Why Tessanne’s win in TheVoice will not lead to a change in the Rules

tessanne-the-voice-_w304To those who are predicting that NBC’s TheVoice will be changing the rules so that someone like Tessanne Chin would not be able to enter the contest next year, I beg to differ. The presence of Tessanne did nothing but boost the ratings of the show by expanding its appeal and the rules already exclude most Jamaicans and foreigners in general because of the status requirements.

To those who cite the #Scripps Spelling Bee as an example, when the rules were changed after Jody Ann Maxwell won the contest in 1998, there is one major difference; that contest does not have a real product to sell and they do not have the same opportunity to make money off the winner. Also, the change in the Scripps Spelling Bee did not exclude Jamaicans as we have continued to send participants. The change, I believe, had something to do with the timing for qualification to enter.

If one was to look at the Penn Relays which Jamaican schools have continued to dominate since they first started participating about 1964, there has been no move to limit our participation because we have been good for the meet. Our presence increases the gate receipts. In the same way Tessanne was good for TheVoice. They seemed to be pleased that they could say “Tessanne Chin from Jamaica” and there was even an image of the Jamaican flag in the background of a scene on the Monday night finals show.

Tessanne has been a marketing coup for #TheVoice and there are the iTunes sales to prove it. Furthermore in the age of Twitter and Facebook, the organizers don’t have to guess about her impact as Social Media has provided further validation of it.

Jamaica has a reputation of being one of the Coolest places on the planet. We have a history of being creative that the rest of the world knows about, as we gave the world Reggae, which is, if not the only new musical genre of the last century, at least the most popular. We are the country of Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff. We are the fastest people on the planet and they say we have an accent that is the envy of the rest of the English speaking world.

Tessanne represented herself and her country well with humility and her warm heart shone through for all to see. As a result she got support from persons all over the world, not just those connected to Jamaica. Her unscripted endorsement of her coach Adam Levine was just further proof of her grace, and her genuine warmth as a human being. Just read the tweets coming from the various personalities both before and after her win, they say a lot about how she has touched them. In Tessanne’s win, everyone wins.

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Who is Frank Melhado?

Kiwanis 50 years service logo 2ABGoldCopy (3) of ORCHID - DEC 04 2013 -  TEXLAX SALON FRANK MELHADO 021 The Kiwanis movement in Jamaica will complete fifty years on March 24, 2014 and the man who deserves the credit for taking on the mantle of leadership of the first Kiwanis Club in Jamaica, as Charter President of the Kiwanis Club of Kingston was Frank Melhado. Frank used to attend luncheon meetings and committee meetings even when he was in his nineties and when DP Stewart Spencer was President (1996 – 1997) he and Distinguished Lt. Governor of Excellence, Trevor Christian sat with Charter President Frank while he reminisced about the early days. Following are excerpts from that interview.

In the early years, Kiwanis International restricted to two, the number of members a club could recruit from any one professional discipline; however Pete Patterson, a former Secretary of Kiwanis International, suggested to Frank that if he had a good man, he should grab him and this guided his recruitment policy.

Frank also noted that one pre-condition for him to accept the leadership mantle was that no ethnic group in Jamaica should be excluded from becoming members. Other organizations were then recruiting on a more selective basis.

Frank served as President from March 1964 to December 1966, spanning three successive Administrative years. At that time the Kiwanis year was the same as the calendar year. This is a feat that has never been repeated in the Club’s history and during that time he presided over the Chartering of the Kiwanis Clubs of Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Mandeville and Downtown Kingston. The latter was formed with a nucleus of former members of the Kiwanis Club of Kingston.

It is also interesting to note that during Frank’s tenure, the Kiwanis Club of Kingston along with the Kiwanis Club of Nassau, co-sponsored the Kiwanis Clubs of Curacao, Aruba, and Puerto Rico. The latter however only lasted for one year as the Puerto Ricans shut down the Club and formed a new one so as to align themselves with the U.S.A.

This leads to an interesting fact that may not be common knowledge as many persons have wondered how come Jamaica is aligned with Canada when the U.S.A. is so much closer. The facts are that after the Kiwanis Club of Kingston was organized, sponsorship was sought through the Florida District, but they declined and it was Canada who welcomed us with open arms via what was then the Ontario, Quebec and Maritime District. It was a Canadian business executive who was working in Nassau who facilitated the connection, resulting in our being sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Nassau which interestingly was only a few months old at the time.

