Pascagoula Man Shares Insights and Encouragement in New Book

IMG_0230 Pascagoula Man Shares Insights and Encouragement in New Book

Captain Greg Johnston has learned a lot about flying and life over the past 32 years in the aviation business. And now, he has written a 30-day devotional book to share these insights and spiritual encouragement with the world.

“I want the book to get into as many hands as possible to encourage as many people as possible,” he said. “I’m really convinced that a word of encouragement can change people’s lives, so that’s the whole intent behind the book.”

“Encouragement from 30,000 Feet: Encouraging Stories from a Pilot’s View” is a 30-day devotional book that takes scripture and Johnston’s experiences from flying and puts them together into an encouraging message.

He started out posting to Facebook and received good response, so he decided to turn it into something more. Johnston said the book will appeal to anyone interested in what goes on behind the scenes of an airline as well as scriptural aspects and encouragement.

“Everyone could use a word of encouragement,” he said. “It just nails home really what God intends for us to understand about ourselves: who we are in Christ and the fact that he wants us to live above our circumstances and be overcomers.”

IMG_0230 Pascagoula Man Shares Insights and Encouragement in New Book

Johnston, pilot with American Airlines, started flying in 1973. He lives in Pascagoula and is available to speak about his work at local groups.

“If you’re interested in what goes on behind the scenes of the airline or experiences I’ve had over the past 32 years, I think you’ll find them interesting and applicable to anyone’s life,” Johnston said.

The book is available at Highencouragement.com and online retailers like Amazon.

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A Journey to Autism Awareness

IMG_1818 A Journey to Autism Awareness

Each year, approximately 1 in 68 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). While ASD is widely known today, a Vancleave mother remembers a time when  most Mississippians knew little about the disorder.  

Ganda Greer embarked on her journey of ASD awareness after noticing her daughter, Erin, was not developing like other children her age. “Erin is almost 19…when she was diagnosed, we already knew something was going on. I had speech therapy with her at 18 months old, but she did not have the diagnosis of autism yet. The awareness of autism was not big at all,” says Greer.

IMG_1818 A Journey to Autism Awareness

As a pediatric nurse, Mrs. Greer realized she would need to do research to find answers. “I had a sister in law who is a special ed teacher. We went to a conference in New Orleans. This was all on my own. I got no help or information from any kind of outside group. I implemented a lot of the things that I learned from the conference for Erin, such as: certain movements would help her brain function better. I bought her a trampoline. Things that I thought helped her.”

When they first started working with Erin, there weren’t any local programs to address autism.

As the years went on, more information on treatment and how to get therapy became available. Greer says today, because of the autism clinic in D’Iberville, and other treatment facilities, people who otherwise would have no knowledge of ASD treatment, are able to get services.  

Additionally, some Mississippi insurance companies started paying for autism programs. When the D’Iberville clinic first opened, Greer says she was excited to find out what programs were offered. She says many families have gone bankrupt trying to get therapy for their children. “It was exciting… when Mississippi insurance companies were starting to pay for the program,” says Greer. “There were no programs insurance would cover when Erin was little.”

Mrs. Greer feels autism awareness in Jackson County has grown rapidly in recent years. She says when Erin was young, most school systems didn’t know how to serve an autistic child. Now, the awareness is so big, there are all types of therapy available.

She feels events like the Swing into Autism Awareness golf tournament play an integral part in raising awareness of ASD treatment. “I think it’s awesome. It’s actually making people hear the diagnosis.” Greer also adds, “if you notice your child is not developing, you now have resources to figure it out.” 

The Swing into Autism Awareness 2018 Golf Tournament tees off on July 28 at Shell Landing Golf Club in Gautier. For more information on Autism Spectrum Disorder, visit: https://www.autismspeaks.org

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Moss Point Special Olympian hones swimming skills at SRHS Healthplex

IMG_1856 Moss Point Special Olympian hones swimming skills at SRHS Healthplex
IMG_1856 Moss Point Special Olympian hones swimming skills at SRHS Healthplex

Three months of swim training at the SRHS Healthplex helped Moss Point Special Olympian Gregory Means bring home the gold from the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle earlier this month.

