By Ken Carroll
A hand-full of residents showed up at the second general township meeting of The North Abaco Local Government District Council on April 23, 2015 at the Fox Town Primary School.
District Council Chairperson for Little Abaco, Miss Sandra Lee Parker, chaired the meeting, with an opening prayer by Bishop Ken Carroll of Urban Renewal 2.0 Crown Haven Community Center Manager.
Miss Parker, in a soft spoken tone, drew reference to not having a meeting sooner and applauded those persons who showed up at the first general meeting where senior government officials were in attendance including senior manager from the Department of Water and Sewerage.
She indicated that they are still in the learning process; but on a more serious note, that since elected to office they had nothing to work with, but as of February she said that their budget has just been released to them amounting to $2,500.00 per month, which is allocated to assist in the up-keep of five settlements from Cedar Harbor to Crown Haven.
Collectively, each board executive present, including Chief Councillor Steve Pedican from Treasure Cay, Deputy Chief Councillor Diana Cornish of Mt. Hope, Councillor Julian Cooper of Cedar Harbour, Councillor Wilton Saunders of Wood Cay, and Local Government Secretary, Karen Laroda, were all delighted as the Chairperson spoke on some of the work that was completed including the clearing of the bushes around the Dock areas; the refurbishing of the dump site in Wood Cay with the help of China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) allowing persons to be able to dump properly; and the approval of the purchase of the electrical supplies to repair the damage lights on the docks and parks.
Yolanda Curry, Principal of Fox Town Primary School, informed that her request for small donation to assist in the graduation exercise has been approved and said she was surprise that only a few Crown Haven residences came as they were requesting basketball rims a year ago and she wanted to tell them that the cheque was approved.
Drawing attention to The Irish Bay Beach in Cedar Harbour it was indicated that they are waiting for the approval from senior government officials for the work of the renovation of the Irish Bay Beach which will include two way traffic to the beach, with the help of CHEC this project is one of the major projects on the agenda.
As the Fox Town Dock is one of the main ports of entry, primarily for tourists, it was noted that this development must be restored, but it can only to take place with the help and assistance of Central Government.
As the evening progressed Ms. Parker took the time to reflect on Fox Town Park. During her school years she used this park for extra activities and today it is stilled being used by many persons including the Community Against Crime Sporting Association under the leadership of Wilton Saunders – Co-chairman /Cabinet member of Wood Cay who utilizes the grounds for baseball and softball; however there are still needs for upgrades to the park.
The local government chairperson was happy to announce that, being an educator herself, she believes that education is the key to success. She said that her board members would be assisting former Cedar Harbour Committee Member Pete Cooper in his effort to teach some of the residents in the area electrical skills. So far eight people have benefited.
Cedar Harbour Committee Member Julian Cooper utilized his time to commend Gwendolyn Bain, a volunteer worker at Urban Renewal 2.0 Crown Haven Community Center, and the president of Urban Renewal 2.0 Cleanliness Is next Godliness Group, for the great work she has done and questioned why the work was discontinued.
Ms. Bain said that work was discontinued due to a lack of transportation, but she thank Local Government for their help in the distribution of garbage bags and hopes that the work will continue once some things are put in place.
The floor was then opened to the audience for questions. Some persons there commended the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF), Fox Town Station for being effective in the area and solving a few minor incidents that had occurred.
Some of the residents also brought concerns about the state of the Urban Renewal 2.0 Crown Haven Community Center grounds. The Community Center Manager, Bishop Carroll explained that the Community Center lawnmower is broken and they are trying to fix it.
Continuing, the Community Center Manager said that Urban Renewal is operated out of Freeport and to date they have assisted residents in finding jobs, seniors in receiving all their benefits through the National Insurance Board (NIB), those who are in need of help from the welfare office, and school students with their school projects and resumes.
Embracing the values towards building the community, Chief Councillor Steve Pedican said that the new North Abaco Island Administrator, Whelma Colebrook, could not make the meeting because of personal reasons and conveyed apologies on her behalf.
He stated that their overdue utilities bills for the five settlements amount to $28,000.00, and that they will be paid down over a period of time.
He also said that Scotia Bank is closing their doors in Coopers Town; however, he is talking with the Royal Bank of Canada manager to see if they would open up a branch in Coopers Town.
Mr. Pedican welcomed the idea of collaboration between the North Abaco RBPF and other civic organizations that was put forward in staging a Neighborhood Crime Watch Program as was discussed on September 4, 2014 at the Urban Renewal 2.0 Crown Haven Community Center Crime Watch meeting.
He thanked Karen Mills of Cedar Harbour for her efforts in introducing bird watching, taking North Abaco to the next level in Eco-Tourism and clearing a pathway that will allow persons to visit the Abaco Blue Hole which will become a tourist attraction.
It was brought to his attention that there have been persons illegally dumping trash and he advised them to discontinue because if caught they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.