For decades, military members have been serving as ambassadors of goodwill to residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
From Seabees who help build/repair homes and help out after natural disasters, to the airmen at Keesler AFB who annually host the Mississippi State Special Olympics, area charities and non-profit organizations benefit from the countless volunteer hours military members give back to the community.
Seabees take particular pride in the fact that they are able to be good neighbors. They helped restore highway transportation following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. They also participate in parades along the Coast, from New Orleans to Pascagoula. They’ve been seen on the shoreline building piers for the community, helping handicapped residents to fish during the annual Very Special Fishing Rodeo, making repairs at Girl Scout and Boy Scout camp facilities. The Harrison County Fairgrounds arena was a major homeport project for the Atlantic Fleet Seabees.
The Seabee Center has adopted Gaston Point Elementary and 28th Street Elementary schools under the Partners-in-Education Program and Center personnel can be seen around the school yards resurfacing a basketball court, repaving a parking lot, tutoring, or numerous other volunteer efforts.
The Center is a major blood donor for the American Red Cross on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and a strong supporter of the Combined Federal Campaign. Personnel are involved in many community programs such as little league baseball, soccer, scouting, volunteer firemen, and mentoring at-risk children in the local schools.
The following information is frequently of interest to people stationed in Mississippi. Legal rules and procedures may vary with the specifics of your situation. Contact the Navy Legal Services Office for more information.
The Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act
permits military people to retain their original legal residence, which is normally their home of record, throughout their military career, regardless of where the individual may be stationed.
Military members serving in Mississippi have the option of retaining their original legal residence or adopting Mississippi as their legal residence for purposes of taxation, voting, legal residence, etc.
There are currently no DoD schools at the Gulfport Naval Construction Battalion Center. However, there are many fine public and private kindergartens, elementary, middle, high and vocational schools on the Gulf Coast. For post-secondary education, there are community colleges and major university campuses. Non-resident service members and their families are eligible for in-state tuition rates in Mississippi.
Public and private schools along the Mississippi Gulf Coast generally begin in the second week of August and dismiss for summer at the end of May. To register your child, you will need a certified copy of each child’s birth certificate (with state seal), student transcript and report card, social security number, two proofs of residency such as utility bill or lease agreement, and immunization record. Children’s shot records can be transferred to a Mississippi Form 5 at the base’s medical clinic.
Military families are encouraged to contact the school’s administration office to confirm what documents are needed prior to registration. School attendance is based on where you live, unless parents are sending children to a private school. Based on Mississippi state law, children must be 5 years old by September 1 to enter kindergarten, and 6 years old by September 1 to enter first grade.
Military personnel and dependents are responsible for complying with all federal income tax laws as well as any applicable state income, real estate, personal property, or other tax laws of their state of legal residence. Military personnel whose legal residence or domicile is in a state other than Mississippi are not required to pay Mississippi income tax on their military pay; however, they must pay Mississippi income tax on all other income earned in Mississippi.
The Mississippi general retail sales and service tax is seven percent on most items purchased within the state. Some local areas have additional sales taxes.
All residents of Mississippi, between the ages 16 through 64, must have valid hunting and/or fishing licenses when participating in those sports. Military members, assigned to bases in Mississippi, are eligible to purchase resident hunting and fishing licenses by showing military ID and a copy of military orders assigning them to a Mississippi base.
Hunting licenses are required for all game. Fishing licenses are required for both fresh and salt water fishing. Hunting and fishing licenses are good for a period of one year and must be renewed on July 1 of each year. Hunting licenses may be used only during the lawful season for the game being hunted. A combination hunting/fishing license may be obtained.
Military personnel stationed in Mississippi are permitted to operate motor vehicles with a driver’s license and license plate issued by their own state of legal residence or Mississippi. Personnel who are legal residents of states other than Mississippi but want to obtain Mississipp auto license plates must do so within 30 days of assignment. Mississippi driver’s licenses must be obtained within 60 days of assignment. A new Mississippi
resident who presents a valid out-of-state driver’s license is no longer required to take a written or skills test.
Military members can vote either in their legal state of residence or in Mississippi after having resided in the state for at least 30 days. A Mississippi voter registration application can be obtained on-line at: www.mississippi.gov.
WLOX-TV, CH-13, is the one ABC affiliate television station in the local area while WXXV, CH-25, represents the Fox network.
