Archive for July 10th, 2012

Conservation law gathers dust

| 10/07/2012 | 60 Comments

P1010019.jpg(CNS): The minister with responsibility for the environment told CNS recently that he could not say when the national conservation law would be coming before the Legislative Assembly, and although government was still committed to passing the bill, Mark Scotland said he did not know whether there would be further amendments to the proposed bill. As Grand Cayman faces the prospect of another major development in an area of significant natural sensitivity, the director of the Department of Environment said this week that there was an urgent need for legislation to ensure the country’s environment was given as much consideration as other issue when considering future development.

“The DoE maintains the view that it is urgent that legal mechanisms are put in place to ensure that environmental concerns are weighed equally alongside other concerns in national decision-making processes,” DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie told CNS.

The law went through its last period of consultation in the summer of 2010, some two years ago, and there has been no further specific news from the minister about his intentions regarding the law since. 

With no sign of the promised legislation, the news of another major development proposal in the eastern district has caused some concerns among local environmental activists that see the advent of the proposed hospital and now a major mixed use project as a further blow to preserving some of Grand Cayman’s last untouched natural habitat.

Both of these proposed developments are in close proximity to the sanctuary that is being established in the district for the famous and iconic blue iguanas and in an area where environmental experts believe the handful of remaining wild iguanas live. The area where both the hospital and what has been termed the Ironwood development are proposed to go is home to many of Cayman’s endangered and indigenous species and the size of such projects would warrant an environmental impact assessment.

Ebanks-Petrie told CNS that so far no one has approached her department to discuss this latest proposed project and the DoE was not yet aware of the proposed components project. Therefore, she could not say with any certainty exactly what was at risk as a result of the proposal.

She confirmed that the under the National Conservation Law, as it is currently drafted, there would be an obligation on Central Planning Authority to consult with the National Conservation Council before making any decisions or authorising any actions that would negatively impact environmental resources, which the DoE is proposing would be the trigger for certain kinds of development an EIA.

“It is possible that the DoE would recommend an EIA even without the NCL if the project was a large one with a variety of components (residential, commercial and golf courses)  and/or the habitat and resources being impacted were of special interest or significance,” Ebanks-Petrie stated.

The Ironwood development was first announced in the Legislative Assembly by the premier last month during a debate on government’s motion for an emergency stop gap budget. Last week the developers, Eagle Assets Management, who are believed to be the people involved in MC Restoration, the company contracted to clear Grand Cayman in the wake of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, stated through a local spokesperson that the development would include a town centre and residential community.

Targeting both locals and North American retirees Denise Gower from Fountainhead said the $300 million development will feature a sports village, including a championship PGA Tour winner designed 18-hole golf course, and tennis courts; family entertainment including a movie theatre; convenience and boutique shopping; residences and tourist accommodations.

She said Eagle Assets Management plans to complete the project over six years and will not be asking for credits, import duty waivers or other concessions from the government to initiate and complete the project. They will be using local firms and workers to undertake the development and more details are expected to be released next week.

Related article:

$300m development goes east

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Dart gives out debut science scholarships

| 10/07/2012 | 0 Comments

MI-Recipients (236x300).jpg(CNS): Dart Cayman Islands has given the first of its Minds Inspired Scholarships to a student from Clifton Hunter and a student from Cayman Prep David Forbes and Ethan Whittaker have been awarded the  scholarship which promotes academic excellence in math and science after what Dart officials described as a rigorous testing and interview process. The boys will receive full tuition costs for four years at the high school of their choice in Cayman and the creation of a college fund, a mentoring programme with Dart employees, and enrichment activities to further encourage, support and inspire them to achieve their full potential.

David and Ethan were described as outstanding young scholars who led a field of 25 applicants from seven high schools. To ensure the total integrity of the outcome, the identities of the applicants remained anonymous to the selection committee and were only revealed once the final selections had been made, Dart stated in a release.

Mark VanDevelde, Chief Executive Officer of Dart Enterprises Ltd, said there was an excellent response to the scholarship programme launch.  “Just by participating, each student demonstrated an interest in academic achievement and we want to encourage all of them to continue to strive for excellence. I am pleased to congratulate David and Ethan and welcome them to the Minds Inspired Programme,” he said. “The Minds Inspired Scholarship Programme supports Dart’s philosophy of promoting education and fostering academic excellence in math and science. We believe that these two disciplines are fundamental building blocks for academic and career success.”

Three finalists Abbie McMillan, Mina Whorms, and Zarek Deosaran will along with the two scholarship recipients receive a new Apple iPad in recognition of their hard work during the selection process.

Joanne Lawson, Senior Manager of Organisational Development at Dart Enterprises Ltd said there were five assessment rounds to fully evaluate the students’ abilities.
“We established a very thorough and carefully managed process from the start to ensure we were judging these students based on merit and merit alone. We’re very excited about supporting these two scholars in their future career and educational choices,” she said.
The programme also recognisesthe important role played by the students’ schools and a grant of CI$1,000 has therefore been awarded to the math and science departments of Cayman Prep and Clifton Hunter.

Visit www.mindsinspired.ky for details on this year’s scholarships and applications for next year.

