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    The MIC Foundation’s Gifting Luncheon a Success

    The MIC Foundation recently held a Gifting Luncheon in which funds were donated to various charities of Antigua. The 50/50 raffle jackpot was won on April 16th, 2014 by Antiguan resident, Tamara Sawyers. The total 50/50 raffle jackpot was $88,840EC.

    The MIC Foundation gifted supplies and funds to legally established charities and not-for-profit organizations in Antigua and Barbuda such as St. John Hospice, The School for the Blind, Antigua Humane Society, The Friends of Care Project and Breast Friends.

    To further generate funds for Antigua and Barbuda charities and not-for-profit organizations, the next 50/50 raffle has begun and will take place every Mon., Wed. and Fri. night at the casino at 10 p.m.  

    Tickets are only $10 EC.  Raffle participants buy a ticket and the winner of the evening picks a card from the over-sized deck of cards.  If they pick the Queen of Hearts, they win the raffle jackpot.

    If they pick the Ace of Diamonds, they win a diamond necklace from Diamonds International.  If they pick any other card, they still win a fabulous prize.

    The MIC Foundations would like to thank its partners in business for donating amazing prizes to the raffle and thus helping the foundation raise much needed funds.  

    Special thanks to Diamonds International, Adventure Antigua, The Antigua Rainforest Company, Stingray City, Ana’s on the Beach and various neighboring restaurants for donating gift cards.

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    Sandals Foundation Partners with Chichester College to Make a Difference

    Through a collaborative effort between the Sandals Foundation and a group of social and health work students from Chichester College in the UK, the Willikies community has received some much needed assistance.

    The volunteers, over a period of one week, worked on several projects to include renovating the Willikies Pre-School, where the group repainted buildings and engaged students in academic lessons.

    Debbie Mason, founder of the early childhood centre, said, "We are very grateful for what the Sandals Foundation and the UK group have done for us. We are celebrating our 16th anniversary and had the facelift as one of the projects to complete and now this gift has been given to the students. All of us including teachers and parents are truly elated."

    Willikies Primary School also benefitted from the outreach programme, which involved a clean-up of the campus and surrounding areas, tree planting, and environmental lessons among other activities.

    Principal Denmore Roberts said the group's visit and assistance has made a huge impact.

    "The children here have always been driven but [Chichester College] really made a difference and you could see that in how eager the students were to participate in all the work carried out. We will miss them, but we take comfort in knowing Sandals Foundation and Grand Pineapple will continue to be here for us".

    The group of UK volunteers also took the opportunity to visit a few institutions supported by the Sandals Foundation which include the CARE Project, the Boys Training School and the Good Shepherd Home for Girls.

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    Wind Power Coming to Antigua

    Antigua and Barbuda is a country which is famous for its beautiful weather, white and pink sandy beaches and endless tradewinds.  What may not be so well known is how integral wind is to Antigua’s very existence.

    In centuries past, an entire industry was created by harnessing the power of wind. Antigua’s landscape is dotted with the ruins of sugar mills – important reminders of how wind can power an entire country.

    Wind power plays another role for which Antigua is internationally known.  Strong breezes power the sails of boats from across the globe to its shores.  From Antigua Sailing Week to the many businesses that depend on the sailing industry, wind is at the root of this key economic generator.  Every day, thousands of people depend on the wind with each load of laundry.  Kite festivals and regattas are constant reminders of this abundant resource.

    Worldwide, wind is being harnessed to generate electricity.

    In the U.S., the great state of Texas has enjoyed up to 38% of its electricity generated by this infinite power supply. The Canadian province of Ontario now has an infrastructure which regularly sees 5% of the entire province powered by wind. Well over a million households are powered by wind in Ontario.

    But the benefits wind-producing communities goes well beyond taking advantage of the power source. Once the infrastructure is in place, there is little need to negotiate crippling loans or cut rates for a resource; no more leaking tankers shipping in consumable oil; no more spills; no more contaminated soil; no more suffering the rates that are at the whim of international speculators.

