Regional

A Fitting Gift

Community Centre and Library for Huntley

Monday, December 30, 2013    

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — They have had to wait a few years, but when residents of Huntley in North West Manchester recently witnessed the opening of their community centre and library they gratefully accepted it as an appropriate Christmas gift.

Principal of the Huntley Primary School Hope Morris described it as "a fitting time for us to get this gift in the season of giving".

She pledged that the community "will utilise it with care ensuring that we maximise the benefits that we can get from it."

The building project was conceived several years ago by former Member of Parliament Dean Peart, who retired from representational politics in 2011 with a boast of having built the most community centres by any MP. The Huntley Community Centre was completed under the leadership of Peart's successor Mikael Phillips.

The opening of the two-storey building also ended the 40-year search for a permanent home for the community's branch library which had operated from rented premises.

Funded by the Constituency Development Fund and the preferential Venezuelan oil deal PetroCaribe, the new facility in Huntley cost $10 million. Philips said that a committee will be elected to take care of it.

Regional director for the library services in Manchester and St Elizabeth Lorraine McLean paid tribute to retired administrator Iredell Rattray for her role in ensuring the library was accommodated in the new building.

"When Mr Dean Peart, in his capacity as member of Parliament, took the decision to build a community centre Mrs Rattray relentlessly pursued the inclusion of space for the library in the centre," McLean said.

Senior director for the Jamaica Library Service Karen Barton, representing Director General Patricia Roberts, said that libraries continue to be important places in the society.

"Studies have shown that public libraries are repositioning themselves to show that they provide value to communities.... Libraries are changing as we respond to the rapid developments in technology and to the demand of our users. We know that not everyone can afford their own personal electronic devices or afford Internet access at home. Public libraries, therefore, act as the equaliser," she said.

Through the support of the Universal Service Fund, an agency of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining (MSTEM) the library received ten computers in addition to an existing four, and access to Internet service.

Minister of state, Julian Robinson told the residents of Huntley that they were the envy of probably every community across the country, and that they should use the facilities to transform the area.

Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites shared a similar sentiment.

"The opening of the facilities will open up all kinds of other opportunities to the community. The best thing that Government can help you to get is a good education," he said.

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