Day: February 4, 2012


Welcome to our February edition of GTP HAPPY MARDI GRAS YA’LL!
We are so excited to have Alan “The Talent” Belcher take us behind the scenes of his amazing career. He was once one of the top fighters in the world of MMA and now he is well on his way to being one of the top fitness instructors in South Mississippi!
Come with us to AJ’s Donuts for all kinds of tasty treats perfect for your Valentine. They bake up fresh and yummy king cakes this time of year too – Check out our Taste Buds feature.
We once again have the pleasure of featuring guest journalist, Ann Washburn, as she and I revisit the subject of Human Trafficking on the Gulf Coast. I will introduce you to two remarkable organizations that are providing safe havens for the victims and helping them reclaim their lives…Don’t Miss It!
Cuddle up with your sweetheart and be sure to show the ones you love how much they mean to you…make this Valentines Day extra special~
All This…And So Much More
Nancy Marchbanks
Executive Editor


Alan Belcher grew up in the beautiful state of Arkansas. Both his parents were quite athletic, so it was in his DNA that sports and athleticism would come very naturally. As a youngster, he played baseball, basketball, and was involved in Martial Arts but his true talents as an athlete did not become apparent until he was in his teens. He admits to being a rather “nerdy” kid, favorite pastimes were music and art. He also struggled with his weight and the other kids gave him a really hard time. Alan was constantly bullied and felt he didn’t fit in and had low self esteem. The turning point came at the age of 14, when a very special Martial Arts instructor entered his life. “He taught me so much about character development and showed me how to think in a positive manner. I started working on building my strength and endurance as well as changing the way I thought about things,” Alan said. Another very important figure in Alan’s life was his baseball coach, Coach Richie. “He had such faith in me and instilled very strong values and solid work ethic in me,” he added. (more…)

Children and Sex Trafficking: One Girl’s Story

Due to the graphic nature of this story, sensitive individuals should take caution. The truth is sometimes painful, but this story must be told.
January was Human Trafficking Awareness Month. For the first time in Mississippi, citizens were able to attend a seminar hosted by the state-wide organization, Advocates For Freedom. The main topic of this seminar was trafficking in minors. Guest speakers included Audrey Roofeh of the Polaris Project; Heather Wagner, Special Assistant to the MS Attorney General, and Ellaine Carr, a local Immigration Attorney. One day after the conference, a local woman stepped up to tell her story. She was a child victim of sex trafficking in South Mississippi. (more…)


It is our usual custom to reserve this feature for one individual who is a shining example of all that is good in South Mississippi. We honor their integrity, character, and business acumen because they are the leaders of today and tomorrow. This time, we have chosen two remarkable organizations that work tirelessly, night and day in order to protect innocent lives. The Polaris Project and Advocates For Freedom are doing everything within their power to address the subject of Human Trafficking. The members of these organizations are fiercely dedicated men and women who can be counted upon around the clock, doing whatever they can regardless of the hour, in order to help someone in need of a way out and safe refuge. Last month, the city of Biloxi was host to the Advocates For Freedom Winter Conference, which focused on Domestic Minor Human Trafficking. It was a huge success.
  The Polaris Project was founded in 2002 by two Brown University college students who discovered a dreadful secret that haunted them and they simply could not ignore it. People were being sold for sex in the college town of Providence, Rhode Island where they went to school. Horrified and appalled that the sex trade was happening in their beloved city, they decided to do something about it. They bravely formed the Polaris Project, which was named after the North star that guided slaves to freedom. Today, the organization flourishes and has expanded throughout the country and abroad. This unspeakable crime knows no boundaries, and it is growing at an alarming rate. (more…)