The Sun Herald and the Mississippi Press are the two daily newspapers published locally. Several weeklies also service the surrounding communities. Numerous radio stations are on the air carrying your favorite musical selections.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast, with 26 miles of white sand beaches, offers the good life for area residents and visitors alike. Here you’ll find championship golf courses, taste-tantalizing cuisine, resort casinos with outstanding entertainment, plentiful shopping, historical and cultural attractions, and year-round outdoor sports. Deep sea charters await fishermen seeking more than 200 species of fish including mackerel, snapper and grouper.
But, the Mississippi Gulf Coast offers even more than those attractions, appealing as they are. It also offers friendly people and a casual gracious style of living conducive to relaxation and enjoyment.
For more than 400 years, this section of the Gulf Coast has served as home for Europeans, and their American descendants. The Mississippi Gulf Coast area was first explored in 1699 by Pierre LeMoyne d’Iberville who claimed this important coast region for France. With a small troop, he sailed into
Biloxi Bay and established Fort Maurepas and a small colony on the east shore of what is now Ocean Springs.The land changed hands over the years, resulting in the infusion of many new cultures that left historic Spanish and civil war forts, as well as antebellum and Victorian homes.
But sever weather, including major hurricanes, have taken their toll on these historic sites, as well as the people living on the Gulf Coast.
During normal weather cycles, the Mississippi coast has a humid sub-tropical climate, influenced by the Gulf of Mexico. Summers are long and hot with high humidity, but winters are fairly short and mild. The hottest month on the Coast is July, with an average maximum temperature of 98.7 degrees. The coolest month is February, with an average low of 49.3 degrees. Relative humidity ranges from an average of 52 percent in May to a maximum of 96 percent in July. Average yearly rainfall is 62 inches.
But the area is also prone to hurricanes. About 75 percent of all hurricanes that have struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast since the turn of the century have been Category 3 or higher. The worst storm to strike the Coast was Katrina in 2005. It killed 235 people in Mississippi and a destroyed more than 90,000 homes.
During severe weather, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association broadcasts weather reports from Gulfport and Biloxi on frequency 162.400. Area residents are urged to follow storm warnings when they are posted.
Today, much of the Mississippi Gulf Coast still shows the effects of Katrina. With hurricane-force winds, 11 tornadoes, and a 28-foot storm surge, more than 97,000 people were displaced from their homes. Some are still living in FEMA trailers and mobile homes. Historic homes, yacht clubs, museums, and tourist attractions disappeared.
But the Mississippi Coast is rebuilding and promises to be stronger than ever before. Approximately 98% of the Mississippi coast population has returned home. Unemployment, which climbed to more than 30% immediately following the hurricane, is now less than 7%. Transportation services along the Mississippi Gulf Coast are operating at almost 100% capacity.
And tourists have returned. Excursion boats are running to Gulf Island National Seashore. Deep sea fishing boats are going out daily. Golf courses are open. And thousands are visiting local tourist attractions, restaurants, and historic sites.
While many sites have already reopened following Hurricane Katrina, others-such as the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library—are still in the process of rebuilding. As a result, the Harrison County Tourism Commission has established a web site listing attractions that are now operational or have reopening dates. Before planning an excursion, visitors are encouraged to brows their web site at: www.gulfcoast.org. For more information on the status of attractions in the Gulf Coast communities of Harrison, Jackson, and Hancock Counties, contact the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau at P.O. Box 6128, Gulfport, MS 39506, or call (228) 896-6699.
Of the three South Mississippi counties on the Gulf Coast, Harrison County has the largest population and the greatest number of cities. With apopulation of nearly 194,000 people, it has a wide mix of industry, including two military bases. Other industries range from retail and manufacturing to pharmaceuticals and healthcare research to composite technology and shipbuilding.
Harrison County is made up of five cities: Pass Christian, Long Beach, Gulfport, Biloxi and D’Iberville. The county is also home to campuses of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Tulane University (Mississippi Campus), University of Southern Mississippi (Gulf Park Campus), Virginia College, and William Carey University.
The Harrison County School District includes 12 elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. Information on these schools can be obtained by writing to 11072 Hwy 49, P.O. Box 1090, Gulfport MS 39503 or by calling (228) 539-6500.
Now the second largest city in Mississippi, Gulfport emphasizes education and culture, good medical and municipal services, many churches, an impressive recreation program that includes senior citizens as well as youth, and continuous programs of civic improvement. With a population of more than 70,000 people, it has a thriving and growing downtown community that includes two colleges, and two major shopping centers. The Jeff Davis Campus of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and William Carey College are also located in Gulfport. With about 6.7 miles of man-made sandy beaches along the Gulf Coast, Gulfport is also home of the annual “World’s Largest Fishing Rodeo.”
