Archive for February 14th, 2014

Cops point finger at fire-fighters over SoC image leak

| 14/02/2014 | 21 Comments

(CNS): Graphic images taken at the crime scene of a suspected murder-suicide last weekend which found their way on to local social media circle may have been leaked by fire service staff, police claim. A spokesperson for the RCIPS said Friday that three serving fire officers are now the subject of a report, which has been sent to the acting chief fire officer and the chief officer in the Ministry of Home Affairs. The spokesperson stated that the RCIPS has outlined the circumstances of the taking and distribution of the crime scene images in a report to the chief officers but the enquiry into the circulation of the images continues.

The police are liaising with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, which will ultimately decide what, if any, offences, have been committed in relation to the distribution of the images, which were taken at the scene of the murder of Nichelle Anna-Kay Thomas in what was believed to be her home and at the site nearby where the man believed to be her killer, Devon Roy Campbell, hanged himself. The police are not looking for any other suspects regarding Thomas’ death as they believe she died at the hands of Campbell in a tragic domestic dispute.

If anyone has any information which could assist this enquiry, they should contact DI Dennis Walkington on 325-8161.

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Firefighters to catch a break

| 14/02/2014 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Officials from the Home Affairs Ministry were hopeful that firefighters who had been battling the dump blaze around the clock since Wednesday should be able to stand down this weekend. By Friday afternoon the fire at the George Town landfill was almost extinguished, and provided there were no longer any signs of the conflagration, the firefighters who had been working some 50 hours non-stop were looking at catching a break on Saturday. The Public Health Department confirmed that although health officials were on alert, there have been no reported cases of ill health related to smoke inhalation. (Photo by Eric Bush)

The fire had been especially difficult to put out as experts estimated it was some 25 feet down inside the rubbish pile and required not just dosing but excavation and turning of the landfill to allow firefighters to direct the water cannons.

Officials explained that deep wells were successfully drilled, supplying water for the crews. Heavy equipment operators, under the direction of fire crews, are working with the Fire Services Department to expose the deep-rooted flames. Eric Bush, chief officer at the ministry, which now oversees the fire service, said he was happy with the progress made since Wednesday.

“I commend the brave men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to serve and protect our country and its people," he said. “It’s obvious we need to make some improvements to responding to dump fires and adequately supplying our officers with properly functioning safety equipment, which UK Chief Fire and Rescue Advisor Peter Holland pointed out after his review of the Fire Service team two weeks ago. We will learn from this and make the necessary improvements.”

The source of the fire, which began in the early morning hours of Wednesday 12 February, is still unknown and is under investigation. The fire was contained to unprocessed trash and at no time was it in danger of spreading to dumped tyres or vehicles.

Bush and the chief officer at the Ministry of Health, Jennifer Ahearn, as well as other  stakeholders will meet next week for a debriefing of the events surrounding the fire and efforts to put it out.

Dr Kiran Kumar, the medical officer of health, said that the Health Services Authority has been monitoring carefully for any occurrence of health problems due to smoke inhalation since the fire started. So far, no illness related to smoke has been reported. 

Health Minister Osbourne Bodden, who is responsible for the dump, said he was relieved that there were no reported cases of illness related to thesmoke, and apologised to the public for any inconvenience or discomfort they may have experienced during the past few days. Bodden also praised the work of the firefighters and Department of Environmental Health staff.

“These hard working, and committed, civil servants certainly rose to the occasion once again and proved to our country their dedication to service beyond self,” he said.  “I want to personally thank them for their hard work. It wasn’t pleasant work, but they got the job done. We have learned many lessons through this experience and now it’s time to move on and look ahead.”

The fire reinforces the decision of the ministry to form a multi-agency steering committee to spearhead the development of the Cayman Islands’ planned waste management system.

“I must reiterate what I said before. These fires only serve to underscore the fact that it is of critical importance to the country that we find a sustainable solution to waste management,” he said.

The committee held its first meeting on 22 January. Its remit is to provide government with their best technical advice, take responsibility for the business issues associated with the project, approve budgetary and procurement strategy, define and realize benefits and monitor the risks, quality and timeliness of the comprehensive waste management system.

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Sex assault at 7MB condos

| 14/02/2014 | 14 Comments

(CNS): A female resident was sexually assaulted in the grounds of a Seven Mile Beach condo complex in the early hours of Friday morning, 14 February, police have confirmed. George Town detectives are looking for witnesses to help find the suspect in what was described as a serious sexual assault. The attack happened about 2:45am within the grounds of Coco Plum apartments, Snooze Lane, behind Queens Court, on the West Bay Road. The 35-year-old woman was making her way from Queens Court to Coco Plum apartments when she was assaulted. She was taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town following the incident and has subsequently been released.

Police say they do not have a description of the suspect at this time.

Anyone who was in the area between 1am and 3am Friday and saw anything suspicious, should contact George Town CID on 949-4222, the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers on 800 8477(TIPS).