    Presently, Antigua is burdened by how its power is generated. Its residents endure the sharp end of two sticks.  Not only is the entire electricity grid powered by one of the most expensive fuel sources in the world, but Antigua doesn’t supply its own resource. While developed nations continue to use less expensive fossil fuel sources, recent efforts focus on phasing them out and typically those nations at least extract their own resources.

    Power generation, as it is done in Antigua today, is hindering the progress of the entire country.

    Fortunately, Antigua is exploring alternative energy, as the country’s leaders are realizing the unending benefits. Imagine no longer requiring a steady flow of massive ships importing oil – How much does that cost? What is the impact of these behemoths on the environment and our shores? Imagine no longer endangering entire neighbourhoods by storing the many toxic chemicals that comprise oil and its many byproducts.

    Imagine the new potentially exportable skills Antiguan technicians will learn to manage this 21st-century technology. Imagine the funds that will be freed up by not having to pay for one of the dirtiest fuel sources on the planet. Embracing wind is in keeping with Antigua’s 2011 National Energy Policy.  Wind power generation achieves the Governments own five stated goals:

    1. Energy Cost Reduction
    2. Diversification of Energy Sources
    3. Electricity Reliability Improvement
    4. Environmental Protection
    5. Stimulate new Economic Opportunities

    The U.S. company C-Net/Clayco was invited by the English Harbour community members to visit our beautiful island and determine the feasibility of using renewable energy as a substitute for their current fossil fuel burning sources. After a number of visits and carefully developed analysis, C-Net/Clayco’s findings confirmed the potential for such a program in Antigua.  C-Net/Clayco has since approached Antigua leaders to team with the country to develop a new wind power industry which will free Antigua from being under the boot of the international oil industry.

    The two phase C-Net/Clayco proposal, estimates that costs for power will be reduced by approximately 20% by 2018 and the savings generated from current fuel consumption costs to power existing generators would cover all costs to develop and manage the renewable energy plants, plus, deliver nearly US $20,000,000 annually of additional savings which could go towards infrastructure improvements or other governmental obligations.

    Wind power is clean. It utilizes a homegrown and infinite resource that belongs to the country and to its citizens. It empowers Antiguans with new marketable skills. It is exciting. Wind is the future of energy production and the C-Net/Clayco program could help us take a significant step into this future and help us to begin controlling our own destiny.

     

     

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    Government, Police Service Commission Win Appeal By Former Police Commissioner Nelson

    In a majority decision delivered on Monday 26 May, 2014, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal brought by former Commissioner of Police, Gary Nelson in an effort to overturn a decision of the High Court which had also ruled against him.  The Court of Appeal rejected arguments made on behalf of Mr. Nelson and found instead that the Government and the Police Service Commission (PSC) had acted lawfully in the latter’s decision to terminate Mr. Nelson’s employment during his probationary period.  It upheld the lower court’s earlier decision, effectively again vindicating the PSC’s decision and the support for that decision provided by the Honourable Prime Minister and  by the then Minister of Justice (the Honourable Colin Derrick, as he then was).

    Mr. Nelson had sought review of and compensation for the PSC’s decision to dismiss him in circumstances where the Government and the PSC had expressed dissatisfaction with his performance.  His claim revolved around the effect of a two-year, fixed term contract which contained a clause stating that his employment was subject to completion of a successful probationary period of six months.  The PSC, with the approval of the Government, terminated his employment just before expiration of the probationary period and Mr. Nelson made an application for judicial review of that decision. 

    Arguing the case on behalf of the Attorney-General and the Minister of Justice, both at first instance and on appeal, was Attorney-at-Law Karen de Freitas-Rait, while the PSC was represented by Sir Gerald Watt, QC and Dr. David Dorsett.  Dane Hamilton, QC appeared in both courts representing Mr. Nelson.

