Nassau Guardian Stories
November 22, 2013
In February, The Bahamas will host its first rum festival and organizers are looking for thousands to come to the event.
Come next year, Festival Rum Bahamas, a celebration of rum, food and culture, will be placed on the country's cultural calendar.
The festival's organizers believe this unique event will provide an opportunity for Bahamians to showcase their creative side, while bringing a much needed economic boost.
Event chairperson Alexandra Maillis-Lynch estimates between 5,000 and 7,000 will attend the inaugural event.
"We believe that as a country it is time to stop waiting for things to come to us, we have to create our own destiny. So far tourism has been pretty general, going after almost a generic tourist. What we're looking for now is a specific market because they are the ones that are often more loyal. They follow product. The rum festival world is in fact a huge one," she told Guardian Business in an interview yesterday.
"It will create employment, particularly for young adults, through construction and creative ideas how to set up and run a booth, train and learning what it takes to run a successful event/business. As Bahamians, it gives us an opportunity to showcase our creative skills."
"We're hoping for between 5,000 to 7,000. But ideally, we would like 9,000 people. That's comparable to events that are done on the island because we have done our research."
Lynch is also the festival's creator and visionary and said organizers are excited to share the history, food and culture of The Bahamas in this unique way.
"The Bahamas has a lot to offer, more than sun, sand and sea. We wanted to create a festival that showcased aspects of our history that we don't typically celebrate - piracy, rum-running, and how those past events have given birth to our distinct flavors and a culture of appreciation for the art and beauty of rum making," according to Maillis-Lynch.
Festival Rum Bahamas is expected to be an enticing mixture of local, regional and international rum exhibitors.
During the three-day festival, there will be product sampling, master classes on rum, bartending and cocktail competitions, as well as Caribbean music and food.
The festival organizers are promising that the 2014 Festival Rum Bahamas will be regionally competitive and offer a unique cultural experience for Bahamians and visitors.
The blue ribbon event of the festival will be 2014 Mixologist Competition, where the best bartenders in the region will compete to win gold, silver or bronze medals for the best rum cocktail.
The Ministry of Tourism is also onboard, as the festival's marketing partner. Tourism officials believe that Festival Rum Bahamas is an "excellent" fit with the country's tourism product, providing another compelling reason for visitors to come to The Bahamas.
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November 22, 2013
The sales process for the South Ocean Golf & Beach Resort is "moving very well" and is set to conclude within the next two months, according to the company involved in developing a land-use master plan for the property.
Jeremy Seabridge, partner with Southern Cross Developments, the real estate development and investment company owned by Australian golfer Greg Norman, which announced it had completed the "repositioning" of the prime property in south west New Providence in September, said earlier this week that the company has "executed confidentiality agreements with quite a number of interested parties".
"I'm not in a position to disclose who they are (but) the sales process is moving very well (both domestically and internationally) and we expect this to continue for another 75 days or so," said Seabridge, clarifying that the company hopes to have finalized the sales process and identified the successful purchaser in that time.
Explaining why the company believes 75 days is a realistic time period, Seabridge added: "We need enough time to reach the international markets and then provide the interested parties with sufficient time to complete their due diligence.
"We also need to take into account business challenges and days lost around the various holiday periods (Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year, etc..). Seventy-five days or so would give us until approximately four weeks after the New Year to try and wrap things up."
The South Ocean resort, which has been closed for close to a decade, is being actively marketed by the world's largest commercial real estate services firm.
The 383-acre property, the last remaining major resort site in New Providence and Paradise Island, was placed on the market as a prospective site for two upscale resorts, a casino, marina, golf course and retail village in September.
The invigorated sales process came after 10 months in which Southern Cross Developments undertook a research, design and envisioning process in which it ultimately developed an extensive land-use plan for the property to increase its attractiveness to potential buyers.
Both Seabridge's Southern Cross group and former Cabinet minister and developer Tennyson Wells have indicated that gaining the rights to the casino license, which has long been linked to the South Ocean resort, would be integral to any development taking place there.
Wells has proposed to develop an almost $1 billion theme park and casino resort in the area.
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November 22, 2013
Making his first visit to Grand Bahama, the ambassador of Qatar as special envoy to The Bahamas has been informed that the island is poised to become a global shipping and business center in preparation for the opening of the expanded Panama Canal in early 2015 and is set to establish a state-of-the-art arbitration center.
Visiting the island yesterday on the heels of the formal establishment of The Bahamas' diplomatic relations with Qatar in August, Mohamed Bin Abdulla Al-Rumaihi, was welcomed by Minister for Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville.
"The ambassador's visit today signifies Qatar's seriousness about and commitment to working with the Government of The Bahamas, and with Grand Bahama island in particular. As the minister for Grand Bahama, I am happy that His Excellency's fact finding mission has led him to our shores, as Grand Bahama island has so much to offer in terms of tourism, trade, cultural exchanges and investment opportunities," said Darville.
The minister said that the ambassador would be shown how Grand Bahama Island has established a first class reputation as a major maritime and transshipment center during his visit.
"In touring our industrial zone, you will see that our maritime industry encompasses a wide range of sectors including ship registry, ship and mega yacht repair, oil transshipment and storage and international cargo transshipment," he stated.
Darville also informed that Freeport boasts one of the deepest man made harbors in the region, a world class international airport capable of handling the largest aircraft in service, and an international business and logistics park for value-added and cargo handling activities.
"Additionally, plans are now on the drawing board to further strengthen our island's position as a leading maritime center with the construction of a state-of-the-art arbitration center.
"We believe that Grand Bahama island has a lot of potential to develop its natural resources and is poised to become a global shipping and business center in preparation for the opening of the expanded Panama Canal in early 2015," he said.
Darville said that as a result of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties between the two countries, a mutually beneficial relationship can be fostered that will allow the equal exchange of information, create valuable opportunities for trade expansion, transference of technical expertise and knowledge in tourism, maritime and industrial, energy and financial services sectors.
