Fox Squirrels Entertain Golfers at Whispering Pines

Picture2-copy Fox Squirrels Entertain Golfers at Whispering Pines

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Whispering Pines Golf Course has some visitors that like the course so much, they’re calling it home—and they don’t even golf!
Fox Squirrels have moved in, and they’re welcome to stay, according to Facilities Manager Richie Diamond. Diamond said the colony of about 30 fox squirrels, named for their orange coloring and bushy tails, offer some entertainment to golfers waiting to hit their next shot during a busy day at the Hurley course.

“We’ve actually had photographers come out for the sole purpose of taking photos of the squirrels,” Diamond said.

To be clear, South Mississippi, with its river beds and woods, is no stranger to squirrels in general, but, as Pascagoula River Audubon Center Director Mark LaSalle explains, we’re used to seeing the gray squirrel in Jackson County. The gray squirrel tends to favor the piney woods common in this area.

The fox squirrel population, on the other hand, is “spotty” in Jackson County, LaSalle said. If groups of them are found, they’re found near river bottomland forests.

“You hear about them every once in awhile, but not so much in Jackson County, unless you get up farther north,” LaSalle said.
Why Whispering Pines? LaSalle surmises that, quite simply, the golf course must have the right mixture of everything that fox squirrels need to thrive.

Picture2-copy Fox Squirrels Entertain Golfers at Whispering Pines

Now that the new furry friends have settled down at the golf course, both LaSalle and Diamond agree that they easily co-exist with humans in a situation like this. (In fact, they probably aren’t even paying enough attention to judge your golf game.)
“They tend to go about their daily squirrel routine while paying very little attention to human activities,” Diamond said.

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Burger Barn Serves as Vancleave Staple for Burgers and Ice Cream

Burger-Barn-1 Burger Barn Serves as Vancleave Staple for Burgers and Ice Cream

Have you been to the Burger Barn in Vancleave yet? If so, you’ve joined people that come from around the region to take part in this Vancleave tradition. If not, it might be time to give the Vancleave staple a try.

Approximately four years ago, Lisa and Larry Green took ownership of the burger joint, which has always been “the place to go” in Vancleave. In that time, the Greens have seen the Burger Barn continue to be a regular meeting place for many Vancleave residents and visitors coming through the town on Highway 57.

People come to the Burger Barn, sit down inside, visit, and talk, according to Lisa Green. “We serve the community. We have good food, family oriented,” she said, adding that they get a lot of work and school traffic there as well. She’s confident that once people visit they “always come back when they’re in the area.”

The Burger Barn is also located close to the high school, so it’s a regular hangout spot for students after school and after big school events like football games.

Burger-Barn-1 Burger Barn Serves as Vancleave Staple for Burgers and Ice Cream

The family-oriented Burger Barn is one of the only places in Vancleave for a burger, but it’s more than that too. Visitors can get po boys, shrimp, catfish, ice cream, chicken tenders, chili dogs, and more. They also have monthly burger specials.

Moving forward, the Greens hope to keep the business growing and have discussed putting in a drive through. They’ve also discussed the possibility of expanding to a second location in Hurley, which is where the Greens are from.

You can visit this Vancleave staple at 12316 Highway 57 in Vancleave. See their specials and more on their Facebook page.

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Ocean Springs Mayor’s Youth Council Completes Recycle Bin Project

Youth-Recycling Ocean Springs Mayor's Youth Council Completes Recycle Bin Project

The City of Ocean Springs Mayor’s Youth Council recently completed their first large-scale final community project with the fruition of the Recycle Bin Project.

The project has been an idea of MYC Special Events Coordinator Caroline Wiygul since her first year on the council in 2016-2017, but the council was unable to complete it until this year. The council contacted several Gulf Coast businesses to ask for donations for the project. After the bins were delivered, MYC members hand painted each bin with a native Gulf Coast animal at the Ocean Springs Public Works Department.

“This project was a way for the youth of our City to say that recycling is important to us and to start something that City leadership can continue to expand if they want to,” Wiygul said.

Youth-Recycling Ocean Springs Mayor's Youth Council Completes Recycle Bin Project

The five recycling bins are placed around downtown with two on Government Street, two along Washington Avenue and one at City Hall.

