Monday, January 31, 2011

Employment opportunity on Grand Bahama in electronics

An excellent employment opportunity is available on Grand Bahama Island for a Bahamian well versed in modern electronics including; TVs, cell phones, MP3 players, various cables and connectors for A/V and computers, car audio, stereo systems, computers & internet, digital cameras, memory cards, hard drives and sticks, cordless phones and all the terminology associated with it. Excellent people skills is a must. Candidate must also have an electronics background that enables them to advise customers on what products to purchase and how to connect it all together. References and valid police certificate required. Email your resume to . Serious inquiries only.

To post your Free Job Opportunity listing on email us at .

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Up with People program coming to Grand Bahama

By K Nancoo-Russell
The Freeport News - Host families are being sought to house some 70 members of the Up with People Program who are expected to visit the island in the next three weeks.

Up with People is a non-profit organization that provides young people between the ages of 18-29 with an international and intercultural experience that teaches service leadership and uses the performing arts to deliver messages of hope and goodwill throughout the world.

The full cast that will be visiting Grand Bahama from February19-25 is made up of nearly 100 persons from 20 countries and more than 25 U.S. states, but promotion coordinators Shawna Reed and Brandon Serna have been on-island for the past three weeks and were able to secure host families for some of them already.

Serna explained that the group's visit to Grand Bahama was initiated when the general manager at the Pelican Bay Resort Magnus Alnebeck saw the group perform and became interested in finding out how the group could visit the island.

After some communication, Grand Bahama was added to the tour. The visit is sponsored by the Pelican Bay Hotel with support from the Grand Bahama Youth Choir and The Bahamas Weekly.

During their week-long stay, the cast members will do volunteer work with several organizations on the island, and their visit will culminate with their performance on Thursday, February 24 at the Jack Hayward Gymnasium at 7 p.m.

"It's international song and dance, it's about two hours long, it's really high energy, with lots of lights and colours.

"It showcases our cultures, but also has that undertone of peace and understanding and civic engagement and really is a call to action, asking the audience to use their talents and gifts, whatever they may be, towards the betterment of their communities," explained Reed.

"It's a fun show, we've got some hip hop, we've got some R & B, we've also got some Japanese songs, Chinese songs, and in the end we see that music is the universal language, that no matter where we come from, we all feel it. You're going to see a song in Japanese or from Africa and you're going to be like, 'I don't know what they're saying, but I like it,' and so that's what brings us together in a sense," says Serna.

Proceeds from the show will go toward the Grand Bahama Youth Choir.

"We're hoping to send two students from the Bahamas to travel with our group in July to represent their country, and be ambassadors and travel the world with us and perform with us so we're pretty excited about that," he said.

Host families are asked to provide breakfasts, most dinners, local transportation and a place to sleep for their guest.

"That doesn't mean a nice bed, it could be a hammock or a sleeping bag or a couch," says Serna, who counts among his experiences sleeping in a barn in Thailand.

"That is all part of the one of a kind experience," he notes.

Although the cast members will be gone during the day participating in community service and show preparation, most evenings they will be home with the family to participate in their activities and interests.

"Even though it's just five days, it's really amazing how you develop a strong relationship with them (hosts)."

Reed said the interaction with the families help cast members to learn about the country and develop long lasting contacts, and benefits the host families as well since they are exposed to their guests' cultures.

"It's such a cool opportunity to share your culture as a Bahamian.

"For many of the cast members, this is their first time to the island, so what they take back from the island is going to be how it's presented to them."

Host families receive two free tickets to the show.

Persons interested in hosting a member of the Up with People Program can contact Reed at or by calling 533-6857.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bahamas - 4th Most Popular Place for A Destination Wedding

Photo by Lyndah Wells
Posted by Glenn S. Ferguson
Bahamas is the 4th most popular choice of brides and grooms looking to have their destination wedding brides away.

That is according to a survey of the recent 1,100 destination weddings bookings make through, an online travel agency for destination weddings away.

The result which highlighted the 10 most popular places for a destination away appeared in’s “Popular Wedding Destination.”

If you are curious about the other nine that make the list then go to to Bahamas – 4th Most Popular Place for A Destination Wedding and view the complete list in order of popularity.

Shipyard docks its largest cruise liner

Despite a recent incident involving one of the dry docks at the Grand Bahama Shipyard, the company is forging ahead, and is currently working on a new project – undertaking scheduled repairs to the Liberty of the Seas cruise ship.
On Saturday, the company experienced a mishap which caused some equipment to be damaged, but was later corrected.
Yesterday, Senior Vice President of Operations Reuben Byrd explained that during the torrential rains on Friday, one of the employees left some tanks open on the dry dock.
"We got a lot of water in there and once the water rose to a certain level, the dock started to, not sink, go down in the water a little bit," he said.
A few welding machines and light towers were submerged, the value of which Byrd estimated to be in the range of $5,000 – $7,000.
There was a ship on the dock at the time and as a safety precaution the crew was removed from the vessel.
Byrd shared that after some calculations, workers were eventually able to bring the dock back up, and that it was back to its regular operational standard.
"It was human error and it was a mishap, but it won't happen again. It was one of those things that should have never happened," he said.
Meanwhile, the Liberty of the Seas docked at the shipyard on Sunday and will depart on Saturday.
The ship, which is 1,112 feet long and holds 3,600 passengers, qualifies as the largest cruise ship to be docked at the facility to date. Up until last year when the Oasis of the Seas was introduced, it was the largest cruise ship in the world.
Several modifications had to be made to the shipyard, Byrd noted, in order to prepare for the large vessel, which is the first of its class to ever be docked in The Bahamas or anywhere in the hemisphere. "We had to do some alterations to the yard and do some modifications to the dry dock in order to accept it," he said.
"We actually spent, in order to dock this ship... one and a half million dollars in a new pumping facility to adequately supply cooling water and fire water – pressure for it." The company also had to make modifications to a barge, install mooring points and build a south ramp.
"We've made those modifications and now we're capable of bringing in larger vessels here than have ever been brought in," he said. The work was worth it, as the Liberty of the Seas project brought approximately $1.6 million in revenue to the company.
Byrd said, the company is experiencing a heavier workload this year than it has in the past, and he credits that in part, to the revival of the economies of countries.
In 2010, the facility docked some 23 cruise ships, and already has 24 booked for this year.
"We're able to experience additional revenue by keeping the dock booked. Right now we're experiencing something that we haven't experienced and most yards don't experience. We are currently booked we've got two gaps but one is no more than 16 days, in all three drydock schedules into June right now, which in the repair business is quite a feat," he said.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bahamian film makes BET.COM top 10 list

The Bahamian film ‘Children of God’ has made BET.COM’S list of the top 10 films of 2010. “Coming off of an incredible year with this film, to be recognized by Black Entertainment Television really puts the icing on the cake and helps to spread the word about our movie, in anticipation of our theatrical and DVD release this spring” said the film’s writer/director Kareem Mortimer recently.

For more information see the article here:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Job of The week- Banking Assistant

The Central Bank Of the Bahamas

Category: Permanent Employment
Job Description:
Core Functions:
• Co-ordinate and supervise teller operations.
Education and Experience:
• Associate’s degree in accounting/banking/finance or equivalent qualification from a recognized tertiary institution.
• Working knowledge of spreadsheet and word-processing applications.
• Good time management and organizational skills.
• Sound human relations skills.
• No experience required.

