PHS Salutatorian on his way to elite military academy

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PASCAGOULA – Pascagoula High School senior Jack Colmer is the kind of student with an impressive high school resume. Salutatorian of the class of 2018. President of the National Honor Society. Offensive co-captain of the football team.
Now, just weeks away from graduation, Colmer has earned a rare accomplishment that might just beat everything else on the list. Colmer is one of only three students in Mississippi to earn an appointment this fall to one of the five elite U.S. service academies that act as a training ground for future commissioned officers in the military.

Colmer‘s appointment to the Merchant Marine Academy in New York comes with free tuition and room and board, making the package worth an estimated $262,000 to $400,000, Colmer said.

“This just seemed like an awesome opportunity I had to take,” Colmer said.
In four years at the academy, students earn a bachelor’s degree in the classroom and spend a “Sea Year” aboard working commercial vessels sailing to ports around the world. Students in their Sea Year will visit an average of 18 countries in that time. Graduates have a post-graduation service obligation with the option to serve in any branch of the armed forces or as a civilian in the maritime industry.

Appointment to a Service Academy starts with a nomination from a U.S. senator or representative. Colmer secured his required nomination from Rep. Steven Palazzo.

Closer to home, Colmer received continual encouragement from his family and from the Pascagoula-Gautier School District as he worked toward his goals.

They‘re very supportive, and it‘s what they‘ve wanted me to do ever since I started looking into it,” Colmer said of his parents, James and Jennifer Colmer.They‘ve helped me a lot. I wouldn’t be able to do it if it weren’t for my mom and dad always pushing me to fill out everything and always trying to get information for me.

Pascagoula-Gautier schools Superintendent Wayne Rodolfich praised Colmer as an intelligent, hardworking student who has spent his years in school preparing for a bright future.

“All of the components you want in the future leaders of our country are all embodied in Jack Colmer,” Rodolfich said.
Earning a spot at a school with an acceptance rate of only 15% was never a sure thing, but Colmer says his Christian faith has given him the courage to pursue his dreams, no matter the outcome.

“My mindset has always been, ‘Wherever I end up, that’s where God wants me to be.’ Colmer said. “I really believe that this is the path I‘m supposed to take and this is where God is sending me.

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Pascagoula High School will be home to new $14.7 million Performing Arts Center

Pascagoula-Arts-Center-Rendering Pascagoula High School will be home to new $14.7 million Performing Arts Center

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Pascagoula-Gautier School District recently began construction on the new Performing Arts Center on the Pascagoula High School grounds. When completed, it will be the most high-tech performing arts center on the Gulf Coast besides the Hancock Performing Arts Center in Hancock County. The center will cost $14.7 million and will be owned by the school district.

Construction has already begun and is set to be completed around Christmas 2019, according to Wayne Rodolfich, superintendent of the Pascagoula-Gautier School District. 

The center will have a surround sound movie projection system, a rear projection system with the ability to digitally project a backdrop, space for a 160-piece band on the stage as well as proper floor capacity for dance performances. It will have more than 700 seats with wider seating than traditional performing arts centers, three classrooms, a catering kitchen, warm up rooms and a beautifully designed foyer area. The entire building will be able to be operated by an iPad.

All of these add up to many uses for the center including youth and children’s groups showing movies, orchestra and band performances, dance shows, church groups, banquets, large-scale meetings, and many more. Rodolfich said the goal is to make the space available to anyone in the community that wants to use it.

“It’s just going to be a game changer for this community,” Rodolfich said. “We saw this as an opportunity not only to improve the quality of life for the children of our district but also to improve the quality of life for the people of Pascagoula, Mississippi.”

It was important to have the center on the school’s campus so that the students can walk to it from the school and that certain classes can have class in there during the day.

“We’re trying to build venues around our children,” Rodolfich said, adding that having the center on the school’s property will make it easier for them to secure the facility and maintain it.

The Performing Arts Center is part of the PGSD’s Strategic Plan. It has been discussed for years and now the school is moving forward. In fall 2017, the school district asked for a 4-mill tax hike to pay for the facility. This was put on hold in September but reinstated in March 2018.

