Archive for August 21st, 2008

No medal but first for the CI

No medal but first for the CI

| 21/08/2008 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Cydonie Mothersill, the first athlete from the Cayman Islands to reach the finals in an Olympic event, ran a good race in the finals of the Women’s 200-meter sprint in Beijing Thursday, finishing in 22.68 seconds, almost repeating her season’s best time of 22.61 in the semifinals, but there was little chance of a medal running against the powerful Jamaican and US teams.

"I just didn’t have it tonight," Mothersill told Cayman Islands Olympic Committee Journalist Shurna Robbins after the race. "I should be happy, because I have had a rough season, so I should be grateful, but I’m a competitor and I wanted to do better. But I’m thankful that I got in the finals. Only positive things can come out of this. We had a finalist from the Cayman Islands in the 200. I just wish I could have put on a better show."

Mothersill said she really gave it her best but thought that a sore hip that may have impacted her speed. "When you are at this stage – you just have to forget about whatever your body is telling you and try and get your mind strong and that is what I did," she said. "I would have liked to have got a medal and I would have liked to at least come out with a PB (personal best), but like I said – I had a rough season. No one thought I would be in this final – so I am happy."

“I think it was a fantastic performance. I know she had a rough season and she was hurt most of the time,” said Cayman Islands Coach Kenrick Williams. “To be in the finals in the Olympics and to be the first person from the Cayman Islands to make the finals is really a tremendous effort on her part. And I know all Caymanians will be supporting her.”

Noting that Mothersill is now ranked number eight in the world in the 200 metre, he said, "We were hoping for her to get a PR (personal record), but last night she said to me she was having a hip problem," says Coach Williams. "But she was going to put that out of her mind and just go into the race and compete and that is what she did."

This was Mothersill’s first time in the finals in her fourth Olympic bid, and she noted that having five competitors from the Caribbean in the finals was historic in itself.

At 30, Mothersill has not decided yet whether she will have enough left to give the Olympics another go. "Maybe in 2012 I will be there in my heels. I am not sure," she said.

Winning the gold medal was Veronica Campbell-Brown, who successfully defended her Olympic title in a time of 21.74 seconds. It was the fastest time of the year and the seventh fastest of all time, as well as a personal best. In a repeat of the first and second positions in the Athens Games, American Allyson Felix finished in 21.93 for her second consecutive silver medal.

Kerron Stewart captured the bronze with a time of 22.00 seconds. Americans Muna Lee (22.01) and Marshevet Hooker (22.34) took fourth and fifth place, followed by Jamaican Sherone Simpson (22.36). Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie of the Bahamas (left with Mothersill), the Bronze medallist at Athens finished in 22.61, slightly ahead of Mothersill.

It was the fourth career medal for Campbell-Brown, 26, who also won gold inJamaica’s 4×100 relay in Athens and silver in the relay in Sydney.


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It could happen to you….

It could happen to you….

| 21/08/2008 | 1 Comment

The plight of the residents at Mahogany Estates has certainly garnered a little more sympathy this week now their story has been told. After all, who would not feel for those who have worked hard to buy their own land, build their dream home in the peace, quiet and safety of the countryside only to find that dream turned nightmare with the opening of a commercial quarry in their back yard.

One of the important issues that this whole sorry affair raises however is the point that this could happen to anyone. Most of the residents of Mahogany Estates are regular working people; they are not rich and many of the homes on the estate are relatively modest. What they have in common is that they purchased land there because of its peaceful natural wooded aspect, its high and dry location and the protection offered by the bluff from storms and hurricanes.

But every reason for their investment has been threatened, and for some ten years there has been little the residents could do. Whether or not this particular developer is right or wrong, from a moral or legal standpoint, seems less important at the moment than the fact he has been able to severely disrupt the lives of these people to a very severe extent with impunity. This raises the question of where else this could all happen and to whom.

Although the developer seems to have been asked to stop his excavation activity by the Planning Department on various occasions, it is apparent by the gaping 17 foot deep crater in the middle of his land that while he has ceased on occasions there have been plenty more when his operation has been full swing.

The issue of enforcement for many government entities seems to be a difficult one, whether it is the Water Authority and the Turtle Farm or the Planning Department and rogue property owners, laws supposedly designed to protect both the island and its people are rarely enforced. There seems to be an underlying default position in favour of large landowners and their rights to do as they please with their property.

Indeed the sanctity of landownership is very important to Cayman. The fact that overseas investors can buy land and have absolute rights and protection has been an important contributor to our economic success. However, there must be some limits that are clearly defined by planning laws. But as many people would be willing to testify, the rules and regulations concerning planning are far from clear. This case further illustrates the mixed messages emanating from the Central Planning Authority and the Department.

