Lieutenant General Rex McMillian, the Commanding General of the United States Marine Corps Forces Reserve and the United States Marine Forces Northern Command (MARFORNORTH), paid a courtesy call on Commander Defence Force (Acting), Tellis Bethel on Wednesday morning.

    Lt. General McMillian, who was accompanied by his staff from MARFORNORTH, met with Captain Bethel and his Senior Officers at the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Headquarters, Coral Harbour Base. They discussed local and regional security matters, as well as further training engagements that can be provided by MARFORNORTH for Defence Force Marines.

    Lt. General and his team were also given a tour of Coral Harbour Base by Captain Clyde Sawyer, Captain Coral Harbour, in addition to viewing progress of the Advanced Combat Shooting Course that was conducted by MARFORNORTH instructors at Coral Harbour Base. Forty Defence Force Marines participated in the 17-day course, which ended on Thursday with a closing ceremony at Coral Harbour Base attended by Lt. General McMillian and members of Defence Force senior command.




    Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie praised the legacy of North Andros' education icon Ms. Clara E. Evans, on March 23, 2017, pointing to the role she played in building the community, leading to the renaming of the Nicholl's Town Primary School in her honor that day. "Every so often the opportunity presents itself for recognition to be given for contributions made -- particularly to those whom we can describe as 'nation builders'," Prime Minister Christie said, during the renaming ceremony at the school. "And I have come here now, this afternoon, to commemorate this nation builder, Ms. Clara E. Evans."

    Prime Minister Christie said that the renaming of the school in her honour was a "fitting demonstration" of the appreciation his government has for her dedication and commitment in teaching the children of The Bahamas and, more particularly, those on the island of Andros. "Clara Evans's life's work epitomizes the act of going beyond what is required to achieve the best results," Prime Minister Christie noted. "She stands today as a woman who gave her all to helping others succeed. "Her pursuit of excellence, he added, encompassed service to her community, her church, civil society and education and, having spent 50 years of her life serving in varying positions, Ms. Evans has "truly left an indelible mark in the field of education. She set out on a mission to make Nicholl's Town Primary, by her own declared attention, the best primary school in The Bahamas," Prime Minister Christie stated. "Her initiative, over the years, has indeed facilitated in creating an institution worthy of acclamation. History has recorded the many achievements that the school attained under the leadership of Clara Evans."

    Prime Minister Christie stated that while Ms. Evans's biography is filled with myriad awards and recognitions that had been bestowed upon her, all pale in comparison with the renaming of the school.

    "Administrators and teachers, I hope that you are inspired by the stellar performance of one of our nation builders and that you are motivated to continue to support your students," he added. "You are charged with the task to prepare our students for life in the 21st century. "This is no small feat. The challenges are many; but if you work together and continue to invest greatly in your children -- as your school motto dictates -- your feat can be accomplished."

    To the parents, Prime Minister Christie said “the Almighty" had blessed them with the great responsibility of rearing their children to become productive citizens. "You must give the love, care and discipline that is necessary to make this a reality," he said. "I implore you to co-operate with the teachers as they seek, like you, the best for your children."

    Prime Minister Christie also pointed out his government's hope for the effect the renaming of the school would have on future Bahamians: "It is our hope that the constant sight of Clara Evans's name on this edifice will serve as an inspiration, a degree of motivation and encouragement, to students, teachers, and community members of Nicholl's Town, North Andros," he said. "It is, therefore, with a distinct pleasure and a sense of profound pride that I now join the citizens of The Bahamas and the community in renaming the Nicholl's Town Primary School, the ‘Clara E. Evans Primary School’."




    The Hon. Melanie Griffin, Minister of Social Services and Community Development, was presented an assortment of Hurricane Relief items for residents of the Willie Mae Pratt School for Girls on Thursday, March 23, 2017 at the school. The supplies were a heavy-duty washing machine and dryer, computer, educational materials and other items.

    The donations were arranged by the Chevening Alumni of The Bahamas, with the assistance of the British High Commission in Kingston, Jamaica.

