by Calvin Ishee, Associate Publisher
In the past year or so, Pass Christian residents have started taking full advantage of their right to speak at Pass Board meetings. Every agenda includes an item titled Public Comments which gives residents three minutes to aak the Board a question, ask for assistance or simply air a grievance or concern.
The Board meeting held on February 2, 2022 was no different. Long term former Pass Christian resident and current resident of Delisle, Gabrielle “Gabby” Charlot rose to discuss the murder of her brother Kenneth Charlot and to ask for the new administration’s support to resolve this still open case.
Charlot began by stating, “Mayor in May of last year when you were running for election, I attended a Board meeting to discuss my concerns about the lack of progress on the case. After that meeting you came up to me outside and stated that if there was anything you could do to help, to please let you know.”
Charlot continued, “You’re the Mayor now and I’m here to let you know there’s not been much progress on the case since then. I hope you will take more interest than your predecessor did.”. She then outlined the history which included the involvement of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Mississippi Bureau of Investigation (MBI), the retirement of lead investigator Barry Smith in December of 2021 and the lack of forward movement towards resolving this case.
Further, Charlot outlined her frustration with the lack of involvement and awareness from Pass Police Chief Darren Freeman as well as countless unreturned phone calls from PC investigator Hendricks. She commented “Let that sink in, the Chief (Freeman) didn’t know why his investigator would not take my calls. There’s one unsolved murder case in Pass Christian and unfortunately it’s my brother.
Charlot then implored the Mayor and Board to stay abreast of and interested in this case until it is resolved. She concluded that they wanted the same consideration and respect that anyone else in this town wants.
Ward 2 Alderwoman Regina Charlot stated that even though she is related to Gabby Charlot and the victim, due to her position on the Board she has opted not to be involved with this matter. She has left it up to the immediate family of Kenneth Charlot to work with local, state and law enforcement agencies.
Mayor Jimmy Rafferty commented, “I’m going to do everything I can, I’m going to work with the Police Chief and we’re going to do everything we can to get this solved”. In previous requests for information regarding this matter from The Gazebo Gazette to the various individuals and agencies investigating this matter, the response has been that it is their policy that they don’t respond to ongoing investigations. The Gazebo Gazette will continue to monitor this case and will provide updates as they arise.
Then lifelong Pass resident and former Alderwoman Margaret Jean Kalif rose to express her mounting frustration with the dreadful appearance of Pass Christian. Kalif began by stating her support for the Charlot family and the resolution of this crime. She reminded the Board that the Charlot family was one of the original families to settle in Pass Christian and the City owes it to them to bring closure to this horrific event.
Kalif went on to state, “If you have not been down there (the Pass Christian Harbor), you would hang your head in shame. It is absolutely embarrassing! As a citizen of Pass Christian, I wish somebody would find out who’s responsible” for keeping the harbor free of debris, litter and grass.
The school board president challenged the Board to get the harbor and city at large cleaned up and stated her support for enforcing the litter ordinance which fines people for littering.
She concluded by saying, “This is my town too and I am embarrassed! I am embarrassed we can’t solve crime, I’m embarrassed that we can’t pick up litter, I’m embarrassed that we can’t get anything done. Why?”
Alderman at Large Kenny Torgeson immediately responded, “I agree with Ms. Kalif but it’s not just the harbor, it’s all over town!” Mayor Rafferty commented that the City was about to start a citywide litter strategy designed to clean up the City.
Also discussed at this meeting was an update on the Church Ave Park project by Ward 3 Alderman Kirk Kimball. Alderman Kimball stressed that the refurbishment and reopenI got of this beautiful park was a team effort. He went on to thank his fellow Board members; Bret Bentz, Recreation Director, City of Pass Christian, Martin Hardware for donating new picnic benches; Marlin Ladner Harrison County Supervisor for donating recreational equipment slide, rock climbing wall and monkey bars; PC public works Dept and Beautification for their help in the process; Portable Services for their donation of extra porta potty’s and hand washing station for the one day event; Lighthouse of Pass Christian and DeLisle; Silver Slipper Casino for the food and gift cards from Bacchus on the Beach, Fillup with Billups, Cat Island, Coffeehouse, Field’s, Marina Cantina, Shaggy’s and The Blind Tiger.
Since the park has reopened children and adults alike can be seen playing there on a regular basis. As one citizen commented, “Job well done!”