Frank recalled a story relating to one of his early Board Meetings.  The meeting was scheduled for 5:00 pm and the first member arrived at 5:10 pm while others showed up at various times up to 5:45 pm. Frank calmly served his refreshments but made no attempt to call the meeting to order. When the others began to ask why the meeting had not been called, Frank quietly pointed out that his meeting was at 5:00 pm, not 5:45 pm, so there would be no meeting. He also threatened to resign but was convinced not to. The meeting was then rescheduled for the next day and everyone was there by ten to five.

The first Secretary of the Kiwanis Club of Kingston was Alan Talbot. Frank’s other Secretary who served in his second and third years, was Victor Williams who later became President of the Club and also a Distinguished Lt. Governor for a Division in Canada to which he had migrated.

On the business side, Frank served as General Manager of the Kingston Industrial Garage and recalled this anecdote. When K.I.G. acquired a Ford dealership in 1907, long before Frank actually joined the company, the requirement then was that a dealer had to order a minimum of 25 cars. This was done and in just seven weeks, another 25 cars were ordered. At this point Henry Ford himself called and after offering his congratulations, added “Please let me know if I should enlarge my factory to take care of your orders.”

Frank Melhado was actually born in Panama because his father, who was Jamaican, was working there and Frank did not actually come to Jamaica until 1933 where he lived the rest of his life. Meeting and marrying Rosa was the most likely, but not the only reason for this. He fondly recalled the support given to him by Rosa and anyone who ever saw them together could easily see the love that radiated between them. They celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary on February 19, 2003. Unfortunately, Frank passed away that same year on October 12, at the age of 95 years, just two months away from another birthday.

One of the moments that Frank recalled with pride was when he visited Kiwanis International, then headquartered in Chicago, on the day following the Charter Night and presented them with a Jamaican flag. He recalled that within half an hour, a flag pole was ready to receive the Jamaican flag which became the first foreign flag, other than that of Canada, to be flown on the Kiwanis International building.

On that visit, Frank was seated at the head table of every single Club that he visited and was fondly referred to as Mr. Kiwanis.

Another difference that existed in those early years was that persons were invited to become Lt. Governor and not elected as it is today. He was invited but was unable to take up the offer due to business demands.

The main fund raising activity in those early years was an annual dance and that tradition still continues today in the form of the Kiwanis Club of Kingston’s Grand Christmas Charity Ball. In the early days the venue was the St. Andrew Club. Some interesting Kiwanis trivia is that the price of admission for the first dance, including supper was fifteen shillings, the second was a guinea (twenty one shillings) and that included drinks. Administrative fund raisers on a small scale were also held.

Two of the most significant projects undertaken in those early years were the development of a Vocational Guidance Centre at Rennock Lodge and the Tivoli Gardens Maternity Centre. Frank recalled that their Public Relations in those days was so good that it cost them practically nothing to build and equip the Guidance Centre. Those who contributed funds always knew what the funds were going to be used for and that they were going to be used wisely and as a result people came to them even before they were approached for funds.

Frank also pointed out that although we accept that a President cannot be fined by the Sergeant-At-Arms that is not strictly correct as there was a loophole that allowed the President to be fined and he admitted that he was fined twice during his Presidency. Although he promised to reveal this secret at a later date, the opportunity just did not arise.

Frank observed that in the early days, they used to fly several flags of different countries at luncheon meetings, however these flags were all burnt in a fire at the then Sheraton Hotel which became the Wyndham Kingston and then the Hilton Kingston and back again to the name Wyndham Kingston; which is where the meetings were being held. He expressed the view that we should still be flying the Canadian flag, even as a matter of courtesy, because of our affiliation with Canada and the fact that they were the first ones to accept us. Ironically due to another fire at the same hotel in April 2013, the Kiwanis Club of Kingston lost all of its Club banners, Award Patches and other Club Meeting paraphernalia and has had to seek an alternative meeting venue.

It is clear that the Kiwanis movement in Jamaica owes a debt of gratitude to Charter President Frank and those other members who made a decision to develop by precept and example, a more intelligent, aggressive and serviceable citizenship and as a result, they have left a legacy for all of us to follow.

In 2006, the Kiwanis Foundation of Jamaica established the Frank Melhado Award to recognize the contributions made by Kiwanians in Jamaica to the development of the movement and the community.