Means, who took home two gold medals and one silver medal, was one of 3,500 Special Olympics athletes from across the county to participate in the games on July 1-6.

Competing in Seattle was good, “but it was cold,” he said, laughing. “It was freezing!”

Jim Bourque, Means’ swim coach, said the special athlete’s hard work has paid off. Means won gold medals in the 25 meter freestyle and 25 meter backstroke and a silver participation medal.

“Anytime you have somebody that has taken it to the next level like Gregory has and it produces results like this, you always want to be a part of that, encourage that, and promote that,” said Bourque, who has trained 350 triathletes in swimming.

“It’s good to see results,” he said, noting Means came to him needing help with his kick and stroke.

“It’s a lot of fun to work with a guy that wants to succeed,” he said. “Anyone that’s coachable and wants to do better, that’s always a good combination.”

During the Seattle games, one judge noted Means’ kick was especially strong, showing his vast improvement.

Anita Means, Gregory Means’ mother, said Gregory has been swimming for about 10 years.

“But we knew his swimming technique needed to be polished,” she said, noting she appreciates how the coach teaches at her son’s level so he can see good results.

“He’s a good dude!” Gregory Means added.

Anita Means also loves how her family is treated at the Healthplex.

After a friend told her about the lap pool and swimming facility at the Healthplex, they began coming four times a week. 

“He really likes coming here,” she said of Gregory.

At the Healthplex, “he wasn’t looked upon for his disability,” Anita Means said, “He was looked at as a swimmer.”

Bourque noted the Healthplex provides a “tremendous” opportunity for those seeking swimming opportunities, as it’s the only lap pool in Pascagoula.

While he trains triathletes often, “I’ll train anybody that wants to learn to swim proficiently,” Bourque said.

“If you want to swim for exercise, you don’t want to fight the water,” he said. “You want to work with the water. I teach how to mechanically go through the water correctly so you can turn it into an exercise and not a fight for survival.”

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Huntington Ingalls Industries Launches Guided Missile Destroyer Frank E. Petersen Jr. (DDG 121)

ddg_121_launch16july18 Huntington Ingalls Industries Launches Guided Missile Destroyer Frank E. Petersen Jr. (DDG 121)

PASCAGOULA, Miss., July 16, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (NYSE:HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division successfully launched the Arleigh Burke-class (DDG 51) guided missile destroyer Frank E. Petersen Jr. (DDG 121) on Friday.

“This is the one of the most significant milestones in the life of any ship,” said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias. “Our shipbuilders implement such an organized launch plan, and they have once again executed it in a quality manner. We are proud to have DDG 121 one step closer to completion and look forward to presenting this invaluable asset to the Navy fleet in the future.”

Frank E. Petersen Jr. was translated via Ingalls’ rail car system to a floating dry dock. Once on, the dry dock was moved away from the pier, and it was ballasted down to float the ship.

To date, Ingalls has delivered 30 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to the U.S. Navy, most recently delivering USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114), which was commissioned on March 24. Other destroyers currently under construction at Ingalls include Paul Ignatius (DDG 117), Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG 123) and Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125).

“Launch and translation are always an exciting turning points in the life of a ship,” said George Nungesser, Ingalls’ DDG program manager. “Our team works vigorously to ensure everything is in place in for weeks leading up to launch to ensure its success. Serial production has allowed us the opportunity for learning that has been vital to the continued progress of the DDG 51 program.”

DDG 121 honors Frank Emmanuel Petersen Jr., who was the Marine Corps’ first African-American aviator and general officer. After entering the Naval Aviation Cadet Program in 1950, Petersen would go on to fly more than 350 combat missions throughout the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are capable, multi-mission ships and can conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection, all in support of the United States’ military strategy. The guided missile destroyers are capable of simultaneously fighting air, surface and subsurface battles. The ship contains myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime defense needs well into the 21st century.

Huntington Ingalls Industries is America’s largest military shipbuilding company and a provider of professional services to partners in government and industry. For more than a century, HII’s Newport News and Ingalls shipbuilding divisions in Virginia and Mississippi have built more ships in more ship classes than any other U.S. naval shipbuilder. HII’s Technical Solutions division provides a wide range of professional services through its Fleet Support, Integrated Missions Solutions, Nuclear & Environmental, and Oil & Gas groups. Headquartered in Newport News, Virginia, HII employs nearly 39,000 people operating both domestically and internationally. For more information, visit:

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Shelter Animals Need Your Help!

jc-pet2 Shelter Animals Need Your Help!

