Summer camps offered sure to please all

School is out for the summer. What are you going to do with your kids until August? If you don’t want them staring at a screen all summer, various campus are being offered across Jackson County for children of all ages. Check out some of the campus listed below.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Jackson County Campus

Summer camps offered at the Jackson County campus of MGCCC in Gautier cover topics such as robotics, chemistry, swimming, and outdoor adventures. 

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

Pascagoula River Audubon Center

The Pascagoula River Audubon Center is offering fun, nature-based summer camp programming for a variety of age groups.

Elementary, middle school, and mini-camps run from 9 a.m. until noon at the center. The high school junior naturalist program runs 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day, and is field-trip based.

Visit the Audubon Center’s website for more details and to download the registration forms.

Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center

The center is all about the arts, whether performing, visual or culinary. This mission is reflected in the selection for their 2017 summer camps. 

Weeklong summer camps for all ages at the Mary C. run from the first full week of June all the way until the end of July, so there is plenty opportunity to for the kids to get their hands dirty learning how to cook, write, paint, craft and so much more. 

Visit the website for camp dates, details and pricing.

University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Lab

The GCRL’s three summer camp programs focus on the beauty of the ocean and all that inhabit it. 

Sea Camp: This summer Sea Camp is 30 years old. It has been the Coast’s most popular marine science day camp for children in grades 1 through 6.Activities include live animal encounters with coastal wildlife and opportunities to fish, crab, seine and sieve. 

Shark Camp: Why watch shark week on TV when you can live it? Visit the top shark fishing hotspots around the Barrier Islands aboard a research vessel. Catch and tag sharks to contribute to ongoing scientific research.

Shaggy’s Angler Camp: Fish everyday. This program introduces young people in grades 7 through 12 to fishing in the diverse waters of coastal Mississippi. The five-day camp includes sessions on the water, in the lab, and in the kitchen, as students learn everything from tying a hook on a line to finding and catching fish to cleaning and cooking their catch.

If you know of any other summer camps happening in Jackson County, sign up to become a contributor and write something up to let everyone know. Summer is fast approaching!

 

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Administrator serves her school, soap box derby

ski-2_549x768 Administrator serves her school, soap box derby

Education is a true time commitment. As educator is responsible for numerous children for a large portion of the day, not only in teaching them, but also for their well being. Being a teacher responsible for up to 30 students is daunting enough, so one can only imagine the stresses of being a principal for an entire campus.

“I supervise the 460 children and 50 adults every day,” said Susan Stachowski, principal of Magnolia Middle School in Moss Point. “I am responsible for monitoring grades, instruction, attendance, behavior, everything.

There are moments I think “Oh goodness, I’m responsible for that building and everything in it.’ However, Dr. Vincent believed in me, and I won’t let her down.” 

Stachowski is completing her second year as principal of Magnolia Middle School. She was previously a teacher at Magnolia Middle School from 1994-2000 teaching English and Career Discovery, and has returned after 16 years at Colmer Middle School in Pascagoula.

“It’s exciting to be back home and back where I feel like i’m making a difference,” she mentioned.

Spending so many years in education, Stachowski has opportunities to see her students evolve and grow outside of the classroom.

“I enjoyed teaching Career Discovery because it was fun helping children prepare for the future,” Stachowski said. “I remember one student I taught my first year loved science, and now he actually works as my Science Department chair.”

Even though it is only her second year back in the district, Stachowski was named this year’s Administrator of the Year for Moss Point schools, showing that is she is making strides early on. 

Even with her work in administration, meaning she does not get to enjoy the upcoming summer break, Stachowski still makes time to be part of the committee that organizes the annual Deborah Washington Memorial Soap Box Derby

“It all started when my son was 10, and as a reference his is now 23,” Stachowski recalled. “Years ago some friends that were doing the derby said come do it with them, and that’s how we got involved. My children haven’t raced in 8 years, but we’ve always been part of the race. It’s become our family community service.”

Originally known as the Magnolia State Soap Box Derby, the event’s name was changed to honor Deborah Washington after she lost her battle with breast cancer. Washington started the event in 1992, and was a beloved Chevron Refinery employee known for her active community involvement.

