Archive for February 9th, 2012

‘Quarry’ refusal appealed

| 09/02/2012 | 45 Comments

quarry 4.JPG(CNS): UpdateThe tribunal meeting has now been postponed in connection with the following story–:   The residents of Mahogany Estates in Lower Valley are in fear that their homes could once again be on the doorstep of what they describe as a quarry. Despite the many refusals to the plans, the developer is not giving up. The planning tribunal will hear an appeal on Monday by Whiterock Investments against a decision it made one year ago not to allow the the excavation of 295,000 cubic yards of fill in the area. The residents of the Lower Valley Forest community, which is also home to a number of indigenous and native endangered species, have been battling with Whiterock for some 15 years over blasting and excavation in the heart of their quiet, countryside community.

Although the residents had hoped, once again, last year that their long running misery may have ended when the CPA denied the application, the appeal has raised significant concerns, not just for the homeowners but the local environment, which is home to the critically endangered white shouldered bat.

The application in February last year was denied, as was the case in October 2008, on the basis that it was illegal to pursue activities that would "cause noise and create a nuisance and annoyance to the residents of the area" and "negatively affect the quality of life of the residents in the surrounding area". The developer has filed an appeal stating that the CPA was “erroneous in law, unreasonable and in breach of the rules of natural justice.”

However, allowing the application would certainly be a threat to the natural environment as the developer wishes to level land in the heart of a habitat of particular significance.

As well as being home to the white shouldered bat, which was once thought to be extinct in the Cayman Islands but was rediscovered in the area in 2001, the Department of Environment hopes the forest will become one of the country’s first critical habitats protected in law should the long awaited national conservation law ever be passed.

With no conservation law in place at present, as with every planning issue the CPA or tribunal hears, during this appeal there will be no compulsion for it to consider the environmental implications nor, should the appeal be allowed, would the landowners be under any obligation to carry out an environmental impact assessment.

Both the endangered bat and the residents will be depending on the planning law, which prohibits excavation on such a scale in a residential area. Whiterock has denied allegations by the residents that the original application was a quarry but claims the goal is to level the land for development. The developer also claims that because the blasting will be done during the day the impact of the excavation on residents will be kept to a minimum.

In last year’s application Whiterock also stated that the environmental impact would be minimal as it would move some of the native trees at the site and as a result believed that any species at risk would move to the surrounding area.

Bishop Nicholas Sykes, one of the Mahogany Estate residents who has been leading the fight against the excavation for more than a decade, said that although the CPA had ruled against Whiterock three times, the residents once again would be forced to fight for their homes, their right to peace in their community and the environment. 

The appeal will be heard in the GIS conference room on the 2nd floor of the Government Administration Building at 9:00am.

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Driver charged over death of pregnant woman

| 09/02/2012 | 5 Comments

_DEW6593.jpg(CNS): Six months after a women and her unborn child were killed in a road smash on Sea View Road, the driver of the car has been charged with Causing Death by Dangerous Driving. Police said Thursday that a 24-year-old woman is expected to appear in court next week in connection with the fatal smash which happened last year on Sunday evening around 7pm, 14 August. A 25-year-old pregnant woman, who was a passenger in the vehicle, died following the crash and the driver was also seriously injured and airlifted overseas for medical treatment. Two other women who were also in the car both suffered serious injuries as well and were treated at the Cayman Islands hospital. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

At the time of the incident the female driver was arrested on suspicion of DUI and causing death by dangerous driving. Police had said it appeared that the vehicle had been travelling along the road towards Bodden Town when it apparently went out of control, collided with a tree and came to rest in a bush area.

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Everyone benefits from local food, says minister

| 09/02/2012 | 0 Comments

slow food (196x250).jpg(CNS): The minister with responsibility for agriculture has called on people to support local farmers following the success the first Slow Food Day at the Agriculture Pavilion in Lower Valley last Saturday that demonstrated the connection between locally grown fruits and vegetables and how they are prepared.  The minister said the whole community benefits when people by  locally grown  food. The event matched farmers with the islands’ tops chefs allowing the public to eat the prepared food and buy the fresh ingredients used during the event which served as a curtain raiser for the 45th Annual Agriculture Show.

Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said it was good to see everyone working together.

“Farmers need the chefs and restaurants need the farmers. There is nothing better than growing what you eat,” the minister said. “A lot of the food we consume in this country are imports because we don’t see it best to support our local farmers. When we buy Caymanian, we are telling the farmers a thing or two, because the schools the churches, the communities and the entire country benefit.”

