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Some of the country's most successful women who are at the top of their careers and who have impacted Bahamian society in positive ways, and/or displayed a spirit of humanitarianism will rip the runway this weekend -- all in the name of charity for the 2nd Red Dress Soiree -- a runway show, cocktail reception and silent auction designed to educate, raise awareness and funds to further the efforts of the Bahamas AIDS Foundation and its work with adolescents affected and infected with HIV/AIDS.
The women committed to strutting their stuff on the catwalk for charity and the category for which they were selected include, Lady Joan Foulkes, wife of former Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes; Dr. Nicolette Bethel, theater arts; Alexandra Maillis-Lynch, culinary arts; Inga Bowleg, business; Pat Walters, communications; Dr. Tracey Halkitis, health; Karen Carey, tourism; Eldece Clarke, sports; Lisa Sawyer-McCartney, education; Candia Dames, journalism; Antoinette Russell, banking; Patrice Ellis, religion; Amanda Lindroth, creative arts and Marisa Mason-Smith, civil society.
The women will unveil the custom-designed pieces sewn for them by some of the country's top fashion designers tomorrow at the British Colonial Hilton hotel in the Governor's Ballroom. The red carpet is at 6:30 p.m., the runway show at 7 p.m., and a silent auction and cocktail reception to follow. All proceeds benefit the Bahamas AIDS Foundation.
"It is indeed an honor to be in the company of such an amazing group of women. I've certainly made it a point to prioritize philanthropy throughout my career, and while I've given of my time and resources, this will be the first time this conviction has taken me to the catwalk. I guess it can now be said that I would do many things in the name of charity," said Inga Bowleg, who was chosen in the business field.
"The Bahamas AIDS Foundation is to be commended for the great work it is doing in our country. The Red Dress Soiree is only one of several fun filled, creative events hosted by the foundation to further its efforts in assisting those affected by and infected with HIV/AIDS.
Maillis-Lynch, who was chosen to walk the runway because of the fabulous work she's done in the culinary field, said she was honored to be a part of the cause, and that her dress will be hot.
Participating designers include Brynda Knowles, Jeff St. John, Fenna Mae Lopez, Sabrina Francis, Judy Deleveaux, Theodore Ellyett, Phylicia Elllis, David Rolle, Apryl Burrows, Indira Moss, Kathy Pinder, Patrice Lockhart, Javotte Bethel and Rachel Garcia.
"What I love about the Red Dress Soiree is that it's not only a fundraiser, but we're recognizing women in the community who are successful in whatever they're doing and some of the women are humanitarians. We're also recognizing Bahamian designers and highlighting the incredible creativity of our Bahamian designers," said Lady Camille Barnett, Bahamas AIDS Foundation president.
More than 15 luxury packages will be silent-auctioned at the bi-annual charity event, offering patrons the opportunity to bid on luxury items and services, trips and excursions. The silent auction packages offer bidders complete experiences and access to the best products and services in The Bahamas. They include the "Foodie Package" with more than $1,500 in gift certificates in New Providence. Sponsors include the One&Only Ocean Club, Goodfellow Farms, Olive Meze Grill, Luciano's of Chicago, Tru Bahamian Food Tours and Cheesecake Heaven.
Family Island getaways abound in the "Take it Slow Package" including trips to Kamalame Cay in Andros, Cape Santa Maria in Long Island and Pineapple Fields in Eleuthera, inclusive of airfare by SkyBahamas, Bahamasair and Southern Air.
The "Have a Stay-cation" packages include accommodations at The Cove, Atlantis; Comfort Suites and A Stone's Throw Away.
People with a taste for adventure can bid on the "Thrill Seeker Package" which includes dive packages from Stuart's Cove and Bahama Divers, an Exuma excursion on Powerboat Adventures, helicopter rides courtesy of Bahamas Helicopters as well as gifts from Dolphin Encounters and Seahorse Sailing Adventures.
Liquor connoisseurs can bid on the "It's Wine O'clock Package" which will feature a champagne and wine tasting courtesy of Young's Champagne as well as selections from Bristol Cellars, Burns House and John Watling's.
