Biloxi Mayor to Appeal to Council to Approve Spillway Effects Resolutions

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Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich will be asking the City Council this week to approve four measures designed to help avoid a repeat of last summer’s disastrous Bonnet Carre Spillway openings. The mayor also wants to see civic and community groups get involved.

The four resolutions have been recommended by the Mississippi Sound Coalition, a group of community and government leaders from across the Mississippi Coast who want help in lobbying Mississippi’s congressional delegation.

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The coalition is asking local governments in the coalition to pass resolutions asking Mississippi’s delegation to:

— Support fisheries disaster law reform bills currently in Congress

— Support a project to restore the Lower Pearl River to its natural state

— Create a special federal management area in the Mississippi Sound

— Support the Mississippi Sound and Lake Pontchartrain Protection Act written by the Coalition, which gives Mississippi a voice in any decisions to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway and calls for scientific proof of the need to open it and duty to seek alternatives and mitigation.

A number of local governments have already passed the resolutions and others are expected to consider the measures.

“I think it should be more than local governments passing these resolutions,” Gilich said. “I hope civic and community groups from throughout south Mississippi — from Waveland to Moss Point and points north — will take up these resolutions, pass them and send them to our representatives in Washington. It’s a huge issue and we need broad-based community support. The devastation was environmental and economic, and it had a domino effect. No one was untouched.”

During a recent meeting of the Sound Coalition at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, Ryan Bradley, Executive Director of Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United, summarized the fisheries disaster caused by the 2019 openings of the Bonnet Carre Spillway. He also explained amendments, sponsored by Mississippi Sens. Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith and Congressman Steven Palazzo, to improve federal law regarding fisheries disasters.

Linda Hornsby, Executive Director of the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association, described the Spillway’s devastating economic impact on tourism businesses: In July 2019, sales taxes collected from tourism businesses began a dramatic decline with gross sales in September ending 26-percent below the previous year.

Gerald Blessey, Manager of the Coalition, reviewed a previous presentation about the need for a project to restore the natural flow of water between West and East Pearl rivers in order to sustain salinity levels in the Mississippi Sound at their natural levels for oyster beds and other nursery grounds.

Marlin Ladner, Chair of the Coalition and President of the Harrison County Board of Supervisors, led discussion of a proposal to create a special management area for the western Mississippi Sound under Mississippi’s Coastal Program administered by the Department of Marine Resources.

The Coalition recommended that its members consider resolutions to request the Commission on Marine Resources to go forward with scientific and engineering studies regarding the Pearl River water resource project and creation of the Western Sound Special Management District.

The coalition is composed of 12 city and county governments on the Mississippi Gulf Coast with associate members from private businesses and citizens. The mission of the Mississippi Sound Coalition is to restore and protect the ecosystem of the Mississippi Sound and the way of life and economies of coastal communities that depend on it, based on good science and fair public policy.

Courtesy: Biloxi BMail News Letter

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Toni started at WXXV News 25 in December of 2013, just three months after the news was launched. She has served as Assignment Editor, anchored for nearly two years, worked as a reporter for several years and hosted Coastal Connections for more than four years. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was editor of the Student Printz. She then did an internship on Capitol Hill, working for a U.S. Senator, then returned to Mississippi as a reporter at WDAM in Hattiesburg. After that, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working as a reporter for FOX 25 in Biloxi, then crossing city lines to work at WLOX-TV news in Biloxi, starting out as a producer, then working as a photographer, reporter, weekend assignment editor and weekend anchor. She was among the station team that won the Edward Murrow and Peabody awards for coverage during Hurricane Katrina. Toni moved to the Lone Star State where she worked as the morning and noon anchor, investigative reporter and live shot reporter for KZTV Action 10 News, then KRIS TV News in Corpus Christi, Texas. Toni moved back to the Magnolia State to be with and take care of her family, working as a multi-media journalist and fill-in anchor at WDBD Fox 40 news in Jackson. After almost completing a second degree in filmmaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Toni transitioned back to news at News 25. Toni is blessed to have a wonderful support network of close family, friends and mentors, and she hopes to pay it forward. She has a three-legged chiweenie named Rocky Balboa because of his fighting spirit. She loves writing and has completed a novel that has been adapted into a screenplay, and has just finished another screenplay called "Delta Rose." She's currently working on a new legal thriller called "Fall From Grace." Stay tuned.... If you’d like to book a live in studio interview on News 25 Today, just email: tmiles@wxxv25.com. These interviews can have up to two guests, last about two minutes and showcase community events, non-profit organizations and things of interest to people in our area…and they’re FREE! Just send information about your event, including date, time, location, contact number and/or website for viewers wanting more information, along with the proper name and titles of the person or two people who will be interviewed, and Toni or producer Porsha Williams (pwilliams@wxxv25.com) will get back with you via email in a timely manner to book a date. Typical interview times are daily at: 5:45, 6:45, 7:45 or 8:45 am. Guests are asked to arrive about 30 minutes beforehand. You can also ask about booking a live shot on location for news events for our 6 and 7 am newscasts. We look forwarding to having you!