Cades Country Corner

You can feel it when you walk in the door. There is a unique aura of times gone by that fills you with nostalgia and a yearning for days long past. The foyer area is filled with antiques and baubles that bring back memories of childhood and of grandma’s attic in the springtime.
Cades Country Corner is chock full, from floor to ceiling, with things hand-picked by a man who has been searching the country for all things interesting since he was a young boy. Dan Cade watched his mother run a similar business when he was younger and he says that it just came natural for him to become a “picker”. “I love old things and I’ve wanted to have a store like this all my life! I lost a lot of things in Katrina so making this store happen now means so much to me” Dan said. (more…)

Mississippi Camping

Just off of I-20 between Morton and Meridian rests Roosevelt State Park. Named for Theodore Roosevelt and his penchant for conservationism, the park offers over 100 campsites featuring everything from RV parking with water, electricity and sewage, to primitive camping sites with pads for tents. But there’s always more to see.
Head south of Meridian to visit Archusa Creek State Park in Quitman. Located on a 450-acre lake off Highway 45 and Highway 18 East, this fisherman’s paradise features nearly 70 RV campsites, four cabins and many primitive sites for relaxing between bouts of boating, swimming, sailing, canoeing and a variety of other outdoor activities.
Located near the Mississippi Gulf Coast, DeSoto National Forest also offers several campsites to fit the needs of both RVers and tent campers alike. From scenic overlooks, long and winding hiking trails and meandering river tours, the DeSoto National Forest is one of Mississippi’s greatest showcases of natural splendor. (more…)

AJ’s Donuts

The world has had a love affair with pastry for hundreds of years and no place more so than in the Deep South. Specifically, Americans love that holed, sweet, glazed wonder known as the doughnut. Whether you prefer yours glazed or filled, sprinkled with color or covered in chocolate, AJ’s Donuts has the tasty treat you crave.
This Mardi Gras there is only one place to go for that ever special southern tradition we know as the King Cake. Opened in 2007, AJ’s Donuts offers pastries and King Cakes to fit anyone with a sweet tooth. Brandy Waltman was tired of the corporate world and decided to go with what her family knew best. Donuts. Brandy’s dad and grandfather both operated pastry shops in Missouri for many years. It just seemed natural that Brandy, and her husband Chris, should join in on the family-type business. They didn’t have to ponder the name for very long. Their daughter Amber Jada was a tiny wonder with a big, beautiful smile that could light up a room. Amber Jada is a fixture at the store as much as the lively décor and heavenly smells that waft through the morning air. AJ loves to engage the clients. Don’t be surprised if this wonderfully precocious 5 year old bounces up and joins you for a bear claw and a cup of milk while you sit in the colorful dining room! (more…)

New Managers Named for Margaritaville Casino & Resort Biloxi

Margaritaville Casino & Resort Biloxi continues to hire management staff in anticipation of a Spring/Summer 2012 opening.
Amberely Etheridge, originally from Gulfport, MS is the new Employment Manager. She previously worked in the hospitality industry in Birmingham, Alabama, focusing on event management. During this time, she successfully planned and managed more than 200 events annually. Etheridge holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Millsaps College. (more…)

MARDI GRAS COLORS The Meaning and Origin of the Purple, Green, and Gold

Rex selected the official Mardi Gras colors in 1872. The 1892 Rex Parade theme Symbolism of Colors gave meaning to the colors: purple represents justice; green, faith; and gold, power.
It’s interesting to note that our Mardi Gras colors influenced the choice of school colors for arch rivals Louisiana State University and Tulane University.
When LSU was deciding on its colors, the shops in New Orleans had stocked up on purple, green, and gold material for the Mardi Gras season. LSU decided upon purple and gold, and bought much of it. Tulane bought much of the only remaining color — green! (Their colors are blue and green.)
Remember to wear the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold during Mardi Gras whenever you’re not in costume!

The History of Valentine’s Day

St Valentine’s Day has roots in several different legends that have found their way to us through the ages. One of the earliest popular symbols of the Valentine’s day is Cupid, the Roman god of love, who is represented by the image of a young boy with bow and arrow. Several theories surround the history of Valentine’s Day. (more…)