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Tears of joy streamed down the faces of many Bahamians on Saturday evening as they watched the spectacular show staged, for the opening of the country's first state-of-the-art sports facility, in amazement. Thousands poured into the new Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium on Saturday, wanting to be a part of the historic event.
For many years now, athletes past and present were lobbying for an arena which would set them apart from their regional counterparts, like their performances in various sporting disciplines, and the construction of the stadium is said to be the edge that will be needed to further propel the country forward.
While the fireworks lit up the sky, and Bahamians stood proud, the country's best athletes including the trail blazers and those still carrying the torch, shouted out with glee, "finally". Olympic icon Pauline Davis-Thompson viewed it as "a vindication for all of the sporting persons", who came before her and those standing and still competing now. She said: "The Bahamas should stand proud and tall, as we understand that there were people who came before us and sacrificed many things to make this dream come true. The Bahamas is now recognized as one of the sporting powers in the world, but more importantly, the people of The Bahamas recognized us for what we have been doing. The Government of The Bahamas has recognized what we have been doing by rewarding us with such a beautiful arena."
The four-hour ceremony featured Bahamian athletes, musicians, dancers and icons. The event, broadcasted live, gave Bahamians from around the country an opportunity to share in the moment. International leaders, including representatives from the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) and the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), regional sporting heads and giants, were on hand to watch the ceremony, which was done at an approximate cost of $600,000 to the government.
The national facility, named after Thomas Augustus Robinson, is a gift to The Bahamas from the People's Republic of China. It seats 15,000 and will be the home of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) and the Bahamas Football Association (BFA). Robinson was the sole competitor for The Bahamas on the world stage for many years. He competed in four Olympic Games, starting in 1956. Two years later, he won gold at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games, in Cardiff, Wales. The gold medal performance was accomplished in the 220 yards. Robinson also won a silver in the 100 yard dash.
When the British Empire and Commonwealth Games were hosted in 1962 and 1964, he claimed a silver in the 100 yard dash. At the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, held in 1962, Robinson won a gold medal in the 100 yard dash.
It was these achievements among others, in which, the grand celebration was held. Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said: "Tonight, we celebrate. We celebrate the embodiment of our Bahamian spirit and our Bahamian pride in Thomas Augustus Robinson in whose name and honor we dedicate this new national stadium. Tommy, you make us all proud to be a Bahamian. You are a sprinter by training. Yet you are also a marathon man as demonstrated by your considerable contributions to national development, and in helping to bring to fruition, the dream of this day. Tommy, you have fought the good fight. You are finishing the race with the very style and grace you exhibited in representing your country in four Olympiads. You have kept the faith.
"Tonight, we also celebrate Bahamian athletes, past and present. Tonight we celebrate a new day for athletics in fields of endeavor and competition such as baseball, basketball, soccer, American football, swimming, diving, tennis, cycling and other sports. We are delighted that this new athletic and cultural center will host major regional and international events like jazz and reggae festivals as well as other musical and special events. Fellow Bahamians at home and those joining in this celebration from overseas, tonight we celebrate the very essence of who we are as a people. We celebrate our Bahamian identity and nationhood."
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Charles Maynard said the construction of the national stadium "creates real opportunities for The Bahamas to extend an invitation to the world to practice, compete and enjoy the best of the islands of The Bahamas." He believes that key to sustaining growth, is the state-of-the-art facility.
The preparation process for the official opening did not go without hiccups which resulted in many becoming critics of the current government. Many believed that the price tag for the opening was too high, especially since millions will be spent on the overall re-development of the Queen Elizabeth Sports Complex.
"The government is spending over $50 million in and around this site starting with the commissioning of a comprehensive master plan of the 400-plus acres around this stadium," revealed Maynard. "The IBS group, a Bahamian Civil Engineering group, whose principals are Nick Dean and Kevin Sweeting, completed the design of a multiuse sports and recreation compound in record time. We are now well into the execution of phase one of this master plan which has created a lot of what you would have seen on your way here, and a lot of what you cannot see that makes this stadium functional."