“It’s a time where Pascagoula needs to put as many amenities in place as possible. It’s a great investment,” Rodolfich said. “That facility will be here for years to come for children and adults, and it will really be an asset to this community.”

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Blues at the Beach Continues This Friday

Blues-at-the-Beach-Crowd-Use Blues at the Beach Continues This Friday

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The next Blues at the Beach show will be held on Friday, May 11, at Pascagoula Beach Park from 6 to 8 p.m. with local band Slick Radio performing. The show is free and open to the public.

This is the seventh year for Blues at the Beach programming and attendance has steadily increased each year. The monthly events held annually during the summer months are planned by Emerge Pascagoula as a way to help the local community kick off the weekend.

“It’s a free music event to bring locals of all ages out into the community as well as to showcase some of Pascagoula’s great outdoor venues,” said Landon McCarty, Emerge Pascagoula co-chair. “It’s a great transition on Fridays between work and a night on the town.”

Attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket or lawn chair and can bring food, beverages, and spirits to the show. The events are family friendly.

This year’s summer schedule kicked off in April with the Truitt Williams Band. June’s show will feature Ric McNaughton from Mobile on June 8. On July 13, Black Water Brass will be playing, and Deuces Wild will play on Aug. 10.

Emerge was formed under the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce’s Pascagoula Area Council. Emerge exists to recruit, develop, connect, retain, and empower emerging leaders to improve the quality of life in Pascagoula by advancing the group’s interests into real changes that will make the city a better place to live, work, and play.

For more information on upcoming shows and locations, find Emerge Pascagoula on Facebook. You can also email emergepascagoula@gmail.com to get on the monthly newsletter list.

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Huntington Ingalls Industries Awarded $94 Million Advance Procurement Contract For A 10th National Security Cutter

Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Ingalls Shipbuilding division received a $94 million fixed-price contract from the U.S. Coast Guard today to purchase long-lead materials for a 10th National Security Cutter (NSC).

“National Security Cutters continue to be extremely important assets for the coastal defense of our homeland,” said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias. “These ships are enabling the Coast Guard’s missions in not only defending our shores, but also in the detection and interdiction of drugs and other contraband. Our shipbuilders in Mississippi look forward to continuing this hot production line and producing additional high-quality, state-of-the-art cutters for the men and women of the Coast Guard.”

 

Photos of HII-built NSCs.

The advance procurement funds will be used to purchase major components for NSC 10, such as steel, the main propulsion systems, generators, electrical switchboards and major castings.

Ingalls has delivered six NSCs, the flagship of the Coast Guard’s cutter fleet, designed to replace the 12 Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters that entered service in the 1960s. Ingalls’ seventh NSC, Kimball (WMSL 756), is scheduled to be delivered to the Coast Guard later this year. Midgett(WMSL 757), is scheduled to start builder’s trials in the fourth quarter, and Stone (WMSL 758) is scheduled to launch this summer.

NSCs are 418 feet long with a 54-foot beam and displace 4,500 tons with a full load. They have a top speed of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 miles, an endurance of 60 days and a crew of 120.

The Legend-class NSC is capable of meeting all maritime security mission needs required of the high-endurance cutter. The cutter includes an aft launch and recovery area for two rigid hull inflatable boats and a flight deck to accommodate a range of manned and unmanned rotary wing aircraft. It is the largest and most technologically advanced class of cutter in the U.S. Coast Guard, with robust capabilities for maritime homeland security, law enforcement, marine safety, environmental protection and national defense missions. This class of cutters plays an important role in enhancing the Coast Guard’s operational readiness, capacity and effectiveness at a time when the demand for their services has never been greater.

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 Mission Solutions, Nuclear & Environmental, and Oil & Gas groups. Headquartered in Newport News, Virginia, HII employs nearly 38,000 people operating both domestically and internationally. For more information, visit www.huntingtoningalls.com.

