Some of our high-school coaches are already thinking ahead to the 123rd staging of the world-renowned Penn Relays. In fact, Michael Dyke of Edwin Allen Comprehensive High School has been planning for the Penn 4×800 metres since the start of the year. After a fine run by his team last Saturday, his plans may have to be upgraded. Ashanni Robb, Kara Grant, Kayann Green and Cemore Donald won the eight-lap event at the Gibson McCook Relays in eight minutes 47.71 seconds over a stubborn Holmwood Technical High School team. The runner-up school harried Edwin Allen past a meet record set by Holmwood in 2006. The reward for the 2017 Holmwood girls was a fine time of 8 minutes 49.71 seconds. In an interview in January after a loss to Holmwood at the Central Hurdles and Relays, Dyke revealed that he is programming his team to peak at Penn. Met with the suggestion that his 4×800 team could speed this season, he said, “I definitely think so and I’d be disappointed if we don’t win the 4×8 this year, especially at the Penn Relays”, said the soft-spoken Dyke, “because that’s what we are gearing towards; and the sort of experience and quality that we have, there’s no reason that we should not.” The Gibson McCook victory snapped a two-meet losing streak Holmwood had over Edwin Allen. While he acknowledges that his rivals are very good, Dyke reported, “I normally start the season like that, especially in the 4×8 – touch and go and feel out persons – but I know the complete four that will eventually mature into the top team when it’s necessary.” Holmwood had beaten Dyke’s team at the Central meet and the Western Relays with nearly identical times of 8.57.50 and 8.57.54. At Gibson McCook, Holmwood improved their season’s best by approximately eight seconds but lost. Grant keyed the Edwin Allen success with her strong second-leg run of two minutes 09.1 seconds. If Dyke’s January projections are anything to go by, his team’s performance at Gibson McCook would have been a surprise. Asked then if his 2017 unit could challenge the Penn Relay record of 8 minutes 37.71 seconds set by Vere Technical in 1991, he said, “I don’t think it will be that easy to run that fast with this team.” He added, “but I’m optimistic, and anything is possible.” He was right. Asked in January how fast the team would run at the 41st staging of the venerable Jamaican relay event, he said, “Well, we are in about 8.50, thereabouts, based on our preparations and where we’re at.” “So I think 8.50 would be a good time for us at the Gibson McCook Relays,” he concluded. Vere, Edwin Allen and Holmwood are the fastest three schools in Penn 4×800 history. In addition to the record held by Vere, a Ristananna Tracey-anchored 2011 Edwin Allen team completed the journey in 8 minutes 39.22 seconds, with Holmwood clocking 8.41.92 in 2008. – H.L. Losing streak
– Opposition questions $199. 7M rental of buildings for UNThere was high drama in the National Assembly as the Government was questioned about various projects and expenditures under the Public Infrastructure Ministry, which has been allocated $38.5billion in the budget for 2019.Public Infrastructure Minister David PattersonAt one point, Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland, had Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira’s microphone cut off even as she argued for more time for her side to scrutinize the Ministry’s budget. The extended time was, however, granted.Opposition Parliamentarian Irfaan Ali questioned the amount allocated to renting buildings. A whopping $199.7 million was allocated for renting of buildings, which Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson explained would be used to house offices for the United Nations (UN) branches in Guyana.“This is just one building, one complex. It’s immediately south of the US Embassy. It is to house the United Nations. The UN has, at this moment, six offices. The FAO building, the Unicef building, the UNDP (United Nations Development Program), PAHO (Pan American Health Organisation), UNAIDS, all of which (we will house).”According to Patterson, the intention is to provide one consolidated complex that could meet the standards of security necessary for the agencies. But when Ali grilled the Minister about whether acquisition of the buildings — which will carry an average monthly cost of over $15 million — went through competitive tender, things became murky.Patterson informed the House that he worked on the basis of a shortlist of requirements provided by the UN. An impassioned Ali pointed out that tax payers’ money would still be used to cover the expenses of renting the complex. To this Patterson noted that when everything is considered, the Government got value for money with the arrangement.The Minister was also quizzed on the allocation of $374.8 million to Kwakwani Utilities Incorporated. Opposition Parliamentarian Juan Edghill noted that a similar sum was allocated in 2018, and the community suffered from electricity shortage.Edghill questioned what betterment would be brought to the community. Eventually, the Ministry’s budget was passed in the Committee of Supply.Government has allocated $38.5 billion in the 2019 budget to carry out several infrastructural projects.This had included, among other things, money for construction of 6 kilometres of paved roads in Linden, extensions of the highway from Hope Canal to Mahaica, and a feasibility study for a Linden-to-Mabura link.When it comes to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Finance Minister Winston Jordan had said the monies allocated for all capital projects constitute 71.9 per cent of the total Ministry budget. The money is also an increase from the $32 billion the Ministry received last year.When it comes to the East Coast of Demerara (ECD), Jordan revealed that the projected cost of the East Coast/East Bank road linkage project (Ogle bypass) has jumped from US$50 million to US$120 million. He noted that Government would approach its bilateral partner — in this case the Export-Import Bank of India — for more funds.This EBD-ECD Bypass project is expected to be 26 kilometres of constructed road linking two of the country’s main thoroughfares. This new road link would also be connected to key communities in Georgetown and along the East Bank of Demerara. Those include Diamond, Mocha, Eccles – all on the East Bank – and Aubrey Barker Road in Georgetown.