    Though the decision of the Court of Appeal was a split decision with one of the three Justices of Appeal dissenting, in fact all three judges agreed on all but one issue under consideration.  All three justices affirmed the lower court’s findings to include the following decisions:

    • -       Mr. Nelson was bound by the terms of the draft contract, including the probation clause, even though he had never signed the contract, because he had accepted the contract by his conduct in travelling to Antigua and commencing work as Commissioner of Police;
    • -       The probation clause was a valid part of his contract, because from the beginning it had been made abundantly clear to him by former Minister of Justice, Colin Derrick, that it would not be removed, and because he had commenced work fully aware of the probation requirement;
    • -       Section 12(1) of the Police Act does not apply to a police officer employed under a fixed term contract and therefore did not apply to Mr. Nelson.
    • -       The decision to terminate Mr. Nelson’s employment made by the PSC was in accordance with the requirements of the Constitution and the PSC’s consultation with the Prime Minister on the matter was appropriate and lawful;
    • -       There was absolutely no evidence that the PSC had acted unreasonable or irrationally in making the decision to terminate Mr. Nelson’s employment;  In fact, “The reasons for the termination of his service which the Commission placed before the trial judge could in no way support a complaint of unreasonableness.”
    • -       That Mr. Nelson was bound to rely only upon his legal rights under the terms of the fixed term contract and had no basis for making out a separate claim of legitimate expectation for continued employment beyond the probationary period.
    • Further by a majority decision the Court of Appeal also concluded,
    • -       That, in light of the agreed probationary period, the Commission had fulfilled all legal requirements of procedural fairness. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Significantly, the majority of the court held that a public officer on a fixed- term contract can be dismissed during his probationary period without having to first convene a formal hearing.  In the majority decision on this issue, Justice of Appeal Michel noted that:

    “The Commission was not …. required even to inform the appellant of the reason for their dissatisfaction with his performance”, but even if they were so required, “…the evidence in the case was that in fact they ‘did on divers occasions … communicate with the [appellant] relative to the performance of his duties and in so communicating indicated the Commission’s grave concern and displeasure.’”.  The majority of the court found that “ even the most liberal application of administrative law cannot insulate a person in the position of the appellant from termination of employment during the probationary stage of his employment and in accordance with a contract of employment entered into by him as a mentally composite adult professional clearly cognizant of the existence and effect of the probationary clause in the contract.”

    In this regard the court also found that that Mr. Nelson’s record of performance was “clearly unsatisfactory” and that there was “uncontroverted evidence before the court …. That [Mr. Nelson] attended monthly meetings with the Commission and was told at those meetings that there was dissatisfaction with his work”.

    Finally, it is noteworthy that the Court of Appeal also awarded costs in this matter.  The High Court had earlier ordered Mr. Nelson to pay the Government’s and the PSC’s costs at that level.  Now the Court of Appeal has further required that Mr. Nelson pay the Respondents Court of Appeal costs as well.  The Attorney-General views this as a significant victory and as indication of the strong position taken by the majority of the court, particularly since costs are often not awarded in judicial review cases. 

    The dismissal of Mr. Nelson’s appeal reinforces what the Attorney General the Honourable Justin Simon, the former Minister of Justice Colin Derrick and the Police Service Commission have staunchly maintained for some time:  namely, that the decision to terminate Mr. Nelson’s employment as Police Commissioner was a lawful decision both substantively and procedurally, and that Mr. Nelson’s claims have been without merit.  While a further appeal by Mr. Nelson to the Privy Council is, of course, always a possibility in such cases, the Attorney-General remains hopeful that that the Court of Appeal decision will bring final closure to this matter.  

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    Mega Boost For All Early Childhood Education Centers

    Over eighty preschools, daycare centers and creches are set to benefit from the single largest effort ever to provide these centers with age appropriate educational literature and educational toys. This is part of the Government's thrust to radically modernize the delivery of early childhood education.

