Nassau Guardian Stories

BHTA responds to Markantonis resignation

February 25, 2015

The Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) yesterday stated that the resignation of Atlantis President and Managing Director George Markantonis is a "huge loss" for The Bahamas' tourism sector.
In an e-mail correspondence with Guardian Business, the BHTA thanked Markantonis for his contributions to the sector as it awaited news on his successor.
"The resignation of George Markantonis is a huge loss for the Bahamian tourism industry. George has taken the lead on various industry advocacy issues, and influenced the creation of Battle 4 Atlantis, the Atlantis Concert series, and Miss Universe 2009, all of which benefited the entire destination," read the statement.
Markantonis yesterday confirmed with Guardian Business that he would step down from his position at Atlantis after nearly a decade with the resort. Although Markantonis said that he had offered his resignation, the specifics of his departure have yet to be announced.
"In addition, George has worked to improve the Atlantis product offering with additions including The Cove and Atlantis Waterpark, Olive Restaurant, Virgil's restaurant and numerous room upgrades. We will miss George and wish him the best in his new endeavors. In the coming weeks we look forward to hearing about his replacement and where he will be working," said the BHTA.

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Govt seeks consultancy for redevelopment of PMH

February 25, 2015

Health Minister Dr. Perry Gomez has disclosed that the government has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a consultancy on the redevelopment of the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) and plans to engage a "qualified health care planner" very shortly.
The minister was contributing to the debate on the resolution to accept the mid-year budget statement presented by Prime Minister Perry Christie. As noted by Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin, the Ingraham administration introduced the mid-year budget statement process to ensure government accountability in the event of unforeseen or unaccounted for spending.
Gomez reported that the deliverables of the consultancy will include the existing and future service requirements of PMH, detailed functional programs for all areas of the hospital and a master plan for the redevelopment of the hospital on its existing site.
"The primary objective of the functional program and the master plan for PMH's overall site and facilities is to establish the basis for a modern, efficient, economical and adaptable health facility that will support the Ministry of Health and the Public Hospitals Authority in the delivery of high quality patient care well into the next century," the minister said.

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Gray pushes regional agriculture development fund

February 25, 2015

Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government V. Alfred Gray yesterday urged CARICOM agriculture ministers to consider establishing a joint fund for regional agricultural development ahead of their roundtable with representatives of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Gray told Guardian Business that joint cooperation between regional agricultural organizations, including the Caribbean Poultry Association (CPA) and Caribbean Farmers Network (CFN), could serve as a catalyst for a feasible agricultural development fund that would redistribute the assets of larger agricultural powers in the region to "bear the infirmities of the weak".
"I think it's very feasible if every country contributes to the extent that they could. The one fund will be used to develop regionally our agricultural programs because some will need more than others. If everybody contributes to this fund, then it seems to me that it'd be much easier to fund a project in, say, The Bahamas than for the country itself to struggle on its own to do what it needs to do. This fund would be very important to the total development of the Caribbean agricultural sector," said Gray.
However, Gray did not provide further details for the proposed fund, including the number of member states involved, an implementation timeline, or The Bahamas' investment in the project. Gray hopes to use the meeting to gauge CARICOM interest in the project.
Speaking at the opening ceremony for the meetings between FAO and CARICOM agriculture ministers, Gray said the region needs to consolidate its resources to make Caribbean food security a reality.
"Do we have a fund from which we can draw as a region for the development of agriculture, or do we have countries struggling on their own where everybody takes it personally and not as a region? It's easier for everybody to contribute something to a fund that will help everybody.
"If we were to support each other our positions would become stronger. That common fund for the development of agriculture is something that I think we ought to consider," said Gray.
The meetings between FAO and CARICOM representatives will conclude with a site visit to the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) today. While Gray was uncertain if the meetings would result in further technical assistance from the FAO at BAMSI, he remained optimistic for the institute's progress as The Bahamas advances beyond its "fledgling" status in agricultural production.
"We are a fledgling agricultural nation. Quite frankly we're not even walking yet. We have a long ways to go and this gives us an opportunity to recalibrate the things that we need to do as a country, and BAMSI is the centerpiece of our agricultural thrust, so I'm hoping that we'll get some benefits from this conference," he said.

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Govt foreshadows new tobacco control law

February 25, 2015

Just ahead of the 10th anniversary of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the health minister has foreshadowed legislation to control the use of tobacco in The Bahamas.
During debate on the mid-year budget statement, Dr. Perry Gomez informed members of the House of Assembly that a bill to control the use of tobacco had been developed by his ministry in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General and other government and non-government agencies.
"The substantive legal content of the bill is expressly codified in the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which was signed by The Bahamas on 29 June 2004 and ratified on November 3 2009," Gomez said.
"The Bahamas has an obligation to comply with the treaty's provisions," he added.
The tobacco control measures under the FCTC -- and therefore those included in the legislation to come -- include price and tax policies, bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, packaging and labelling requirements, protection from exposure to second hand smoke, education and public awareness measures, regulation of tobacco product contents and disclosures, treatment for tobacco dependence and measures to combat illicit trade.
Gomez added that the treaty provides for international cooperation to support tobacco control - including scientific, technical and legal cooperation and information sharing.
February 27 2015 will make ten years since the WHO FCTC entered into force. After its adoption by the 56th World Health Assembly in May 2003, 168 States signed the WHO FCTC. At last count, there were 180 states party to the convention, with Zimbabwe being the most recent to bring it into force (March 4 2015)
Article 21 of the Convention calls upon parties to submit to the Conference of the Parties, through the Secretariat, periodic reports on implementation of the Convention. The Bahamas' latest report was submitted April 15 2014, and the state is due to report again in early 2016.

