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|Spanish Wells' Abner Pinder, Profiled (Nassau Guardian)|
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|Posted by:||Aug 16th 2006, 08:25:42 pm|
|Fig Tree News Team||Abner Pinder
By Norman Rolle, WEEKENDER EDITOR
Spanish Wells is a tiny island (a mile and three quarters long by a half mile) of 1,800 people, tucked between North Eleuthera and Harbour Island. Eleutheran Adventurers settled there in 1648 and were later joined by British Loyalists, who came following the American War of Independence in 1776.
With an abundance of fish in the surrounding waters, a lucrative fishing industry sprung up; from the beginning most of the population became fishermen and to this day, for 60 per cent of the Spanish Wells population, fishing remains the island's main industry, which has created per capita, perhaps the highest number of millionaires in the world.
Abner Pinder, shy of 60, is among the modern day successful fishermen of Spanish Wells. But with an inherent leadership ability, he, when Local Government was introduced in The Bahamas in 1999, racked up his fishing gear and placed his name in nomination and won a place on the Local Government board, a non-paying job, but nonetheless, one that he likes and from which he gets much satisfaction.
"For the past 20 years, I just about devoted my life entirely to helping other people. The greatest satisfaction that I get out of life, is being able to help and do things for other people that they can't do for themselves."
In the first term, Spanish Wells along with Harbour Island and North Eleuthera, were known as committees which made up the District Council of nine members, three people from each committee. That arrangement, however, was short-lived. In 2002, each of the three were elevated to District Council, whereupon Pinder was elected Chief Council for Spanish Wells.
"I have a full life. My personal businesses occupy about 40 per cent of my time. Local Government occupies 60 per cent," declares Pinder, who during the interview often stopped in mid sentence to take phone calls. He admits: "We don't have a council office where the people can come with all their headaches ...They bring their headaches here," referring to his modest office on a Spanish Wells waterfront. "On a daily basis I sometimes see 30 or 40 people."
Water shortage, he says, is the most frequent complaint he gets. "All in all, I don't think that there is anything that needs to be changed about Spanish Wells. We don't want to change it too much... This is one of the things this Council tries to ensure. We have a lot of foreigners coming here to build homes. We welcome them as long as they don't try to change the island. If they want to come in here and fit in with what they meet, they're more than welcome, but when they try to change it, then it's time for them to go back home.
"We have this development down in Russells Island... that's going to be a five, six hundred million dollar development. But the good thing about that now is that we'll get people coming from Spanish Wells and the mainland. Hopefully, its going to provide jobs for 400-500 from the mainland if they want to work. It's not going to provide that many jobs for people around Spanish Wells because most of the people are already working."
There are about a dozen Spanish Wells farmers who grow vegetables, citrus, mangoes, and bananas on the mainland of Eleuthera and on Russells Island, which is also becoming residential.
"All of the young people are building homes there," says Pinder, who admits "there's little land left on Spanish Wells. There are a few tracks owned by people who live in Nassau but they don't want to sell and don't keep them clean. That's one of the problems Local Government faces. It's very irritating for people to see these big plots of land left as dumps."
Abner Pinder was born on Sept. 21, 1949, was raised in Spanish Wells. Except for his paternal grandmother who was born on Harbour Island, the Pinder ancestors are all of Spanish Wells descent. He has two daughters and five grandchildren.
"Spanish Wells is a family. If somebody gets into trouble and needs help, you have many people who come to help. It does not matter who an individual is ....If he comes to Spanish Wells and doesn't have a chip on his shoulder, he's treated like royalty."
Pinder's diverse business interests include White Crown Aviation of North Eleuthera, Blackbeard's Cay, off Cable Beach, a golf cart rental, apartment rental, real estate, a fishing operation, shipping agent for the Bohengy and a freight boat plying between Spanish Wells and West Palm Beach.
In the past eight to nine years, Spanish Wells has experienced a marked increase in visitors, mainly family-oriented. "They can turn their children loose and not have to worry about anything happening to them."
What about crime? "The biggest crime we have around here is someone taking gas out of someone else's boat for their motorcycle. This is because gas stations don't open at night. There's never been a murder here, not in my lifetime," he admits with pride.
"There's not much wrong in Spanish Wells. Things have changed here since Local Government came. We make the decision to do what needs to be done here and we try to keep on top of it ... to make sure everything is done and done right."
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