The Sea Coast Echo's former publisher James R. "Randy" Ponder will be inducted into the Mississippi Press Association (MPA) Hall of Fame later this month.

Ponder, 65, will be inducted June 21 during the Association's 153rd Annual Convention at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Biloxi.

Ponder retired in December 2018 after 50 years in the newspaper industry and is a past president of MPA and past chairman of the MPA Education Foundation. A native of Cedartown, Ga., he started his career in Jasper, AL, before moving to Bay St. Louis. He later served as publisher of the Mobile County (AL) News before returning to Bay St. Louis as ad manager and eventual successor to former longtime publisher Ellis Cuevas.

He is credited with keeping the newspaper in print and in news racks following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. The newspaper did not miss an issue after the catastrophe, and Ponder's efforts — along with those of other coastal journalists — was the focus of a 2006 documentary produced by the University of Mississippi. The newspaper's office was gutted by the storm, and its staff worked for months out of cramped, rented quarters elsewhere in town.

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