Consider this statistic:  In June, the Jackson County Animal Shelter in Gautier took in 550 animals.

That staggering number represents about 18 dogs and cats a day that need shelter, food, water, bathing, and plenty of potty breaks.

“Animals are just pouring in,” said Maridee Mallette, the shelter’s adoption coordinator.
The reasons for the near-constant stream of animals vary.  Many pet owners are not spaying or neutering their animals, while others are using the shelter as a way to re-home unwanted pets, Mallette said.

The problem can seem overwhelming, but playing a part in saving an animal’s life doesn’t require you to adopt a hundred animals. It can be as small as buying some cat food or paying for Fluffy’s rabies shot.


Mallette said the greatest need is for monetary donations. The “free” adoption days, where the usual $50 adoption fee is waived for adoptees, are funded by sponsors. The adoption fee pays for spaying or neutering your new best friend, initial vaccinations and health exams.

In addition to money, the shelter currently needs Purina Dog, Puppy, or Kitten Chow, canned dog or cat food, dog treats, dishwashing and laundry soaps, and bleach.

jc-pet2 Shelter Animals Need Your Help!


Mallette said the shelter is always looking for people who are willing to help bathe animals, clean kennels and give the animals a little bit of that human socialization necessary to prepare them for their forever families.  Those interested in volunteering are asked to visit the shelter to fill out an application and discuss available opportunities.

The shelter also needs foster homes for animals that are not adoptable when they first arrive to the shelter. These animals may be too young, sick, injured, or otherwise require special care that’s better provided in a home.


Last, but not least, the shelter needs people who are looking to adopt their family’s newest best friend—as long as you’re ready for the commitment.

Considering that cats and dogs routinely live up to 15 years old, adopting an animal is a major decision, Mallette emphasized.

“They’re going to chew things up. They’re going to mess up your house sometimes. They’re going to potty in your house,” Mallette said. “They’re going to bark, but you can’t get rid of your kids, so why would you get rid of your animal?”

Once you know you’re ready, the process itself is easy, Mallette said. You’re asked to bring a photo ID and $50 for the adoption fee to the shelter when you’re ready to adopt. 

The shelter maintains a Facebook group called “Jackson County Animal Shelter Gautier, MS Adoptable Pets,” complete with information about available animals and a picture (or video!) for each one that is guaranteed to melt your heart.

Learn more about the animal shelter and the animals available for adoption at https://www.co.jackson.ms.us/departments/animal-shelter/

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M&M Bank Holds Groundbreaking, Announces Changes

IMG_1717 M&M Bank Holds Groundbreaking, Announces Changes

On June 27, Merchants and Marine Bank broke ground on a new bank building in Gautier, after announcing earlier in the month that Clayton Legear would be succeeding Royce Cumbest as bank president. Board of Directors member, Jerry St. Pe’, said the promotion of Legear, as just the seventh president in the bank’s 86-year history, reflects his increased level of responsibility at the bank; as well as the strength and stability of the bank’s management team.

Cumbest will stay on as chief executive officer and chairman of the board of directors. “We’re getting ourselves into position for tremendous growth and success for the next 10 to 15 years,” St. Pe’ said. He added that many of the bank’s employees are well-known, active pillars of the community.  “It reflects the community banking attitude and culture that M&M Bank displays.”

Legear said that his internal goals for the bank are to acquire and develop talent and to focus on technology. “Our value proposition is not necessarily the products being a step up from somebody else, but it’s the level of service and the personal relationships,” he said. Because of this, they will invest in hiring the best team of bankers on the Gulf Coast and develop the current team with additional training. He said that technology is rapidly changing in the banking industry. M&M Bank will be investing heavily in technology that will allow them to operate more efficiently, accurately and securely and to enhance the overall customer experience.