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Former MP lists Chub Cay property for 41M

February 25, 2015

Former Minister of Agriculture Ervin Knowles has decided to sell undeveloped property he owns on Chub Cay, property he said he has been amassing since the 1960s, and the listing agent has posted a price tag of $41 million.
The 164-acre property, known as called Frazer's Hog Cay, comes with plans for a $20 million to $25 million "billionaire's compound."
Knowles said it had been his lifelong dream to build on the property, but time and other projects prevented that dream from reaching fruition.
Frazer's Hog Cay sits on the eastern end of Chub Cay, about 25 miles from Nassau. It is mostly raw land, although the Chub Cay International Airport does sit on the property along with some infrastructure and roads. Knowles is 81 and semi-retired from the construction industry.
Listing agent Eddy Martinez told the Wall Street Journal that architectural plans have been drafted for a compound that includes a roughly 22,000-square-foot, eight-bedroom, 12-bathroom contemporary home with a moat crossed by walkways. There are also plans for two smaller mansions and 16 Tiki-style bungalows on stilts that cantilever over the water.
Architect Enrique Rene Gonzalez of Gonzalez Architecture, based in Miami, Fla., said the compound would span about 20 acres and cost roughly $20 million to $25 million to build.
Martinez said the property was appraised at $41 million in 2007. Another listing in the Berry Islands chain, a 24-acre property on Sand Dollar Cay, is asking $7.2 million, which Martinez pointed out is in line with their price on an acreage basis.

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Festival a draw for microbusinesses

February 25, 2015

The upcoming second annual Rum Bahamas Festival will shine a much-needed spotlight on the country's entrepreneurs and microbusinesses at a time when small businesses continue to have serious difficulty securing financing, according to a festival organizer.
Alexa Ray-Smith, vendor coordinator for Rum Bahamas, told Guardian Business that the upcoming festival has attracted 15 microbusinesses to date and is extending last minute invitations to additional interested businesses. Ray-Smith noted that most of the businesses featured at the festival would be handicraft vendors, largely due to the cooperation between the Rum Bahamas Festival and the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC).
"It's extremely important for a better economic future if The Bahamas wants to see any kind of financial stability in a different sector. Other countries in the region are seeing that this is where we need to invest now because 10-15 years from now we're going to see growth and profits.
"Who's going to give these people chances? It's festivals that we need in order to get some sort of income for microbusinesses. We'd love to see festivals hosted in this country once a month. With that happening, you'd definitely see an economic turnaround. If affects us all, but there's a group of people who it affects tremendously," said Ray-Smith,
Speaking with Guardian Business, Rum Bahamas Festival event organizer Catherine Chisnall-Mitchell stressed the importance of promoting these businesses through festival tourism in difficult economic times. Rum Bahamas Festival organizers have been engaged in training participating microbusinesses in branding and other soft skills ahead of the event.
"We truly believe that The Bahamas is filled with creative, vibrant, welcoming people who have so much to offer as the Caribbean market becomes more competitive.
"We made a conscious decision not to partner with charities and not to offer handouts, but rather to enable entrepreneurs to promote their own products. We want to strengthen real Bahamian businesses. We should have a culture of festival tourism that creates an environment in which people can benefit socially and economically and rediscover what it means to truly welcome people, offering products made with love," said Chisnall-Mitchell.
The Rum Bahamas Festival will be held on February 27-March 1 at Fort Charlotte.

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Credit card promotion winners collect from CIBC FirstCaribbean

February 25, 2015

Four lucky CIBC FirstCaribbean customers were recently presented with an array of fabulous prizes.
They were the Zone 3 Bahamas winners in the
recent "Give More, Get More" promotion for CIBC FirstCaribbean credit card holders. Tony Miller, Sharlyn Smith, Lydia Strachan and Alex Mezulanik, who collected for her mother Katina Mezulanik, all expressed appreciation for the honor of being rewarded for going about their normal routine of making purchases with their CIBC FirstCaribbean credit cards.
Tony Miller, who was thrilled to receive his Samsung Galaxy S5, stated his satisfaction at being a CIBC FirstCaribbean customer and looks forward to participating in future promotions.
Harbour Bay customer Sharlyn Smith was the recipient of an Apple iPad Air, while Lydia Strachan and Katina Mezulanik of the Carmichael Road and Palmdale branches respectively, were the recipients of Go Pro Hero3 cameras.
Competition entries were generated automatically for every $50 spent in a transaction made by the cardholder using an eligible CIBC FirstCaribbean credit card.
Customers who used their cards between November 7 and 30 were eligible for this first draw. Another set of winners will be chosen from persons who used their cards in December and announced shortly. That prize will be a $1,500 cash prize to a single winner.
Branch Managers Cherise Archer, Marvin Major, Lawrence Daxon and Paul Bartlett were pleased to welcome the winners to their branches to make the presentations and thanked them for being valued clients.

