City Halloween Hours Now Available

Posted on: October 4, 2022

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Chamber, City celebrate long-awaited opening of Grits & Some in Downtown Laurel

Posted on: October 3, 2022

On Monday, October 3rd, 2022, at 11 a.m.  the Jones County Chamber of Commerce and Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee joined restauranteurs Peter and Lisa Weimer to celebrate the ribbon cutting of their new venture Grits and Some in downtown Laurel.

The Weimers are originally from Georgia but currently live in Philadelphia with their 17-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son. They were considering retirement when they first traveled to Laurel as tourists and “fell in love” with the City Beautiful. “We came for the town but stayed for the people,” Lisa explained. It didn’t take long for their vacation adventure to turn into a new business venture. Lisa found her inspiration in the building at 437 North Magnolia Street. “In ten seconds, she knew exactly what she wanted,” Peter recalled. What she wanted was a comfy sit-down breakfast spot with an attached ice cream parlor and apartments that could double as Air B&Bs up top. While the vision for the business came to them quickly, bringing that vision to life took another 16 months of hard work, most of it done directly by Peter. During the renovations, they discovered the building’s original windows, uncovered layers of flooring, and collected a variety of artifacts left by previous tenants which they plan to turn into a display in the restaurant. Peter also used the shelving from the building’s previous law library to create the molding for the restaurant.

The restaurant embraces the eclectic, from its mismatched dishes and coffee mugs that make visitors feel like they are visiting a friend’s home, to its menu which includes standard breakfast fare such as pancakes, grits, and bacon alongside less traditional options such as the “Don’t Tell Mama” (a slice of cake!).

Grits and Some is located behind City Hall, next to Shug’s and is open from Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. In the future they plan to open the restaurant at night when events are going on downtown such as theater nights at the Laurel Little Theater and on nights when Laurel Main Street is hosting their Wine Down events.

“We are so glad that Grits and Some are finally open,” Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee told the couple. “The food is delicious…We’re glad that you’re downtown.”

For more photos from the event, check out our Instagram page at laurel_ms.

Amtrak celebrates opening of new platform at Laurel Train Depot

Posted on: September 30, 2022

Although the City Beautiful has experienced a nice week of fall temperatures in the lead up to Saturday’s Loblolly Festival, on Friday, Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee declared, “The City of Laurel is on FIRE!”

Magee’s remarks opened the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Laurel Train Depot where dignitaries had gathered to celebrate the completion of an ADA compliant train platform and new pavilion complete with benches handmade at Scotsman Co.

The event began at 12:15 p.m. when the Amtrak train stopped at the Laurel depot and United States Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker, Hometown stars Erin Napier, Jim and Mallorie Rasberry, and Josh and Emily Nowell, and representatives from Amtrak disembarked. Ben Napier, representatives from the City of Laurel and the Jones County Chamber of Commerce were there to greet them.

During the brief ceremony, hosted by Chamber of Commerce Director Chris Tullos, representatives from each organization were invited to share their remarks and acknowledge the hard work that had gone into completing the project.

Mayor Johnny Magee thanked the government officials in attendance including Tom King from the Mississippi Department of Transportation, City Council President Tony Thaxton, and Ward 6 Councilwoman Grace Amos. He also acknowledged the “most popular television couple in the nation” Ben and Erin Napier. “Thank you for all that you do for our city,” he said to the pair.

Executive Vice President for Amtrak Dennis Newman also took to the podium to express his enthusiasm about the project. “I am delighted to be here,” he said. He thanked local providers from Chris Albritton Construction, Brady Electric, and Four Seasons Lawn and Landscaping. Newman explained that Amtrak’s goal is to connect communities and that “mobility is what Amtrak is all about.” Bringing the station up to the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act allows Amtrak to provide more services to more people and allow them to use the train system to visit loved ones or see more of the country. (Or travel to their favorite HGTV destination.)

Jim Rasberry, Josh Nowell, and Ben Napier also spoke during the event to thank Amtrak for their investment in the local community. Nowell explained that the location for The Laurel Mercantile, the business co-owned by the three families, was selected specifically for its proximity to the train depot. Napier agreed. He explained that having locations that were visible to people just arriving in town by train, became “an important part of our marketing and our business plan.” He also thanked Amtrak for hiring local tradesmen to complete the work. “Making houses beautiful is one thing, but if you don’t have people to live in the houses, what’s the point?” Napier said. Rasberry joined in to say, “What you are talking about, Ben, is heart.” He pointed out that the train station is a big part of the heart of the city, stating that the Masonite whistle and the train whistle are “a part of your being, if you are from Laurel.”

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith stated that she was honored to be a part of the celebration. “We all love Mississippi, but we really love Laurel, Mississippi. It’s rare that you have people that are so invested in their community.” She also thanked Amtrak for their work in making the area more accessible. “Thank you for representing every American today,” she said.

