By Ken Carroll
The North Abaco Local Government District Council held a township meeting on September 19 at the Fox Town Primary School. The council outlined several aspects of the community’s development.
Little Abaco District Council Chairperson, Sandralee Parker, welcomed those in attendance. The welcome was followed by the opening prayer done by Pastor Elton McIntosh of St. Thomas Baptist Church – Wood Cay. Ms. Parker then proceeded to introduce the Council members who were in attendance: Steve Pedican – District Council Treasure Cay, Diana Role – Deputy District Council – Mt Hope, Julian Cooper – Elected Cabinet Member – Cedar Harbour and Wilton Saunders – Deputy Chairman Little Abaco – Wood Cay.
Ms. Parker apologized for those unable to attend, and also apologized for the Island Administrator – Mr. Neil Campbell who was attending another engagement in Nassau.
Ms. Parker discussed the North Abaco Fire Committee, which held a meeting at Ronnie’s Restaurant. Repairing the fire engine was discussed and plans were made for a Steak Out that is set to take place at the end of October. Another is due to be held in Cooper’s Town Park to assist in repairing the fire engine.
Steve Pedican (District Council) then took the floor. He shared that the local government budget of $50,000 had been cut down to $44,800.00. Out of those funds the District Council has to pay salaries leaving about $700, which is not enough to pay utilities. He asked the community to be patient and understanding since there is no extra funding to do anything that may come up.
Mr. Pedican suggested that workers employed by local government cut back on the days that they work. This will free up some of the funding in the amount of $3,200.
Mr. Pedican said a request has been send to the Civil Aviation Department to assist with some of the essential needs around the Treasure Cay Airport. Local Gov’t faces challenges and shortages including fuel for the machines, keeping the yard clean and lacking tissues in the rest rooms.
The floor was then opened for questions.
One business proprietor brought forth her concerns about the garbage collections, enquiring about the standards set and the loose garbage that is left in the bins. Other persons asked questions about the equipment that is used to transport garbage.
In his response, Mr. Pedican concluded that all bids are put in, and the one that is chosen must make sure he has the right tools to do the work and all garbage must be properly secured by the collectors in transporting them. He will look into the matter, he said.
The mosquitoes in the area are becoming a health hazard. A young gentleman from Mt. Hope wanted to know what can be done.
Ms. Parker noted the concerns. She said that local government has a fog machine, currently in-operational, so she will contact the necessary government authority to address the issue.
Guest speaker, Barrington Murphy – Area Manager of Water and Sewerage Corporation, was on hand to discuss matters pertaining to his corporation. A question was put forward by a resident of Cedar Harbour about the chlorine in the water which caused her clothes to change color when she washed. Mr. Murphy disclosed that one of the company workers tests the water daily making sure that the chlorine level in the water is balanced.
Several questions were placed asked pertaining to the water being cut off when the electrical power is off.
Mr. Murphy said that this should not happen. He said it could be due to the company’s back-up generator not kicking in. He will look into these issues and seek a solution.
The Hon. V. Alfred Gray, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government and Renardo Curry, North Abaco Member of Parliament and Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister who arrived late due to a flight delay. Mr. Curry was pleased with the great turn out and unveiled the policies pertaining to the North Abaco Port Development. The government has hired an Employment Representative out of Nassau, ensuring that Bahamians will get equal opportunity to be employed at the project.
The North Abaco Port Development project will be looking for: security officers, machine operators, builders, and other areas. An announcement will be broadcast when the hiring process starts. Any questions could be directed to Island Administrator Neil Campbell.
In reference to National Security, he explained the Government is working tirelessly to remove all negativity that has overshadowed these small settlements for the past few weeks due to a large number of boat thefts. He commended Superintendent Noel Curry and his officers for their tireless work.
Speaking to the country’s budget woes, The Hon. V. Alfred Gray urged Bahamians to be more self-sufficient instead of being dependent on the government. He noted that the North Abaco Port is a one of the many developments that will provide equal opportunity for all. He emphasized that Mr. Curry is doing his best to establish programs that will benefit all Bahamians. He said it is time persons get to know his work instead of speaking of him negatively.
Min. Gray confirmed that those employed at the school, clinic and the airport previously under the local government banner are now the responsibility of central government. 550 persons have been redeployed. He continued that all persons over the age of 65 will be compensated with a one year pension.
Minister Gray said that no one is allowed to enter the public sector at 65 years or older, but regarding those who are employed already by Local Government – it is up to the board to decide whether they remain or are to be retired.
Minister Gray, in response to concerns regarding compressor regulations and fishing, said that the laws have been changed. 30 feet is no longer the limit, it is now 15 feet that the compressor can be used. The dates of enforcement will not change because it is to preserve the marine resources for the future
He clarified that the amount of crawfish tourists are allowed to take is 10 lbs NOT ten craw fish. However the amount that will be allowed has changed to 20lbs per boat, not per person.