    Donation to the school was the result of contact having been made with Captain Stephen Russell, director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), to identify an institution in need following local devastation by Hurricane Matthew, which struck October 2016.

    Pictured during presentation are from left, High Commissioner, His Excellency David Fitton, British High Commission, Kingston, Jamaica; the Hon. Melanie Griffin, Minister of Social Services and Community Development; and Captain Russell, NEMA. Minister Griffin delivers remarks in appreciation.




    W. J. Godfrey Eneas, president of BAMSI, in his book ‘Agriculture in the Bahamas’ highlights the continual decline of the small ruminant industry for almost 40 years. The industry has suffered because of limited

    interventions until the recent establishment of BAMSI. The technological advancements which have benefitted livestock production in the Caribbean region are only now being addressed through BAMSI led initiatives. The BAMSI small ruminant unit, established in 2015, is expected to develop into national breeding herds of sheep and goats providing stock to livestock farmers throughout the Bahamas. This is a major intervention in the small ruminant industry as it represents the largest holding of diverse breeds in the Bahamas, with the main objectives of teaching, extension and research. BAMSI’s objective is to demonstrate

    to farmers improved housing structures, feeding technologies, disease management and hygienic animal slaughter techniques to develop the industry.

    BAMSI’s sheep and goat unit currently houses over 600 animals at different physiological stages. Three groups of pedigree goats - Savannah, Kiko and Boer - were imported last August with the objective to improve existing herds in the Bahamas. These are all meat breeds which can adapt easily to the geography and climate of the Bahamas. In addition, the breeding herd consist of several breeds of sheep including the Local Bahama, Persian Black head, Dorper and Barbados Black Belly. The sheep and goats are managed under both intensive and extensive systems. The intensive system comprises a suspended slatted floor with forage racks and automatic water flow which afford the animals a more secure and hygienic environment. Here the feed from managed pastures is chopped and fed in combination with grain-based concentrate. Improved animal husbandry techniques are employed by the BAMSI livestock staff, ensuring that hoof trimming and deworming are routine procedures for both the sheep and goats under this system. Animals managed extensively are on a pasture rotation program, where grazing is the primary means of feed, and supplemented if required with grain-based concentrate.

    Eneas, (2013) noted that the production of sheep and goats has traditionally taken place on bush pastures in Exuma, Eleuthera, Long Island and Cat Island. To overcome the constraints of reliance on bush pastures, the establishment of managed pastures is critical to the sustainable development of the small ruminant industry in the Bahamas. Over 40 acres of legume forages are being established in Andros; these include Trichantera gigantea, Morus alba, Leucanea spp, Gliricidia sepium and Moringa oleifera and will be managed as crops with irrigation and fertilizer applied. These improved high protein forages are to be evaluated for growth performance, nutritive content and adaptability. Sheep and goats are ruminants, which mean that they grow

    best when fed on grasses and forages; so a feeding regime will be developed based on these forages established at BAMSI. These grasses and forages will be made available to other Family Islands; so that all livestock farmers will have the opportunity to supply high quality feeds throughout the year.




    The Royal Bahamas Defence Force unveiled its newest tool for promoting peace within our communities today through its Ambassador of Peace (AOP) Programme, a brainchild of Captain Tellis Bethel, Commander Defence Force (Acting). A fitting launching pad, the program was unveiled at the Royal Bahamas Defence Force’s 37th Anniversary Church Service hosted at the Church of God of Prophecy Tabernacle, East Street.

    The program was launched in presence of the Governor General of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling, the Minister of National Security, the Hon. Bernard J. Nottage, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon Keith Bell, foreign diplomats as well as members of local and international security forces and other distinguished guests.

