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St Thomas Festival Queen laments closure of factory

Published:Thursday | August 30, 2018 | 12:00 AMShanna Monteith/Gleaner Writer
Shameika Harris, St Thomas Festival Queen 2018.

BATH, St Thomas:

Addressing the recent news that one of the parish's few remaining major factories, Serge Island Dairies, is to be closed, the St Thomas Festival Queen 2018 Shameika Harris shared concerns that the livelihood of many will be at risk.

However, the 25-year-old queen said that she is hoping that the residents will not yield to their situation and that the Government will see all this as a catalyst to fulfilling promises made to the somewhat struggling parish.

"It is a worrying situation. Serge Island gives us a sense of pride in the same way we were all proud of the Goodyear Factory and Eastern Banana Estate. Its closure will without a doubt have a major negative impact on both the social and economic development in the parish. I trust, however, that being the resilient people we are, we will find creative ways of coping.

It is also my hope that the negative implications that may follow the closure of Serge Island in St Thomas will be a driving force in expediting the establishment of the proposed urban centre and fast-track road-improvement plans in my parish," she said.

A beacon of pride and hope in her hometown of Bath, Harris believes that everyone has a role to play in the parish's development and that it is her responsibility to ensure that her community is empowered such that a common agenda to build its capacity is established.

Harris, who made the top five in the grand coronation of the Festival Queen competition held in August, told The Gleaner that when she returned home, she was met with kind, welcoming words.

"A member of the Mansfield district in Bath said to me with a mouthful of pride, 'Me glad seh yuh do this inno, a true yu nuh know how me glad. Fi show some people seh we can come up inna things. To me, this means everything. This means I have been an inspiration.

"When a community pulls together for a united cause, the power becomes unlimited. I have long understood that unity is strength, which is why I often welcome the support of others," she said, adding that it meant a lot to have represented St Thomas at the national level and that she hopes to leave a lasting impact that spans beyond the boundaries of the parish.

During the course of her reign, the 25-year-old plans to execute her project, which will see the implementation of the first homework centre in the community of Bath.

According to her, "A change is made when a want becomes a need. We need the literacy rate in St Thomas to increase, and this well-needed project will provide academic and other support for young people in the community."

Harris noted that consultation with the relevant stakeholders has already begun and she has a ready and eager team.