And after all the indulgence, Club One and New Providence Community Centre have donated six-month memberships for the "Break A Sweat" package that is perfect for those people looking to hit the gym.
The Red Dress Soiree was staged in 2012 for the first time and organized by Tyrina Neely. It was so successful that the
Bahamas AIDS Foundation had wanted to do it again in 2013, but Neely was unable to. Lady Camille asked Neely if they could just take over the event. Neely agreed and offered to help where she could.
A new component to the Red Dress Soiree will be the creation of a 2015 calendar which will be shot by photographer Scharad Lightbourne, featuring the women in red along with their designers. The women and their designers will be photographed in creative ways at Sapodilla Estates. Lady Camille is hoping the calendars will be ready by the AIDS Foundation Ball in November.
Tickets for the Red Dress Soiree are $100 and are available at The Bahamas AIDS Foundation on Delancy Street, Imperial Optical and Commonwealth Fabrics.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has confirmed that the islands in the projected path of Tropical Storm Cristobal fared well during the passage of that fourth named storm of the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
On Monday, August 25, First Assistant Secretary at NEMA Chrystal Glinton said that Family Island administrators reported very little impact, with the exception of the flooding of a road in Mayaguana between Pirate's Well and Abraham's Bay.
By Sunday afternoon, the Bahamas Department of Meteorology issued tropical storm warnings for the central and southeast Bahamas, which includes Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, Ragged Island, Mayaguana, Inagua, Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador.
Over a 48-hour period, Tropical Storm Cristobal was expected to produce rainfall totals of four to eight inches over the southeast and central Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
"NEMA monitored the system because there was going to be severe rainfall resulting in flooding," Glinton said, "but those islands were not impacted."
She explained that those islands were in a state of readiness and the emergency operation centers on each island were prepared to partially activate or fully activate, if there was a need to do so.
"The designated hurricane shelters were ready to be opened, and a list of tourists was compiled in the event their respective countries were concerned about their welfare and safety during the storm," Glinton said.
Once NEMA is advised by the Department of Meteorology of the severity of an impending storm, the various levels of activation are implemented.
"There is 'partial activation' and then 'full activation' and NEMA would monitor the system," Glinton said.
Once a system has passed through, the "all clear" is issued by the Department of Meteorology and then NEMA conducts a rapid assessment of the impacted area or areas. An initial damage assessment team is then dispatched from New Providence to the impacted areas where the level of destruction is recorded in a damage assessment report, and recovery and repair steps are taken to restore life to normalcy.
Meanwhile, residents are being reminded that the hurricane season is at its peak time and all the necessary preparations should be in place in the event the country is faced with a storm.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs June 1 to November 30. Weather experts predict eight to 13 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which three to six could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including one to two major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).
The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season's named storms are Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky, and Wilfred.
Contractors hired by the Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) to construct 18 landfills were overpaid by as much as $700,000, according to testimony given to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the House of Assembly.
The revelation was made by Auditor General Terrance Bastian to the committee in June and July 2011, PAC Chairman Dr. Bernard Nottage told members of Parliament yesterday.
After his probe into the department's accounts, Bastian concluded that there must have been some "collusion" between employees at the department and the contractors involved.
The auditor general also claimed that some degree of "fraud" took place, according to the report.
The contracts were awarded for a $33.5 million Solid Waste Management Program to develop 18 landfills in 10 Family Islands in late 1999. At the end of the project, only 14 landfills were finished, Dr. Nottage said.
The work was funded by a $23.5 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in October 1999, and an injection of $10 million from government.
"The Department of Environmental Health Services had commissioned two engineering firms (The Engineering Group and Shepard U Management) to conduct a review of the project to determine whether the government had received value for the public funds expended," Nottage said.
"The engineering company concluded that there has been a large disparity between what should have been paid out and what had in fact been paid out. The firms also determined that there had been overpayments to the contractors to the tune of $600,000 to $700,000," Nottage said.
