks to visit as well.”

Prizes are available for winners of the trivia game, and the night will end with a bonfire outside if the weather permits. Parker said the event is set up for those who’d like a more relaxed evening.

“It’s a nice way to kick off the weekend,” Parker said. “You can stop by, relax, and get some downtime before the holidays.”

The cost is $12 for members and $15 for non-members. This event caters to those 21 years of age and older only. For more information, call 228-475-0825.

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Chevron Veterans Employee Network Unveils Memorial, Commissions New Flag

VetMem.3 Chevron Veterans Employee Network Unveils Memorial, Commissions New Flag

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The Veterans Employee Network at the Chevron Pascagoula Refinery hosted a brief ceremony on Nov. 9 to commission a Veterans Memorial and American flag.

The memorial and flag pole were installed at the refinery’s PNC campus earlier this year, and the commissioning ceremony was scheduled to coincide with Veterans Day festivities.

The ceremony included remarks and the raising of the American flag by the Moss Point High School NJROTC Color Guard.

The memorial inscription reads:
This memorial honors all American veterans
who, although separated by generations,
shared a common undeniable goal to valiantly
protect our country’s freedom. The memories
of those brave men and women will continue
to live on wherever and whenever democracy exists.
Chevron salutes our veterans, forever a symbol
of heroism, sacrifice, loyalty and freedom.

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BEN Launches High School Mentoring Program

BEN-mentoring-Bruce-listens BEN Launches High School Mentoring Program

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The Pascagoula Refinery’s Black Employee Network (BEN) recently launched a mentoring program with Moss Point High School (MPHS) for the 2017-2018 academic year.

The mission of the program is to offer students a diverse view of career opportunities available within Chevron. Approximately 160 ninth-graders are participating in the program.

Each month, BEN hosts a career day session at the high school. Chevron volunteers use an interactive activity to explain to the students what their careers entail, and offer advice about how students can pursue the different roles presented.

“We want to make sure we’re giving a broad perspective, so we feature both technical and non-technical elds during the presentations,” explained program organizer Makamba Sackey (process engineer). “So far, there has been phenomenal support from employees and management to support the growth and learning of the youth in our community.”

Special thanks to the following BEN members and re nery employees who have assisted with the mentoring program: Reggie Aaron (Technical), Marcus Coleman (Technical), Kentrell Owens (Technical), Khristine Pizarro (Technical), Stephanie Castleberry (Lab), James Williams II (PSM), Kristin Davis (Technical) Rachelle Lancon (Technical), Josh Boor (Technical), Shane Burns (Technical) and Bruce Chinn (Refinery Manager).

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Santa, Boat Parade and More at Moss Point Christmas by the River

1130_bilo_moss-Point-baots0 Santa, Boat Parade and More at Moss Point Christmas by the River

Moss Point will welcome in the holiday season with Christmas by the River from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2.

The annual event kicks off with Breakfast with Santa provided by Waffle House at 10 a.m. The breakfast is free for children and $5 per adult and includes a free photo with Santa.

Christmas by the River Organizer Becky Jolly Wood said she expects there to be about 300 children at the breakfast and that it’s a great way to start the day-long celebration.

“We try to make it special, we really do,” Jolly Wood said. “It’s something fun for the children.”

At 3 p.m., a land parade will begin at the Southgate Shopping Center. Line up will be at 1:30 p.m. Jolly Wood said it’s an event anyone can be part of – they can decorate their vehicles and join in the line. In addition, Moss Point native Tony Sipp, a Major League Baseball World Series Champion, will be the land parade’s grand marshal. 

Throughout the day, live music will be playing and participants can walk through vendors selling food, drinks and other items. 

“You’ll see people walking around and talking to everyone,” Jolly Wood said. “You can see everyone in the community.”

Additional activities will happen in the evening, starting with the tree lighting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. at the Pallet Mill. From there, one of the main attractions, the lighted boat parade, will start at 6:15 p.m. at the riverfront. 

Jolly Wood said that boat parade participants will be judged, and that the only rule is that they are not allowed to include a live Santa – the last boat in the parade will be reserved for him. There will be three children judges and four or five adult judges, including Tony Sipp, to determine the winners who will receive trophies and gift cards.

This year, there will be a special trophy in the honor of Moss Point resident, business owner and community supporter Wendy McKinney, who passed away earlier this year.

“We are all still grieving,” Jolly Wood said. “She was someone who, if you needed anything, all you needed to do was tell her. We wanted to do something special to remember her.”

