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Official good-byes for Oehleo Higgs, questions linger but memories are fond

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#BottleCreek, North Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands – Monday June 11, 2018 – Standing well over six feet tall, you always saw him coming. A spring gave life to his step, a twinkle gave illumination to his eyes and a beaming, sincere smile made his an unforgettable face. North Caicos over the weekend officially said good bye to a son of the soil, one gone much too soon for those who knew and loved him; Oehleo Higgs was just 29 years old.

Anyone who met him could tell he was ambitious, with dreams which would not be stunted by his youth…

Oehleo was, I guess, genetically predisposed to being an over achiever or high flyer; A Higgs and a Clare; two fiercely passionate, uncommonly articulate and seriously sharp families of these islands.

On his LinkedIn professional profile, Oehleo said of himself, “I aspire to be nothing but the best in whatever career venture my future leads me. I will strive to remain on the “cutting edge” while ensuring that I am able to continuously measure the growth, stability, evolution and prosperity on my journey to accomplishing my goals.

Moreover, I am dedicated to contributing my knowledge and experience gathered to assist other individuals or groups in my local community and worldwide.”

Oehleo Higgs was likely most well known for his work with the TCI Tourist Board as a senior media relations officer and for his community service, in developing the first Miss Teen Turks and Caicos pageant.

On May 19, 2018 we lost 29-year-old Higgs and now the Turks and Caicos Islands find, that so many months following hurricanes Irma and Maria, we are still losing the most precious of treasures; our people.

Reports are, that Oehleo was attending doctor in Jamaica when he died; his illness said to be related to exposure to mold which had infested the upper floor of his apartment in Providenciales in the aftermath of the hurricanes.

On Saturday, Oehleo Higgs, who hails from North Caicos and is the son of Paul Higgs (the third) and Rosella Clare-Higgs and the nephew of Tourism Minister, Hon Ralph Higgs – was laid to rest.

The funeral service was held on Saturday morning at the Lighthouse Church in Bottle Creek, North Caicos.

Oehleo is a graduate of Raymond Gardiner High and one who remembers him fondly says he was a go-getter, competitive.

Among his accomplishments professionally, of which there are many were that he ‘spearheaded and launched the Tourist Board’s initial digital marketing initiative for the Brazilian market and implemented on-going strategies to ensure the destination’s brand continues to grow within in the Latin-American region, that he managed film and photo shoot clearances for major publications seeking film production in the Turks and Caicos  and while at the Tourist Board he was often spokesperson and representative at major international trade and
consumer shows, seminars and conferences.

While at the Somerset, Oehleo served as a front office agent where he directly ensured guests were comfortable and happy.  The young man, who had a BSC degree in Communications from Florida International University, FIU, also worked at Beaches Resort Villages and Spa for a season of his life where he listed his experiences as: serving as brand guardian of the Beaches Resort by overseeing its reputation internally among team members, locally, regionally and in the international community; he also promoted the resort as a credible vacation destination throughout the world by supporting international marketing activities and Mr. Higgs maximized opportunities for exciting community relations activities through the resort’s charity, the Sandals Foundation, by supporting community, education and environmental outreach initiatives.’

The loss of this young talent came as a crushing, sudden blow to his family… and thousands of others, including Magnetic Media which had featured Oehleo countless number of times in his role at the TCI Tourist Board on our shows and within our newscasts and stories.

As a news organization, losing Oehleo got us wondering how on earth this kind of an end could have happened to such a vivacious individual. Magnetic Media reached out to the TCI Hospitals to ask about the diagnosis.  Was the root cause of his illness missed we penned?  Was he misdiagnosed?

But there, we only found that a covenant of confidentiality would allow no answers to a burning question… how did this happen?

It is the second reported death by mold poisoning in these islands within weeks.  It has been traumatic for both families.  We express our condolences to those coping with the losses.