“This past year’s council was very environmentally conscious and felt like hand-painted recycle bins would not only be a way to encourage responsible waste management amongst our citizens but would also be fun and reflect the artistic spirit of Ocean Springs,” said Cristina Werner, executive assistant to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen. “This project is important to our community because we have a responsibility as citizens to take care of our city, and the beautiful Gulf Coast that we get to enjoy every day.”

The Mayor’s Youth Council consists of 28 high school juniors and seniors from within the Ocean Springs School District. Each term lasts for one year. The council is funded by the City, but the council members fundraise year-round in order to maximize their annual budget. The council meets bimonthly and hosts community events and fundraisers and volunteers with the city’s special events.

“Being a part of the MYC is highly beneficial to our youth because it gives them the opportunity to exercise individual leadership skills, interpersonal communication with their peers and municipal leaders, public speaking, and to plan and execute special events,” Werner said.

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Bringing Blueberry Heaven to Earth

Blueberry-Heaven-2 Bringing Blueberry Heaven to Earth
Blueberry-Heaven-2 Bringing Blueberry Heaven to Earth

Blueberry Heaven is once again available for blueberry picking and now – the second and third weeks of June – is the best time to do so.

Sissy Inabinette, who works on the farm, says that blueberry season really runs from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July, so now is the time to come to their farm in Vancleave for the best crop. She said the first week of June is also an ideal time to pick their berries, so those interested can go ahead and plan for next year.

According to Inabinette, this year’s weather has been more conducive for the blueberries than last year’s, and they have a great crop. “We’ve absolutely been getting the proper amount of rain and the proper amount of sunshine now,” she said.

This year, they’ve also welcomed many new customers. Inabinette said that, out of the 400 people who have come through so far, 300 of them have been new. She said that word of mouth has been the best way to spread the news of their U-pick blueberry farm.

“It’s amazing to me the amount of people that are coming that didn’t know this existed,” Inabinette said.

The Vancleave farm, which has become a local hot spot, has approximately 6,300 blueberry bushes showcasing four different blueberry varieties. Picking blueberries seems to be a favorite for the kids that visit the farm as well. According to Inabinette, many of the kids think they don’t like blueberries, but they find that the ones at Blueberry Heaven taste different than the ones from the grocery store.

Visitors can pick their blueberries directly for $10 a gallon. Visitors can also get pre-picked ones that are fresh or frozen for $20 a gallon.

Weather permitting, the season may run a little past July 4. After that, the farm is on an honor system for those who want to brave the heat and the grass. You can get more details about Blueberry Heaven here.

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Singing River Health System Auxiliary Volunteers Award Over $10,000 In Scholarships

Hospital Auxiliary Volunteers at both Ocean Springs Hospital and Singing River Hospital have announced the winners of their annual scholarship awards for students pursuing a health related field of study.  14 recipients were selected based upon their academic achievements, leadership and potential as future medical professionals, including a number of health system employees who are returning to school for advanced degrees.


OSH-Scholarship-Winners-2018 Singing River Health System Auxiliary Volunteers Award Over $10,000 In Scholarships

Ciara Kramer, Alexandra Grandonico, Kendra Johnston, Christopher Bui (represented by family), Anna Myers, Jonathan Bui (represented by family).  Not pictured:  Yen Nhi Thi Pham.


OSH-Scholarship-Winners-2018 Singing River Health System Auxiliary Volunteers Award Over $10,000 In Scholarships

Joshua Cochran, Jazmine Campbell, Laura Kate Taranto, Caroline Pocreva, Dameisha Jenkins.  Not pictured:  Peyton Pound, Chaz Thompson.

“We congratulate these outstanding students on their awards, and are so very grateful to our hospital auxiliary volunteers for their generosity and support of our future health care professionals,” said system CEO Lee Bond.  “We wish these winners all the best as they continue their studies and hope to welcome them back to Singing River to help care for our community.”

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Smithsonian Exhibition Coming To Moss Point’s Pascagoula River Audubon Center June 2 – July 7, open to the public!

From above, Earth appears as a water planet with more than 71 percent of its surface covered with this vital resource for life. Water impacts climate, agriculture, transportation, industry and more. It inspires art and music. The Pascagoula River Audubon Center, in cooperation with Mississippi Humanities Council, will examine water as an environmental necessity and an important cultural element as it hosts “Water/Ways,” a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program. “Water/Ways” will be on view Saturday June 2nd through Saturday July 7th, 2018.  