Download the Permanent Position application form here

Trio con Brio performs for a sold-out audience

The Trio con Brio visiting artists from left to right: Christine Gangelhoff(flute) of Nassau; Ken Law (cello) of South Carolina; and Christy Lee (piano) of Nassau. Also performing was Afrika Karamo-Miller (violin) of Grand Bahama. Photo courtesy of the GBPAS

 Freeport, Bahamas - The Grand Bahama Performing Arts Society (GBPAS) presented Trio con Brio on January 22nd at the Church of Ascension. Over 180 people, including 45 students enjoyed the the intimate concert with the sounds of Christy Lee (piano), Christine Gangelhoff (flute), both from Nassau, and Ken Law (cello) from South Carolina.

Trio con Brio performed piano and cello duets, as well as trios with flute and violin featuring local musician to Grand Bahama, Afrika Karamo-Miller.
The Trio con Brio concert at the Church of Ascension on January 22nd, presented by the Grand Bahama Performing Arts Society. The GBPAS will next present their annual favourite, the NYC Comedy Club in March 2011 Photo courtesy of the GBPAS

 Dalia Feldman, President of the GBPAS said this about the concert, " We were so thrilled with the audience turn-out on Saturday, and equally thrilled to see how much the audience thoroughly enjoyed themselves, young and old alike. Every piece was wonderful, one after the other. My personal favorite was the piano, flute and cello trio, and I'm sure it was an audience favorite too because I heard some "Bravo's!" among the crowd after that particular number. The musicians received a house wide standing ovation in the end."

Christy Lee on piano with Ken Law on cello at the Trio con Brio concert at the Church of Ascension on January 2nd. Photo courtesy of the the GBPAS

The Master Class held on Sunday, January 23rd for 20 students from Grand Bahama Island. Photo courtesy of the GBPAS

 Ms Barbara Chester, a GBPAS member shared this remark about the event, "Christy Lee... is, of course, an exceptional pianist and Saturday night's playing was beautiful. And... Kenneth Law... this charming, sensitive gentleman caressed his cello with an exquisite tenderness producing the most perfectly loving musical vibrations; his playing is truly 'an affair of the heart'. The entire concert was magical! So very special that I was not surprised that on my way out the Church of the Ascension to hear the remark, 'We could have been at Carnegie Hall!' "

Over 20 violin, cello, woodwind and piano students had the opportunity to perform and work with the three musical experts. Photos courtesy of the GBPAS

The next day (Sunday) all three visiting musicians gave a triple Master Class at the Church of the Ascension. Over 20 violin, cello, woodwind and piano students had the opportunity to perform and work with the three musical experts.

"Our Master Class gave students the opportunity to work with Dr.'s Lee, Law and Gangelhoff, and fine tune their musical skills and performance. It's events like this this that validate what we do and drive us to want to continue to bring these wonderful programs to our local audiences and help local performing arts students in any way that we can," said Feldman.
Next on the GBPAS calendar, is the 3rd annual Comedy Club Show scheduled for March 12th.

The Society wishes to thank it's major sponsors for this event, Thayer's Natural Remedies, Pelican Bay Hotel, American Airlines/American Eagle, The Bahamas Weekly and Keen i Media.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

HSGB’s Ladies Luncheon 'Potcake Paparazzi' a glittering success

Submitted by Kenton Pinder
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama -- On Saturday January 22nd, women of the Grand Bahama community came out to show their support for the Humane Society of Grand Bahama at their annual Ladies Luncheon under the theme “Potcake Paparazzi” which was held at the home of one of the ladies.

The ladies came out in full force, dawning beautiful outfits to walk the red carpet as they approached the beautiful home. As the ladies approached their photos were snapped by the “paparazzi” and were greeted with a delicious glass of “Paparazzi Punch”. When they proceeded inside they were welcomed by the musical talents of Alex Romanenko who played the beautiful black grand piano with a variety of classical favorites for the ladies to enjoy. The tables were decorated with a black, gold and red theme, wine glasses, and beautiful floral centerpieces that were made and donated by Susan Chamberland Taylor.
Before sitting down to lunch, the ladies viewed the vast array of beautiful items that were included in the Chinese Raffle and were able to choose which one of the items that wanted to purchase a raffle ticket for. The items included two pieces of jewelry donated by Caraline Anderson, a Mulberry Bag from Top Notch donated by Victoria Ferguson, Massage from Susan Jensen Sweeting, Facial at La Spa donated by Tina, Glass Blown Conch Shell donated by Sydney (the glass blower) Rolle, Manicure/Pedicure donated Monique, Miniature Painting donated by Ivy Elden and several jewelry pieces including necklaces and earrings donated by Barb Stollery.

The ladies then sat down and were served a beautiful and delectable lunch prepared by Michael and Sherry Higgs of As You Like It Catering. While enjoying their food and wine, Javan Hunt and Tony Lowe serenaded the ladies with their song selections.

After lunch the ladies then proceeded outside to the lawn where Julia Geiger performed her Black Bird dance number and also enjoyed a game of Heads or Tails, where the ladies were able to compete in the game to win a Pearl Necklace & Bracelet before the afternoon ended. It was a great time to be had by all that were in attendance for our four legged friends.

Before the luncheon ended, Tip Burrows the Executive Director for the Humane Society, thanked the ladies for their support and gave special thanks to all of those that helped to make this year’s ladies luncheon a success. The HSGB would like to thank Bristol Wines & Spirits, Butler’s Specialty, Erykah Rolle for the event photography, Michael and Sherry Higgs, The Welch’s and everyone that helped and came out to support to the HSGB.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dry dock collapses causing $5,000 of damage

FREEPORT - The dry dock at the Grand Bahama Shipyard collapsed early Saturday morning, resulting in the loss of equipment estimated at some $5,000.
The Tribune received reports that sometime around 5am, Dry Dock One had sunk into the water, however, a shipyard official said it did not sink.
The Tribune contacted Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes on Sunday, but he was not aware of the incident and said he would make some calls into it.
Rueben Byrd, senior vice-president of operations at the shipyard said that there was a trim problem and the dock fell and was partly submerged in the water.
Mr Byrd reported that there were no injuries. However, he said about $5,000 worth of equipment on the dock was damaged by the water.
He said the dock is not damaged.
"We had a trim problem and we are in the process of correcting it.
"The dock is stable and everything is fine," he said
"It did not sink, it was submerged a little bit at one end. The trim on the dock was not adjusted correctly and it fell down.
"We have corrected it and we are in process of bringing it back up slowly.
"The reason it is not up completely yet is because we are undocking and docking other vessels at this time and we don't have the personnel to deal with it," he said.
Mr Byrd said the shipyard is conducting an investigation into the incident.
The Grand Bahama Shipyard has three dry docks. The facility can handle some of the largest vessels in the world.
In 2001, the facility acquired its second dry dock - the largest in the Western Hemisphere - at a cost of a third dock was acquired towards the end of 2008.
The ship repair facility opened in 1999.