Bastian recommended that the police investigate the matter, however it is unclear if such an investigation took place. Attempts to reach the auditor general for comment were unsuccessful yesterday.
Nottage said the auditor general found that DEHS took on too many projects at once and did not have enough employees to oversee the work.
"This inadequacy resulted in a complete breakdown of internal controls," Nottage said.
The findings were also in the auditor general's 2009 report, the most recent one that was tabled in the House, Nottage said.
The auditor general also found, during his department's review of local government recurrent accounts in Exuma and Spanish Wells, Eleuthera that officials in those communities did not adhere to strict rules.
Bastian also told the PAC that there was an absence of accountability when it came to local government accounting.
"[The auditor general's] department was continously emphasizing to local government officials the importance of following the financial procedures that were in place," Nottage said.
The Bain and Grants Town MP also revealed that 32 homeowners are owed stamp duty refunds in the combined amount of $80,926.
Nottage said there is nothing in the law which allows for the homeowners to receive their money back and recommended that government draft legislation to address their plight.
The PAC is a sessional committee of the House that is appointed at the start of each new session of Parliament.
Nottage, Pineridge MP Kwasi Thompson, St. Thomas More MP Frank Smith, Clifton MP Kendal Wright and Elizabeth MP Ryan Pinder are on the committee.
The committee's role is to examine public expenditure to ensure it is not wasted.
Following Prime Minister Perry Christie's extensive overview on major developments on the table on 2014, a top executive at the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) is hoping these projects will come to fruition "soon" so that The Bahamas would be able to benefit from sustainable growth.
During his keynote address at the 23rd Annual Bahamas Business Outlook on Monday, the prime minister unveiled a number of major projects which he believes could impact the economy in 2014, including hotels, stem cell facilities, ports and expansions/upgrades to already existing touristic facilities.
BCCEC Chairman Chester Cooper said he was particularly pleased with the government's plan to use the national flag carrier, Bahamasair, to target more international routes as opposed to domestic routes. He suggested that smaller, local airlines like SkyBahamas should be the ones to capitalize on the domestic market.
"Anyone who travels from The Bahamas to Florida or vice versa over any holiday period, especially in recent weeks, will be able to tell you not only how difficult has it been to get a flight in and out, but how expensive it is. It's not uncommon to find that you're paying $500 for a ticket in that high peak season. What that tells me is that there is a lot of demand and not enough supply. So I was particularly pleased by that development because not only will it help airlift to The Bahamas, but no doubt it will certainly help Bahamasair because those routes could be very profitable," he told Guardian Business.
"This is the role I believe that Bahamasair ought to be playing. Instead of going to Inagua, Exuma and some of the other Family Islands, it can certainly lease those commuter routes to local airlines like Sky Bahamas, encouraging entrepreneurship and at the same time using the capacity of Bahamasair to bring tourists to The Bahamas.
"So I was particularly pleased with the prime minister's announcement that Bahamasair will be coordinating and doing more international flights to major cities." While he liked the prime minister's speech, Cooper admitted to Guardian Business that he wished Christie would have used some of that allotted time to discuss the development of "new" industries.
But the BCCEC chairman maintains that the "silver lining" for the country will be the opening of the $3.5 billion Baha Mar resort, set for December.
"Hopefully, it can come to fruition rather quickly, perhaps in the fourth quarter, so that there is a reduction in unemployment along with a boost and growth in The Bahamas. If we can see these developments bearing fruit, no doubt this will augur well for all of the factors that we look at when we talk about the outlook for The Bahamas. So I'm looking forward to things happening very quickly," he revealed.
"Maybe there could have been more regarding forecasts and the development of new industries that might come. There could have some timeline in terms of developing an oil exploration industry. Certainly when we look at the direct impact of the U.S. economy on The Bahamas, we need to look at the direct impact of our falloff in tourist stopovers on the economy of The Bahamas.
"It's clear that we need to do more for the economy of The Bahamas, so that we're not so fickle in terms of the direct impact that we get as result of tourism out of the U.S. economy. If we can diversify, create more linkages to tourism and more new industries, then we should be in good shape.