The Gulfport School District maintains one high school, two middle schools and eight elementary schools. Students can be enrolled in these schools by contacting the school administration at 2001 Pass Road, Gulfport MS 39501, or calling (228) 539-6500. St. John Catholic Schools also operates seven elementary schools, three middle schools, and two high schools. Additional information about these private schools can be made by writing to 2415 17th Street, Gulfport, MS 39501 or calling (228) 863-8141.
Gulfport was founded as the county seat in 1884. At that time, the Gulf Coast was already becoming renowned for its resort climate. In addition, W.H. Hardy was seeking a southern terminus for the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad. He hired J.M.T. Hamilton, a Meridian surveyor, to come down and plan a city. The land was purchased for $5 an acre and Gulfport was born.
At first it was a city of saloons, mud streets, and cottages for the men working on the railroad and harbor, but the little town bloomed. Gulfport was incorporated in 1898. The population was nearly 1,000 and the town boasted a ship harbor and two railroads.
In 1894, the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad ran out of money with the line still 10 miles south of Hattiesburg and the harbor just begun. Into the breach stepped Captain Joseph T. Jones, an oil millionaire from Pennsylvania. The captain assumed control of the failing railroad in 1896 and, with $1.5 million of his own money, completed the harbor in January 1902.
In 1919 Gulfport welcomed her first banana ship, beginning the Port of Gulfport’s rise to the number one single banana port in the nation. Two railroads still serve the city and port, but today’s transportation requirements also require fleets of trucks, cross-country buses, aircraft, and local transit lines.The deepening of the harbor from 30 feet to 36 feet was completed in 1994, allowing the port to accommodate larger shipments and to attract new customers.
Nationally known as a haven for tourists, Biloxi is actually the third oldest city in the United States. It was founded in 1699 by Pierre LeMoyne d’Iberville who was sent by the King of France to claim this important coastal region. The city boasts that eight flags have flown here and that her population holds the “best descendants” of each of these governments. Biloxi’s eight flags are of France, Spain, England, the U.S., the Confederacy, the Republic of West Florida, the Magnolia State and the State of Mississippi.
Originally, the city was established as the capital of the province of Louisiana, an area of more than one million square miles. Now encompassing 575 square miles with a population of nearly 65,000 residents, Biloxi is rich with culture and history. The downtown area has established a Biloxi Main Street Program to preserve and promote the area. Adding to traditional industries of boatyards, timber and seafood, is a growing healthcare community, the arrival of a Gulf Coast branch of Tulane University, and a state-of-the art public high school. Biloxi is also home to Keesler Air Force Base.
Biloxi is proud of its school system which ranks as one of the state’s best. The district’s current accreditation rating is 5.0, the highest available. Currently, there are seven elementary schools, three junior high schools, and one high school.
Along U.S. Highway 90, just west of Gulfport, lies the city of Long Beach. Called the “Friendly City” since its incorporation in 1905,
it is known for its excellent school system and low crime rate. The Gulf Coast Branch of the University of Southern Mississippi is located on Highway 90 in Long Beach, as are numerous fine dining establishments. With a population of 20,000 people, Long Beach School District has a high school, a middle school and three elementary schools.
The historic home of yacht racing on the Gulf Coast, this small town offers quaint antique shops, cafes, and elegant historic homes. With less than 15,000 people, this city is a great place to get away for the day or settle down and raise a family.
A relatively new city located just north of Biloxi, D’Iberville is becoming a popular bedroom community for military families and others working in the local tourist industry. With less than 9,000 people, the city has recently experienced a growth in shopping centers, offering residents both convenience and entertainment.
After nearly three centuries of folklore, the story of the beginnings of Jackson County is as vivid as any of the tales. Sailing from Brest, France, in search of the mouth of the Mississippi River, Pierre LeMoyne d’Iberville, a French Naval Officer, landed at the site of present-day Ocean Springs in April 1699. Fearing a Spanish attack, d’Iberville built Fort Maurepas to protect the first white settlers of Jackson County.
From that point on, Jackson County (named for President Andrew Jackson) was destined for growth and prosperity. Resulting from leadership of Captain John Grant, the Mississippi Sound was opened to Mobile Bay in 1838 via a channel known as Grants Pass. Two years later Grant’s efforts brought about the birth of the Port of Pascagoula.