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Drone legislation a step in the right direction, lawyer says

February 25, 2015

A leading attorney said yesterday that the Ministry of Transport and Aviation is taking "a step in the right direction" after announcing that it would release a series of proposed regulations governing commercial and recreational drone use by the end of March.
Higgs & Johnson Partner Michael Allen told Guardian Business that the announcement is a relief given the privacy issues and potential threats to national security presented by unregulated drone use, adding that the regulations should include a licensing fee for commercial drone use.
"I think generally this is a step in the right direction. It has to be responsibly regulated. There are some issues of national security also at play here. A responsible government would move in the direction that the minister is foreshadowing. I think it's definitely the right approach to take.
"It's very reasonable to assume that the registration process should include some kind of payment and licensing that should also be monitored and controlled by government," said Allen.
Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin revealed earlier this week that the ministry expects to release proposed commercial and recreational drone use regulations by March 30, 2015 under the Department of Civil Aviation amid safety and national security concerns.
Hanna-Martin said that the future regulations would govern usage, height restriction, operator certification, aircraft registration and markings, and the operational limits of local drone use as local use expands. The announcement comes two weeks after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released its proposed regulations for commercial drone use in the United States, which impose restrictions requiring that drones must be within the line of site of the operator.
While Allen said that the drone regulations are a priority for the ministry in the near future, he highlighted that there are additional commercial opportunities within the country's aviation sector.
Elite Travel Magazine revealed last December that Nassau topped the list of private charter jet destinations during last year's winter season, drawing in over $270 million for the country. Given the numbers and the Ministry of Tourism's interest in attracting even more private jet business in 2015, Allen said there is significant room for growth in the country's aircraft registry. Hanna-Martin announced earlier this month that the government had selected ICF International to help develop the framework for The Bahamas' international aircraft registry.
"We need to consolidate a position as a jurisdiction that can be used in the context of aircraft financing. Because we are a tax-neutral destination and we've got a fairly well-recognized corporate regime I think we have an opportunity to keep pace with our major competitors, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. We can certainly grow with the right infrastructure and promotion.
"Beyond that, I think it's going to be critical to consider the extent to which we can improve the registration of aircraft on our local registry. We have a growing presence of private jets in the jurisdiction so there is the need to consider how we may best accommodate the requirements and needs of private jet ownership," said Allen.

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The Providence School honors star pupils

February 25, 2015

Honor roll and star students at The Providence School were recognized in a unique way -- they were showcased during the school's student body's production of "Sunrise@Providence," their version of The Counsellors Ltd. show "Bahamas@Sunrise".
Eighteen members of the school's student body from first through fourth grade recorded grade point averages (GPA) higher than 3.00 through the Christmas term. Star students who not only excelled academically, but displayed good character traits were also honored.
"The students are doing very well and I'm proud of them," said The Providence School's Head of School Shacantila Hall-Briggs of the student academic performance at one of the country's newest institutions.
During the "Sunrise@Providence" production that was recorded and played for parents, the students acted as news anchors and reporters and delivered the news about stories that fell under their beat and shot at different locations around the school located on the Tonique Williams-Darling Highway.
The head of school said producing the show helped the students with their
production skills and their ability to deliver in front of a crowd.
"We were trying for the kids to not just memorize everything. We wanted to showcase their incredible reading skills, because we did have some kids that came to us as non-readers and really reading below level. And nothing was watered down for them. We allowed them to write and edit, and they were able to do that. And they had to research their sections, so there was a Mandarin reporter, a Spanish reporter, someone who reported on language, right on down to sports. And we tried to incorporate as much of the subject learning in it so the children could then deliver it," said Hall-Briggs.
From concept through to the final product, the students did it all, including producing commercials and onsite reporting.
"They literally did everything. The students depicted the adult members from Hall-Briggs herself to their teachers. There was no adult present in the whole production. And then we incorporated our honor roll and star students into it," she said.
The concept for the production came to the students after a penmanship class, and their reporter's club wanting to do a term in review and speak to what was to come with the start of the 2015 semester. Hall-Briggs encouraged the students to do the show this year during which the outstanding students could be recognized.
With five weeks to the Easter break, the head of school said she and her staff would be working hard with the student to ensure that all of their students are named to the honor roll.
The Providence School has begun to accept applications for the new school year. They will also hold open houses on Saturday, February 28 and Saturday, March 28 from 10 a.m. to 12-noon. The school can also be called for appointments for registration at 698-6701/2.

The Providence School Honor Roll students through the Christmas term

K5
Denika Rolle -- 4.00

Grade 1
Erin McPhee -- 3.67
Nathan Moxey -- 4.00
Perez Lightbourne -- 3.33
Ryjha Ward -- 3.77
Takiha Rolle -- 3.55
Tamouya Joseph -- 3.11
Jaden Clarke -- 3.22

Grade 2
Jonathan Miller -- 3.78
Kaizer Briggs -- 4.00
Kamari Lockhart -- 3.89

Grade 3
Dymonde Lundy -- 3.30
Nasir Williams -- 3.30

Grade 4
Maquel Connolly -- 3.45
Selia Duncombe -- 3.10
Jaden Duncombe
Dina Poitier -- 3.09
Rycheed Ward -- 3.43

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Four awarded Tara Xavier Hepburn Foundation scholarships

February 25, 2015

Four new students have been awarded the Tara Xavier Foundation Scholarship for the 2014-2017 school years bringing the number of scholarship recipients up to 26 since the inception of the scholarship program in 2007.
Receiving scholarships were former T.A. Thompson Junior School student Ralph Sealy, former C.H. Reeves Junior School student Shania Lewis, former H.O. Nash Junior School student Nastacia Turnquest and Monique Chandler of the TARA Project and St. John's College.
The four new recipients will all matriculate at St. John's College where they will join -- twelfth grade students Edwin Greenslade, Amanda Fowler and Jewel Sturrup; eleventh grade students Quentinn Moreice Forbes and Eleanore Simmons.
TARA Scholars enrolled at St. Anne's School include eleventh grade students Jeffon Stubbs and Delmonica Brown.
The Tara Xavier Hepburn Foundation scholarship which is for three years, tenth through twelfth grades, covers full tuition and the cost of books for recipients at the cost of approximately $5,000 per year per student.
The scholarship is open to graduates of government junior schools and students of St. John's College and St. Anne's School who have successfully completed grade nine, and tenable at St. John's College and St. Anne's School.
In order to be considered for a scholarship, applicants must be nominated by their school, attain at least a 3.00 grade point average, have demonstrated leadership ability and/or community involvement; be of good moral character and successfully pass a minimum of five BJC subjects which must include English and Mathematics with a grade of "C" or better. Applicants also may be required to attend an interview.
The Tara Xavier Hepburn Foundation was launched on December 29, 2006 to celebrate the life of Hepburn, an exceptional young Bahamian who died at the age of 30 while studying law, after having completed a psychology degree. Out of pain and grief and trying to cope with the loss, Hepburn's family decided to keep Tara's memory alive through scholarship for students in high school.
The Foundation is funded largely through donation.