A large crowd lined up for a chance to sample the freshly grown and prepared ingredients at what was describe as a “perfect marriage of events,” by the Cayman Islands Agricultural Society president Errol Watler.

“Everyone that came said they enjoyed it, and best of all people got a chance to see firsthand how the ingredients we farmers grow are connected to what they eat. It was a fantastic atmosphere. I would like to thank all the farmers and the chefs and restaurants that participated,” he said.

Local restaurant owner Michael Schwartz said, “Anytime you can get people excited about where their food comes from, meeting the farmers who grow it and connecting with chefs who cook it, and getting up early on Saturday morning, it's a huge win. The first annual Slow Food Day accomplished all of that.”

Farmers that were paired with chefs to demonstrate the farm-to-table component were Errol Watler and Paul Caroll of Grand Cayman Beach Suites /Hemmingways, Joel Walton, Paul Bodden and Keith Griffith of the Cayman Islands Culinary Society, Hamlin Stephenson and Sara Mair of Ortanique Restaurant, Patrick Panton and Niven Patel  of the Brasserie Restaurant, Donna Conolly and Thomas Tennant of Michael’s Genuine Restaurant. 

The Brasserie featured jerk chicken and green onions on Italian bread. Thomas Tennant and local egg farmer Donna Connolly combined to present scrambled eggs on garlic toast. Chef Keith Griffin’s recipe worked well from Joel Walton and Paul Bodden’s  farms– island spiced pork-loin and freshly made vegetable salsa. 
 

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Health care providers to display inspection approval

| 09/02/2012 | 0 Comments

portal-graphics-20_1158084a_0.jpg(CNS): All doctors’ offices, hospitals and other health care facilities that have been inspected by the Department of Health Regulatory Services will be given a health care facility certificate to show they have passed muster. All facilities inspected in accordance with the national standards gazetted in April 2010 should be displaying the certificate to inform their customers that the facilities have met with approval. The certificates also prove that the practitioners working in the facility are professionally registered. Officials said that inspections are done in accordance with The Health Practice Law (2005 Revision), Section 16, which calls for the inspection of all health care facilities.

This law defines a health care facility as: “premises at which health services are provided by a registered practitioner.” Section 16 further requires that these facilities are “…being kept in accordance with the standards set by the Commission relating to physical facilities, equipment, personnel and procedures which standards shall accord with relevant guidelines or codes in the United Kingdom, Canada or the United States of America.”

Facilities that do not fit the legal definition of a health care facility, such as tattoo parlours and colon cleansing businesses, are not subject to the inspection requirement and cannot be registered through the Department of Health Regulatory Services.

The Department of Environmental Health, under the Public Health Law, is charged with the inspection of facilities and activities for adequate hygienic, sanitary and safety procedures. There are no certificates issued by the Department of Environmental Health for this inspection.

For more information on the registration of health care facilities, visit the Department of Health Regulatory Service’s website at http://dhrs.ky/hpc/
 

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Radar on target for 2013 hurricane season

| 09/02/2012 | 25 Comments

P8290040.JPG(CNS): Government officials are crossing their fingers in the hopes that the new Doppler Weather Radar Station being constructed in East End will be completed and ready for action by the start of next year’s hurricane season. The CI$4.6 million station, paid for via a European Commission (EC) grant for disaster preparedness, will give the Cayman Islands real time access to information about any approaching weather systems, from thunderstorms to hurricanes, as it covers some 250 miles. It will also address the “black hole between Cayman and Belize” in radar coverage currently in the Caribbean.

This system is the final link that will connect radar stations in Belize, Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, offering total coverage for the region.

“The data the National Weather Service will receive will be available for weather forecasting and in particular better hurricane preparation. It will be viewable online in real time by anyone,” said Fred Sambula, Director General of the CaymanIslands National Weather Service.

“At the moment the Cayman Islands uses satellite imagery, which requires interpretation of the data, but with the Doppler system Cayman will get accurate real-time information when storms or any other weather systems threaten or move through our area, so that residents can be better prepared,” he sai, noting that this is an important issue since Cayman has the highest number of direct hits in the Caribbean.

In January, the Central Tenders Committee awarded the contract for CI$1.448 million to Islands Builders Ltd, which is operated by Dean Scott, to build the 41-foot tower that will support the radar dome. Work began shortly afterwards.

“Our Weather Service does an excellent job of forecasting the weather, but the Doppler weather system will take the guesswork out of the equation so that the Weather Service will be able to supply a higher quality of data to our farmers, pilots and, of course, the general population,” said Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor Connolly at the groundbreaking.

