Alpart’s Community Council has made a transition from being an avenue to quell tensions between the company and communities affected by its fumes, to a vehicle through which areas around the plant are benefiting from lasting development.
Principal of the Brinkley Primary School in St. Elizabeth, Vivilyn Powell (first left), and community representative with the Alpart Community Council, Deloris Moss (second left), pointing to a section of the school yard paved with funding from the Community Council.
According to Principal of the Precious Plains Basic School, in St. Elizabeth, Sancia Johnson, for example, the safety of children which was challenged by the lack of a perimeter fence has now been addressed.
“With the fence, the children are no longer subjected to the danger that was there. It has given the school a facelift, the school and community are thankful,” Mrs. Johnson said.
Chairman of the Alpart Community Council, Lenworth Blake (right), makes a point to Principal of the Lititz All Age School. The institution received funding from the Council to do tiling and other work on the building and grounds. Also pictured are the Council’s community representative, Eda Stephenson (second left) and General Manager at Alpart, Timothy O’Driscoll.
Administrator for the Community Council, Camilla Blake, explained that every month members are expected to submit to the executive a project for consideration and, after deliberation and approval, a community is awarded $100,000 to be used for upgrading, or building of an amenity.
“It has evolved from being just a mediator to being a facilitator of community development. We have a strong partnership with Alpart in the implementation of programmes in education, youth and sport, and general community development,” Miss Blake outlined.
Chairman of the two-decade-old Community Council, Lenworth Blake, said that its original mission was to foster good relations between the bauxite company and nearby communities.
He told JIS News, that at the onset of the group, they looked at issues to do with emissions from the plant and how agitated communities reacted and were able to embark on community projects.
Principal at the Precious Plains Basic Schol, in St. Elizabeth, Sancia Johnson, rapping with her students. The institution received funding for the erection of perimeter fencing from the Alpart Community Council.
“When the plant was closed a year ago, we approached Alpart to see how we could work with the plant. The ideas put forward were accepted, and we formed Essex Valley and Associates, a company to administer work at the plant,” Mr. Blake said.
He adds that the work includes decaling, landscaping, and sanitation work. Whatever money that is made, part of it goes back to fund projects in the communities.
“Today, we have done some 14 projects at a cost of over $1.4 million. The Community Council is serving its purpose,” the Chairman insisted.
Construction of a tuck-shop at the Brinkley Primary School, paving of the institution’s yard, painting of the school building and the principal’s cottage through sponsorship from the Council are among the projects.
“The children are comfortable now, the area was just dirt and the help has allowed them to use it as a play area,” stated Principal of Brinkley, Vivlyn Powell.
Miss Blake said that the business unit managing the maintenance work at Alpart, with the employees being local people, has helped to cushion some of the difficulties faced by the communities as a result of the closure.
“We have grown as a Council, where we don’t just talk about issues affecting the communities, we are doing something about those issues,” she said.
“It is a very sterling partnership between Alpart and the Community Council. The communities are being developed, funds are plowed back into the communities. So, it is a win, win situation,” Public Relations Officer at Alpart, Julian Keene, said.
Other institutions that have received sponsorship from the Council are: New Forest Primary and Junior High, Red Bank All Age, Warminister Basic, New Building Basic, Fairfield Youth Club, Myersville Basic, Bethlehem All Age, tiling of the Litiz All Age staff room, bathrooms and landscaping of the school grounds, Nain Police Station, Gazeland Community Centre and Downs Basic School and Community Centre.
“We have made so much progress in problem resolution, community projects, education, agriculture, water supply, hurricane alleviation and youth development. We have gone way beyond the days when we use to shout at each other, because we resolved that we were going to work together to solve challenges,” stated former Public Relations Manager at Alpart, Lance Neita, at a recent function in his honour.