 

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VT Halter Marine Starts Construction on America’s First Offshore LNG ATB Unit

Screen-Shot-2018-03-29-at-11.54.56-AM VT Halter Marine Starts Construction on America's First Offshore LNG ATB Unit

Pascagoula, Miss. — VT Halter Marine, Inc. (VT Halter Marine), a company of Vision Technologies Systems, Inc. (VT Systems), held a ceremony on March 8, 2018 to commence construction on America’s first Liquefied Natural Gas Articulated Tug and Barge (LNG ATB) unit.

“We are honored to be able to celebrate the official start of construction on the first LNG Bunkering ATB unit ever built. We believe  that this is a significant step towards the USA becoming the premier supplier of LNG as the environmentally friendly maritime fuel source of choice,” said Rob Mullins, Chief Executive Officer of VT Halter Marine.

In November 2017, VT Halter Marine was awarded a contract by Q-LNG Transport to build the ATB LNG unit, which was announced as part of a long-term contract with Shell Trading (U.S.) Company, to deliver LNG as a fuel source to various ports in Florida and the Caribbean.

“I’m looking forward to developing a long-term relationship with VT Halter Marine and the ATP project is only the beginning. The cutting of this steel for America’s first LNG ATB bunkering vessel will pave the way for LNG to becoming the marine fuel of the future,” said Shane J. Guidry, Chief Executive Officer of Q-LNG Transport.

The ATB Tug will have 5,100 horsepower, GE 6L250 MDC EPA Tier 4 main engines, with Z-drives, and dimensions of 128′ x 42′ x 21′. The barge is designed to carry 4,000 cubic meters of LNG, and will have dimensions of 324′ x 64′ x 32′.6″. The LNG ATB Unit is designed to meet the requirements of American Bureau of Shipbuilding (ABS) and the International Gas Carrier (IGC) code as an LNG bunkering barge. Anticipated delivery of the first unit is in the first quarter of 2020.

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VT Halter Marine, the marine operations of VT Systems, is based in Pascagoula, Mississippi and is a leader in the design and construction of medium-sized ships in the United States. VT Halter Marine designs, builds and repairs a wide variety of ocean-going vessels such as patrol vessels, oil recovery vessels, oil cargo vessels, ferries, logistic support vessels, auxiliaries, research and survey vessels. Please visit www.vthaltermarine.com.

VT Systems is an engineering company providing integrated solutions to the commercial and government markets in the aerospace, electronic, land systems and marine sectors. VT Systems’ innovative solutions, products and services include aircraft maintenance, repair and modification; software solutions that integrate data, voice and video; rugged computers and computer peripheral equipment; specialized truck bodies and trailers; weapons and munitions systems; road construction equipment; and ship design and shipbuilding. Headquartered in Alexandria, Va., VT Systems operates globally and is a wholly owned subsidiary of ST Engineering. Please visit www.vt-systems.com.

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Rapiscan Systems Classic and Chevron Present $25,000 Check to Excel by 5 at “Read to Me” Event

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Rapiscan Systems Classic and Chevron presented a $25,000 check to Excel by 5 this morning at their “Read to Me” event. The event was a partnership between the three organizations, and the generous donation will support our Gulf Coast Excel by 5 communities and early childhood literacy programs. 

The event featured PGA TOUR Champions professional Rod Spittle and his wife, Ann Spittle, who read the book Love Is All Around Mississippi to a group of twenty preschool children. Each child was given a Curious George story book autographed by Spittle.

Spittle will compete in this week’s Rapiscan Systems Classic, a tournament focused on early childhood education. They promote tips for reading to children with their free admission ticket, which doubles as a child’s bookmark. One side features helpful tips to engage young readers, like pointing out letters and words. The other side provides information about the tournament’s Chevron Family Day and Junior Clinic this Saturday, March 24th.

Excel by 5 was founded to benefit pre-K children by providing families with much needed resources. The innovative program emphasizes the important roles played by parents and early childhood educators during a child’s most formative years — from birth to age 5. They use research-based practices and enhance existing resources to optimize the care and education of young children. As a result, children are better prepared to enter school happy and healthy, with the skills they need to succeed.