Malique Ferrette, who is currently studying at university abroad is the first Miss Teen Turks and Caicos; the first of the young woman he put on an international platform where they represented our islands in stellar form.

Malique told us about the profound impact, young Oehleo had on her life and her grooming. 

“I found myself dreaming of becoming Ms. Turks and Caicos one day. Thinking that I could make a difference through that platform, I began to get excited only to find that the rules had changed. I was too young at 17 to register in that capacity but wouldn’t you know, God had a plan! He  had given a young man the desire to start something new and transformative in this country. That something was the start of Miss Teen Turks and Caicos Universe. I’m not sure that Oehleo realized just how impactful it would be or how significant this would be to his legacy. He’s left an impression in history that can never be removed! Through the vision God placed in him, my voice was heard and the notion that pageantry is about more than beauty became a reality. Because of Oehleo’s efforts, I was able to connect with the youth of our country in way that I couldn’t have otherwise. God used him for a season to put me in a position where my own skills and challenges could truly help others. For that I am forever grateful. His bubbly personality and infectious smile will not be forgotten. The gentleness of his spirit will carry on and his legacy is one now etched into the very history that has lead to this day.

Thank you Father for his life. Thank you Father for his legacy. Thank you Father for letting me know the sweet soul that was Oehleo Higgs.”

Yes, thank you for Oehleo Higgs; a media colleague, community builder and fine friend.

Oehleo’s loved ones are very possessive of the memories we keep of him, and rightly so… they miss him, especially his mother Rosella with whom he was very close, we are told.  The Family asks simply, for people to remember these three things of their beloved boy: ‘Live, Love, Laugh. That was our Oehleo. He lived, he loved and he laughed.’

 

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

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Agreement Signed!  Next Foghorns and Three Times the Arrivals

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#TurksandCaicos, October 13, 2021 – When the foghorns blare again at the Grand Turk Cruise Center it will be well into the Christmas season, but the scheduled arrival of the Carnival Freedom on November 28, will end a 20-month pandemic imposed pause on cruising, the economic life-blood, of the capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“We have eleven meetings since May to make this happen.  I think it’s a huge, huge improvement on what we’ve had before, speaking to the value of the partnership of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government and Carnival and we look to have a long and fruitful relationship,” said Hon Washington Misick, Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The Turks and Caicos Islands Government today, finally inked a deal with Carnival Corporation, which appeared hinged on the cruise company being granted the green light for an expansion to berthing at the Port, which opened in 2006 on the island of Grand Turk.

The signing of a new Development Agreement followed an October 7 Cabinet approval of the document; the brief ceremony was carried live on Facebook from the Office of the Premier in Grand Turk.

“Indeed as the Premier has stated, we met 11 times and many times in person, you were in every meeting and sometimes with members of Cabinet, the Attorney General and we worked on something that we will all be proud of for many years to come,” said Giora Israel, Senior Vice President Global Port & Destination Development.

Strongly intimated, by Premier Misick, that this expansion had been stalled.  Definitely stated, also by Premier Misick, it is full steam ahead for a resumption of cruising.

“We are confident that cruise ships filled with visitors will be back in time for the high season 21/22. We are not stopping there. Government is investing heavily in the improvement of the Cruise Port and infrastructure in Grand Turk including: Acquisition of a Property to be converted into a Vendors Market. $1.5m dollars has been allocated to refurbish and improve the property. Additional properties will be acquired and developed to accommodate vendors who depend on the cruise industry for their livelihood. 2-million dollars will be spent to construct a floating dock for the Water Sports Operators. We are providing up to $1 million in grants to eligible operators to help them prepare for the reopening of the Cruise Industry,” said the Premier during a National Address on September 23.

Three cruises to Grand Turk are booked for November and December 2021 and if all goes according to schedule – or better – the cruise calls on November 28, December 11, December 12 and December 26 will usher in a happier holiday season for the dozens of companies left in limbo with the crash of cruising in March 2020.