“I love what the derby does for the city and for the children,” Stachowski said. “I believe in it and want it to continue. My children had a great experience with it, and the friendships I’ve created with the people on that committee mean the world to me. I love the people I work with. We all have a real passion for what we do because none of us on the committee still have children who race. We also enjoy keeping Deborah’s memory alive with the race, and we on the committee consider ourselves ‘Deb’s Angles.'”

Stachowski stays involved in the derby race because of all the unique experiences it offers children in the community.

“You get lots of experiences because winners of the race get to go to Akron, Ohio to compete in the soap box derby there against racers from all over the world,” Stachowski said. 

Another aspect of the races that helps to keep Stachowski involved is her family.

“This is our family community service,” Stachowski explained. “Both of my kids raced but now they are too old for it, but we still stay involved and help with the races each year. In 2006 we were actually honored as the National Soap Box Derby family for that year. It’s truly a family affair.”

With all that Stachowski does in her professional and volunteer life, it is clear she works hard to make Moss Point a gem of Jackson County.

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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Brady’s brings new dining option to Pascagoula

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

 

IMG_1409 Brady's brings new dining option to Pascagoula

“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.”

IMG_1409 Brady's brings new dining option to Pascagoula

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.

IMG_1409 Brady's brings new dining option to Pascagoula
IMG_1409 Brady's brings new dining option to Pascagoula
IMG_1409 Brady's brings new dining option to Pascagoula
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PGSD Athletics Gets An Overhaul

The Pascagoula-Gautier School District is making major improvements to War Memorial Stadium in Pascagoula and Vaughn-Wallace Stadium in Gautier in anticipation of the upcoming school year.

     The plans include new field turf at both stadiums as well as a track straight away at Gautier as part of the practice track. For Pascagoula, stadium restrooms are receiving a facelift as well as new track and remodeling a dressing room for the girls’ soccer team. Painting and sealing the bleachers, renovations underneath the visitors’ side of the stadium and a new press box on the home side are also part of the summer plans.

     Other projects include painting the exterior of the Panther baseball field house, refurbishing the tennis courts at South Field, painting the South Field house and new sidewalks, bleachers and concession stand at South Field. Renovations for both football fields is $3.4 million with other venue improvements valued at $1.8 million.

     “These projects are among some of goals of the district’s 2017-2021 five-year strategic plan,” said Superintendent Wayne Rodolfich. “This strategic plan was written by 250 community members and school district employees. Improvements at both stadiums was one of the goals for members of the athletic strategic planning committee.”

     Rodolfich said the improvements to the stadiums will benefit not only those who come to watch the various sporting events, but those who use the field including the football team, lacrosse, team, soccer teams, band and cheerleaders as well as the members of the track team.

     “The new turf will provide a consistently-level playing field which will dry quickly, and the improvements will give our stadiums a cleaner, high-quality appearance,” Rodolfich said. “We moved our high school graduations to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum this year so we could go ahead and begin work on these stadium improvements and be ready in time for football season. There’s been a great deal of excitement throughout the community about the projects.”

Gautier-HS-Football-Soccer-Drawing-skinny-both-blue-end-zone PGSD Athletics Gets An Overhaul Gautier-HS-Football-Soccer-Drawing-skinny-both-blue-end-zone PGSD Athletics Gets An Overhaul

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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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Taste of Ocean Springs highlights best of city cuisine

Jackson County is home to many amazing local restaurants. Not only does the area obviously offer some incredible seafood, but there are so many different kinds of cuisines available just within the city limits of Ocean Springs. Downtown Ocean Springs is home to restaurants that offer steaks, seafood, pizza, barbecue, Mediterranean dishes, Southern favorites and so many more. Thanks to events like Taste of Ocean Springs, community members are able to sample all of that food in one place in one night. 

Featuring 20 different restaurants and 10 different wine brokers, the 9th Annual Taste of Ocean Springs Food and Wine Festival was sold out with everyone excited for this unique event. 

