Sunday, November 19, 2017
Old Harbour News

Old Harbour News

The community of Old Harbour Bay is extremely delighted with the J$17 million investment by Spanish firm TSK Group to renovate its community centre in Blackwood Gardens, says Rev. Sandra Nembhard one of the main crusaders who lobbied for the project.

“My heart is extremely overjoyed and the community on a whole is overjoyed,” said Rev.Nembhard at the centre’s grand reopening on November 4.

Nembhard, who is head of the Jamaica Faith Baptist Church based in the community, added: “It is a community effort that really makes this possible. So we are very, very grateful as a community as we partner together with vision to move this community as Nehemiah envisioned.”

Built in1976, the centre fell into disrepair following the passages of three major storms, the last being Hurricane Dean in 2007.

(L-R) Joseph Williams, senior VP, generation, JPS; Attorney-at-Law Dr Keste Miller; Ruben Dario Romero, project manager, operations, TSK Group and Spanish Ambassador to Jamaica Josep Maria Bosch Bessa

But with residents like the very passionate reverend and others they were able to get buy-in from the Spanish company presently in the area constructing the 190 megawatt power plant at the Jamaica Public Service Company facility located in the community.

Robert Pike is one of the longstanding campaigners for the centre to be rehabilitated. He grew up in the community and though he resides outside, remains integrally involved.

Pike tells Old Harbour News their struggles have been an uphill task for many years.

“It’s a tremendous blessing,” he said on the night of the event attended by the Spanish Ambassador to Jamaica and several other dignitaries.

“We have been trying over the years to get a community centre and now we have a proper one.”

Students from the Old Harbour Bay Primary School performing

A part from natural disasters, vandals from within the community also contributed to the destruction of the centre, noted Pike, who also credited the efforts of Rev. Nembhard.

“We still fight to get something going and Miss Nembhard and her crew re-established a committee which played a significant role,” he said.

Former government Senator and attorney-at-law Dr Keste Miller, who is a native of the community, says the facility will empower the community, while recounting the journey to its present state.

“It’s very important because of the direction it has taken and the momentum it has gathered to take us to where we are now,” said Dr Miller of the centre.

“The names I’d called in my presentation namely John Fothergill, Muriel Gordon, Ken Clarke, SJ Campbell, those were the persons who actually signed the contract to purchase these six acres of land and to build this community centre.

“But as kids, for them to have gotten the funds to buy it, they had a lot of fundraising dance and our job as children was to gather the bottles because they say that’s where the profit is to buy the place.”

This was the mid-1970s, but in 1976 the people approached then Member of Parliament Rudyard Lawson, who supported the initiative wholeheartedly, the noted attorney informed.

(L-R) Clemdy Bermudes, wife of Ruben Dario Romero; Ruben Dario Romero, Project Manager of TSK Group Operations in Jamaica; Rev. Sandra Nembhard and Dr. Keste Miller

“He gave the first set of money, buy the material and pay the contractor. But he said you guys must put in the labour. And we all get together and that’s how the first piece went up,” he said.

The facility will be used for training thousands of residents and host community functions, while a committee is already in place to manage the day-to-day operations.

Dr. Miller said: “It will be the centre point for all community activities. Of course later on we will develop the playing field and a multipurpose court and so on. So this is a good start.”

Hearing such plans to preserve the facility is refreshing to the ears of Joseph Williams, who is the senior vice-president of generation at the Jamaica Public Service Company.

Williams has spent most of his 27 years at the JPSCo’s Old Harbour Bay facility where majority of the island’s electricity is generated and is acutely aware of the culture of the community.

Speaking to Old Harbour News, Williams says the community needs to “show appreciation by taking care of it (the community centre) because this is not the first time that there has been investment in improving this – not to the extent that TSK has taken it, certainly…

“But we were not pleased with how the community took care of it,” he added in reference to previous attempts made to restore the centre. “I’m not saying it’s the entire community, you know it just take a small number of persons to destroy it.

