The Murphy Town Community Center, located on Forest Drive, was finally dedicated after several years of construction during a formal ceremony patronized by two local officials, the Hon. Darren Henfield, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Member of Parliament for North Abaco, and Maxine Duncombe, Senior Island Administrator. The Community Center has been a pet project of Murphy Town Committee Chairman Gilbert Davis and of several other local government members.
Moderated by Matthew Taylor, Vice President of the Murphy Town Community Association, the dedication ceremony of the Murphy Town Community Center began at 8pm in the evening of May 31. The function also marked the opening of the first Murphy Town Home Coming in over two decades.
The welcome address by Latoya Swain followed the invocation and the singing of the National Anthem, preluding remarks by Cleveland Dawkins and musical selections by the Murphy Town Community Association Mass Choir.
In her remarks, Administrator Duncombe praised the building of the Community Center. It creates possibilities for the town economy as well as gives the town a closer sense of community. It could be a place where to reconnect with friends and be reminded of the history of Murphy Town, she explained.
She mentioned that her own grand-mother was part of Bluff Point, the place where most Murphy Town people used to live before the destructive hurricane of 1932 which forced the Bluff Point residents to relocate to Murphy Town, bringing with them their traditions, customs, cooking and art. Among the assembly were two Bluff Point native ladies, Enamay Swain and Emmaline Butler.
As she prepared to introduce Minister Henfield, Admin. Duncombe mentioned that both their grand-mothers were friends. She said he was a local man who attended Abaco Public School in Spring City.
Min. Henfield acknowledged the assembly and all the dignitaries present, among them Customs Officer Cleveland Dawkins and Superintendent of Police Kevin Mortimer. He then stated that he was rather new to politics, first being a Defense Force Marine, a lawyer and finally a Minister of the Government. He thanked the people of Murphy Town for giving him his first public appointment.
“Murphy Town is a peculiar place,” he continued; “the people are very strong.”
Before continuing his informal chat directed at the assembly, he invited Deidre, his wife of thirty-three years, to join him.
“She is a strong Abaco woman who refuses to give up (on me).” He remarked. As he called her to the podium, he mentioned his three sons and grand-daughter.
Henfield said that events like the dedication ceremony and homecoming were important; “they keep us grounded as people, bring us together. They give a sense of pride to the community.”
“I am happy to be part of this,” he added.
Besides simply being a meeting place, the Center could also be a spot for young people to do their homework or play basketball as well as serve as hurricane shelter.
He spoke about love and unity, saying there was not enough love today.
“We have to get back together to raise these kids, to try to raise children the way we were raised.”
He also praised the economic improvements taking place in Murphy Town such as the Fish Fry at Coconut Tree Bay and at South Side, but before ending his remarks he said a project he had at heart was to have a joint celebration between Dundas Town and Murphy Town
“We are one people and we have to live like one people” he insisted. “Let’s stick together. When you come to me for the community, that’s when you get my attention. Together we can do so much more.”
The President of the Murphy Town Community Association, Cubel Davis, then took the stand to declare the Home Coming opened, but not before stating that Murphy Town was at a cross road and that it was important that all the area leaders work together to move the community forward.
He made a point to say that newcomers were welcome and that their voices will be heard and their ideas taken into consideration. He thanked Minister Henfield for his presence and for the fact that he kept his promise to help if he was elected.
After the blessings, people were invited to mingle and socialize and frequent the booths that by then were set up with drinks and food.