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One year after Exuma native, Revardo McKenzie interned at the Kennedy Space Center for a summer program, two more Bahamians are being afforded the opportunity. Bahamians Justin Lockhart and Oliver Lundy have been awarded the Alf Thompson Memorial Scholarship (ATMS) to intern at the Kennedy Space Center this summer.
Lockhart and Lundy will spend eight weeks (June 4- July 28) working with research scientists and engineers from academia, NASA and corporations in the fields of aeronautical studies, biological sciences and space-related technology. The 21-year-olds beat out a field of over 25 candidates vying for the scholarships.
Both young men have just graduated from college -- Lockhart earned an engineering degree from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. Lundy pursued studies in biology and chemistry at The College of The Bahamas.
"It is a tremendous opportunity for me to use the internship as a stepping stone to my professional engineering career," said Lockhart. "I will be a practicing engineer-in-training as of mid-June and will have a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering."
He added, "I view this award as a gift to my family, friends and teachers at St. Andrew's School and Bucknell University. If it wasn't for them, I would not be where I am right now".
Lockhart and Lundy will have the opportunity to build relationships with noted scientists and researchers in the fields of space sciences, biotechnology and engineering.
Dr. Jamie Foster, a researcher with the Department of Microbiology and Cell Science at the University of Florida will be working closely with both Bahamians. Her areas of study are environmental microbiology, microbial ecology and astrobiology. In the past, Dr. Foster has worked with Bahamian educators and students at the Bahamas Marine EcoCentre's field station in the Exuma Cays. As a result of her experience there, she has opened the door for qualifying Bahamian students to work at the Kennedy Space Center through the ATMS.
"Though all the fields of internship offered by this program are fascinating, the area that interests me most is the study of biological sciences" said Lundy who plans to pursue his masters and doctorate degrees in biotechnology. "The end goal of this is to make The Bahamas more energy efficient and green. I could help this country begin to maintain self-reliance in terms of food and possibly even energy generation, or by helping to make The Bahamas more palpable to eco-tourism."
Lockhart will be working with Dr. Phil Metzger, a NASA research physicist who has worked in the space program since 1985. Some of his areas of research include the utilization of space resources and finding ways to address the dwindling of non-renewable resources on earth and its effects upon civilization.
Upon completion of the eight-week summer internship, Lockhart and Lundy will be asked to share their experiences with other Bahamian students. A spokesperson for the ATMS indicated that giving back to others in the community is an important aspect of the scholarship. Visits to local high schools, COB and other learning facilities will be arranged so that others interested in the fields will be encouraged to pursue their aspirations.
The Alf Thompson Memorial Scholarship was established in 2011 by the Bahamas Marine EcoCentre (BME), a non-profit organization promoting awareness and respect for the Bahamian environment through research, education and art. This is the second year the ATMS has been awarded. McKenzie was the first scholarship recipient. BME hopes to be able to continue offering this opportunity for Bahamian students in the coming years.
Construction of the $14 million mini-hospital in Exuma is nearly 80 percent finished, but will likely miss its June deadline.
"We're trying to shoot for our original date, which was the end of June. I don't know if we will be able to pull it off exactly, due to logistics and other decisions that had to be made. So realistically, we may have to push it back a few weeks, maybe even a month," according to the project's lead contractor.
Vernon Wells, owner of Reef Construction, noted that construction on the project is progressing. However, he admits small changes have been made which have resulted in slight delays. However, the project is still on budget.
"We have had a few changes that were necessary but we haven't done anything further than the normal work that would be required of a job this size, late changes, additions and things like that. So we've got a few items that we have been working on recently and added to the contract. It's nothing substantial. As far as I'm aware, we are still on budget," he explained.
Wells told Guardian Business there are currently close to 110 people working on the project and it's in "pretty good shape." He estimates that it's between 75 and 80 percent complete.
"Basically, we are in the finishing stages now. We're painting the inside, we are also painting the outside. The mechanical works are in the finishing stages. We have finished all of the roughing and now we are finishing the work and then we will get into the balance of that maybe in another six to eight weeks," he shared.
"We are also putting in the drop ceilings inside and we hope to have the light fixtures in fairly soon. Right now, officials at the Ministry of Health are finalizing what will be used on the inside. At this point, everyone is thinking energy efficiency. We are looking at energy efficient equipment and we are still waiting on information. That would be a little bit of a hold up but it wouldn't be anything too drastic."