    The Ministry of Telecommunications, Science and Technology and LIME have collaborated on the HEART project, and one of the components of HEART is designed to contribute to the radical shift from "child minding" to educational development. 

    As Government prepares to train hundreds of early childhood educators and caregivers in the delivery of effective early stimulation, the Government has begun equipping the preschools and day care centers with the necessary tools to ensure that the children in these centers are exposed to much more education development in those early years.

    Minister of Telecommunications, Science and Technology, Hon. Dr. Edmond Mansoor, says that both the Ministries of Education and Telecommunications have continued a collaboration program that has already resulted in early childhood centers receiving iPad tablets and broadband Internet.

    "These iPads will help the early childhood educators. The children, however, need to have direct experience with the world in order to make sense of and learn about it. They learn about people and the world by playing with toys. Playing is important to children. It is the way they practice growing up. Toys are the tools children use in play. Puzzles and blocks help in the development of their muscles. Games and books assist in their social development, and crayons, paints, clay and paper help in their creative and intellectual development", declared Dr. Mansoor, who is a physician.

    "The Government is ensuring that no child is deprived of early childhood education, especially children from vulnerable families who are at risk. So every, I repeat every, early childhood center will this coming Monday afternoon, receive a wide range of art and craft supplies, educational and table top toys, charts, puzzles and activity books, stationery and a white board. This is historic for Antigua and Barbuda, as Government is providing those important tools to ensure the educational development of toddlers," Dr Mansoor added.

    Preschools, daycare centers and creches that wish to ensure that their center is registered to benefit from this component of HEART can contact the Ministry of Telecommunications at 725-9314. The allocation of these educational and developmental tools takes place at the ICT Cadet Training facility on Monday, June 02nd at 5:00 p.m. sharp.

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    Learning French Translates into Dollars for Tourism Stakeholders - AHTA

    The Antigua Hotels & Tourist Association (AHTA) is urging local tourism industryprofessionals to capitalize on the recent influx of tourists from French-speaking countries by learning the language.

    Increased package sales stemming from French tour operators, led to a significant rise in the number of visitors from France and French-speaking countries over the last winter season. 

    Administrator of the AHTA Learn French with the AHTA programme, Anthea Watkins, said the nation’s residents could take advantage of this opportunity that would improve customer service and increase revenue.

    “Learning French would open tourism suppliers to a completely new niche market they otherwise would not be able to communicate with. Learning French will open the doors to increased communication and increased communication translates to dollars for Antigua and Barbuda,” Watkins said. 

    She added, “We are particularly encouraging hotel front-line workers and employees in the duty-free areas in St Johns to participate. They are on the frontier, learning French would not only enrich them, but their customers.” 

    Learn French with the AHTA is a 12-week course for beginner and intermediary learners. Emphasis is on imparting “basic survival vocabulary” skills, such as, greetings, shopping skills, transportation and conversational tools. Students will also be introduced to the diverse culture of France, Guadeloupe and Martinique. 

    AHTA general manager, Neil Forrester, who speaks French fluently, said the added bonus for programme graduates is having the opportunity to be selected for the French Cultural Exchange Programme between Antigua & Barbuda and Guadeloupe, organizedin partnership with L’Institut de Cooperation Franco Caraibe. 

    “For those working in hotels that participate in the Tourism Development Fund Dollar-a-Day programme, the exchange programme would be free of charge. They would be able to liaise with persons who speak French and hone their skills,” Forrester said.

    The first course began in January and graduated seven participants, mainly from the hotel industry. However, residents with a passion for the French language are also encouraged to register.

    AHTA’s Learn French with the AHTA programme begins on June 2nd. Classes are held Monday through Wednesday between 5:30pm-7:30pm at AHTA offices on Newgate Street.

    For further information or to register for Learn French with the AHTA, visit http://members.antiguahotels.org/training/ or contact Anthea Watkins at 462-3703 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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    LIAT Signs MOU With Antigua State College

    The new CEO of regional carrier LIAT has praised the initiative of the airline’s headquarters based staff in Antigua. In his monthly "Letter from the CEO", David Evans noted how he was "struck by the huge wealth of experience that exists throughout our organisation."

