Archive for August 19th, 2014

Health officials continue to monitor diseases

| 19/08/2014 | 1 Comment

(CNS): With the continuing outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa and the regional spread of chikungunya virus medical officials and stakeholders met at the Cayman Islands hospital for the second time on Wednesday, 13 August, for a general update on issues relating to the two diseases. While Ebola poses considerably less of a threat the spread of chikungunya in the Caribbean is of concern locally but so far Cayman has contained its limited exposure to the disease. Since the first case in June just five cases have been confirmed and only one patient is suspected of contracting the disease locally.

According to the public health department 19 suspected cases have been investigated and bold samples sent for testing. Nine of those have been negative, one inconclusive and four results remain outstanding in addition to the five positive cases. Regionally there are some 7,894 cases of chikungunya with more than a half million suspected cases being reported. Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by the bite of infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, similar to dengue. Symptoms include fever, severe joint and muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.

Local health officials are remaining vigilant about the potential spread of the disease and following up on the recent meeting officials said public health experts will also be meeting with border control personnel to establish a best practice approach to ensuring the continued containment of the chikungunya virus at portsand airports. They will also discuss pro-active, preventative and protective public health measures, following a recent global advisory on Ebola. Although that disease is unlikely to prove a threat to the Cayman Islands with more than 190 nationalities living in Cayman and hundreds of thousands of visitors to our shores every day from air and sea monitoring the potential risks remains important.  

Medical Officer of Health, Dr Kiran Kumar, issued an advisory on Ebola at the beginning of August following international concern over the ongoing outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The disease is a rare but a serious viral infection that affects humans and animals such as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees. 

Meanwhile, the containment of chikungunya has been assisted by the mosquito control measures and the public’s efforts to keep yards clear of standing water which is the breeding ground for the urban mosquito the Aedes aegypti which carries the disease. Health Minister, Osbourne Bodden stressed the importance of removing anything that might hold standing water from around their properties, as well as wearing protective clothing and mosquito repellent.

“I am relieved to know that protocols are in place to treat and handle any infected persons,” the minister said this week. “Should any person appear ill, I encourage all front line customer service staff to be vigilant and ask pertinent questions in a diplomatic way.”

To determine if the country you are travelling has chikungunya or Ebola, please contact the Public Health Department at 244-2648. Travellers to such countries are advised to consult a physician should they develop symptoms on return. For more information on both viruses, visit or

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Lionfish CULL attacks reef pest

| 19/08/2014 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Divers removed 579 lionfish with a total weight of more than 250 pounds from Cayman Islands reefs this weekend during the third lionfish tournament this year organized by CULL (Cayman United Lionfish League). Sixty scuba divers and free divers in 13 teams signed up for Cull #12 Summer Showdown to help get rid of the invasive and voracious fish and compete for the cash prizes on offer, according to the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, which supports the effort towards helping Cayman's underwater ecosystem. Afterwards, the reef pests were cooked up by the chefs at Rackams, who provided delectable sautéed lionfish on garlic crostinis. (See related video below)

This tournament saw CULL team up with ‘Culling For A Cause’ to sponsor ARK (Act of Random Kindness) by donating the remainder of the fish to the cause to retain the profits. One of the teams was even so generous to donate their own prize winnings to this noble cause.

Rackams again provided the headquarters for this tournament and registration took place on Thursday 14 August. The weigh-ins on Saturday and Sunday evening allowed teams to have their prize catches weighed and measured before being cooked up by the chefs at Rackams who provided delectable sautéed lionfish on garlic crostinis.

