Archive for September 5th, 2011

Cops get 1000 bullets, 3 guns

| 05/09/2011 | 7 Comments

CNS): The recent two month long gun amnesty netted police a rifle, a shotgun, a lethal hand gun (left) and almost 1,000 rounds of ammunition. Three airguns, one of which could easily have passed for a genuine handgun if used in a crime, were also handed in during the no questions asked opportunity, which in the second month saw more than $1,240 given in exchange for guns and bullets. Following a slow start, police turned to a local businessman to help sponsor a cash payment for any live ammunition or working weapons handed into police. DS Marlon Bodden said he was disappointed that the amnesty did not net even more guns but it was still a positive initiative and one of many strategies to get firearms off the streets.

In the second month, once the instant cash reward was introduced, the police got more that 875 rounds of ammunition, which included shotgun shells and more than 300 small calibre -.22 bullets as well as a -.380 lethal barrel handgun. Bodden said that he was pleased with the decision to introduce the cash payments because during the second month the volume of ammunition brought into the police stations was quite significant, although several people did not take advantage and simply dropped off the ammunition and weapons without waiting for the money.

“We have to say without this amnesty we wouldn’t have got this ammunitions and weapons,” Bodden said. The senior CID officer added that “it was a tremendous help” to get so much ammunition off the streets. Overall, the amnesty was extremely helpful but was just one part of a wider firearms strategy and initiatives going on.

“Generally I’d rate this amnesty as a success. I would have liked more, but we got what we got and it’s no indication that because we are a bit disappointed with the numbers that we will be  discourage from having it again. We always review the circumstances and incentives to encourage people to bring in guns,” the senior officer said.

Although police statistics have revealed a decline in crime overall in the last year, robberies in which suspects are using real or imitation firearms is on the increase and a worrying trend for the local police. Despite a number of arrests and charges coming before the courts in some of the robberies, many of the perpetrators using the weapons remain at large.

Bodden confirmed that the weapons will be tested by a ballistic expert to see if any of them have been fired in or can be connected with a reported crime. After that, if the weapons are not linked, the commissioner will give the order for the guns to be destroyed.

In last year’s amnesty more than 22 weapons were handed in to the police, along with several rounds of ammunition. None of the weapons could be connected to a crime and they were recently broken up into pieces before being encased in concrete ready to be used as part of the moorings for the new police marine unit, which is set to be constructed at Spotts.

The amnesty was sponsored by Robert Baraud of High Impact Media.

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Suspect released in jerk stand shooting enquiry

| 05/09/2011 | 14 Comments

(CNS): The police have confirmed that the man arrested in connection with the shooting of Kemar Golding at a jerk chicken food stand in Red Bay in June has been released. Officers arrested an eighteen-year-old man for attempted murder on Tuesday 30 August following an operation in George Town. However, Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden stated on Monday that the teen was no longer in police custody. He said that at times police have to arrest individuals in order to carry out their enquiries but they need to secure evidence before they are able to bring any charges against any individuals. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

“Like every enquiry we have to present evidence, evidence that is sufficient to be reviewed to see whether or not there is an opportunity to bring charges,” he said. "But there are occasions where we can’t follow a particular line of enquiry unless we affect an arrest, though it doesn’t necessarily mean that person will be charged at the end of the day.” However, the police have to have reasonable grounds of suspicion that the person was involved in a crime before they can make any arrest, he said.

The police continue to investigate the incident in which 28-year-old Kemar Golding was shot through the eye by a masked gunman during a failed robbery but miraculously survived. Golding, who is an assistant brewer at the Cayman Islands Brewery and still recovering from his ordeal, lost his left eye in the failed robbery when he was assisting a friend to take out garbage as the popular food stand was closing for the evening on 29 June.

Three masked men reportedly emerged from behind the Prospect Play House and demanded cash from Golding and his friend. When they said that they had no money, one of the robbers instructed another who was carrying the firearm to “give him one”, and the gunman opened fire shooting Golding through the eye.

Anyone who has information regarding this or any crime can call the anonymous tip line Crime Stoppers on 1-800-TIPS (8477).

