Including sewerage project, road works, Fat Hog’s Bay Harbour Project, Brandywine Bay Development Project & Junior High School
Actively working for the people who elected him, Representative for the Seventh District and Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley, MHA, aka ‘Sowande Uhuru’, outlined a number of initiatives for the district at a public meeting Thursday evening, July 16, 2020, at The Stickett in Long Look.
These initiatives include: the Food Pantry, Unemployment Register/ Programme, Modern Fishing and Farmers’ Market, Fishing and Farming Statutory Authority, the passing of the Cannabis legislation, Fat Hog’s Bay Harbour Project, Brandywine Bay Development Project, Ongoing Cleanups, Programme to Advertise District 7 Businesses, Social Home, Market Stalls at The Stickett, Junior High School, expansion of the Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP), sidewalks at YEP, Launch of the District Council, Long Look Methodist Church Murals, Paraquita Bay Road Works, and the Revitalised District 7 Response Team.
Remarking about the difficult times being experienced in the Territory and the district due to the floods of August 2017, devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and now the global COVID-19 pandemic, Honourable Wheatley said that it was time to be “our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers” and emphasised that the district needs more investment.
The Food Pantry is presently located at the District Office, in the Leando Frett Building (formerly Elite Superette). The pantry will allow for persons to register and receive the food assistance they need; needs which were increased during the recent lockdown.
Honourable Wheatley acknowledged Autland Heavy Equipment for the donation of a freezer for the pantry, along with Darkie Lettsome, Ali and Clyde Chalwell, Bouncer and the Roti Man for meals assistance, which helped to feed persons during the lockdown.
Al Pickering was also thanked for his monetary donation used towards buying water for residents during that time.
The Unemployment Register/ Programme, once launched, is meant to address the unemployment in the district by creating a database of persons in need of jobs. He acknowledged Philip Fahie, a resident of the district, for creating the online database.
The database will also allow persons to register their businesses.
Honourable Wheatley announced that Cabinet had approved land for the building of a Social Home in the district and will speak more about this project at a later time.
The District Council, a lobbyist group created to support the development of the district, will commence in August. He encouraged residents to “lend their voice, and participate in the development and uplift of the community”.
Honourable Wheatley noted that both the passing of the Cannabis legislation and the $2M stimulus package for farmers and fishers will create a number of jobs for many in the district. To that end, Dr Wheatley said, “The legislation is not about persons getting high. It is about facilitating access to medicine, creating a lucrative opportunity for farmers in the area, and providing jobs...it will turn lives around. There will also be opportunities for persons to own dispensaries.”
Regarding the $2M economic stimulus for fishers and farmers, Honourable Wheatley spoke about the formation of a Fishing and Farming Statutory Authority, which will purchase produce directly from fishers and farmers all goods that are up to a certain standard.
“This is a guaranteed market for food produced,” he said.
Minister Wheatley also said the Authority will facilitate small loans and insurance for fishers and farmers to protect property especially during natural disasters.
Minister for Transportation, Works and Utilities, Honourable Kye M. Rymer (R5) said a contract for the repair of the Brady Ghut Road has already been signed and works will begin soon.
He also addressed the repairs to the Paraquita Bay Road, and said he will be looking into getting the road re-engineered.
A total of $4M was recently allocated towards the East End/Long Look Sewerage Project.
Minister Wheatley said the project will recommence soon and said it will not only fix the sewerage issues but also provide job opportunities for many.
Honourable Wheatley told residents that discussions with landowners have already begun regarding the Fat Hog’s Bay Harbour Project. He said the project will bring much needed economic activity to the district and that there are big plans underway.
The concept will be brought to the public in due time.
The district representative told residents about the Brandywine Bay development project, which will create commercial spaces along the beach, which will be leased to businesspersons. Dr Wheatley said a meeting will be held soon to further discuss that project.
Brandywine Bay Committee
The recently established Brandywine Bay Committee, which was formed by community-oriented residents, was recognised for its commitment to beautifying and preserving the natural environment. The committee, headed by Ms Nakema Bell, hosts regular cleanups and fun activities like Fish Fry’s and domino games.
Honourable Wheatley encouraged all residents to participate in the Brandywine Bay activities.
Honourable Wheatley told residents about plans to identify land to build a Junior High School in the district.
He also spoke about his intentions to expand YEP, along with the building of sidewalks in the area of YEP to keep students safe who walk to and from the centre.
Mr Jason Penn of the Department of Disaster Management told residents of the new siren installed at the Fire Station, which will also act as a Satellite Emergency Operations Centre (EOC).
There is also a satellite warehouse in the district with emergency supplies. He also spoke to residents about the predictions of an above average hurricane season, with a possibility of six strong hurricanes. He spoke about hurricane preparedness, encouraged persons to check their homes, clean up their surroundings, put together an emergency kit with a small transistor radio, and create evacuation plans.
Honourable Wheatley spoke about the recent bulk waste cleanup in preparation for the hurricane season and thanked Autland Heavy Equipment for the donation of their trucking and excavating services.
He noted that the cleanups will be an ongoing initiative.
Dr Wheatley referenced the revitalised District 7 Response Team, which was instrumental during the lockdown.
The team coordinated the food distribution and inventory for the Food Pantry.
Honourable Wheatley also noted that funding was made available via the Ministry of Transportation, Utilities and Works for ghut cleaning, which will begin soon.
The official handover for the East End/ Long Look Fire Station is slated to take place on Monday, July 27, 2020.
The district representative briefly mentioned an upcoming programme to promote District 7 businesses, which will be launched soon.
Also referencing business, Dr Wheatley told residents of plans to build market stalls around The Stickett which would allow vendors to sell their merchandise at the heritage site.
Before wrapping up the meeting, Honourable Wheatley, along with other government officials, responded to questions from residents.
Dr Wheatley received full support from his Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Government colleagues, including Deputy Premier and Minister for Health and Social Development, Honourable Carvin Malone (AL); Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Honourable Vincent O. Wheatley (R9); Junior Minister for Trade and Economic Development Honourable Shereen D. Flax-Charles (AL); Junior Minister for Tourism, Honourable Sharie B. de Castro (AL); and Representative for the Sixth District, Honourable Alvera Maduro-Caines.