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No Vote-Out for Turks and Caicos MP, says Natl Budget supports Five Cays



Hon Sean Astwood, Deputy Premier - Turks and Caicos Islands, file

#GrandTurk, Turks and Caicos Islands – Wednesday July 18, 2018 – The changes which have for years escaped the residents of Five Cays are coming within this fiscal year, announced Member of Parliament for the district who also said he has no plans of being voted out by his constituents.

PDM Rally in Five Cays, photo by Deandrea Hamilton, December 2016

Deputy Premier and Five Cays Member of Parliament, Hon Sean Astwood came under heavy fire recently and was accused of neglecting the constituency from which he hails and which gave him 62% of the votes in the December 2016 polls.

“Mr. Speaker, for the record I have no intentions of going back on that side of the room. It’s something about those seats on that side that just don’t feel right. Therefore, under my watch “Five Cays, South Dock Road and Chalk Sound will never be neglected.”

The MP added that the PDM Administration, in this budget cycle is supporting significant road works for Five Cays; ending years of neglect he said, and giving constituents the kind of community they deserve.

“Records will show that my constituency of Five Cays was never deemed important enough by the than PNP administration to be included in any of their four budget they passed.  Mr. Speaker, when the wonderful and hard-working voters of Five Cays demonstrated their confidence in me and the PDM party on December 15, 2016, on a mandate of change.  Mr. Speaker, I can truly say things are changing, and changing for the better!”

The contribution by the Deputy Premier came on June 12, 2018, two days after the Budget Communication was delivered by Premier and Finance Minister, Hon Sharlene Robinson. It was titled: ‘Things are Changing and Changing for the Better’.

“The road to the radar station, where we have a lot of foot and vehicle traffic, will be getting paved. Mr. Speaker, this is long overdue. In fact, it was my family that pushed that road when we were the first and sole residents in that area. Since that time Mr. Speaker, that area has become home to many families. And this will be the first inch of tar this road has ever seen. Mr. Speaker, things are changing! And changing for the better, in Five Cays.”

File photo of Road works in Five Cays

Granny Hill will also become smoother passage for the scores of residents living in that part of Five Cays, as the Member of Parliament for the district repeatedly rejected allegations of ‘neglect’ levelled against him by vocal members of Five Cays.

“Mr. Speaker, Granny Hill will be paved with sidewalks in this financial year, things are changing!  Mr. Speaker, Matilda Way will be paved with sidewalks in this financial year. And for those that might not know that road by name; that is the road that circles Pumpy’s Place going straight around the back pass Rousseau’s house and back to the Five Cays main road. Mr. Speaker, neglect? No, no, no, Mr. Speaker, things are changing in Five Cays and changing for the better!”

There was also congratulations to the primary school of the community, Enid Capron Primary which had outstanding showing in this year’s Grade Six Achievement Tests.

“Mr. Speaker, I want to publicly congratulate the Principal, Staff, and successful students of Enid Capron Primary school for capturing three of the top ten positions in the 2018 Grade Six Achievement Test. You have made our constituency and community of Five Cays very proud. Mr. Speaker, they deserve to be acknowledge.”

Work in Five Cays will continue said the Member, including at the Felix Morley Community Center.  It was pointed out that last year the road to Sandbar was paved, despite the public outcry from some.

Mr. Speaker, the Five Cays Beautification project started with the Welcome to Five Cays and Welcome to Chalk Sound Signs during my years as a member of the opposition. However, the signs were only phase one of my Beautification project.  Residents and Visitors alike must prepare themselves for the beauty that is about to unfold.  Mr. Speaker, anyone familiar with my campaign has heard me consistently mention Operation Facelift. The roads, the community center, the primary health care offering, and Five Cays Beautification are just some of the components of operation face lift. I made promises to my constituents and I will continue to work tirelessly until all promises are delivered.  Which includes major cleanup campaigns like I have done before. Mr. Speaker, I must say that I am blessed to be able to bring about the changes that I wanted to see as a child, teenager, and eventually a young adult growing up in Five Cays and during my years in opposition.”

Five Cays is only a part of the district though and the more upscale community of Chalk Sound was included in the early part of Hon. Astwood’s contribution on the Budget.

Photo by Camille Lyne, posted to Facebook Sept 2017

“Mr. Speaker, the residents of Chalk Sound and Silly Creek will be happy to hear that I have also been working on a Green Park for them. I have already identified various suitable sites for this park. It is my intention this year to have the site designated for this purpose and design and works beginning as soon as possible. The works will begin initially from residents and private sector support with major assistance coming from the government later.