“I really want to thank our employees at the Port.  We have had employees who stayed here for the last two years working hard to maintain the port,” said Mr. Israel as he acknowledged the enthusiasm shown by the TCI Government to complete the deal; he added, “But I also want to thank the Community of Grand Turk.  We are a part of this community; we have been welcomed as a part of this community.  The Community has embraced us and we have embraced the Community, the business community and we need to look at this as a partnership,” expressed Mr. Israel during the live stream.

Outside of cruise tourism, Grand Turk draws dive enthusiasts from around the world and is increasingly experiencing popularity in the luxury villa market.  Nonetheless, these other distinctions for the island which is home to the Parliament and the Governor’s Residence, fall a distant second and third place to the thousands of cruise visitors travelling on four, five and six day itineraries; Cruising is what really brings the boom.

“We’ve had a long partnership of 20 years and this partnership is just getting better.  New horizon, new opportunities and when I look at this magazine, which is a magazine we issued when the port was opened, we expected that the biggest ship would be 1,800 passengers.  Within 90 days of today, we are expecting ships that will be able to carry three times the number of passengers…”

The Development Agreement gives Carnival Corporation the permissions and perimeters to begin a $25 million dock expansion project.  The Turks and Caicos Cabinet informed that the signatories represented:  the Crown, the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Grand Turk Cruise Terminal Ltd and Carnival Corporation.

Details of the Agreement were not revealed, therefore the scope of the expansion remains unknown.   What has been made clear is upon completion of the new dock, the largest ships in Carnival’s fleet will be able to moor in Grand Turk with the high probability that cruise passenger and crew arrivals to the islands of Grand Turk and Salt Cay, will triple.

 

 

 

 

Carnival elation Dec 11

Carnival Freedom Nov 28, dec 26

Carnival freedom Dec 12

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CARPHA Team undertakes Assessment of Guyana’s National Surveillance System for Non-communicable Diseases

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October 14, 2021 – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) conducted a technical mission to Guyana from September 22nd – 25th, 2021 to undertake site visits as a part of an ongoing assessment of six (6) Member States’ systems for the national surveillance of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors. This activity was implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Guyana through an Agence Française de Développement (AFD) – funded project.

The aim of the assessment s to provide evidence in support of the development of a Regional Surveillance System for NCDs, a priority under the regional health framework Caribbean Cooperation in Health IV (2016-2025).

During the mission, the CARPHA technical team reviewed the capacity of existing surveillance mechanisms in Guyana to collect, analyse and report on the NCDs and risk factor indicators proposed for the regional surveillance system. These indicators were recommended by a multi-stakeholder meeting series convened in 2020 under the AFD project, which reviewed global, regional, and sub-regional mandates, targets and practices in surveillance for the prevention and control of NCDs.

The CARPHA Team along with senior officials from the Ministry of Health conducted visits to two (2) health centres, the National Cancer Registry, Ministry of Health Surveillance, and Statistics Unit.  The results from the overall assessment will be presented to the Ministry of Health Guyana and will also be reviewed alongside results from similar assessments in Anguilla, Aruba, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname to inform the finalisation of the regional surveillance system design through a regional stakeholder meeting.

The regional NCDs surveillance system would facilitate the reporting and availability of data to inform policy development, planning, and tracking of progress towards meeting for targets NCDs at Regional and National levels.

Through funding from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), CARPHA is leading the Region in Strengthening Strategic Intelligence and Partnership Approaches to prevent and control NCDs and Strengthen Regional Health Security in the Caribbean. This project, signed in 2019 with a value of €1,500,000.00, demonstrates the commitment of the Government of France and the French people to supporting the public health priorities of the Caribbean Community through CARPHA.