In the context of a changing climate, she said Cayman could see more and stronger hurricanes “It becomes extremely important … that we have in place the relevant institutions within our early warning system that will deliver the most credible, reliable and timely information to policy and decision makers as well as to every citizen and resident of our nations. Our new and advanced Doppler Radar is most definitely a major tool in this regard.”

She said that adding the Doppler Radar to the warning arsenal by the 2013 season would close the void in the western Caribbean coverage, enhancing the quality of warning information at home and across the region.

Dopplers allow meteorologists to predict rainfall and provide data on wind flows in the atmosphere because they can detect the range and rate of movement of objects, such as rain drops. The Doppler wind data assists in accurate forecasting of changes and flows leading to more accurate predictions about the severity of weather. The Doppler can also measure the rotation within a thunderstorm, which is the precursor to tornadoes.

The contract to manufacture, supply and install the digital radar itself was awarded to Selex System Integration, based in Germany, while another German company, ICON-Institute, won the bid to provide a technical assistant on contract for the duration of the project.

The Cayman Islands Airports Authority and the technical assistant are responsible for ensuring that all financial and procedural activities of the project are in accordance with the requirements of the European Union.

EC Head of Delegation, Marco Mazzocchi Alemanni, said this project is a key component of the EU’s strategy for support and disaster risk reduction through new programmes and projects. The establishment of the early warning system in Grand Cayman will boost the region’s ability to prepare for natural disasters, which will in turn save lives and property, the EU boss said.

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Cops hunt for WB burglar

| 09/02/2012 | 32 Comments

Jeovanni Carter Ramirez - wanted for burglary.jpg(CNS): Police have issued a photo of a man they believe is responsible for a series of burglaries in West Bay. Officers say they want to question nineteen year old Jeovanni Carter Ramirez (left) who comes from the district as he is suspected of being involved in crimes which have taken place in the District over the past few weeks. He is described as 5’5” in height, medium build with a dark brown complexion with long bushy hair, a beard and moustache. Chief Inspector Richard Barrow, the Area Commander for West Bay, said police in the district were having problems finding the local teenager who the senior officer said knows he is a wanted man.

“Despite intensive police enquiries officers have been unable to trace Carter Ramirez. It's clear he knows that we are looking for him and has gone to ground. If anyone has any information about his current whereabouts, or knows of anyone who is assisting him, they should contact West Bay CID on 949-3999, the RCIPS Tip-line 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS),” Barrow stated Wednesday morning.

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Manderson plans to make civil service no#1 boss

| 09/02/2012 | 42 Comments

_DEW9175.jpg(CNS): The new deputy governor has said that he intends to make the Cayman Islands civil service the employer of choice. Having taken up his post as the public sector’s boss on 1 February, Franz Manderson says he will be introducing significant changes that will improve the culture of the service. Among his list of plans as head of the public sector is encouraging dialogue and open communication among employees at all levels, providing a quality induction for new civil servants; supporting both personal and professional growth as well as promoting customer service ethics and good performance. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

The new deputy governor will also facilitate the involvement of public sector workers in charitable organizations or activities that are relevant to their work objectives. His focus Manderson states is to put the civil service first making it a respected and independent organization that cares for the well-being of its employees.

“It is my goal to make this organization the employer of choice in the Cayman Islands – one which rewards its staff for successful performance and high excellence,” he said as he promised to keep his long held open door policy.

Manderson will be the subject of the government’s television show Spotlight on Monday when he outlines some of the “significant changes planned “to help improve the culture of the civil service.”

Respected both inside and outside the civil service, Manderson grew up in West Bay and joined government’s workforce in 1981 as a clerical officer. In 2003, he got his degree in law after which he took a 12 month break for the public sector to pursue his articles at Walkers. He was called to the Caymanian Bar in 2004 and then returned to the Immigration Department later becoming Chief Immigration Officer.

In 2009 he was appointed Chief Officer in the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs where he worked to improve strategic effectiveness and has introduced crime-reduction legislation such as the Alternative Sentencing Law, the Police Law and the Information and Communications Technology Authority Regulations. He also led a number of initiatives aimed at promoting security, including the National CCTV Programme.

Manderson attributes his success in the public sector to his colleagues, friends and mentors John Bostock, Jerry McGuire, Orrett Connor, Donovan Ebanks, George McCarthy and James Ryan andhis mom Jenny Manderson,  who he say was not only a positive influence in his life but made the sacrifices to allow him to pursue an education.