“So they can really demonstrate this time that they really appreciate this. And this will certainly encourage more persons to do things like these and identify true potentials from this community that can just do a lot for the community of Old Harbour.”

The construction of the facility lasted five months with over 200 volunteers and majority of the skilled labour utilized drawn from the community.

The TSK Group, an engineer, procurement and construction firm from Spain, said it invested US$130,000 in refurbishing the community centre in Blackwood Gardens, Old Harbour Bay.

The community centre, built in the 1970s, had fallen into disrepair following the passages of hurricanes Gilbert in 1988, Ivan in 2004 and Dean in 2007.

More than 200 volunteers from the community contributed to the five-month project, while in excess of 90 per cent of the skilled labour utilized was drawn from the area.

Several community members were present at the remodeled blue and gold facility to witness its official unveiling, which included Spanish Ambassador to Jamaica Josep Maria Bosch Bessa, TSK Group’s executives, members from the JPS hierarchy among other important community stakeholders. The grand reopening took place on November 4, 2017.

The facility is expected to serve approximately 3,000 youth living in the community through numerous skilled training via the HEART-NTA vocational certificate programme.

TSK Group’s projects manager in charge of operations in Jamaica Ruben Dario Romero said: “It’s a great day because this place [the community centre] became a reality…thanks to CDA, all the members of the community, Rev. Sandra Nembhard, TSK, JPS and so many others, because all these people that I mentioned right now, to be honest, they never gave up. And this is one of the most important things in life. You never give up if you want to make the dream possible.”

JPSCo’s senior vice-president of generation Joseph Williams commended the Spanish company, stating their work in the community will form part of future considerations.

“Any company that JPS works with, we encourage them to really participate in the community; but I must say TSK went way beyond what would normally be done, so we are very pleased with TSK,” Williams said. “I am also very impressed with the employment they have provided for this area. I am very sure that for future projects of this nature that JPS will be considering TSK based on their performance to date.”

Residents are expected to enjoy an array of benefits associated with the renovated facility which has been expanded by an additional 160 square-feet.

“The community centre will be able to facilitate more training in areas of welding, plumbing, drapery making, CXC classes and for community functions for meetings and engagements.

“Currently there are ongoing programmes for housekeeping, commercial food preparation and construction classes,” said Rev. Nembhard, one of the main crusaders of the project.

The partnership between TSK and the Old Harbour Bay community began earlier this year when South Jamaica Power Company (SJPC) – a JPSCo subsidiary – signed a contract with TSK for the construction of the 190 megawatt power plant in Old Harbour Bay, St. Catherine.

This power plant is expected to be in full operation by late 2019.

Tuesday, 07 November 2017 11:48

PCC Health Fair: Giving back to Old Harbour

The weather may have put a damper on things but it certainly did not stop organizers of the Portmore Community College Health and Wellness Fair from putting on a show.

There were lots of booths and plenty to sample at its Old Harbour Campus on October 27. From delicious edibles to getting a well overdue facial from the Shades of Elegance team.

The health and wellness mantra is hot topic not only in Jamaica but globally.

“It is important to us as a college to give back to the community as an area of our corporate, social responsibility. So we are trying to give back to the community and to also make our presence be felt in the community… and to see the services that we can offer as well as what other companies can offer,” said Andrea Nickle-Higgins, acting vice-principal at the college.

“Out of this we are saying that there are a number of persons in the Old Harbour community who probably cannot go and find these services themselves."

Throughout the day the public enjoyed free blood pressure and glucose testing, cancer screening such as papsmear, HIV test, counseling session, and doctor’s advice among several other health tips in accordance with its theme “empowering the nation through sustainable healthy lifestyle practices”.

“The response has been great. However, the rain has hampered some of our sponsors. Because of the rain they thought that we would not have continued and so they did not show up. But most of them have turned up,” Nickle-Higgins added.

All students from its nursing faculty were also out in droves, playing a lead role which will contribute to their overall grades at the end of the semester.