"So it was refreshing that the prime minister laid out some other developments that are in the pipeline. We hope that all of these projects can come to fruition very quickly," Cooper added.
The 'One Island, One Lane' junior segment of the IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2014 started off the festivities on the first day of competition on Saturday. Athletes traveled to the capital from various Family Islands such as Abaco, Exuma, Eleuthera, Andros, Grand Bahama, Mayaguana and the Berry Islands. The team from the capital dominated the competition, winning three of the five relay races. Grand Bahama won the other two.
The athletes competed in the 4x100 meters (m), the 4x400m races and a sprint medley relay.
The boys started things off with the 4x100m, which got the crowd into the swing of things, and the athletes put on a spectacular show as they blazed down the track at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. The teams for the event were sponsored by various business establishments around the country, which provided them with uniforms and other gear.
The experience to compete on a stage so large can only benefit the athletes involved. It gives them a chance to get used to performing on the grand stage and helps to build their confidence going forward.
"It was great to compete. Each island has great athletes, but when they pick out the best athletes from each island it makes the competition even tougher," said Talia Thompson from Queen's College who ran for New Providence.
Performing in front of the world at such an event also gives athletes exposure to schools and coaches that they may not have gotten without the World Relays being here. The past weekend's competitors expressed their gratitude for the chance to compete on such a stage.
On the second day of the events, the junior program started the competition again, this time under the banner, 'One School, One Lane'. The opportunity gave the schools a chance to be crowned high school relay champions of The Bahamas.
The Catholic High Crusaders opened up the meet with a victory in the boys' 4x100m. They finished in a time of 41.44 seconds.
"It felt good. It's a nice track. It felt fast, and I couldn't have done it without my team," said Cody Willis of Catholic High.
"This just feels great. It feels great to win on a world stage like this. I feel like LeBron James right now to be honest," said Steven Tate from Catholic High.
The medley relay showcases a variety of different events in one race, and the team from Moore's Island dominated the event.
"The race was fine. I think we did awesome because we did our best," said Steven Gardiner from Moore's Island.
Up next was the girls' 4x100m relays; St. Augustine's College (SAC) was the favorite coming in, and the team did not disappoint. The runners got off to a quick start and never looked back as they won in a time of 45.87 seconds.
"It feels really great to compete with these girls for the last time. It is very sad that I have come to the end of my six-year career at SAC. It has been an honor for me to compete for SAC, and I would like to wish my teammates nothing but success in the future. We ran our personal best in this event and my teammates all put their best foot forward. I wanted to do the same," said Lakia White from SAC.
"I feel very excited to compete with this much viewers. It takes away from some nervousness that I had. I just went out there and did my best," said Kieanna Albury from SAC.
The girls' 4x400m relay was up next. Queen's College had two teams in the event, their 'A' and 'B' teams, which doubled their chances of winning. The 'A' team managed to pull out a landslide victory in a time of 3:52.83, and the 'B' team finished second.
"It feels great to compete with this kind of crowd present. It gives us energy and gets our adrenaline pumping," said Talia Thompson.
"I feel good. The competition was a little tough, but it was still good," said Antonia Strachan.
The final event of the junior program was the boys' 4x400m relay. Moore's Island came in as a heavy favorite to win the race, but the SAC Big Red Machines would have the last say. They stole the show with their time of 3:16.9. St. John's finished in second while Moore's Island faded to third.
"I didn't want to let my team down. We knew that Moore's Island was going to be tough competition, but we just gave it our all," said Carlos Outten from SAC.
"We feel elated that we could come out here and represent our school to the best of our abilities, and we also got a chance to come out and show people that SAC is still a powerhouse," said Xavier Coakley from SAC.
The junior segment on Sunday set the stage to an exciting conclusion of the World Relays last night.
Executive members in the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA) officially adopted the residents in the Elizabeth Estates Children's Home, wanting to provide them with equal opportunity in learning the sport of tennis.
