#Jamaica, November 14, 2017 – Montego Bay – Minister of National Security, Hon. Robert Montague, says the Government is committed to the rehabilitation and redemption of incarcerated persons in adult penal institutions. Addressing a town hall meeting at the Everglades Centre in Parrottee, near Black River in St. Elizabeth on November 9, the Minister said the Government is gravely concerned that many inmates, upon release, find themselves back behind bars not very long after.
Mr. Montague pointed out that in order to address the challenges, the Government has beefed up rehabilitation initiatives in the seven adult prisons, introducing skills training such as furniture-making; food processing programmes, in collaboration with the HEART Trust/NTA, as well as literacy classes for those who are unable to read. He said the literacy levels of all new inmates are now assessed, and the game of chess has also been introduced in the prisons with the hope of enabling inmates to be better thinkers.
“The rate of return in our prisons is over 40 per cent. In other words, 40 per cent of the persons in our prisons were there before,” the Minister noted.
“We have to equip the prisoner with the skills to survive so he does not come back,” Mr. Montague said.
The Minister said a hydroponics system at the Spanish Town District Prison, which was donated by the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE), is being manned by prisoners who have now used the technology to grow vegetables to feed themselves and their fellow inmates. He explained that under his regime, the approximately 3,500 prisoners on the island will have to undertake some of the responsibility to feed and care for themselves, instead of tax-payers being made to shoulder all the associated costs attached to their welfare.
“I have insisted as Minister, that the prisoners must produce at least one meal per week for themselves. And, today, they are now at two meals per week. The tax-payers of Jamaica must get a break,” Mr. Montague declared.
With respect to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), the Minister said the Government is “investing heavily into the training of police officers”, as the organisation is operating way below strength, due to retirement and resignations outpacing the recruitment of new trainees to fill vacancies.
“The Jamaica Constabulary Force is operating at 70 per cent of its strength. The police lose an average of 500 police officers per year for the last four years,” Mr. Montague said.
“When you count all the training, we are only training 550 per year. And the Government has taken a very aggressive line, because this Minister believes that we must bring the Police Force up to 14,435, which is the establishment strength,” he added.
The Minister said the current strategy to increase the number of officers is in its early stages of execution, and will see 2,000 recruits being trained per year over the next three years at Harman Barracks in Kingston, Twickenham Park in St. Catherine and at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies.
Bahamian Para-Athlete Erin Brown to Become Godmother of RC’s Odyssey of The Seas
#TheBahamas, November 24, 2021 – A Bahamian woman who lost her leg to cancer and went on to defy odds and inspire thousands will be named godmother of Royal Caribbean International’s Odyssey of the Seas. Erin Brown, a 41-year-old mother of two and a para-triathlete who cycles, runs, swims and competes at an international level, will accept the honour at a special ceremony in Florida later this week.
“From the moment we heard the story of Erin, how her courage and determination in the face of adversity inspired others and led to a more inclusive consciousness about succeeding with disabilities, we were moved and knew she was a great candidate for godmother of our newest ship, Odyssey of the Seas,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “A godmother serves as the guiding spirit of the ship and brings good luck and safe travels to its crew and guests.”
While she was in college participating as a track and field athlete, Brown was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma after suffering a fall that resulted in a broken leg. After more than a year of chemotherapy, her tumor showed no signs of shrinking, and Brown made the difficult decision to amputate her limb above the knee. Brown, who watched her own mother struggle for five years before losing her battle with lupus linked to cancer, knew she had to keep going because her child depended on her. She underwent surgery and woke up to one less leg. “Mind over matter,” she repeated. And then, she re-invented herself.
She said she recognizes now that her disability was a signal to start over. The first time she completed the 100-mile cycling event, Ride for Hope, raising money for cancer research, education and prevention, she led a group of adaptive athletes who heard the thunderous applause and cheers from the crowd that had witnessed the one-legged cyclist achieve what few with two legs could on the hilly terrain.
“A sudden change like the one I experienced is just an opportunity to rebrand yourself to yourself and to society. All those skills you had before – you still have them,” said Brown who has gone on to become an advocate for rights for the disabled and works at the University of The Bahamas as the compliance officer and counselor for the physically challenged.
“Having Erin as our godmother is a fitting way for us to pay tribute to The Bahamas,” said Bayley. “Our company’s very first port of call outside the U. S. was to The Bahamas more than 50 years ago. To this day, Nassau remains one of our most popular ports of call and Perfect Day at CocoCay remains our top pick by our guests. We are excited about this ceremony and honouring our long-time partners, as well as the newest Bahamian flagged ship in our fleet.”
Photo Caption: Erin Brown, who calls herself a limb-difference individual, will be named the first Bahamian Godmother of a Royal Caribbean International vessel when she presides over the naming of Odyssey of the Seas.
Affordable Housing Solutions a Priority for Government
#Jamaica, November 24, 2021 – Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Holness says the thrust to provide innovative and affordable housing solutions for Jamaicans continues to be a priority for the government.
“The government has a role to stimulate the emergence of a community of thought around building and design in Jamaica,” he said.
Emphasising the importance of the collaboration of stakeholders in the construction industry in the development of innovative, cost-effective and affordable housing solution for Jamaicans, the Prime Minister noted that the initiative is intended to stimulate discussions on innovative building design technologies with a view to incorporating these in future developments.