Externally, Legear wants to continue to be involved in the local community – even more so than they already have been. “We are a community bank through and through, and we hope to put our money where our mouth is time after time, and show that we are the bank that can be counted on when the community needs it,” he said. Part of this commitment is shown in the recent groundbreaking of the multi-million dollar branch of M&M Bank that is set to open next year in Gautier. Legear says the investment of more than $2 million shows they believe in the city of Gautier. He hopes the new facility will lead to additional development and revitalization in Gautier and that the new design aesthetic will set a tone for other facilities in the area as well. “I think this, hopefully, sends the message that we are very committed to home,” Legear said. “We are very excited about the future of our organization. We think our future is very bright, and we are excited to be a part of Jackson County.”

M&M Bank went public in January. For more information on M&M, visit their website: https://www.mandmbank.com/

Author Bio:Lindsay Mott writes about community and local news in the Jackson County area. She previously worked for the Mississippi Press and Singing River Health System.

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Merchants & Marine Bank Announces Promotions, Executive Leadership Team

mm-bank Merchants & Marine Bank Announces Promotions, Executive Leadership Team

Pascagoula, Mississippi:  Royce Cumbest, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Merchants & Marine Bank (“M&M Bank”) (OTC QX: “MNMB”), proudly announces several key promotions, including the promotion of Clayton Legear to Bank President.  Legear succeeds Cumbest as Bank President.

Legear will be joined in leading M&M Bank by a seasoned executive leadership team.  Members of the executive leadership team include: Jimmy Conyers, promoted to Executive Vice President and President of the Bank’s Alabama Market; Mack Rushing, promoted to Executive Vice President / Chief Lending Officer; Kristi Burge, promoted to Executive Vice President / Chief Retail Banking Officer; and Elise Bourgeois, who serves as Executive Vice President / Chief Financial Officer.  

Cumbest remarked, “These promotions reflect the extraordinary talent of our executive leadership team.  Clayton’s experience, community involvement and leadership qualities ideally qualify him to lead this strong team.”

Legear has served as a member of M&M Bank’s senior management team for 7 years, and as Executive Vice President / Chief Operating Officer for the last 2 years.  In this role, he oversaw a significant majority of the Bank’s operations, business lines and strategic initiatives.  Legear is a native of Webb, Alabama, and is a graduate of Troy University.  He is also a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at LSU, Leadership Jackson County, and Leadership Mississippi.  Legear is actively involved in numerous charitable, civic and professional organizations, including:  United Way of Jackson and George County, the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, the Pascagoula Rotary Club, and the Mississippi Bankers Association. 

Conyers, has over 15 years of banking experience, and has worked with M&M Bank for 7 years.  He has extensive experience in commercial lending, relationship management and business development.  Conyers most recently served as Senior Vice President / Senior Banking Officer of the Bank’s Baldwin County Market.  He is a graduate of Auburn University and the Graduate School of Banking at LSU.  Conyers currently serves on the City Council in Fairhope, Alabama, and is actively involved in numerous civic and charitable organizations in Baldwin County, Alabama. 

Rushing has worked in numerous roles within M&M Bank since being hired as a management trainee in 1988. He has extensive experience in commercial lending, credit analysis and portfolio management, and most recently served as the bank’s Senior Vice President / Senior Lending Officer. Rushing is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and the Graduate School of Banking at LSU. 

Burge has over 25 years of banking experience, with over 12 years of service at M&M Bank.  She has extensive experience in all facets of retail banking, bank operations and talent development.  She most recently served as Senior Vice President / Senior Administrative Officer.  Burge is a graduate of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and the Graduate School of Banking at LSU. 

Bourgeois has over 30 years of broad ranging experience in public accounting, auditing and financial management.  She has worked with M&M Bank for 12 years, and has served as the bank’s Chief Financial Officer since 2010.  Bourgeois is a graduate of Northeast Louisiana University, and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

About Merchants & Marine Bank

Merchants & Marine Bank (M&M Bank) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Merchants & Marine Bancorp, Inc. (OTCQX: MNMB), a Mississippi based bank holding company.  Unlike most banks, M & M Bank was established in the middle of the worst economic disaster in the history of the United States. In 1932 a small group of Pascagoula citizens saw the potential of the local area, considered the risk of probable failure, and then made the bold commitment to provide dependable financial services to the people and businesses in the area. More than eight decades later, M&M Bank’s assets have grown from $25,000 to over $600 million and from 2 offices to 12 locations in Jackson and George Counties in Mississippi and Baldwin County in Alabama. Along the way M&M Bank has earned numerous awards, including a listing in the U.S. Banker Magazine as a Top 200 Community Bank and multiple 5-Star Superior Ratings from Bauer Financial, Inc. Most banks can quote growth figures and at M&M we’re proud to cite those numbers. But we’re most pleased with the way we’ve helped our communities to grow. We know that our success as a bank depends on how we help our customers achieve financial success.

