Trelawny Samaritan refurbishes early childhood school

Staff reporter

Sunday, September 09, 2018

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CLARK'S TOWN, Trelawny — When the Hyde and Gibraltar Basic School opens for the 2018/19 school year in this sugar-belt community tomorrow, the 40 students and their three teachers will not have to worry about getting wet whenever it rains.

In fact, the reason for the one-week late opening of the early childhood institution, which was founded in the early 1960s, is the result of a $1.5- million construction project to correct the leaking roof, undertaken and funded by OW Construction and Hardware.

Businessman Oliver Warren, operator of OW Construction and Hardware, told the Jamaica Observer that he was prompted to render assistance because, as a native of Clark's Town, where his business is located, he could not sit idly by and allow the first school he attended to close down.

“It's a few factors. I heard they were closing down the school and back in my youth days only two basic schools were in my community — this (Hyde and Gibraltar Basic School) and another one. The other one has closed down for some time now, so I had to save this one as part of the legacy of the community,” Warren explained.

“Two years ago it came to my attention that the school was in a deplorable condition. After inspecting the roof I realised that it couldn't last for another year. With my (construction) experience I saw that the building could collapse at any time. As a businessman I became concerned, knowing that the lives of teachers and students could be in jeopardy.”

Warren, whose company also carries out road rehabilitation work, noted that upon learning of the plight faced by the school he suspended work on all his projects and deployed his entire construction workforce to tackle the school project two and a half weeks ago.

“Immediately I stopped all the projects I was doing and brought it to the attention of my workers and we launched out on this work because time was limited. It took two and half weeks to complete this project,” he stated with a satisfied look on his face.

But when the work began, it was discovered that in order to address the concrete roof, four columns would have to be erected to support the building, which also houses the community centre.

The additional work resulted in pushing back the estimated completion date a week over into the start of the school year.

Principal of the Hyde and Gibraltar Basic School Nessa Knowles was appreciative of Warren's philanthropic spirit.

“On behalf of the Hyde and Gibraltar Basic School, and the community at large, I just want to say a big thank you to Mr Oliver Warren, who has made a great contribution to get the school reopened. Without him it wouldn't be a success,” a grateful Knowles expressed.

“I can't say how happy we are for Mr Warren, who came on board. It is well appreciated. I don't know what we are going to do for him. We have to really, really plan something (for him). He's so generous.”

She also thanked community members who assisted the school staff in last Thursday's clean-up activities at the facility.

Chairman of the school board Devon Ledgister was equally appreciative of Warren's timely gift, noting that minor repairs carried out on the structure following the passage of a hurricane some years ago, were woefully inadequate.

We are very appreciative of the work of Mr Warren. It has gone a far way in the rehabilitation of the building,”

Devene Billings, a parent was also receptive of Warren's kind gesture.

“I am happy that someone could see it fit to assist in this way. We are happy that Mr Warren saw it fit to assist,” Billings said.

Warren has also contributed some $100,000 to the Gospel Bell Early Childhood Institution in the neighbouring Jackson Town community ahead of the opening of the school year.

He added that plans are also in train to improve the restroom facility at the community centre.

“We plan to refurbish the restroom as well, so whenever persons come to the sports club they can use the bathroom facility. It looks hard for people to come to your community and don't have any restroom facility. So there is a bathroom I am fixing for the community,” he declared.

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