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Clean sports takes center stage

February 25, 2015

A new, national art and essay competition demonstrated students' deep appreciation and understanding of the concept of clean sports.
Approximately 59 entries from 13 schools vied for a top spot in the Bahamas Anti-Doping Commission (BADC) inaugural contest with top spots won by Queen's College student Ari Brathwaite (essay senior); St. Anne's School student Bernique Pople (essay junior) and St. Francis de Sales' Brad Cooper (essay elementary).
With one photo entry entered into the competition, Lyford Cay International School's Caterina Leam was assured of the win in the elementary division.
In the art division of the competition, the top awards were carted off by St. George's High School student Thaddia Simms (art senior); St. John's College's Amy Burrows (art junior) and Queens College's Caldon Whyms (art elementary).
The award ceremony was held at the National Art Gallery Friday evening.
In the essay competition, New Providence dominated with 19 entries. Another eight essays came from Grand Bahama and one from Abaco.
Grand Bahama monopolized the art contest with 27 entries, completely overshadowing the three entries that came from New Providence.
There was only one entry in the photography category.
First, second and third place winners were declared at the elementary (five to 10-years old), junior (11 to 13) and senior (14 to 18) levels.
"We wanted to stimulate them to exercise their creative process in interpreting the concept of clean sports," said Roscow Davies, the BADC's member responsible for education and training.
Established in 2009, by an act of Parliament, the BADC works to prevent cheating and doping in all sports in The Bahamas.
"In a world where many athletes take performance enhancing substances to gain an unfair advantage over others ... we want young people to understand this whole sense of competing fairly," said Davies.
He called the collective response from the schools in New Providence and Grand Bahama "encouraging."
For BADC Chairman, Dr. Jerome Lightbourne, education equals prevention. Education, he said, should start at a very young age.
"We live in a world where people try to do whatever they can to come first," said Dr. Lightbourne.
"We as parents and coaches put a sense of added performance in our children and athletes by enticing them to take extra vitamins and supplements. That's actually the beginning because it instills in these children and these athletes' minds at a very young age that they need to take something else to win."
Fortunately, athletes from The Bahamas have never tested positive on an international level, although there have been some positive doping results locally.
Speaking to the caliber of work submitted, BADC member and Olympian, Pauline Davis-Thompson said "the future looks very bright."
"We have some very talented young people in this country," she said. "Continue to hone your craft."
The BADC intends to host a second awards ceremony in Grand Bahama to honor the winners hailing from the nation's second city.

Winners' circle
Essay Elementary
1st place Brad Cooper Jr. (St. Francis de Sales)
2nd place Michael Massey (Lyford Cay International School)
3rd place Sierra Blair (Kingsway Academy)

Essay Junior
1st place Bernique Pople (St. Anne's School)
2nd place Angel Knowles (Temple Christian High School)
3rd place Kristaleah Hall (Sunland Baptist Academy)

Essay Senior
1st place Ari Brathwaite (Queen's College)
2nd place Lauryn Daxon (Queen's College)
3rd place Latario Smith (Temple Christian High School)

Photo Elementary
1st place Caterina Leam
(Lyford Cay International School)

Art Elementary
1st place Caldon Whyms (Queen's College),
2nd place Leander Newton (Sunland Baptist Academy)

Art Junior
1st place Amy Burrows (St. John's College)
2nd place Jaynell Rahming (St. John's College)
3rd Alyssa Turnquest (Mary Star Catholic Academy)

Art Senior
1st place Thaddia Simms (St. George's High School)
2nd place Aaron Minnis (St. George's High School)
3rd place Joshua Burrows (St. George's High School)
Honorable Mention: Franklyn Deveaux (St. George's High School)

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The joy of helping others

February 25, 2015

There's no doubt about it, there is absolute truth contained in the title of today's article "The joy of helping others" -- it's very real. Yes it is. Let me give you a couple of examples from my own life. Many years ago, I was introduced to W. Clement Stone at a seminar in Chicago and got a couple of his books, which I read enthusiastically from cover to cover. He concentrated a lot of effort at that time in assisting inmates at penal institutions in the United States (U.S.) to be rehabilitated so that they could return to society and once again become productive members of the community. This awakened a burning desire within me to do likewise in The Bahamas.
So when I returned to Nassau from Chicago, I immediately contacted the local penal institution administrator and offered to facilitate motivational seminars for inmates who were about to be released from prison in the next three to six months. Each Saturday I would go to the prison and conduct seminars from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. The seminars were very effective, and many years later I got a letter from one of these former inmates who is now a very successful businessman in the U.S. stating that it was what I had taught him in prison which contributed greatly to the successful businessman he had become. Believe me, this letter, which I treasure greatly brought tears to my eyes.
Here's another example: A few years ago someone attended an open seminar I facilitated in Nassau who was blind. I noticed something special in him and mentored him for quite some time. I later leaned that he was blind as the result of being shot during a failed attempt to rob a bank. Today, this person has become a really great motivational speaker who is mentoring troubled youth to endeavor to make sure that they don't get involved in crime like he did many years ago.
His first book "The Fight of My Life is Wrapped up in My Father Book 1" has just been published and is available through Amazon.com. In the introduction to the book, he mentions the fact that he's grateful to me for my mentoring. His name is Drexel Deal. I highly recommend his book, particularly for troubled youth.
Yes my friend, there's no doubt about it, the joy of helping others is very real. Believe me for I receive this joy every day of my life as I inspire and motivate people through this article and through The Reilly Institute website which can be accessed at www.dpaulreilly.com.
Now my friend, I want you to experience the joy of helping others. So today's the day for you to think deeply about how exactly you can assist others, the less fortunate in your community in some constructive way. Believe me, you most definitely will not regret it, and neither will the people whom you help.

o Think about it!
Visit my website at: www.dpaulreilly.com.
Listen to "Time to Think" the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.