Ambassador Al-Rumaihi expressed gratitude to the minister and the government for the invitation to visit The Bahamas. He said his country has established the relationship to extend friendship to the people of The Bahamas.
He said although Qatar is a major exporter of oil and gas, that is not the main objective for the government or the Qatari people.
"His Highness, the Emir of Qatar, has a vision 2033 and we are going to host, in mid-term, 2022 World Cup." He said Qatar has established the basic pillars of education and culture as its objectives and that healthcare and industry will establish the country's ability to not have to rely only on exportation of the oil and gas in the future.
"So these are the targets, and Qatar reaches out to friendly countries and friendly people to invest and to develop our brothers in the humanity to reach their target, whatever their aims to develop their people," he continued, "and this is one of the visits that have the honor to represent my country here, to visit your beautiful country, and your nice people to measure what are the opportunities that Qatar can extend to the people and the country of The Bahamas."
Ambassador Al-Rumaihi will be in Grand Bahama until Saturday. He will meet with executives of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce and Grand Bahama Port Authority, as well as tour BORCO, Freeport Container Port, the Ginn Project and West End and the Deep Water Cay Club in east Grand Bahama.
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November 22, 2013
Officials at the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) are confident it will meet its sale targets with its Home Phone Plus product, averaging more than 200 new customers every week.
Since launching the product back in August, Eldri Ferguson-Mackey, BTC's senior manager for business intelligence, said there has been a consistent increase in the number of customers that are signing up for the service. In fact, she is confident the company will not only meet but also exceed its fiscal targets.
"For our Home Phone Plus offering, we are signing on an average of 225 to 251 customers a week. Our monthly targets are 1,140 in terms of customers and we are well within our target. We expect to meet and exceed those targets this fiscal year. The product was launched in August, so we have seen that number increase consistently," she revealed to Guardian Business.
She believes the product's success to date has been the company's ability to offer a quality product at an affordable price.
"I think the added benefit for the Home Phone Plus is our coverage. With Home Phone Plus, we offer our consumers the ability to call anywhere in The Bahamas regardless of size, location and distance. Customers in New Providence can call someone down in Inagua, and they are going to experience in-plan calling and low calling rates. I think that's one of the most attractive features of the product," according to Ferguson-Mackey.
She also announced BTC's plans to offer a similar product for the company's enterprise customers, which will come on stream in early 2014.
According to her the product will be "primarily focused towards small business customers because our large enterprise consumers segment is focused on our data capabilities. It's more connected to improving their network".
"So we're working on repositioning our products for our larger enterprise customers, where we expect to see more growth in that area. Those things are expected to come online in the new year.
"We do have plans to provide a similar service for our business customers and that should be happening early next year. We are forecasting that we should see that in late January, early February," she added.
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November 22, 2013
The teachers' union is upset. The unions at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) are upset. The customs and immigration union is upset. All have complained about benefits and pay. All want something else from the government.
As a result of the 2008 recession, government spending increased to compensate for the falloff in private sector participation in the economy. Government debt was at $2.67 billion in the 2007/08 fiscal year. It has continued to grow. It is projected to be $4.9 billion when the government implements value-added tax (VAT) next July.
The government fears a debt crisis. Our situation is not critical now, but we are getting closer and closer to the problem zone. The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration is risking its future with VAT. But, nonetheless, it thinks the country's situation is so precarious that it must do something drastic to bring The Bahamas' debt situation under control.
Leslie Miller, BEC's executive chairman, is threatening to fire workers at that corporation if they strike over their demands.
The thing the unions must understand is that the government has no money. It is attempting to ward off a debt crisis. The unions must be sensitive to the concerns of the nation as a whole, rather than their narrow interests.
Businessman Franklyn Wilson put it well in an interview with The Nassau Guardian this week. He said unions in the country must "get real".
"There is no money," Wilson said. "There is no point clamoring about give me more, more, more, more. It is not there. So all the union leaders are not doing themselves or the country any favor by clamoring for what is not there."
The entire country is in a debate over tax reform. Even the private sector has conceded that the state needs some additional revenue, along with spending cuts, to close the massive deficits that have become the norm. All reasonable people are putting their thoughts toward stabilizing the national economic situation; and the unions are threatening to strike over what they want.
We are certain the majority of Bahamians do not empathize with the unions. They are out of step with the realities of this country. The bloated contracts they have been able to coerce out of political parties while in government have helped contribute to the financial mess The Bahamas is in today.
The government does have a legal responsibility to honor the contracts it already has with these unions and the workers they represent. However, going forward, the government should not add on to what it has already given. It should, instead, negotiate more modest contracts with workers taking into consideration the challenges of these times. There should be no more automatic salary and benefit increases in new contracts. A firm stance must be taken with public sector workers and unions.
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November 22, 2013
In a recent response to those in opposition to his government's proposed value-added tax (VAT), Prime Minister Perry Christie challenged them to come up with alternatives. As one who is opposed to VAT, I hereby offer my alternative to it (and to customs duties): income tax.
My position is based on the fact that VAT and customs duties are unfair forms of taxation because they are consumption taxes, and they place a disproportionately higher tax burden on the poor (who spend most of their income) than on the wealthy (who save most of theirs).
In my view, one of the most troubling aspects of the current taxation debate is that the prime minister and other key voices engaged in the debate are talking about the need for tax reform but the alternatives they are proposing (i.e., VAT, sales tax, etc.) are not true tax reform; they are tax charades because changing to them from customs duty is a game that would continue to place the bulk of the burden of taxation on the backs of the poor using different names.
In addition to missing the opportunity to truly reform our system of taxation by the introduction of a fair income tax (i.e., non-regressive and non-progressive) for all residents (Bahamian and non-Bahamian), the government is missing a strategic opportunity to reposition The Bahamas away from its expired "tax haven" status to a competitive low tax jurisdiction.
Imagine a Bahamas where customs duties are eliminated (except on policy items like tobacco, alcohol, motor vehicles, and petroleum products) and a flat tax of less than 10 percent is applied to personal income (excluding capital gains and investment income).
