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Some Barrouallie residents want playground to revert to playing field

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Some residents of Barrouallie have criticised the state of their playground following two incidents of injury to children by broken piece of metal from the playground set.

And, some of them would like to see the facility revert to being a playing field.

On November 13 and November 18, Dequari Fraser and Simlet Pierre respectively, were injured on the playground located at Bamboo Square, Barrouallie.

The caretakers of these boys spoke with SEARCHLIGHT about their frustration over the deplorable state of the playground and said the park was better off as a playing field.

The playground, a donation of the Mary A. Tidlund Foundation of Canada, was handed over on January 21, 2011.
Almost 13 years later it can now be described as a ‘playhouse of destruction’.

Dequari’s mother, Janice Griffith told SEARCHLIGHT that the facility shouldn’t even have been a playground in the first place pointing out that the field was used for football and cricket and “That was when Barrouallie was Barrouallie.”

Other residents also shared her sentiments reminiscing how alive the town was before the playing field was turned into a “graveyard.”

Terrison Marshall argued that “The best set of footballers come out of Barrouallie and now you have to go around to Keartons to play football…”

He expressed disappointment over a toilet facility that was placed in the field but was never used and joked that the government removed trees from the playing field only to replant new ones for the playground.

Former captain of the Barrouallie Football team, Dorren Hamlet, a product of Barrouallie football, told SEARCHLIGHT what football was like in his time, and blamed the placement of the playground for stopping a lot of guys from playing the game.

“Nobody is going to come from work, tired to go round there (Keartons) to come with those youngsters. This was the football field that grew most of the good footballers even before my time.”

He said the playground is not a bad thing as there are children who still go on the park and play football; even when the older ones are on the park, they come off the swings and join them.

Hamlet also said that sports contributed to a reduction in crime and takes people off of the road to engage in activities that benefit them.

Samuel “Slim” Caesar referred to Alan Barbour, Lance John and Vibert Bute, among others, when naming some of the biggest players in the town.

“I believe if it was round here, it would have been better because ‘round here is the town. When the older set of people who used to leave their home and come by the roadside, sit down on their chair and watch football and cricket…They won’t want to go over Keartons, they would say over there is too far to go.”

While some believe that the playground killed football in Barrouallie, others begged to differ.

Kenneth “Arwees” Johnson posed the question, “The Barrouallie Secondary was moved from Reversion Hill to Peter’s Hope, did that kill education?” He said that it’s the mindset of the people, and it’s about them knowing what they want from society.

Marshall countered, “yes” pointing out that though the location may be more accommodating, the school was moved from walking distance for most Barrouallie residents to the end of Barrouallie, an area where students struggle with transportation to and from school; some walk and end up being late.

He also argued that when the Barrouallie Police Station was moved from the Bamboo Square area where the playground is located to Peter’s Hope, that killed respect among the children who use the playground because the police station is no longer there for the officers to help keep them in check.

It was argued that the decision to relocate the playing field was partly influenced by the damage caused to the windows of the homes of residents during training sessions and matches.

“Those boys [tend to] damage the windows. We have a window broken upstairs damaged from playing cricket,” said Anthony Da Silva.

Though he and his sister Suzette, enjoyed the way football was in the earlier days, they both think that a playground is good for the children and would rather have the football field in Keartons away from their windows.

Dequari Fraser and Simlet Pierre are in agreement with those who want the playground to be reconverted to a playing field; and if that may be too much to ask, the injured youngsters hope to see it renovated.

RELATED ARTICLE: Fire guts Barrouallie Fisheries building





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Pharmaceutical Association elects new executive

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The St Vincent and the Grenadines Pharmaceutical Association (SVGPA Inc), has elected a new executive to handle its affairs for the next two years.

The executive, which was elected on January 31, comprises pharmacists from both the private and public sector. The new executive committee is headed by Colicia Mingo as president and also comprises: Stephern Lewis, vice-president; Kemesha Nanton, secretary; Onika Gittens, treasurer; Lisa Licorish, assistant secretary/treasurer; and committee members in Tricia De Shong and Judith Sayers.





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Serious Offences Court now a ‘gun court’ – Chief Magistrate Browne

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by Kemarlie Durrant

Just one month into the year 2023, and the Serious Offences Court has seen over 10 new gun related charges for the month of January after the country experienced its highest crime rate last year.

Chief magistrate, Rechanne Browne presides over the Serious Offences Court and she is of the opinion that her court has become a ‘gun court’ this new year.

“For the year I think there has been a gun related offence in this court every day. I think I am operating a gun court for the year…”, the chief magistrate said when she sentenced 18-year-old Joel Williams.

Williams was charged for having in his possession one Glock .27 semi-automatic pistol, and five rounds of ammunition.

