Reconstruction of Moruca BridgeFollowing the controversial building of a wooden bridge at Moruca, Region One (Barima-Waini) back in 2014, Cabinet has approved a $119 million contract to upgrade the facility to a double-lane concrete bridge.At the post-Cabinet press briefing last week, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said the multimillion-dollar contract was awarded to Mohamed Ramzanalli Khan Construction. This project is expected to last for a period of 18 months.According to the Government’s spokesperson, this project is actually to correct a “mess” that was done four years ago when the original bridge, first constructed in the 1980s to facilitate pedestrians, was upgraded for vehicular traffic.“It was rehabilitated in 2014 and many of us are aware of the work that was done at that bridge, which, after the expenditure of large sums of money, was still not possible for it to be properly used. So basically what is happening now, we are going to clear up a mess that was created by the previous Administration,” the spokesperson added.After the $43 million contract was awarded in 2012, works on the bridge at Moruca were finally completed in March 2014. The project was expected to be completed within a few months, however, it became the subject of controversy when, in addition to the lengthy delays, residents had accused the contactor of carrying out substandard work.The contractor, Hardat Singh, had stated that the delays were due largely to the inclement weather and the fact that aspects of the bridge’s design had to be changed. He had explained that he indicated his disapproval of the original design to regional officials but was still told to go ahead with the project as is.Then Opposition Members of Parliament, Joseph Harmon of the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change’s Valerie Garrido-Lowe had both separately visited the site in 2014 prior to the completion of the structure and found that the works were shabby. A photo was then released with the approach to the bridge submerged, resulting in the residents having to use a makeshift walkway to access the bridge.While Singh maintained that the bridge was built in accordance with contractual specifications, he noted at the time the photo was taken, the project was incomplete. A sub-contractor was retained by Singh to complete the remaining “small works”, including the approach to the bridge. But the contract had warned that while approach was built up with sand, this issue may still persist since heavy rainfall was frequent in the Moruca sub-region.
LA PUENTE – The expansion of a full-day preschool program is the latest example of the growing support for early childhood education. Since January, the Options-Rorimer Preschool in La Puente has operated a full-day, five-days-a-week preschool for 15 students. Funding by the California Department of Education and the Los Angeles Universal Preschool program has allowed for an additional nine children a chance to attend a 11.5-hour school day, learning shapes, colors, numbers and building social skills, said school officials. Cliff Marcussen, executive director and founder of Options, said the agency has operated similar full-day programs throughout the San Gabriel Valley for 12 years. Options programs are available in Covina, Manzanita and Hurley elementary schools. Enrolling a child in preschool in the U.S. is voluntary, and 40 states have state-sponsored Pre-K programs that enroll 4-year-old children. Illinois, Oklahoma and Georgia allow 3-year-olds to attend preschool, said Don Owens, spokesman for the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Owens compares the preschool system in the U.S. to a patchwork quilt – instead of a single system, states, churches and Head Start centers can all run preschool programs. While full-day programs may attract more students because it helps parents with day care options, educators and early childhood advocates say that curriculum and teaching is what matters. Aubrey Fine, professor of education at Cal Poly Pomona, said that in education circles, “K-12” is shifting to “P-12” or preschool to 12th-grade. “We recognize that early support for youngsters can have their benefit,” Fine said. Programs that certify teachers to work in preschools are scarce, Fine said, but universities are taking an active role in educating teachers who will go in to that field. Fine said in addition to identifying colors or shapes that children, even at an early age, still need to develop the skills to think, problem solve and relate to their peers. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2108160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Marcussen said having full-day preschool targeting low-income families is important. “It gives parents a place that can care for and educate their children during the hours they work,” he said. Giving young children access to education at an earlier age is an area of growing focus with preschool a part of the solution. Studies on the effect of half-day versus full-day programs show that students who attended a full-day program performed better on math and literacy tests, including picture vocabulary and letter-word identification. Ellen Frede, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, which conducted one of those studies, said that the full-day program also allowed for teachers to build relationships with their students and even used snack time as a learning activity.