Friday, January 21, 2011

CARIFTA, the right tonic for Grand Bahama

Freeport-GRAND BAHAMA, Grand Bahama has struggled within the economic depression than any other island in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. The island is paralyzed by unemployment, layoffs, business closures and generally a dampened spirit.
The industrial sector and government jobs have been the backbone during this trying period in the life of Grand Bahamians. Private entities, even the Grand Bahama Port Authority, have been severely tested.
Into this scenario comes the prospect of a regional sports event that could be the appropriate tonic to pick up Grand Bahama. Since St. Kitts is unable to host the CARIFTA Track and Field Championships this year and Jamaica was unable to step in and be accommodating, Jamaican Teddy McCook, who heads the North American, Central American and Caribbean Association(NACAC), has invited our local member association to do the honors.
However, as Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations chief Mike Sands has emphasized, the option could be a sparkplug for the Grand Bahama economy, if first, the full funding is secured.
It is understood that the BAAA has already gotten some pledges from Corporate Bahamas with the hopes of receiving enough to entice the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture to appeal to the Cabinet for supplementary funding.
I also see this as an instance whereby Corporate Grand Bahama should go all out to assist. Apart from the historic aspect of CARIFTA in Grand Bahama, the visiting of hundreds of athletes, officials and supporters from the rest of The Bahamas and the Caribbean region would be a huge sports/tourism boost for the entire island.
The time is short. This window of opportunity is closing quickly now. January will be gone soon and the CARIFTA Track and Field Championships are traditionally held around the Easter period. That would be the April 22nd weekend this year. In essence, sponsors will have to rally to the cause very soon.
The sporting landscape is the greatest beacon in the nation today and the CARIFTA Track and Field Championships would certainly shine a bright light all over Grand Bahama, indeed the entire northern Bahamas.
An appreciable infusion of cash into that local system would be the end result. The national airline Bahamasair, hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, etc., would benefit immensely. The Bahamian economy is still distressed but this sports opportunity is one that ought not be missed. The Grand Bahama Members of Parliament and community leaders there should get into the act.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Grand Bahama resident to be inducted into The Women Divers Hall of Fame

2009 Interview with Cristina Zenato by Lyndah Wells
By The Bahamas Weekly News Team

Freeport, Bahamas - Local resident and head of diving at UNEXSO, Cristina Zenato has recently been advised that she will be inducted in The Women's Divers Hall of Fame. The official induction of WDHOF Honorees is made annually at the Beneath the Sea (BTS) Expo, which is held in March at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, NJ.

"I feel very honored and humbled to have been included in the highest recognition for wo men in diving. I have always looked at the women in the Hall of Fame as my inspiration and now I am side by side with them. This is an incredible opportunity to be able to expand my message to the next generations," Zenato told The Bahamas Weekly.

This past half year Cristina has become famous on the internet for her participation as a model and shark handler in a video produced by Joe Romeira called Nino Salerosa which has presently over 200,000 views on YouTube. Just today (January 20th) Zenato is being featured on the NBC Today Show for her participation in Mermaids in Motion along with Hollywood special effects artist Allan B Holt, with underwater footage by Grant W. Graves and Ric Frazier Production.

The Women Divers Hall of Fame™ (WDHOF) is an international
non-profit professional honor society whose member contributions span a wide variety of fields including: The Arts, Science, Medicine, Sports, Exploration, Marine Archeology, Media, Service, Dive Training and Education, Safety, Business, Marine Environment and Conservation, Free Diving, Commercial Diving, and Military Diving.

Cristina Zenato started diving in 1994, and has made the Bahamas home and diving her life. She lives her passion,which is Ocean conservation. Photo: Thaddius Bedford

 Created in 1999 and incorporated in 2001 by six founding sponsors: Beneath the Sea, Inc., the Underwater Society of America, the Women’s Scuba Association, Women Underwater, Hillary Viders, Ph.D., and Capt. Kathy A. Weydig; WDHOF, Inc. was granted its 501(c)(3) status in 2002.

WDHOF's two-part mission is to:

1. Recognize women divers who have made outstanding contributions to the exploration, understanding, safety and enjoyment of our underwater world and
2. Support the underwater world and its associated careers by promoting opportunities for women and men in diving through scholarships, internships and mentorship opportunities and a worldwide network of industry contacts.

The following is written by Eddy Raphael who works with Zenato at UNEXSO:

Born in Italy, Cristina Zenato grew up in the rain forests of 1970’s African Congo until the age of 15, and naturally developed a love of the outdoors. Her tremendous passion for the ocean surfaced at a young age, and following her love for the water she journeyed to The Bahamas for work, and learned to dive..

16 years later she is still proudly working for The Underwater Explorers Society (UNEXSO), and from her humble beginnings as a Scuba Instructor, she climbed the ladder to become the head of diving at UNEXSO, teaching technical diving, plus cave and cavern classes.
When Cristina is not working, she can usually be found freediving or exploring new cave systems.

 Speaking five different languages, Italian, English, German, French and Spanish, Cristina became a tour de force – a PADI, NAUI, SSI, SDI, open water instructor, NSS-CDS full cave instructor, Extended Range Instructor, TDI advanced Nitrox with decompression procedure and more, she is a talented young lady.

With sharks and caves part of her daily work Zenato uses them to address important issues of ocean management, water conservation and garbage disposal. Cristina also volunteers her time to explore and map cave systems providing vital information to extend their protection and conservation. She helps in the creation of marine parks with a recent emphasis on protecting the sharks in the Bahamas and the world. Cristina also helps educate local school children teaching them to dive through rescue diver believing there is great power in education. Photo: Arek Pers

 Cristina’s love of exploration and caving is inspiring, yet it pales when it comes to Sharks. Some would say Cristina has a natural ‘gift’ with Sharks. Practicing a little known technique of rubbing and manipulating her fingers across the ampullae of Lorenzini, the visible dots [electro-receptive sensory organs] all around a shark’s head and face, she induces a tonic immobility. To the observer, this looks like a shark falling asleep right in her lap.

Last fall (2010) a Blue shark appeared to fall asleep in her hands, on the surface. As she caressed the beautiful ten foot ocean traveler. The fact that she had no chain-mail suit on for this occasion never seemed to cross her mind.

 Her ability to work with several types of shark in this manner has allowed her to study up close, in the wild, with no stress from the usual hooks, gaffs, and undue pain some shark researchers have used to gather data. In fact, the sharks surrounding her home in The Bahamas almost seem to know her for her gentle spirit, and warm to her touch. Guests are on occasion, encouraged to feel the shark’s skin while in this calm state. This in turn gives visiting divers on the Shark Dive at UNEXSO the chance to dissolve any misconceptions or preconceptions they may have had about shark life. She teaches divers who are interested, to feed the local Caribbean Reef sharks by hand, hoping to bring people closer to understanding the secret world of these creatures.

First learning to feed sharks with her mentor [the legendary Ben Rose] Cristina has researched shark behavior, and comparison and change in sharks. From the Bimini Shark Lab, South Africa, North Carolina, Florida and Mexico, Cristina writes a few short stories and reports for newsletters about sharks, [and also cave diving and training] having observed the behaviors of Tigers, Great Whites, Lemons, Reefs, and Bulls. She has further developed her practice of tonic immobility, to remove hooks from shark’s mouths, to remove parasites, and for her Awareness Campaign against shark finning and capture, for shark protection, and human education.

