The City Council of Georgetown has lost an accumulated 462 years of experience through the retirement of 14 employees this year and honoured the stalwarts during a dinner and appreciation ceremony on Friday last.
Patricia Chase Green, Deputy Mayor and Chairperson of the Social Welfare Committee told those gathered that aside from celebrating years of service and contributions, the occasion was also a reintroduction of an awards ceremony that the Council once held.
She recalled the “good old days” of Inspectors ensuring that citizens were in check, City Constables being respected and Georgetown being the apple of the country’s eye for its greenery and order.
“Somehow, in recent years we lost focus, interest and the urge to work. But those lost years and tough days are gone.”
The Deputy Mayor made it clear to the retirees that their 462 years were appreciated. “You have made a difference, and we will continue to remember you.”
She noted that tokens cannot measure the contributions made but assured, “We are now in the mode of development and taking care of your welfare, and the first step has started on a journey into the period of relaxing.
However, we will look forward to your support in your community and for the Council.”
That retired personnel included a Public Convenience Attendant who served for 25 years, an Assistant Town Clerk who served for 25 years, a Supervisor who served for 34, two workers in the Sanitation Dept, who served for an accumulated 97 years, a Sergeant who served for 27 years, the Chief Environmental Health Officer who served for 32 years, a Constable who served for 27 years, and the Chief Meat and Food Inspector who served for 29 years.
Also retired is an Assistant Superintendant who served for 32 years and a driver as well as a cleaner who served for 61 years.
The lot includes Annette Glasgow, Valarie Chichester, Ramzan Hazara, Ann Mars, Kenneth Stephens, Wilfred Bourne, Julian James, Ruben Gouveia, Jagdeep Singh, Thomazeen Robertson, Donna Blair Carter and Audrey Charles.
Bidding farewell to the employees with the awarding of gold broaches and tie pins at the Pressville Banquet Hall, Town Clerk Royston King described them as the Municipality’s ‘forever friends’.
He said that the ceremony, “Serves to show that we care and value your years of service and contributions.”
Additionally he said it served as an opportunity to demonstrate to new and current employees “That we are now better able to look out for them.”
Some of the retirees reflected on how the Council made it possible to progress through local and international scholarships from entry level jobs to being Managers, and even to the position of Assistant Town Clerk.
They expressed optimism that there will be a return to the days when there was a Georgetown Municipality Sports Club, and when employees participated in steel pan playing and the Council had a boxing team.
Town Clerk King encouraged the retirees to remember that while they were closing one chapter of their lives another has opened.
“Council will never be able to replace individuals collectively nor individually and the Municipality is losing accumulated skills in their prime owing to the stipulated retirement age.”
He noted too that Council has already begun talks with most of the retirees with a view to enable them to remain linked to the M&CC, for their benefit and the City’s.
Reflecting on her 32 years of service, Valarie Chichester, retired assistant Town Clerk, recalled her humble beginning as a City Constable, who worked her way up through perseverance and encouragement.
She said, “At first I was not keen about the job. People referred to us as ‘market police,’ but I did my duties as Constable and ultimately became an Inspector, then I transferred to admin as a Secretary of the Medical Officer of Health.” She served in every department and thanks to the days of being in the City Constabulary she learned “self motivation and discipline to become the Assistant Town Clerk.”
Kenneth Stephens who retired as Chief Environmental Health Officer after 32 years of service, began his employment at Council in 1977 among the first batch of 21 trainee Environmental Health Officers.
He said as a result of the job at City Hall he managed to complete his University education. “I remember the magnificence of this city. The greenery and its natural beauty made me proud to be associated with this organization.
“In those days there were a number of satellite stations from which workers operated ensuring that Council delivered satisfactory service to the citizens.”
Back then too Stephens said it was not only about work as workers also benefitted from numerous sporting activities or were involved in the culture corps and drama related activities. “Those were healthy days and workers of the Council were one big happy family.
Then things changed amid promotions and numerous constraints in the section and the Council as whole, struggled to deliver essential services to the citizenry.”
However, while he has now gone into retirement at this time he said he is heartened to see some positives taking place yet again within the City.
He also offered his services as a trainer for the return of Environmental Health Officers. There are less than five such officers in the entire Municipality.
Jagdeep Singh also retired as Chief Meat & Food Inspector after 29 years. He began his career as an Environmental Health Assistant in 1987.
He moved through the ranks after being transferred to the Food and Hygiene and Abattoir Section as Meat & Food Inspector.
Through training facilitated by City Hall, and in Barbados and Canada, he was elevated to Chief Meat and Food inspector.
“I have no regrets of my working life with the Mayor and City Councillors and I am thankful for all I have achieved morally, technically and financially…I am willing to offer my services, advice and help if or when called upon to this Municipality.”
City Councillor, Oscar Clarke, who is also Chairman of the Personnel & Training Committee, said that he foresees Georgetown returning to its ‘Garden City’ status.
He also encouraged the retirees to make sure that their skills and other achievements are not wasted.
“Do not rust out. You are in your prime and you remain valuable assets that will be used and paid appropriately too.”
Clarke further expressed optimism that the age of retirement will be changed to ensure that the nation does not continue to lose its best and most qualified to other countries.
(By Mondale Smith)
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