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What's another 300,000 for the CBBI

February 25, 2015

After investing more than nine million dollars into an event that is not even fully Bahamian, and pumping millions more into the hosting of major sports tourism events such as the International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) World Relays, what's a measly $300,000 to give to a local hero for the staging of an athletics meet that rocked the country and the Caribbean region two years ago?
That's the question that national hero Chris Brown is asking, and the position that he finds himself in, trying to secure funds from the Government of The Bahamas for the second Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational (CBBI).
The name Chris Brown itself might not be as attractive as franchises such as the Miami Dolphins or the Miami Heat, or his event might not be as far-reaching as the world relays, but when one looks at the caliber of athletes he attracted to these shores two years ago, and those promised to make an appearance in 2015, the CBBI is just as appealing as major meets in Europe.
In defense of the government, Brown said that the prime minister himself has personally approved endorsement and has given his support, but trying to get
details of that support from the Ministry of Finance has been like one big circus.
He has been trying for over a week to meet with high ranking officials in the ministry, but to no avail. No one from the ministry was available for comment yesterday.
"They had a week to get everything in place but they keep giving me the run around," said Brown. "To be here from Monday to Monday and still not see anyone, to me it's a total run around. If you are going to tell me no, just tell me no. I haven't heard anything from anyone in the Ministry of Finance in that regard, so for now the meet is cancelled. Right now, I'm just prepared to move forward."
Brown said that there is still a possibility that the meet can come off, but officials in the ministry would have to put the pedal to the metal to get the ball rolling, as the one-day meet was scheduled for Saturday April 11 at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium - a little more than six weeks away. He said that the time has expired for him to put their feet to the fire.
"Here I am going through all the right channels, and still I have nothing to show for it. The prime minister said that he is endorsing the event, so I don't see why it is taking so long for these guys to carry out the orders of the PM. I was at the point where I was just waiting to hear how much I was going to get. I was told to come back and when I came back, everyone was in meetings. This is the same treatment that I was getting from day one, and this is a new week. I can't keep going in circles like this. I have to get ready for my season. With the PM giving the green light, I don't think that it should take this long to get back to me to let me know what would be allocated."
The inaugural CBBI was held in 2013 after the 2012 event was pushed back. Last year's event was cancelled due to ongoing repairs and renovations to both the original and new Thomas A. Robinson stadiums ahead of the world relays. Brown lost money each year with the cancellations and even with the event being staged in 2013, and he stands to lose more money this year. This year's event was expected to cost between $400-500,000. The money Brown was expecting to receive from the government and the private sector would have been sufficient to fund the meet.
"I'm frustrated and lost for words right now. To know that I was on the frontline carrying the banner of this country for all of those years on the track, and then to turn around and get kicked in the butt, I'm at a total loss for words," said Brown.
"This meet has a nice price tag on it, but the bottom line is, it's not anywhere near the millions of dollars that these other events would cost. It's a high-level event that was coming at a great price to the Bahamian government. This event is a 100 percent Bahamian event, it's not a foreign entity coming into The Bahamas. We want to talk about we believe in Bahamians and want to assist Bahamians, but here is a Bahamian who is trying to do big things and not getting any assistance. I'm not into making money, just trying to inspire the next generation of Bahamians.
"Here in this country, Bahamian young men are portrayed to be so negative. Bahamian young men are stuck with this stigma of not doing anything - just being portrayed to be menaces to society. Here I am trying to bring a product to the Bahamian people, trying to make the younger generation see that you don't always have to pick up a gun or do a crime, and it seems to me that their intentions are to make me frustrated. The system that we are living in today is forcing the young men to turn to a life of crime. I could just imagine what they are going through on a daily basis. Not to say I support what they do, but if you go out there for assistance and get turned around a million times, it becomes very frustrating. For me, it is very frustrating and very disappointing."
When one looks at the names that were coming to this event, the athletes who were here in 2013, the cost of such a meet in Europe could be well into the millions. Through his personal relationships with world-class athletes, Brown is in a position where he lure them to The Bahamas at minimal cost - that's when one considers appearance fees and prize money. LaShawn Merritt alone, an Olympic Champion and two-time World Champion over 400 meters (m), is in a position where he demand well into the five figures in appearance fees. He was just one of the mega stars here for the inaugural CBBI in 2013.
Also making appearances were former World and Olympic Champions Veronica Campbell-Brown, Justin Gatlin and Kirani James. Two others, David Oliver and Jehu Gordon, along with Merritt, went on to win world titles at the 2013 Moscow World Championships.
Brown's relationship and rapport with the athletes aided in his ability to put on a top class meet in 2013 with minimal cost to the government. He was hoping for much of the same in 2015.
"I was hoping and praying that this would be a successful event. I know that the Bahamian public wants the meet, and I know that the IAAF is in support of it. Agents, coaches ad athletes are all in support of the event. Everyone was excited because they know what kind of product they saw in 2013," said Brown. "When you going to meets in Europe, you have to pay top dollar for airfare, accommodations and transportation. Here, Bahamians were getting a top notch meet in their own backyard, so I know the public was waiting patiently for it.
"The fact of the matter is that I'm not getting the same support that all of the other events that are coming into the country are getting. I've read and heard about events that are coming into the country that are getting full support. My event is barely getting any support at all, and when you look at the caliber of athletes that I am bringing here, it matches the caliber of any high-level meet in Europe. To me, you are just showing me how you see this event going forward in the future, if at all."
As it stands now, it's not entirely dead in the water as far as the meet coming off is concerned, but it appears grim at best.
"If these guys decide that they want to sit down at the round table and decide that they want to support it, then that's fine with me, but as of right now, it's cancelled," said Brown. "I'm all open if they want to do something with me and this event, but right now, it appears that I am basically on my own.
"There was a lot of positive feedback from the private sector, but it still wasn't going to be enough, and I didn't want to take anyone money without knowing that I have the government's support on this event. This is a national event and a sports tourism event. If the government can't endorse it and put their support behind it, why do I need to take corporate citizens' money when I know that I can't come close to what I'm looking for?".
Brown said that he is still training on a regular basis in preparation for the 2015 season, and that planning and preparation for the Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational hasn't taken anything away from his training schedule. He assures the Bahamian public that he is well-conditioned, and will be in top form to represent The Bahamas well at major international events this year.