Naturally, all this talent sparked up the attention of filmmakers, documentary and TV producers worldwide, and as you might imagine, the list of film and TV work Cristina has achieved is immense. Just a few on the TV list are BBC, Discovery, Nat Geo, ABC, Science and Nature programs all over Europe and the USA. Films which include her are Der See Wolf, Shark Water, Shark Man, Oceans, including non-profits like Gimme-A-Hug / Protect the Sharks Foundation.

Cristina has also been involved in magazines like Skin Diver, Sport Diver, Advance Diver Magazine and also working on calendars to fund shark awareness, and the list goes on. Needless to say, on her home island of Grand Bahama, Cristina works closely with the Bahamas National Trust, and has been awarded the rights/permit to dive the guarded Ben’s Cave, further forging a conservation alliance with them to re-draw the map of Ben’s, in aid to protect the delicate cave system.

Look for her in the next shark program you watch, she might well be lurking next to the lens negotiating with the shark to not worry about these odd people staring at them.. A sense of who Cristina Zenato is can only truly be felt underwater. There, she is more at home than she is on land, and an apt quote by Jacques Cousteau says it all:

“From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.”

Saturday, January 15, 2011

GBAA Valentine Art Exhibition


To celebrate the love and passion of the month of February the members of the Grand Bahama Artists Association invites the community to participate in their annual “VALENTINE ART EXHIBITION from February 10TH until February 28th at the Glory Banks Art Gallery.

At the VALENTINE ART EXHIBITION once again local and international artists gather in the Glory Banks Art Gallery to present their latest eclectic collection of still life, abstracts, island life, sea and landscape works in a variety of mediums that does much to whet the palette of art collector and art novice alike.

In addition, for those who wish to express their creativity through the visual arts but as yet are not exhibiting artists, a visit to the Valentine Art Exhibition to meet members of the Grand Bahama Artists Association might give fresh inspiration. Many of the members of the GBAA are professional art teachers and provide instruction in a variety of art forms.

So mark your calendar to ensure that during the month of February, you, your family and friends visit the Valentine Art Exhibition.

For more information contact:

Del Foxton
Adagio Papermaking Studio and Gallery
242 353 4333 cell 727 4333

Friday, January 14, 2011

Market for Vacation Homes Is on the Rise

Reposted from The Wall Street Journal

Sales in many vacation communities across the U.S. soared last year to levels not seen since boom times, driven by deep discounts, cash purchases and buyers' rising stock portfolios.

On Mercer Island, Wash., waterfront sales nearly tripled in 2010, compared with a year earlier, reaching par with 2006 volume there. Sales on Hilton Head Island, S.C., rose 14% for the year. Palm Beach, Fla., experienced a 40% annual increase and a 54% increase in homes under contract, indicating an especially strong fourth quarter. Palm Beach sales volume now is comparable to its 2007 peak. These figures were gleaned by brokers in each locale.
"The proverbial train has left the station," said Ned Monell, an agent with Sotheby's International Realty in Palm Beach. "We haven't felt energy like this in a long time. Buyers sense that they've been on the sidelines long enough."

The question now is whether the momentum will last. The strength of second-home sales paints a stark contrast to the overall housing market, which is expected to worsen in 2011.

Existing-home sales in November rose 5.6% on an annualized basis, according to the National Association of Realtors, a trade and lobbying group. Last month, the Case-Shiller housing index of 20 cities showed prices across the U.S. fell in October, and most analysts predict another 5% to 10% slide in the coming year.

Data for the nationwide vacation-home market aren't tracked regularly. The National Association of Realtors conducts an annual survey of home buyers, but results for 2010 won't be out till March.

Yet the market for vacation homes, based on local sales data, appears to be booming. The comeback, NAR economist Lawrence Yun said, has been helped by gains in the stock market and an improving economy, which have made wealthier Americans more upbeat about the future. "It also implies that prices in some markets have come down so much that people are fighting for those properties," said Mr. Yun, noting that demand is strongest in areas close to stable labor markets.

According to the NAR, one in 10 real-estate transactions in 2009 was for the purchase of a vacation home. And though a small fraction of the overall market, it is significant because vacation homes are often big-ticket properties and attract discretionary buyers. Just four houses sold last year on Madeline Island, Wis., for example, but the island's average dwelling sells at two to three times the price of the county average, said Eric Kodner, a realty broker on the island.

Sales of second homes are showing an uptick even in more-affordable communities. In some locations, prices are even inching upward. Cape Cod sales climbed nearly 9% in 2010 from 2009, while prices rose 7%. Monroe County, Pa., in the heart of the Pocono Mountains, saw a 3% decline in transactions, but its Lake Naomi resort community was up nearly 15%. A one-acre plot off Lake Naomi recently fetched $1.1 million, a record deal for the area.

Still, in most markets where demand has improved, prices haven't. For Realtor Andy Twisdale in Hilton Head, S.C., it is too soon to rejoice; prices are down almost a third over the past five years. "People are buying at the very low end of the product," he said. "The financing is very difficult. Banks are requiring 25% down and crystal clean credit."

Buyers who qualify or can pay cash say this is the time to take the plunge. On New Year's Day, the Makarewicz family arrived in Pocono Pines, Pa., to look for a vacation home. They already own their primary residence in northern New Jersey and own a property in Damascus, a northeastern Pennsylvania town along the Delaware River. But the family says the latter doesn't offer enough things to do: Not enough shopping. Not enough activities for kids. Not even enough fish.

"How's the bass here?" Joe Makarewicz, a vice president for sales at a financial-services firm, asked Re/Max Realtor Rob Baxter as the two looked at floor plans.
The family plans to sell the Damascus house, which would allow them to pay cash for one near Lake Naomi. The resort community at Lake Naomi boasts pools, tennis courts, a recreation center and a golf course—and is equidistant from New York and Philadelphia.

Some second homes had been stuck on the market because sellers wouldn't budge on price; unlike owners of primary homes, they often aren't in a hurry to move.

"Sellers have become aware that they have to price their homes accordingly," said Harald Grant, a senior vice president at Sotheby's in New York's ritzy Hamptons region. "There's a perk in the market because a lot of prices have come down to where they should be."

This shift became clear to K. David Hirschey, who runs a consulting business in Minneapolis, as he hunted for a home on Madeline Island.

After competing in a summer swimming competition on the island, Mr. Hirschey decided to buy a home there, perhaps to rent it a few years and maybe retire there eventually. The first offer he made was rejected, he recalled, because the seller said, "We don't negotiate on properties here." The same thing happened with his bid on the next house.

Then he found a third property—four bedrooms, three baths—that began as a sale by owner, was taken off the market, then relisted under one broker, then another. It had been initially priced at $1.25 million, and remained on sale for two years.

"When I saw it, it was listed at $687,000," said Mr. Hirschey, a father of four children. He offered $530,000, furnishings included. "They wanted to negotiate and I said no," he said.

