In his first 126 days, Biloxi mayor says there's a surprise at every door

September 16, 2015
By Mary Perez at Sun Herald

BILOXI -- Now, "126 days into this ball game," Biloxi Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich on Wednesday casually joked with the crowd at Breakfast with the Mayor as he talked about casino competition, infrastructure and his push to clean up U.S. 90.

The mayor described his job as "a surprise (behind) every door" and said one of those surprises is how easy it now is to say "a million dollars."

Throughout the city, a $350 million infrastructure project is in progress in areas that went under water 10 years ago during Hurricane Katrina. Gilich said most of the streets in East Biloxi are torn up, and the contract that is about to be awarded for the streets south of the railroad tracks will pretty much involve all the rest of East Biloxi and bring with it dirt on the cars and in the houses.

The repairs are greatly needed, he said. The water and sewer project in that area was started nearly 60 years ago in 1957, "and it was supposed to last 25 years."

The breakfast was sponsored by the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce and hosted by The Innovation Center.

"Innovation is probably the theme of our administration so far," Gilich told the crowd. His staff is trying to do things a little better to end up with great results, he said.

He put crews on cleaning up along U.S. 90 because, he said, "fingers were pointing -- who does this? Who does that?" Now it's in much better shape for Cruisin' The Coast, he said.

He's proposed ultra-fast Internet to tie in everyone across South Mississippi. He said people moved away from Biloxi to do business. "We want to give them the opportunity to come back to Biloxi and do business around the world."

One of his biggest fears is Florida will legalize casinos, Gilich said. But he realizes it takes more than opening a casino to make a destination successful.

One way to increase tourism is to connect all the amenities in East Biloxi, he said. "My vision is to get a loop," he said. To do that he wants to continue the road from Bayview on the Back Bay all the way to U.S. 90 in East Biloxi in one project.

That will open the whole area of East Biloxi for waterfront experiences and attractions, he said.

He's also looking at the homeless issues in Biloxi, and Police Chief John Miller said his department has identified nearly 200 people who are homeless.

"It's up to us to create a better place for everyone," Gilich said.

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