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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Notes from the Gulf Coast

Sunday, March 14, 2010

(Photo)
I slipped off for a few days along the Gulf Coast, specifically, Biloxi, Ms. Having been there last year and seeing what Hurricane Katrina had wrought in 2005, I was curious as to what progress may have occurred over the last 12 months.

Many of the concrete slabs where motels, restaurants and shops once sat are still there and are still just slabs. There is still cleanup work to be done and the city appears to be making good headway and that's the good news. Some construction is taking place, but I was struck by who, or what, was making the investment along the coastline.

Casinos are building back, although one has suspended expansion construction plans. I'm told that was more of an economic decision than concerns for another hurricane. Some government entity continues its efforts to develop the beach using white sand in an effort to replicate the look of the more popular beaches to the east in Gulf Shores, Ala., for example. The premise is good, but I'm skeptical.

One large construction project right along the beach is what appears to be a museum of modern art. This in addition to, or maybe it was just an expansion of another museum already open and obviously newly rebuilt. Candidly I really wasn't there for the aesthetics offered aside from the 18 at Shell Landing Golf Club. There is also a new auditorium on Highway 90 that runs along the coast.

What I saw was a lot of government spending to lead the redevelopment effort on the coast. The smaller motels, shops and restaurants that were probably mom-and-pop type operations are not coming back, at least not yet, at the rate local officials probably desire. Corporate entities, casinos for example, likely view Katrina as a once-in-a-lifetime event and are more willing and financially able to get back into the game.

As bad as the ice storm was last year it still doesn't compare to what the Gulf Coast experienced.

One neat thing stood out on the trip. I have what's called a "smart phone" that is connected to my email account and from which I can access webpages, etc. We hear a lot about 3G and now, 4G, coverage that provides fast access to the Internet from mobile or hand held devices. In this part of the state that's not available. The closest 3G network is, I think, Poplar Bluff.

Biloxi is also part of a 3G network and the speed is really neat. Makes having one of these silly phones worth having. Access in a 3G coverage area is fast.

How fast? It sent my email before I could even type it. So fast it downloaded the webpage before I could even read it. One day before the next century rolls around maybe we'll have 3 or 4G coverage in the Bootheel.

* * *

More money

The Kansas City school district has apparently decided that money wasn't the answer. After spending upwards of $2 billion, in a court-ordered desegregation plan that resulted in extravagances such as an Olympic-size indoor swimming pool with underwater observation area, an indoor track, racquet ball courts and the hiring of a Soviet Olympic fencing team coach the school district is shutting down some 29 schools.

Students in out-state Missouri were basically sacrificed, to an extent, to satisfy the reckless spending imposed by a judge who refused to listen to parents, teachers and administrators in the district instead taking direction from "education experts." And test scores indicate all the money did not bring about the desired change there either.

* * *

Webcasting

The newspaper launched a new venture recently called live streaming video, or webcasting. It has been a lot of fun and, frankly, a pretty good success.

Our first webcast was of a Kennett High School basketball game at the local gymnasium. We started in mid-February and went all the way through the district playoffs held here. An interesting note. When the Indians were playing the semifinal and finals of the tournament most of the 16 of us who were in Biloxi sat in a condo watching the game on a 44" television connected to a computer.

The success in Kennett led us to webcast the tournament played in Dexter as well. So, when the Indians won the district and advanced further into the playoffs that just happened to be played at the new Bearcat Event Center in Dexter where we had webcast the earlier tournament, we were ready to go.

We are hopeful that the sectional game being played in Farmington will be webcast as well. I've talked to the folks at the event center where the game will be played and they indicate it's doable.

City Light Gas and Water, along with the Park Board are working together to get fiber optic cable run to the concession stand area at Indian Park. Plans are to begin webcasting the KHS home baseball games and we'll just have to see from there. Girls softball is a real option as is nightly webcasts of Little League and softball games, but I've got some details to work out.

The key in us being able to do more is the Internet connection and the fiber optic cable connection CLGW has available here is huge in making webcasting possible here.

* * *

New one on me

There are a lot of places, landmarks really, that no longer exist but which I've been told of over the years. Vivian Helton, the DDD's unofficial, but much appreciated historian, brought a copy of a page from the Sept. 15, 1922 edition. On that page was an advertisement for a place that I had never heard of before.

"Are You a Farmer Without a Farm?

"Do you think you would be a better satisfied man if you owned your own farm?

"Does your wife and children think they would be better satisfied? This subject is being discussed around the family fireside by others, do you discuss it? Don't you think you would be happier building your own gate or chicken house, setting out strawberry plants, grape vines, peach and plum trees, if it were on your own land?

"Wouldn't a red pig eating clover on your own land look better to you?...

"Walk into Lasswell's office in Kennett and let Meg Moore drive you in thirty minutes into the Twenty-Acre Farms neighborhood. There you will see twenty-acre farms, forty-acres and eighty-acre farms prepared and being prepared, some sold and some being sold..."

I am curious as to where the Twenty-Acre Farms neighborhood was located?

Bud Hunt is publisher of the

Daily Dunklin Democrat, Daily Statesman, Delta News-Citizen, Missourian-News and

North Stoddard Countian.