by Calvin Ishee, Associate Publisher

Since the very beginning of COVID 19, the State of Mississippi and local governments have struggled with making decisions regarding mandatory mask mandates. Based on recommendations from the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Mississippi Department of Health as well as personal stories and biases from Board members and citizens alike, the Board voted 4-1 on a resolution that requires face masks in all City owned facilities. The Mask Resolution also “encourages all citizens within the City Limits to wear masks in other indoor public settings as recommended by Mayor Jimmy Rafferty.”

Local businesses are not required to make customers to wear masks, but are encouraged to do so. The only dissenting vote came from Ward3 Alderman Kirk Kimball.

Just as with previous meetings that discussed the mandatory wearing of masks, this topic immediately stimulated passionate comments from both those that support making residents wear masks and those believing that residents should have a choice in the matter. Alderman Kimball commented, “This is America and our citizens should be free to make their own decisions regarding masks, this is the land of self determination.”

Ward 2 Alderwoman Regina Charlot passionately made her plea for citizens to wear masks. She mentioned her health concerns for her elderly mother and young grandchildren. She added that now is the time for people to be more “selfless” whereby people should do right for others by taking the vaccine and wearing masks.  Additionally, she cited a Jackson online newspaper before fact-checking the source.

Several other citizens also rose to both refute the science offered by Alderwoman Charlot as well as to echo Alderman Kimball’s “freedom of choice” position.  As the news of this new policy spread through social media, the comments ranged from friendly support and nonsupport of this policy to downright mean and disrespectful comments.

In community support relations, the Board approved the Pass Christian Library’s request to waive fees for the Randolph Center on October 12, 2021, for their “One Book, One Pass“,  5th annual author presentation.

Pass Christian Head Librarian Wendy Allard proudly announced that the featured author is former National and Mississippi Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winning Poet, Natasha Tretheway.

Her book is her memoir “Memorial Drive”. In keeping with tradition, Allard presented the Mayor and Board of Alderman with a copy of the book. Additional information can be found by contacting the Pass Christian Library.

The Board also approved the City of Long Beach Mayor George Bass’s  request to use the City’s stage on Saturday, February 19, 2022 for the Long Beach Mardi Gras Parade.

In the personnel arena the BOA unanimously approved the hiring of Bob Escher as the City’s Engineer; accepted a resignation letter from Firefighter M.J. Jackson; the hiring of Firefighter Recruit Darren McCaleb and the realignment of Public Works hours of operation back to Monday through Friday, beginning September 3, 2021.

The Board authorized interested City Employees to go to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum on either 4 or 5 August, while using a City vehicle to obtain COVID 19 vaccinations.

Both the CDC and Mississippi Department of Health have recommended vaccines be taken throughout the State.

The Board also approved a $967,575 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) for the allocation to City of Pass Christian (COPC) for the replacement of the Fleitas Avenue Pump Station and $1,744,319 to COPC for the Gravity Sewer System Phase Improvements.

Due to a conflicting meeting on August 11, 2021 plus Mayor Rafferty’s stated need for additional time to prepare and consolidate the City Budget, the next budget meeting has been rescheduled to August 16, 2021, 6 p.m. at the Pass Christian City Courthouse/City Auditorium.