Katrina Conversations   (panel discussions)


Some of the areas and services in south Mississippi that impacted by Katrina wrath on Aug. 25, 2005 are still works in progress today. “Katrina conversations” brings together groups of well-known community leaders, advocates and businesspeople to have panel discussions about progress and challenges in a number of high-profile cases:


April 15, 7 p.m. – “The future of East Biloxi and Point Cadet,” Slavonian Lodge, east Biloxi: East Biloxi, particularly Point Cadet, was once the bustling focal point of Biloxi’s thriving seafood industry. The shorelines were lined with factories and the streets were lined with a collection of shotgun houses that were home to a melting pot of shrimpers and seafood workers. As the seafood industry diminished in favor of waterfront casinos, East Biloxi has seen its share of ambitious plans — before and after Katrina. And, today, after the ravages of Katrina, Biloxi’s east end remains generally barren and void of residents. What’s the future? What will work? What’s doable? Panelists: Bill Kilduff, Carol Burnett, Richard Gollott, Clay Gutierrez, Thomas Vu, James Crowell. Moderator Gerald Blessey.


May 13, 7 p.m. – “All bets are …,IP Casino Resort Spa, The Gulf Coast gaming industry has witnessed its share of expansions and contractions before and since Katrina, and the changes are continuing to occur. Find out where we were, what happened and where we’re headed. Panelists: Jerry St. Pe, former chairman of the Mississippi Gaming Commission; Alan Godfrey, director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission; Michael Cavanaugh, longtime Biloxi gaming attorney; and Chevis Swetman, longtime Biloxi banker. Moderator Len Blackwell, former chair of Mississippi Gaming Commission.


June 17, 7 p.m. – “Y’all aboard,” Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art: Passenger rail service linking the Mississippi Gulf Coast to the rest of the nation needed a rehab even before Katrina sent it off the rails in 2005. A strong group of coastal advocates believes the timing is better than ever to bring back a viable passenger rail service that provides dependable service to the Gulf Coast region.


July 15, 7 p.m. – “Baptism by Katrina,” Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art: Imagine this. You take office one day, and Katrina decimates your community the next day. That’s the scenario a number of newly elected and appointed south Mississippi leaders faced, especially Gen. Joe Spraggins, whose first day as Harrison County’s emergency manager was Aug. 29, 2005. Other panelists, all of whom are mayors or former mayors: Brent Warr of Gulfport, Connie Moran of Ocean Springs, Chipper McDermott of Pass Christian, and Billy Skellie of Long Beach.


Aug. 12, 7 p.m. – “The blueprint for progress,” Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art: In order for south Mississippi to have successful rebuilding and sustainable growth in the post-Katrina world, a number of issues had to be resolved, including insurance, on-shore gaming, etc. In a panel discussion, members of the Gulf Coast Business Council discuss landmark legislation and other initiatives that were put in place to set the table for economic and community development.