The year 1838 also brought shipbuilding to Jackson County as Ebenezer Clark’s firm began constructing flat-bottomed schooners for coastal trade. More major events were just around the corner. The first telegraph lines were laid across the county in 1848 and in 1870 the New Orleans and Mobile Railroad was built. These advancements led to the development of commercial fisheries.
The success of local timber and sawmill industries led to the area’s first economic boom from 1880 to 1910. Shipbuilding became so profitable that, by the time of the United States’ entry into World War I in 1917, the skill of Pascagoula firms led to their receiving the lion’s share of the contracts for ship construction during both World Wars.
Today Jackson County shipbuilders still construct many of the Navy’s finest combatant ships. However, the area did suffer a setback when the Naval Station Pascagoula officially closed November 15, 2006, at the recommendation of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. After 14 years of military service, the base has transitioned to the State of Mississippi for economic redevelopment.
According to Jackson County folklore, Biloxi and Pascagoula Indian tribes were preparing for battle. Rather than face annihilation at the hands of their mortal enemies, the peace-loving Pascagoula joined hands and walked singing to their deaths in the river. If you listen carefully on a quiet coastal evening, you may still be able to hear them sing. Hence its nickname, “The Singing River.”
The French Naval Officer, Pierre LeMoyne d’Iberville, arrived in Pascagoula in the summer of 1699 and was cordially received by the Pascagoula Indians and a small tribe from the Moss Point area known as the Moctobi. In the Pascagoula Tribe were 30 warriors, Indians and Creoles, including the descendants of a small band of Acadians who arrived in 1634.
In 1718, the lands on Pascagoula Bay were ceded to Madame de Chaumont, a French woman of fortune. The same year Joseph Simon de La Pointe built a home on Krebs Lake, which is known today as the Old Spanish Fort. It is the oldest building now standing in the area. In the cemetery, which adjoins this building, are the graves of early settlers whose tombstones are inscribed in French and dated as early as 1732.
Pascagoula was a part of the French province from 1699 to 1763, owned by the English from 1763 to 1781, a Spanish Territory from 1781 to 1798 and became part of the United States on June 7, 1798.
Named for the Pascagoula Indians, the city maintains a charm typical of traditional Southern seaside communities. The nearly 26,000 people of
Pascagoula take pride in their community, which is the county seat, and in the diverse industries that flourish here.
Because of Pascagoula’s location on the Gulf, water sports and various recreational activities are available to pleasure seekers simply by stepping out one’s back door. Fishing, crabbing, swimming, boating and skiing are but a few of the activities available to local residents.
Famous persons important to the history of Pascagoula are: General Zachary Taylor who built Pascagoula’s first housing project; Admiral David Farragut who, as a Union Naval Officer in 1861, captured his home town of Pascagoula; Andrew Jackson for whom the county was named; and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who wrote “The Building of a Ship” at the Longfellow House, an antebellum home on Beach Boulevard.
Hancock County is 40 miles east of New Orleans, LA and about 20 miles west of Biloxi on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Named for John Hancock, signer of the Declaration of Independence, Hancock County was established in 1812.
In 1699, Pierre le Moyne d’Iberville and his brother, Jean Baptiste le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, claimed the Gulf Coast for France and King Louis XIV. Native Americans were the first to welcome these visitors in 1699; however the people of Hancock County continue this tradition of Southern Hospitality!
Though hard hit by Hurricane Katrina, gaming, championship golf, NASA tours, historic sites, shopping, fishing, and fresh Gulf seafood can still be found in these towns and communities of Hancock County.
Many of Old Town Bay St. Louis’ small shops, boutiques, antique stores, art galleries cafes, restaurants, and coffee houses have reopened - in their original or new locations - since the hurricane.
Area attractions include St. Augustine’s Seminary, established in 1922, the first Roman Catholic seminary in the United States to train and ordain African-American men to be priests and brothers.
The historic Bay St. Louis Depot was the heartbeat of the county during the time of train travel popularity. Many families commuted to and from New Orleans daily or weekly. It served as the centerpiece for the 1965 movie “This Property is Condemned,” starring Robert Redford and Natalie Wood. Many unique shops, restaurants, and art galleries are located in the depot district.
The “Land of Waves,” long popular as a summer retreat for residents of New Orleans and Natchez, was established as a separate municipality in 1888. This small town offers five miles of sand beaches and year round fishing.
The Kiln community is the home of Green Bay Packers quarterback, Brett Favre.