Senator Roger Wicker rounded out the line-up and highlighted the importance of rail travel in the United States. “In 2019, 32 million Americans rode on Amtrak. One-hundred twenty-two thousand of those passengers were Mississippi passengers,” he said. “This is a great day. Let’s continue to enjoy this beautiful country of ours!”

For all the behind-the-scenes photos, check out our Instagram page at laurel_ms.

Laurel Main Street thanks city workers, honors Rejeana “Little Bit” Loper

Posted on: September 26, 2022

On Wednesday, September 21, Laurel Main Street hosted a thank you breakfast at the Laurel Train Depot to thank city workers whose specific work duties include providing services to the downtown area. These included members of the parks and recreation department, the public works department, the police, firefighters from Fire Station 1, and the inspections department.

During the event, Laurel Main Street honored Rejeana “Little Bit” Loper, a supervisor in the parks and recreation department with a lifetime membership to the organization and a donation. Loper, who has been with the City of Laurel since 2010, has been out on medical leave recently and many of the city employees and LMS volunteers wanted to honor her for all of her hard work and dedication to making and keeping Laurel beautiful. Laurel Main Street President Lee Bounds of Woodland Realty presented the gifts to Kathy Bullock who accepted them on Loper’s behalf.

Mayor Magee Signs Proclamation for 30th Annual March for Jesus

Posted on: September 23, 2022

Earlier this week, Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee signed a proclamation to recognize the annual March for Jesus Day in Jones County. The march, which will take place on Saturday, March 24th in downtown Laurel, will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year.

The event is free and open to the public, regardless of denomination, and will feature prayers and songs of worship. The event begins at 10 a.m. and will end with a prayer rally.

Participants are encouraged to bring sun screen, water, and folding chair. For more information, call Retha Clements at 601.580.8446.

The proclamation read as follows:

Whereas, September 24th 2022, has been designated as March for Jesus Jones County Day in which Christians from across our area will gather not in protest but in an outward procession of prayer and praise and in a public demonstration of love toward God and all mankind; and

Whereas, the purpose of marching in the streets is to gather Christians of all denominations, races, and affiliations for a day of prayer unto God for our city, county, and nation, and to bring joy to our county through praise and to encourage the expression of love toward God and all mankind; and

Whereas the City of Laurel is honored to welcome all friends of Jesus to gather in His honor

Now, therefore, I, Johnny Magee, Mayor of the City of Laurel, Mississippi do hereby proclaim Saturday, September 24, 2022 as, March for Jesus Day Jones County and urge all citizens to actively participate by lifting up the Name of Jesus.

The City of Laurel recognizes September 17- September 23 as Constitution Week

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In recognition of Constitution Week, Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee met with members of the Nahoula Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) on Wednesday, September 14th at 9 a.m. to sign a proclamation declaring the week of September 17th through September 23rd as Constitution Week for the City of Laurel.

The proclamation read as follows:

Whereas, September 17, 2022, marks the two hundred, thirty-fifth anniversary of the drafting of the Constitution of the United States of America by the Constitutional Convention; and

Whereas, it is fitting and proper to accord official recognition to this magnificent document and the anniversary of its creation; and

Whereas, it is also fitting and proper to recognize officially the patriotic celebrations which will commemorate the occasion; and

Whereas, Public Law 915 guarantees the issuing of a proclamation each year by the President of the United States of America designating September 17 through September 23 as Constitution Week.

Now, therefore I, Johnny Magee, Mayor of the City of Laurel, Mississippi, do hereby proclaim the week of September 17-23, 2022, as Constitution Week in the City of Laurel, Mississippi, and ask our citizens to reaffirm the ideals the Framers of the Constitution had in 1787 by vigilantly protecting the freedoms guaranteed to us through this guardian of our liberties, remembering that lost rights may never be regained.

Witness my signature and the seal of the City of Laurel, Mississippi, this the 14th day of September, 2022.

Cherished Hearts hosts Community Breakfast

Posted on: September 14, 2022

Cherished Hearts, Inc. hosted a community breakfast at the Y.W.C.O. on Wednesday, September 14 from 8 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. to discuss their efforts to bring a children’s advocacy center to Jones County. Children’s advocacy centers are third-party organizations that help children and their families navigate the legal system and find therapeutic resources when a child has experienced abuse or other trauma. Beth Brown of Cherished Hearts and members of their board of directors were on-hand to discuss the services offered by children’s advocacy centers and to answer questions from the community members who attended. Representatives from local law enforcement agencies including Laurel Police Chief Tommy Cox, and JD Carter and Priscilla Pitts from the Jones County Sheriff’s office were also available to discuss the serious need for this type of facility in Jones County. Currently, children and families in need of these services are required to go to Gulfport. Getting those sessions can often take several weeks, sometimes up to two months, according to Carter who stated that he currently has 10 cases requiring forensic interviews.