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Hospital begins upgrade to state of art MRI services

| 10/07/2012 | 15 Comments

E--img-MRI-tech-3-Tesla.jpg(CNS): The George Town hospital is set to dramatically increase its diagnostic capability for  determining the severity of injuries or causes of illnesses. As a result of a public private partnership the hospital’s MRI services have been temporarily upgraded with the installation of a 1.5 Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This is only the first step however, of a two-step process that will place a 3.0 Tesla MRI at the Hospital within one year. The introduction of the technology by the HSA partner 3T Cayman, which successfully responded to tender, is a huge enhancement for the provision of local health care and allow the hospital to provide medical services unavailable elsewhere in the region.

Hospital CEO Lizzette Yearwood said the temporary MRI machine was an important addition to the services at the Cayman Islands Hospital. “The temporary 1.5 Tesla is located on the HSA compound in self-contained housing equipment developed especially for the MRI scanner,” she explained.

“The leap from a .03 to a 1.5 is a huge one for the provision of healthcare for Cayman’s residents. The immediate benefit is that residents who need MRI scans at higher resolution can now remain on island to have their procedures completed, thereby reducing the need for inconvenient travel, as well as the high costs,” Yearwood added.

By the end of the year 3T Cayman and the HSA will move forward further in its aims to provide high quality scanning facilities for its patients, with the installation of an even higher powered 3 tesla MRI scanner.

“The 3-tesla machine possesses a high field strength MRI that can show structures that have not ever been seen before,” said Dr Yaron Rado, spokesperson for 3T Cayman “With this machine blood vessel as small as 200 to 300 microns can be seen; this is an important benefit to doctors…Radiologists who have been testing the high field strength MRI in clinical settings, show results that the 3–tesla machines can do anything a workhorse 1.5–tesla scanner can, but can do it faster and better.  It really is about as good as you can get when it comes to MRI scanners.”

Yearwood noted that once installed, the 3-tesla machine will be the only one of that quality available in the region, including South Florida.

The installation of the machine will lead to some services moving and the hospital boss said patients need to look out for future notifications, as there will be some relocation of services once the 3-tesla arrives.

The public-private partnership allows the HSA to provide citizens enhanced and more convenient services while remaining within its budget.. 3T Cayman will assume responsibility for providing and maintaining the equipment, and for providing qualified staff. Officials said that cost savings will be realized because beneficiaries who would have previously needed to go off-Island will now be able to have their required procedures on island.

“With the installation of the 3-tesla MRI scanner at the end of the year we look forward to offering a service that is unprecedented within the region for the benefit of all Cayman residents,” Yearwood added.

 

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Why a dog is a child’s best friend

| 10/07/2012 | 0 Comments

dog & baby.jpg(Daily Mail): They have long been thought of as man’s best friend. But it seems dogs could also have benefits for babies. Having a pet dog helps keep under-ones free from breathing problems and infections, studies suggest. Researchers found babies who lived with a dog spent fewer weeks with ear infections, coughs or running noses. They were also less likely to need antibiotics. Dogs are thought to prime children's immune system to attack bacteria and viruses. Living with cats could also be good for babies’ health, but to a lesser extent. The finding knits with the hygiene hypothesis – that a certain amount of exposure to dirt and grime helps the immune system mature.

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Anti OMOV campaign – who’s footing the bill?

| 10/07/2012 | 37 Comments

I was very interested to see an ad against the one man, one vote (OMOV) campaign on TV this weekend – even more interested to see the tag line at the end which read: “Paid for by the Office of the Premier”. As this didn’t say “Paid for personally by the Premier”, I would imagine it’s safe to assume that this ad campaign is funded by government, which of course is funded indirectly by us.

I have a problem with this. Specifically, using “our” money (of which we’re all painfully aware there is a shortage) to fund a campaign under the guise of “informing the public” and then taking the easy way out … Why knock on doors or have volunteers set up stalls in the public domain when you can use the public purse to pop an ad on TV, therefore solving the dilemma of reaching maximum people with minimum effort!

Personally it shows the lack of respect for the public that has been evident throughout the current premier’s term of office. That said, it really does go a long way to show thedifference between those campaigning for OMOV and the dedication and commitment those people have had and continue to demonstrate.

Yes, they have an agenda (to educate and therefore encourage the majority to vote for OMOV).  But – if you have not had the chance to meet any of those campaigning for our vote for OMOV, I encourage you to get in touch – they are running an honest and educated campaign funded solely by themselves and their supporters, and despite not having the government coffers to dip in to, have managed to raise considerable funds in order to get the maximum information out to the maximum number of people with considerable effort on their part and that of the numerous volunteers they have enlisted over the course of the past few months.

OMOV may not be the be all and end all but the campaign has been transparent, and although supported by many political figures, is also supported by many with no political aspirations but who have finally had enough and realize that writing to the papers and talking endlessly about what terrible times we’re in is not enough.

I applaud the energy of those who have given up their weekends to educate and those who’ve been raising funds behind the scenes and all those who quite simply just want to find a way to a better tomorrow.

I shall see you at the polls on 18th July!

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