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Westmoreland mourns for Roger

BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau cummingsm@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, August 29, 2014    

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PETERSFIELD, Westmoreland — The constituency of Central Westmoreland was plunged into a state of shock and mourning yesterday after news circulated in the western parish that their Member of Parliament Roger Clarke had died.

"The constituency of Central Westmoreland and Jamaica has lost a great man, a humble man, a man who saw himself as a servant to the people, and a leader to all. Central Westmoreland has lost a man of enormous character; he represented all, barring none," said Paul Wilson, the People's National Party (PNP) councillor for the Frome Division.

"He did not look at the political divide, he saw people and he treated them accordingly," added Wilson, who is the vice-chairman for the constituency and a councillor since 2007.

According to Wilson, Clarke was a stickler for organisation.

"Whether political, or otherwise. He was a hard task man. He accepted nothing but the best. He was not satisfied with mediocrity. His achievements sparked far and wide," said a grieving Wilson.

Clarke, who was also a minister of agriculture and fisheries and vice-president emeritus of the ruling PNP, was elected member of parliament for Central Westmoreland in 2007 after serving in the constituency of North East St Elizabeth for many years.

Wilson said yesterday that Clarke, during his tenure as MP for Central Westmoreland, used his Constituency Development Fund (CDF) for the betterment of the constituency.

"He used his CDF to develop several roads, saw to the building of a post office in Petersfield Square, and saw to the schooling of many children," he emphasised.

"This year saw the inaugural Roger Clarke Scholarships that were paid out to tertiary institutions in the constituency for 20 students, each gaining $50,000 to assist them in their schooling."

A teary-eyed Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar Bertel Moore told the Jamaica Observer that it was earlier this week that Clarke called and asked his councillors to make funeral arrangements for one of his workers in his constituency.

"... And it is today (yesterday) that they are to dig the grave for the worker and Clarke said that he would be here," Moore said, as he tried to hold back the tears.

"Roger Clarke was not my MP, but we lived together very good. A few days before he went away (to Florida for medical attention) I went to his house and sat down and played dominoes. We talked until very late that night, and I said 'Roger, when you come back we will sit and talk', because they are certain things with the back-to-school situation that he was dealing with. I wanted to talk about. And now to know that he is not coming back, it really hurts," Mayor Moore lamented.

Councillor for the Cornwall Mountain Division in Central Westmoreland Bernard Vanriel, who was among a group of constituents gathered in Peterfield yesterday discussing the achievements of their MP, said; "It was a very hard blow when we heard this morning that our member or parliament had passed away.

"He's well loved in Central Westmoreland, one of the finest quality members of parliament we ever had. He's the people's person, so he'll be greatly missed," said Vanriel.

"As it relates to his contribution to the constituency, he had been doing a lot of improvements in many areas... roads, housing, many things for the agricultural sector, housing assistance for many people, and things like that. He had also other projects in mind that were to be implemented."

Loy Smith, a resident of Whithorn, said she spoke to Clarke a few days ago while he was in Florida, and encouraged him "not to take it too hard and to pray. But since I heard that he died this (yesterday) morning I was so shocked. I just can't believe, but that's the way life is. People have to go," she said.

For Shewsbury resident Alica Mavour, Clarke was a very nice man.

"I had the pleasure of meeting him, but it is now an unfortunate situation that he is dead. He will be sadly missed, and we hope that we will have another like him," said Mavour.

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