    Reporting on a joint venture to develop highly skilled jobs in Antigua, he said that the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Antigua State College (ASC) - to establish an Engineering apprenticeship scheme in September - would "see us offer hands-on engineering experience in our facilities to apprentices studying at ASC."

    Saluting the generosity of LIAT staff, he lauded Kim Burden of the Engineering Department for offering to deliver, free of charge, skills training across the organisation in a number of areas, including customer service, communication, coaching, supervision and leadership. 

    Another highlight of his first month in office, Evans noted, was witnessing the work of the LIAT Information Technology team delivering software, allowing pilots to undertake a critical part of their training on their own PCs, laptops, or tablets in a true computer-based training environment.

    "These three initiatives give me great encouragement because they have all come from within our organisation, and those individuals who have made them happen are to be commended," said Evans, a former British Airways executive.

    LIAT is undertaking a wide-ranging review of its commercial activities with the sole purpose of enhancing its revenue earning potential, he stated. "To this end, a small team of airline commercial experts, who are not professional consultants but rather people with real-life airline experience, will be spending the next few weeks at LIAT's Headquarters in Antigua and across the network to put in place very specific enhancements to the commercial processes."

    Evans said he was confident that as a result "we will see some real improvements in our revenue performance in a relatively short period of time." 

    He also pledged to tackle the issue of flight disruptions by making the complex schedule simpler and focus on service delivery. "I have seen some great examples of service from our front line staff, be they ground staff, engineers, pilots or flight attendants. Our task is to deliver that great service consistently across our network”, he added.

    Admitting that financial challenges remain as the airline struggles with a very difficult cash position, he announced the start of a series of meetings "with our Trade Union partners where I believe that we have had an open and honest discussion about our cash position with full financial disclosure to all attendees." 

    The sale of LIAT's Dash 8 fleet is expected to help ease the cash crunch: "We concluded the sale of one some 10 days ago, and are working hard to complete further sales before the end of this month and into June."

    Meanwhile, Evans has declared LIAT's commitment to keeping its headquarters in Antigua. "This firm commitment is reflected in a formal agreement entered into in January 2014 between the Government and LIAT for the retention of the head office in Antigua. Through this agreement, LIAT continues to keenly support the economic and social development of the twin-island nation as well as the eastern and wider Caribbean."

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    Two Churches in Antigua Get Broadcast License As Election Date Nears

    As Government continues to expand the media landscape, two church groups were issued with FM broadcast licenses during a brief ceremony on Monday.

    Minister of Telecommunications, Science and Technology Dr. Hon. Edmond Mansoor handed over the licenses which were approved by cabinet to Pastor Paul Andrew, of St John’s Christian Assembly Ministries and Dean Rudolph Smithen of the Anglican Diocese of the North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba.

    The St John’s Christian Assembly Ministries will broadcast from 105.7 FM under the banner Prayer Radio. Pastor Andrew said the stations main focus will be on prayer.

    “In 1995 the St John’s Christian ministries applied for a license and was turned down and we waited many years…We felt deeply that we needed our own home to get the programs that we wanted to get across to Antiguans and Barbudans and the world. Having applied again we are so happy to know we have been granted approval by the Government to have our own license to function in a way we see fit as a prayer ministry, to pray not only for our nation but for others as well.” Pastor Paul said.

    The Diocese of NECA Anglican Radio will broadcast from 90.1 FM and Dean Smithen said the main purpose will be to declare the good news and encourage discussions on social and theological issues while enhancing moral values within the communities.

    “This has been a dream not only of the bishop but of several persons throughout the diocese to own a radio station and we are very pleased that the government has granted us a license…with this license we will be able to reach all the islands within the diocese and further afield.” Dean Smithen said.

    Government will also grant duty free concessions to the churches for their broadcast equipment.