    The pin was presented before a packed church by the youngest male and female within the Defence Force, Marine Seaman Justin Stuart and Woman Marine Nyiesha Ferguson, who were escorted by two Rangers, Joseph Smith and Alendria Russell. Captain Bethel explains that the newly launched program demonstrates the Defence Force's commitment towards guarding The Bahamas' heritage of peace. The Ambassador of Peace program is a nation-wide initiative that will also play a pivotal role in a global outreach with its message of peace. Ambassadors of Peace are individuals or business entities across all sectors of society, who have committed themselves to engaging in random acts of kindness that promote peace throughout our communities. Acts of kindness may include any activity, regardless of the size, that promotes good health, improves the quality of our environment and demonstrates care for the betterment of others.

    Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling became the first recipient of the Ambassador of Peace pin in recognition of her commitment to promoting the ideals of peace. Persons or business establishments who demonstrate their commitment to the ideals of peace will receive turquoise ribbons or pins (or plaques with turquoise ribbons engraved on them). The turquoise color represents the world renowned waters of The Bahamas that often remind Bahamians and visitors of peace. This latest undertaking by the Defence Force will be coordinated by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Rangers, the youth arm of the Force, headed by the Force's Rangers Director, Lieutenant Delvonne Duncombe. In "Guarding Our Heritage," The Royal Bahamas Defence Force remains committed to piloting innovative strategic missions, like the Ambassador of Peace Program, to create a more peaceful Bahamas for locals and visitors.




    The National Training Agency is boasting 70 percent employment after participants have acquired a variety of skills for the workforce. The Minister of Labour and National Insurance and Minister of the Public Service the Hon. Shane Gibson addressed the success of the NTA during the Graduating Ceremony of Cohort 7 on Thursday, March 23, 2017. The disciplines were Hospitality, Allied Health, Auto Body, Office Procedures, Microsoft Office/Quick Books & Customer Service, Retail Business Skills, and Teacher’s Aide. The exercise brings to approximately 3,000 the number of individuals graduating under the training progamme since its inception almost four years ago. “Graduates, you have done well. You have upgraded your skills and earned relevant certification. Use the knowledge and skills you have acquired wisely,” Mr. Gibson said.

    Approximately 70 percent of all NTA graduates have found employment at more than 40 public and private sector companies and organizations across the country. “Words cannot express how proud I feel to be the Minister responsible for this agency of change and second chances,” Mr. Gibson said. Established three years and eight months ago, the NTA is touted by the government as the national symbol of excellence. It has provided training and certification for over 3,000 young Bahamians. Additionally, over the last six months, the agency has provided soft skills training associated with several Inter-American Development Bank projects, impacting the lives of an additional 1,200 individuals on New Providence and Grand Bahama.

    On July 15, 2013 the Prime Minister officially launched the National Training Agency. And Cohort 7 became the first group of NTA trainees to receive their certificates and awards in a ceremony at the facility on Gladstone Road, which is designed to accommodate the Mandatory Workforce Preparatory Programme – the signature programme of NTA. “When I reflect on the success of this agency, I often think about how much further along we could have been in our efforts to develop employability skills and reduce youth unemployment if the agency had been established in 2007 as planned. “We are grateful to have a Prime Minister who fully supports the work of the NTA, and is extremely proud of every one of you for taking full advantage of the training that this agency offers,” Mr. Gibson said. The Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie delivered the keynote address to Cohort 7. “Graduates, we know that you are going to be successful in work and in life. It is gratifying to know that the investment the government has made in each of you is paying substantial dividends in the form of the many jobs NTA graduates have secured,” Mr. Gibson said.

    Graduates have been employed at Atlantis, One & Only Ocean Club, Sandals, Breezes and the British Colonial Hilton. Baha Mar -- which is expected to begin its phased opening in April -- has also partnered with NTA in its recruitment drive and it is anticipated that a number of NTA trainees will become Baha Mar employees. Other businesses and organizations such as Doctor’s Hospital, The Public Hospitals Authority, NIB, Super Value, Solomon’s, Diamonds International, Dollar Rent A Car/ Quality Auto Sales and Sanpin Motors, have also enabled NTA graduates to pursue their dreams. “Graduates, the trainees who passed through this program before you, are now a significant part of a vibrant and productive Bahamian workforce. I hope that when you join them, you will continue this positive trajectory,” Mr. Gibson said. He congratulated the Board of Directors, chaired by Mrs. Elizabeth Keju, the Executive Director, Ms. Agatha Marcelle and the “hardworking, dedicated team” for the success of the programme. “I look forward to the continued growth and development of the agency, especially as it relates to the development of employability skills and the reduction of youth unemployment,” Mr. Gibson said.