The tactic—an all-cash offer—worked, and Mr. Hirschey closed on the house in November, just in time for his family to spend the holidays there.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Giving back and loving it

GBPAS Founder Dalia Feldman

By Nathaniel Lewis

They brought us the "Broadway Baby," "Music for a Spring Evening," and even special guests from abroad in the form of the "NYC Comedy Club Show," just to name a few and in doing so, The Grand Bahama Performing Arts Society, a group of energetic and talented performing artists, are not only entertaining the residents of the Grand Bahamian Comm-unity, but giving back in a big way.

Founder and President of the Grand Bahama Performing Arts Society told the Freeport News that this venture all began 11 years ago when she first arrived on the island.

"I was so pleasantly surprised to see the tremendous amount of talent here. I got involved as soon as I could and quickly realized that although we had lots of talented kids, there was no funding to help them if they wanted to pursue the arts as a career.

"I wanted to do something about that, but it took me quite some time before I could because I had very young children at home and not much free time" she said.

Now, having been in existence for three years, under the vision "To foster growth and appreciation of the performing arts in Grand Bahama through access to a diversity of professional artists and performers from around the world."

Proceeds will benefit students of the performing arts on Grand Bahama Feldman says the Grand Bahama Performing Arts Society has produced a "wonderful" variety of shows from various areas of the performing arts, and has given students a chance to hone their skills through master classes and workshops conducted by member performers.

Feldman explained that season for the Performing Arts Society starts in less than two weeks with a "Chamber Music Concert" on January 22 which includes a "wonderful" program and three master classes the next day for piano, woodwind and cello and violin students.

Additionally, she mentioned that the 3rd annual Comedy Show is scheduled for March 12 as well as a talent contest for high school students where two will win a three week scholarship to French Woods Performing Arts Summer Camp (Flights included).

Besides the summer camp scholarships she said, a funding request form will be available shortly for any student, performing arts schools or programs in the community that may need some financial assistance.

Feldman stressed that she believes master classes are beneficial for both students and teachers of the arts.

"One can learn so much just by attending and being a part of the audience," she said.

"And more advanced students have the opportunity to perform for the experts and receive assistance on improving their skills. It is a wonderful experience for everyone involved. Everywhere else in the world master, classes start at $50.

"We offer these at a nominal fee because it its part of our mission to help the students and the programs here," she said.

Residents of the community interested in finding out more about The Grand Bahama Performing Arts Society, wanting to take part in a master class, or apply for funding, can get involved by contacting The Performing Arts Society at

South Carolina cellist set for Trio Con Brio Concert

THE Grand Bahama Performing Arts Society (GBPAS) will present the Trio con Brio concert on Saturday, January 22 at the Church of Ascension at 8pm.
"Brio" is Italian for "full of energy, life, enthusiasm", and the GBPAS said the show promises to deliver that and more with the three visiting musicians.
Participating cellist Kenneth Law, who is the Chair of the Performance Department and Associate Professor of Violoncello at the Petrie School of Music of Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina is one of the trio of performers.
"I am excited to perform for the Grand Bahama Performing Arts Society and this will be my first trip to the Bahamas. As a community-minded musician, it is my privilege to help with such a dedicated non-profit organisation."
Returning to Grand Bahama is pianist Dr Christy Lee, Assistant Professor at the College of the Bahamas where she teaches piano, theory, and director of the COB Concert Choir.
Mr Law said he is looking forward to performing with Dr Lee, "who has been a friend since college days."
Dr Lee said: "I am eager to return to Freeport to perform again for the Grand Bahama Performing Arts Society. It is exciting to see the growth that is happening in the artistic community in Grand Bahama. This concert should be a great opportunity to hear the unique and appealing combination of flute, cello and piano."
Mr Law and Dr Lee will be accompanied by flutist Christine Gangelhoff, Associate Professor of Music at the College of the Bahamas in Nassau.
"I'm also looking forward to making music with Christine, and what better way to make a new friend, than by playing chamber music," Mr Law said.
In addition to the concert, all three musicians will conduct a master class on Sunday, January 23, also at the church.
Information about the class will be going out in the next few days to music schools and teachers.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Grand Bahama & Why I'm Sorry I Listened to a Lonely Planet Guidebook

By: Daniel_Williams

A number of years ago, I was investigating the possibility of visiting a variety of Bahamian islands and was turned off of visiting Grand Bahama Island due to a Lonely Planet guidebook on the Bahamas, 2000. Comments by the author such as these were present: "if you're seeking sophistication or Bahamian culture, skip Grand Bahama", "arguably the least attractive because it is surprisingly middle American", "the island's history is colourless", "culturally antiseptic mecca for fast-lane-vacationers", "the island attracts a less sophisticated clientele than do Nassau or the Family Islands", "the center resembles an Australian outback town with about as much appeal". Generally I like the Lonely Planet series and I accept that Grand Bahama clearly wasn't to the author's liking especially; I'm just sorry this negative review kept me from even considering visiting for much of the last 10 years. In fact, had it not been for the fact that Grand Bahama is the only Bahamian island accessible by ferry, I might never gone... which, now that I've been, I think would have been a pity.

*Sea Grape B&B*

I cannot over-recommend this jewel of a bed & breakfast in Grand Bahama. My initial experience portended well since arriving at the harbour, I was so thankful that the Sea Grape's owner had sent someone to pick me up... especially since December 30th was quite the crowd with 1100 passengers being released from the Discovery Cruise Lines ferry from Fort Lauderdale and there was nary a taxi to be found!

Every day Katybel made a delightful continental breakfast, including home-baked breads, a variety of fresh fruits (including tamarinds one day)and tea or coffee. Both she and husband Barry were so incredibly helpful planning my stay, from reserving a kayaking tour in Lucayan National Park to lending me a bike for exploration to reserving a taxi to the harbour terminal my final day.

Equally ideal was the location: only 2 minutes walk from a relatively quiet part of Lucayan Beach (I loved seeing the lizards scamper up the walls of the passageway leading to the beach!) but also an 8 minute walk from Port Lucaya Marketplace and all the amenities (pharmacy, ATM, restaurants, dive shop, Internet cafe, snorkeling & glass-bottom-boat operators). I loved that I was able to stroll over to Billy Joe's in 8 minutes, a blue-painted beach shack on Lucayan where I indulged in that magnificently fresh Bahamian specialty, conch salad... where a Bahamian would cut the conch, peppers, onions, lime and oranges right before your eyes, then squeeze the citrus juice on top and immediatley serve it to you (seems relatively healthy and can it *get* fresher?) in a bowl. And then to be sitting on a bench, eating that conch salad and looking out at that floury-textured beige sand and turquoise water... so tranquil, so magical.

*My Experience Cycling on Grand Bahama Island*

Thanks to the generosity of my hosts, I was able to fulfill one of my passions, cycling, on two different occasions this vacation (something I don't do in Montreal this time of year). Unlike Nassau, where I didn't see anywhere I would feel safe cycling, Grand Bahama has a designated bike lane on Midshipman Road (which was about 10 minutes walk, 3 minutes by bike from my B&B) that extends out as far as Doubloon Road, well east of the busier Port Lucaya Marketplace area. The flatness of the island, combined with the bike lane, combined with the fact that once you're out as far as Doubloon Rood, you rarely see a car, in my opinion make the island an IDEAL cyclist's destination.

