Month: January 2014

Jan. 2014 – Letter from the Editor

010114Welcome 2014!

To kick off the new year, Go To Places Monthly is revisiting our impressive list of Movers and Shakers for 2013. They are the best and the brightest men and women of Mississippi Gulf Coast businesses who have made their mark and truly make a difference.

For the past five years, we have been bringing Coast residents and guests the information they need and and introductions to fascinating people. It has been our pleasure to entertain our readers with thought provoking articles while keeping everyone up to date with everything coastal.

A special thanks to our faithful sponsors. We look forward to working with you all again this year!
Nancy Marchbanks
Executive Editor


INV Helmert A_6400Next year, Sgt. Helmert will celebrate twenty years in law enforcement. It is a job he loves but it is fraught with constant challenges and heartache. He routinely sees the horrors of criminal behavior and bears witness to the kind of deviant activities that we thankfully only see glimpses of on television dramas and at the movie theater. This, however is real life. Day after day, Sgt. Helmert maintains a cool head and calm demeanor as he encounters the unimaginable. He and his fellow officers do their utmost to keep the good citizens of Biloxi safe. (more…)

Biloxi Public School System’s Transportation Director, Sam Baily

transWe see them go by every day and think nothing of it. The big yellow buses that transport our kids to and from school, sporting events, and field trips. They are everywhere, in every city of our nation and they are responsible for keeping our children safe and sound as they travel from place to place. But if it weren’t for a very dedicated team of professionals, who maintain these huge vehicles, day in and day out…our children’s safety would be at risk. The city of Biloxi boasts an exemplary record for the past 6 years of being recognized for achieving the highest standards in automotive excellence. It is called the “Blue Seal of Excellence Recognition” and it is the only school district in the entire state of Mississippi to earn this distinction. (more…)

Laura Bolton, A Woman with Vision

RueViuex Noc2012 003Southern ladies often have charm, grace and grit but none more so than Mississippi coast native Laura Bolton. A hard working business woman with an uncanny head for figures, Laura Bolton is one of the driving forces behind preserving Biloxi’s downtown district. A graduate of Ole Miss, Laura holds a degree in Business and Marketing. As a board member of Main Street Biloxi she brings her financial expertise and renovation prowess into the group that focuses on revitalization, rebuilding, promoting and preserving historic Biloxi. (more…)

Scott and Jonathan Allen of Allen Automotive Group

SONY DSCScott and Jonathan Allen were born into an automotive industry family that began with their grandfather, Bert Allen, who opened his first dealerships in the 70’s. In 1987, with his son, David, by his side as General Manager, they opened Bert Allen Toyota together. David Allen finished buying out the Toyota franchise in late 90s and renamed it Allen Toyota. Then in 2002 David Allen acquired the Hyundai franchise and finally in 2004, the Scion franchise became part of the prestigious Allen group. Jonathan and Scott Allen, joined the management team with there father David Allen in 2007. That same year, Bert Allen retired and sold his dealerships Bert Allen GMC Pontiac and Mercedes Benz. This very successful family business has been thriving on the Mississippi Coast for over 40 years. Under the leadership of David Allen’s sons, the Allen Automotive Group is firmly ensconced here and continually rises above what is expected in automotive sales and service in South Mississippi. A 7 time President’s Award winner for Toyota Motor Sales USA, the Allen’s were just notified that they have won again for 2012. (more…)

Kathy Collins-Lantz “The Flower Garden Lady”

563340_4974374289434_1553079675_nSpring is in full swing, especially at the home of The Flower Garden Lady, Kathy Collins-Lantz. She has become well known for her cottage and English style of gardening, and she is delighted to share her knowledge and experience with you.
Each time a visitor strolls down the carefully laid paths of wood, metal and stone there is so much to see. Color abounds amid old watering cans, whiskey barrels and fountains. Roses trail along the edges of old windows and archways that evoke a peaceful and calming feeling. “I want my friends who have hectic jobs and over-scheduled lives to come here to relax and recharge. I got into gardening for the peace and quiet. Last night I was out in my gardens until 10 o’clock and still didn’t want to quit working to go inside,” Kathy said. Her motto fits her well; “I live in the gardens: I sleep in the house. (more…)


603645_502752356444686_1842059643_nThe American Red Cross South Mississippi Chapter has a veritable army of volunteers. At last count it numbered more than 1,000 people and it continues to grow on a daily basis. The volunteers give of themselves and come together for one reason…to ease the suffering and uncertainty when disaster strikes their fellow man. They come from all walks of life, possessing a variety skills and strengths that are often called upon at a moment’s notice. Disasters come when we least expect it, giving us very little warning if any at all, and they devastate lives. The very special people of the South Mississippi Chapter provide support, supplies, shelter, food, and above all, compassion and love, to those affected by disaster. (more…)