More information on the Project can be found at: https://www.carpha.org/Projects/Ongoing-Projects/Strengthening-Strategic-Intelligence-and-Partnership-Approaches-To-Prevent-and-Control-NCDs-and-Strengthen-Regional-Health-Security-In-The-Caribbean

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TCI Community College’s Tourism Students attended the NABHOOD International Summit

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#Turks&Caicos Islands, October 14, 2021 –   Students from the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College were afforded the opportunity to attend the 25th Annual International African American Hotel Ownership & Investment Summit & Trade Show; 8th Annual International Multicultural and Heritage Tourism Summit – NABHOOD

The invitation was extended through the Premier’s Office in conjunction with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Tourism.

Chair of the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Ms. Michelle Hosten chaperoned 3 students:  Jerrika Francis, Danae Dennie; 2nd Year students pursuing an Associate Degree in Tourism Management at the Grand Turk Campus and Christy Ewing, a 1st Year student pursuing an Associate Degree in Tourism Management at the Providenciales Campus.

The students met CEOs from international hospitality brands and most importantly other students from other Caribbean and International Schools. The benefits of this created a wealth of networking opportunities as well as learning about others. They participated in workshops and sessions and spent time with Tourism centered activities and projects.

Ms. Jerrika Francis shared her memories from the conference: “Attending the NABHOOD Summit was a great experience for me. I got to learn more about the Tourism Industry and I also acquired more knowledge on how I can make it in the industry. It was such an honour that I was chosen to represent my Faculty at this event.”

Caribbean Junior Minister and TCI’s Junior Minister, Ms. Danae Dennie gave these highlights: “Attending the NABHOOD African American Hotel Ownership and Investment Summit and the international Multicultural and Heritage Tourism Summit and Trade Show has been such a wonderful experience. I was able to gain great insight into the hospitality and tourism industry.”

Ms. Dennie continued, “I learnt that as a woman in the industry I should always be bold and confident in my abilities. I learnt from various CEOs that you can start from the bottom and make it to the very top. I was also encouraged to “make my own room” if there is none that fits my interests.”

Ms. Dennie concluded her sentiments, “The conference was very informative. I was able to speak with many CEOs and Presidents of various tourism organizations. I was even given the opportunity to speak with the Premier of the TCI. I was so grateful for the opportunity. Therefore, I would like to thank the TCI Government for funding this trip. Lastly, I would like to specially thank the Turks and Caicos Community College for giving me the opportunity to have such amazing experiences.”

Christy Ewing who recently entered the Faculty had this to say: “I was one of the students chosen to go to Miami, Florida for NABHOOD’s 25th Annual Summit and Trade Show. I learnt many interesting things and advice that can be used in my career later on. I also met many new people who gave me a wider insight and perspective on things in the tourism industry.”

She continued, “I had the pleasure of meeting with the Premier of the Turks and Caicos, the Hon. Charles W. Misick, who spoke with us and informed us on his plans for the tourism industry. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity and will be happy to do it again.”

Ms. Hosten gave an overall assessment of the trip and what the students would have experienced while there: “It was an extremely surreal experience meeting and watching CEOs of major international hotel brands as well as large investment firms and suppliers discussing their rise to the top, what their brand represents, their bottom line during and post COVID.”

Ms. Hosten continued, “Their words of wisdom to students and their willingness to invest in US hospitality institutions without hesitation, especially black America and other minority groups was so profound. They understand where most of their Supervisors and Management pool will stem from so creating systems, programmes and funding in these groups are all worthwhile investments.”

It left a lasting impact on Ms. Hosten: “Being there was like being at the Hollywood of Hospitality players awards and I am most humbled to have been given this chance to carry students to experience this wealth of opportunities first hand and the many avenues in this industry to get there.”

Hon Rachel Taylor met the students upon arrival back to the Turks and Caicos Islands and she expressed her thanks to the Team for ably representing the country and the College. She was thanked for her confidence in allowing the students to be a part of this educational venture.

Students, you got a chance to shine and represent the Turks and Caicos Islands and the TCI Community College. Thank You!

We are TCICC!

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