Editor’s Note: As a supplement to last issue’s “Top Twelve Stories of 2014” this is a more comprehensive reflection on the big events of last year.
The New Year 2014 came in with a blaze when over 70 houses burned in the shanty town known as the Pigeon Pea. The fire which started on New Year’s Eve resulted in hundreds homeless and two dead.
The long-awaited opening of the new Marsh Harbour International Airport Terminal which had been expected to open this month was once again delayed. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Renewal, Philip Brave Davis, stated that there were still some issues to be addressed.
Logging, which took place extensively on Abaco in the 1950s and 1960s by Owens Illinois, was once again resumed, this time by Lindar Industries which was granted a logging concession to cut pine trees on Abaco.
Olympic gold medalist, Pauline Davis Thompson, visited several schools on Abaco to promote the Bahamas World Relays for which 40 countries had pledged participation.
The Abaco Love Rush Junkanoo Weekend impressed thousands of visitors and locals as they came together to enjoy yet another grand display of colour, rhythm and dancing. The Spring City Rockers took first in the senior category and Forest Heights Academy took first in the junior category.
Constant oil spills at the landfill threatened freshwater supplies. Despite the contract for managing the Central Abaco Landfill which expired in November 2012 no new official management contract had been awarded leaving a disgraceful state of affairs at the landfill.
The Chinese Ambassador to the Bahamas, Yuan Guisen, visited Abaco. He and his wife visited several parts of the island and he stated that he expected more Chinese tourists to be visiting the Bahamas with two companies ready to begin partnering and learning about the tourist product of Abaco.
The Great Abaco Family Fitness Weekend returned to Treasure Cay for the third year and continued to see growth with 72 triathletes competing.
The Central Pines Business Complex of the Teachers and Salaried Workers Co-operatives Credit Union Ltd opened its shopping and business complex on April 11. The $15 million complex is scheduled to house a number of restaurants, fast food chain, movie theatre, food store, clinic, bakery and retail stores.
Four swimmers from Abaco, Joshua Wong, Miller Albury, Lily Higgs and Albury Higgs, helped make history for The Bahamas. They competed with the Bahamas National Swim Team in the CARIFTA Games in Aruba where they helped the team make history by winning first place for The Bahamas since the event began.
Half the homes in the shanty town of Sandbanks just outside Treasure Cay were destroyed by fire in the early morning hours of May 4.
The construction phase of the Central Abaco Mini Hospital neared completion but the opening was delayed due to the wait for medical equipment.
The doors of the long awaited Leonard M. Thompson International Airport were finally opened for business at 6.00 a.m. on May 27. And shortly after 7.00 a.m. the first passengers disembarking from a BahamasAir flight walked into the new building making history.
The relay teams from the Moore’s Island High School earned gold and bronze medals in the national entries of the prestigious IAAF World Relays Bahamas.
The Elbow Reef Lighthouse celebrated its 150th anniversary. This unique lighthouse which is the last hand cranked kerosene powered lighthouse in the world was celebrated in grand style with a day of festivities.
Officials of the Bahamas Government and the People’s Republic of China participated in the groundbreaking ceremony for the North Abaco Port Project on June 20 in Cooperstown.
The sum of $500,000 went missing from the Customs office in Marsh Harbour.
Abaco Swim Club brought home 59 medals from Nationals.
The townships of Stuart Florida and Hope Town, Abaco, became Sister Cities in an agreement signed during a ceremony in Hope Town
Waterspout activity increased during the early summer months , the island of Abaco having experienced above average thunderstorm activity and waterspouts.
The Rotaract Club initiated project HELP in response to appalling conditions they discovered in which many elderly or infirm on Abaco were living.
The Department of Immigration, along with the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Ministry of Works and the Department of Environmental Health services went on a tour of the Pigeon Pea and Mudd shantytowns. They noted several businesses operating illegally as well as home construction violating stop work orders that had been previously issued.
The Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organisation reported the recent sighting of Randy the manatee which had made a return to Abaco.
The Immigration Department, Royal Bahamas Defence Force and the Royal Bahamas Police Force experienced serious “resource challenges” in effectively responding to the regular arrivals of illegal migrants.
After many months of waiting the Post Office was finally relocated to the Bahamas Government Complex on September 24 from its location near the traffic light in Marsh Harbour.
Work on the $12 million Central Abaco Mini Hospital which was roughly 90% complete came to a halt due to lack of payment to the contractor.
Ministry of Works, joined by Immigration, Police, Defence Force members and others went into the shanty town community of Sandbanks, Treasure Cay, on October 7 to demolish nine homes that had been illegally built since the May 4 fire.
The new Evergreen Mortuary was opened in Marsh Harbour on October 14. Denalee Penn Mackey returned home as a licensed funeral director.
The Abaco Imaging –Creter’s Bulldogs captured the National Softball title for the second year in a row.
The Governor General of The Bahamas, Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling, along with a delegation of government officials visited Abaco to view the progress of the Sir Lynden Pindling statue which is being constructed at the Johnston Studios Foundry in Little Harbour.
Supt. Kevin Mortimer, took up his position as Abaco’s new Chief of Police, following the transfer of Superintendent Noel Curry to Grand Bahama.
The Abaco Club on Winding Bay officially changed ownership on December 11. It was purchased by Southworth Development Company, an internationally recognised developer and manager of residential resort communities. The following day president and CEO of Southworth Development, David Southworth, spoke at a press conference at the resort along with Prime Minister of the Bahamas The Honourable Perry Christie who called the occasion “a significant boost for the economy of Abaco.”
An oil rig sighted off the coast of South Abaco worried residents but a government statement was released saying that there was no cause for alarm. The rig was en route to another country.
Once again this year people enjoyed all the fun of the season at the Abaco Christmas Festival held at the BAIC Park in Marsh Harbour at which the marching Police Band is always a highlight.