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Devastation as fire sweeps through section of Matthews Lane

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Devastation as fire sweeps through section of Matthews Lane

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

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A blanket of smoke permeated the market district in downtown Kingston yesterday as vendors who said they lost their livelihood in a fire which started early morning pondered their next move.

The fire, which took 45 firefighters more than seven hours to extinguish, destroyed a number of stalls on Matthews Lane, a few steps away from the Redemption Market that was also destroyed by fire on June 11, 2017.

M&M Hanna Sales Co Ltd Textile Wholesale, too, was destroyed by the blaze.

A firefighter who was injured during the operation was taken to hospital where he was treated and later released.

Acting Senior Deputy Superintendent Horace Thomas, officer in charge of operations for the Kingston and St Andrew Division at the Jamaica Fire Brigade, told the Jamaica Observer that firefighters from Trench Town and York Park fire stations responded to a call at 2:58 am that a building and stalls were on fire.

However, their colleagues at Stony Hill, Port Royal and Half- Way-Tree fire stations had to be called in when the first team got to the location and saw the magnitude of the fire.

“We subsequently brought the fire under control. However, based on the nature of what is burning it took some time to cool down,” Thomas explained.

He said that it was difficult to save the fabric inside the building.

“The way in which the fabrics were compacted, it placed a premium on security; sometimes in placing a premium on security safety is compromised and so it gave us a challenge in accessing the building initially,” Thomas said.

Yesterday morning, vendor Andrea Gordon, who has been plying her trade on Matthews Lane for more than two decades, sat on a stall as the blaze swept over her merchandise stored at a barrel warehouse on Princess Street which was also destroyed.

“Every God almighty ting mi lose. See di place up deh suh all now a smoke; we cyaah even enter,” the mother of five told the Observer.

Gordon, who said she was at her home in Parade Gardens, better known as Southside, in Kingston Central, when she heard the news of the fire, said she was hoping to have saved some of her merchandise.

“When mi get di call mi hear seh di whole a Matthews Lane under fire, mi not even brush mi teeth [as] mi affi run out ’bout two o’clock and all now di fire cyaah contain,” she said.

“Everything gone and di firefighter ago tell me seh the store more important dan we higgler and we a pay tax; we a pay tax. Everything gone fi everybody might as well me dead. Dem a pay more attention to round deh so (Princess Street),” she complained.

Her claim was subsequently rubbished by Thomas: “We give priority to all incidents because we are agents of the State and so we do not discriminate whenever we make any response. We don’t care whichever side of the political divide or socio-economic backgrounds persons are from, our duty is to save lives and protect property.

Another vendor, Desmond Clarke, who claimed he was a victim of the fire that destroyed Redemption Market two years ago, said it did not make any sense for him to visit the location immediately when he heard about the nature of the fire.

A woman who gave her name as Donna was uncertain how she would recover from the devastation.

“I have two children in high school and is back to school time [soon] suh mi nuh know what’s next,” she said.

The estimated cost of damage by the fire was not ascertained.

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Ocho Rios Orchid Society gives back

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Ocho Rios Orchid Society gives back

Saturday, August 24, 2019

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The Ocho Rios Orchid Society is still basking in the success of its 27th Annual Orchid Show which it described as a delightful family event.

The show, held earlier this year, featured “breathtaking orchid displays complemented by dance items, fashion show and several booths showcasing a wide array of craft, clothing, jewellery and myriad plants”, the society said in a news release.

Known for making donations to various organisations from the proceeds of the show over the years, the society allocated funds from this year’s event to:

* Our Lady of Fatima Church Feeding Programme;

* Exchange All-Age School;

* Ocho Rios Baptist Church Feeding Programme;

* Mustard Seed Communities; and

* St Ann’s Bay Hospital.

President of the Orchid Society Andrea Davidson stated that she and her members were pleased to be able to make the contributions and “will continue to do so in the future”.

“Through these donations the members hope that they would have made a positive contribution not only to these organisations but to the people that each one serves,” the society said, and expressed thanks to the patrons who continue to support the show annually and whose patronage has helped to make the donations possible.