Frank we thank you.

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Jason Morgan should be selected on Jamaica’s team to the World Championships in Moscow.



It is with dismay that I read a report in the Jamaica Observer, that Dr. Warren Blake the President of the JAAA had stated that there was no chance of Jason Morgan being selected as part of the Jamaican team to the World Championships in Moscow next month. I was also surprised at the arrogance and finality of the words expressed by Dr. Blake.

When one considers that Mr. Morgan is ranked #11 in the world and that twelve persons go through to the final of a field event, it stands to reason that Mr. Morgan has a very good chance of making the final and as we know once you make the final anything is possible. When it is also noted that he is the only Jamaican now eligible to compete in the Discus event at the World Championships, one has got to ask why he is not being selected.

Dr. Blake says that the reasons given by Mr. Morgan for not attending the Trials were not sufficient for him to be included and there is no case to be made for him but I would have thought that if you are a Permanent Resident of the United States and live there with your family and you are given a date for the swearing in ceremony to become a citizen, and it is scheduled in the week of the trials; and as a result, you are without any travel documents because you had to turn in your Green Card before the swearing in ceremony and your American passport would not be ready in time; then Dr. Blake should explain why that is not a good enough reason.  And furthermore, Mr. Morgan did advise the JAAA President in writing as to his situation and is not just bringing this matter to their attention after the fact.

In the event that the JAAA think that their position is bolstered by the fact that Mr. Morgan has only attained the “B” standard, albeit that he has thrown 65.94 m which is just 6 cm shy of the “A” standard, it should be noted that this event is not like the 100 m in which there are hundreds of athletes who have attained the “A” standard , and someone who has not attained the “A” standard in the 100 m has as much chance as the proverbial snowball in hell of advancing to a semi-final much less a final; that is not the case in the discuss event otherwise Mr. Morgan could not be ranked #11 with his throw of 65.94 m.

If you have the privilege to lead an organization such as the JAAA, in which you have the responsibility to nurture the talents of the Jamaican people and to ensure that our best athletes represent us at the highest level, you will be faced with situations for which your manual does not have a ready solution, but that does not mean that the decision is a difficult one.  I believe that leaders can be best judged not so much on how they handle the difficult situations, because mistakes will be made, but on how they handle the simple situations because when you get the simple ones wrong that is the best indicator that you do not deserve to be the leader.


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Do not destroy the Eric Bell Tennis Centre

I have recently heard that there are plans, within a few short months, to dig up the four remaining tennis courts at the Eric Bell Tennis Centre on Marescaux Road, the home of Tennis Jamaica. This location was the home of the now defunct St. Andrew Club and was the home of tennis in Jamaica. It was apparently sold to the Government in the 70s and the old club house was used as a venue for the sitting of Exams like the CXC etc., however the courts were left intact and through the instrumentality of Eric Bell who was an avid player and tennis fan, the local association then called the Jamaica Lawn Tennis Association, JLTA, was granted a lease to continue operating there, hence the name the Eric Bell Tennis Centre. A building was erected that facilitated the administration and also the running of tournaments and tennis fans can recall the many Davis Cup ties that have been played there. Whether this lease had come to an end or had a neat escape clause I do not know.

This place has a lot of history, from the days of the grass courts of the St. Andrew Club where Richard Russell and Lance Lumsden played Davis Cup to the more recent era that I am more familiar with when players such as Noel Rutherford, Errol and Peter Campbell and many others were able to display their talents. This was the one court which the public had access to without having to depend on the goodwill of a hotel or having to become a member of a private club, an option which was not really an option for many of the citizens in Jamaica. Young people did not have to be the son or daughter of someone important in order to play on these courts.

Some schools had tennis courts but they were mainly available to the students of that school and many had fallen into disrepair. However, many schools have been able to have a tennis programme without having courts on their school ground because of the existence of these courts, much like many schools have been able to have a swimming programme without having a pool on their school ground because of the existence of the pool at the National Stadium.

For Jamaica to have a chance of developing world class tennis players there must be public courts and this court although under the control of Tennis Jamaica, is the nearest thing to a public court in Jamaica. We need more of them not less and these are good courts, of the quality to host international tournaments. The infrastructure is already in place. There are stands to accommodate spectators and space to erect more stands as necessary.