Cycling out past Doubloon Road about an hour and twenty minutes from Port Lucaya allowed me to get out to the magnificent and relatively secluded turquoise-watered Fortuna Beach as well as a restaurant in a gem of a spot called Garden of the Groves. The Garden is a delightful setting of semi-tropical vegetation, ponds and a (likely artificial but still lovely) waterfall; the conch chowder was terrific and homemade. I met my first ever white Bahamians here (restaurant owners/ staff) and I must say I did a bit of a double-take hearing a white person speaking with the Bahamian accent.

*Coming up: A few firsts for me: Junkanoo, Scuba Diving and Kayaking!

Opening of New College of The Bahamas Northern Bahamas Campus‏

By The College Of The Bahamas Office of Communication

Nassau, Bahamas - The College of The Bahamas wishes to notify its students and the public of the opening of the new Northern Bahamas Campus in East, Grand Bahama on Monday January 10th, 2011.

Advisement and registration for new students will begin at the new campus with the exception of those enrolled in Culinary & Hospitality Management Institute [CHMI] and Centre for Continuing Education & Extension Services [CEES] programmes who will continue to be accommodated at the existing Freeport campus.

Advisement and registration for returning students will begin on Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 and extend until Wednesday, January 12th, 2011. Persons with further enquiries may contact The College of The Bahamas for more information at 352-9761.

Bahamas casinos post revenue declines

By Inderia Saunders
Guardian Business Reporter

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Casinos in The Bahamas are reporting revenue declines in 2010 as steep as 18 percent in at least one case, Guardian Business has learned.

Of the three casinos in The Bahamas, Crystal Palace saw the highest revenue drop, down by 18.5 percent or $5 million from $27 million to $22 million, while Atlantis offered only that its “revenue was down a little under 2009” by 8 percent. Officials at Treasure Bay in Grand Bahama said it was still too early for them to give a year-on-year comparison, given it only gained control of the operations in late 2009.

However, like other casinos globally, revenue intake seems to have been affected by certain categories of visitors, with information pointing to the largest fall-off coming not from the high rollers at all -- but those visitors likely whiling away time in the casino.

“Spend for low-end players was down by 25 percent per trip [and] 10 percent for VIP segments, averaging to an 18.5 percent overall decline,” said a statement from Robert Sands, vice-president of governmental and external affairs for Baha Mar, which operates the Crystal Palace casino.

Those low-end players are often times lumped in the discretionary spend category that has been affected by the economic downturn. The falloff in that category has led to sluggish growth in visitor arrivals to tourism-dependent destinations like The Bahamas, and has seen casino chairs emptier than they would have been just three years earlier.

“Our casinos have faced the same world economies as any other,” senior deputy secretary of the Gaming Board Dennis Martin told Guardian Business on Wednesday. “We’ve all had some downturn and things are not as good as they would normally be.

“For instance, Crystal Palace has closed for a period of time [and] all that would have an effect on their gross takings and the rest of it.

“Indeed, they are all planning promotions for 2011 that would help lift sagging revenue. Atlantis locked itself in as the setting for international card tournaments like the annual PokerStars Caribbean Adventure last year and for the next two years to come.”

While it may not be able to attract the kind of high-level events like Atlantis, Treasure Bay is looking to roll out the red carpet to get more players at its tables during the first quarter of 2011.
“We have just dropped $28,000 in mail orders to customers inviting them to Grand Bahama,” said new general manager Craig S. Turner. “The incentives range from instant credit to two and three room nights to attract new and existing customers back. So we are waiting for that to take hold, based on the billing at the end of last year, we’re looking for a number of persons to be coming to the island between now and next month.”

Grand Bahama has been especially challenged with growing its air arrivals over the last two years, with most of its visitor arrival growth coming from cruise arrivals. While that segment is important, those visitors do not hold the key to boosting hotel occupancy and the associated spinoff business essential to the growth of that island’s economy.

Crystal Palace said it will maintain very aggressive incentives and rewards to attract profitable players, focusing primarily on free or discount airfare and free rooms as well.

“As a small casino, [Crystal Palace] is unable to provide the same level of complimentaries and cash back to the scale of the larger gaming companies,” Sands said. “Instead, we focus on soliciting trips from known profitable players who are looking for a smaller, more laid-back and intimate setting, where the service experience is more personalized.”

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Grand Bahama yachting industry could be 'turning a corner'


Tribune Freeport Reporter

FREEPORT - GRAND BAHAMA. Grand Bahama could be "turning a corner" in its yachting industry, already recording increased numbers of boaters from the United States and Canada during the first week of 2011.
One of the facilities experiencing a boost in business for the new year is the Port Lucaya Marina.
Ryan Knowles, co-manager of the marina, said they were extremely pleased with the number of boats that docked at the facility for the beginning of 2011.
"We were quite pleased with the number of boats we had for the new year period, considering how bad things were for the past couple of years.
"It seems we are starting to turn a corner now, and starting to see some boats coming over again," he said.
The marina, which was acquired by the Grand Bahama Yacht Club several years ago, consists of just over 105 slips. It is equipped with running water, cable television, wireless internet, showers and a fuel dock among other amenities.
Mr Knowles reported that the marina received some 60 boaters last week, recording a nearly 60 per cent occupancy.
He noted that most of the boaters brought family and friends with them and stayed in the hotels.
"Restaurants and businesses in the Lucaya area also benefitted," he added.
Mr Knowles said the Grand Bahama Yacht Club and Port Lucaya Marina participate in about three to four boat shows a year in Florida to promote the facilities in Grand Bahama.
They offer special rates during certain times of the year to attract boaters when there is a lull in business.
Mr Knowles said they also try to encourage boaters to make the marina their home port.
He said that boaters are very impressed with the staff and the condition of the marina facilities.
The yachting industry continues to be an important sector for the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA).
The BMA is currently developing a Bahamian yacht registry, with the Law Reform and Review Commission now in the process of "tidying up" draft legislation for it.
Environment Minister Earl Deveaux said the code for the yacht registry has already been adopted and the fee schedule allows the BMA to treat these vessels differently from the heavy-duty ships on its main registry.
"We're now in a position where if someone wants to register their yacht in the Bahamas we have a code to accommodate that," the minister said. "We structured that fee to make us more competitive," he said.

2010 Bird Count on Grand Bahama sights more than 100 species

 Yellow-billed Cuckoos are now nesting on Grand Bahama. The species was observed at Garden of the Groves during this year's count.

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama -- The 10th annual Christmas Bird Count for the year 2010 was held this past Wednesday, January 5th, 2011. The Grand Bahama birding community enthusiastically participated in the count and joined visiting birding experts to form five teams that observed, identified and recorded species from sunrise to sunset.

The count was fortunate to have Bruce Hallet from Atlanta participate. Bruce recently published the most comprehensive photographic birding fieldguide for the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands. A twenty-five year interest and preoccupation with birds has taken him to some of the more remote regions of the world. For the past several years, he has concentrated his travels to the islands of The Bahamas. He is currently a member of the firsr Bahamas Avian Records Committee.