In addition to introducing the organization to the community, the event was an opportunity for Cherished Hearts members to connect with people who could provide guidance and support. Representatives from United Way, Mississippi Child Protective Services, the Jones County Chamber of Commerce and other civic organizations attended. During the meeting, guests were able to brainstorm ideas for helping the organization in moving forward including finding a physical location and beefing up fundraising efforts. Currently, the largest hurdle for the organization is funding. While they are preparing to apply for grants and have already received a Venture grant from United Way of the Pine Belt Region, they still face many hurdles to opening. One issue that was discussed during the meeting was the need for a facility that could accommodate a reception area, a couple of offices, and at least one interview room where forensic interviews could be conducted and recorded. Once a place is found, it will have to be approved by the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi.

Family Health Center cuts ribbon for new mobile clinic

Posted on: September 9, 2022

A clinic on wheels destined to give other facilities “clinic envy” was presented to the community on Friday, September 9 during a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by Family Health Center and the Jones County Chamber of Commerce.

Lee Smith, Director of Communications and Marketing for the Family Health Center explained that the new mobile clinic would “drastically expand” the organization’s ability to “deliver healthcare to people in our community.”

Dr. Ali of the Family Health Center explained that the clinic will allow them to go where no one else goes to serve people who would not otherwise be able to receive services.

Family Health Center, established in 1986,  provides Ob-Gyn, pediatric, and general medical care for over 15,000 people throughout their five county service area. The mobile clinic was purchased with an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant.

“We look forward to doing great things,” Dyann Mizell, Chairman of the Board for the Family Health Center said during the ceremony. Mizell, Ali, and Smith all thanked members of their staff and the community for their support of the clinic and its mission.

New Law: Plumbers, Electricians, and HVAC/Mechanical Technicians Will Need to Get State Licensure as soon as possible

Posted on: September 2, 2022

A new law will require more tradesmen in the state of Mississippi to acquire licensure through the Mississippi Board of Contractors. House Bill 1163 (which can be found at https://legiscan.com/MS/text/HB1163/2022)  was sponsored by Republican Representative John Lamar (District 8) as “an act to amend sections 19-5-9 and 21-19-25, Mississippi Code of 1972, to provide that, regardless of whether a county or municipality has adopted certain construction codes, a county or municipality, as the case may be, shall require permitting as a condition to construction, and that such permits shall contain on their face the contractor’s material purchase certificate number to the extent furnished by the Department of Revenue and the contractor’s license or certificate of responsibility number as required by law” among other related provisions.

The new legislation means that every county and city is required by the state to issue building permits. While most municipalities, including the City of Laurel, have always done this, the new law will require county officials to require it as well.

It also means that in addition to contractors and builders, who have been required to be licensed with the state for several years, tradesmen working as plumbers, electricians, and HVAC/mechanical technicians will be required to be licensed with the State of Mississippi to work on any projects in any city or county in the state.

It is believed that these changes will help prevent “fly-by-night” operators from taking advantage of homeowners and performing substandard work that could prove dangerous.

What does this mean for The City of Laurel?

Not much is expected to change with the city. To operate in the city, tradesmen are already required to apply for permits and be licensed in their areas of expertise. (The City’s Ordinances about this topic can be found here: https://www.laurelms.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Buildings-and-Building-Regulations.pdf) However, once a tradesman comes to apply for a permit he will be required to provide proof that he is licensed with the state.

What does this mean for tradesmen?

Those wishing to complete work as plumbers, electricians, or HVAC/mechanical technicians will need to contact the Mississippi State Board of Contactors to become licensed with the state.  The application packet can be downloaded and printed from www.msboc.us. However, since part of the application requires a document to be notarized, the application cannot be completed online. The packet materials must be downloaded, printed out, and filled in with blue or black ink and then mailed back to the MS State Board of Contractors at P.O. Box 320279, Jackson, MS.

An instructional video is available on the Mississippi State Board of Contractors website at https://www.msboc.us/contractors/licenses/ The instructional video is about 18 minutes long and is very informative.

When does this need to be done?

The sooner that tradesmen can complete this process, the better. The law went into effect on July 1, 2022. However, a grace period has been enacted that allows established tradesmen to have their state licensure “grandfathered” in meaning that the process will be more streamlined for them if they go ahead and work with the Mississippi State Board of Contractors between now and December 31st, 2022. If they wait until after that deadline, they will be barred from completing any work until they have passed an appropriate exam and received state licensure.

What are my next steps?

Tradesmen would be well advised to visit the Mississippi State Board of Contractors website at msboc.us. Here, they can find additional information, watch a video to guide them through the application process, and download and print the application packet.

Bottom line:

Changes to state laws now require that building and construction work receive a permit from the city or county where the work is being done. Professional tradesmen, particularly those who specialize in plumbing, electrical work, or HVAC/mechanical work are now required to become licensed through a process that is overseen by the Mississippi State Board of Contractors. All tradesmen who work in these fields are strongly advised to visit the Mississippi State Board of Contractors website at msboc.ms to find more information and to download and print the appropriate forms.

The City of Laurel did not participate in the creation of this legislation and does not oversee any part of the licensure process. However, representatives from our Inspections Department will be happy to help you with this process. They are located on the first floor of City Hall and can be reached at 601.428.6438 during normal business hours.