After the winners are awarded, Santa will pass out candy and other small gifts for the children. It’s another chance for families to get a free photo of their children with Santa. During this time, the final selection of names chosen to be included in the Moss Point Walk of Fame will also be announced.

To finish out the night, a fireworks show will follow the boat parade.

Jolly Wood said that when it comes down to it, she hopes the event is fun for all families, as they work hard to make it special – especially for the children.

“There’s not one particularly special part of the day,” she said. “I think it’s just about seeing the happiness on all of the children’s faces.”

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Audubon Center to Showcase Moss Point Plein Air Festival Artwork

15027388_1073994719385409_5626742598882010696_n Audubon Center to Showcase Moss Point Plein Air Festival Artwork

In early November, artists joined together to paint outside at the Annual Moss Point Plein Air Festival sponsored by the Pascagoula River Audubon Center. 

Don Smith, a retired art teacher who volunteers to run the festival, said the event is a local version of larger, worldwide plein air competitions and brings art to Moss Point.

“We wanted to find ways to bring art to Moss Point and show how beautiful it is here,” Smith said. “Not only for the artists, but for non-artists, too.”

An annual event started in 2015, Smith said a steady flow of both professional and up-and-coming artists have participated in the event each year. The competition gives artists the opportunity to find anywhere in the area to paint outside within a certain time limit on the day of the event.

On Thursday, Nov. 30, the Audubon Center will begin to showcase about 20 paintings created at the 2017 Plein Air Art Festival with an opening reception. As a juried art show, a judge selected certain pieces to be on display. The opening reception, set from 6 to 8 p.m., will also name the first, second and third place winners of the competition.

The reception is free and open to the public and will offer refreshments. Smith said it’s also an opportunity for people to check out the Audubon Center if they’ve never been.

“The event lets people visit the Center during nighttime, which is a nice change of scenery,” Smith said. “Attendees can also meet the artists of the work on display.”

Artwork selected for the gallery will be available to view through February 10.

In the long term, Smith said he hopes to work on expanding the festival in a number of ways, including partnering with local boat tours to take participating artists on the water and also seeing the art gallery travel to other Audubon centers. In addition, he said he hopes to see the festival impact more than just the art scene.

“We hope there’s some compounded interest there,” Smith said. “Between the artists, those who live in the area, even impacting nature tourism in the area and along the Mississippi Coast.”

For more information call 228-475-7887. 

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Moss Point Advances in $2 Million National STEM Contest

DSC05913-2 Moss Point Advances in $2 Million National STEM Contest

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Out of nearly 3,000 applications for the 2017 – 2018 contest, the Moss Point Career & Technical Education (CTE) center, located in Moss Point, MS., was named one of the nation’s 255 state finalists in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, a program that encourages students to solve real-world issues in their community using classroom skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Mr. Billy Carroll’s Robotics Engineering program and Mr. Ignacio Lopez-Morales’s Aquaculture program were chosen based on their joint proposal to use STEM skills to address water pollution. To tackle this project, their students will create a bio-filter to mitigate the pollutants flowing into the bayou.  

“As a director, my job is to find innovative programs and think towards the future of where these industries are heading and try to bring that here to the CTE center to prepare our kids for the jobs they’ll have tomorrow”, says Career & Technical Education Director, Dr. Durand Payton. 

As one of five state finalists in Mississippi, the Moss Point CTE will now have the opportunity to advance in the competition for classroom technology prizes.  Dr. Durand Payton, Mr. Carroll & Mr. Lopez are currently working on an Activity Plan outlining how their students will execute this project. The second phase of the project will entail the team working and finalizing plans on how the project will benefit the community and its local water sources. If they are named the Mississippi State Winner in December, the Moss Point Career & Technical Education center will receive a $25,000 Samsung technology package. The 10 national finalists will attend a pitch event for the winner announcement in early April. 

Dr. Payton states if they win they will re-invest the money back into the programs in hopes that it will bring attention and expose the CTE center and its students. “A lot of people are not aware of the CTE center and all we do”, says Dr. Payton. “Winning this would give us an opportunity to showcase the students at Moss Point’s CTE center and highlight all of what they can and will do”, says Dr. Payton. 

For more information about about this project, please contact Dr. Durand Payton at ddpayton@mpsdnow.org  

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Jackson County to Honor Local Veterans

2017-Veterans-Day-Program-Moss-Point_525fbc29-5056-a36a-065e4f50d7444e4a-1 Jackson County to Honor Local Veterans

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MOSS POINT, Miss. —  The city of Moss Point will honor the county’s veterans at the 17th annual Jackson County Veterans Day Program on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, at the Moss Point Veterans Memorial Monument. 

