In early January, the Chinese and Bahamian governments signed an agreement for the sum of $40 million. The money, loaned for 20 years at a 2% rate, is earmarked for improvements to Abaco’s infrastructure. China Engineering Company Limited will be in charge of the construction of both the North Abaco Port and Liittle Abaco Bridge.
The Honourable Neko Grant, then Minister of Housing, made a whirlwind tour of Abaco inspecting the progress of his Ministry’s projects in Spring City, Central Pines, Coopers Town and Crown Haven. He also looked at the progress on the new airport terminal in Marsh Harbour, the site for a mini hospital in Dundas Town and the nearly completed government administration building in Dundas Town.
The month of February saw a focus on young people. A branch of the Torchbearers was formed in Central and South Abaco, an education awards ceremony was held to honour top students and the Hope Town Primary School was the first public school in The Bahamas to be awarded the Green Flag Award. This is an internationally recognized eco-certification for schools. The Every Child Counts school benefited from a performance of the ‘Music Doing Good’ performing arts group from United States.
Construction was also highlighted with the contract signing for the construction of a new government dock in Coopers Town and the glass enclosed 24 ton top of the control tower at the new Marsh Harbour airport was lifted into place by a special crane.
Anna Albury of Man-O-War Cay achieved fame when she was given the honour of speaking in front of Prince Harry on his trip to Nassau. Anna, who was primary school student of the year, delivered an outstanding speech and also had the honour of sitting next to and chatting with the Prince.
On a sad note, on March 25 four lives were lost in a fatal plane crash at Treasure Cay airport and on the same day 51 Haitian immigrants were found in a small sailboat floating near Tilloo Cut. They were flown to Nassau and detained at the detention centre.
Local newspaper, “The Abaconian” also officially changed hands in March. Previous owners, Dave and Kathy Ralph, began their retirement as another Bahamian family, the Albury’s, took the reins at the twenty-year-old publication.
Elroy McBride and Shane Jones returned from the 41st CARIFTA games with gold medals. They were part of the record-setting Bahamian track team. Two swimmers represented Abaco at CARIFTA; they were Miller Albury and Albury Higgs. Albury finished as best swimmer in her division in the entire Caribbean winning six gold medals, two silver and one bronze.
May 19 was deemed a great day by Tellis Symonette, BTC’s Senior Vice President of family islands. The launch of the 4G service was celebrated with a special Abaco only sale at the Parish Hall. Treasure Cay’s flagship BTC store was also opened. It was explained that BTC is in phase 1 of its launch of 4G service and that by the end of July it was hoped that the entire island would have full coverage.
On May 25 a tornado touched down in Murphy town causing damage to several homes and businesses in the area. Fortunately, no one was injured.
Five days after the former Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Hubert Alexander Ingraham, televised his resignation, he returned to his constituency of North Abaco where he met with faithful supporters at the Treasure Cay Public Beach.
Eleven perished in a boating tragedy on June 10 when a boat heading to Florida developed engine trouble and sank in the area of Hawksbill Cays just north of Fox Town.
Thanks to the efforts of Abaco Port Department, the Bahamas Lighthouse Preservation Society and other community members, the Elbow Reef Lighthouse received new glass panels in its lantern room. The new panels replace glass that was damaged by Hurricane Irene.
The fourth annual Royal Bahamas Defence Force Rangers’ installation ceremony commenced on June 2. The 44 new Rangers marched on the parade line marking the first time installed rangers of Abaco marched wearing their regal tailored tunics and barrettes.
July saw Abaco playing host to several Government Ministers. On July 12, 13, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Jerome Fitzgerald, visited Abaco to inspect the physical plan of the government schools across the island and was pleased at the general conditions of schools here.
Minister of the Environment and Housing, Kenred Dorsett, inspected several government projects on Abaco and the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Honourable Dr. Daniel Johnson, who began his tour on Moore’s Island, met with coach Anthony Williams, the athletes and their parents and the community to congratulate them on what they have accomplished. He looked at the proposed location where construction of track and field facilities was to begin within a few months and also promised newly upgraded softball facilities for Murphy Town.
The Man-O-War Heritage Museum welcomed a new addition to its collection. The sailboat, “The Man O War”, which is a piece of the community’s history, was saved from ruin and moved to its new home in front of the museum.
Sadly, the former Free National Movement Chairman and Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Charles Maynard, passed away on Abaco after suffering a fatal heart attack after helping prepare for the by-election in North Abaco.
The political race in North Abaco heated up with Renato Curry, for the PLP, and Greg Gomez, for the FNM, spending the month of September campaigning for the upcoming North Abaco by-election. A focus for both their campaigns was connecting to the community and raising awareness about the importance of education. Nomination Day on September 26 for the October 15 by-election drew crowds of supporters.
Prime Minister Perry Christie held a historic Cabinet meeting in Abaco on October 2. He and his ministers announced a number of decisions made for Abaco including more than $1.6 million in promised road repair and infrastructure and a pledge to increase police manpower on the island. This marks the first time a Cabinet meeting has been held outside of Nassau.
Later in the month Abaco endured Hurricane Sandy. The monster storm brought heavy flooding and a deceptively long eye leaving behind significant flood damage to many communities across Abaco but thankfully no loss of life. The Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Perry Christie, and his delegation toured North Abaco on October 29 to review the impact of hurricane Sandy on several communities there.
The by-election in North Abaco was held on October 15 with Renardo Curry for the PLP coming out with the most votes and thus becoming the new MP for North Abaco.
The 50th Anniversary of Enfranchisement of Women in The Bahamas was held in the courtyard of the government complex in Dundas Town on November 26. Thirteen women were honoured during the ceremony.
On November 25 Prime Minister Perry Christie, along with a number of delegates, toured Baker’s Bay Golf and Ocean Club and told the media that the resort is expected to contribute $450 million to the Public Treasury over the next 10 years.
A helicopter crash on November 22, involving guests of Baker’s Bay Resort on Guana Cay left one dead and four others seriously injured.
During a visit by the Honourable Glenys Hannah Martin early in December, concerns were raised regarding certain logistic and design issues of the construction of the new Marsh Harbour airport. This delayed the December opening of the airport until mid-2013.
The Prime Minister was on Abaco on December 21 to officially launch Urban Renewal 2.0 on Abaco. This community-based policing program was begun here several months ago and is one of the most ambitious crime prevention programmes in the Bahamas.
Delta airlines, which already provides charter service to Abaco, hinted at the possibility of opening Abaco as one of its regular commercial routes. Delta officials were surprised at the impressive structure of the new Marsh Harbour airport facility.
Miss Spring City, Patricia Curry, was crowned Miss Abaco on December 16 at the Abaco Beach Resort after a strongly contested pageant.