 

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Celebrating People, Partnership and Performance the Chevron Way

Since the Pascagoula Refinery began operating in 1963, it has grown to be Chevron’s largest U.S. domestic refinery, and one of the top petroleum refineries in the country. The Mississippi plant processes an average of 330,000 barrels of crude oil per day to manufacture gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, premium base oil and chemicals that are used as building blocks in plastics, garments, toys and other essential products. 
 
The refinery’s success is built upon strong relationships with the community of Jackson County. The Pascagoula Refinery’s 2017 Report to Our Community offers an overview of some of those relationships and the refinery’s corporate citizenship over the last year.

People, Partnership, and Pascagoula

In addition to the Community Report, video “People, Partnership, and Pascagoula” gives insight as to how Pascagoula Refinery supports Jackson County community organizations.

Pascagoula Refinery’s 2017 Report to Our Community

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Pay It Forward Friday: Larry Hawkins II on Purpose, Principles, and Pascagoula

Larry-and-Speaker-Banner Pay It Forward Friday: Larry Hawkins II on Purpose, Principles, and Pascagoula

Larry Hawkins II

Larry Hawkins II is passionate about his purpose in life. A purpose centered not on him, but on others.

The pursuit of purpose brought Larry to Pascagoula, Mississippi. Not his own pursuit — but his father’s. Larry Hawkins Sr. had followed his calling to become head pastor of Union Baptist Church. Just like that, Larry’s parents made Pascagoula their home with a one-year-old son. The Union Baptist Church family quickly embraced them, and he became known as “Little Larry”.

 

“Pascagoula is ingrained in who I am as a person,” Larry Hawkins II says, “I am a product of the Pascagoula School District. I’m also a product of Bethel Christian Academy’s after school care and the Andrew Johnson Boys and Girls Club. My childhood was filled with little league baseball and basketball, trips to Anderson’s Bakery, and burgers from Mr. Jack’s burger spot behind Trent Lott Middle School. The southern hospitality of holding doors open for other people, saying ‘yes ma’am’ and ‘no sir’, and looking out for your neighbor were all taught to me by my hometown.”

These moments described by Larry helped prepare him for his journey toward adulthood when he left home at sixteen. His decision to attend the Mississippi School for Math and Science (MSMS) was hard for several reasons — the main one being that he would have to leave the place he’d called home for fifteen years. From attending MSMS and graduating from Mississippi State University with an Electrical Engineering degree, to moving with his wife to Austin, TX, Larry felt he was getting further and further away from home.

It was during this journey that Larry discovered his purpose. In 2014, his passion for helping others manifested into a full-time business: Hawkins Development Group. The business takes him further from home as he travels the world, inspiring others to find their own purpose. However, from the first moment he stood before a group of people, he knew that he had found his home away from home. After helping nearly 3,000 people, Larry’s faith in his mission has only grown.

In January of 2018, Larry published his first book: 5 Principles to a Purposeful Life. He wrote it to capture what he’d learned throughout his journey in a way that would inspire others to find their own versions of success. The book includes key components for the pursuit of purpose that he discovered over years of helping others. He also captured moments from lessons he learned watching his dad lead the church, his mom nurture children in Pascagoula, and playing in little league basketball. As he wrote this book, Larry realized just how much Pascagoula had traveled with him everywhere life had taken him.

During Larry’s journey, Pascagoula was with him every time someone complimented his manners and hospitality. Every time someone thanked him for being considerate, Pascagoula was with him. Any time someone was impressed with how open-minded and engaging he was, Pascagoula was with him. Everywhere Larry goes and everywhere his book goes, Pascagoula goes also. He walks a path of purpose in pursuit of inspiring others, and Pascagoula, Mississippi, walks with him.

Larry Hawkins II wrote “5 Principles to a Purposeful Life” in four days, but the journey to that moment started 30 years ago when he was given the privilege of calling Pascagoula his home. Learn more about Larry and Hawkins Development Group at www.HawkDG.com. To order a copy of “5 Principles to a Purposeful Life,” visit www.HawkDG.com/store or www.amazon.com.