On Saturday, director of the 'Play and Stay' program Bradley Bain along with national team member Larikah Russell and Ricardo Demeritte took about 16 of the residents through a series of drills and games. In the introductory lessons, the residents worked on hand and eye coordination, as well as foot work. The 'Play and Stay' program, designed to improve the playing skills of all, has caught on quickly in the country and president of the local association Derron Donaldson is ready to take it a step further.
According to Donaldson, the local association is planning to adopt more homes and use the development program as a form of exercise for residents. Each month, the BLTA will reach out to other organizations in the capital and the Family Islands. Donaldson said: "Now that the 'Play and Stay' program has caught on in the country, we want to do more. We want to make sure that everyone who wants to play tennis in the country is playing. If it means us going out and setting up the courts, we are willing and ready to do so. Adopting the Elizabeth Estates Children's Home is just the first stop on our agenda. We plan to do more, go to more homes and schools.
"Bradley is doing a fantastic job in making sure that The Bahamas at large is playing tennis. His aggressive approach in building the sport is really helping as more and more persons are catching on. He, along with Larikah and Ricardo take the registered persons through a series of drills, that anyone can easily catch on to, so persons who believe that they can play, or always wanted to play can come out to any of our venues especially when we are hosting the 'Play and Stay' training sessions."
The BLTA has already launched the program in several schools in New Providence. In a couple of weeks, a team will travel to Freeport, Grand Bahama, and host a two-day clinic for teachers. In March, they will travel to Exuma and re-visit Eleuthera in April. At the completion of the courses, all participants will be awarded certificates.
"Everyone is under the impression that tennis is an expensive sport, when in fact it is really not," said Donaldson. "It doesn't cost a dime to come and teach, or hold sessions at the schools or other places, so with that in mind, we are encouraging persons to come and join us. The goal is to have everyone in the country pick up a tennis racket at least once or twice. We want to see more persons play."
The 'Play and Stay' program has changed some of the rules in the sport, making it easier for persons to serve, rally and score. Newer balls are now being used on smaller courts that have lower nets. The red balls are for beginners who will eventually move on to the orange and then green. The height of the net, as well as the size of the courts and rackets, will change with each step a player takes while enrolled in the program. The yellow balls, used in regular play, will be introduced during the final step. Persons will then play full games on the standard-sized courts.
APD Limited's tour of The Bahamas has proven effective among everyday Bahamians, Guardian Business has learned, with at least half of the share offering being snatched up by retail investors.
Jamaal Stubbs, senior analyst at CFAL, one of the placement agents for the IPO, said these figures show the outreach program is hitting the mark.
"The mandate from the government was to have the widest share distribution possible," he added. "So far we are definitely meeting that goal. There has been a wide cross-section of Bahamian investors."
The IPO, making up 20 percent of the company's overall equity, has been touted as a landmark opportunity for everyday Bahamians. The investment gives citizens direct equity in the new state-of-the-art Nassau Container Port on Arawak Cay - the only gateway for imports and exports into New Providence.
Stubbs speculated the IPO, worth $10 million, will no doubt exceed that figure considerably. But under the terms of the offering, everyone is guaranteed the minimum buy-in of $500 to protect the average investor.
In fact, Stubbs told Guardian Business, in the end, retail investors should outnumber institutional entities.
Michael Maura Jr., CEO of APD Limited, will conclude the IPO tour today after a couple weeks on the road. The company delegation has filled schools and meeting halls in every corner of the country, he said, from Long Island, to Eleuthera to Exuma.
With no CFAL, Colina, Bank of The Bahamas or New Providence Advisors on some islands, Maura said Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has agreed to step up as a placement agent for the far-flung locales.
The CEO said he has been overwhelmed by the response and interest from everyday Bahamians.
"People are very grateful we have taken the time to give them a chance to see what it's all about. I think there is a fair number of Family Islanders that have not historically had the chance to invest in companies," he told Guardian Business. "The investment opportunity has never been brought to them. We are getting out in front of them and saying how easy it is. Now they are becoming more comfortable."