Gold sponsor Foster’s Food Fair donated $4,800 in cash prizesand $500 was awarded to each first place winner and $100 for each second place in four separate categories for both Scuba Diving and Free Diving divisions:

Scuba Divers:
• Most Lionfish:
– 1st Place – Ambassador Divers – 130
– 2nd Place – Team Lisa – 72

• Biggest Lionfish
– 1st Place – Ambassador Divers – 294mm
– 2nd Place – Hog Heaven – 293mm

• Smallest Lionfish
– 1st Place – Ball & Chain – 54mm
– 2nd Place – Ambassador Divers – 58mm

• Overall Weight
– 1st Place – Ambassador Divers – 32.2kg
– 2nd Place –Culling For A Cause – 13.6kg

Free Divers:
• Most Lionfish:
– 1st Place – Green Water – 130
– 2nd Place – Cayman Deep – 42

• Biggest Lionfish
– 1st Place – Cayman Deep – 304mm
– 2nd Place – Green Water – 297mm

• Smallest Lionfish
– 1st Place – Green Water – 49mm
– 2nd Place – Green Water – 60mm

• Overall Weight
– 1st Place – Green Water – 14.8kg
– 2nd Place – Cayman Deep – 9.4kg

New CITA Executive Director, Tiffany Dixon-Ebanks, said, “CITA is pleased to lend support to initiatives that will lead to the eradication of the Lionfish from our pristine waters. We would certainly like to extend congratulations to the CULL team for another successful event – good job! The CITA also extends thanks to Foster’s Food Fair for their generous sponsorship of this very worthy cause.”

The Cayman United Lionfish League thanked all sponsors who made this tournament possible, especially Foster’s Food Fair, as well as CITA, Rackam’s Waterfront Bar & Grill, Ambassador Divers, Vibe 98.9, Spin 94.9, DoE, Signs of Paradise and Monogram’s and More.

See CNS Library entry: Lionfish problem

Related video on CNS Business:


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Barbadian community seeking honourable men

| 19/08/2014 | 14 Comments

(CNS): In a bid to let those men who are making a positive difference in the community know they are important the Honorary Consul to Barbados in the Cayman Islands is sponsoring a Man of the Year Award and will at the same time raise funds for the local Boy Scouts. People are asked to nominate men living in Cayman who have made outstanding voluntary contributions and community service or a significant contribution to Barbadian or Caymanian cultural and social activities in the Cayman Islands. Organisers said men who are role models, or have made contributions to education, the arts, sports, medicine, humanities or who have inspired others to better serve their community can all be nominated.

All nominations will be reviewed by an independent panel and shortlisted candidates will be put forward for election. Nominees do not need to be from Barbados but must reside in Cayman and nominations must be submitted before 26 September via post or email at: Man of the Year Award, P.O. Box 203, Grand Cayman  KY1-1501, email:

The Awards will be presented at the Barbados Independence & Thanksgiving Dinner On 28th November at the Wharf Restaurant with guest speaker Delores Callender-Taylor from the Unleash Ministries in Canada.

See nomination flyer and form below


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Local athletes begin competition at Youth Olympics

| 19/08/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Cayman’s five athletes are getting down to work in China at the 2nd edition of the Youth Olympic Games being held in Najing. Cayman is represented in athletics, equestrian, gymnastics and sailing. Following the opening ceremony on Saturday when sailor Florence Allan carried the flag for the Cayman Islands among more than 200 represented nations, Morgan Lloyd (left) was the first of team Cayman to compete. Lloyd achieved personal best results in the floor exercise and the vault in the women’s all-around gymnastic competition with a total score of 41.250 a substantial improvement from her previous personal best of 39.334.

The sailing competition kicked off on Monday but with little wind to work with, in the Men's Byte CII Pablo Bertran placed 19th in race 1 and 27th in race 2. Florence Allan placed 9th and 25th respectively in the Women's Byte CII races. On the second day Bertran and Allan, sailed conservatively and Bertran now sits 26th in the men’s and Allan 21st in the female fleet. She said. “It’s a really good competition. I’m having loads of fun and it’s really cool to meet everybody and have a really good competition.”

Bertran’s who was injured before the games said he had returned to the boat for the first time for the games.

“I was pushing my knees and every day I wore it down. It was not so much hiking in the boat, just overuse and pushing it. It was injured a week out before and the first time I sailed after that was here in China,” he added. Bertran also fought hard for position in the light breeze on Lake Jinniu, 70km out of Nanjing and finished 20th and 22nd in the day’s two races.