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Mac “sings” on YouTube in musical parody

| 05/09/2011 | 68 Comments

(CNS): While the Department of Tourism is using YouTube to portray the Cayman Islands as a holiday destination, an anonymous local satirist has put together a parody of local politics on the popular website. In a musical video that splices together clips from a Cayman27 broadcast, Premier McKeeva Bush "sings" a new song, called "What I see happening", with the help of backing music, a cockatoo, a keyboard playing dog and an appearance by the Muppet singing vegetables. The song plays on the premier's recent response to the auditor general's highly critical reports on government procurement. 

The short video clip notes, "In no way did Cayman 27 or any news service have a part in this video. It is soley a part of an ongoing situation. Hope you enjoy McKeeva Bush singing so beautifully."

Watch: McKeeva Bush SINGS!! – 'What I See Happening'

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Hopes and promises offered for future of Brac tourism

| 05/09/2011 | 19 Comments

(CNS): At a tourism awareness event during a long weekend government retreat on Cayman Brac at the Alexander Hotel, Premier McKeeva Bush noted that the GDP of the Sister Islands has dropped from $70 million in 2006 to $60 million now, but offered only vague promises and repeated previous announcements about the road forward. He said that it costs central government $13 million for the administration and running of the Sister Islands, which did not include the airport, seaport or the running of the hospital. “I’m not sure if Cayman Airways is in there either,” he said.

Bush said that he had had discussions with “the Chinese” about the “first class marina and ocean front facility pursued by the Scotts” and said they had made a commitment to build it, but offered no further details. “Of course,” he said, “they have an arrangement with Cayman first and that has to be done before they do anything new.” He has met with the Scott family (of Scott Development, which owns the surrounding land in the area around the proposed dock) and plans to work with them, he said, adding, “I’m not sure that that is something that will happen immediately, maybe two years.”

The premier said he has met with the board of Cayman Airways to discuss the possibility of improving the airlift to Cayman Brac, though he said there were “no promises.” Bush said he hoped that improved airlift would provide opportunities, especially in replacing Divi Tiara (a hotel which closed in September 2006 and is now derelict). He hoped those talking would make headway, he said, without explaining who or what was being discussed, “but it’s difficult to even get people talking, much less put money on the table.” He also hoped that with more properties they could get more airlines to consider routes to Cayman Brac.

There have been a number of applications for million dollar homes on Little Cayman, while on Cayman Brac there has been an application for 12 more affordable homes, he said.

Noting the importance of the existing tourism properties on Cayman Brac, he said, “I don’t know why … they still have problems with the Alexander Hotel.” Referring to the smell that sometimes emits from Salt Water Pond next to the hotel and proposals to alleviate this by letting in sea water, he said, “If it means letting in water, then let the water in …  That family has invested millions in that hotel. The pond is a deterrent.” However, he said, “If I have to move any mountain, then tell me which mountain I have to move.”

He identified lionfish as another problem on Cayman Brac that was “close to a critical situation” and said he was going to work with the minister (Mark Scotland) to offer some type of relief, which might include “a type of bounty system”.

The Brac office Department of Commerce and Investment has assisted 30 new or existing businesses in the 2011 calendar year so far, Bush said. The Development Bank continues to play a critical role in the economic recovery of the islands by providing financial advice and payment relief in restructuring finances. The past year the CIDB has provided financing for home renovations and construction of a new residence and is also financing a commercial venture, which will include a restaurant in phase 1 that is already underway, and a plaza in phase 2. The bank representatives will be on the Brac on 17 September, he said.

The premier repeated a previous announcement about the name change of the Gerrard-Smith International Airport to the Captain Charles Kirkconnell International Airport. “This takes away nothing from Mr Smith and Mr Gerrard and what they did,” the premier said. “I won’t disrespect any of Her Majesty’s past representatives but it was our people who took us to where we are.” There will be an appropriate ceremony in the near future, he said.

In the question and answer section Eddlee Martin noted the high cost of living on Cayman Brac. As an example he checked the prices at each of the three supermarkets on Cayman Brac for a box of Cornflakes that costs $5.89 on Grand Cayman. He said the prices he found for the same size and brand were $12.29, $14.30 and $15.25. “Something needs to be done. We are being taken advantage of,” Martin said and suggested that the government, which buys heavily from the local stores for social services, should boycott them until they bring down the prices. The premier said that there were no statistics on prices and a survey would be done so the government had a better idea of what to do, but he noted the economies of scale in servicing a smaller population.