Maynard is promising that work will begin on the new state-of-the-art internationally certified Hot Rod complex by the end of next month.
A new development overlooking Governor's Harbour is "full bore" into construction and expects to open its doors around this time next year.
French Leave Resort on Eleuthera, which broke ground several months ago, is targeting 16 hotel cottages and a "commercial area" within the next 12 to 16 months. At least 30 Bahamians will find full-time employment once this first phase opens.
Eddie Lauth, partner in Governor's Harbour Resort & Marina and the CEO of Shaner Capital, said the underground utilities are "well advanced" and crews have moved on to the third hotel cottage.
"In the next 12 months we hope to have 16 of these cottages on the seafront with the commercial area completed. We are definitely on schedule," he said. "The other 23 cottages will come online over the course of another 24 months or so following that."
Shaner Bahamas, a company founded by Lance T. Shaner, entered into a partnership with Governor's Harbour Resort & Marina to build and finance the property. Shaner Bahamas is an off-shoot of the Shaner Hotel Group, a corporation with more than 24 owned or managed properties and thousands of employees.
French Leave has already created dozens of construction jobs as local crews work to complete the resort.
Lauth told Guardian Business that the commercial area includes a bar and grill, pool, events lawn, fitness center, reception, gift shop, fire pit area and wedding pavilion. Developers have a beach pub lined up as well. Between the commercial zone and the 16 cottages, he said 30 full-time jobs is likely a "conservative" number".
The cottages, he explained, are built in a traditional Bahamian style with cedar roofs and hurricane resistant glass.
"Shaner has been really committed to doing the project the right way. He is interested in finding materials that will make the test of time," according to Lauth.
The French Leave executive revealed that the business model is continuously evolving. He said that developers are interested in putting some of the cottages up sale, effectively turning the development into a hotel and second-home hybrid.
He pointed out that Shaner Bahamas has access to some 270 acres. Investors have considered French Leave as potentially just the beginning of a much larger community, not unlike Schooner Bay on Abaco.
Second-home owners at French Leave would give rise to further expansion to the commercial area.
That said, Lauth was quick to note that developers are keen to get through the first six acres before making any decisions.
Formerly the site of Club Med, the property was purchased in 2004, with further land acquired from the Frank Lloyd Trust.
With a soft opening in its sights, Lauth insisted that airlift is not a concern for the new destination. The reason Eleuthera is special, he said, is the island represents the road less travelled.
For those that want to get to French Leave, there are plenty of flights available.
"It's real not that hard to get here. You can easily fly into Nassau and there are several daily flights to Eleuthera. We are wary of the mass market," he told Guardian Business. "Be careful what you wish for."
Lauth added that the small boutique hotel concept is the clear winning concept on the Family Islands, a formula more and more developers are looking to mimic.
French Leave is the second resort on Eleuthera injecting new life into the island in recent times.
Earlier this month, the $30 million Cove Eleuthera officially opened its doors and became one of the largest employers in the Family Islands.
It opened with 60 rooms and took on a monthly payroll of $100,000. Another 60 rooms are on the way.
The Cove also includes two restaurants and an impressive list of amenities.
Nassau, Bahamas -
In 2010 Antoine and Jessica Burrows
conceived and prepared to have
to have another child added to their family. On October 21, 2012 they welcomed their darling baby
Rah'nae De'ajah Burrows
into the world.
Tests were carried out to ensure t
hat she was
healthy. Sadly, it was discovered that she had characteristics of
not often readily
new parents; but this couple loved their baby
and saw her as a special gift from God. B
ecause of the existence of such
concerns arose about the possibility that she may also have heart
disease. After a week in the hospital it was discovered by an
echocardiogram that she had
Primum Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)
, which is a hole in the heart
. She was then referred to Dr
Jerome Lightbourne at the
Pediatric Heart Clinic, at Princess Margaret Hospital...
