The Local Government Authority Town Committee for Cherokee Sound, Casuarina Point and Bahama Palm Shores held a community meeting in the W.H. Sands Community Centre in Cherokee Sound, on May 12. The goal of the meeting was for persons from all of these townships to air any concerns they may have and have them answered by the various dignitaries and heads of department present.
These included the Member of Parliament for Central & South Abaco – Edison Key, Parliamentary Representative for South Abaco, Senior Deputy Administrator – Lavon Harris Smith, Superintendent of Police – Noel Curry, Assistant Manager of BEC – Martin Green, Assistant Director of the Department of the Environment – Kimberly Wells, Executive Director of Friends of the Environment – Kristin Williams, and David Knowles of the Bahamas National Trust along with members of local government for South Abaco.
The meeting, which was led by Chairman of the Cherokee Township, John Hudson, was opened in prayer by audience member Larry Neilly.
Mr. Key stated how impressed he is with the community of Cherokee Sound.
“It is a wonderful little community and you can all be proud of its cleanliness,” he said. In addressing the subject of finance he stated that he hopes things will improve and that we will get more support for the area financially. He stated that it is not easy to represent such a large area extending from Moore’s Island to Marsh Harbour and many of the cays. It is difficult spreading the funds he is allotted throughout all the communities.
However, he stated that every community will receive something – even Bahama Palm Shores, which up until three years ago never received any support from government.
Jackie Estevez, local government representative for Bahama Palm Shores, thanked Mr. Key for his three years of support.
“This is the first time in history that anyone from government has recognized Bahama Palm Shores,” she stated.
Mr. Key addressed the meeting on a couple of issues.
He announced that funds for the continuance of the building of the clinic are currently in the public treasury waiting to be sent to the administrator in Sandy Point for disbursement. Last year the sum of $25,000 was allocated to the clinic and this year another $10,000 has been allocated. He added that he has asked the Ministry of Health to provide some funds for this clinic.
Mr. Key stated that he had visited the Cherokee dumpsite which he said has been a vexing problem for a long time. “Plans had been made to move the dump but then the government changed and it did not happen. I am here to listen and do what I can,” he stated.
Kimberly Wells spoke regarding the problem of the dump site. She also termed this a vexing problem since when the tide comes up garbage is washed all over the road.
“The Minister and supervisors came in and they say they know about the problem, but it is like pulling teeth. I seize every opportunity I can get to have this problem dealt with,” she stated.
Administrator Smith stated that she has contacted the powers-that-be in Nassau. When asked if Environmental Health will be taking over the Bahama Palm Shores dump site, Ms. Wells replied that she has not been officially informed.
John Hudson, moderator for the evening, invited questions from the audience stating that in order to keep the meeting moving each person would have two minutes to express their concerns. He began by addressing the problem of the fact that there are only two police officers to serve all of the communities between Sandy Point and Marsh Harbour.
Mr. Hudson feels strongly that more police presence is needed in these communities. If a person needs the help of the police it takes far too long for any help to arrive since the distance is so far from a police station. A police station is needed between Sandy point and Cherokee Sound.
Superintendent of Police, Noel Curry, confirmed that there are indeed only two regular police officers from the roundabout to Sandy Point and they are assisted by three reserves. He said that at a Heads of Agreement meeting with Schooner Bay this problem was discussed and authorities are working on establishing a police station there.
He stated that he has also spoken about increasing police patrols throughout the South. The Sandy Point Jeep has not been in service for some time since it was badly damaged during an incident with an illegal aircraft at Sandy Point and is currently in the shop for repair.
He was pleased to state that real data shows that from Cherokee to Sandy Point there had been zero murders for the year and so this area does not contribute to the murder count, driving the numbers down. A member of the audience commended the police for the work they do and expressed appreciation to local government for its work also.
Persons from Bahama Palm Shores and Yellow Wood brought up the vexing problem of lack of supply from Cable Bahamas in their area. It was stated that in the Heads of Agreement between Cable Bahamas and Government they had agreed to supply every community in The Bahamas. However, they state that it would be too costly in parts of Bahama Palm Shores because all BEC cables are underground except for the front area. Nobody in the audience or panel knew why service has not been provided in Yellow Wood since Cable goes right past that community from Winding Bay into Cherokee. This matter is being looked into.
David Knowles spoke on behalf of the Bahamas National Trust about the four protected areas in the South, i.e. East Abaco Creeks National Park, Blue Holes National Park at Sawmill Sink, Cross Harbour and the Marls of Abaco. He stated that the East Abaco Creeks National Park, which is in the Cherokee Sound area, is a beautiful creeks system and a great breeding ground for conch. A petition, put together by the Bahamas National Trust and Friends of the Environment, has been sent to government to let them know that persons support this as a protected area.
Mr. Knowles stated that Cross Harbour and the Marls of Abaco will remain as multiuse areas and not, as some people feared, be no-take zones. He asked the people for a further pledge of support.
Manatee Sightings and Abuse:
Kristin Williams of Friends of the Environment mentioned that Georgie the manatee is back in Cherokee Sound for a second time.
“She became sick and was looked after at Atlantis but after her recovery she was released. She was sighted in Bimini but obviously liked Cherokee best and has returned here,” she stated.
She also informed the audience that another manatee named Randy has been in the Sandy Point and Moores Island area recently but sadly some in Moores Island pelted him with rocks and conch shells.
The people of Cherokee treat Georgie as a pet, but the Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Association is asking persons not to feed her because she needs to learn to feed on her own. “You can give her water, but you’re only hurting her by feeding her,” she informed and encouraged people to report any further sightings of manatees.
In the absence of any further questions the meeting was brought to a close with a prayer by local government member Michael Knowles and was followed by refreshments.