Woolmarket Residents Grade Biloxi After First A Year of Annexation

For more than a year now, folks living in the Woolmarket area have been calling themselves residents of Biloxi after the city annexed the area. Since then, the city has been making improvements in the area but some say the city hasn't done enough.

When Dennis Riley bought this house on Jim Byrd Road 30 years ago, he thought he was moving to the country but about a year and a half ago the city moved to him. Riley says he's still not happy about it.

"We just got our tax bill and our tax bill doubled," Riley said. "I own this piece of property and the property across the street so that's a pretty good chunk"

Some Woolmarket residents complain about higher property and car tag prices since annexation. But Biloxi city officials point out that since August of 1999, city fire protection has saved homeowners on their fire insurance. The city bought new fire trucks, paved several miles of roads, and officials say they are working towards bringing water and sewer to the city's newest citizens.

"I think we have made good progress, and we will continue to work hard to make more progress," Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway said.  "Hopefully the people will be satisfied with what we're doing."

One thing residents talked about over and over again was the lowering of speed limits on some roads and also the increase traffic tickets, but not all residents agree on whether the additional police presence is a nuisance or an asset.

"The speed limits are unreal," Woolmarket Resident Bill Knesal said. "They are too low for two miles of area that there are no houses."

Sandy Firth disagrees.

"A lot of people complain about getting tickets, but it's because they're going over the speed limit," Firth said.  "I think its important that we have children in this area and we need to keep people going the right speed limit."

Whether they are pleased with annexation or not, the people of Woolmarket seem to think the city's heart is in the right place. Biloxi has budgeted half a million dollars to buy land to build a new fire station in the Woolmarket area. Biloxi mayor A.J. Holloway says the city wants to have a total of three fire stations serving Woolmarket. Biloxi officials also plan to use the money to build a water tower and provide some type of recreation.

by Danielle Thomas