He also confirmed that government officials are looking to incorporate some items into the finished product. In July of last year, he noted that the most challenging part of the construction process has been finding skilled labor in Exuma to assist with the project, as building a hospital requires intense detail work. Another issue has been access to building materials. Since then, Wells said both issues have been ironed out.
"We're quite happy to get to this stage because in the beginning we had our little issues working in an area like the Out Islands and the little things that you would normally take for granted like shipping, getting items to and from the site. It's not as accessible as one would think. We pretty much have got that ironed out to a point. If you miss the boat one week, you have to wait until the following week, so it's the little things that will push you back and have an impact on the time and schedule," he added.
The 30,000-square-foot mini-hospital will be outfitted with 10 beds, an operating table, a dental facility, physiotherapy, a morgue and an emergency and trauma room.
In April 2012 the National Insurance Board (NIB) and Reef Construction Company Ltd. signed a contract for the construction of the community hospital.
There has been much ado by the former administration and the current one about solar energy and light bulbs and the like, but recent changes to the way the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) conducts demand readings makes it clear that there is no one looking at the really big picture.
Former Minister of Works Neko Grant yesterday questioned the competence of the management team at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) after paying out tens of millions of dollars in overtime. Grant said overtime payouts of more than $10 million a year have been a problem at BEC for the past 10 years.
Marsh Harbour, Abaco - Commonwealth Bank today announced the major expansion project
of its Marsh Harbour, Abaco Branch.
Coastline Construction Abaco Limited was awarded the $3 million dollar
contract to which when completed in the fourth quarter 2011 will transform the
existing structure by adding an additional 6,000 sq. feet. The extension of-the branch, which
borders Queen Elizabeth Drive, Davidson Street and Bay Street in Marsh Harbour,
is a direct response to customer demands.
The newly completed branch will be 10,000 square feet in size and
feature the Bank's signature design and amenities - gray exterior with white
trim, a spacious customer-friendly
lobby in gray and pink marble and granite, energy efficient components,
convenient customer parking and handicap access...
When talking about redevelopment and revitalization of an area, we are usually talking about physical change and possibly stakeholder changes.
The oldest florist in the country is growing.
The Nassau Florist and its division JW/Events are shifting over to the historical Villa Flora building on Dowdeswell Street and Victoria Avenue, boosting its space by more than 2,000 square feet. The move, expected to occur on April 1, is an essential component of its overall expansion plans.
Al Collie, the general manager of Nassau Florist, said the business has boosted its staff complement to 14 in recent months.
The 60-year-old business is looking to hire up to five more Bahamians this year.
"Right now, 80 percent of our business is typically flower sales. The other 20 percent is events," Collie explained. "That is a picture we want to change. In the short term, we want 50 percent of our business to be events."
The Nassau Florist considers its move to Villa Flora "pivotal" to this business plan.
While the business might be largest in The Bahamas in terms of sales volume, special events, such as weddings, remains a relatively modest segment.
Collie said that The Nassau Florist hired a director of sales and marketing in Florida to specifically chase destination weddings and events around the world. Working with the hotels, such as Baha Mar, will be central to these plans, he said.
Noting that Villa Flora is "night and day" compared to the old location, Collie described the historical building as being more than 100 years old and offering 6,000 square feet of space.
"I am very pleased to finally announced that we will be moving to Villa Flora," said Jim Whitehead, the owner. "Many will know the location as the former Gaylord's restaurant on Dowedswell Street at Victoria Avenue in downtown Nassau."
In November, Whitehead announced the decision to sell the current location and move, insisting that the business had outgrown its space on Shirley Street.
Whitehead said that the building was renovated 10 years ago and featured energy efficient amenities, security, computer networking technology, offices, storage space and a conference room. It also has parking available on the property and across the street.
Collie told Guardian Business that the move and expansion is all the more impressive given the tough times facing florists. Like many other industries, the high cost of business has taken its toll.
The industry spends around 50 percent duty on the importation of flowers and other products.
The Nassau Florist is planning an official grand opening on Mother's Day, although it will be opening its doors right after its move to the new location on April 1.