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Cuban drowns in local rough seas

| 04/01/2015 | 2 Comments

(CNS): A Cuban migrant drowned Saturday evening in rough seas off the coast of South Sound when the makeshift boat he and three other men were in capsized. Police said that they had received a report on Saturday evening that an 18 ft. vessel was floating near Sand Quay Island, South Sound and four people were in the water. Members of the public helped the men and brought them ashore but one of the migrants was unconscious. A doctor who was at the scene rendered CPR but he was unable to revive the man. The four were said to be on their way to Honduras and had attempted to seek safe harbour when they encountered the rough seas and their vessel was overturned by a strong wave.

Officials stated that the three survivors are currently in the care of the Immigration Department and the circumstances surrounding the death of the Cuban migrant, identified as Manuel Marino, is currently under investigation by the Marine Dept. of the RCIPS.

The men were reportedly got to shore clinging to two inner tubes with the help of local surfers before they were taken into the custody of immigration officials. Sources also say the local police had been watching the wooden sailboat during the day but took no part in the rescue.

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Driver killed in Brac crash

| 03/01/2015 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Cayman saw its first road fatality of the New Year late Friday night when a car ran off the road and reportedly exploded in the vicinity of Songbird Drive and Ashton Reid Drive on Cayman Brac. Police are now appealing for witnesses to the crash that happened at around 11:40pm, when the male driver in the Honda Logo car, which was travelling south, lost control and swerved off the road. The vehicle struck a wooden fence post and reportedly burst into flames shortly after. Fire crews called to the scene extinguished the blaze but the body of the man, who is understood to be a resident of the Brac from Honduras, was found behind the steering wheel. Police have not yet identified the driver.

Investigators from Grand Cayman have been flown to the Brac to assist in the investigation but anyone who may have witnessed the accident is asked to contact the Cayman Brac Police Station at 948-0331 or CRIME STOPPERS at 800-8477 (TIPS)

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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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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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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 info@ndc.ky

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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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George Town facing busy cruise ship week

| 29/12/2014 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Merchants in and around downtown George Town will be hoping to make the most of this week’s cruise ship calls as some 55,000 visitors are expected to arrive in the capital’s harbour.  Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will see the heaviest numbers, when more than 37,000 passengers will be aboard the 17 ships expected to call over those three days. While December arrival numbers are expected to give the cruise industry a boost as the year draws to a close, police are warning drivers that the harbour front will be heavily congested. The RCIPS said that uniformed officers will be on patrol between 8am and 4pm but motorists are being asked to seek alternate routes to avoid delays.

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Pump prices fall to $5

| 29/12/2014 | 83 Comments

(CNS): After weeks of waiting some local pump prices finally fell to $5 this holiday but gas prices in Cayman are still slow to reflect the international fall in world oil prices. According to the petroleum inspectorate's latest price updates of all of Cayman’s gas station prices, on Christmas Eve both Walker’s Road and Mike’s Seven Mile Esso were selling regular gas for self-service customers at $5 a gallon. This represents a fall of around 60 cents over the last three months since the prices started to fall locally, more than three months behind the fall in prices in the US, from where Cayman imports most of its fuel. 

Concerns continue, however, that without the necessary regulation, somewhere along the local supply chain someone is getting rich at the local drivers' expense. A recent Viewpoint on CNS by local businessman George Ebanks, which generated considerable debate among the regular CNS commenters, called for government to intervene to establish realistic prices and profit margins for the fuel companies and retailers at the gas stations.

And despite the fall in most Grand Cayman pump prices, drivers on the Sister Islands are still paying considerably more, with the Brac stations both charging $5.75 per gallon and the one station on Little Cayman at the Village Square charging $6.49 a gallon for regular gas.

While the subject of local gas prices in general continues to generate debate due to its wider impact on the cost of living, another persistent area of complaint is the length of time that it takes for the global fall in oil prices to be reflected on the local high street.

The fuel companies have long insisted that the time delay is down to the way the fuel is purchased and then supplied here over a long period. If this is correct, then Cayman drivers should be seeing further declines in the coming weeks at all of the local pumps.

Part of the planning department, the petroleum inspectorate keeps a record of all local gas prices visit the website here.

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Climber suffers multiple fractures in Bluff fall

| 29/12/2014 | 4 Comments

(CNS): A 51-year-old man sustained multiple fractures on Boxing Day after he fell 60 feet while climbing on the Bluff, Cayman Brac. Police said the climber, who was visiting from the US, was taken by the emergency services to Faith Hospital, where he was stabilized but found to be in need of emergency care and surgery due to the extent of his injuries. As a result, the RCIPS Air Operations Unit were contacted to medevac the casualty as a matter of urgency. The police chopper was reconfigured into its air ambulance role and the duty crew, along with a critical care nurse, flew to the Brac to collect the injured man.

The helicopter took him to Grand Cayman but he has since been transferred to a US hospital, where he is said to be in stable condition following his treatment at the George Town hospital.

"The police helicopter is always available for the benefit of the security and safety of the residents and visitors in the Cayman Islands," a spokesperson stated. “The Air Ambulance in critical care cases is one of the roles the crew prepare and are in readiness for, and we are pleased to be of assistance."

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