This gated resort community, located just off Interstate 10, is 20 minutes from Stennis Space Center and 20 minutes from Gulfport. Amenities include community golf courses, swimming pools, tennis courts, shopping, businesses and numerous social clubs.
Pearl River County is located 54 miles from New Orleans, 49 miles from Gulfport and only 15 minutes from Stennis Space Center. With 57,000 residents, Pearl River is considered one of the ten fastest growing counties in the country
Picayune, the largest city in the county, is the picture of small-town America. Its charm rests with quaint neighborhoods, tree-lined streets and a downtown where people still shop. Area attractions include Crosby Arboretum, a living museum that allows visitors to explore pine forests and grassy savannas as well as calm reflection in the Pinecote Pavilion. Low crime rates and a low cost of living have made Picayune a retirement community that has grown from 10,000 to 20,000 people in only six years. It is also the business and medical center of Pearl River County.
Poplarville, the county seat, is the second largest town in the county. It is home to Pearl River Community College, which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina. President George W. Bush, Laura Bush and Governor Haley Barbour visited the small community college where the storm’s most powerful unofficially recorded gust of wind was reported at 135 MPH. Despite the damage, Poplarville will continue to host the county’s annual Blueberry Jubilee festival each June.
Located just 30 minutes from New Orleans on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, St. Tammany Parish offers both big-city culture and small-town charm. Towns and villages are filled with cozy bed and breakfast inns, award-winning restaurants, and historic districts offering antique shops, art galleries and boutiques.
Hurricane Katrina failed to stop the Parish’s love of fairs, festivals and special events
which are continuing; but it did increase the community’s population by nearly 54,000
people nearly overnight-mostly families evacuating from St. Bernard Parish, located next to the
Mississippi River and part of the New Orleans metropolitan area.
A popular retreat for New Orleanians during the 19th century, this historic town has once again become a relaxing getaway from today’s hectic lifestyle. Abita Springs is known for its legendary spring water. A popular attraction is the Abita Brew Pub.
Established in 1813, Covington is scenically situated where the Bogue Falaya and Tchefuncte Rivers meet. Many of the picturesque town’s historic homes have been revitalized as antique and specialty shops, and an eclectic selection of restaurants make the downtown area a popular nightspot.
This charming rural village is a haven for horse-lovers, with an abundance of stable and riding shows.
Rich in Native American history, this scenic village was home to the Choctaw and Colapissa tribes. Located on one of south Louisiana’s most scenic bayous, Lacombe is the home of the popular Bayou Lacombe Crab Festival every June.
Named in 1810 in honor of President James Madison, this historic community on the Tchefuncte River is the site of the annual Wooden Boat Festival in October, the largest gathering of antique, classic and contemporary boats on the Gulf Coast.
Once a summer resort for New Orleans families, Mandeville’s historic lakefront area provides a magnificent setting for elaborate homes and restaurants. Mandeville is connected to New Orleans by the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, one of the world’s longest continuous over-water bridges (24 miles). Although the town suffered moderate damage during Hurricane Katrina, most reconstruction has been finished and the town is back to normal.
Settled in the 1850’s, Slidell offers natural attractions and scenery unmatched anywhere else in southeast Louisiana. The Honey Island Swamp, considered one of America’s most pristine river estuary environments, encompasses the parish’s eastern border.
Yet, Slidell suffered significant hurricane damage. The city’s historic district, called Olde Towne, was hit by an 8 foot storm surge which also leveled many large and prestigious Oak Harbor and Eden Isles subdivisions. Most of the old fishing camps that lined the lakefront north and south of I-10 were all but erased. But life is now returning to normal.
Christmas Under the Stars, a spectacular 10-night event-including winter wonderland of holiday lights, fireworks, and a laser light show on Lake Pontchartrain-is once again scheduled.
As is the case throughout the entire Gulf Coast, Hurricane Katrina managed to damage and destroy buildings, but it could not break the spirit of the people who have lived for generations by the sea.
Published by Benchmark Publications, Inc., a private firm in no way connected with the Department of Defense or the Department of the Navy, under exclusive contract with Naval Construction Battalion Center, Gulfport, Mississippi. This base guide/telephone directory is a publication for
members of the military service. Contents of this guide are not necessarily the official views of, nor are they endorsed by the United States Government, the Department of Defense, or the Department of the Navy. The appearance of advertising in this publication does not constitute a government or military or installation endorsement of the products or services advertised. Everything advertised in this publication shall be made available for purchase, use or patronage, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, physical handicap, political affiliation, or any other non-merit factor of the purchaser, user or patron.