He's one of the most vocal religious leaders out there, and he does not shy away from any issue he considers important, but after decades in the pulpit, Bishop Simeon Hall, head pastor at New Covenant Baptist Church is heading into retirement. He officially retires at the end of November.
Although he is looking forward to this new chapter in his life after 30 years of pastoral work, Bishop Hall still intends to be active in evangelistic work and promises to make himself available to his church as a consultant and guide. His retirement will free him up to do more outreach work and go into communities to preach and teach.
"I will not be involved in everyday aspects of the running of the chuch anymore, but I will be here to be of any assistance that I can be. My evangelistic mission, which I took up 45 years ago, will still continue. I will not stop preaching. My retirement will allow me to do more evangelistic work and mission trips. This will be a marvelous thing," said Bishop Hall.
For the 64-year-old Hall, unlike many ministers who may have had an early calling to the pastoral field or were raised in an environment that guided them into an easy transition to becoming religious leaders, his path to the pulpit was one of trial and error.
"It was not a straight-shot road I took. Many people may not know that I was once a construction worker for many years before I became a minister. I had left school since the sixth grade so I could get a job and make money. It wasn't to help support the family as it was to be like the other guys who hung out in my neighborhood. So for five years or so I went from job to job - doing construction, being a gas station attendant and once even being a night watchman."
That kind of life wasn't what he had expected. He said he eventually got restless with everything. And that it was by the grace of God and the right guidance that five years after he began pursuit of material wealth that Hall was led to realize his purpose in life.
The road to being the vocal minister Bahamians are familiar with he said started when he was 16 years old and his mother, Nola Musgrove, all but forced her eldest son to attend an evening service at Central Gospel Chapel on Dowdeswell Street. He attended the service unwillingly, but that night, there was something about what he heard and felt that spoke to his heart. That night, he made a confession of faith that changed his life forever.
"I just made a turnaround in my life like never before. I knew I had to get myself together because what I was going through wasn't fulfilling me. I started doing night classes at Aquinas College to catch up with the schooling I had given up. There was a Catholic nun who took interest in me and also made it her mission to push me to do better. I did that for two years and in the meantime, I started to surround myself with positive individuals who really inspired me to be who I am today."
Some of his mentors included the late Pastor A.S. Colebrooke of St. Paul's Baptist Church Bias Street; Pastor R.E. Cooper of Mission Baptist on Hay Street and the late Pastor H.W. Brown of Bethel Baptist Church.
He says he enjoyed spending time with the ministers so-much-so that he was willing to carry their bags, clean their shoes and just accompany them whenever he could because he appreciated what they were about. Although he spent a lot of time with them, he said it wasn't until he was invited on a trip to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil to attend a Baptist conference with Pastor Colebrooke that he fully understood that the pulpit was the path for him.
"It was around this time that I really realized that association truly did breed assimilation and it did wonders for me. I remember I was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in South America with [Pastor] Colebrooke who had invited me to attend a conference with him. It was an unforgettable time. While we were on the trip he said something to me that changed my life. He said that the Lord called me to be a preacher. I never heard that said to me before. And it seemed as soon as he said that everything that would lead me to be a pastor fell into place. I guess you can say he spoke it into existence."
The following year after this declaration, the then 21-year-old Hall was accepted to do theological training at American Baptist (College) Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee, where he obtained his Bachelors degree in Theology. He said he knew from then, that he truly had a gift of speech and persuasion because he performed exceptionally in his speech and articulation classes. Skills he learned then, he said, have aided him throughout the years to be the well-known outspoken minister people know today.
"I just had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and I was so eager to keep on going. Even when I graduated in 1973 I still had dreams to continue my education. I went to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee for a short while but decided to come home. Then in 1979, I went to Southern Baptist College in Louisville, Kentucky for some summer classes, but I ended my studies there and decided to really dedicate myself to pastoral work and evangelism, which is my passion."