Polly Serpell who is riding Georgio Zan, an 8 year old Belgium warm blood horse in the Equestrian events began her team competition today with regional riders in an event that will take place over two days, with the individual jumping event following a rest period, starting on 23 August.

Serpell is the first equestrian to represent the Cayman Islands at the Youth Olympics and despite sitting her exams this summer she has been training intensively with friends lending her their horses for her to gain as much borrowed horse experience as possible. Serpell has had three days training on the horse she is riding at the competition.

Pearl Morgan will be running the 200m on Friday 22 August with the heats starting at 20:35 (CST). She will also be a part of a mixed 8x100m relay on 26 August at 16:00. The young athlete said training has been going well and training sessions at the Olympic stadium started today to allow the young sprinter to focus on starts and the stadium environment.

Alongside their training and competition the young people take part in a number of cultural and education programmes covering healthy cooking, environmental protection, digital media, agriculture and the Olympic Journey.

Reporter Jade Webster was also sent to Nanjing to take part in the Young Reporter’s programme which she described as amazing 

In the first few days Webster said she has written athletic profiles on past Olympians, attended guest speaker sessions with the President of the International Olympic Committee himself and represented the Young Reporters Programme at a press conference, where she spoke about her passion of becoming a better journalists. This week she will be attending intensive training courses in all fields of journalism (Magazine Editoials, Broadcast, Text and Social Media), with mentors from around the world, including CCN Journalist Tracey Holmes, Photographer Nick Didlick and Head of the IOC Media Operations Anthony Edgar.

Webster is staying at the Youth Olympic village with the athletes, normally journalists wouldn't be allowed to stay in the village, so this is a rare and fortunate opportunity.

"This is the real deal, this is no 'mini Olympics'” she added.

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Local netballers vie for place in Aussie 2015 world cup

| 19/08/2014 | 2 Comments

CNS):The Cayman women’s national netball team set off for Canada on Friday ahead of the Americas Federation of Netball Associations Regional Qualifying Championship in Calgary, Alberta. The women will be playing against the best netballers in the region to vie for a spot in the 2015 World Netball Championships in Australia. Katherine Gow, said the team had been training hard and looked forward to playing their best in the competition.

The team were given a send-off by the governor at the airport who said, “We are very proud of you and we will be rooting for you.”

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Fire crews still dousing smouldering dump

| 19/08/2014 | 16 Comments

CNS): Officials from the fire station confirmed Monday evening that five fire fighters were stillat the George Town dump attending to the smouldering debris after a fully-fledged landfill fire on Sunday morning. The fire service also offered “a multitude of thanks” to some local business owners who provided breakfast and dinner to the twelve members of the fire service on duty through Sunday and Monday who were tackling the blaze. Garry Rutty owner of Burger King, Judy Wight from Pizza Hut and Dave and Martha Crawford from Crawford Electrics generously helped to keep up the fire fighters’ collective strength by ensuring they were fed during their battle with the dump blaze.

Given the volatile nature of the landfill fire officials said that the dump would continue to be saturated and while there was no longer any sign of smoke the crews would continue to focus on the original area of ignition throughout Monday night to be sure.

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Credit card scandal rolls on

| 19/08/2014 | 182 Comments

(CNS): Following the recent revelations by the auditor general over the misuse of government credit cards, hospitality and travel expenses by senior government officials and ministers, samples of credit card statements that illustrate the extent of the abuse have been passed to CNS by a reader. The statements, which come from various government departments, show politicians and public sector employees spending extravagantly on the government dollar while at home and overseas and undoubtedly using the public sector cards for personal use, including expensive purchases for jewellery as well as for general shopping in US department stores. There is no indication, however, on the released records when any personal costs were paid back or whether any minister or civil servant was ever questioned about non-business related charges.

The sample credit statements of government credit cards given to CNS and published below are extracts from the spending records of KurtTibbetts and the card used at times by Arden McLean when they were ministers during the PPM administration between 2005 and 2009 and a record of the spending of Juliana O’Connor-Connolly when she was a minister and premier during the last UDP and minority government between 2009 and 2013.