She also highlighted the issue when, one day after Williams received a non-custodial sentence, another 18-year-old, Jermaine Andrews, appeared in the court on firearms offence.

During his submissions for Andrews, prosecutor station sergeant, Renrick Cato said, “I’m asking the court that the sentence that is imposed- a strong message must be sent to persons who are in possession of an illegal firearm or who have intention of obtaining an illegal firearm.”

He added, “today is January 25, and I am sure that more than 10 new firearm matters came to this court and the month is not finished yet”.

During every sentencing the magistrate highlights the prevalence of firearm offences in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) as aggravating factors of the offences. On one occasion she described the prevalence of firearm offences as “too rampant.”

The year 2022 was a record breaking year in SVG for the number of homicides, 42.

The year with the previous highest was 2016 when 40 homicides were recorded.

The majority of those murders were as a result of the use of a gun.

Prosecutor, corporal Shamrack Pierre on January 6 told the court, “ 2022 was one of the bloodiest years in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the majority of those homicides were using firearms. We don’t manufacture firearms in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

“ The question is, where are they coming from?” the prosecutor asked during his submissions regarding the sentencing of Jomodean Alexander and Kevin Lewis who were both sentenced to three years on firearm and ammunition.

Before the chief magistrate sentenced Alexander and Lewis she said, “We have choices, and in the end, it is the choices that we make that affect us. I sit here often and I’m saddened because for the year, I’ve seen no female making any such choices…they are not coming here, but the young, strong men are often here based on their choices.”

Browne has given officers praise for their vigilance when these offenders are taken before the court.

The maximum penalty for possession of an unlicensed firearm in SVG is a fine of $20,000, or seven-years imprisonment.

Lawyer, Grant Connell who has represented a number of the defendants on gun charges is of the view that jail is not always the best answer.

“We need to fix St. Vincent, and fixing St. Vincent does not start by filling our jails,” Connell said during his plea mitigation for Jermaine Andrews last Wednesday.

The lawyer had also asked the court on January 6, to impose a fine on his client, Jomodean Alexander. He said that filling the prisons would not stop firearms from entering the country.

During that sentencing Connell had joined the magistrate in commending Sergeant 403 Nigel John, and his squad of Rapid Response Unit (RRU) officers, who made the arrest of Alexander and Kevin Lewis during a stop and search.

“So, when the Prime Minister says put more boots on the ground, you can’t put no comedy boots. Put more boots like them,” Connell said.

“It is not quantity. It’s quality. No sense mek ah phone call and send Tom Jones for training and the police training a whole set ah dem, and half ah dem incompetent,” the lawyer added.

Joel Williams was the only defendant to escape a prison sentence on his gun charges after the magistrate said she was leaning to comments made by Chief of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS),Justice Janice Pereira at the opening of the new law year that “A regime of punishment is not always the answer, but the restoration of young lives.”

Williams was fined and given specific orders by the court to enrol in a plumbing course and attend youth meetings weekly at the New Birth Christian Soldiers. He will be re assessed by the court after nine months. The chief magistrate also made it known that each case will not be treated in the same manner, but rather, each has to be assessed on its own merit.





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Police constable charged with dangerous driving

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A police officer who is a driver attached to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has found himself with a suspended license and a traffic case before the courts.

Police constable, Joyron Hull of Green Hill is no longer able to drive, and if he is found guilty of the traffic offence of which he ais charged, he may also find himself out of pocket, or worse.

Hull’s misery stems from footage of a blue minivan on the North Union public road which is seen taking a corner at what appears to be a high speed and ending up on two wheels as persons run into the road to record, using mobile devices.

On Tuesday, January 31, 2023, constable Hull was issued with a letter signed by the Commissioner of Police (COP), Colin John notifying him that his driving permit has been suspended by virtue of the authority vested in the Commissioner of Police, and the Licensing Authority in accordance with the Motor Vehicles
0and Road Traffic Act, Chapter 483, Section 51 (1) of the Revised Edition of the Laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) 2009.

After Hull received the letter, he was charged with driving motor vehicle HR-981 in a dangerous manner on January 26, 2023 at the North Union Public Road.

There are also several other recordings of minivans travelling at what appears to be high speeds that police say they are investigating.

On Monday, January 30,a caller to Hot 97.1 FM’s AM Mayhem morning show took blame for the driving seen in the video recording.

He said he normally takes that corner “hard”, and on the day in question when he realized he was on two wheels, he quickly “corrected” and as a result averted a crash.

“I couldn’t just let it go over the bank,” the male voice said.

But after the comments, the hosts of the radio show commented that they did not believe the caller was the driver of the minibus in the recording.





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