     Dr Mansoor said the United Progressive Party administration has seen it fit to have a very liberal policy to the granting of broadcast licenses.

    He said looking at pre 2004 and post 2004 the media landscape in Antigua has changed significantly.

    “It will be remiss of me if I did not recall the Antigua Christian Councils programme called Common Ground in Antigua many moons ago. And because certain people were invited unto the program the Government of the day expressed its displeasure to the Antigua Christian Council and to the producers. I believe that the net result was that particular program was cancelled. Those were the days of totalitarianism in the media landscape but this government has taken a choice to be different as the plethora of licenses issued over the years have shown.” Dr. Mansoor said.

    Meanwhile, Dr. Mansoor said there is no longer a monopoly in the cable TV market, with both Karib Cable and CTV providing this service.

    “It is this administration that licensed Karib cable and brought an end to the monopoly in the cable industry.” The Minister said.

    Additionally Dr. Mansoor pointed out there is no longer a monopoly in the International Direct Dial (IDD) telephony market.

    “So when you are placing overseas call you certainly have a choice, especially from your mobile phone and because of the ending of that monopoly, rates have been reduced dramatically.” Dr. Mansoor said.

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    MBS To Stop Accepting Laminated Cards

    The Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) is advising the general public that effective Monday, 14th July, 2014, the old MBS laminated cards will no longer be honoured or accepted for accessing services and benefits.

    On that date, it will become mandatory for members filling out prescriptions at MBS pharmacies, requesting status letters, or making a Claim at the MBS Customer Service Department to produce the new MBS smart card in order to successfully complete the transaction.

    The MBS smart card is also required to access services at the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre.

    Nine (9) months ago, in September 2013, MBS began its member’s re-registration program geared towards providing all its members with a new smart card containing a micro processing chip, and a photograph. To date, MBS has re-registered about twenty seven thousand members, but in recent months the request for re-registration has reduced substantially, signalling the population’s readiness to adopt the new card.

    Furthermore, MBS is also urging members who have not collected their new smart card to do so urgently. MBS currently has in its possession hundreds of unclaimed member’s smart cards dating back to September 2013.

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    Island Academy Alumnus Gains Admission To Europe's Top Architecture Grad Schools

    Johnathan Shillingford has gained admission to 3 of the world’s most prestigious institutions of architecture, The Architectural Association School of Architecture, London, UK; The Barlett: University College London, London, UK; and The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark.  Of 1,000 applicants to the Royal Danish Academy, Shillingford was 1 of 10 offered admission to the selective program.

    Ultimately, Shillingford has accepted his offer to the Architectural Association (AA), the most prestigious of the 3 schools. Founded in 1847, the AA is the oldest independent architectural school in the UK and a “global meeting point for architecture and urbanism in London”.  The school boasts an extensive list of notable alumni, many regarded as the world’s most famous architects.

    The Dominican born, Antiguan citizen moved to Antigua with his parents at the age of 9. His educational foundation was set at Island Academy International, which he attended on an academic scholarship and graduated Valedictorian, Best Art Student and Best Science student in 2008. Shillingford says, “Island Academy helped me develop self-discipline, and the challenging curriculum prepared me for an easy transition into college level academics.”  At Island Academy, Johnathan displayed a keen interest in Art, Physics and Mathematics, which, along with the support of his dedicated teachers, provided him a sound platform to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture after high school.

    At the young age of 17, Shillingford matriculated at the Illinois Institute of Technology, an OAS scholar in his final two years. Upon graduating in May 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture, Shillingford joined AgenceTER, Paris, France, as an Intern Architect.

    Shillingford will begin his master’s degree in Architecture and Urbanism in September 2014, at the AA. His interest in urbanism, in addition to architecture comes from a desire to eventually return to the Caribbean and contribute to city planning and building technologies, especially in regards to climate change impacts and natural disaster planning.

    For more information or to offer your support, please visit http://www.gofundme.com/8pzr8g.

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