“Elbow Reef Lighthouse Society signs historic M.O.U. with Port Department”

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JoBeth Coleby-Davis, Minister of Transportation and Housing presenting the signed and sealed M.O.U. to Heather Forde-Prosa, President of the Elbow Reef Lighthouse Society Non-Profit.

The Elbow Reef Lighthouse Society, a Bahamian non-profit organization, and The Bahamas Government by way of The Bahamas Port Department, Ministry of Transport and Housing, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on February 18, 2022. This historic event represents the first time the Port Department has partnered with a local community-based organization to oversee a Bahamian
lighthouse.

This newly signed MOU formalizes specific terms and conditions for the partnership. Historically, while the Port Department and its related section have been responsible for lighthouses and navigation aids (including the housing and salaries and fuel for the keepers), the Department has relied on the Elbow Reef Lighthouse Society to execute financial, custodial, and practical oversight for the Elbow Reef Light station’s light tower and its outbuildings. The Society, managed by a team of five women, has already been directing and overseeing all aspects of the restoration and reconstruction of this important light station. Even after the devastating 2019 Hurricane, the Society continued to fundraise and execute necessary disaster recovery repairs. The agreement (MOU) encourages the Port Department to secure a yearly upkeep and maintenance budget for the Light Station.

Treasurer for ERLS, Marjorie Chapman, stated, “This MOU solidifies a partnership that has been developing since the 1990s. Over the years of our organization’s service, we have earned the government’s trust and confidence in our ability to manage the site, keep the light non-automated, and make necessary improvements. The Elbow Reef Lighthouse Society is deeply vested in the future preservation of the light station.”

The Elbow Reef Lighthouse Society is a historical, cultural, and educational society well regarded within the Abaco community. Support from international lighthouse experts has guided Bahamians in the restoration and maintenance plans for the 1863 built structures and its early 20th-century lens and lens turning machinery.

The close relationship between the Society and the Port Department should enable the Elbow Reef Lighthouse to remain a symbol of national pride for The Bahamas, shining on well into the future.

Bahamian ERLS NPO Directors, Top Row: Marjorie Chapman, Treasurer, DP
Patterson, Secretary, Heather Forde-Prosa, President. Front Row: Senior Commander
Berne Wright, Acting Port Controller, Port Department, Permanent Secretary Antionette
Thompson and JoBeth Coleby-Davis, Minister of Transportation and Housing.