Imagine a Bahamas where our complex business license fees are replaced with a flat rate of tax of less than 15 percent on corporate profits (excluding capital gains, dividend payments, and foreign income not repatriated to The Bahamas).
Imagine the growth impetus this will bring about in attracting to The Bahamas both individuals and companies who are seeking low tax jurisdictions in which they can officially conduct legitimate business and manage wealth while benefitting from double taxation agreements that we would have the opportunity to enter into with countries around the world. And imagine what this would mean for all those involved in the international financial services sector.
And, finally, imagine a Bahamas being run by governments that exercise fiscal discipline, where with all the additional government revenue generated from true tax reform we begin to have prudent budget surpluses instead of obscene budget deficits.
No doubt, some will say I'm a dreamer - dreaming about fair taxation for all, rich and poor, resident and non-resident. In response, I borrow and adapt the words of John Lennon: "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one, and I hope someday you'll join us" and make The Bahamas a fairer place, at least in terms of taxation.
- Pastor Cedric Moss
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November 22, 2013
A recent briefing by the Caribbean Tourism Organization reported tourism arrival numbers for the Caribbean region for 2013 as flat. The briefing and regional governments' almost singular focus on arrival numbers highlight what is to some a serious problem in how the economic value of this important industry is being tracked.
The region and its tourism and economic officials seem to be engaged in the selective parsing of information related to the state of the industry and as a result may be misinforming the public. Numbers that focus on arrivals do not do enough to track the real economic impact of visitor travel, and ignore what may be the most important figures to Caribbean tourism economies - the spend level.
The so-called spend level is an attempt to put a value on the actual expenditure per guest in each domicile visited and it is this number that helps show the "value on the street" of tourism to Caribbean economies. A direct correlation between employment and the tax base of a country, and the economic value of tourism is likely to be better understood looking also at these numbers than just focusing on cruise and/or stay-over visits. This is especially so in an era when hotel rooms are booked online, as are cruise trips, allowing for almost all of that revenue to be processed and kept outside of the domicile/s to be visited.
Let us be clear that in no way am I discounting the direct jobs created by hoteliers and their purchasing power in terms of goods and local services, but in an age of investors requesting more and more in terms of corporate tax waivers, the baseline in terms of value to an economy of tourism may be employment beyond just that at the hotel facility and the tax base of those working there.
To be fair, while entities like the Caribbean Tourism Organization do at times address the spend level, the pomp associated with an increase in arrival numbers by governments often belie the reality that visitors are spending less and, as a result, the region's economies are receiving less in terms of revenues. A sad reality is also that an uptick in arrival numbers may not correspond to more spending, contrary to what officials may try to insinuate.
In fact, anecdotal evidence suggests that even countries that are seeing more and more tourist arrivals are seeing less and less in terms of visitors buying products and services. Maybe this can be chalked up to the economic downturn, the demographic of the traveller and/or the lack of variety of services and products that individual countries and the region sell. If so, it would be helpful if precisely this kind of analysis could be done and countries advised as to whether it is, for example, the cheapening of products available for sale that is part of the possible reason for lower spending by visitors.
Ultimately, the numbers of stores shuttered in many countries, restaurants along main strips that now compete on the price for a bucket of beer and cheap T-shirt sales may serve to highlight a serious problem for the region. A commercial tourism sector that employs less may mean more unemployed roaming the streets and increased crime.
Some have blamed the cruise industry, arguing that this industry has served to bring to the region a visitor of a lower demographic station, insinuating that parties that visit via this medium are "cheaper". That may well be an unfair assumption, as in this industry, as with others, demographics differ widely and there is a swath of people who cruise that have relatively high incomes and are willing to spend.
Interestingly, a trend in this industry that should be noted by governments and policymakers is the increased use of preferred vendors to provide services to passengers and the effective steering of people to certain onshore facilities and activities. The reason behind this may well be more one of entities trying to guarantee their charges the right kind of experience in order to secure their return business to the cruise ship brand, rather than an attempt to somehow segment the market space.
A sad fact may be that this industry may feel the need to point people to certain locations and develop relationships with certain vendors to ensure a certain quality of service and security that Caribbean countries cannot in the wider community. If this is indeed the case, industry has had to step into a space where policymakers are failing.
Similar complaints were made against the all-inclusive industry years ago, as this type of value proposition to the traveller was seen as one that pulled visitors away from truly exploring the country they were visiting. The claim was that a SuperClubs and Sandals experience was seen as the Caribbean experience that allowed people to check off their bucket lists, not get to know the country, and diminish the likelihood of a return.
The harsh light of day shows that, in the case of the all-inclusive industry, while there is indeed a market for the value conscious experience, here as in the cruise industry there is also the high-end traveller. What the all-inclusive experience also now seems to provide beyond the value proposition is also a security blanket within an enclave setting that is safe. The need for these two industries to protect their brands through managing the on-island experience may be just as high a priority as anything else.
At the end of the day and, sadly, after so many decades of apparently wandering in the wilderness, the question for the Caribbean and individual countries as it relates to tourism still is "what do you want to grow up to be". In essence, what is the region's value proposition and how is it going to sell itself?
While there are clearly island brand names like The Bahamas, Jamaica and Saint Lucia, time may be running out for the Caribbean if tourism continues to be looked at through the myopic lens that it is.
If the region is to be a place where the cruise and hotel passengers come and can expect much in terms of a clean, safe and vibrant environment where the business community is actively involved in the development of policy and a whole of government approach is taken, then the region has a future. If, however, all the countries are is an airport or cruise terminal for visitors to step of, en route to a predetermined location away from a vibrant city center, the region's economies are doomed and we may be well on the way to seeing this.
An encouragement to government leaders and tourism officials, be they at the local level or regionally such as the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, is to step into the breach once and for all and work though the apparent chasm that is characterized by mistrust between regional civil servants and the private sector involved in the industry before it is too late.