Student nurse Sonia Thompson was kept busy before pausing to talk to us. “It helps us how to really get a feel of how to deal with the clients that we go out to meet on a daily basis,” she told Old Harbour News.

Thompson’s colleague Shadae Biersay, a fellow student nurse, says being outdoors has a positive effect.

“In the hospital it’s a different setting. In the hospital you tend to find patients sad, while out here everybody is up and active and interacting… so it’s a better feel,” Biersay said. “I am happy to serve people because I like to see people healthy and happy.”

And even a few nurses got the time to enjoy a little pampering on the day. Vanessa Dayes had no intention letting this opportunity pass, telling Old Harbour News “the truth is usually, I don’t get it done at all”.

After getting all dolled up a chirpy Dayes said: “Everything is going good so far; it’s a great experience. I don’t start my duty as yet, so I’m just enjoying the moment.”

Monday, 06 November 2017 15:01

PHOTO: Madman locked himself in ATM

A man of unsound mind locked himself in an automated teller machine (ATM) in Old Harbour, sparking drama amongst passersby.

The drama, which lasted for roughly 30 minutes, unfolded at about 11:00 AM yesterday when persons in the line noticed the unusual length of time being taken by the individual inside the Scotiabank ATM.

Persons in the queue only became aware that the user inside is mentally challenged or a madman in Jamaican parlance, when one man in the line made a quick peep over the top.

The immediate reaction was mixed as while some persons burst out into laughter, others cut a frustrated figure because the deranged individual had also locked himself inside.

Some persons banged the door, yelling at the man to get out but he responded by shouting that he was “waiting on mi money!”.

Cops at the Old Harbour Police Station, adjacent to the bank, were called in to address the delicate situation with due consideration given not to damage the bank’s property or hurt the man inside.

The cops eventually managed to use a piece of 2”x4” board to prised the door open and lift the latch inside.

The man ran out shouting “officer nuh lick mi, a mi money mi want” to the amusement of onlookers.

Civic group the Old Harbour Development Area Committee (OHDAC) has strongly criticized the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) after the state agency terminated its lease agreement regarding the management and development of the historic Colbeck Castle.

In an October 18, 2017 letter to its stakeholders, former chairman and current chief project officer of the Colbeck Castle Heritage Park Project Randy Finnikin, says the JNHT was motivated by “the money” once state housing agency, the National Housing Trust (NHT) signaled its intention to construct the Villages of Colbeck housing development.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness broke ground in July at the more than 300 year-old site where an estimated 2,000 new homes and two institutions of learning will be built along with other amenities such as a recreational park and commercial offices.

In his 12-point communiqué, Finnikin argued that while the JNHT – owners of all declared heritage sites on the island – “reserves the right to do what they want” with Colbeck Castle, the state body showed “scant regard” towards the OHDAC with whom they had entered into a 15-year lease agreement effective January 2015.

In that contract signed on January 30, 2015 by both parties was a one-year provisional lease for the first year, with the option for an extension once certain obligations are achieved by the OHDAC during first 12 months.

At the end of year one the OHDAC received a six months lease extension, ending June 30, 2016, Finnikin reports, with the Trust requesting of them to “complete one building drawing deemed necessary” before a further extension is granted.

But an extension has not been forthcoming despite OHDAC demonstrating the willingness to develop the site and transform the wider Old Harbour area that would generate direct income for the country.

In OHDAC’s view a clandestine operation has been hatched to get them off the land, with the riches of the NHT waiting in the shadows.

a digital layout of what would be the Colbeck Castle Heritage Park and Gardens (Photo: OH News)

“OHDAC started receiving unofficial messages from JNHT personnel (via caretaker at the castle) demanding that we pay caretaker which was being done by the JNHT prior,” Finnikin said.

“A meeting was sought by OHDAC following the expiration of the provisional lease to advance discussions to secure the lease in order to proceed with pending negotiations and plans.