In this particular case an industrial quarrying operation has been taking place in a low-density residential zone. This, according to the history of documentation held by the residents, is contrary to the developer’s original planning permission, which was simply to level some of his land to make roads for another residential sub-division. Whether the developer ever intended to open a quarry operation right from the start or whether he just stumbled across the lucrative benefits of such a venture after he had been granted planning permission for roads remains to be seen, but for ten years on and off he has been able to do what he has done with no penalty. He has even admitted in writing on occasion that he has stepped outside the boundaries of his permission but as far as can be ascertained there has been no resulting sanction.

More importantly as the CPA moves to hear his application to officially make the land a quarry, he seems to be about to be rewarded for his wrong doing, because it is easier for planning to let him go ahead with their blessing than trying to stop him – so what point then in zoning?

Once granted, we will see the entire 44-acre bluff and all of the natural woodland destroyed and levelled to a mere five feet, which will likely ensure the flooding of most of the residential areas of Beach Bay in the event of a storm. What life is left for the people of Mahogany Estates will be completely ruined. It will be nigh on impossible for them to ever sell their properties and some will never be able to access their land. The residents have no legal counsel as they can’t afford it, and their 60 or so polled objections seem to be falling on deaf ears.

The land may well belong to the developer but where as a community are we all prepared to draw the line at what people do with their land? Moreover, it appears that the rights of the Mahogany Estate landowners are being railroaded. There is absolutely no doubt that had the developer chosen to turn this bluff into an all-inclusive holiday resort exclusively for gay holidaymakers he would have been stopped in a heartbeat. Sadly, however, his current operation appears only to be of concern to the 40 or so families backing on to his quarry, who have not gathered anywhere near enough community-wide support to put a stop to the venture once and for all.

While it’s easy to dismiss the troubles of others when we all have problems of our own, it’s worth considering that next time it could be you……

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CUC: No capacity problem

CUC: No capacity problem

| 21/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Even though Cayman has suffered three major power outages over the last week, affecting most parts of the island, Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) has said that this is not a capacity problem and that each of the outages were unrelated. “These were all entirely coincidental,” Doug Murry CUC’s Corporate Secretary told CNS. “We deal with unpredictable equipment and sometimes things go wrong.”

(CNS): Even though Cayman has suffered three major power outages over the last week, affecting most parts of the island, Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) has said that this is not a capacity problem and that each of the outages were unrelated. “These were all entirely coincidental,” Doug Murry CUC’ s Corporate Secretary told CNS. “We deal with unpredictable equipment and sometimes things go wrong. We are lookingforward to demonstrating that these were just isolated incidents.”

CUC’s electrical and mechanical equipment, like all machinery, is subject to unpredictable failure, despite what the firm described as high specification and maintenance standards. CUC stressed that the failures did not indicate any underlying reliability issues and, regardless of the recent development on island, CUC was more than able to cope with the increasing demand for power.

 “We are made aware of future developments and what their demands will be well in advance of the completion,” said Murray. “From the very start of projects we start talking with the people involved so we will be able to meet all their future power requirments.”

 Murray explained that the ERA requires CUC to forward plan and to be able to generate as much as 35-55% more power than is required to satisfy the local demand, as well as to consider long term transmission requirements across the island. CUC currently has an installed generation capacity of 136.6 megawatts to meet current peak loads of approximately 93 MW.

In other words, Murray explained, it was impossible for CUC to be caught short in terms of demand, but like every other technological service things could go wrong, as has been the case over the last week.

“They say bad things happen in threes, so we should be over our problems and we are looking forward to demonstrating that to our customers,” he said. The firm’s system reliability has exceeded 99.96% on average in recent months and it has been several months since comparable outages have occurred. The firm has historically supplied a reliable service with higher standards than other Caribbean countries and comparable standards to North America.

However, Murray acknowledged that there were some problem areas that were being addressed, especially for eastern district customers.

“We do have issues with supply in North Side and East End because we have only one line, which means we can’t take it down to repair or maintain it. But we have almost completed work on the loop which will enable us to divert the current and do the necessary work to the main line, which will increase the reliability of service to customers in those districts in future,” he said.

CUC also had problems this week with the Outage Reporting Hotline, which was unable to handle the call demand and the firm is now looking at ways to improve and enhance customer communications. Murray noted too that people should always call the line when they have issues. He said any specific areas that feel they have supply problems need to call to let CUC know so that they can deal with any black spots or problem areas.

Following the most recent and significant outages, President and CEO of CUC Richard Hew said that he understood the frustrations caused when customers are without service.

“We sincerely apologize to all those persons who were affected. We continue to do all we can to avoid outages, and to quickly restore power when failures occur.  Reliability remains our key focus,” he added.

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Violent robbers still at large

Violent robbers still at large

| 21/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The unknown number of perpetrators responsible for the recent violent robberies have not been apprehended and police are still seeking witnesses to the incident that occurred at Pet Pros in Crewe Road, where the robbers are said to have assisted some customers who came into the shop while the robbery was underway. “We continue to investigate the robberies but there are no obvious links between them,” said David George.