There were shout-outs; “I would like to give a big shout out to the Chalk Sound community for their diligence, their community spirit, their modes of communicating with each other and the watchful eye they keep on their community. They are an example for other communities.”

Photo by Deandrea Hamilton, 2017 event

And kudos come for the new community organization in Five Cays, which will again host the Lobsterfest on the beach adjacent the Felix Morley Community Center.

“Mr. Speaker, I would also like to give a shout out to the Five Cays Cultural Committee for their projects and other works they have been doing in Five Cays. Mr. Speaker, the public would recall that this committee hosted the First Annual, “Five Cays Lobsterfest” last year September, where it was estimated that over a thousand persons descended into Five Cays. It was a successful event by all measures.  Mr. Speaker, I want to invite you, every member of this House, and the entire public to join us once again in Five Cays this September for a fun filled event.”

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RTCIPF Marine Branch and USCG Working Together in Keeping Our Borders Secure



#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – During the afternoon of Wednesday 19th May 2022, a call was made to the RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre via VHF radio that a suspicious vessel was sighted around 35 miles south east of Providenciales. The operator immediately updated colleagues within the Royal Turks and Caicos Marine Branch who made their way to the location and with the support of a US Coast Guard (USCG) plane, safely intercepted an overloaded vessel carrying irregular migrants.

Following delicate coordination and the stabilization of the boat which was unsafe, severely overcrowded and none of the occupants was wearing life vests, the RTCIPF marine unit was joined by a second RTCIPF Marine crew and a third vessel crewed with TCI Regiment and Tactical Unit officers to support the delicate operation.

The vessel was carefully offloaded at sea to ensure the safety of the occupants after which, the boat was towed to South Dock where it arrived around 10:30pm with a total of 110 persons (84 males and 24 females and 2 juveniles) who were then taken into custody by the Immigration Department.

Superintendent Martyn Ball said, “Once again working with partners we have safely intercepted another vessel that was overcrowded, unsafe, risking the lives of those on board. This demonstrates the professionalism and dedication of the RTCIPF Marine Unit, working together with colleagues in the Marine Operations Centre, USCG, TCI Regiment, TCI Immigration and the RTCIPF Tactical Unit to save lives and keep our borders here in the Turks and Caicos safe.  In the last couple of months around 768 individuals on 8 dangerous vessels have been intercepted which is testament to the professionalism of our teams here in the TCI and I am very grateful to the passing vessel who raised the alarm.  I would appeal to anyone if you have any information relating to such activity that you call Crimes Stoppers free and anonymously on 1-800-8477 (TIPS) not only will you be saving lives but also supporting our national security here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

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Ten Selected for the TCREA Real Estate Mentorship Program



#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – Since the official announcement of the Turks & Caicos Real Estate Association’s High School Mentorship Program, ten mentees have been selected for the inaugural group and will begin their journey on the road to embracing the fundamentals of the real estate field this month.

TCREA Ambassador and Director of the mentorship program, Mr. Trevor Musgrove, shared how pleased the committee was to have received thirty applications for the program, “We extended the opportunity to high schoolers and young college students aged 13-17.  Initially, the invitation for applications was shared only with Providenciales students because of the logistical challenge to accommodate in-person sessions with sister island students, as all our committee members are based in Providenciales.

Luckily, once the Ministry of Education came on board and endorsed the program, Honourable Rachel Taylor immediately encouraged us to extend the mentorship opportunity to all islands, pledging her Ministry’s commitment to handling the necessary authorizations and cost to ensure successful applicants outside of Provo would be able travel here as needed,” said Musgrove.

 The successful applicants and their respective schools are as follows:

·     Clement Howell High – Dashawn Brooks, Alyssa Callum

·      Raymond Gardiner High – Olique Stubbs, Lewis Walkin, Jr.

·      Precious Treasures – Aniyah Bovie

·      Maranatha Academy – Shamya Missick

·      British West Indies Collegiate – Pavla Lalakova, Andino Parker

·      Louise Garland Thomas High – Abnise Noel, Antoine Gedeon

Musgrove said they were pleased to have had applicants from North Caicos and were hopeful to have students from Grand Turk and South Caicos among the group, however no applications were received from those islands.

On Tuesday, May 10th the final group came together for a virtual meet-up and briefing, where they were formally introduced to the program’s mentors and were given an overview of what to expect in the coming months.

