Mayor Luke’s review on 2022 and looking forward to future growth
Published 2:48 pm Monday, January 30, 2023
By Staff Writer, Rob Sigler
Overall, the city of Picayune is in good shape and looking forward to future growth, according to Mayor Jim Luke.
In his year in review address to citizens, Luke said the city “blossomed this past year” and “significant growth” is expected in 2023.
“Our city leadership team is moving our city forward with a passion for making Picayune a better place, and we are all dedicated to serving our community,” said Luke, the former city manager of Picayune who was elected mayor.
It was certainly a year of change within the city of Picayune in 2022.
Freddy Drennan, who was hired as police chief in October 2020, was appointed city manager in 2021 after Luke won election as mayor. Drennan resigned in August of last year, but wasn’t the only administrator to leave.
Long time law enforcement officer Tom Milar, the director of planning/zoning/code enforcement for the city, left his role in July of last year.
City manager Harvey Miller had the interim title removed last year and is looking forward to a bright future in Picayune.
“I am humbled to have been appointed as city manager by the mayor and council in 2022,” Miller said. “Last year was a fantastic year for business in Picayune and I expect 2023 to be the same. “The mayor and council have done an excellent job of working to make this city an exciting place to live, shop, dine, and play for people of all ages.”
There appears to be a lot of optimism in the city, especially among the business community where more than a dozen businesses have opened for shop in the last year. According to Luke, the permitting office issued 65 building permits for new businesses in 2022.
And more are expected to open during 2023, including a new Rouses supermarket in the old Winn Dixie site in the River Ridge Shopping Center. The company is expected to invest $6 million in their new store and following renovations, will open in the summer of 2024. The Louisiana-based grocery chain is expected to create 175 to 200 new jobs.
Officials with Rouses are expected to make an updated presentation during the Feb. 7 city council meeting.
Earlier this month, Americlean held a ribbon cutting for their new facility in the Picayune Industrial Park. The company properly sanitizes and removes medical and marine waste.
“2023 may very well be a historic year for moving Picayune forward,” said Luke.
Also on the horizon is the groundbreaking for a new police department complex near the Rouses location on Highland Parkway.
An expansion of Crosby Commons will include a large pavilion and additional restrooms. Improvements at community parks include Friendship Park, Leola Jordan Park and Mildred Mitchell Park. Luke and the council are hoping for possible funding for a north frontage road connector from Memorial Boulevard to Highway 43 North.
“We are investing in our people in Picayune,” said councilwoman Jan Stevens. “We hope that our decisions are conducive to our city’s growth.”
Long time councilman Larry Breland said making progress to improve Picayune could not be accomplished without cooperation and working as a team.
“Our successful efforts would not have happened without all of us working together,” said Breland.