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KPMG and LCIS partner for another successful football fest

February 25, 2015

Lyford Cay International School (LCIS) recently hosted another successful KPMG Football Fest. International schools from The Bahamas, Jamaica, Barbados, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and the Cayman Islands played outstanding football in front of enthusiastic spectators over the course of two days. This is the third time that these schools, all members of the Caribbean International Schools Association (CISA), have come together for sport and cross-cultural exchange.
"Each year our tournament gets better," remarked Director of Athletics for LCIS, Craig Massey. "It is an amazing opportunity for all of the students who participate. They have a chance to test their skills on the football pitch as well as strengthen friendships between the schools and across nations."
This year, 150 soccer players, ages 15 and under, played in 36 matches.
Players attended from The Codrington School (Barbados), Cedar International School (BVI), The American International School of Kingston (Jamaica), Cayman Prep (Cayman Islands), and Lucaya International School (Freeport, Grand Bahama). The Turks and Caicos also sent their 15-and-under national girls team to compete in the tournament. Visiting teams were joined by teams from both of the international schools in New Providence; LCIS and St. Andrew's School.
"This is the first ever football trip for Cayman Prep and high school, so we were particularly pleased to be taking part in this prestigious tournament," said Cayman Coach Phil Thompson. "Tours such as these give students the opportunity to meet students from across the Caribbean, as eight schools from six countries were represented in total. It provided our students with the opportunity to play competitive sport on an international level. In addition, it enabled students to develop important life skills, such as self-confidence, collaboration and independence. This was a brilliant opportunity for the students and they all had a great time. Our sincere thanks goes to the organizers of the event and the families who were so kind enough to host the students during their stay."
KPMG sponsors the LCIS Football Fest, which gets more popular with each passing year. The costs of the event are covered by the corporate sponsor, while LCIS families host players in home stays and schools pay for their own travel expenses. Subway and Thompson Trading were also important sponsors of the event, providing food and snacks throughout the entire weekend. The two-day event was monitored by an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) team from Doctors Hospital who worked alongside the LCIS school nurse, Lora Bower, to ensure that all players and spectators were well looked after during the intense competition.
The competition culminated with the 15-and-under girls Cup Final played between St Andrew's and LCIS Yellow. Goals by Julie Bussinger, Logan Nicholson and Tess Hansen secured a 3-0 win for LCIS Yellow, and concluded a weekend of gritty performances from all of the girls teams represented.
The LCIS Boys Yellow team successfully defended the championship in a final against Cayman Prep's 'A' Team, winning 1-0, thanks to an early goal by Jordan Farquharson. Teams also battled in a Plate Final with Cayman's girls team defeating the Lucaya Team and the boys from the American International School of Kingston defeating their counterparts from Cayman. In the Shield Finals, the Turks and Caicos girls defeated the Lyford Girls Blue team and the LCIS Boys Blue team won against Codrington.
"Football is a part of the culture of LCIS," Massey pointed out. "We have invested in our players' development with specialist coaching and great equipment through our Elite and Developmental Sports (EDS) program and the results are obvious."
At the beginning of this school year, LCIS implemented the EDS program, which offers specially designed curriculums for higher level athletes. Football is offered as an EDS sport along with swimming, judo and tennis.
"Our standard of play has improved significantly since the inception of the EDS program, and we know that our athletes will continue to grow and improve under this program," Massey said.
LCIS is the only school in The Bahamas to offer the three core International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes; the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the Diploma Programme (DP).