Linda Johnson at the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce said the event brings in a number of local groups and organizations, including Moss Point school groups, the Moss Point Fire Department, local veterans support organizations and more. She added that the theme for this year’s event is “Freedom is Not Free.”

“We’ve been doing this event for a long time,” Johnson said. “The community really gets involved to put together a great program. We believe it’s important to honor our veterans on November 11 every year.”

The program will begin promptly at 11 a.m. with a welcome by the Mistress of Ceremony, Carla Todd Voda, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.

After the welcome, there will be the Presentation of Colors, National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, invocation, Armed Forces songs and Prisoner Of War/Missing In Action ceremony.

There will then be a Presentation of the Wreath for the Fallen in memory of the following fallen soldiers: Major Michael Green, United States Army; Master Sergeant Scott E. Pruitt, United States Marine Corps; Master Sergeant Coater DeBose, United States Army; Sergeant First Class Sean M. Cooley, United States Army; and Sergeant Terrance D. Lee, Sr., United States Army. 

Finally, Capt. Torrey M. Garrison will deliver the keynote speech, followed by military gun salute and taps. 

Johnson said the program is free and open to the public, and all are invited to join for free food and displays on the lawn next to the monument following the program.  

“We hope to have a great crowd this year and look forward to a nice day,” Johnson said. “We encourage all community members to come out and help us honor Jackson County’s veterans past and present – because freedom is not free.”

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Moss Point Celebrates Being Named “Mississippi’s Healthiest Hometown”

blue-crossjpg-b158cacb15b83317 Moss Point Celebrates Being Named "Mississippi's Healthiest Hometown"

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The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation named the City of Moss Point “Mississippi’s Healthiest Hometown” and presented the City with a $50,000 grant award during a celebration held Friday, October 20 at the Riverfront Community Center. The celebration included a “Self Care Expo” with healthy food and exercise demonstrations, free health screenings and a farmers market. Vendors were on hand to check blood pressure, demonstrate CPR techniques and distribute disaster preparedness supplies.

“We are so excited to partner with the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation to better our residents’ health,” said Mayor Mario King.  The City will use the $50,000 grant to further efforts toward improving community health by promoting walking, bicycling and outdoor exercise.

The City of Moss Point was named “Mississippi’s Healthiest Hometown,” while the cities of Meridian and Hernando and the Town of Mantachie received Healthy Hometown honors. Moss Point, which was previously a Healthy Hometown winner in 2014, received a $50,000 grant from the Foundation to support its ongoing wellness initiatives. Meridian, Hernando and Mantachie will each receive $25,000 to further their own wellness efforts. Hernando was also a previous winner in the Healthy Hometown Awards program, having been named “Mississippi’s Healthiest Hometown” in 2010. Meridian and Mantachie are both first time honorees. 

The Healthy Hometown Awards Program was established in 2010 to encourage healthy lifestyles at the community level while providing financial incentives to the cities and towns that have demonstrated the most progress. Healthy Hometown winning municipalities are chosen based on select criteria, including being tobacco-free communities, the promotion and support of community exercise, community-wide opportunities for healthy nutrition and supporting healthy learning environments in schools. Since 2010, the Foundation has provided $700,000 to support Healthy Hometown winners. 

“We are proud of Moss Point’s continued leadership in creating healthy places to live, learn and work,” said Sheila Grogan, Executive Director of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. “We encourage other communities around the state to be part of our collective efforts to build a healthy Mississippi.”

Healthy Hometown applications are evaluated by a panel of distinguished health and wellness champions from Mississippi and around the country. Judges for the 2017 Healthy Hometown Awards Program were: Sue Polis, Director of the National League of Cities, located in Washington D.C. Polis manages the health and wellness portfolio for the Institute of Youth, Education, and Families; Paula Little, Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent and Supervisor of Instruction for the Clinton County School District in Kentucky. She also established the Clinton County Healthy Hometown Coalition; and Robert J. Gates, Project Director for the Trinity Educators Development Corporation, based in the Mississippi Delta, providing assistance to small and limited resource farmers. He also works collaboratively with community consultants to improve health and wellness in the Delta. 

To learn more about the Healthy Hometown Awards Program and this year’s winners, visit the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation’s website at www.healthiermississippi.org.

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