For further information, please contact:
Jackie Skelton

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Resurrection Cheerleaders Join Pet Pack Challenge

The Resurrection Varsity and Middle School cheerleaders have joined the JaxCoHome Pet Pack Challenge. RCS cheerleaders are calling on Pascagoula, Gautier, Moss Point, Vancleave, Ocean Springs, East Central and St. Martin high school cheer squads to join the Pet Pack Challenge today!

Coach Alice Lachaussee says, “Our cheerleaders are excited to help out the Jackson County Animal Shelter. We hope our challenge to other high school cheer squads will result in a huge amount of supplies being brought in for the animals.”

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Gautier hosts second annual Music on the Lawn with Mississippi Songwriters

Music-on-the-Lawn-2017-Audience Gautier hosts second annual Music on the Lawn with Mississippi Songwriters

Gautier, Mississippi; July 11, 2018 – The City of Gautier will host its second annual Music on the Lawn, featuring award-winning Mississippi songwriters, at Gautier City Hall on July 21.

The City is teaming up once again with the Mississippi Songwriters Alliance for the free event, which will feature artists Derek Norsworthy, Wayward Jones, Flatt Capps, Double Dee and Sean Gasaway.  

Music lovers are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs and blankets to set up on the grounds of City Hall from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Vendors will be on site to provide food, drink and treats.

There’s a sound for every musical taste, as the featured artists cover genres including country, folk, Americana, and more.

“We’re excited about working with the Mississippi Songwriters Alliance again for this wonderful afternoon of music and fun,” Gautier City Manager Paula Yancey said.

Music-on-the-Lawn-2017-Audience Gautier hosts second annual Music on the Lawn with Mississippi Songwriters

“We had a great time last year, and we hope to see a big crowd supporting our local songwriters and performers,” she said. “These are some very talented songwriters.”

In June, Derek Norsworthy was named the winner of the 2018 Boswell Media’s Songwriter of the Year contest. Norsworthy, an Escatawpa native, won the competition with the song “Raised by the Radio.”

Lucedale’s Wayward Jones won third place in the same competition with “You Ain’t Johnny.”

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Pascagoula-Gautier School District Registration for 2018-19 School Year is Thursday and Friday, July 19-20

gautier Pascagoula-Gautier School District Registration for 2018-19 School Year is Thursday and Friday, July 19-20

The Pascagoula-Gautier School District will hold district-wide registration 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday, July 19, and 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday, July 20, for all returning and new students to the Pascagoula-Gautier School District. Mandatory residency and online registration verification at each school campus will also take place during these registration dates. All returning 5th-6th grade academy, middle and high school students may register at their respective schools. All returning kindergarten through fourth grade students may also register at their respective schools if residency has not changed since the previous school year. Parents of returning students need only to bring a photo identification and two proofs of residency. All new students to the district or any returning students who have changed residency during the summer, kindergarten through fourth grade, must register at the Pascagoula-Gautier School District’s central office located at 1006 Communy Ave., Pascagoula.

Parents of new students to the district should bring their photo identification, the student’s birth certificate, social security number and Mississippi Immunization Form (121 Form) to registration as well as two proofs of residency. Proofs of residency must be: driver’s license, automobile registration, complete lease for all apartment/Section 8 housing listing the parent’s name, or utility bills dated in the last 30 days. Parents must all bring a withdrawal form from the last school attended and an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) if applicable. All living-with forms must be accompanied by the person whom the family is living with, photo identification and one proof of residency. Guardians must present court documents before registration. For more information on registration, call the Department of Student Services at 228-938-6500.

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