The documents also include snapshots of the spending records of chief officers Kearney Gomez, Carson Ebanks, Alan Jones and Gloria McField-Nixon. The records have been given to CNS by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous and we are unable to say why this particular group of civil service bosses and these ministers were singled out but CNS is currently working on a number of other FOI request relating to the details of government spending on hospitality and credit cards for public sector bosses, politicians and the governor’s office.

The random selection of credit card statements gives further credence to the allegations of abuse made by the auditor general in his latest reports that whatever credit card policies were in place in the past, both ministers and top civil service bosses were ignoring them.

It is evident that the cards were used to buy booze, despite the understanding that alcohol cannot be purchased on government credit cards. The cards were also used in US department stores, clothing outlets, duty free shops, jewellery stores and specialty stores in the US, such as Bed, Bath and Beyond, making it hard to see what business related purchases could have been made at these establishments.

Credit Card holder D, who from the records released appears to be Arden Mclean, used that card on Christmas Eve 2007 to purchase a $3,500 watch from Kirk’s Jewellers at the Bay Shore Mall in George Town. Meanwhile, despite having a house in her constituency of Cayman Brac, the credit card records show the now well documented but as yet unexplained record of Julianna O’Connor-Connolly spending thousands of dollars on rooms at the Brac Reef Resort and the Alexander Hotel during her time in office as a minister and then premier between May 2009 and March 2013.

All of the records also show an extravagance when it comes to the places civil service bosses and ministers were staying when travelling, with Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton Hotels coming up frequently. When it comes to meals out and entertaining, bills appear to have been submitted with little consideration for the public purse as the officials wined and dined in expensive restaurants at home as well as overseas.

See released records attached below and related story links here:

CIG runs up $8.6M travel bill (9 June 2014)

ACC to look at travel audit (11 June 2014)

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West Bay Road appeal to be heard in November

| 19/08/2014 | 16 Comments

(CNS): Four ladies from the district of West Bay who are pressing on with their legal case over the closure of the West Bay Road by government under an agreement with Dart, the largest developer in the Cayman Islands, will have their appeal heard in November, the appeal panel confirmed Monday. The ladies also heard that the Attorney General’s Chambers will not be seeking its costs for the appeal even if the ladies lose in what has been seen as a wider public interest case. Dart, however, was not as generous and argued for its costs. But while the islands' wealthiest investor wished to reserve the right to claim costs should the women lose the appeal, the court has limited the scope since there should be no further arguments made by the developer in addition to those presented by the AG.

The legal dispute over the closure of the West Bay Road was lost by Alice Mae Coe, Annie Multon, Ezmie Smith and Betty Ebanks in the Grand Court earlier this year as the judge ruled that the women were out of time.

As a result Justice, Justice Alex Henderson did not go onto consider the merits or otherwise of their claim that the government was wrong to enter into the deal with Dart in the way it did and the unconstitutionality of the deal. Although there are various human rights and other constitutional questions raised by the case, none of the issues were addressed by the court.

The women said Monday, however, that they believe their case has significant merit. They also said that they have solid grounds of appeal regarding the timeline because of the uncertainty surrounding when the deal was official between the signing of the first so-called NRA agreement in December 2011 to the actual gazetting of the road closure in March 2013.

Speaking about the short appeal case management hearing on Monday, the ladies said they remained determined to press on and were pleased that the attorney general, who is representing the government in this appeal, had made it clear to the court that, regardless of the outcome, it would not seek to recover costs from the women.

Annie Multon explained that this was particularly important to them now as they are funding the project from their own pockets and with the support of the wider group that continues to back their position that the closure and the way it happened was unlawful. With many Caymanians and legal residents still concerned about the deal as a whole, as well as the closure of the road, the women have been able to fund the appeal so far but they are hoping to raise more cash to cover their legal costs to continue what they say is a very significant legal battle which is about much more than the closure of a stretch of road.

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