One of the rare species of the 2010 count was a Ruddy Duck on the Ruby Golf Course

Dr. Elwood "Woody" Bracy, a retired medical doctor who makes his home in Treasure Cay, Abaco, was also one of the team leaders. Woody is considered the foremost authority on sea and shorebirds in the Abacos and he enjoys watching birds from his boat together with his wife Betsy. His expertise and enthusiasm is always appreciated when he joins Grand Bahama's Christmas Bird Count. Dr. Bracy is the compiler and organizer of the annual Abaco Christmas Birdcount.

The graceful and delicate Black-necked Stilt was observed on the Emerald pond.

Everybody welcomed back Anthony White from Bethesda, Maryland. Tony is a retired Naval officer and has studied birds in the Bahamas for over 30 years. He brought birding into the local comunities by introducing Christmas Bird Counts throughout the Bahamas over ten years ago. He is the author of the "Birder's Guide of the Bahama Islands" and a member of the American Birding Association's Board of Directors. Tony compiled 10 ABA regional checklists for North America and one for the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. He has advised the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism on matters concerning birds, birding and conservation. His Bahama list records over 220 species.
It was one of the best days in the history of Grand Bahama's bird counts. The weather was a balmy 75 degrees with winds around 10 mph - prerequisites for perfect birding. Five teams with over 30 birders went into the designated areas from dawn to dusk. When the recorded species were read out loud by each team during the "tally rally" at Garden of the Groves that evening more than 100 species had been seen. The exact number of species will be determined within a couple of days when additional species are added that are observed within the count week.

Bruce Purdy, a former resident of Grand Bahama, came back from his new home in Destin, Florida, to be the official compiler for the count. Bruce has made a tremendeous contribution to birding on Grand Bahama while residing here. He birded many times a week and frequently guided young Bahamians into the field to introduce them into the fascinating world of birds. During his outings he would patiently seek and photograph birds never recorded here. Bruce would report them to the American Birding Association and thereby increase the species account for the island. His expertise and enthusiasm will be missed but his return to this year's count was appreciated by all.

Erika Gates with (from left to right seated) Tony White, Bruce Hallet, Dr. Bracy and Bruce Purdy (standing)

Erika Gates, who has organized the Grand Bahama Christmas Bird Count over the years, was delighted about its outcome and commented: "I am happy that we were able to observe and record such a large number of species. The count will make a significant contribution to environmental assessment and future conservation. When our observations are entered into the largest database in ornithology, declines and increases in bird populations will be determined. These findings can then indicate environmental degradation of bird habitats through pollution, deforestation or development that will affect human quality of life as well."

Participants of bird count during briefing at Garden of the Groves.

Christmas Birds Counts are conducted on one day during a four week period in December/January throughout North America, Central America, The Caribbean and South America with over 60.000 persons participating. In the Bahamas counts take place on New Providence, Grand Bahama and Abaco.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

GB tourism performs 'fairly well' despite air arrivals decrease

Tourists in Port Lucaya

FREEPORT - Despite a significant decrease in air arrivals in 2010, Grand Bahama's tourism industry has performed "fairly well," according to officials.
Tourism officials reported that the drop-off in air arrivals had a significant impact on the overall tourism figures for Grand Bahama, which fell short of the one million visitor mark.
However, Tourism Director General David Johnson noted that the increase in cruise arrivals and cruise stop-over arrivals has made up for the loss in air arrivals.
"Given the state of the industry overall, I can say that Grand Bahama had a fair performance," he reported to the media.
"We are not celebrating profits and any strong growth, but Grand Bahama has survived and been able to hold its own by holding the industry at current levels under very difficult circumstances."
The tourism executive said that demand drives airlifts, and the Grand Bahama tourism product has not been competitive enough to create a turnaround.
Mr Johnson told ZNS radio that his ministry is now seeking to come up with a strategy to differentiate Grand Bahama from other islands in the Bahamas by marketing it as an "all inclusive" destination.
"The all inclusive concept seems to be thriving. It is one area we should continue to explore.
"If you can imagine an all inclusive offer in Grand Bahama where (persons) are not confined to one hotel as in Jamaica and other places, and are able to roam between 10 to 20 restaurants at various properties and facilities through the island, that, I think, would be a strong differentiation for Grand Bahama.
"And all of the properties would benefit tremendously from it if they can execute it well enough.
"We are resuming our efforts to come up with a very effective execution of that strategy, that is the most immediate task we are taking on for 2011," he said.

Newsnight 13's Northern Service will only be broadcast to Grand Bahama and Abaco

NEWSNIGHT 13's northern service will still be aired live and broadcast to Grand Bahama and Abaco, however the rest of the Bahamas will not be able to view it.
Michael Moss, chairman of the Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas (BCB), explained that in addition to $80,000 per year in incremental telephone charges, consumer response indicated the national broadcast of the northern service was a "duplication of efforts".
National broadcast of the 6.30pm northern service has been discontinued and prominent local stories will continue to be highlighted in the 7pm national news segment.
Mr Moss said: "Given the cost and being responsive to the concerns of our audience, also given our mandate to become a public broadcast - we want in the national broadcast to incorporate more general news from around the Bahamas, as opposed to a Nassau-centric or a Grand Bahama-centric newscast."
The northern service was initially intended to serve Grand Bahama, Abaco and Bimini, however Mr Moss admitted the broadcast offered little coverage for two latter family islands. Going forward, Mr Moss said the northern team will operate as a satellite office, gathering news from the northern region.
Mr Moss added: "We're going to try in the first case for it to be Abaco and Grand Bahama - we're going to make a concerted effort. If it works, then we will bring Bimini back into the loop."
In October, the corporation commenced mass layoffs in the transition to make ZNS an independent public service broadcaster - as determined in the 2009 Communications Act.
The government received heavy criticism from the opposition party and industry unions over the downsizing, however Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said the governement acted honourably, paying the laid-off staff more money than they were entitled to.
Following the layoffs, the board started a wide-ranging operational review aimed at securing a sustainable future for ZNS as a public service broadcaster.
After bringing its financial losses under control by cutting staff levels, it was reported that the BCB would work towards implementing a new business model - focusing more on community-oriented news, entertainment and information.
In the future, based on the success of efforts at the northern station, Mr Moss said the corporation would seek to implement a Southern Bahamas news service.
National Security minister Tommy Turnquest, who has responsibility for ZNS, refuted statements released by the Progressive Liberal Party over the weekend, which indicated the northern service news had been terminated completely.
Mr Turnquest said: "It's still going to be live, and it hasn't been cancelled. The only thing that has changed is that it will no longer be broadcast nationally. This is just part of the restructuring phase ZNS is going through. The news from Grand Bahama, Abaco, Bimini and elsewhere in the Bahamas will still be a part of the national news."

Miss Grand Bahama arrives in Colombia

Miss Grand Bahama, Tempestt Stubbs arrives Photo: Global Beauties - About half of the 23 beauties competing in the 2011 edition of the International Queen of Coffee contest have arrived in Manizales (Caldas), Colombia, to take part in the Fair and the festivities leading up to the final on January 9th. For those who don’t know, the Reinado del Café started in 1952, as one of the main attractions of the Manizales Fair which feature a tremendous variety of events such as concerts, presentations, parades and much more.
How is the Queen chosen?