Upon his return from college, Hall found a home at St. Paul's Baptist Church as co-minister under Pastor Colebrooke. The feeling he got in this new area of life he said was exactly what he had been looking for. But he said he was so passionate about God's work that he always felt a little restrained. That resulted in him preaching and attending every Baptist Church in The Bahamas and venturing to even non-Baptist congregations. He said he felt such a fire for his work, he knew no limits to sharing what God placed on his heart. His insatiable appetite eventually led to what he described as one of his greatest personal accomplishments - the formation of his own church.
Bishop Hall started New Covenant Baptist Church in 1982.
"It was a wonderful thing to be able to lead a people in the way God intended for it to be done. I have been blessed to be able to accomplish what I have been allowed to these last few decades. I have touched lives and done God's work as a pastor. It has been great," he said.
Over his decades in ministry, another of his proudest achievements included being able to preach at the annual Baptist crusade for 20 consecutive years. Although he has his own congregations, he said he still always aims to reach more people whenever the opportunity arises.
With evangelism and mission work as his root passion, borne out of his first trip with Pastor Colebrooke, Bishop Hall jumps at opportunities to also travel for that reason as well. He has traveled to places in Africa, Asia, Europe and across the United States. He actually said the only inhabited continent he has not been to is Australia, and that one of his most memorable trips was to South Africa, where he visited for 23 days and preached in 17 churches. He remembers the South African trip as a rush which left him tired for a week at the end, but wonderful all the same.
His tenure as head pastor at New Covenant Baptist Church is coming to an end, but Bishop Hall said riding off quietly into the sunset, sitting on a rocker on his porch isn't the scene he's looking forward to. He still intends to be active in evangelistic work and will always make himself available to his church as a consultant and guide.
"My retirement will allow me to do more evangelistic work and mission trips. I will not be involved in everyday aspects of the running of the chuch anymore but I will be here to be of any assistance that I can be," he said.
Candidates for the next head pastor's position at New Covenant Baptist Church include Pastor Kelvin Briggs, Pastor Trajean Jadorette and Pastor Stephen Wells.
A number of celebratory events in honor of Bishop Hall commence on Sunday, March 3 with an ecumenical thanksgiving service to be held at 6 p.m. at New Covenant, with guest ministers, Elgarnet Rahming, overseer of Church of God of Prophecy; Pastor Tom Roberts of East Street Gospel Chapel; Father Sebastian Campbell of St. Gregory's Anglican Church; Rev. Timothy Stewart of Bethel Baptist Church; Rev. Anthony Carroll, president of the Baptist Convention; Bishop Ros Davis of Golden Gates Assemblies; Bishop Albert Hepburn of United Christian Cathedral and Father Harry Ward from the Anglican Diocese.
Bishop Hall is married to Linda Farrington-Hall since 1970. Together they have three children.
One of the signature songs of Whitney Houston was the Emmy Award winning "One Moment in Time", which she recorded for the 1988 Summer Olympics and the 1988 Summer Paralympics held in Seoul, South Korea.
The song captures the importance of seizing life's key moments in the pursuit of one's dreams. The late Jackson Burnside made the same point in the documentary, "Brent Malone, Father of Bahamian Art", produced by Karen Arthur and Thomas Neuwirth.
Burnside made the point at the end of the documentary that Malone recognized that we all have a relatively brief moment in time to share our gifts and express ourselves in our own unique voice.
It was a poignant reminder by Jackson Burnside who himself would soon leave us almost as suddenly as Brent Malone. Burnside also lived his life exuberantly taking to heart what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described as the fierce urgency of now.
The aphorism, "Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration", captures the idea that a good measure of one's life is not only about seizing the moment. It is about seizing as many moments as possible to make a life worth living. In the end, the moments missed and those seized add up.