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Tourism promotes The Bahamas as premier golf destination

February 25, 2015

The Bahamas was promoted as the premier destination of choice on the women's pro golf circuit, during the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, from February 2-8, at the Ocean Club Golf Course on Paradise Island.
Director General of Tourism Joy Jibrilu was interviewed by the Golf Channel, during which she officially welcomed the women golfers and avid golf fans to these shores. The event was carried live on the Golf Channel. This was her message during the staging of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) event, which was held in The Bahamas for the third consecutive year.
"For over 50 years, The Bahamas has welcomed visitors to experience and enjoy its natural treasures, vibrant culture and friendly people. Besides several world-class golf courses (on New Providence and Paradise Island, Grand Bahama, Abaco and Exuma), our islands offer a variety of activities, attractions and water sports to suit any interest. Whether you prefer to keep it simple or to seek out new adventures and experiences, we invite you to enjoy our islands and our unique brand of hospitality.
"I was once told that GOLF was the acronym for Great Opportunities and Lifetime Friendships. We hope that the LPGA competitors will find great opportunities to seize and make friends that will last a lifetime, and we hope that they will come to understand why we always say, 'It's Better in The Bahamas.'"
With the turquoise waters surrounding Paradise Island and golfers on the 18-hole golf course as her background, the Director General of Tourism said she was delighted to welcome the competition back to The Bahamas. Following the interview, Jibrilu described golfing as a worldwide phenomenon, with fans who are not only avid but also affluent - the kind The Bahamas wants to attract continuously.
"To be exposed by making the welcome speech is certainly a gift to The Bahamas (by the Golf Channel),"she said. "I am delighted to get the message out to the world that we have much more to offer."
The Golf Channel is an American cable and satellite television network owned by the NBC Sports Group division of NBCUniversal. The channel focuses on coverage of the sport of golf. As of August 2013, the Golf Channel is available to approximately 82 million pay television households in the United States alone.
The Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic offered a total purse of $1.3 million, plus a full allocation of points in the Race to the CME Globe season-long competition. The winner received $195,000 and 500 CME Globe points.

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Who will break Chris Brown's 16-year-old 800m national record

February 25, 2015

The 800 meters (m) has been a particularly interesting event in The Bahamas.
My first event ever run was the 800m at the Friends of The Bahamas (FOB) meet at St. Augustine's College (SAC) field in December of 1960. The winner was Alex Hanna. That same year, Julian Brown from Bimini was scheduled to participate in the 800m at the Rome Olympic Games. He was sick and unable to participate.
Two years later Brown, a great 400m runner, would set a new national record in the event at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, running 1:52.5 in the semi-finals. He was spiked at the start of the final and was unable to participate. Brown never regained his previous form and returned to Bimini.

Michael Armbrister
It took 18 years for Michael Armbrister to smash Brown's record of 1:52.5. He did this in San Jose, California in May of 1980 with a clocking of 1:50.5. He was attending Compton College at the time and that performance is still a Compton record to this day.

Livingstone Marshall
Out of Exuma, Livingstone Marshall, who attended Hampton University in Virginia, set a new national record with a 1:49.77 run for third place at the 1985 CAC Senior Championships. This was the first time that any Bahamian male had won a medal in international competition in this event.

Chris Brown
It took another 13 years for 20-year-old Chris Brown from Eleuthera to reduce the national record. It was in August of 1998 at the CAC Games in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Brown, a 400m ace, ran 1:49.54 for a record that has lasted 16 years. It is unfortunate that Brown, who holds the 400m national record at 44.40 seconds, has only attempted this event once since he did the 800m record in 1998. He had promised to attempt it several years ago but as his competitive window is closing that does not seem possible.

Andre Colebrook
Andre Colebrook, also from Eleuthera, had dedicated himself to this event and used to come to New Providence on weekends to train with the South Beach Striders. In 2013, he became the only Bahamian male to win a medal in the Pan American Junior Championships. He captured a bronze. Colebrook holds the national junior record at 1:50.81, done in March of 2013. He has also ran a few sub 1:51 times indoors.

Lester Taylor
On Valentine's Day, February 14 in Boston, 22-year-old Lester Taylor out of Grand Bahama made a great effort in chasing Brown's record. Taylor, while participating for Fordham University in New York City, ran 1:49.65 to break his own school record of 1:50.64 in this event. This was the second best performance by a Bahamian ever, after Brown. Prior to attending Fordham University, Taylor attended St. Andrew's High School and Suffield Academy in Suffield, Connecticut.
He has participated in the 800m outdoors and indoors, and the 500m and 1,000m indoors. The 5'11" 148-pound Taylor had the opportunity to participate in the CAC Junior Championships in 2010. His coaches are Tom Dewey and Vin Forte.
Taylor's ultimate track and field goal this year is qualify for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Outdoor Championships in the 800m. His also wishes to win the 800m at the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations' (BAAA) National Open Track and Field Championships, and qualify for as many international competitions as possible.
He said: "I have made such immense progress with my performance that it has changed my perception of the sport, and made me reconsider my potential. With that being said, I really would like to be able to train with an elite group to continue to progress and see how much I can lower my times. I consider myself a patriotic person, and it would mean a lot to me if I can stimulate a positive change with our talented younger athletes. It is important to me that our Bahamian athletes believe that we as a nation have the potential to compete in the middle distance events, and if my performance has any part in contributing to that change, that would be tremendous."
Taylor is an Economics Major with a Minor in Business Administration. He is expected to graduate in June of this year. Ultimately, he wants to pursue a career as a corporate lawyer or a financial/legal advisor.

2016
Taylor intends to train, travel and try to race on an elite level next year but his ultimate goal for 2016 is to make a wholehearted attempt to qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. No Bahamian athlete has qualified or participated in this event at the Olympic Games since Julian Brown at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Who will break Chris Brown's 16-year-old 800m national record?
The Bahamian track and field community awaits the performances of both Colebrook and Taylor this season and especially their anticipated showdown at the BAAA National Open Track and Field Championships at the end of June. Both Colebrook and Taylor have the talent to break this 16-year-old national record.