The Police Commissioner was speaking to the media at an informal briefing on Tuesday 19 August when he said that the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) was analysing why these crimes had occurred. George said that while there were not any clear links the police were not ruling the possibility out. The Commissioner noted, however, that it would be unusual for a perpetrator to use a firearm in one incident and then in a short period of time commit another offence using a machete.

 “We are not closing our eyes to any possibilities but there doesn’t seem to be a thread with regards these crimes,” George added. “We are also still looking for witnesses and there are a couple of people who the perpetrators assisted in one of the crimes that haven’t come forward yet that could help the investigation.”

In the last three weeks there have been four violent robberies on Grand Cayman in the George Town area. The first was on Thursday, 31 July when a man was robbed at gun point while sitting in his car on School Road. Then on Friday 1 August two men entered Pet Pro’s on Crewe Road, armed with handguns and stole an undisclosed amount of cash. During that incident customers came into the store to purchase goods and the robbers pretended to be staff and assisted the shoppers.

 A week later on 8 August, McRuss Grocery Store on Party Lane was robbed by a man armed with a machete, and then on Sunday 11 August a lone security guard was robbed by two men outside of the Hard Rock Café in down town George Town, one of which was armed with a handgun. While police note that the MO has been slightly different in each of these incidents, a weapon was used to threaten the victims.

Speaking after the last robbery, Chief Inspector Peter Kennett of the Criminal Investigation Department said that, while it was too early to say for sure if police were looking for the same men or different men in each case, he was concerned that the robbers were apprehended before anyone was hurt and he advised people and businesses to take extra precautions to protect themselves against becoming victims.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local policestation or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling Crime Stoppers remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000 should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.  

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Eastenders face ‘dry’ day

Eastenders face ‘dry’ day

| 21/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): With two major water leaks on the same morning in two different parts of the island, Water Authority customers were left with dry taps for the best part of the day yesterday. At 3:00 am on Wednesday 20 August a pipeline leak was identified in the vicinity of the Bodden Town Police Station, and while crews were making arrangements for the repair a second leak occurred near  Associated Industries on North Sound Road.

Apologising to its customers in a written statement, the Water Authority explained that the leak in Bodden Town had affected areas east of the Police Station, which included some 861 customers who were without water for approximately 12 hours, and the leak in the vicinity of Associated Industries in George Town resulted in low water pressure issues.

“The Bodden Town main line break took place at a critical location on the main that services the eastern districts, hence the reason service was interrupted”, explained Rob Robler, Chief Operations Manager. “We were fortunate that the location of the break in George Town was such that we were still able to provide service to all customers, with just a few intermittent low water pressure issues.”

Robler added the authority was unsure why the problems had occurred but noted that crews had worked hard to get repair the damage as quickly as they could. “The exact cause of the breaks is difficult to ascertain as a number of factors come into play such as the age of the pipeline, ground conditions, and stress on the pipeline from heavy traffic,” he said.

Dr Gelia Frederick-van Genderen, Director of the Authority, offered her regrets over the inconvenience to customers and thanked everyone for their patience and understanding while the crews worked to restore the service.

“I would also like to thank our emergency staff for their responsiveness and for working so diligently to repair the line as quickly as possible,” she added.  

Tom van Zanten, Deputy Director, explained the Authority’s plans that will help mitigate such an outage in the future.

“The North Side Pumping Station which is currently under construction with completion expected later this year will minimize scenarios such as these, as significantly fewer customers will be affected by pipeline breaks. Once operational, we will be able to pump water from the North Side Water Works to our customers in the eastern districts,” he said.

The Water Authority also said that it reviewing plans to replace the pipeline in the North Sound Rd area as a measure to reduce the occurrences of the breaks that have been experienced.


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Labour Law presentation slated for the Sister Islands

Labour Law presentation slated for the Sister Islands

| 21/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A special presentation on the documentation employers are required to submit for their staff under the Labour Law is taking place in Cayman Brac for all business owners and managers. Slated for Wednesday, 27 August, the free presentation is a joint initiative between the Cayman Islands Investment Bureau and the Sister Islands office of the Department of Employment Relations.

Starting at 7:00 pm at the UCCI Campus Building in Stake Bay, Senior Labour Inspector Sandra Solomon will givean overview of the contracts and forms entrepreneurs are required by law to be using with regards to their staff.

Sister Islands Business Development Advisor for the Investment Bureau, Lolita Bodden, said, “We’re looking forward to providing the business community with the opportunity to gain expert insight and advice in the areas of Administration and Human Resources that are critical to their business.”

Ms Bodden stressed that understanding your legal obligations as an employer will help in the hiring process, and in maintaining proper documentation for employees.

All Sister Islands entrepreneurs are encouraged to attend this free presentation, and to sign up as soon as possible as spaces are limited. Call 948-2400 for more information and to register, or email

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