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JIS News

Residents of St. Thomas turned out in their numbers yesterday (May 2) to welcome Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Professor Kenneth Hall, who was making his first official visit to the parish.
Speaking at a civic ceremony held at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church in Morant Bay in the Governor General’s honour, Custos of St. Thomas, Marcia Bennett, said the people of St. Thomas were appreciative of the visit and the opportunity to meet and talk with him.
“We see this as an important medium through which our many communities can connect with your office and better relate to the role you play in nation building. We can better identify with you and not only see you as the face we see in the media, performing one of your varied and important roles,” she said.
Custos Bennett told the head of state, that the residents had responded well to the various challenges, including hurricanes, but needed more assistance. “We need your help in lobbying for the right policies and programmes to be put in place to enable the development of this parish to begin afresh,” Custos Bennett stated.
Professor Hall, in his address, noted the cultural and economic resources available in the parish, but said that what was needed, were opportunities to ensure that the existing resources and facilities could be used to the benefit of all persons.
He stated that despite the parish benefiting from varying levels of national infrastructure improvement works such as roads, electricity and water, “listening to the residents of St. Thomas, I am beginning to feel that there is much more to be done.”
The Governor-General lauded the initiative of the Yallahs Area Development Committee for undertaking an environmental tree-planting project, in which trees will be planted in some 20 communities from Pretty Turning curve to Big Gully Bridge, in an effort to preserve the environment and generate income.
He also praised the community leaders for their role in forming the 78-member St. Thomas Parish Development Committee, which embraced some 52 communities and was aimed at establishing a new framework and governance structure for the parish.
“Therefore, it behoves us to use the time honoured structures within our communities to bolster our development as we strive to move this parish and our country into the 21st century,” he added.
Others bringing greetings at the function were Mayor of St. Thomas, Joan Spencer; Member of Parliament for Eastern St. Thomas and State Minister for Housing, Transport and Works, Dr. Fenton Ferguson; Member of Parliament for Western St. Thomas, James Robertson and Justice of the Peace, Margaret George. There were also cultural performances by students from Loving Hands pre-school and Thornton Primary School.
President of the Dalvey Community Development Committee, Ivan Solomon told JIS News after the ceremony, that he was “extremely happy” to have attended the function. “I think his visit is momentous and I think it leads the way in bridging the gap between the middle class, the lower class and the upper class,” he said.
Janet Stewart, member of the White Horses, Botany Bay, Pamphret Benevolent Society, noted that the Governor-General’s visit showed that “he is thinking of St. Thomas.
After the ceremony, Professor Hall toured the St. Thomas Parish Library where he viewed displays depicting historical sites in the parish and a profile of National Hero, Paul Bogle.
The Governor-General’s visit to St. Thomas was part of his island wide familiarization tour, which began on April 26 in his home parish of Hanover. He has already visited Westmoreland, St. James, Trelawny and during this week will visit Port Antonio, Portland; Black River, St. Elizabeth; and May Pen, Clarendon.