Keesler Gate Two Helping Nearby Businesses

The White Avenue gate to Keesler Air Force base is closed this week so the railroad tracks just south of the gate can be repaired. Drivers can use the Meadows, Judge Sekul, or Pass Road gates.

Since September eleventh, the Judge Sekul gate, or Gate two as it is called on base, is open only during times of heavy traffic.

Now, and even after the repairs are finished, gate two will be open for about 12 hours each weekday. Local businesses in that area hope to see more traffic thanks to the gate being open.

Military police at the Judge Sekul gate are checking id's and waving cars in 24 hours a day this week.

"Most of the traffic we see through Judge Sekul are installation workers, mostly coming to work," Keesler Air Force Base Major Deen Cusanek said.

Keesler understands that nearby commerce in the area suffers, when gate two is closed. Many airman want to use the gate more often.

"I've talked to a lot of my folks that have worked for me personally, and they like the ability to be able to go out Judge Sekul," Keesler Air Force Base Commander Lance Young said.

Thousands of cars use each of the gates everyday, so many in fact that the base doesn't even keep count. Nearby business owners on Judge Sekul are saying the reopening of Gate two is providing the necessary traffic they need to stay alive.

The new family restaurant "Shooters" on Judge Sekul is seeing more people everyday. Owners describe their need for the gate as tremendous.

"Bad, it's like a lifeline. We got a lot invested here, with that gate open it's just going to keep people employed, keep a roof over our heads and we definitely need it in this area," Shooter's co-owner Alice Brown said.

"I've told every general I've notified out at Keesler over the years, we're not out here to hurt Keesler, we're out here to help Keesler, and anytime they close that gate they're hurting us," Lepre's Barber Shop owner Lyndell Lepre said.

Lyndell Lepree has spent 41 years at his barber shop near the gate. He says he could write a book about gate two.

"One of the top priorities of the base should be to get along with the community. We are here, without a doubt, to get along with them. They should get along with us, and it looks like General Peterson has got us in that direction right now," said Lepre.

Keesler officials say they want to do that, while maintaining proper safety.

"We want to make sure we partner with the businesses downtown. And we want to make sure we're good with the community relations, but we also have to look at our anti terrorism measures," Young said.

Keesler and the City of Biloxi teamed up to help convince CSX that the White Avenue repairs were long overdue. Keesler wants to thank the City of Biloxi for helping with the temporary repairs on the tracks.