Unlike other competitions where the contestants are judged solely on stage performance, the international Queen of Coffee must possess knowledge of the origins of coffee, its different kinds, preparation and distribution in her country and in general. Also, the preliminary interview is a key aspect when it comes to choosing the winner. The format is similar to the Señorita Colombia pageant, with pre-events, special awards and even a swimsuit parade in the hotel’s pool.

By Sunday night, about 13 contestants had arrived, while the remaining will be in Manizales by Monday to start the official agenda of activities. Early odds at the moment favor Misses Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Spain and Venezuela. As the pre-events go by, new favorites are sure to emerge. Good luck to all the beauties!


View the Welcome Parade

GB Performing Arts Society moves into third year of delivering quality entertainment and musical education

Javan Hunt performs for the 'Boadway Baby' vocal master class conducted by Robert Edwin. (Photo courtesy of the GB Performing Artists Society)

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama -- The Grand Bahama Performing Arts Society is pleased to be moving into their third year with much success to look back on. With its mandate to present a wide-range of art forms on the island, the society has lived up to its word. In 2009, they presented pianist Tannis Gibson who also conducted a master class, the NYC Comedy Club, Music for a Spring Evening (piano and flute concert) and master class; and Pam Woods and Friends jazz concert with Woods conducting master classes at three schools.

This past year they hosted the Winter Music Festival with Trio Collage (piano, cello and violin) along with a free concert for children called Carnival of the Animals; back by popular demand and increased to two shows, performances by the NYC Comedy Club; international recording artists, Naturally 7; and the Broadway Baby concert and vocal master class featuring the society's founder, Dalia Feldman, who also produced a CD with all proceeds going to the society. The CDs are available at Island Java, The Silk Cafe, The Mail Drop and Lucaya International School.

A member of the world renown Naturally 7 works with a young student during their Master Class. (Photo courtesy of the GB Performing Artists Society)

One of the ways the Society helps performing arts students with every event they produce is by asking their performers to conduct master classes or workshops. Everywhere else in the world master classes start at $50 per person, but the Society provides this at a minimal cost (usually $10) to local students because they want to provide these learning opportunities that wouldn't exist otherwise and they want to make them available to everyone.

In 2010 the GBPAS brought in Naturally 7 for an unforgettable performance and Master Class. Members of the group are seen here in the master class for school children. (Photo courtesy of the GB Performing Artists Society)

A master class provides students a chance to learn first hand from a master in the field. Students can sign up to perform for the master teacher, who then works with them on technique and performance skills to improve their overall performance, all in front of an audience giving them a wonderful well rounded experience. Both students and teachers benefit tremendously from these classes, whether they participate or just watch. Local students as well as teachers are encouraged to take advantage of these classes which are usually offered before or after the performance date.

Here are some quotes form the last vocal master class conducted by Robert Edwin:

"Being a vocal trainer myself, I was amazed by the knowledge of voice and songs he showed us. There was a quick learn for every one that will stay with us for ever. It was all positive and very enjoyable. Thank you GBPAS for the opportunity!" - Marjoke Twiest
"I enjoyed how each person's chosen genre of music was cultivated and improved upon." - Rouen Robinson

"Being at the master class really showed me that there is more to singing than just singing! We successfully learned how to tell a story using body language and music, it was an excellent experience!" - Javan Hunt

The new year has some exciting things in store for the Grand Bahama audience. On January 22, 2011 a Chamber Music concert will be held with Trio con Brio: (piano, flute and cello, plus master classes). On March 12th, 2011 another great show by the NYC Comedy Club will be coming to town. Adding a new touch to the societies activities, a Talent Competition will be held in April 2011 whereupon two winners will travel to the U.S. to participate in a Performing Arts Summer Camp next year.

Flute and piano master class with Dr. Christy Lee and Christine Gangelhoff, with local music students and teachers. (Photo courtesy of the GB Performing Artists Society)

The GBPAS would like to thank all their members, sponsors and performers for their support, and special mention goes to their major sponsors who have supported them in their first two years: The Harnisch Family Philanthropies; Thayer's Natural Remedies; American Airlines/American Eagle; Pelican Bay Hotel; The Bahamas Weekly; Mackey Media; and Keen i Media.

"We are so thrilled that the GBPAS has grown so quickly in only 2 years. We started out with no money and a dream, and so many have helped us to make that dream come true. In 2011 we will finally be able to do what we set out to do from the beginning, provide funding to the local performing arts community and students in particular. Our funding request form will be available in the new year for anyone who would like to apply for help and we will be sending two high school students to performing arts camp in the summer. We couldn't be more excited about that!" said Dalia Feldman, GBPAS Founder.

If you or your family are interested in becoming members, you can contact the society at . The Society also has a Facebook page. Annual membership to the GBPAS starts as low as $25 per year for individuals and $50 for families and increases from there for those who wish to give a little more. Sponsorship begins at $500. Donations are also greatly received and appreciated. Membership has its privileges, as membership card holders get discounts at the following locations in Grand Bahama: The Silk Cafe, Island Java, Mamadoo's, Agave, Sabor, the Garden Cafe, and Pisces.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Majestic Crusaders declared the official winners of GB Junkanoo

Tribune Freeport Reporter

FREEPORT, GRAND BAHAMA- The Majestic Crusaders were declared the official winners of the New Year’s Day Junkanoo Parade in Grand Bahama. It is the first win for the young group, which has been competing for less than six years.
The Grand Bahama Junkanoo Committee released the official results on Monday morning at the International Building.
For the first time, all the Division B groups – Rotary International, The Scraps, Bushwhackers and Sting – were disqualified for failing to meet the minimum group requirement for the parade.
The Crusaders won in the Division A Category, receiving 2,778 points and beating last year’s champions by 350 points.
The Swingers was second with 2,428 points, and coming in third was the Classic Dancers, with 2,360 points. The Superstar Rockers was fourth with 2,239 points, and fifth and sixth place went to the Kingdom Culture and Bayshore Warriors, respectively.
Committee chairman Derek King said the evening parade continues to grow in Grand Bahama, attracting new groups and a large spectator turnout.
“Junkanoo in Grand Bahama has grown over the years. It is not at the level as it is in Nassau, but it continues to grow,” he said.
Mr King commended the groups that participated this year, despite the economic downturn which has resulted in the loss of some corporate sponsors.
“The quality of costumes was fantastic,” he said.
The parade got off to a very late start, with the first lap beginning at 8pm. Thousands of residents and visitors lined the parade route on Pioneer’s Way and the Mall Drive.
This year, some groups had suffered significant costume damage after culprits broke into their shacks and deliberately destroyed costume pieces which had to be repaired.
Mr King noted that some groups were challenged in getting to the parade which resulted in one withdrawing at the last minute.
While there is a lot of pressure on groups to get out on time, Mr King said it all boils down to leadership and organisation.
“I think the Swingers demonstrated that and came out at the gate on time at 6pm with all of their pieces,” King reported.
Unfortunately, the Arawak Invaders pulled out of the parade at the last minute because of some difficulties.
“We want to encourage them to continue to keep the faith because we do not want group members to be discouraged.” Mr King said. “Once you miss the parade you start to see groups losing members to other groups because the junkanooers really want to rush.”
The Junior Junkanoo parade will be held next Saturday.