RAvilaFor 22 years Roberta Avila has worked in the non-profit and social justice sectors. She has served as the Executive Director of STEPS since July, 2009. Four years prior, she held the same position with the Mississippi Coast Interfaith Disaster Task Force. Roberta Avila is also a founding member of the Gulf Coast Fair Housing Center and currently serves on boards for both the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (MIRA) and the Mississippi Center for Justice. (more…)

Diabetes Specialist, Nurse Practitioner, KC Arnold

professioal-headshot-KC_arnold3KC Arnold was born in Rockville Centre, New York and is one of seven children. She was destined for a career in the medical field, following in the footsteps of her mother, Kay. During high school she was a volunteer candy striper at a local hospital and later worked in an ER as a receptionist. She attended the State University of New York, SUNY-Binghamton, and attained her degree in nursing. The day KC graduated from college, she was sworn into the United States Air Force and soon attended MIMSO (Medical Indoctrination of Military Service Officers).
Kay has always been her mentor and inspiration. KC’s mother was a 3 year diploma nurse from St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City. With seven children to care for, she earned her BSN in nursing and became a Family Nurse Practitioner. “I wanted to be just like her and since childhood I wanted to join the military,” KC said. KC’s father was a CPA for Grumman. The choice to focus on Diabetes came while working at Keesler AFB. In 1993, KC was transferred to Keesler AFB as an active duty Air Force nurse. She saw patients on the Medical Oncology floor and became the certified Diabetes Educator for the facility. “I had no idea at the time I had a passion for Diabetes care but something clicked,” she said. She proceeded to work on her master’s through the G.I. Bill after having completed over twelve years of service. KC earned her MSN as an Adult Nurse Practitioner at U.S.A (University of South Alabama) in Mobile. (more…)

Kevin O’Brien, The New Executive Director of the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art

Kevin-mugshot-1_9-18-2013-022-2Kevin O’Brien has brought a wealth of experience and expertise in the Art world to the Gulf Coast. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting and Art History from the University of Notre Dame, as well as a Masters in Fine Arts and Painting from Tulane University. For thirty years he has served as Executive Director of Art and History museums throughout America. “I have always made it a point to seek out unusual and different museum projects to be involved in. The artwork itself is very, very important but I am also extremely interested in who created the artwork. George Ohr was truly one of the greatest artists who ever lived, he was a true American Master, a genius, and way ahead of his time,” O’Brien said. (more…)


troy-rossjpg-fa044e8a9e095451Troy Ross enjoyed an idyllic childhood, growing up in Ocean Springs. He has wonderful memories of riding his bicycle down Washington Avenue and taking his dogs for walks throughout the charming little town. “It was long before downtown became such a popular, tourist attraction. I have a unique perspective having seen the area before the transformation took place,” he said. He attended St. Alphonsus Elementary school and graduated from Mercy Cross High school before attaining his degree in Political Science at Ole Miss.
In the summer of 1997, Ross enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and was sent to San Diego, California where he began his combat training. Upon returning to Mississippi, he entered college and became a member of the ROTC program during Junior year. He later transferred into the National Guard and joined the SMP program. It is a simultaneous membership which allowed Ross to go through the commissioning process of ROTC while he was enlisted in the National Guard. Ross graduated and was commissioned becoming a Tank Commander and Scout Platoon Leader. Officer training continued in Fort Knox, Kentucky. (more…)


DSC_0005(touched_up)Chief Davis is from Byram, Mississippi which is just outside of Jackson. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, majoring in Criminal Justice and Forensic Science. The horrific experience of losing his father to violent crime as a little boy, set the tone for his career in Law Enforcement. “I remember when we got the phone call about my father’s murder and right then and there I made the decision to become a policeman and I promised my mother that we would see justice served,” Davis said. It was a very tough time growing up without a father but it also provided Keith Davis with a unique perspective about life and the importance of good role models and proper guidance for kids. In the process of building his career in law enforcement, Davis discovered that reaching out to troubled youth and finding ways to make a difference in their lives was a very powerful calling that he could not deny. (more…)


Matt-McD-5.23While attending college at the University of Alabama, Matt McDonnell, was introduced to the entertainment business and from that moment on there was no turning back. He got involved with campus programming in 1978 and in 1979 he put together his first concert. The star of the show was Willie Nelson and the concert date fell on his birthday of April 30th. The venue was filled with over 10,000 people and the experience was a life changer for Matt. “I fell in love with the entertainment industry and I was hooked from the first song. I knew it was going to be my career choice,” he said. In 1985, after serving in the United States Army, he returned to entertainment at the Mobile Civic Center in Alabama. In 1986, he arrived in Biloxi. McDonnell has been the Assistant Director of the Coast Coliseum under Bill Holmes for the past 27 years. (more…)