Heavy equipment operator Raymond Scott complained about the high cost of fuel, which is currently $6.01 for diesel and $5.83 for gasoline on Cayman Brac, and asked why the government insisted on using the two fuel companies, Esso and Texaco, and did not buy from other sources, such as Petrojam in Kingston, Jamaica, or from Cuba, which, Scott noted, the government was already dealing with to buy other commodities. In response, the premier noted the MOU he had signed “to explore the matter” of oil refinery for Grand Cayman, which he claimed would “be cheaper all round”.

Scott also complained bitterly about the price of a licence to clear up beach property (CI$5,000), and said that he has been harassed by the Development Control Board and the police for doing so, saying that government workers did the same thing with a lot less care, since he always saved indigenous trees and shrubs wherever possible.  He said he had been arrested and humiliated for making “a few scratch marks” and this had made it difficult for him to feed his family.

The regulation concerning movement of matter on properties is being looked at, the premier told him, but they have to take advise from the planning department. “We have to follow guidelines,” he said.

The meeting on Cayman Brac also served to launch the national CaymanKind campaign, which was launched in the international market earlier this year. The Brac event was the first of a series of town hall meetings, which are planned throughout the islands.

In a presentation given by Rosa Harris of the Department of Tourism, Brackers learned that the campaign will educate the local population in the Cayman Islands about tourism and “evoke random acts of kindness as a way of life.”

Rock climbing on Cayman Brac is highly rated by enthusiasts of the sport but has never been promoted by the Cayman Islands government, but the DoT says it now has the “green light” from the premier to explore the possibilities. However, this is still in the early initial discussion stages.

In other initiatives for Cayman Brac, the DoT is planning a week long musical event, and better signage for tourism has been designed but has not progressed beyond the conceptual stage.

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Dart to break ground on road

| 05/09/2011 | 78 Comments

(CNS): The local developer who has entered into a major alliance with the government to develop a new resort along Seven Mile Beach will be breaking ground on the Esterly Tibbetts extension Tuesday, even though the main agreement with government has not yet been signed. Government has entered into preliminary deal with Dart, which among other things includes swapping crown land with the developer so the West Bay Road can be closed, allowing Dart to redevelop the old Courtyard Marriott site into a new beach front resort. Before the West Bay Road can be closed, however, the bypass needs to be extended into the district, and although the swap is not yet signed and sealed, Dart is going ahead with the extension as the first step in the development of the whole project.

Dart has already begun work clearing the old Courtyard Marriott hotel, which will be demolished to make way for the new resort, but until the bypass is finished the developer cannot close the road, which runs along Seven Mile Beach.  As crown land, which belongs to the people, the swap has to be approved by the Governor in Cabinet and according to the governor’s office, the proposal has not yet come before the government’s closed door inner circle.

The premier has also stated that negotiations over the ForCayman Investment alliance, which the deal between Dart and government has been named, are not yet complete and McKeeva Bush has said he is hoping to get more from the islands' biggest developer in what he says is already a good deal for the country’s future.

At present, the West Bay Road element of the deal involves government giving Dart some 2000 feet of land along the West Bay Road and in exchange Dart will give government land in Barkers and West Bay, pay for the construction of the Easterly Tibbetts extension, revamp the existing Seven Mile Public Beach and donate beach frontage further north along the West Bay Road area for a second public beach. The developer will also be making a cash donation to government of around $18 milllion, which government has said it will be using for community projects, mortgage payments and primary school revamps.

The deal also includes swapping the George Town landfill with land in Bodden Town, where Dart plans to develop a new waste-management facility, which it will give to government, and although it has received some support as people believe the projects will stimulate the economy, there is still considerable opposition from the public to the closure of the West Bay Road.

The ground breaking is set to take place at 5pm Tuesday and the public is invited to attend the ceremony, where the premier is expected to speak more about the ForCayman Alliance.

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Education centre herald’s success after first year

| 05/09/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Officials from the Year 12 programme at Cayman Islands Further Education Centre (CIFEC) are looking for more employers to join what they say has been a successful programme after the completion of its first year. Part of the final compulsory year of schooling for some students involves a Work Experience placement which has helped provide training and employment opportunities for the students. The young people attend work experience for two days a week throughout the school year as a result of the support from local businesses and government departments.

Margaret Jackson, Head of the Careers Service at CIFEC, said the experience offered the students the opportunity to gain a thorough understanding of the responsibility of being employed.