GIS Spotlight airs on Cayman27 at 8:30 p.m. on Monday and 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. All stories seen in this week’s show can also be found on the GIS Marketing and Communications website: www.gis.ky and an audio version can be heard on Radio Cayman Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m.

 

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Double dipping to be banned in TCI civil service

| 09/02/2012 | 26 Comments

piggy-bank-on-money-md1_0.jpg(CNS): While numerous civil servants in Cayman, as well as politicians continue to draw their pensions while still working for government and getting a salary from the public purse as well, the practice is about to be banned in the Turks and Caicos Islands.  It is still legal in Cayman for civil servants to ‘double dip’ as it has been termed which means they can retire from the service and take their pension but at the same time be rehired by government under contract. According to the TCI governor’s office the interim government of that UK territory intends to end the practice which it said will save government much needed revenue.

Following a pension review last year which identified the issue of civil servants who had been re-employed by the TCI government  after they had retired aged 55 and who were still collecting a pension the Advisory Council  announced on Wednesday that retirees who go back to work can no longer draw a pension as well as a salary.

“The payment of their TCIG pension while they continue to be employed effectively doubles their income at a cost to the TCI taxpayer, the governor’s office said in a statement outlining a number of planned changes that will affect the TCI civil service pensions.

Here in Cayman despite some enforced retirements recently there are still more than 50 civil servants believed to be employed in government who have retired and who are drawing on their pension entitlement but who have either re-taken up their post on a new contract or are working for the public sector in another capacity leading to the so called ‘double dip’ into the public purse.

Three members of the Legislative Assembly, including the premier are also drawing both a salary and a pension as was revealed following a long FOI wrangle with the PSPB after it denied a CNS request to reveal which MLAs had taken up their entitlement.

The practice was berated by Ezzard Miller the independent member for North Side who although entitled to take his pension had not done so. He said that the practice may not be illegal but it was most certainly “immoral and unethical” as retirement meant you stop working and not an excuse to get two cheques from government.

The premier defended the rights of Civil Servants as well as MLAs to take their pension and carry on working. Speaking in the Legislative Assembly last April he said the public needed to understand that there was nothing wrong with what he and the other members were doing.

He said he had been the one scapegoated for 'double dipping but asking what was he supposed to do about his own earned benefits he said should he “wait until he was dead” He pointed out that if that were the case, his wife would receive only half of the benefit that he had worked for and earned. Bush said that although some believed it was not right to take a pension while still working for the same employer, he did not agree.

“There is nothing wrong with that,' he added. “These days when life is so uncertain, when a person comes to that point in their lives when they can get paid back what they paid, why shouldn't they be able to get their pension?”

He suggested the public criticisms about it were based on jealousy but that noone was doing anything wrong or immoral.

 

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Over 1/4 of world’s murders happen in Caribbean

| 09/02/2012 | 59 Comments

_DEW8636-cns.jpg(CNS): A new report published by the United Nations Development Programme reveals that crime has become the main challenge threatening economies and livelihoods in Caribbean countries. The Caribbean Human Development Report 2012 says that the violence erodes the very foundation of the democratic processes in the region and imposes high social, economic and cultural costs. Although home to only 8.5 percent of the world’s population, the region has 27 percent of the world’s homicides. The report reveals that Jamaica still has the Caribbean’s highest murder rate despite a fall in the number of killings in 2011 to a seven-year low. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

El Salvador and Honduras are the only countries in the world to have higher murder rates in than Jamaica, while the report reveals that in Trinidad, the murder rate has increased five-fold over the last decade. The total cost of gang-related crime on the regional economy is between 2.8 percent and 4 percent of GDP.

The UN report surveyed 11,555 citizens in seven countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
“Violence limits people’s choices, threatens their physical integrity, and disrupts their daily lives,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark at the report’s launch Trinidad this week.

“The report stresses the need to rethink our approaches to tackling crime and violence and providing security on the ground. This report stresses the need to rethink our approaches to tackling crime and violence and providing security on the ground. We need to follow approaches that are centered on citizen security and address the causes of this recent increase in violent crime, including social, economic, and political exclusion,” Clark added.

The report does make a number of recommendations about how high rates of violent crime can be turned around by achieving a better balance between legitimate law enforcement and preventive measures and a stronger focus on prevention. It also recommends that governments create or invest more to address gender-based violence and adopt more preventive measures to ensure that violence against girls and women is no longer tolerated.

See full report here

 

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