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Impressive finishes at Island Heritage sprint meet

| 14/02/2014 | 0 Comments

(Stingray Swim Club): The February 2-3rd Island Heritage Sprint Plus swim attracted over 150 swimmers from Stingray Swim Club (SSC), Camana Bay Aquatic Club (CBAC) and Team TI (TI) and was characterized by PBs, CARIFTA times achieved or lowered and events swam for the first time. The Sprint Plus, still a relatively new format in Cayman, allows swimmers to compete in the usual 25m (U6 and U8 swimmers) and 50m Sprint events as well as the longer 100m and 200m sprints or middle distance events as well. Stingray Swim Club’s Head Coach, Andy Copley was encouraged by the meets results – especially those of some of the club’s younger swimmers.

“The hard work our swimmers are putting in at the pool is starting to translate in to strong results for them in swim meets,” he said. “12 swimmers recorded a 100% PB strike rate and a number of our swimmes had some really great swims: Allyson Belfonte, 1st overall in the 25 freestyle (18.19); Sophie Hayman first in the 50 freestyle with a 2 second drop (36.61); Olivia Plunkett, had a 6 second drop in the 50 breaststroke (51.82); John Bodden dropped 9 seconds in the 200 freestyle (2:20.75); Alex Dakers had a massive 17 second drop in the 100 backstroke and Alison Jackson, earned new CARIFTA cuts in the 100 freestyle (1:06.73) and the 200IM (2:48.18).”

Latina Young, Island Heritage’s Marketing & Communications Coordinator attended the event and was impressed with the number of athletes taking part, the organization of the officials and the fast swimming taking place in the pool. “Island Heritage recognizes the importance of investing in the training and development of our young athletes. By supporting these swim meets, we are giving these swimmers the opportunity to achieve their aspirations of being Gold medalists,” she said. “Watching these young athletes swim and, understanding how much they have to train every week, is impressive. It represents the level of commitment and dedication that we want to continue to encourage in our young people.”

For the second year in a row, Island Heritage’s High Points awards were unique Stingrays purchased locally from Pure Art.

High Points winners were: Girls 6 & Under Sofia Bonati (CBAC); 7-8 Allyson Belfonte (SSC); 9-10 Sabine Ellison (CBAC); 11-12 Alison Jackson (SSC); 13-14 Lauren Hew (CBAC); 15 & Over Danielle Boothe (CBAC). Boys 6 & Under Cian Anderson (CBAC); 7-8 Stefano Bonati (CBAC); 9-10 Corey Westerborg (SSC); 11-12 Zachary Moore (CBAC); 13-14 Rory Barrett (CBAC) and 15 & Over Iain McCallum (SSC).

SSC President Amanda Roberts noted that the meet was successful both from a swimming and an officiating perspective. “There was a full complement of CIASA certified technical officials on deck judging the competition together with several of the newly certified CIASA timers. Having such a well-staffed meet also gave the opportunity for novice timers and technical officials to train for their certification or be assessed to move up a level.”

Swim officials are all volunteers who put in a significant number of hours in the classroom and on deck to officiate thereby enabling the swimmers to have their qualifying times and records formally recognised at home and overseas. It also helps the swimmers focus on the rules for each stroke and correct their mistakes prior to heading out for an international competition.

“On behalf of Stingray Swim Club I want to say a big thank you to all the CIASA officials and other volunteers, and of course,to our sponsor, Island Heritage.”

Stingray Swim Club members will next see action in the CIASA National Championships, February 20-23rd at the Camana Bay Aquatic Centre pool; and then the Walter Rogers Age Group National Championships in Kingston, Jamaica at the National Stadium pool. This is a long course event and will see some swimmers competing in a 50m pool for the first time, while others will be hoping to either obtain or drop CARIFTA qualifying times … for CARIFTA 2014 which takes place in Aruba, April 22-26th.

For more information on Stingray Swim Club visit www.caymanswiming.com .

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Man charged with stabbing in West Bay brawl

| 14/02/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 20-year-old man from West Bay was arrested on Tuesday, 11 February following a fight in the Birch Tree Hill area of the district.  Austin Jackson was charged with wounding with intent after he allegedly stabbed another 25 year old West Bay man in the neck. He appeared in court to Friday where his case was adjourned. The man who was stabbed during the brawl was treated at the Cayman Island Hospital, George Town, and released on the same day.

