Archive for December, 2014

Assistant labour boss retires from DLP

| 31/12/2014 | 10 Comments

(CNS): The Assistant Director of the Department of Labour & Pensions (DLP) Robert Whittaker retired Wednesday after 24 years in public service. Whittaker was the longest serving employee at the DLP and officials said he has played a major role in significant change at the department over the years. This included the revamping of the Labour Tribunals in 2002, which divided the original body into six separate boards and saw the introduction of formal training for all new members. He also assisted in the establishment of the Conciliation and Mediation Unit in 2002, which separated the Complaints Section from the Enforcement Unit. Since 2000 Whittaker has served as Assistant Director and Senior Labour Officer. 

From 1998-2000 he worked as Senior Labour Inspector, and prior to that was Labour Inspector from 1991 to 1998. In 1998 he also spent time seconded to the Turks and Caicos Labour Office. For much of his tenure at DLP he also served as an ex officio member of the Immigration Board.

“I can’t say enough about Mr. Whittaker’s work ethic and leadership,” said the director of labour and pensions, and acting superintendent of pensions, Mario Ebanks. “His commitment, dedication and sincere interest in helping people are commendable.  He will be missed.”

Acting Chief Officer in the Ministry for Employment, Christen Suckoo thanked Whittaker for his “exceptional commitment” to the Department and his outstanding service. “I wish him the very best in his future endeavours and hope he enjoys his retirement which he rightly deserves,” he added.

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Hospice doc gets royal gong

| 31/12/2014 | 36 Comments

(CNS): Dr Virginia Hobday (Clough) has been given an MBE in the Queen’s 2015 New Year’s Honours List. Dr Hobday was recognized for her services to hospice care in the Cayman Islands in the annual list of royal gongs. She is presently the medical director for Cayman Hospice Care and has served on the organisation’s board of directors since 2001. She was the only Caymanian to receive a mention on the honours list this year. More than a thousand people were recognised by the Queen mostly from the UK including celebrities, politicians and other famous faces. See full list here.

Check back to CNS later for more on Dr Hobday

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Premier optimistic for 2015

| 31/12/2014 | 45 Comments

(CNS): The country’s leader spoke about “amazing” opportunities for Cayman in his New Year’s message Tuesday. Premier Alden McLaughlin said his government would continue to build on what he described as it accomplishments over the past year. He said that during 2014 the economy had improved and there was a return of public and investor confidence. Admitting there was lots still to be done, he urged employers to take on more local workers in 2015, even if it meant training them, to help government address the ongoing employment problem among Caymanians. He said that much of the growth in the economy and employment expected next year would depend on development projects by both government and the private sector.

McLaughlin said that the PPM government’s negotiations with Dart to amend the terms of the NRA agreement were on the right track, although after some 18 months of talks there was still no deal for the premier to announce in his New Year message.

“Our discussions continue to be meaningful and productive and I am confident that we are now near the end of this saga,” he stated.

In addition to the much anticipated construction projects which the current administration, like the last, sees as the answer to getting Caymanians back to work, the premier said government would continue to grow and support the main economic pillars of tourism and financial services.

Talking about the need to fight crime and “stamp out the scourge of armed robberies”, he pointed to the importance of creating job opportunities and helping people find work as a major goal of the administration.

“I again appeal to employers and business owners, especially as the economy continues to improve, to give more Caymanians employment opportunities, even if that means that you need to train them. Government is doing its part to create the environment that allows businesses to succeed and to provide educational and training opportunities for potential employees. But we do need greater involvement, investment and commitment to hiring Caymanians from the business community if we are to return to full employment,” McLaughlin urged.

Describing himself as an optimist, the premier said he believes the future of the Cayman Islands is bright.

“The sense of certainty and confidence we felt at the beginning of 2014 continues to gain momentum and is taking us into 2015. We are only going to get better and better,” the premier promised.

He took aim at the press, however, for what he described as the “negativity about all things Cayman and Caymanian that has unfortunately become the stock-in-trade of certain media houses” and said Cayman is still one of the best places in the world in which to live.

“There is much to celebrate about this country. My prayer is that in the New Year, the positive things about Cayman and Caymanians, the things which make us unique and attractive to the rest of the world, could be given even half the prominence in the media as is given to the bad news stories. There is much good in these Islands and its people. It would be good to see it in a news story now and again,” he lamented.

“There is much to be done,” the premier acknowledged, adding that the road ahead will not be all smooth but said he was confident government would meet the challenges head on.

See full speech below.