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Audubon’s Master Naturalist Class Now Open for Registration

master-naturalist-class Audubon's Master Naturalist Class Now Open for Registration

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The Pascagoula River Audubon Center is starting 2018 off right with their Audubon Naturalist Volunteer Training program.

The program allows community members to take part in an exciting and insightful class at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center. The Audubon Naturalist Volunteer Training program is designed to expand participants’ understanding of our local environments. The course stays true to the center’s educational mission of connecting people not only to nature, but to our own region’s unique ecology.

Participants in the program are taught about the basic processes that formed and affect the landscape around them, the habitats and organisms that make up and live within the landscape, and the key social and environmental issues affecting the environment. The underlying theme of the Audubon Naturalist program is that habitats exist and function as integrated parts of the overall landscape. As such, the program is habitat-based and focuses attention on the major habitat types in the area where volunteers are trained. The end results are volunteers that are well-versed in local natural history.

The Master Naturalists finish the course ready to teach others about natural history in Mississippi- so they become incredibly helpful and confident volunteers at any number of sites along the Coast. “We can’t run our Center without their time, knowledge, and energy- we utilize their talents for everything from teaching summer camp programs to creating new displays to put on exhibit to planting native plants on our grounds”, said Erin Parker with the Audubon Center. “We offer the course twice a year, once during the winter/early spring and a second in the summer so that teachers can take it for credit during their brief summer vacation!”

“What’s great about the Master Naturalists is that they can help us with all kinds of things, from teaching to native plant landscaping to citizen science projects”, says Parker. “Some of them come weekly, some monthly, some complete projects at home that we incorporate into our exhibits or grounds. And after they’re trained, they might also volunteer at one of the many other sites across the coast- from the Grand Bay NERR to the Mississippi Sandhill Crane Refuge to the Crosby Arboretum”, she said. 

This program is based on the Mississippi Master Naturalist Program, developed by Mark W. LaSalle for the Mississippi State University Extension Service. The program began in coastal Mississippi in 1998 with support from the Chevron Pascagoula Refinery. The Audubon Naturalist program is also supported by Chevron. The program expanded into north Mississippi in 2005 with additional funding provided by a grant from the North Central Mississippi Resource Conservation & Development Council and the Natural Resources Initiative of North Mississippi.

The class costs $250 for non-members of the Center and $225 for members. It includes ten days of teaching, 4 books, and a giant binder of materials, plus all the field trips. “We feel that it’s a great value for people that are interested in really learning about our coastal habitats and ecosystems” said Parker. 

The Naturalist program for winter 2018 will take place on Wednesdays running from January 17th through March 21.Parker mentions how the program is a series, and everything builds on the previous class. While there is a different focus each week, everything is interconnected. Participants get to learn everything from geology to weather to plants to wildlife and get to take field trips to a wide range of ecosystems along the Coast.

To register for the Master Naturalist class, fill out the registration form on their site. Please contact Erin Parker at 228.475.0825 or eparker@audubon.org for more information.

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Steinberger Named State’s Top Lawyer

Karl-Steinberger Steinberger Named State's Top Lawyer

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Pascagoula attorney Karl Steinberger was recently honored as the 2017 Lawyer of the Year and as one of the Top 40 Leaders in Law by the Mississippi Business Journal. Steinberger, who is a shareholder and director at Heidelberg, Steinberger P.A., was selected for his outstanding efforts and accomplishments in the legal practice.

“I’m very fortunate and quite humbled to be named as a leader in the legal profession and honored to be recognized with some of the state’s best attorneys,” said Steinberger. “For over 40 years, I’ve worked to represent my clients’ best interests and am thankful for a career which I’ve helped many people and different organizations.”

Steinberger has been consistently recognized as an Outstanding Lawyer of America and as a Mid-South Super Lawyer. He is an active member of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce and serves as the President of the Mississippi Bar Foundation.   In the past, he also received the Distinguished Service Award from the Mississippi Bar Association.

Steinberger has been practicing law in Pascagoula since 1976. His specialty is employment law and workers compensation, and he also focuses on insurance defense, products liability, personal injury and wills and estates.

He is a graduate of the University of Mississippi and the University of Mississippi School of Law.

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