While the majority of the Bahamians at the meetings won't spend $100,000 on the IPO, Maura felt the opportunity was an encouraging start.
On his end, Stubbs said CFAL is getting some unusual calls.
"We have got calls across the board, including Berry Islands and Crooked Island," he said. "It means the investment will be really spread out."
The current ownership structure of APD Limited includes 40 percent for private shareholders, 40 percent for the government and 20 percent for the public.
Investors have until January 31 to buy shares.
Palm Cay Marina & Beach Club has announced the appointment of Demaro Demeritte as dockmaster with responsibility for its active 194-slip marina on New Providence's southeast coast.
A veteran of the water sports industry and holder of three classes of captain's operator licenses, Demeritte had served as deputy dockmaster of the five-star rated, multimillion-dollar marina since June.
"We are extremely pleased to announce the appointment of Demaro Demeritte as harbormaster," said Palm Cay Director of Sales and Marketing Zack Bonczek.
"Despite the boating activity in The Bahamas, there are only a handful of qualified harbormasters like Demeritte and we were fortunate to have identified him and happy that he has selected Palm Cay for his career. Demaro has the necessary academic and technical engineering skills, followed by more than a dozen years of experience. He also has marketing strengths and the ability to handle the local and visiting boating market as well as looking after all the equipment, docks, electrical, fuel supply and other components of the Palm Cay Marina."
For Demeritte, being in, on and around the water is as natural as breathing air. His uncle and his business associates, he recalls, were first to introduce Jet Skis to The Bahamas and he cannot remember a time he was not swimming, snorkeling or, even as a child buckled in life vest, on the back of a Jet Ski, wide-eyed at the wonder of Bahamian waters.
Demeritte, 33, attended St. Augustine's College in New Providence before earning an associate degree in computer and electrical information from Tampa Technical and a second degree in office management, graduating with high honors from what is now Remington College.
Owner of a successful water sports business on Paradise Island, he also lectures in the Ministry of Tourism's training program, Bahamahost, and has continued to participate in several of the series of hospitality related educational classes.
Fully certified as a first responder with CPR training, Demeritte was appointed by Minister of Transport & Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin to The Bahamas Water Sports Safety Board. He has been featured on the nightly Tourism Today segment twice. He holds Class A, Class B and Class D captain's licences, the latter for motorized water sports.
In his new role, Demeritte is responsible for marina business, marketing strategy, guest relations, marina staff, facilities, including the 4,000-gallon gasoline and 10,000-gallon diesel supply, water, showers, laundry, dockmaster office, wi-fi and other amenities, and the day-to-day operations including assisting or ensuring assistance is available as boats tie up or leave the marina.
The marina, which is the closest to Exuma, is one of the prominent features of the nearly 70-acre development that, when completed, will include some 350 residences with a mixture of single family homes, townhomes and condos, a restaurant, clubhouse, tennis, two pools, 1,200 feet of sandy beach, boardwalk and gazebo and 24-hour gated security. Palm Cay Marina also serves as a BASRA outpost.
The Campari Lady Nathalie is back... literally!
According to boat owner Eleazor 'Barber J' Johnson, the popular B-Class sloop has re-united with Burns House and the Campari brand, and will enjoy its support and sponsorship for the rest of the year. The sloop has been known as the Campari Lady Nathalie for much of the past two decades, but that partnership was terminated in 2008, and the two entities went their separate ways. With Johnson's Silver Jubilee St. Valentine's Day Massacre set for next year, he said that a better time couldn't have been picked for the two sides to come together again.
"I feel wonderful. It's great to have them back on board but really and truly, our relationship was never stained," said Johnson. "We always stayed in contact and there was always the possibility of them coming back and supporting the Lady Nathalie. Knowing that the 25th Annual St. Valentine's Day Massacre is right around the corner, it's good to know that they are back supporting me. Nathalie is a champion boat and Campari is a champion brand. She is simply legendary, and it's only right that two champions would come together and promote sailing in the country. I see great things happening in the future for the Campari Lady Nathalie," he added.