Originally there were five courts at this venue, the four main ones and a practice court. The latter was not in good condition and some years ago it was dug up to make room for a new building on the grounds that was put up to house offices and larger facilities for the hosting of exams. It is my understanding that the last Government took this decision to dig up the remaining four courts and erect more buildings in order to accommodate more students who had to sit exams. This was I understand, a move to increase efficiency by reducing the cost that was being incurred in renting space at other institutions to accommodate students sitting exams.

Clearly the growth in persons sitting exams is a positive development for Jamaica and no Government should be criticized for trying to save money but is there a credible alternative. I think there is. The old club house which is still there and which is really an old wooden building, could be demolished and a building erected on that same footprint. Tennis Jamaica could either revert to using only the block referred to as the Eric Bell Tennis Centre, but since that block is mainly bathrooms, a food shop activated during tournaments and one small office, they may need additional space which could be accommodated in the new structure.

Currently the old clubhouse is used partly by Tennis Jamaica and as a storage area related to the examination activity. If this storage area is a vital part of the operations of the Examinations Council, and would cause untold problems if they did not have this facility during the construction period, then temporary storage could be found elsewhere. There is also another option that the additional building space that is needed could instead be built on green area that currently exists in the complex. The structure should be big enough to accommodate the storage area needed and then green area could be replaced by still demolishing the old clubhouse after the construction of the new building is completed, using that same footprint.

I am not privy to the efforts that the governing body of the sport in Jamaica, under President Aubyn Hill, has made to try and avert this impending move that would certainly push back any efforts that Tennis Jamaica could make to develop the sport in Jamaica and I therefore do not want to suggest that the leadership of Tennis Jamaica, have not lobbied hard enough or been creative enough in attempting to avert this decision.

I may however be excused for wondering if it is because the leadership who seldom if ever use these courts and probably do not have any children using these courts, except possibly during a tournament, have been less than creative because they have access to the Liguanea Club and the Jamaica Pegasus.

I also do not want to suggest that this PNP Government should have a vested interest in looking into this matter merely because the complex bears the name of Eric Bell, because I believe that in the final analyssis it should also be about good public policy and efficiency. That is why I believe that the solution that I am proposing could be mutually beneficial to all the parties concerned and achieve the desired outcome of a win / win situation.

If there had been no public tennis courts in Compton, California, we may never have heard of Venus and Serena Williams. Even if there are attempts to find another location for Tennis Jamaica, we should not be destroying what are some of the best courts that we have because what we need are more courts not the same amount or fewer courts that the public have access to.

Tennis has always suffered from its elitist image, with the impression that only well off persons play the game. I think by now most well thinking persons know this is not so, but losing a venue like the Eric Bell Tennis Centre would he a retrograde step in the march towards making the sport more accessible to those who have less.

This country is crying out for a sports policy that would guide decisions like the one being planned.

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Kiwanis Club of Kingston – 2011 Youth in Excellence Project Citation for Winner in The Arts

Jodi-Ann McKenley – 1st Place The Arts

 This year we have only selected one person in the category of The Arts, and the winner is a 17 year old young lady, who could have submitted her application in the Academics section of the Youth in Excellence Project because in 2011, she sat and passed 10 CSEC Subjects, all at Grade 1. In spite of that achievement however, it is her accomplishments in the Arts, more specifically, dancing and singing, that seem to provide her with the satisfaction and fulfillment that she seeks and which has given her the ability to minister to others. Her school and her church have been the vehicles that have afforded her the most opportunity to express her artistic side.

She has attained distinctions in the Royal Academy of Dance, Grades 1 – 6 Classical Ballet Graded Examinations and Merits in Grades 7 – 8 over the years 2002 to 2010.

In 2008, she attained a distinction in the Royal Schools of Music Grade 1 Theory Examination. She also attained a distinction in the Trinity Guildhall Bronze Level Choral Examination and then in 2010, followed this with a distinction at the Silver Level Choral Examination.

In 2007 this young lady placed 2nd in the Jamaica Music Teachers’ Association Music Competition Festival for Class 75, Girls 14 and under – Singing, and then in 2009 she placed 3rd in the Festival for Voice – Soprano (Open).

She attained a merit in the Trinity Guildhall Grade 2 Solo singing Examination in 2008 and then in 2009 she followed up with a distinction in the Grade 4 Solo Singing Examination.

In 2003 she did complete a course at the University of Christian Children’s Workers School of Puppetry & Performing Arts Ministries.