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NEPA briefs municipal corporations on proposed Cockpit Country Protected Area

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NEPA briefs municipal corporations on proposed Cockpit Country Protected Area

Saturday, August 24, 2019

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Fourteen representatives from municipal corporations in Trelawny, St Ann, St James, Manchester, Clarendon and St Elizabeth participated in a briefing on the proposed Cockpit Country Protected Area (CCPA) on Wednesday at the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) head office.

The meeting was convened to brief mayors, chief executive officers and other senior municipal representatives on the process adopted by the Government in declaring the proposed CCPA boundaries, explain the accompanying initiatives and actions for areas outside of the boundary, provide information and clarification on mandatory environmental impact assessment (and archaeological impact assessment) and the plans to develop and implement a management plan for the area.

Peter Knight, NEPA chief executive officer and government town planner who chaired the meeting, stated that “the Government, led by Prime Minister Holness, is to be credited with providing leadership and working diligently in partnership with the key environmental and planning agencies and departments and other stakeholders in collectively agreeing on a boundary referred to as the CCPA”.

The briefing included a presentation on the CCPA, highlighting its significance and raising awareness of the proposed CCPA as a no-mining zone as designated by the Cabinet.

Following the presentation, representatives from the municipal corporations sought clarification on issues regarding the CCPA, including the considerations in the definition of the proposed boundary and progress of the on-the-ground verification (“ground truthing”) process to outline the boundary.

“We are glad for this meeting so that we can relay these facts to our councillors. There is a lot of misinformation and the people have the right to be informed properly,” said Trelawny mayor, Councillor Colin Gager. “We do applaud the bold move by the prime minister to identify a boundary.”

Other mayors expressed similar sentiments, saying that the briefing was overdue and that they were now placed in a better position to assist with the dialogue on the CCPA.

Representatives from partner State entities, including the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Water Resources Authority, and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority were present at the briefing to respond to queries.

After extensive consultations and deliberations, the area designated as the proposed Cockpit Country Protected Area was announced in Parliament on November 21, 2017 by Prime Minister Holness.

The proposed CCPA spans six parishes — Trelawny, St Ann, St James, Manchester, Clarendon and St Elizabeth. The area comprises approximately 74,726 hectares and will be protected under law. This includes existing forest reserves, significant hydrological, ecological feature, and cultural and heritage sites. A management plan will be prepared in partnership with private landowners, local groups and other stakeholders.

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NEPA empowers Trelawny youth with summer programme

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NEPA empowers Trelawny youth with summer programme

Saturday, August 24, 2019

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The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is reporting that this year’s Summer Library Programme, put on by the Sharon O’Connor Documentation Centre, has empowered youngsters aged 4-15 years to make environmentally conscious decisions.

Held under the theme ‘Protecting our Environment’, the programme engaged participants at the Trelawny Parish Library in Falmouth and the branch libraries at Duncans, Clark’s Town, and Wakefield.

According to NEPA Senior Librarian Kay-Ann Miller, “the topics for this year’s programme were selected based on the environmental issues facing communities in Trelawny, as gleaned from discussions with Suzette Morgan, senior librarian in the Trelawny Parish Library Network.

“It was important to cover topics relevant to their environment, including beaches and coastal erosion, practising the 4-Rs — reduce, reuse, recycle, refuse — the ban on single-use plastics, composting, and the effects of deforestation,” Miller added.

In addition to displays on environmental and planning issues presented by NEPA officials, the programme’s participants were exposed to information focusing on pollution, marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and biodiversity.

Another key component of the Summer Library Programme was a Poster and Collage competition for children aged 9-15 and 4-8 years. Winners were awarded book vouchers. In addition, the five libraries in the parish network were also presented with books on Jamaica’s flora and fauna, as well as art and craft supplies for the programme’s participants.

The National Baking Company sponsored snacks for participants for the duration of the programme.

Morgan expressed gratitude to the NEPA team for facilitating the programme, saying, “We appreciate NEPA’s efficiency, organisation and communication throughout the programme and we are grateful to the agency for investing in Trelawny’s youth. The sponsorship of the stationery and art supplies was a huge help as students are now able to have adequate supplies.”

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