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The Year in Review January – March 2005

The Year in Review January – March 2005

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• JANUARY

• The year opened with the news that a Trinidadian citizen Mario Young had been appointed to head the National Commercial Bank. This appointment fuelled rumours that that there was an imminent take over by the NCB by First Citizen’s Bank of Trinidad and Tobago. However, these fears were put to rest later in January when NCB Chairman, Desmond Morgan said the bank’s main goal at the moment was “institutional strengthening.”

• The fire bug continued to wield his destructive hand with the report of two house fires in January, one of which was deadly. On January 7, Carmen Homer perished in a fire that destroyed her three-bedroom house at Richland Park. This tragic news followed swiftly on the news that three-year-old Rozhioni McKie of Freeland, Mesopotamia saved six sleeping members of his family when he alerted them that their house was on fire.{{more}}

• Cash strapped LIAT received good news in January when the Prime Ministers of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Antigua and Barbuda announced their agreement to inject of EC$44 million to assist the struggling airline. Of this, St. Vincent and the Grenadines contributed $5.7 million which was borrowed from Trinidad and Tobago at zero percent interest with a moratorium on the repayment for five years.

• Cuba – St. Vincent and the Grenadines relations were taken to a new level with the announcement on January 18 that a Cuban Embassy was to be established in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, while this country would set up a consulate in Cuba.

• In shocking news coming at the end of January, 20-year-old Simone Andrews of Campden Park and her 22-year-old lover Atiba Hanson formerly of Bequia were charged with the murder of their one-year-old baby Ashante Andrews.

• In the first road fatality of the year, biker, Daniel Johnson, 40 of Fair Hall/Canouan rode to his death on January 25 when the motocycle he was riding ran off the road in the vicinity of the Girls’ High School.

• FEBRUARY

• February broke with the news that the Ministry of Education intended to convert the 53-year-old Richmond Hill Government School from a primary school to a secondary institution. Our February 4 edition front page reported on a picket of the Ministry by just over a dozen placard-bearing parents and pupils, who called on the Government to find alternative measures and to leave the school alone.

• Our February 4 edition reported that A three-member Constituency Boundaries Commission had taken the oath of office at Government House on January 27. The commission included Chairman, Aldric Williams, Arthur Williams, appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister, and Selwyn Jones, appointed on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition.

• The local tourism industry took a blow when it was announced that the Falls of Baleine, one of this country’s most beautiful sites, has been temporarily closed to visitors. According to the Ministry of Tourism, this step was taken for “safety and security” reasons.

• Our February 4 back page carried the story of the successfully staged two-day Blues Festival. The festival, which headlined Millie Jackson on Friday January 28 and Steel Pulse on Saturday 29, also featured several local and regional acts. It was held at Buccama on the Bay.

The National HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Project, funded by the World Bank was launched here on February 8. The financial injection of $118 million for nine Caribbean countries including St. Vincent and the Grenadines gave local efforts to prevent and control the spread of HIV/AIDS a much-needed boost.

• The announcement was made in february, that Vincentian-born jurist, Adrian Saunders was one of five persons selected to serve on the then soon-to-be-established Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). The news was received with widespread praise from his peers in the legal profession and other Vincentians.

• Local police reported that Sheldon “Dutch” Bain, fugitive from the law in his native Grenada had been caught, and was under police guard at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. Bain’s photograph was among several that were circulated to media houses by local police after they reported the presence of escaped convicts from Grenadian prisons on Vincentian soil following the passage of Hurricane Ivan.

• Addressing party faithful at the NDP’s 29th annual convention on February 20,party founder and former prime Minister, Sir James Mitchell urged members who had strayed to “come home.” The feature speaker at the convention was Trinidadian politician and lawyer Ramesh Lawrence Maharajh.

• In February too, St. Vincent’s number one fugitive, Selwyn “Thick Skin” Moses was shot and killed by police during a reported gun fight at Redemption Sharpes on February 18. Moses had been on the run for four months and had been placed on the most wanted list by Police. He was also a suspect in a double murder of a couple at Redemption Sharpes on December 10, 2004.

• MARCH

•Our March 4 edition reported that construction work on the controversial Cross Country Road had begun. The road had been a center piece of political debate with the opposition NDP opposing its construction because of environmental concerns and the lack of transparency in the awarding of the sub-contract to construct the road to Franco Construction, a firm owned by the brothers of the then Transport, Works and Housing Minister, Julian Francis.

• Our March 4 edition reported that the Representation of the People’s Act of 2005 was introduced and debated in the House of Parliament on Feb 29. The bill was being amended to allow for the inclusion of scrutinizers during the planned enumeration exercise. The exercise was deemed necessary to determine the correct number of eligible voters in the country.

• The final report of the Constitutional Review Commission was presented to this country’s Parliament. CRC Chairman Parnell Campbell, Q.C. handed over the historic document during the first sitting of this country’s parliament for 2005 which was convened on February 29.

• Matilda “Mattie” Lawrence was featured on the front page of March 11 2005 after receiving an award from Minister of Social Development and Gender Affairs Selmon Walters on International Women’s Day on March 8, at the Kingstown Vegetable Market. Lawrence had been selling fresh produce their for 68 years.

• The National Lotteries Authority opened their spanking new 3-million dollar Headquarters in Paul’s Avenue in March, after 21 years in rented accommodation.

• National Heroes Day 2005 saw Earl “Ole George” Daniel enter triumphantly into Kingstown after walking six days and nights without sleep. However, his quest to have his feat entered into the Guinness Book of World Records was not realized. Officials cited the lack of uniformity of terrain, rest periods, mileage, as well as the pace of the walk, for their non-acceptance, and because of those, it was “impossible to compare.”

• Leader of the Opposition, Arnhim Eustace in March complained to the Supervisor of Elections Rodney Adams “members of the Cabinet have been involved in the recruitment of enumerators for the Enumeration of Electors Exercise.” This allegation was however denied emphatically by Minister of National Security Sir Vincent Beache.

• The political cauldron began to heat up here in March when two “Parliaments” where held simultaneously. While the ruling Unity Labour Party sat in the House of Assembly on March 22, the opposition New Democratic Party held a mock sitting at their party headquarters on Murray’s Road. On that day, opposition matters were slated to take priority, however the NDP protested the manner in which the enumeration process was being conducted by absenting themselves from Parliament.

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