There is a need to engage in some of the granular issues affecting the economies of the region and the industry, namely:
o Acknowledge and embrace the sad fact that crime is an issue and partner with civil society to find ways to solve this beyond piecemeal efforts at increasing police presence in certain tourist spots;
o Engage the rural and agricultural community to find ways to build farm-to-table programs to encourage employment in that space and ensure not only food security but maybe more importantly, employment. Cleary, not everyone can get a job in tourism.
Ultimately it may well be tourism that offers the perfect opportunity for countries to properly integrate the agriculture, culture/heritage, transportation and energy sectors. The time to act is now however!
Finally, let us cease to release the numbers of arrivals alone but instead provide a comprehensive look at the real state of the industry. Recognizing that any true analysis is a result of numbers aggregated by individual countries, let us see governments effectively track and report on spend levels at the same time as visitor arrivals.
Let us also have tourism and economic offices properly report on the buying power of visitors and in the case of cruise passengers, develop models that correctly estimate numbers for their individual countries versus claiming per passenger spend levels of a three to five day cruiser as their own when that individual visits multiple locations.
The full accounting of the numbers can only help in providing an honest assessment of the value of tourism to the region, the real downstream value to the countries and the areas where Caribbean countries as a whole can do better to grow and protect the industry and the country/region brand.
o Anton Edmunds is the head of The Edmunds Group, a boutique business and government advisory service firm that focuses on the Caribbean, and a senior associate at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS). He can be contacted by e-mail here and prior posts reviewed at the firm's website: www.theedmundsgroup.com. Published with the permission of caribbeannewsnow.com.
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November 22, 2013
Coaches in the public school system have decided not to stand in solidarity with the Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT), and have opted to continue with their regular seasons in the Government Secondary Schools Sporting Association's (GSSSA) afterschool program.
The decision to return to the court was made by the New Providence Association of Public High School Principals (NPPAHSP), which has the full support of the Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald. In fact, Fitzgerald and T. Nicola McKay, the president of the NPPAHSP, which is the governing body for the GSSSA, were at the D.W. Davis gymnasium yesterday to witness the tip-off of the 2013/14 basketball season.
While McKay confirmed that 15 of the 16 registered public schools have agreed to participate in the afterschool program, Fitzgerald said he will not play games when it comes to the education of Bahamian children and has given the green light to McKay to replace, where necessary, any teacher/coach who has not reported to their respective activities.
"It is unfortunate, however, that the BUT and its president have now reached well beyond their authority and their responsibilities with regards to afterschool programs," said Fitzgerald. "The BUT does not run the Ministry of Education and the afterschool program. I have said it before, and I will say it again, that the Ministry of Education is responsible for schools in The Bahamas and the management thereof, and not the BUT.
"With regards to afterschool programs, those are governed by the constitution of the New Providence Association of Public High School Principals, which is the governing body for the Government Secondary Schools Sporting Association (GSSSA). As was indicated, principal McKay of C.R. Walker is the president of that association."
Only the president of the NPPAHSP and the president of the GSSSA have the authority to call a meeting with the teachers/coaches, according to McKay. President of the GSSSA, Kevin 'K.J.' Johnson revealed that there's no rift in his executive board and the association is operating smoothly in a cohesive manner. The members of the executive board include Johnson, Penial Bain, Albert Simmons, Verral Davis, Tia Rolle, Tamara Bodie and Mark Hanna.
McKay said: "The GSSSA's president has been given word by the principals' association that 15 of the 16 secondary schools have committed to participating in the sports calendar set out by the GSSSA, and we are anticipating a vibrant season.
"There is no coaching association, so the meeting that would have been held yesterday by one of the executives, Verral Davis, would not have been sanctioned by the GSSSA or the NPPAHSP. If she chooses to call a meeting on her own, that is fine, but she cannot do it in the name of the GSSSA. If there is a problem among the coaches, they can resort to appealing to the principals' association, with matters pertaining to the GSSSA. If nothing is solved, then we will turn it over to the Director of Education, Lionel Sands, and then in turn to the minister of education."
The teacher/coaches receive a stipend of $1,500 for every sport coached. However, they are only paid for the five core sports.
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November 22, 2013
Children from the Urban Renewal inner city areas have received a donation of nearly 100 pairs of PUMA sports shoes - an early Christmas present that they won't be saving to unwrap on Christmas day!
The donation had been foreshadowed at the September BTC School Aid event when BTC and Urban Renewal announced their partnership, forged earlier this year, to facilitate a number of community programs and projects to benefit and further advance humanitarian efforts in under privileged communities.
The much needed shoes are the meaningful donation to Urban Renewal from PUMA and BTC both represented by rising track star Bahamian Olympian Anthonique Strachan who is endorsed by BTC and whose college education and athletic training is sponsored by PUMA.
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November 22, 2013
The inglorious state of affairs in the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) goes on. The fiasco continued this past Tuesday evening, when at a "constituted executive board meeting, and in accordance with Article 4.14 and 5.25 (v) of the BAAA's constitution", a vote to suspend President Mike Sands was passed.
The action is the latest in a series of shameful incidents that have occurred since the elections of November 2012, which left Sands the lone one standing from his slate of solid supporters. All of his key supporters from the incumbent executive board on that evening were defeated.
As it turns out the ostracizing of the new executives, their rebellious responses, certain seemingly arranged meetings and other disgraceful incidents collectively have just been the tip of the iceberg.
I have been informed that the report from the financial 2013 CARIFTA Games was done without the participation (or knowledge) of the majority of the executives of the BAAA. The local organizing committee that managed the event was a BAAA-appointed entity. That fact alone entitled all executives to an understanding of some kind of the financial report and all other related data regarding the CARIFTA Games.
Hopefully nothing further scandalous surfaces.
What appears to be definite, however, is that those executives who reportedly felt disenfranchised, will pursue their objective to have their elected positions respected, to the very (bitter) end.