The Pascagoula River Audubon Center and the surrounding community has been expressly chosen by the Mississippi Humanities Council to host “Water/Ways” as part of the Museum on Main Street program—a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. The exhibition will tour 6 communities in Mississippi from June 2nd through March 8th, 2019; an itinerary is included below.

image002 Smithsonian Exhibition Coming To Moss Point’s Pascagoula River Audubon Center June 2 - July 7, open to the public!

“Water/Ways” explores the endless motion of the water cycle, water’s effect on landscape, settlement and migration, and its impact on culture and spirituality. It looks at how political and economic planning have long been affected by access to water and control of water resources. Human creativity and resourcefulness provide new ways of protecting water resources and renewing respect for the natural environment.

image002 Smithsonian Exhibition Coming To Moss Point’s Pascagoula River Audubon Center June 2 - July 7, open to the public!

Designed for small-town museums, libraries and cultural organizations, “Water/Ways” will serve as a community meeting place to convene conversations about water’s impact on American culture. With the support and guidance of state humanities councils, these towns will develop complementary exhibits, host public programs and facilitate educational initiatives to raise people’s understanding about what water means culturally, socially and spiritually in their own community.

“We all live in a watershed and everything we do impacts our water. Water connects us and shapes us, from our landscapes to our lifestyles,” said Erin Parker, Pascagoula River Audubon Center’s Programs Manager. In addition to hosting “Water/Ways” the Audubon Center has developed local exhibit and public programs to compliment the Smithsonian exhibition. Such events include the free exhibit opening on Saturday, June 2nd that includes “A River in Stitches” Quilt Exhibit opening reception from 1-3pm and musical skit from local third graders as they perform “The Singing River Gets The Blues” at 10am. Each Saturday the Audubon Center will host a public program at 1pm that ties in with “Water/Ways” and includes a “Water/Ways Talk” with Dr. Jim Guisen, Mobile Baykeeper Talk, Writing on the River with Mary Ann O’Gorman, and a Rain Barrel Workshop with Center Director Mark LaSalle.

“We are super excited and proud to be the first host site for this traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian!  Water/Ways is all about water and how it shapes our landscapes, how it plays a role in religions, how we value it aesthetically, how lack of water is just as critical as too much water — any way that water is connected to people is probably explored in this exhibit.

This exhibit is really incredible for people to see that this is here in Moss Point.  It is very interactive and engaging!  Water is much more important than people realize.  This will help them understand the importance of water.

We are proud of this partnership with Mississippi Humanities Council.  It is a perfect fit.   We are already exploring more ways to work together. The Pascagoula River is a very unique body of water in Mississippi and the country,” said Parker.

 “Water/Ways” is part of the Smithsonian’s Think Water Initiative to raise awareness of water as a critical resource for life through exhibitions, educational resources and public programs. The public can participate in the conversation on social media at #thinkWater.

“Water/Ways” was inspired by an exhibition organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York (, and the Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul (, in collaboration with Great Lakes Science Center, Cleveland; The Field Museum, Chicago; Instituto Sangari, Sao Paulo, Brazil; National Museum of Australia, Canberra; Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada; San Diego Natural History Museum; and Science Centre Singapore with PUB Singapore.

The exhibition is part of Museum on Main Street, a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils across the nation, and local host institutions. To learn more about “Water/Ways” and other Museum on Main Street exhibitions, visit

Support for MoMS has been provided by the U.S. representative for Mississippi’s 4th congressional district, Steven Palazzo, and the U.S. Congress.

                  SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit

See this exhibit from the Smithsonian.  Water is much more important that most people realize

WATER/WAYS Mississippi Itinerary

May 31 – July 7
Moss Point, Pascagoula River Audubon Center
5107 Arthur St, Moss Point, MS 39563

July 14 – August 25
Meridian, Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum
1808 4th St, Meridian, MS 39301

August 31 – October 13
Clarksdale, Lower Mississippi River Foundation
291 Sunflower Ave, Clarksdale, MS 38614

October 20 – November 30
Ocean Springs, Ocean Springs Municipal Library
525 Dewey Ave, Ocean Springs, MS 39564