“A meeting was convened at the JNHT in November 2016. OHDAC was advised that due to the change of government, a new board was being installed and they would have to be briefed on the collaboration, so we are to resubmit our proposal. We protested that there is no need for that given they already have same which is the basis of the lease. The meeting agreed that a project update would suffice and that was submitted within two weeks of that meeting.

“OHDAC received email on May 17, 2017 in response to November 2016 meeting, advising that they will get back to us about the lease. However, JNHT was evoking right of ownership effective June 1, 2017.”

In effect, the JNHT has retaken the day-to-day management of the castle without giving any reason, Finnikin opines, noting that this all happened a month the grand groundbreaking ceremony for the $5.4 billion Villages of Colbeck development.

“You may have noticed our (OHDAC's) deafening silence over the past months on plans for the CCHPP. We have been silenced by a" knockout" or "kick out punch" by the Heritage Trust from the site effective June 1, 2017,” said Finnikin. “Since then we have sought justification for their decision and have received none,” he continued.

“OHDAC responded by letter seeking clarification of email given that ownership was never an issue. There was no response

“During this time personnel from the Trust continue to poison the relationship with OHDAC, the Trust and the caretaker, unofficial messages continued to include instructions for us to retrieve OHDAC’s lawn mowing equipment only.”

He added: “Then the NHT groundbreaking ceremony invitation - note we weren’t contacted by our partner the JNHT about this. All other times before when a request for use of the castle was made of the Trust, they would refer enquirers to OHDAC- whether for a tour or the filming of a movie etc. not this time. I believe for the reason I stated above - the smell of NHT money.

“OHDAC planned a protest to coincide with the groundbreaking ceremony to bring attention to the heavy handed and dissatisfactory approach by the JHNT and others including the Minister of Culture who has not responded to three letters sent to her, also to the Prime Minister.

“NHT asked us not to protest because they are not in conflict with us or vice versa and they will seek to convene discussions with the JNHT and us.

“JNHT convened meeting with OHDAC at their offices to reiterate that OHDAC has no lease because they are considering other options. Asked why is that? They responded (saying) ‘due to dissatisfaction with our management of the place’. Asked how we have never received correspondence to the effect? The response was ‘no correspondence meant dissatisfaction’.

Asked about their plans, they replied ‘they don’t have one at the moment.

“Incredible! But OHDAC who has a plan was booted.

In concluding Finnikin said: “Don’t get me wrong. I believe the JHNT reserves the right to do what they want, which must be in the best interest of preserving the site and showcasing same to our people and others.

“What I detest and vehemently oppose is their approach, which is heavy handed and show scant regard for the principles of good governance, formality, ethics and conduct reflecting an agency of government. Their disrespect to OHDAC and by extension the people of Old Harbour must not be tolerated and those agents of the state must be enlightened about what is acceptable in communication, relationship and partnership building.”

Murder figures in the police division of Old Harbour has hit a record high of 27 as at October of this year, 11 more than the corresponding period last year.

However, chief investigator at the Old Harbour Police Station, Inspector Jermaine Anglin was quick to point out that 16 or 59.26 per cent of those homicides committed in the division have been cleared up.

At the same time, Superintendent Herman Miller, who is commander in charge of the St Catherine South’s sub-division, is bemoaning the severe shortage in manpower after losing 17 officers in 2016 that are yet to be replaced.

In a recent Old Harbour News exclusive, the senior cops say there is little else that can be done given the meager resources at their disposal.

The spike in murders in Old Harbour will not come as a surprise to many given the sharp increase in murders nationally and across most divisions of the constabulary with more than 1,265 persons already killed up to October 2017, a 26 per cent increase when compared with the same period last year. A total of 1,350 murders were committed in Jamaica in 2016.

The term “cleared up” is often used by police officials as a measure of success in their crime fighting efforts. By this ‘terminology’ the police mean cases in which persons have been arrested and formally charged, then placed before the courts.

But this doesn’t guarantee a guilty verdict at the end of usually a prolonged trial stretched over several years.

In the case of Old Harbour, the statistic is alarming based on its geography size compared to other larger parishes and divisions of the force.