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FNM to reject any NHI tax

February 25, 2015

Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday his party will not support taxing Bahamians to fund National Health Insurance (NHI), which the government said it will implement in January 2016.
"Already you have a 12.8 percent poverty rate," said Minnis, who is a former minister of health.
"So when you tax them even further you are going to cause an even greater increase in poverty and possibly decrease the quality of living and healthcare in the country.
"The [government] said nothing about what they are going to do with the present infrastructure that we have at the Princess Margret Hospital and the clinics. Those are issues that have to

be corrected."
Speaking during the mid-year budget debate on Monday, Minister of Health Dr. Perry Gomez said the government has yet to determine how much NHI will cost or how it will be funded.
But Gomez noted that the proposal that was presented under the first Christie administration called for a payroll tax.
Minnis said there are too many unanswered questions about the proposed plan.
"I don't know their plan," he said.
"Nobody can support their plan at this particular time because we don't know their plan. Tell us what you're doing so that we can make a comment."
He also said he doubts the Christie administration will meet the January 2016 deadline to implement the first phase of NHI.
"We know they are going to delay it," he said.
"Have they ever done anything on time?
"So we know, keeping with their track record, we know they are not going to do anything in January."
On Monday, when asked by Fort Charlotte MP Dr. Andre Rollins if the government planned to implement a new tax to support NHI, Gomez said "taxes are better than death".
"That's the most stupid statement I've ever heard, that taxes are better than death," Minnis said.
"I'm sure he probably regrets he ever made such a statement.
"The Bahamian people are under all sorts of stress. So you are going to add more taxes on them?
"And he said taxes are better than death? I've never heard anything so stupid in all my life."
Rollins said he does not support the government's plan to implement NHI in January.
Gomez said the Ministry of Health and Sanigest Internacional, Costa Rican-based consultants, executed the Sanigest Consultancy Agreement last Monday to provide technical assistance for the implementation of NHI.
He did not provide any costs associated with the contract.
The government engaged Sanigest in April 2014 to provide a final costing for the program.
Ahead of the 2012 general election, Gomez said at a rally that if elected, the PLP would implement NHI in the first year.
On Monday, Gomez said the timeline set by the January 2016 government is ambitious, but expressed confidence that it will be met.
NHI was previously estimated to cost $235 million annually.
The projection was made under the first Christie administration.
Recently, Sanigest Internacional said it is "plausible" in some scenarios for NHI to cost more than $500 million.
Months before the 2007 election, NHI legislation was passed in Parliament, but regulations to flesh out the program's details were never introduced.
Upon coming to office, the Ingraham administration introduced a national prescription plan.
Minnis said yesterday the FNM's health plan "would have eliminated the problems that we see in the hospital in terms of the [overcrowding]".

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Man shot dead while at work in Bain Town

February 25, 2015

A man was shot and killed while at work off Augusta Street in Bain Town yesterday, police said.
Officers responding to reports of gunshots around 2:45 p.m. found the man lying on the ground with gunshot wounds at IDS Battery and Courier Services.
Chief Superintendent Paul Rolle, head of the Central Detective Unit, said police understand a gunman wearing a hooded jacket walked up to the man, a resident of Gibbs Corner, and shot him several times.
The victim, who police said has dread locks and was in his 20s, was packaging goods at the outdoor business when he was shot.
Rolle said the owner of the business, who was nearby at the time of the shooting, was not harmed.
Battery and Courier Services processes and recycles batteries.
Police did not know the motive for the shooting.
This shooting pushed the country's murder count to 23 for 2015.

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New senator praises Minnis for 'raising standards in politics'

February 25, 2015

Upon receiving her instruments of appointment as the Free National Movement's (FNM) newest senator, Lanisha Rolle yesterday praised Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis as a leader who is raising the standards of politics throughout The Bahamas and the world.
Rolle received her instruments of appointment from Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling during a brief ceremony in the upper gardens of Government House.
"Today, I commend the leadership team of the Free National Movement led by Dr. Hubert Minnis for demonstrating the political will and wherewithal to lead in raising the standard of politics in our land, and perhaps throughout the world," she said.
Rolle said Minnis epitomizes political leadership that is "transformative, flexible and conducive to 21st century governance and revolutionary change".
Minnis announced her appointment three weeks after he asked Heather Hunt to resign from the Senate last month.
Rolle's appointment was met with opposition from the FNM's Women's Association and other elements of the party.
"As a police officer, I enforced the law," Rolle told those who attended the event.
"As a lawyer, I applied the law. As a senator, I will help to make and shape the law."
At that point, activist Rodney Moncur, who was seated in the audience, shouted, "Hallelujah", which drew applause.
Rolle said she is positioned to serve all Bahamians and will work tirelessly to help young people and women.
Following her speech, she received a standing ovation.
Along with Minnis, Senator Carl Bethel, East Grand Bahama MP Peter Turnquest, Central Grand Bahama MP Neko Grant and FNM Secretary General Michael Foulkes were among those in attendance.
Minnis said the empowerment of women remains a focal point for his party.
"This appointment represents my party's vision and goals in several ways," he said.
"We wish to demonstrate the flexibility of purpose and roles that characterize the Bahamian democracy the FNM is fighting to preserve and expand.
"Success will call for the strictest loyalty of the party's membership to the FNM's vision for a stronger and better Bahamas."
Rolle's 11 years of experience as a police officer will "raise an informed voice in the Senate and give input to the FNM's program...to address crime", Minnis said.
"I reaffirm the FNM's commitment to keep the government's feet to the fire and Lanisha Rolle is one of the strong voices we are counting on to keep up a barrage of honest facts to break down the wall of PLP falsehoods that are eroding the future of this country and its people," he said.
Rolle will join Bethel, FNM Chairman Michael Pintard and Kwasi Thompson in the upper chamber.
Her appointment has been controversial.
Following reports that the women's association opposed it, Rolle said she was not bothered because "women are very emotional".
She also came under fire over a post on her Facebook page last year which said that she does not "100 percent" support the Public Disclosure Act.
She later said that while she believes in complying with the act, she also believes in privacy.

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