"Invaluable skills such as good communication skills, customer service and learning to use one’s initiative would be very difficult to teach in the classroom," she said. "We are extremely grateful to all the businesses and departments that have supported this initiative. The philosophy is there is no job without experience and no experience comes without a job,” seh added and asked any employers interested in getting involved to contact her.

Following the first full year of the programme at CIFEC many students have been offered the opportunity to stay with their employers on summer internships until moving on to continue their studies, some have also been offered full time positions, scholarships have been awarded and others are continuing with companies on a part time basis.

“We are extremely proud of the first destination success the CIFEC students have achieved’ said Sarah McDougall, a member of the teaching and Career service staff at CIFEC.

Year 12 students followed a variety of BTEC (Business, Training and Enterprise Council) and IMI Qualifications, studying for three days a week at school. These are regarded as being high level vocational qualifications and compliment the work experience programme through helping students to develop job readiness and employability skills especially important in the current economic climate.

Courses planned for the coming school year include subjects such as Creative Media, Business, Leisure and Tourism, Health and Social Care, Child Care, Motor Vehicle and Information Technology.

If you would like to assist by offering work experience placements for our young people please contact    the Career Service Margaret Jackson at 925-5424 careerscayman@gmail.com

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Judge alone trials continue in firearms cases

| 05/09/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Another murder case involving afatal shooting is scheduled to open In Grand Court Monday and yet again the defendant has rejected trial by jury. Leonard Ebanks (39) who is charged with the murder of Tyrone Burrell who was gunned down during a social function almost one year ago, will appear before Justice Charles Quin to judge his fate. The 39 year old man is accused of killing 20 year old Burrell last year in Birch Tree Hill on 20 September during a social gathering. The police said at the time of the killing that Burell could have been a witness in another case but had never told police what he knew, however, his silence had not saved his life.

The fatal shooting took place in the same West Bay yard where Damion Ming was killed on the eve of his return to prison for drug related offences following the failure of an appeal against his conviction. Police have not stated if they believed Burrell had witness that killing or another gun related offence.

Ming was shot and killing in March 2010 in what was a peak period for shootings in West Bay. One man is currently in custody charged with Ming’s murder and that of two other men.

Over the last few months defendants have rejected juries in favour of judge alone trials in the last three firearms related murder and also in two case of attempted murders. So far judges have acquitted in all but one of the firearms case. A verdict in the case against Elmer Wright who was accused of robbing Mostyns Esso in Bodden Town and the attempted murder of a police officer is expected next

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Premier backs project to teach kids Cayman heritage

| 05/09/2011 | 65 Comments

(CNS): Concerned about the need for young people to gain an understanding of their heritage the premier has partnered with Cayman Traditional Arts to start an afterschool programme for school children in years five and six. Mckeeva Bush, said ‘Bringing Heritage to Life’ will be available to students in all districts and will over twelve weeks expose children to the history and traditions that have been neglected by the regular school curriculum. . “We need to ensure that every Caymanian child knows who they are and where they come from; to have a deep understanding of heritage and culture, taught through history and art traditions of the Cayman Islands,” Bush said.

It is not clear which budget the programme is being funded from as neither the ministries responsible for culture or education are involved.

CNS asked the premier’s office if the project was being funded from the nation building fund or another source and we were told the programme is a “partnership between Cayman Traditional Arts and the Office of the Premier.”

“This programme is necessary, and for too long we have neglected this all too important component of our curriculum. This is a programme I wanted to launch many years now. I feel the times we live in now prove critical for us to do so. We don’t want our sense of self to be lost forever,” Bush added.

Chris Christian of CTA will the programme across all three islands and the premier said he could find no other person better suited to the project.

“Chris Christian is a Native Son, a celebrated local artist who has dedicated his life to the preservation of our heritage,” Bush said. “For the last seven years and through his company Cayman Traditional Arts, Mr. Christian has taught both locals and tourists about Cayman’s soul through culture and tradition. His knowledge of where we come from is vast and he is able to display that information in an artistic and engaging format. I am proud to have him on board this pilot programme. I have no doubt with his combined talents and passion this programme will be a success for our children.”

Christian has volunteered his time over the last few years at schools to teach students. In this programme, he will bring on board other local well-known artisans and historians he has worked with over the years to transfer their knowledge to the students. Over the 12 weeks the students will learn seafaring & thatch, cuisine & culinary skills as well as traditional games and entertainment.