Recent police data for 2017 indicates 21 homicides committed in the entire parish of St Elizabeth, 17 recorded killings in St Mary, 18 in St Thomas, 16 in Trelawny, five in Portland and 24 in the historically violence-prone division of Kingston Central.

But Anglin noted that “40 to 50 per cent” of the murders committed in the Old Harbour space germinated from domestic conflicts.

“We are therefore pleading to citizens to seek other alternate avenues to quell their domestic disputes or seek police intervention early,” he told Old Harbour News.

“We are having a lull now, especially in the known hot spots,” he added. “But a lot of this is due to the fact that a lot of the players, who are known violence producers, are behind bars at this moment.”

Having lost so many officers due to a number of reasons, such as resignation, suspensions, dismissal, and transfers, it has placed added burden on the men and women under his watch, Supt. Miller told Old Harbour News.

“They are overwhelmed, plus they have ongoing cases at court that they have to be attending to,” says the veteran crime fighter.

Crime fighting efforts are further compounded, he said, with the massive construction boom the area is experiencing at present.

Several persons are migrating to Old Harbour seeking job opportunities with the number of inhabitants inching closer to 60,000.

And with an increasing population springs new and bigger challenges for the police.

More criminals are migrating to the area, they say, pointing to the recent shootout with the police, resulting in the deaths of wanted men ‘Demon’ from Ackee Walk in Kingston and Montego Bay gangster Paul ‘Jay’ Lewis.

“The population is getting bigger. So it is putting more pressure on the police to respond to domestic disputes and all other issues, plus your core duties that you suppose to do,” said Miller who has been head of the division since March 2016.

The veteran cop, who is scheduled to go on pre-retirement leave come January, after 38 years of service, argued that had those 17 officers been replaced, their crime fighting efforts would be more effective.

“I would be able to put out even one extra patrol on each shift because I have a car now that is underutilized. If we had more police officers we would be able to cover a wider area and manned the area better,” he said, noting he has consistently put those concerns to the high command at the St Catherine South Division.

“We have hot spots and right now we have to concentrate our efforts in the town area like Burke Road and ‘Africa’. So the ops (operations) vehicle cannot leave out of that space unless it’s a dire emergency.

“At Old Harbour Bay we only have 12 people and if it wasn’t for the Marine Police I don’t know how we would manage,”

Unsurprisingly those concerns are not unique to Old Harbour instead it is a microcosm of a national plight facing the constabulary for many, many years. But not all hope is lost as stated by Anglin, who attributes “60 per cent” of cleared up cases to citizens co-operating with the police.

“I must thank the citizens of Old Harbour and will use this opportunity to encourage more persons to come forward and help us fight this monster call crime, which is a major threat to all of us.”

A man and his female accomplice were last week offered bail of $100,000 and $80,000 respectively when they appeared in the St Catherine Parish Court for obtaining money by false pretense.

Devaughn Green, 24 of a Portmore address and 25-year-old New Harbour Village III resident Crystal Brown are scheduled to return to court on November 30, 2017.

The two were hauled before the court after a formal complaint was filed with the police by a female resident of Old Harbour Bay.

According to case files submitted in court, Brown and Green scammed the complainant of $70,000 after placing a house-for-rent advertisement in the newspaper early this month.

The prospective tenant made contact with the two, who claimed to be the owners of the New Harbour Village III property up for rent, via telephone numbers listed in the advertisement.

A deposit of $70,000 cash was requested by the couple and the complainant told to meet them at the St Jago Shopping Centre, Spanish Town on October 11, 2017.

After making the deposit the complainant received a set of keys for the house, but to her dismay she was unable to enter the house when she went to the premises a couple hours later.

She immediately phoned the so-called landlords but her calls were never answered. The matter was reported to the police the next day and fortunately for the complainant the suspects were held on October 13 after they were spotted walking together in the town.