December 7, 2018 – January 19, 2019
Jackson, Mississippi Agriculture & Forestry Museum
1150 Lakeland Dr, Jackson, MS 39216

January 25, 2019 – March 8, 2019
Columbus, Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Transportation Museum
318 7th St. N., Columbus, MS 39703

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Children and Families Find Hope in Jackson County Through Pilot Program

sigalas Children and Families Find Hope in Jackson County Through Pilot Program

Judge Sharon Sigalas

Foster Children in Jackson County are finding hope in being reunited with their parents and families through a pilot Re-Unification Program hosted by the Jackson County Youth Court  (JCYC). For the first time Wednesday, May 9th 2018, children, parents, and foster parents came together to celebrate children being reunited with their parents at a banquet hosted by Judge Sharon Sigalas and the Jackson County Youth Court.  Other leaders were also present including local D.A., Tony Lawrence and State Senator Brice Wiggins.

There are many reasons why this program is important as fostered children numbers continue to rise.  Senator Brice Wiggins and other coastal legislators worked to see legislation passed in 2016 that would stimulate this process.  The Senator reports that in the state of Mississippi, 2/3 of all foster children reside in the lower 3 counties of Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson.  Although the legislation passed, funding such a program is always an issue.

sigalas Children and Families Find Hope in Jackson County Through Pilot Program

Senator Brice Wiggins

While much of the details surrounding these cases are confidential, a judicial study group worked to find a way to enhance the law to encourage reunification and celebrate the success stories of reunification.  Consequently, the idea of a Reunification Banquet was born and Judge Sigalas stepped up to make it happen.

Thanks to funding from the Annie E. Casey foundation, the Kellogg Foundation, and an additional 100 million from the Mississippi State Legislature 2017 budget, the reunification program is gaining strength.  The first inaugural Reunification Banquet by JCYC highlights an intensive and comprehensive rehabilitation approach to helping children in foster care reunite with their parents toward permanency. Through the aid of a trained, credentialed, Parent Representative appointee, parents are coached through court dates, rehabilitation, counseling, legal help, and more while the children receive the care and attention they need through foster care.

sigalas Children and Families Find Hope in Jackson County Through Pilot Program

Commissioner, Jess Dickinson

sigalas Children and Families Find Hope in Jackson County Through Pilot Program

Jurist in Residence, John Hudson

According to Judge Sigalas, “since this is a pilot program, there is a lot of data that needs to be collected and compared across the state in order to determine the strengths and weakness in the program”.  She credits Mississippi Department of Child Protective Services (MDCPS) commissioner, Jess Dickinson, and John Hudson, Jurist in Residence (Youth Courts) Mississippi Supreme Court with making the reunification program a  priority within the Mississippi Youth Court system. Both were in attendance at the banquet and Commissioner Dickinson was the keynote speaker at the banquet. He emphasized the importance of why this program is vital to the lives of children and families.  Judge Sigalas said, “The fact that the (MDCPS) Commissioner would drive here to be a part of this event speaks to the importance of it”. Senator Wiggins added, “the new law encourages reunification… no one wants a child to remain in the system. This event highlights the success stories and they need to be told.  JCYC and CASA of Jackson County are on the forefront to making this program successful”.

As the first Reunification Banquet is now in the books for Judge Sigalas and the JCYC staff, she and her colleagues look forward to the program expanding across the state and here in Jackson County, thus putting children and parents back together in healthy, productive, caring homes.  The success stories do need to be told and celebrated because the reunification program is important to the success of many children and families in our community and across our state.

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A Jackson County Jewel Turns 19

IMG_7571 A Jackson County Jewel Turns 19

This Jewel of Jackson County has been providing Stewardship, Research, Education, and Training about our unique coastal estuaries for 19 years now.  The Grand Bay Estuarine Research Reserve plays an important role by partnering with local industry, schools, and professional science and research venues to gather important data and research to help us preserve the coastal environment we all enjoy here.  Established in 1999 under the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (DMR) as part of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERR), it is 18,000 acres of pure coastal beauty.