The resolution to suspend Sands happened with the following present: Iram Lewis, Dexter Bodie, Carl Oliver, Ricardo Rolle, Curtis Pride, Harrison Petty, Dwayne Jennings, Tonique Williams, Maryann Higgs-Clarke (representing Debbie Ferguson McKenzie), Kem Stuart and Mabelene Miller.
The aforementioned are all significant to the track and field fraternity and sports in general in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. The fact they supported a suspension of Sands speaks volumes. I have long felt and suggested it in this space, that it was Sands' obligation to seek a compromise. As the leader, the responsibility was his to right the BAAA ship.
However, he allowed the situation to get too far out of hand.
The press release that elected Secretary General Carl Oliver was directed by the executive board to send out follows:
"On November 19, 2013, members of the BAAA executive board, being the majority, at a duly constituted executive board meeting, and in accordance with Article 4.14 and 5.2.5 (v) of the constitution, took a vote to suspend Mr. Mike Sands, president of the BAAA, for 30 days. Within seven days after serving his suspension, Mr. Sands is at liberty to appear before the executive board and show cause as to why his suspension should not be extended to [an] expulsion. Should he fail to appear before the executive board, the board will make [a] final determination in his absence.
"Mr. Sands was informed of the action taken against him. The board will in short order provide further details on the suspension of Mr. Sands."
So, there you have it readers.
The country now awaits further development in this bizarre situation.
o To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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November 22, 2013
In what is expected to be the biggest musical showdown of the year, in less than two weeks six Bahamian bands will go head to head for a chance to compete for the coveted title of the "Best Bahamian Band".
But this isn't a karaoke competition. The bands will have to perform original music in front of a live audience. And after the last note is played, a champion will be crowned and will have the opportunity to travel to Thailand to do it all over again - only this time it will be on a much bigger stage.
The Global Battle of the Bands competition will take place at Botanical Gardens on November 30. Doors open at 3 p.m. and the competition begins at 5 p.m.
Every year local qualifying heats and finals take place in participating countries around the world, with the winners of these going forward to the world finals.
Competing bands include Johnnie Christie and the Floating Boats, The Truth, Avante Guarden, Kontact, New Entry and Plati Dred, according to Chairperson of the Global Battle of the Bands Bahamas competition Ricardo Berris.
"Our mission is to find one band in every country that has the potential of being successful internationally, and then we'll put them all together in a world's final and award the top band with a $100,000 band development package, a chance to tour the world and sign a contract with a record label," Berris told Guardian Pulse yesterday.
The Bahamas is only in its second year competing in the competition, which started in 2004. Despite being the new kids on the block, Berris said The Bahamas' band has already made its mark on the competition.
Stinkin' Wayz, last year's Bahamian winner, placed third against 30 countries during the September 15 competition in Romania.
Berris, who is organizing the local leg of the competition, said the people can expect a "fabulous show". He said the country has to live up to the reputation it created last year.
"We brought the standard of the competition to an extreme high to the likes that we've never seen before," Berris said.
"The rest of the world actually looked on and gave praises to The Bahamas and Zamar (audio visual and productions company) for executing at such a high level. Most other countries never really went that far. We take this very seriously and our bands do too, so it will help lift the competition globally."
But while contending that The Bahamas has a lot of talent, Berris said there have been some issues finding bands.
"We had some challenges because bands share members a lot and that's not something that we look for in our quest to find a band," he said.
"Another challenge is they don't write a lot of music. We are featuring original music that is played live. That's essentially our mission.
"So you may not see your band perform this year because they have to prep and it takes a while to prep and sometimes bands just don't have such a long life. They will form today and then they'll be out tomorrow."
Tickets for the event are $10 in advance and $20 at the door.
Berris estimates that it will be a sold-out event.
"Last year we had about 6,000 people," he said. "This year we expect the same thing."
Berris said the local organization is hoping to host the finals in The Bahamas in the near future.
As for how winners are chosen, Berris added that both local and international judges have been chosen to rate the bands. However, those attending will get the opportunity to have their say.
The viewers' choice will go toward the final score.
"It's important to come to enjoy but also to come and help us to decide," Berris said. "This is your competition really. It's about you helping us to determine which one of the bands will be the best. You know what quality music should be."
Tickets can be purchased at CTI Cellular and Electronics, Negril Cafe, The Counsellors, Maranatha Music or Audio Plus. Children under 12 will be admitted without charge.
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November 21, 2013
Over the years Ricardo Clarke and DJ Counsellor have travelled the entire Bahamas and beyond working with young people, visiting schools and leading youth to Christ and ultimately toward productive lives.
In this vein, they will launch the M & M Tour (music and missions) which will begin on the island of Abaco on Friday, November 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the Latter Rain Ministries, with lots of giveaways including free phone cards all night.
School tours and charity concerts have been part of their strategy to reach young people. Clarke said, "In my view it's always important to give back while you have the influence and the relevance to do so. It is always our desire to reinforce what our children are learning, and support what the educational system is trying to do. I hope to inspire the student to see the bigger picture so they can be driven by the opportunities, not the odds."
In previous efforts, they have reached over 20,000 students in 70 schools in seven islands which also saw 500 young people giving their lives to Christ. The tour will make its way around the country with the islands of Eleuthera and Exuma as the next stops.
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November 21, 2013
Then he said to them: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
"But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. - Luke 21:10-17
In our postmodern world, the church seems to be in a quandary. There is a hemorrhage of members and she has lost her influence in society.
The church is constantly under attack and now experiencing hostility from governments that were once friendly and supportive. In their attempt to appease secularism, these governments enforce new laws that conflict with God's laws. Consequently, the church is cast aside and made out to be the enemy of all.
Notwithstanding the war being waged against her, the church is constantly ministering to people affected by famines, hunger, pestilences, disasters, both natural and manmade. In recent times we have seen an increase in earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding.
When we look at the above aggregately, we are left to conclude that our Lord's return is imminent. Many Christians are perplexed and are sadden. They pray that our Lord hasten his return in order to save his church.