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SBA wants lower permit fees for small businesses

| 14/02/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): The local Small Business Association is pushing for lower immigration costs for small businesses in the Cayman Islands. In this week’s video interview with CNS Business, SBA President Joel Scott said this was the main issue for the group and they don’t believe that their costs for work permits, for example, should be the same as for a large entity that is well established and can afford to pay the larger fee. They would also like to see the work permit process speeded up, as well as changes to the process “so you don’t have to go back five or six times to get different information and have to re-do  things,” Scott said. However, the SBA is optimistic that, with this new government, change is coming. Read more and watch the video on CNS Business

Go to full article and links to all this week's video clips

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Dump burns in peak season

| 14/02/2014 | 58 Comments

(CNS): Although there were no ships in the George Town port on Friday morning, on Wednesday and Thursday some 26,000 cruise ship visitors and more than 10,000 overnight guests had already been subjected to the smoke and fumes from the George Town landfill, which has been burning since early Wednesday morning. While fire crews and staff from the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) are working round the clock to tackle the blaze, the fire is deep inside the garbage mound, making it very difficult to extinguish. Chronic under-investment at the dump over the years also means there is a shortage of working equipment that could help in the firefight.

Already a difficult fire to fight, the shortage of equipment is hampering the situation, though the DEH has hired additional excavators to help turn the garbage over and get at the source of the fire.

The hope is that the fire, which is now under control, will be extinguished within a few days. Fire officers have contained the fire and prevented any risk of igniting other parts of the dump. Having drilled wells to keep up the necessary water supply since there are no hydrants at the site, fire crews are now saturating the garbage.

Weather conditions have remained in the fire fighters' favour, with the wind driving the smoke to the east, allowing the crews to fight the fire more safely. However, the change in direction gives more residents and visitors a concentrated whiff of the burning rubbish. Thousands more visitors over the coming Valentine’s weekend, one of the busiest for the tourist sector, will be enjoying romantic dinners against the backdrop of burning garbage -a serious blow to the marketing achievements of the Department of Tourism.

Budget constraints, a failure to develop a recycling programme, political wrangling and special interest influence are among the issues have plagued the country’s landfill for years. Now, at a time when the situation has reached crisis point, Osbourne Bodden, the minister with responsibility for the landfill, who is taking the flak for years of neglect, has his hands tied by financial constraints forced upon the Cayman Islands by the UK.

However, Bodden has committed to spend whatever funds he can scrape together in the coming months to help improve matters at the site and give the DEH the tools they need to properly manage the garbage pile in the short-term. In the long term, he has committed to enter into a public-private partnership for a comprehensive waste-management solution at the site.

As a result of the under-funding and budget cuts, equipment needs to be replaced or repaired in the short–term and the managers need to be able to source aggregate to help in the compacting process to reduce the risk of future deep-set blazes.

While all open face landfills are at risk of such problems, the counter measures that help reduce them have recently fallen by the wayside, adding to what the wider public sees as another major critical issue for government’s growing list.

As the dump continued to burn, the Cayman International School, located close to the landfill, remained closed Friday.

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Auditors step up to health challenge

| 14/02/2014 | 3 Comments

(CNS): While auditing government accounts may require some serious mental gymnastics from the Office of the Auditor General, trying to make sense of them keeps the number crunchers in their chairs for hours on end. So, to counter the sedentary effects of that work, staff recently took part in a health challenge. Joining forces with the team from the Information Commissioner’s Office, staff from the two agencies managed to collectively walk almost five million steps during the 'Workplace Walk-off Pedometer Challenge' from 17 January to 7 February. This worked out to 22 staff members covering some 2,000 miles in three weeks, or about 100 times the length of Grand Cayman.

At a celebratory scavenger hunt and prize-giving on Saturday 8 February, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson praised the agencies for their achievement. Manderson said the pedometer challenge was worthy of emulation by the whole civil service, something that the organisers revealed may happen later in the year.

“This challenge fits right into our objectives of promoting wellness, a healthy lifestyle and teamwork,” said Manderson, who also participated in the scavenger hunt. Describing the civil service as one family working towards a common goal, he stated that public sector workers would benefit from taking on the challenge of becoming healthier, while having fun and getting to know one another better. 

Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick, also a scavenger hunt participant, emphasised the importance of health and wellbeing at the workplace and at home. He was happy to see his staff “better and fitter”, he said.

Audit Project Leader Ruel Huet picked up the first place trophy and a plaque for accumulating 864,907 steps during the challenge. Huet also earned the staff medal for achieving 5,000 steps or more per day, the most times for the entire challenge. His colleague, Winston Sobers, collected the second place trophy and medal for 527,561 steps and Patrick Smith bagged the third place trophy with 390,518 steps.

Other winners were Clara Smith from FOI and Acting Deputy Information Commissioner Cory Martinson – Biggest Mover, Female and Male respectively; and Gay Frye won Top Performing Female.

To ensure that all counts were above board, the OAG “audited” the figures the participants submitted each day.

All winners received aslew of donated items, including the top prize of a smartphone from LIME.  At the same time, those who took part said there were other benefits to the competition: between them the top four participants lost 22.5 pounds.

“We are deeply grateful to all our sponsors whose generosity made our challenge all the more attractive,” Audit Principal Patrick Smith said. Winston Sobers, who led the organising team, gave special thanks to LIME and all the other sponsors.

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