As a student at Immaculate Conception High, she represented her school at swimming and maintained Honour Student status from Grades 7 to 11. She was awarded 1st place in Music among the 2011 Graduating Class. It should be noted that no 2nd or 3rd places were awarded, and she also placed in the top ten of her graduating class of over 240 students.

Ladies and Gentlemen, our winner in the category of the Arts for 2011 is Jodi-Ann McKenley.

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Kiwanis Club of Kingston – 2011 Youth in Excellence Project Citation for Winner in Academics

Jeorghino Alessandro Lodge – 1st Place Academics

 Our winner in the category of Academics is a young man 16 years old from the Parish of Portland. He began to display his academic ability when he was awarded top achiever in Mathematics and Communication Studies in the GSAT Exams. He then went on to attend Titchfield High School and there he was able to cop many top awards such as Outstanding Performance in subjects such as Drama in 2008, Chemistry in 2010 and 2011 and Physics and Mathematics in 2011. He also made the Principal’s Honour Roll on two occasions and was the top overall academic achiever for his year group in 2011. The Titchfield Old Students Association also recognized him for his academic achievements.

In 2011 this young man sat and passed 10 Subjects at the CSEC level and achieved Grade 1 in all ten subjects. His subjects included the sciences such as Physics, Chemistry and Biology, as well as the customary English, Mathematics and Social Studies and not to be left out was Information Technology, Technical Drawing and Geography, leaving the door open, to many alternative career paths. This fine achievement was accomplished in spite of his family having suffered the effects of the economic recession and being reduced to that of a single income family with three children to care for.

At Titchfield, this young man held positions such as Form Captain, Sub-Prefect and Peer Counselor. He was part of the school choir and the Maths club and was a frequent writer for the weekly school bulletin. He also represented his school at chess. Outside of school he was an active member of his Church Youth Group.

No doubt his achievements have left an indelible impression on his peers as well as the younger ones and the residents of Rose Garden District in Long Bay, Portland are no doubt very proud of this young man.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you our winner in the category of Academics for 2011, Jeorghino Alessandro Lodge.

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Kiwanis Club of Kingston – 2011 Youth in Excellence Project Citation for Winner in Leadership

Yanique Nissan Dacosta – 1ST Place Leadership

Our winner in the category of Leadership is a young lady, 18 years of age who began to exhibit Leadership qualities, from a very tender age. Imagine being Prefect, then Head Girl, President of the Builders Club, President of the Spanish Club and also House Captain, all at your Prep School when you are barely ten years old. And then throw in being honoured as the most outstanding Builder’s Club President by the sponsoring Kiwanis Club.

This young lady clearly had the importance of giving voluntary service instilled in her at an early age. In 2001 she won the Mini Miss Jamaica at age 8 years, and raised $42,000 from two companies so that an inner city child who had been born with a serious defect could have the operation she needed. She also set a major goal to establish a lifetime community service project that would grow with her so in 2002, she initiated the building of a playground at the Chevannes Basic School in the inner city community of Standpipe in Liguanea and continued working with the community in the spirit of volunteerism.

She started a Scholarship in her name to assist those less fortunate with school fees, books and uniforms who were graduating from the Basic School to Primary School. She also organized a collection drive of clothing, toys and books to be distributed not only in Standpipe but also in other communities. She became a member of the board of the Chevannes Basic School in 2002 and 7 years later became the co-chairperson and is now the Chairperson. Now under her leadership, the Basic School has gained assistance to add a Principal’s Office, a bathroom, kitchen and classroom to create an improved learning environment.

When this young lady graduated from Wolmer’s Prep School to Immaculate Conception High School, she did so as the Valedictorian of the Graduating Class of 2005 so her volunteerism had not impacted negatively on her academics and she had many awards to show, including Girl of the Year. At Immaculate, she again found vehicles for her volunteer spirit by becoming Secretary of the Key Club then President. She also joined the St. Francis Outreach Ministry, a campus ministry and again was able to achieve and maintain Honour Student status while passing nine CSEC subjects. Having moved on to Pre-University School she now has three Advanced Level subjects.

She has performed at Jazz in the Gardens, been a member of Movements Dance Company, participated in the Denmark international art project, won oratorical competitions, been interviewed on Television and been a Television Host; Ladies and Gentlemen, the winner in the Leadership category for 2011, Yanique Nissan Dacosta.

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