The Lady Nathalie was sponsored by the Campari brand from 1990-2008. During that time, Johnson's prized B-Class possession has won numerous sailing titles in the country. It has won in Abaco, Acklins, Andros, Bimini, Cat Island, Grand Bahama, North Eleuthera, and of course here in New Providence. However, the sloop has never won the National Family Island Regatta in Georgetown, Exuma nor in Salt Pond, Long Island. The Lady Nathalie finished third overall in picturesque Elizabeth's Harbour in Georgetown this year, and the Long Island regatta is set for this Labour Day Holiday weekend. However, the Lady Nathalie won't be participating in Salt Pond this weekend.
"I never won in Georgetown nor Long Island but the Lady Nathalie is always up there," said Johnson. "I've beaten all the top B-Class sloops except for Buzzy Rolle. He has a fast boat and Nathalie is also fast so it is really just a matter of time, and now with Campari and the Lady Nathalie back together, great things are lying ahead," he added.
So far, Johnson's Lady Nathalie is having a great year. In addition to finishing third overall in Georgetown, the Lady Nathalie won all three series races of the All-for-Regatta with Clyde Rolle at the tiller, and then won the 'Catch Me If You Can' race at the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Johnson is expecting a good summer for his sloop, and for it to finish the year strong, thereby ensuring that Burns House and the Campari brand stay on board for next year as well.
Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald said in the House of Assembly yesterday that reappointed College of The Bahamas (COB) President Dr. Rodney Smith will be paid "exactly the same" salary as the previous president.
"Dr. Smith's salary is exactly the same as the previous president and his benefits are exactly the same, save that he requested a housing allowance instead of the using the house COB has rented for presidents for the past 10 years, and Council agreed," he said during debate on the resolution to borrow $16.18 million to fund the University of The Bahamas Transformation Project.
"The three-year term was also agreed with a two-year option."
Former COB President Dr. Betsy Vogel-Boze made around $150,000 a year.
Smith came under fire last week after The Guardian revealed that he was asking for a $400,000 annual salary.
Smith, who was president of COB between 2004 and 2005, left amid a plagiarism scandal. He re-assumed office yesterday.
As it relates to the resolution, Fitzgerald said the money will be used to fulfill crucial elements of COB's master plan which will determine the physical space needs of the college and assist COB with fulfilling its obligations to attain university status.
"The establishment of the University of The Bahamas will be a defining moment in the annals of Bahamian history," he said. "This resolution today to borrow $16,180,000 from the Caribbean Development Bank is an important piece of the puzzle."
COB is expected to transition to university status by July 2015.
Fitzgerald said COB has identified a number of priority areas for development, including the rehabilitation and expansion of its facilities.
He said the loan comprises five components. However, Fitzgerald said the project's main focus is enhancing the capacity of COB to provide quality tertiary education.
The college also intends to enhance its learning environment by expanding and upgrading the physical facilities, he said. A part of that plan will be to design and construct halls of residence to accommodate approximately 100 students and the construction of the business center.
Fitzgerald said COB will also enhance and rehabilitate the Keva Bethel Administrative Building, the Hotel Training College and upgrade the security system.
Fitzgerald said the loan would also help to fund an improvement to service delivery.
Specifically, COB will seek to provide increased access to underserved communities in various Family Islands. Fitzgerald said enrollment in the Distance Learning Program is expected to double by 2017.
The college will also upgrade its technology in centers in Andros, Exuma, Abaco, Eleuthera, Long Island, Bimini, San Salvador and Cat Island.
He said the college would also develop eight online courses.
Finally, COB intends to improve governance and management.
Fitzgerald said that component will support the institutional enhancements needed to facilitate the transition to university status and improve the institutional framework for governance, effective management of the institution and quality assurance.
Fitzgerald said the government will table legislation to establish the University of The Bahamas before the end of next year.
"There is still a lot of work to do," he said. "We are at the implementation stage where the heavy lifting is. Reform and accountability are setting in. We intended to raise the academic bar, close the achievement gap and instill confidence in our education system."