Monday, 23 October 2017 14:17

Gummy Bwoy charged with Biggy murder

The police said they have formally charged Leon Johnson for the October 3, 2017, murder of Mark ‘Biggy’ Kelly of Old Harbour Bay.

Johnson, also known as ‘Gummy Bwoy’, was a few days ago charged officially with murder after giving a confession statement, stated Insp. Jermaine Anglin, head of the Criminal Investigative Unit at the Old Harbour Police Station.

On the day in question, Kelly, a well known fisherman in the community, was at a bar along the seaside when he was approached by a man who shot him once. The shot flew through Kelly and hit a female who was also in the pub.

The police said a wounded Kelly managed to walk to the nearby Old Harbour Bay Police Station, where he informed officers there that it was ‘Gummy Bwoy’ who shot him, before being rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Johnson, the alleged suspect then, was picked up by investigators the following day pending further investigation.

According to the chief investigator, the CIB team is yet though to establish a legitimate connection between Kelly’s death and a previous incident involving Johnson.

He said in August of last year, Johnson and Kelly’s son had an altercation in which the latter was stabbed by the former. It is further alleged that months later Johnson attacked Kelly, who shot him with his fish gun causing serious damage to his lungs.

The matter was allegedly settled between both parties without pursuing it through the courts with a portion of the agreed sum paid over to Johnson.

But the police said they are unable to ascertain or confirm if the outstanding balance was paid over to Johnson, who will face the court later this month.

Head of the Old Harbour Police’s criminal investigative branch (CIB), Inspector Jermaine Anglin, says the September 20, 2017 killing of two men in Old Harbour Bay was orchestrated by an individual already in State custody.

The investigator told Old Harbour News that the CIB team made an early breakthrough into last month’s killing of taxi driver Dwayne Mitchell and Oniel Butler at the Old Harbour Bay Cemetery. Both Mitchell and Butler are from the neighbouring parish of Clarendon.

Allegations are that Mitchell and Butler and a third man, who the police are yet to apprehend, went to purchase guns in Old Harbour Bay, a fishing community listed by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) as a primary transshipment point for the illegal drugs for guns trade.

The cemetery was the agreed destination apparently for the transaction. However, Mitchell and Butler were killed while a third accomplice escaped during the ordeal which took place about four o’clock in the afternoon.

By nightfall on the same day the crime took place, Anglin said investigators managed to arrest one of the suspects, while the second suspect was picked up two weeks later.

The investigation intensified thereafter and formal charges were laid last week against 24-year-old Percival Campbell, otherwise called ‘Percy’ or Prezi; Junior ‘Spoogy’ Campbell and Corey Black alias ‘Corey Blacks’ or ‘G-Man’, who has been incarnated since 2016 for a series of crimes committed. All three men are from Old Harbour Bay, while Percival and Junior are not related despite bearing the same surname, the police said.

“Based on the investigation we have pieced together so far, the suspected mastermind behind the killing of these two men is already in State custody on charges of robbery, illegal possession of a firearm and wounding,” Anglin revealed to Old Harbour News in an interview.

“Our investigation also revealed that the instruction from the mastermind behind bars to both men, who executed the killing, was to take the money and kill the men who came to purchase the illegal guns.”

The three men charged a scheduled to face the court this week.

A man from an Old Harbour community was last month ordered to pay $100,000 or serve six months in prison after pleading guilty to creating public mischief.

Carlyle Simpson, who at the time resides in the community of New Harbour Village Phase I, avoided jail time by paying the price for his mischievous deed when he appeared in front of Senior Parish Judge Tara Carr at the Old Harbour Parish Court on September 14.

The court heard that on July 3 of this year at about 9:00 am, Simpson lodged a report at the Old Harbour Police Station, stating that he was abducted a few hours earlier – approximately 7:45 am – by armed men in the vicinity of Glendon Court.

However, following months of investigation, the police concluded that the statement lodged by Simpson, who was undergoing marital separation at the time, was fictitious.

He was subsequently arrested and brought before the court where he pleaded guilty to the offence.

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