God's word gives us comfort against fear and despondency. The above text warns us of these events. Our Lord promised they will take place before he returns.
Therefore, we don't have any reason to be sad or despondent about the increase in hostility against the church, the disasters which take place in the world and secularism. In the midst of the evil we encounter and the destruction and ruins around us, there is an opportunity to testify by proclaiming the gospel to a new generation.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as long as you stand firm upon the word of God, your opponents can not stand against you. Yes, there will be major collapses. Things will appear bleak for the church and the people of God. However, don't get frightened or give up. Instead, stand tall and proclaim the gospel.
When these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is near. Even when you appear to be standing alone, you will not be alone.
The God who created the heavens and the earth is with you. He is on your side. Even when your family and friends desert you, God is standing with you. He will always stand with you.
Therefore, you are never alone. He will protect you and guide you. He is your rock. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.
We can do nothing about the destructive forces of nature. We live in a sinful world; therefore, the forces of Satan will continue to rage war against the church. We can't change this.
What we can do is spend the time we have left praising God and sharing his word with the people around us. In the midst of the evil of man and the disasters of nature, let us proclaim the gospel and extend a hand of love, friendship and charity. We can change a heart through love, a love which comes from God. Amen
o Reverend Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone: 426-9084; e-mail: email@example.com; website: www.Nassaulutheranchurch.org.
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November 21, 2013
For sometime now, I have been pre-occupied with the interesting topic of why most men do not sit on toilet seats when urinating, especially while at home or in other bathrooms without urinals.
Should I write about this topic? Is it something worthwhile writing about? My subject appetite became satisfied when I came across several articles, forums and some research on the topic. I felt so much better to know that I was not the only one wondering about this topic.
Almost 40 years ago, I realized that it was best to sit on the toilet seat while urinating because it reduced the risk of splashes and the possibility of leaving the seat wet for the one who would come behind me, especially my dear wife. Sitting while urinating avoided arguments and greatly increased hygiene. The only places I would stand while urinating would be where there are urinals in public facilities. I could aim directly into the bowl avoiding splashes. It was safe and hygienic.
What concerned me over the years was the attitude of many men who refuse to appreciate how wise it is to sit on the toilet seat to urine. One professor told me that there was a small unisex toilet near the classroom where he taught. The women always complained of the smell and how untidy it was due to the men who left urine on the toilet seat and the floor. So the professor requested that all the men sit while urinating so the bathroom would be always fresh and clean. The responses of the men were terrible. They said, "Do you think we are females? That's ridiculous! What stupid man would sit on the toilet seat?" Some stamped away bellowing expletives and saying other mean things at the professor. They all refused to sit on the toilet seat to urine. At least these men could have raised the toilet seat so the aim area would be wider and close it when finished, but they refused to cooperate.
One study indicates that about 80 percent of men around the world refuse to sit on the toilet seat or at least raise the seat while urinating at home. I found a somewhat humorous article that describes four types of men who refuse to sit on the toilet seat or who at least refuse to lift the toilet seat when urinating. You might find this interesting. It is found on "The Lazy Nigerian" online. Here are the four kinds of men:
First, the lazy man: "This breed of man makes up close to 80 percent of the world's population. They consist of those who are ready to urine just about anywhere in public, even beside car doors and beside the road on the side of trees. The toilet seat, in their eyes, is a 50-pound weight that requires brute strength in lifting."
Second, the proud man: "This type of man may not necessarily have anything to be proud of, but certainly feels too big to bend over and touch a toilet seat, let alone lift it. He has more 'important things' to worry about. He thinks it's someone else's job to clean his mess up (it's beneath him)."
Third, the inconsiderate man: This type of man is "commonly associated with men who are in relationships and are yet to be married. They seem to forget quite easily that there is another person living with them or who comes to visit them frequently. These men tend to be stuck in their ways and believe their partners should quit complaining and just adapt."
Fourth, the gentleman: "All the ladies love this type of man. No matter how pressed he is, he always manages to lift the toilet seat up (or to sit down) and even remembers to put it back down for his lady. Some would say he's soft, others say he's a pushover. But women say he is a considerate, humble and diligent man... He only makes up less than 20 percent of the world's population and most of his type was raised by decent parents who have great toilet etiquette."
Men, let's be considerate. When using a regular toilet to urine, sit down. You will be a gentleman. Would a sitting position change who you are or your sexual orientation? Certainly not! Then give you wife or partner a wonderful Christmas gift. Start sitting on the toilet seats at home. Happy sitting!
o Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist and board certified clinical psychotherapist, USA. Send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org; or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas; or visit www.soencouragement.org; or call 242-327-1980, or 242-477-4002.
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November 21, 2013
The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. - Psalm 104:12
Dusk falls very quickly and I was washing the dishes and through the lace curtains I was enjoying the view of the trees. Beyond the wall is a "woman's tongue" tree. She has weathered many a storm and apart from being toppled in one of them, she stands tall and majestic. Trees are so beautiful and sometimes if they were art, the abstract would be beautiful and profound.
While I was enjoying the beauty of nature, my attention was suddenly drawn away by the sound of what seemed to be a flock of birds in a raucous situation. Chirping, squawking, wings fluttering and a harmonious sound, as if one group was asking and answering and another group trying to get a word in. In the midst of all of this, I heard the dog bark and opened the door to see birds I had not seen for the year. Perhaps they had just arrived in town and were in and out of my breadfruit tree so happy to be out of the cold, and so it's party time! Others were on the roof performing air shows and buzzing the dog's tail. When he turned around to snap at them, they attacked him from the front with others taking a corner shot. I had a good laugh while they played catch me if you can.
Today in our lesson, the Psalmist David in this beautiful 104th Psalm is declaring that the Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth and all that dwells therein, is able to make the birds sing again in our lives. He is able to water the dry streams and out of any darkness, bring light, joy, peace and reconciliation.
