Oct 04, 2010 News
NEW AMSTERDAM, BERBICE – Funds garnered from the New Amsterdam Town Week would go towards the restoration of the tower at the Town Hall. The 75-foot structure is falling apart and the Council does not have enough in the coffers to preserve it.
Earlier this year, pieces of wood and broken glass came tumbling down, causing minor injury to a passer-by and a staff member. So far, the Council has been able to raise some $1 million, which is in a special account, to do the job on the landmark. This money was garnered over a period from fundraising events and donations but it is not adequate.
The Town Hall was erected in 1868. Years ago, it was a pièce de résistance for the town of Nieuw Amsterdam, which was the head of administration for the County of Berbice. It housed Mayors such as Neil Ross McKinnon 1891 – 1892 (who also served a second term in 1896), Charles Grove Young 1893, Clement P. Gaskin 1894 – 1895 and Adolphus John Perot 1897.
In giving brief remarks at the Opening Ceremony of the New Amsterdam Town Week, Mayor Claude Henry said the town is making progress and will continue to so do. His Worship had only landed in Guyana hours before after attending a forum in the United States. There he met with a group called Friends of New Amsterdam, which would soon etch its name in the town’s history by putting a series of projects in motion.
The feature address was delivered by Director of the University of Guyana Berbice Campus, Professor Daizal R. Samad, who was born at Albion, spent parts of his childhood in Rose Hall Town, Williamsburg, Port Mourant and New Amsterdam from age four to 17 years.
The Professor said he spent time in 62 countries but throughout his travels, none of the places were as unique as New Amsterdam. This simple little town made an indelible mark in his life as a writer. “It lurks in the recesses of my mind, claiming spaces in my mind as if by ownership…If I can write, it is because New Amsterdam has put the inspiration in my soul.”
Samad is the author of a book of poems called ‘Rivers Whisper Stars’, which was published in 2000 in Malaysia. Other books to his credit are a scholarly one on John Hearnes ‘Characters in Crisis’ which was also published in 2000 and Malaysia; a book named ‘Land beneath the Wind’, published in 2003 in Hawaii; Language and Culture of the Guyana Arawak with Kean Gibson and Walter Edwards in 1978 in Guyana and ‘Ethnocentric Perspectives’, published in Malaysia in 1996 along with a novel ‘The Mirror Tells its Tale.’ A book of short stories is soon to be published as negotiations are in progress.
Deputy Mayor Hyacinth James declared the events open and make brief remarks. She said despite facing obstacles, the Council is doing the best it can.
Representing Region Six Chairman Zulfikar Mustapha was Assistant Secretary General Collette Adams. She indicated that the Regional Democratic Council provides support to the New Amsterdam Mayor and Town Council but if more and when it is needed, the Municipality must follow the right procedure and make the necessary requests. Adams said that significant gains in social development can be derived when ideals of human dignity, justice and equality are realized through efforts of good governance.
The programme was punctuated with cultural items and a karate display. Winners of competitions held during the week were also presented with prizes during the Opening Ceremony. The winning team for the Banks DIH sponsored domino competition – Warriors received a trophy. Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company Regional Manager for East Coast Berbice, Carl DeMattos presented two trophies to the Spelling Bee Champion and first runner-up – All Saints and St. Therese’s Primary Schools respectively. The top performer Shakeil Adams of the All Saints Primary School was given a mobile phone and other items. Hampers were also given to all contestants who represented the four schools.
Meanwhile, the New Amsterdam Town Week ended yesterday Sunday with a mini-fair and family fun day at the Esplanade Recreation Park. Jennifer Conway, who took over as Chairperson of the New Amsterdam Town Day Committee last month, indicated that planning began in March. According to her, some of the letters dispatched earlier in the year were misplaced and new ones had to be sent to potential donors and the like. This she said impacted negatively on some of the activities thus making them not as successful as anticipated.
She also pointed out that New Amsterdam Town Week clashed with GUYEXPO in Georgetown and this was also seen as a great setback. She explained that a number of business entities, which had already indicated an interest in participating in New Amsterdam, pulled out at the last moment.
The New Amsterdam Town Week opened on Sunday September 26th with a Church Service at the Mission Chapel Congregational Church. On Tuesday, 30 senior citizens were pampered and fed at the Penguin Hotel. This was followed by the Spelling Bee Competition on Wednesday at the New Amsterdam Town Hall. On Thursday evening almost all the religious groups came together in a Gospel Fiesta at the Town Hall. The Opening Ceremony was held on Friday at the New Amsterdam Town Hall. Mrs. Conway said the Night of the Queens’ Competition on Friday night was poorly attended as a result of prolonged power outage along with rain and thunder storm. But nevertheless, the response by local designers was favourable.
Conway described the Street Fair and Exposition on Saturday as impressive with agencies such as the National Psychiatric Hospital, Guyana Telegraph Company and other small stakeholders participating. According to her, the objective was achieved to a certain extent but better planning could have enhanced it. The events were held under the Theme, ‘Working together for a Brighter Future.’
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