IMG_7571 A Jackson County Jewel Turns 19

The savannas, salt marshes/pannes, bays, and bayous here along the Pascagoula and Escatawpa River deltas are among some of the most beautiful and unique anywhere on the planet.  The Grand Bay NERR had its humble beginnings with a few modular commercial trailers and dedicated staff in 1999.  It has now grown into its own sporting a ground breaking 20,000 square foot Coastal Resources Center.  The building was the state’s first government owned LEED Gold Certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building by the US Green Building Council (USGBC).  Inside you’ll find meeting space, classrooms, interactive exhibits, dorms and private rooms for visiting researchers along with administrative offices.  Basically, the Grand Bay NERR put its building money where its heart is; environmental stewardship, energy savings, ecology, and low impact footprint.  The sustainable design strategy can be seen throughout the facility.  But, the GBNERR is much more than a wonderful building.

Look past the Coastal Research Center and you’ll find boardwalks, birding trails, blueways for paddling, and yes, even hunting by permit.  If you’re looking for wildlife sightings, well, you will find it.  Check this link for a list of typical sightings, stories, and photographs.  You will also enjoy the many family friendly and community oriented events the GBNERR offers throughout the year.  There are programs for all ages that educate and stimulate.

IMG_7571 A Jackson County Jewel Turns 19

You can check out their Facebook page @GrandBayNERR and their website,, for details on all the events and educational opportunities offered there.  The professional, knowledgeable staff also will come and speak to your group/organization OR you can plan to bring your group to their large meeting room for a change of scenery and pace.

The Grand Bay NERR is a true jewel in our community with so much to offer and they would like you to celebrate their 19th year with them!  On June 15th, from 10AM-2PM, they are having a birthday party with a special look at Bewildering Bugs that are unique to the reserve area.  Sandra Huynh, Director’s Assistant at Grand Bay NERR says, “There will be family friendly games, crafts, trail tours, & more…Be sure to pack your lunch for a picnic!”  Are you busy on June 15th?  Maybe bugs aren’t your thing?  Well, no worries!  June 16th they will host a Rain Barrel Workshop from 9 AM – 11 AM.  Learn more about how to “collect and store water during storms that can be used for: watering your lawn or plants in your garden, washing your pets, and cleaning your car. They are a great way to save money on your water bill while helping reduce the impacts of stormwater runoff.”  Then, you get to build your very own rain barrel!  Please contact Dennis McGrury to register (228-523-4190 or Cost is $35 per barrel constructed.

HAPPY 19TH BIRTHDAY GRAND BAY NERR!  Jackson County is fortunate to have you!


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Local Guitar Player is Staple at Pascagoula Establishment

Bozos-Musician-Harold-Dees Local Guitar Player is Staple at Pascagoula Establishment

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Harold Dees and Keith Delcambre believe there aren’t too many places in the world where you can find live local music outside of a seafood market and restaurant.

As owner of Bozo’s Seafood Market and Deli in Pascagoula, Delcambre provides the seafood while Dees provides the tunes as the guitar player out front. Dees has been performing at Bozo’s for almost three years now. He plays for tips and said he has enjoyed every minute of his time there.

Dees used to play at the BP station on Chico Street but decided to look for a busier venue for his music. Dees said that Delcambre showed up at the right time, and Dees asked him if he could play for him. To which, according to Dees, Delcambre replied, “Why haven’t you asked sooner?” The rest is history.  

Now, Dees is sort of a staple at Bozo’s, and Delcambre said people ask about him when he’s not there. He said you’ll see people singing with him and dancing to the music, and the kids seem to really the music too – they’ll come out and just sit in front of him and not want to leave. To Dees, seeing the kids have a good time is one of the best parts.

“I had no idea that I sounded that great to get them to act like that,” he said. “It’s wonderful.”

Dees said his music makes the people happy as they go in and out of the store, and he looks forward to playing there each day.

“They love me,” he said. “I’m crazy about them also.”

By playing at Bozo’s, Dees has met people from all over the country, but that’s not the only place that he plays his music. Dees also plays weddings, barbecues, ceremonies and other events and occasionally travels to Atlanta to play.

“I enjoy playing in front of people,” he said. “I enjoy playing music period.”

Delcambre said Dees fits right in at Bozo’s because “characters are welcome.” He said that things are not quite the same when Dees is not there and that the music helps bring more people to the store.  

“He’s the first person you see when you come to Bozo’s,” Delcambre said. “I love having him out there.”

When asked if he’ll move to the new Bozo’s location, Dees said he would let Delcambre make the call but that he’ll be happy to make the move if he’s asked.

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