    Digitization of textbooks is on the horizon for public schools. The Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald, Minister of Education, Science and Technology made the announcement during the official launch of the Bahamas Primary Mathematics series on Thursday, March 23, 2017 at SuperClubs Breezes. “In the public school system we are educating 75-80 percent of the student population. You can imagine the requirement or the need for us to provide text material. It is overwhelming from year-to-year,” he said. “If I return as the Minister of Education, one of the primary functions and drives I will be pushing in the next term is moving our text to a digital platform. It is required, necessary for us to ensure that there is equity throughout the system. “One of the requirements I will be insisting upon is that we work out a mechanism where we have it digitally and whatever the cost of the publisher for the rights, we work that out ahead of time. That is my expectation and as the world changes we have to adapt and understand where the world is moving.”

    Moreover, Minister Fitzgerald revealed that the final stages of a $16 million loan are being negotiated with the Inter-American Development Bank to revamp all Science labs, the curriculum, and production of textbooks. “We are moving in that direction where we know that engineers, persons in computer science, coders, programmers are really the sphere -- where we see countries focusing on them, their economies are growing faster than others. “We have to ensure that our young people are getting what is required at the basic level. If you can’t read you will have a difficult time being good at mathematics. So we have to ensure that the literacy level is improved,” said Minister Fitzgerald. The new primary Mathematics textbook series is a public/private effort and was specifically designed for Bahamian schools. It is “culturally” relevant and was published in conjunction with Hodder Education.




    The government has signed what is being called a ‘landmark’ document on behalf of the country. The Ministry of Transport and Aviation signed a ‘Declaration of Intent on Flight Information Region’ (FIR) with the United States via the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The government also signed a second document – a Radar Data Sharing partnership. The ceremony was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Immigration at the Goodman’s Bay Corporate Centre, March 22, 2017. During the signing ceremony, Minister of Transport and Aviation, the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin said the signing signals ‘maturation of a sovereign country’ as it relates to its aviation sector. The Bahamas gained sovereignty over its geographical airspace when it gained Independence in 1973, however, the FAA has continued to manage and control this airspace as part of its Flight Information Region, under arrangements that predate independence. “The signing of these documents is a culmination of a journey that started a while back. This is also a significant intervention for domestic travel in the country,” said the Minister.

    She said that the documents formalize arrangements between two sovereign states and also point to the beginning of a ‘larger dialogue’ between The Bahamas and the United States. The new FIR means that the Bahamas will be able to manage its own airspace after a 10-year arrangement with the FAA, which would be economically beneficial to the country. The FAA will be paid for providing air traffic management services during this period as the country builds capacity in the sector. Discussions between the FAA and representatives of the Bahamas Government over the management and control of the upper levels of The Bahamas’ airspace began in earnest with the first round of talks held in 2014 and the last meeting taking place in Miami in mid-December. As part of the deal, all Bahamian aircraft operators will be exempt from paying over flight fees to the FAA on flights that take off and land in The Bahamas. The exemption, which took place earlier this year, will translate into significant savings for local aircraft operators, including Bahamasair.

    The second document – the Radar Data Sharing agreement – will replace the former one-sided relationship with the FAA, and will now feature a mutual sharing arrangement with the United States. Just last week, the government announced the plan to install four new Doppler radars throughout the country. Also speaking during the press conference were: Sir Baltron Bethel, Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister, and Carey Fagan, Executive Director for International Affairs, FAA. Ms. Fagan was the signatory for the FAA.




    Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, said, on March 21, 2017, that the handing over of the Certificate of Occupancy for Baha Mar resort marked "an important day of progress" for Baha Mar and The Bahamas.