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Sponsors step up at 11th hour

| 31/12/2014 | 8 Comments

(CNS): Following the revelations on Cayman News Service Tuesday that the National Drug Council was unable to find backers to support the annual New Year’s Eve Purple Ribbon Bus, three last minute sponsors came forward yesterday afternoon and the service will now run. Cayman National Bank and Jacques Scott stepped up with the first part of the cash required, and the Health City Cayman Islands topped up the amount to enable the government agency to run the free service that helps keep the roads safe following the NYE celebrations. The police had raised their concerns that the service was not running as the buses carry well over a thousand people home safely.

The NDC said the bus will now run from 9pm on New Year’s Eve until 4am on New Year’s Day. Having found the sponsors at the last minute following the CNS story, this will now mark the 14th year since the inception of the programme aimed at reducing the number of drinking and driving incidents.

“We know that many of our residents and visitors make every effort to drink responsibly or designate a driver. However, there are still many people who remain confident in their abilities to drink and then drive safely, regardless of the evidence and information available which clearly indicates the negative impacts of drinking and driving,” said Joan West-Dacres, the NDC director.

There will be approximately six buses from Reid’s Premier Tours running a regular route from West Bay to George Town on New Year’s Eve between the hours of 9pm and 4am, with intermittent travel available to the Eastern Districts of Bodden Town, East End and North Side.

The buses will display Purple Ribbons on the front and will pick up passengers at all major restaurants, bars and nightclubs, or at regular bus stops on the route.  If you see a bus approaching you can signal the driver for a pick up.

“On behalf of the National Drug Council, I wish to again extend our appreciation to our sponsors of the 2014 Purple Ribbon Bus Service, Health City Cayman, Jacques Scott Group Limited and Cayman National Bank. I would like to encourage each of you to take advantage of this opportunity to ensure you arrive home safely. The NDC wishes you a SAFE and Happy New Year,” said West-Dacres.

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80% say no to beneficial ownership register

| 31/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Government released a report Tuesday on the public consultation it carried out earlier this year regarding how the jurisdiction should tackle the issue of access to who really owns offshore entities registered in the Cayman Islands. The report revealed that over 80% of the people and organizations that responded do not believe Cayman needs a central register with public access and opted for the status quo, leaving the collection of information to the corporate service providers. Most of those who took part in the consultation said a publicly accessible central registry would create a significant financial burden, violate privacy and information security and put the offshore industry at risk. Read more on CNS Business

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UCCI observatory captures the sun, moon and stars

| 30/12/2014 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Since it open in February 2012, the star gazers at UCCI, led by Observatory Director Dr Bill Hrudey, have been documenting the sun. Producing some important observations, Dr Hrudey is keen to encourage more people to get involved in astronomy. In addition to working towards the STEM conference at the UCCI next spring, he will also run an astrophotography course every Tuesday evening, starting 6 from January, with a solar session to be scheduled on a Saturday morning. A comprehensive course for beginners and intermediates, it will be held in the observatory classroom and cover star trails, wide field, solar, lunar, planetary and deep sky objects. Hundreds of school students, from pre-K to seniors, have toured the observatory and been impressed with images taken through the various telescopes.  

A number of service clubs have also visited, in addition to guests of the university from off-island. 

Dr Hrudey is onsite almost every day capturing solar images in the hydrogen alpha band with the Lunt 60 double stacked solar scope.  This telescope is specifically designed for solar observations and captures many of the impressive details on our very dynamic sun. In the last year, two of the largest sunspots on record have been imaged and are included in the massive library of solar images.

Although it does not have the biggest telescope in the Caribbean, it is one of the most sophisticated collection of computerized and imaging equipped facility capable of research level activities.

Anyone interested in signing up for the astrophotography course should contact Dr Hrudey as soon as possible as seats are limited to 15 people only. Tuition is $150 for the entire semester and students should bring an 8 gig thumb drive to the first class to download software and practice files. They should, if possible, have a DSLR with interchangeablelenses and be fluent in Windows.

For further information, please contact Dr Bill Hrudey, at 327-1892 or

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Volley ball society to develop beach game in 2015

| 30/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation (CIVF) recently held board elections under the auspices of the NORCECA board of administration, the regional governing body for all national volleyball federations of North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Four NORCECA delegates attended the elections along with observers and voting members. Seven people were elected for a four year term and members have been assigned their roles and responsibilities for 2015. With a permanent facility for hosting beach volleyball events, NORECA President Cristóbal Marte Hoffiz, tasked the board to continue the development and promotion of the game in Cayman by hosting a minimum of two beach events during the coming year.

He also urged CIVF to hold additional tournaments for indoor volleyball. As President of NORCECA, he pledged his full support and commitment to the new board and extended an opportunity for CIVF to facilitate the construction of a Sport Court free of cost to further develop volleyball in the Cayman Islands. NORCECA will continue to support CIVF with an annual grant of up to USD $8K for volleyball sporting equipment, technical, and financial support.