Last weekend the country paid tribute to Tommy Robinson at the grand opening of the new national stadium named in his honor. Tommy Robinson can look back on his athletic career and his contributions to national life with great pride. Because he seized many moments during that career, he will be immortalized in the annals of Bahamian history.
The opening of the new national stadium has been fodder for some political back-and-forth. Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham can rightly claim that the gift of the stadium was made possible because of the diplomatic recognition of the People's Republic of China by his government in 1997.
In fact, Ingraham can justly claim that all the benefits The Bahamas is receiving from its relationship with China - financing for Baha Mar and the construction of the new gateway project -- are because of that important foreign policy decision.
It should be remembered that the PLP government had short-sightedly recognized Taiwan and had named an ambassador to Taipei before the 1992 general election. That decision would not have been in the long-term interest of The Bahamas.
Nevertheless, Opposition Leader Perry Christie can claim that it was his government that negotiated the actual agreement for the stadium.
Herein is the cautionary tale to seize the day, or the proverbial 'strike while the iron is hot'. In the end, it was the Ingraham administration that undertook the hard work of actually getting the stadium built and planning and executing the comprehensive development of the site. The plaque that memorializes the grand opening will forever bear the name Hubert Alexander Ingraham.
Christie has often been tagged with the moniker "late again", which speaks to his propensity for delay and indecision. Christie could have gotten the stadium started, if not completed, on his watch.
But as with a number of other things, he and his colleagues succumbed to the folly that they would have more time to complete various projects in the second term that they did not get. It is a folly of human nature to which many have succumbed.
Hubert Ingraham is propelled by the fierce urgency of now. What he has often had to face is that some people can often only digest so much change at a time, and that others who cry out for change are not always prepared to endure the temporary inconveniences of change. But he will rarely succumb to putting off until tomorrow what he can accomplish today.
The truth is as simple as it is compelling. Not only are we not promised tomorrow, we aren't even sure how the rest of the day will turn out. Often in life, delay means never. There is a quote attributed to the German poet Goethe that captures the fierce urgency of now: "Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.
"All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events, issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no one could have dreamed would have come their way. Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius and magic in it. Begin it now."
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By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
The team of Devynne Charlton, Anderia Ferguson, Janae Ambrose and Cormisha Cox made history as they won the first race held in the new Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium.
The quartet re-enacted the women's 4 x 100 metre relay team that won the gold medal at the 2000 Olympic Games 'Down Under' in Sydney, Australia.
More than 15,000 attended as part of the official ceremonies for the $30,000 stadium that was a gift from the People's Republic of China. Those that were denied entry because of the capacity crowd inside watched the patriotic display of the Bahamian sporting and musical extravaganza from the two lar ...
Nassau, Bahamas - This coming Saturday, February 25,
will signal a new beginning for sports in The Bahamas when thousands
of Bahamians will witness the new Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium
being officially opened as the premier venue.
Built to seat 15,000, the new stadium
is a gift to The Bahamas from the Government of the People's Republic
of China and was constructed with the use of Chinese labour.
There will be open seating assigned
on a first come first served basis and patrons are asked to come early.
The gates will open at 3 p.m. with the official ceremony beginning at
6:30 p.m.. Spectators are urged to be seated by 6 p.m.
The management and staff of the Builders Mall on February 8, 2012 decided to give the greatest gift. Partnering with the blood bank of the Public Hospitals Authority, the Builders Mall family hosted a blood drive that encouraged staff and customers to donate blood.
A makeshift station was erected in the middle of FYP's showroom floor, which welcomed dozens of individuals willing to give this treasured donation.
Mark Roberts, FYP president, said: "As partners of the construction industry, we are cognizant that construction site accidents often result in a need for blood. This donation today is just one way to show our appreciation to our valuable customers."
As the blood bank is in dire need of supply, Bahamians are being encouraged to donate blood.