Bay St. Louis Harbor Officially Opens
By Geoff Belcher
Jul 29, 2014, 20:28
The Rutherford family joins city and state officials Saturday to formally open the Jimmy Rutherford Fishing Pier. The original pier, named in honor of the late councilman in 2000, was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina and rebuilt as part of the harbor project.
The Compretta family poses with the newly-unveiled Star maker placed at the street entrance to the harbor in honor of the late Jody Compretta, for whom the marina will be named.
The city of Bay St. Louis on Saturday hosted the long-awaited grand opening of its new municipal harbor, the Jimmy Rutherford Pier and Jody Compretta Marina.
A host of elected and appointed officials showed up Saturday at the harbor to help the city celebrate, including keynote speaker, Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann; Malcolm White, the state tourism director; Loraine Hill, asst. MSRO executive director of FEMA; Myrtis Franks, representing Sen. Thad Cochran; Tish Williams, executive director of the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce; and Jamie Miller, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.
Father Cuddy O'Connell gave the invocation and blessed the harbor; Sherry Hill sang the National Anthem; and a team from American Legion Post 139 including former Councilman Bill Taylor presented the colors.
Mayor Les Fillingame kicked off the speeches Saturday.
He compared the past nine years since Hurricane Katrina to a war: "In getting this harbor open today," he said, "I can honestly say the war is over and we won."
Fillingame said that Bay St. Louis is the special place that it is because of its people.
"I'm sure it's pretty obvious to everyone here, but Bay St. Louis is pretty contagious," Fillingame said. "Everyone that touches the Bay, stays."
White said he has maintained a second home in Bay St. Louis since 2002; rebuilt it after Katrina; and keeps coming back here because – not only does the city live up to its slogan as "A Place Apart" – it is also a community of people who came together to make it better.
Hosemann recalled his childhood years, spending the summers at St. Stanislaus and roaming Old Town Bay St. Louis whenever he could. "The culture of the Coast consists of religion, the people and the water, and they all coincide here," at the harbor, Hosemann said.
After cutting the ribbon for the harbor, the crowd moved over to the entrance of the newly-built Jimmy Rutherford Pier, where former Mayor Eddie Favre praised his late friend, the namesake of the pier; then over to the street entrance to the harbor grounds, where Harbor Commissioner Chet LeBlanc unveiled the star plaque honoring Jody Compretta.
J.P. Compretta, the former state representative and current harbor commissioner, choked back tears Saturday after the ceremony honoring his late son and thanked everyone for the honor.
Harold "Buz" Olsen, "the guy who kept everybody together on the project," thanked all the engineers and contractors on the project, including Gill's Crane & Dozer Service of Slidell, the general contractor; Dale Partners of Biloxi, the architectural firm; Simpkins & Costelli, Structural Design Engineers of Gulfport; Canon Engineering, Electrical Design Engineers of Gulfport; BMI Environmental Services of Gulfport, which did the environmental permitting; and Brown, Mitchell & Alexander, Inc., the consulting engineers.
Olsen also gave a special shout-out to Brown, Mitchell & Alexander's Jason Chiniche, who oversaw the work.