The new Board will establish a timeline and strategic plan for their term of office in the coming weeks, officials said with several key areas in discussion including local tournaments, community access to equipment and participation in club volleyball, general membership and advocacy for the sport. The board is also committed to standardizing all aspects of the Federation’s functioning while raising its profile.

“These efforts will include players at all levels, voting members, non-voting members, coaches, officials, referees, friends of volleyball, fans, as well as volunteers who may wish to contribute to the excellence of the sport and the philanthropy of the Federation,” said in a release.

See full release and the names, titles, responsibilities and contact information of the new Board.

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Queen talks reconciliation in Christmas message

| 30/12/2014 | 27 Comments

(CNS): The British monarch’s annual broadcast to the Commonwealth on Christmas Day focused on reconciliation. Although talking mostly about holding the UK together, following the Scottish referendum on independence, in her message Queen Elizabeth II spoke of the first Christmas of the First World War where “without any instruction or command, the shooting stopped and German and British soldiers met in No Man's Land,” and the possibility of reconciliation, even at the worst of times. “Sometimes it seems that reconciliation stands little chance in the face of war and discord,” she said. “But, as the Christmas truce a century ago reminds us, peace and goodwill have lasting power in the hearts of men and women."

Among a number of other themes, she revealed how she had been "deeply touched" by those who treated victims of Ebola.

The Queen, who is one of the richest women in world, also spoke about her faith. She said the life of Jesus Christ has been an "inspiration and an anchor” in her life.

"Christ's example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people, of whatever faith or none," she added.

To see the broadcast in full visit the British monarchy’s website here.

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No backers for NYE bus

| 30/12/2014 | 43 Comments

(CNS): The National Drug Council will not be running the Purple Ribbon Bus this year because they could not get sponsorship for the free service which is credited with helping to keep Grand Cayman’s roads safe on New Year’s Eve. With the police urging people not to drink and drive as they press ahead with Operation Dasher, the lack of a free service to take people home after the end of year celebrations will increase the likelihood of more drunks behind the wheel. The NDC has been organising the service for many years but with a limited budget the government agency depends on the private sector to help. This year, however, there was no one willing to back it.

A spokesperson for the RCIPS said that they were disappointed to hear that the service would not be running as the NDC reported that more than 1,200 people along the West Bay Road alone used it for the 2013 celebrations between 11pm and 2am.

“The Purple Ribbon bus programme historically has been an asset in the NYE celebrations,” the police spokesperson said. “In its absence this year RCIPS urges the public to car pool, use designated drivers or other means to safely travel in and around parties this season. It only takes one drunk driver to disrupt the socio economic standings of a family.”

The police said that they support the additional safety that a free bus service can bring for revellers and that the season "is here to be enjoyed – and not one for sorrow.”

Over the years the NDC has managed to raise the cash to pay a local tour operator to run a number of buses from 10pm on 31 December until around 3am on New Year’s Day between West Bay and Bodden Town as part of a campaign to reduce the number of potential alcohol-related car smashes and to keep drunk drivers off the roads. Llocal restaurants and bars usually also offer free soft drinks to designated drivers.

Despite the eleventh hour, however, there is still a chance that some local company or wealthy sponsor could help to get the free buses on the road before the party starts tomorrow night, as it could be done for as little as $4000.

Anyone who can help can contact the NDC on 949-9000 or

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Runway walk reveals debris under control

| 30/12/2014 | 22 Comments

(CNS): Officials from the Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) said they were pleased to find very little debris on the runway at Owen Roberts International Airport recently when it conducted its annual Foreign Object Debris (F.O.D) Walk. CIAA’s senior manager, safety management systems, Andrew McLaughlin said that the lack of foreign objects demonstrates that the authority is doing a good jobgetting the message out to all the agencies at the airport about the dangers of debris. The end of year event was organized by CIAA’s Safety Management Team and it encourages all the airport partners to do their part to keep the runway clear.

As well as raising awareness about the dangers of foreign debris, clearing debris from all Airport Operating Areas the exercise also helps various airport agencies learn more about what type of foreign object debris to look out for at the airport.

“We were very pleased with the outcome since very little debris was found,” said McLaughlin. “This is a good indicator that we are doing a good job in keeping the runway free from foreign objects.”

Participating agencies included the Airport Rescue Fire Fighting Services (ARFFS), Flowers Air Dispatch Services (FADS), Cayman Dispatch Services (CDS), United Airlines, Air Agencies, Island Air, Blue Skies Airlines and CIAA. The agencies were split into teams that covered different sections of the airport to identify and remove any debris

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