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Two often volatile Spanish Town communities got a lift Thursday (December 3)
with the opening of the March Pen Road/Corletts Road Community Centre, by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Major Richard Reese.
Major Reese described the community centre, located on McPherson Avenue, as a monument to the dedication of the residents to achieving peace in the community.
The centre is comprised of a private room, which can be used by the police and other agencies for interventions, as well as a resource room, kitchenette, meeting hall and bathrooms. The centre will host community meetings and group activities, as well as facilitate remedial and other classes for residents.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Major Richard Reese (right) and Belgian Ambassador, Frederic Meurice (left), talking with Public Relations Officer of the March Pen/ Corletts Community Development Council (CDC), Mark Deacon (second left), and Vice President of the CDC, Dave Campbell, at the opening of the March Pen Road/ Corletts Road Community Centre, St. Catherine, Thursday (December 3). The centre was renovated under the Ministry’s Community Security Initiative (CSI).

Major Reese told the Community Development Council that they should ensure that the centre is available for use by all well-thinking individuals, and that it is used to challenge anti-social behaviour and promote positive attitudes.
“The construction of your community centre must foster and facilitate the common effort to provide low-cost activities for people, who would not otherwise have been able to access them,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary also urged the residents to place maximum value on the facility which, he said, had the potential to transform the community and eradicate the negative stigma.
“Keep your community centre up to scratch. Don’t allow anyone to vandalise or deface the building, or its content. Your leaders have worked too hard for this, honour them by keeping it clean and tidy,” he exhorted.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Major Richard Reese (right), and Belgian Ambassador, Frederic Meurice, looking at the refrigerator inside the kitchenette of the March Pen Road/ Corletts Road Community Centre, St. Catherine, which was renovated under the Ministry’s Community Security Initiative (CSI), and officially opened Thursday (December 3).

The community centre is an initiative of the Community Security Initiative (CSI), a social intervention programme within the Ministry of National Security, which is funded by the Department for International Development (DFID). However, Director of the CSI, Patricia Balls, noted that the CSI was just a facilitator, as the community was ready for change and played a major role in the renovation of the centre.
She shared that the residents lobbied for support from several agencies, to renovate the centre which had been devastated by Hurricane Dean.
“The work was actually done by the community members themselves, who received a small stipend for doing this, but when you came during the renovation to the centre you could actually see the labour of love from the community going into the centre,” she noted.
Miss Balls also stated that construction of a computer laboratory, donated by the Belgian Government, would soon get underway at the centre. The football field is also to be upgraded, a multipurpose court constructed and the road and perimeter fence fixed with funds from the European Union.
Persons from several of the organizations, that have been playing an integral part in trying to unite the community, attended today’s opening. Among them were: Belgian Ambassador, Frederic Meurice; Member of Parliament for St. Catherine South Central, Sharon Hay-Webster; Commanding Officer for the St. Catherine North Police Division, Superintendent Assan Thompson; Executive Director of the Social Development Commission (SDC), Dwayne Vernon; Head of the Dispute Resolution Foundation, Donna Parchment-Brown; Head of the National Transformation Programme, Rev Al Miller.

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