There is no situation that God is not aware of. He makes grass grow for the cattle and plants for man to cultivate so that the earth brings forth fruit. "He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved. He makes springs pour water into the ravines, it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field, donkeys quench their thirst. How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures."
God provides for his creatures. When he withholds his breath they return to dust; yet his spirit can create new life. Every living thing and person is dependent on God for he is the author of life, so we should always be filled with gratitude for all the gifts of life, mind, soul and body.
All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful; the Lord God makes them all. Each little flower that opens, each little bird that sings; he made their glowing colors, he made their tiny wings.
o E-amil email@example.com; write to P.O. Box 19725 SS Nassau, Bahamas with your prayer requests, concerns and comments. God's Blessings!
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November 21, 2013
Reaching children and youth is not about curriculum, programs, techniques or retreats. It's about being involved with God in shaping the spiritual destinies of young people and teaching them how to live in this confused, busy world.
As we begin now to consider the soil of our future, the youth themselves, I'd like to take a moment to remind you of the tremendous potential and influence we have in reaching them. Ministry to children and youth is the most powerfully effective tool available to anyone. Of course, I'm prejudiced. I suppose every area of ministry could communicate the reasons for their ministry's importance over all others. There is something to be said, though, about the unique potential of children and youth ministry. We don't have to deal with so many walls which the people to whom we minister have built up in defense of their past fears or patterns of living. Our goal is without walls and within view.
Obviously, today's young people are different from the child 10 years ago. Today's second grader is aware of the world on a level that you and I were in junior high. Regardless of that fact, Jesus himself said that children were to be examples for us. I think that means fewer walls, less guilt, less pain, more innocence. Studies have shown that over 80 percent of the Christians today made that commitment prior to age 14. What a great area of ministry.
Ministry to young people today is more than just passing on Bible stories. It's about effecting change in the lives of the children and youth who then have a powerful influence in the home and at school.
No longer are the majority of our adults "church parents" who bring their children to church to reinforce what they are teaching them at home.
The majority of today's young people come to us out of desperation and need. The home is not the place it used to be. Concepts like consistency, commitment, faithfulness, security, and truth are fading from our homes. The church is now the "final frontier" for values that we once thought of as accepted or commonplace. The young people are becoming the missionaries to their own homes. No longer are the young people coming to church with wide-eyed anticipation of how the Sunday morning experience will further the life lessons they regularly get at home.
Those who serve the children and youth must view themselves as perhaps the only voice of God in the lives of some young people. There may be exceptions to this condition, but if we use this viewpoint as our foundation, we will not neglect those for whom it is true. I believe that those young people who do receive Godly education and spiritual nurture at home will benefit from the refresher course they receive on Sundays. It is now time for us to go back into our city and our church and reach the unreached and unevangelized children and youth for the advancement of the gospel.
"We hold in our hands their destiny. We determine largely whether they fail or succeed. What they are today, the world of tomorrow will be. The time to reach young people is now."
o Ricardo Miller Children's Ministries works alongside ministries in evangelizing children, empowering parents and training children's ministry workers.
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November 21, 2013
As the Thanksgiving holiday looms, a local religious leader has urged Bahamians not to get carried away with the spirit of the North American holiday but to use the time to celebrate Bahamian traditions and history.
In a statement released this week, Reverend Canon Sebastian Campbell, rector of St. Gregory's Anglican Church, took issue with the fact that many Bahamians celebrate Thanksgiving, teach its history in public schools and take part in related feasts. He urged Bahamians to ignore the North American "cultural invasion" and focus on local customs and history during this time.
"Let us cut to the chase," Campbell said. "The average Bahamian is brainwashed and, or, mis-educated when referring to this time of the year simply as Thanksgiving.
"This is not America; we've had a cultural invasion and are ignorant to it. Our [public] schools do a whole lot of mental damage this time of the year that, if not checked, will be a lever in the continued transplanting of our Bahamian cultural heritage.
"I have sat through many a school assembly and endured teachers pontificating on the pilgrim fathers, and then to reinforce this with our impressionable children doing skits and songs on the first Thanksgiving and it's ongoing development and influence on life, as though all this is a part of our Bahamian history which they assert we should justifiably celebrate. We have a case here of the blind leading the blind."
Campbell also said more focus should be placed on local cuisine during celebrations and lamented the fact that American fast food has permeated Bahamian culture, sometimes pushing local restaurants out of the market.
"The cultural onslaught invades further at the level of our stomach," he said.
"It is in our schools; after these thanksgiving assemblies teachers barricade themselves to gobble down the American dishes of ham, turkey, pumpkin pie, etc. This behavior is an insult to our cultural heritage, and to our good and gracious God who has made us uniquely Bahamian.
"We are a peculiar people with peculiar blessings, a peculiar heritage and thus a peculiar history. Next to no leadership comes from anywhere in this cultural onslaught."
The end of November is traditionally a time to celebrate the harvest, Campbell said, as he urged Bahamians to use the time to give thanks for the blessings God has bestowed on the country.
"We Bahamians must show our thankfulness to God for his blessings on us as Bahamians. We must count our blessings. We are no celebrants of ham and turkey. This is American. Stop trying to be that which we are not.
"God has blessed us with Long Island mutton, wild boar from Inagua, Andros crab, grouper and conch from our water. Can we show appreciation for Cat Island flour cake and Eleuthera pineapple, even when turned upside down? Yes, and good old peas soup n' dough seasoned with dry conch and salt beef. Oh yes, by now we have the message. We wash all that down with good old switcher or sky juice. Depending on our religious background, we can spice up these drinks even further."
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November 21, 2013
The 21 honorees that will be inducted into the National Sports Hall of Fame on Friday were referred to as the foundation for sports, the builders who paved the way for Bahamian athletes competing today.
