A community meeting was held on January 26 in the High Banks Firehouse at 6:30pm for residents of Casuarina Point and Bahama Palm Shores. The meeting was very well attended. Presenters for the evening were Administrator for South Abaco Lavon Harris Smith, General Manager Ministry of Works, William Krezel, Superintendent of Police Kevin Mortimer, Superintendent Paul Farquharson of the CID Department and Mr. Poitier from Simmons Construction Company.
Moderator for the evening was Jacqueline Estevez who is Town Chairman for the area and also Chief Councillor for South Abaco. She opened the meeting by stating that this was the first general town meeting held for the township and she introduced all of the township board members: Michael Knowles (Deputy Chairman), Michael Saunders, John Hudson and Vashti Albury.
Following opening prayers led by John Hudson, Administrator Smith gave an overview of the task of local government and how it stands in relationship to central government. She stated that the district council runs the community and as the government representative in South Abaco she liaises with the various agencies and ensures that all Government Acts are adhered to by local government.
In answer to a question concerning the question of finance, she announced that the various townships can only work with the funds which government disperses and unfortunately the budget for 2014 – 2015 was cut in half. She also mentioned that tenders for jobs within local government go out in June and that anyone is welcome to apply.
Mr. Krezel spoke on the subject everybody was waiting to hear about: the roads. He stated that the Ministry of Works maintains all government roads, cleans and cuts verges and is in charge of all of Abaco including the cays. However when asked about roads in Bahama Palm Shores he stated that the mandate of the Ministry of Works is government roads only. He mentioned the fact that Ministry of Works had recently filled all the potholes on the main Earnest Dean Highway for which he gained much applause as the road had been in a bad state with potholes for some time.
He informed that the holes had not been filled earlier due to the fact that they only had cold patch which, if put into such deep holes, would only have worked its way out again and so they had to wait until they were able to fill the holes with hot mix provided by Simmons Construction Company.
He reminded people that the speed limit on that road is 45 miles per hour.
Mr. Poitier stated that the Simmons Construction Company is now on the second phase of road paving and is now paving roads in Dundas Town and Murphy Town. Phase 3 will see them paving roads in Sandy Point. He certainly pleased everyone by stating that the road by Spring City which for some years has been like a rollercoaster is in the budget to get fixed but regarding the subject of roads in Bahama Palm Shores he stated that they are not under the Government Act.
He said that he will, however, work with the people of Bahama Palm Shores to see if any part of their main road does come under government.
Chief of Police for Abaco, Supt. Kevin Mortimer, introduced himself saying that he has only been on Abaco for five months but during that time he has visited all of the cays and townships and everywhere the cry has been the same: crime.
“Every community has its own very unique crime situation but the South is fortunate in that the situation is less than half as bad as the other areas and the offenses are mostly thefts.”
Many of the attendees had questions regarding the immigration situation and much time was spent by Mr. Mortimer in answering these questions. He stated that the reason there are so many illegal immigrants in Abaco is that Abaco is the softest target in the Bahamas, the major problem being labour used by Abaconians.
He explained that the ultimate goal of these people is to get to the United States and so this is the basis for all types of crimes because they steal to get money. He also stated that a Defence Force boat is now stationed in Marsh Harbour and that a concerted effort is needed by all Abaconians because the authorities need help.
Various ideas were put forward by members of the audience along with suggestions from Supt. Mortimer as to things which could be done to try to stop some of the crime. The meeting closed with a vote of thanks by Deputy Chairman Michael Knowles.