“We are hoping that with these designs, we could use them to influence persons when they are making their construction decisions…When government is going to build, we will have these designs as templates that we can use,” he informed.
The Prime Minister was addressing the Low-Cost Housing Design competition virtual award ceremony on Tuesday (November 23).
Launched on May 7, the design competition aimed to encourage professionals in related fields to produce feasible solutions. The competition solicited the participation of local architects, engineers, builders and students of the built environment, to identify cost effective, sustainable, climate resilient designs for the housing solutions to be built under the New Social Housing Programme.
There were over 300 submissions from individuals and teams. Winners as well as second and third placed runners up were awarded with cash prizes of $1 million; $500,000 and $250,000 respectively for each of the competition’s four design categories: one bedroom, two bedrooms, three bedrooms and multi-family units.
In addition, a cash prize of $50,000 was presented to honorary mentions for their innovative designs. All finalists also received plaques and special recognition certificates. The winners for each category are: Richard Gazader for the one bedroom design; Zane Finnikin for the two bedroom design; Fitzroy McIntosh for the three bedroom; and Matandara Clarke Architects for the multi-family unit.
The winning entries from the competition will be utilised to inform the design of future housing solutions under the New Social Housing Programme.
Chair of the nine-member panel of judges for the Low-Cost Housing Design Competition Janet Thompson who presented the judges report, said the competition harnessed the talents of persons from a broad cross-section of the Jamaican population – professionals and amateurs alike.
“Coming out of the work that we did, it is clear that we have a wealth of ideas out there to address this challenge that we are trying to solve…There certainly are elements from many of the entries we received which can be taken forward into formulating a design solution that can address the … housing problem in Jamaica,” she said.
Outlining the judging criteria, Ms. Thompson said entries for each category which were compliant with the requirements were individually evaluated and the winner selected based on majority vote.
Entries were assessed on cost of the unit, innovation, climate resilience, functionality and materials.
Local Government and Rural Development Minister Hon. Desmond McKenzie, who noted that the competition promoted active engagement between citizens and the government in the design of affordable housing solutions, commended the private sector for its support of the initiative and urged buy-in of all Jamaicans.
“For every single Jamaican that we are able to provide a housing solution…, it will enhance and build the capacity of that single Jamaican,” he said.
The initiative forms part of the National Social Housing Programme (NSHP), an extension of the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) which aims to improve the housing conditions of the country’s indigent. It also supports affordable housing solutions for home ownership for persons from a low socioeconomic background.
Contact: Rochelle Williams
U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Thanks American Airlines for Partnership
#November 24, 2021 – After a remarkable tourism performance over the past 12 months, the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) is getting back to basics and strengthening its relationship with its airline partners.
During a visit to American Airlines’ newly minted headquarters in Dallas last week, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan Jr. thanked the carrier for its strong commitment to the Territory during the COVID pandemic, which helped the destination register robust arrivals throughout the year.
Airports in both St. Thomas and St. Croix were hubs of activity as the airlines honored the Governor’s clear approach to managing the pandemic by keeping the Territory’s airports open and protecting lives and livelihoods through smart public health safety protocols.
Over the summer, American served St. Thomas with daily flights from New York and Philadelphia, twice daily flights from Dallas, and thrice daily service from Charlotte and Miami. On Croix, Charlotte flights arrived daily, while Miami service operated twice a day.
“Traditional seasonality was disrupted in the U.S. Virgin Islands,” said Governor Bryan, who highlighted that summer air arrivals rivaled and surpassed traditional winter statistics.
The governor underscored the Territory’s business-minded approach to route development, the work currently taking place to improve the islands’ infrastructure – including enhancements to airports, downtown and waterfront areas – and the rebuilding of hotels and resorts that were impacted by the 2017 hurricanes.
“We are undergoing a transformation for the better, and intend to not only lead the region across multiple tourism indicators, but also to work with our neighbors to help position the entire Caribbean as a first class location for vacationers and business travelers,” he said.
Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte, who also attended the meeting, said the Department of Tourism had begun amplifying its messaging in the marketplace. “As the world opens up, the availability of aircraft has become a challenge for small states and territories such as ours, so it is critically important to remain visible and strengthen our relationships across the sector,” he explained.
He added that the Territory will continue to communicate its value proposition and ensure that travelers have a seamless travel experience through its custom-built Travel Screening Portal. “Ease of access will continue to be our mantra as we position the Territory and prepare for upcoming challenges and opportunities in travel and tourism.”
During their visit to Dallas, the Governor interviewed with two-time Emmy award-winning journalist Vince Sims of NBC 5, while Commissioner Boschulte appeared on ABC’s daybreak show anchored by Cleo Greene, who got her first gig as a feature reporter on the island of St. Croix.
The USVI Commissioner of Tourism also met with representatives from Southwest Airlines to explore possibilities for new service into the Territory.
Header: The USVI and American Airlines teams meet in Dallas: From left: AA’s Lindsey Hanbidge, Henning Greiser, Michael Eng and Brandon Norman; USVI Governor Albert Bryan Jr., Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte and Special Assistant to the Governor Dave E. Davis; and Haley Finkenbinder and Liz Plunkett of American Airlines.
Insert: USVI Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte (right) speaks with WFAA (ABC 8) morning anchor Cleo Greene on Sunday.
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