“Bringing Heritage to Life” will launch this Monday, 5th September 2011 in the school hall of John A. Cumber Primary School in West Bay from 3 to 5pm.

For further information, please call Chris Christian at 926-0119 or e-mail artcayman@gmail.com.

 

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DoE take marine park findings on the road

| 05/09/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The people of Cayman will have the opportunity over the next few weeks to offer their input into the future management of the country’s marine resources. The Department of Environment (DOE) goes on the road this week with a series of public meetings to share the results from the first comprehensive scientific review of the Islands’ marine park system. Director of the DoE said that public consultation was an important part of the process of creating future strategies on how best to protect the islands natural marine resources.

“Moving forward, public involvement and community and stakeholder feedback will form a critical part of the process. It is vital that people feel a sense of ownership in the future of local marine parks and the resources they protect,” she said.

The legislation that protects Cayman’s marine environment is more than 25years old and the challenges faced today are very different from those when the law was first implemented. Gina Ebanks Petrie said that this review has allowed the DoE along with its collaborative partners to gather scientifically robust data that will help identify how effective the marine park system has been over the last 25 years, what risks it faces now and what we need to do to ensure viability of marine resources in the long-term.

“When the marine parks were established, we had a different set of risks to consider. At this time, the threats to our reefs have changed. This initiative will ensure that our marine protected areas keep pace with local and global threats,” she said.

With the national conservation law nowhere near the statute books despite the numerous changes, reviews and discussions the marine conservation law remains the only real legislation that Cayman has to protect its vulnerable natural resources and the public meetings present an opportunity for the people to learn why legislation is important and to share their thoughts about how to make the legislation effective.

The first meeting will be held on Cayman Brac tonight Monday, 5 September in the medical wing of the Aston Rutty Centre, starting at 7:30 p.m. There will be a short presentation as well as time for questions and comments. Refreshments will be served.

The second meeting will be at the Bodden Town Civic Centre, Wednesday, 7 September, 19:30-21:00 followed by North Side on Thursday. Meetings will be held in all other districts next week but a date for Little Cayman has not yet been scheduled.

For more information contact Laura Richardson at laura.richardson@gov.ky or 743-5915.

See full schedule below
 

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Minister pins hopes on early education

| 05/09/2011 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The education minister has said that legislation will soon be introduced in order to standardize pre-school education. Rolston Anglin said that one of the most consistent issues raised by primary teachers has been that children begin their compulsory education unprepared and as a result government will be focusing on this area he said in an effort to improve local provision of early learning. Anlgin added that the lack of preparedness was “the single most recurring theme” uncovered during his annual school visits and part of the reason why reception had been reintroduced to primary schools.

“If we did a good job at the beginning, we wouldn’t have to spend so much time making corrections at the primary and secondary levels. Fourteen years go by in the blink of an eye. Children grow from 3-16 years very quickly. When we get it wrong, the life chances of our people are at stake,”he said at a recent meeting of the Early Childhood Care and Education Unit, adding that early childhood education features heavily in his Education Stabilization Plan.

“Early care is a primary focus of this government,” Anglin said. “But this approach is not the easy route. The results won’t be immediately obvious. It may be 10-20 years before we can see tangible results.”

Senior Policy Advisor Julie Madgwick from the ECCE Unit which has been together for just four months said that the five person team has been reviewing local, regional and international best practice; visiting local early childhood centres, preparing documentation and data for the 2011-12 school year and aligning their work with the ministry’s Education Stabilization Plan.

She said the unit would support early childhood centres by assisting with information for parents and administering the pre-school assistance fund. She also noted that help would be provided in the development and implementation of centre policies and procedures.

The unit will also act as a support centre and provide regular, targeted professional development opportunities including a six-week course for untrained practitioners beginning in September. Madgwick added that the team will also spearhead the implementation of a quality, unified curriculum and encourage collaboration between early childhood centres and primary schools to ensure that children transition smoothly when moving from one to the other.
To attract more Caymanians to early years teaching professions the unit would share research about training pathways with high school students and other training organisations. She also said the team will support existing Caymanian practitioners and promote the profession using marketing and public relations tools.

The ECCE is designed to be a support agency to work alongside early childhood care and education centres to help them improve the quality of service.
 

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