    "Today Baha Mar is being transferred to a world-class company, one that successfully manages prestigious hotels across the world, including three successful resorts in the Caribbean -- one in Antigua, one in Barbuda and one in the U.S. Virgin Islands," Prime Minister Christie said at the handing over event that took place on the Baha Mar resort property.

    Prime Minister Christie added that the new owner had actually increased capital, marketing and pre-opening investment from $200 million to $250 million.

    "We are grateful for such a strong level of experience and investment to usher in new opportunities for the Bahamian people," he said.

    Prime Minister Christie pointed out that during the past weekend he had remarked on the progress leading up to the April 21st opening of the Baha Mar resort. He noted that he said that he would be on the property for the event that current day because "this is real."

    "Everyone who is here today can feel the excitement and the activity," he said. "I, for myself, have seen new employees who are coming in for training and moving forward, all on course to make this project a big success."

    Prime Minister Christie said that he had been advised that 650 Bahamians have already been hired by Baha Mar, and 1,500 employees will be hired by April 21st.

    He pointed out that Baha Mar, like Atlantis, will open in phases, with more job opportunities at every phase.

    "No one knows better than me how these jobs can change lives," Prime Minister Christie said. "These new opportunities are going to bring meaningful change for a lot of Bahamian families and that's what it's all about.

    "That's why we worked so hard to make sure that Baha Mar was delivered to successful and to safe hands."

    The Prime Minister beamed at "the hope and excitement and anticipation on the faces of the people who are being employed here -- these are new employees, many of them working for the first time in this kind of an environment," he said. "It is a defining life experience for them and they will take up ownership of this particular hotel resort complex, and they are going to make it one of the finest resort complexes in the entire world. That is their intention.”




    Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie said recently that renaming a school after a local educator who is an exemplar to others is a way to ensure that those who displayed stellar leadership qualities are forever remembered in the "annals of the history" of The Bahamas, with Rev. Euthal Rodgers being just that kind of educator. "We are talking about a man who -- by any definition and any measuring standard -- had to be gifted," Prime Minister Christie stated at the renaming of the Deep Creek Primary School -- ‘the Rev. Euthal Rodgers Primary School,’ in South Andros on March 16, 2017. Among those present for the event were Governor General Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling and Minister of Education, Science and Technology the Hon. Jerome K. Fitzgerald.

    According to information provided, the late Euthal Rodgers was born into poverty in South Andros in the latter part of the 19th century, and, due to an eye injury in his early years, was home-schooled. He demonstrated a level of vocabulary, diction and writing skills indicative of someone with a post-secondary education, although he never attended university. "Wherever I go and wherever they had come from, the most amazing and even startling discovery is how self-education was so incredibly powerful in the history of this country," Prime Minister Christie said. "We are talking bout a man who exemplifies being able to learn outside of a classroom, being able to have an education that went beyond what they were teaching in the schools at that time in this community," he pointed out.

    Due to his overarching ability to learn expeditiously, the release continued, Mr. Rodgers was often called upon to teach. Despite no formal teacher training, he possessed an "innate ability" to transfer knowledge to others. Although he followed a theological path, and took on the role of community leader, his main focus was assisting with the education of others. Many persons in the community of South Andros can give credit to Rev. Rodgers for providing them with exposure to education, particularly reading, writing and arithmetic, the release added. "Today it is quite fitting for us to be here to commemorate the contributions of a dedicated community advocate and one who we have to recognize as an educator," Prime Minister Christie stated.

    Prime Minister Christie acknowledged the presence of his beloved family, friends, congregation, former colleagues, students and church members that day, as well congratulated Minister Fitzgerald, and other education officials for "making sure that people who had given much to education would have their names institutionalized" for future Bahamian students. Prime Minister Christie also related brief highlights in Rev. Rodgers' civic and community leading history and added that The Bahamas has more persons like him who made a difference. "In our country, there are many unsung heroes and heroines -- people who have done amazing work, but were never recognized for it -- and we have to do a better job of lifting up these people, of lifting up their names, because no matter who you are there has to be pride associated with all that has been done," Prime Minister Christie said.





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