by Calvin Ishee, Associate Publisher

At the June 1st, 2021 Pass Christian Board of Aldermen meeting the City issued a resolution that paid tribute to long serving employee Russell Holliman.

The Proclamation stated that “Russell Holliman has exemplified great and professional achievements as a law enforcement officer, a City Department head and his Native American Tribe, by humbly serving his community and the City of Pass Christian with courage, character and as an example to all.”  Holliman’s first order of business was to “thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ“. He went on to thank the Mayor and Board of Alderman for taking a chance on him as well as for their support during his time with the City.

Another Proclamation was rendered to Pass Christian City Judge F. Phillip Wittmann IV which highlighted his outstanding service “with distinction” as City Judge from June 1, 2013 until June 30, 2021. It further stated that Judge Wittmann “exemplified great personal, civic, and professional success and achievements as an attorney, municipal court judge, and local leader in government and civic organizations and that he has been an inspiration of encouragement for our citizens.”

Wittmann leaves the City after five years to become the Harrison County Public Defender.

In other matters, after a very brief discussion, the decision was made not to renew the City’s COVID 19 mask requirement for City owned facilities.

On another note, when City Planner Bill Spivey was trying to explain proposed “administrative changes”  to the Pass Christian Development Code, he was met with resistance from Board members and audience members alike.

Their complaint was that neither had been given sufficient time to review the proposed before being expected to approve and/or respond to them.

City Attorney Malcolm Jones readily agreed and stated that before any further proposed changes would be considered, they would be made available at City Hall as well as the City’s website. He also added that public hearings were also being planned in an effort to both educate residents on proposed changes as well as to get public input.

In the financial arena, the Board approved spending $34,367.28 for tree trimming and removal by Necaise Brothers; $3,700 to A&C Industrial Inc to replace a water meter at 115 Davis Avenue; $18,790 to J.H. Wright and Associates for a new City pump and $1,641,237.95 in Claims Docket expenses. Also approved was a Consumer Price Index (CPI) monthly increase to Wastewater Plant Service Company (WPSCO) of $796.69.

The Board waived fees for use of City owned facilities for the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency at Memorial Park on March 5, 2022 for their annual Hero Bike Ride;

the Pass Christian Police Department at the Randolph Center on June 5, 2021 for their Coffee With a Cop Program and the Pass Christian Volunteer Fire Department’s use of the Davis Avenue Pavilion on June 12, 2021 for their Annual Crawfish Bowl.

Permission was also granted to the Golden Gulf Group and Extend a Hand to Help a Friend to use parking on the East side of the Pass Christian Harbor for a food drive on June 19, 2021.

Prior to going into Executive Session to discuss hiring a new City Attorney, two candidates were given an opportunity to speak directly to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

Local attorney Ron Hand outlined his legal experience that encompassed many aspects of the legal profession, most of which appeared to be on the defense side of the legal process. Raymond Lee Edwards, current City Prosecutor for Bay St Louis outlined his extensive experience as a city prosecutor, five of which were at Bay St Louis.

After a short deliberation the Board selected Edwards as its new City Prosecutor and hired Hand to handle appeals.

In another action packed Public Comments section of the meeting, former Pass Christian Mayor Ted Lawyer lambasted the City for failing to curtail an alleged illegal commercial business in his neighborhood.

Lawyer lives in the Oak Park subdivision and claimed that he’s been complaining to the City for at least six months if not a year about a commercial seafood business operating illegally in a residential area.  He commented that the “smell is horrendous,” despite the fact that the business owners have been trying to hide the smell with bleach.

He also noted that there is a refer truck located on the property and that the owners are actually processing seafood on their property.

City Attorney Jones explained that the City has in fact been aware of this situation and has tried to get the owners to stop their seafood operation.

When it became apparent that the owners would not voluntarily comply with the City’s stop work request, the City began collecting evidence against the owners. Jones stated that they now have more than enough evidence and witnesses to take the owners to City Court.

In the near future the City will present it’s case to the new City Court Judge, Skip Negrotto.

Although present for his swearing in earlier in the meeting, Judge Negrotto immediately recused himself by leaving the building once it became apparent that Jones was going to discuss this potential case in a public forum.

The next meeting of the Pass Christian Mayor and Board of Alderman is scheduled for Tuesday, June 15, 2021, 6 pm at the City Courtroom/Auditorium located next to City Hall.