It was said that the members of the 2013 class all shared a common bond even though they came from different backgrounds. Among the 21 persons being inducted are former parliamentarians, reverends, sports writers, an author and historian; professional athletes and persons who coached and administered the daily governance of sporting organizations in the country. This year's class is Enoch Backford II, LeRoy Archer Sr., Jacqueline Barnett-Bethel, Sir Arlington Butler, Bernard Livingston Bostwick; Roscoe Davies, John Barry Farrington, Alpheus Finlayson, Errol Eugene Haven, Dr. Norman Gay, Maryanne Higgs, Osborne Lockhart, Oswald Moore, Kendal Nottage; Harold Munnings Sr., Dr. Gail Saunders, Garth Rolle, Basil Neymour (deceased), Hezron Moxey (deceased), Phil Smith (deceased) and Leroy Mitchell (deceased).
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson said that he was extremely grateful to all of the inductees. At a luncheon, held on Wednesday afternoon, Johnson thanked family members personally for lending their love ones to a country that had just started its journey in sports, during their era. The countless hours and sacrifices will never go unnoticed, Johnson noted. He encouraged The Bahamas, especially younger Bahamians to sit and talk with some of the inductees, as their stories are powerful and touching.
The sporting minister also revealed that photos of the members of the 2013 class and all the past honorees will hang on the walls of the new Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. According to him, this is one of the best ways to educate Bahamians as well as persons visiting the stadium about the many contributions of our sporting heroes, and where they came from.
Apart from honoring the 21 inductees on Friday at 6:30 p.m, at Government House, they received high praises from current Members of Parliament in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, and visited a number of schools in New Providence.
Lockhart, the first foreign player in the Harlem Globetrotters encouraged younger Bahamians to trust and believe in local coaches, while pressing the government to go into the Family Islands and recruit athletes.
"We have good, qualified Bahamian coaches..." said Lockhart yesterday at the luncheon. "There's nothing I was more proud of because I have been traveling close to 90 countries, than when the announcer said, 'and the first foreign born player to play for the Harlem globe trotters is from Nassau, Bahamas.' We really need to start honing all of the talents that we have on the outer islands, going there and scouting. With all of the avenues that we have this should be clockwork, easy. These kids should know if they work hard and do this and do that, it is a possibility. If kids believe and we can get them to believe anything is possible and that nothing comes easy, that you have to sacrifice and have commitment."
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November 21, 2013
What a way to comeback!!
After watching Salem Union celebrate with a big walk-off victory on a three-run homer from JeVaughn Saunders on Saturday, Golden Gates' men came back on Tuesday night as the Baptist Sports Council continued its 2013 Coca-Cola Softball Classic, taking their frustration out on Macedonia.
In the feature game at the Banker's Field at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex, Golden Gates got a towering two-run blast from Sherman Ferguson in a walk-off 12-2 rout, stopping Macedonia in three
innings via the ten-run rule.
With the win, Golden Gates improved to 4-1, but now trail Calvary Deliverance mathematically in the pennant race. Calvary Deliverance stayed unbeaten at 2-0 with a 13-10 victory in an extra inning over
BIBA in the other men's game played.
Golden Gates and Calvary Deliverance will clash in what could determine the men's pennant on Thursday night in the middle game of a triple header at 8 pm. With their losses, Macedonia dropped to third at 3-1 and BIBA remained in fourth at 2-3.
In the other game, Golden Gates clinched the co-ed pennant as they doubled up Macedonia 10-5. While Golden Gates remained undefeated at 3-0, Macedonia dropped to the bottom of the pile at 0-3.
Here's a summary of the games:
Golden Gates 12, Macedonia 2: After playing to a 2-2 tie at the end of the first inning, Golden Gates' bats came alive with a three-run second and a seven-run third, highlighted by the monster jam deep over the center field fence, picking up Garfield Bethel on the game ending two-run blast.
Ferguson finished with a 2-for-3 night with four RBI and two runs scored; Bethel was 1-for-3 with two runs and a RBI; Richard Bain was 2-for-2 with a RBI and two runs scored and Anthon Rolle had one hit, a RBI and two runs scored.
Ken Wood Jr. was the winning pitcher. Maitland Demeritte came in relief of starter D'Kyle Rolle and was tagged with the loss. Rolle had a RBI double, driving in Courtney Smith and he scored the other run for Macedonia.
Calvary Deliverance 13, BIBA 10: It took an extra inning as Calvary Deliverance broke up a 9-9 tie in the sixth inning by scoring four runs, sparked by Brad Wood Jr's RBI single, Jayson Clarke's RBI double, Patrick Lockhart RBI sacrifice fly and Robert Cox RBI single. Clarke finished 2-for-3 with a two-run homer; Lockhart was 2-for-4 with three RBI and two runs and Angelo Butler was 1-for-3 with a RBI
and two runs scored. Wood Jr. was the winning pitcher. Glenroy Saunders Jr. was tagged with the loss. McNeil Albury was 2-for-3 with three RBI, including a two-run homer; Tony Strachan was 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs, and Burlington Moss had a solo homer.
Golden Gates 10, Macedonia 5: Eugene Pratt went 2-for-3 with a three-run homer, scoring three times; Sherman Ferguson was also 2-for-3 with three RBI, including a two-run homer, scoring twice;
Jenette Hilton was 2-for-4, scoring twice and Thela Johnson also scored two runs for golden Gates.
Alfred 'Skater' Munnings was the winning pitcher. D'Kyle Rolle got the loss. Shaquell Smith was 2-for-3 with a run scored; Kili Kemp was 2-for-2 with a RBI and a run scored and Sheena Taylor was 1-for-3 with a RBI.
Here's the current team standings:
Here's the schedule for the remainder of the week:
7 pm - Salem vs. Macedonia (M).
8 pm - Calvary Deliverance vs. Golden Gates (M).
9 pm - BIBA vs. Men of Vision (M).
10 am - Macedonia vs. New Bethlehem (19).
11 am - Macedonia vs. Men of Vision (M).
Noon Salem vs. Calvary Deliverance (M).
1 pm - St. John's vs. St. Paul's (Co-ed).
2 pm - Calvary Deliverance vs. St. Paul's (M).
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