IMG_0344 Taste of Ocean Springs highlights best of city cuisine
IMG_0344 Taste of Ocean Springs highlights best of city cuisine

“We sold 500 tickets this year, so we have an amazing crowd and in addition to that we have a lot of fun stuff this year,” explained Cynthia Sutton, Executive Director with the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce. “We’re featuring a master potter Anita Hughes, so we have her vases on all the tables. We partnered with Mercedes-Benz, and we’re showing some of their cars here. We’re doing some fun giveaways with our partners like Golden Nugget, so it’s just a lot of great things happening here.”

However, with all of the wonderful additions to the event, everyone gathered at the L & N Depot for the star of the night: the food. The evening breeze carried the enticing aromas through downtown. The crowd looked like something out of My Fair Lady with the dress code asking attendees to dress in red, white or black, adding to the elegant atmosphere of the outdoor festival. 

So many different dishes were available at Taste of Ocean Springs that anyone could have found a dish to enjoy. French Kiss Pastries offered a decadent Tuxedo Cake with chocolate and espresso. Greenhouse on the Porter had a light chocolate chip biscuit. Chefs from the Mary C. Cafe at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural center offered Chipotle Sweet Potato Biscuits with Beer and Bacon Jam. McElroy’s had shrimp and grits as well as seafood gumbo samples. Vestige allowed attendees to sample a grilled pork loin. Different pizzas were offered from Tom’s Extreme Pizzeria as well as Marco’s Pizza for anyone that wanted felt the need for some comfort food.

Anyone looking for something to wash all of this amazing food down did not have to look far, because it felt like every other booth offered a unique cocktail. Mango sangria made with tequila, Mississippi Mules based with honey suckle vodka distilled in the Magnolia State and so many more concoctions were available for sampling.

Not only did this event allow community members to sample different dishes from Ocean Springs restaurants, but it also served to benefit the local economy of downtown Ocean Springs.

“It brings a big economic impact to the Gulf Coast and Jackson County,” Cynthia explained. “We have people come from all over that will stay in our boutique hotels and spend the night just to be able to attend this event. Restaurants will get new customers out of this event, and it showcases the best that Jackson County has to offer.”

As for what’s in store next for Ocean Springs, Free Food Fridays is continuing through the month of May, and Ocean Springs Restaurant Week will begin May 13 to further celebrate the dining culture of Ocean Springs. 

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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.

 

IMG_3270 Chevron brings the heat in 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.

IMG_3270 Chevron brings the heat in Dragon Boat race

“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.

IMG_3270 Chevron brings the heat in Dragon Boat race

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.

IMG_3270 Chevron brings the heat in Dragon Boat race
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Chevron employee gives back to honor those who helped him

M.Seales Chevron employee gives back to honor those who helped him

We all know that there never seems to be enough time in the day. Between work, family, running to the grocery store to get dinner on the table and just everything that life throws at you, it can be hard just to enjoy a cup of coffee, let alone give back to the community. However, none of this stops Michael Seales.

A Chevron employee in Maintenance and Reliability, Michael is said to volunteer at every event that Chevron participates in.

“I’m just paying it forward. People have helped me out through my life in various ways growing up, so I want to give back and help others.”

Michael volunteers with the Boys & Girls Club of Jackson County, the Moss Point Baseball League and the Moss Point Recreation Department.

“When I was coming up as a kid, we had guys like me helping out in the recreation department teaching us different sporting skills, and it has led me to volunteer at things like sporting events. I also enjoy helping people in their homes, like installing smoke detectors. I want to do the things for others that people did for me.”

Michael enjoys volunteering with children’s organizations because he cherishes making an impact on children’s lives.

“I feel like you have to start with them young in teaching them the right things and things they need in life in general. My hope is that you teach them values now and they can hold on to that as they get older.”

M.Seales Chevron employee gives back to honor those who helped him

 

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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Win a Yeti Prize Package!

Screen-Shot-2017-04-20-at-9.42.46-AM-300x246 Win a Yeti Prize Package!Everyday from April 22nd- May 18th, a new species of plant or animal that is native to South Mississippi will be featured on JaxCoHome’s Indigenous IQ page.  

With each daily feature there is a chance to win a Yeti Prize package, valued at over $400.

Follow these easy steps to win:

Each post is another entry and another chance to win.  

For a bonus entry, Facebook users can follow us on Facebook (click the Follow button below the entry form).

Entering more than one time per day will disqualify your entry.

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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

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.”

 

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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