The teens will receive a monthly educational module over the next six months and will be provided 1-2 weeks to internalize the information. They will then enjoy a monthly in-person session with their mentors where they will put their real estate acumen to the test in interactive sessions, field trips, and more.

Program mentor Manfred Smith of Sotheby’s Turks & Caicos shared his elation for the program’s momentum thus far, “We are excited about providing this opportunity to introduce high school students to the real estate industry.  From the initial feedback, the students are also very keen to learn, which makes it rewarding for all as we contribute to the development of tomorrow’s professionals.”

Smith says the program also demonstrates TCREA’s continued commitment as good corporate citizens in the rapidly growing country.  The committee hopes that the mentees would grasp all that they can as they continue their educational pursuits.

The program’s Facebook page, @tcreamentors, is live and will document the group’s journey as they move through the program’s phases.  Along with Musgrove and Smith, the community can get to know more about the other committee members: Blair MacPherson of REMAX; Nina Siegenthaler of Sotheby’s; Vernica Delancy and Dedra Gray of Keller Williams; and Sean O’neill, of The Agency through the social media page as well.

At the end of the program, the students will sit a mock real estate license exam and will enjoy a retreat for a fun and memorable close-out. 

It is TCREA’s hope that this initiative will garner an interest and appreciation for the industry among high-schoolers and will act as springboard to the development of the next generation of local real estate professionals in these islands.

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DECR Launches Important Tropical Plant Areas & Species in TCI Project



#TurksandCaicos, May 19, 2022 – The Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) along with visiting scientists from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew) will launch the DarwinPlus 114 Project Tropical Important Plant Areas and Important Plant Species in TCI. The project was originally to begin in May 2020, but with Covid-19-related travel restrictions, along with restructuring at DECR and RBG Kew, two years of deferments were necessary. The project has begun and will be officially launched this week in a workshop on Thursday 12 May 2022 beginning at 9:00 AM in the National Environmental Centre.

In reference to the project, DECR Director Lormeka Williams stated, “With the recent completion of the National Physical Development Plan, the signing of the Climate Change Charter, and the review of the National Parks Ordinance, we are poised and ready to utilise new information on land use and impacts to our Protected Areas and green spaces. We are newly energised to commit to the discovery and description of our most sensitive and significant plant diversity hotspots. We’re inspired by our colleagues in the British Virgin Islands having completed the pilot of this project. We are also ready and excited to find out what these plants are that evade identification and may prove to be something unknown to science.”

The project is focused on identifying Tropical Important Plant Areas (TIPAs) in Turks and Caicos Islands. TIPAs are a network of the key sites for wild plants and threatened habitats identified using scientifically robust data. They are not legal designations, but a means to identify the most important sites for wild plant diversity and to inform the protection and management of sites. Identifying TIPAs will help prevent the global loss of plant diversity, whilst safeguarding the role of plants as primary producers and providers of ecosystem infrastructure, products, and services.

TIPAs also provides a framework for Governments to implement target 5 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Global Strategy for Plant Conservation – to ensure the protection of at least 75% of the most important areas for plant diversity of each ecological region by 2020 with effective management in place for conserving plants and their genetic diversity. TIPAs also contribute to implementing the CBD’s Aichi Biodiversity Target 12 – by 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained. Criteria for identification of Tropical Important Plant Areas were developed, and the first nationwide project was completed by RBG Kew and the Virgin Islands National Parks Trust in the British Virgin Islands in 2019. Assistant Director of Research and Development B Naqqi Manco participated in the April 2019 BVI TIPAs Workshop, and discussed the potential to replicate the project with long-established partners at RBG Kew in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Following the TCI TIPAs Launch Workshop, the DECR and RBG Kew team will trial the criteria over several sites of high plant diversity in Providenciales, North Caicos, and Middle Caicos. Over the next three years, the teams will cover other islands as well. Of particular importance will be the Turks and Caicos Islands eight known endemic plant species – those found nowhere else on earth. A secondary component of the project focuses on investigating some unique populations of rare plants in TCI, which may constitute new varieties or even species. RBG Kew will use DNA analysis to explore the relationship of these species to their closest relatives. Importantly, the rare and endemic species will be targeted for IUCN Red Data Listing as well, to assess their wild population status and trends.


Release: DECR

Photo: This beautiful Encyclia orchid is one of the unique groups of plants that will be studied by the project.


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