Archive for December 10th, 2008

NRF faces 178 applications

| 10/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): According to the National Hurricane Recovery Programmes Director Dr Mark Laskin, 178 families have applied for assistance to the charity and he says the vast majority of those applications meet the criteria laid down by the fund. However, without more funding he will not be able to help more than 25% of the people who are in need.

Speaking on Radio Cayman’s Talk Today programme on Wednesday, 10 December, Laskin revealed the number of applicants and said that the NRF had already reviewed 50 homes and a number of contracts for work to start have already been signed. But with so many applicants in need and meeting the funds’ criteria, unless the NRF receives more donations Laskin said they would not be able to help everyone.

“I hate to beg for money but I am begging. We can only do the work if we get the money and we are completely dependent on private funds,” Dr Laskin said, adding that the funds for Cayman Brac had been separated from the funds for Ivan rebuilds. “People can be assured that 100% of the money they donate will gotowards rebuilding Brac homes and nothing else.”

Laskin added that it will take around $4 million to help all the eligible applicants and that he hoped to see more donations coming in to get closer to that target, as at the moment the fund had only around $800,000. He explained that the criteria established by the NRF for helping people was: the applicant had to be low or no income, their home had to be a relatively low value property, they cannot have any insurance or any other way of helping themselves. He noted that the elderly and those with young children were also a priority.

However, many of the 178 applicants meet these criteria, and Laskin says he thinks the proportion of people on Cayman Brac without insurance is fairly high and it will be very challenging for the NRF to help everyone in need. He also called on those people living in Grand Cayman with relatives in Cayman Brac that were of reasonable means to try and help their relatives to remove some of the pressure on the fund, because many people were in dire need.

He said that the damage to some homes was severe and would require complete reconstruction, though where possible they were drying people in

“For some people we will need to look at complete rebuilds as soon as possible,” he said. He noted that in those cases some donors were exploring the possibility of ‘adopting a house’, where by they would not only pay for the materials and labour but would also send staff and volunteers to help with the work.

Laskin said that no re-builds were likely to cost more than $100,000 and many could be redone for as little as $45,000. He explained lessons had been learned from Hurricane Ivan and that all the contractors working on NRF projects would be paid as work was completed and not before.  

“We will also keep a retention fund to ensure that contractors complete the work before the final payments are made on any project,” Laskin added. He also noted that all the contractors working with NRF must be in-line with employment regulations and have experience. However, the workload on the island is making things difficult and he said that although the fund is working with Brac contractors, of the 22 they have contacted only two are available to them, so Laskin said they are going to have to work with firms on Grand Cayman

 

 

 

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Passengers injured in mini bus crash

| 10/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) is investigating  an accident that took place on Shamrock Road, in the vicinity of Spotts Beach on Tuesday, 9 December involving a car and a local bus, where the passengers and driver were all taken to hospital for treatment.

The RCIPS stated that the 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call at around 5:05pm reporting a crash between a Honda CRV and a Toyota Omnibus. Police and medics responded to the scene and found that a brown Honda CRV, driven by a female, ran into the back of a white Toyota van which was ahead of it. The van then ran into a wall on the property off Prospect Reef. Both vehicles were travelling west along Shamrock Road.

Ten passengers on the omnibus were injured and attended the hospital where they were treated and discharged. The driver of the CRV, who also sustained injuries, was treated and discharged from hospital.

Scenes of Crime officers processed the scene and an accident reconstructionist is carrying out investigations. Anyone who witnessed the crash or believes they saw the vehicles prior to the crash should contact Police Constable Daniel Spence on 9466254 or 9261672.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling crime stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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Illegal gun found on driver

| 10/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police said Wednesday afternoon, 10 December, that they have arrested three men following the recovery of a firearm during a routine check in West Bay in the early hours of the morning. Policedid not offer details of the weapon but said it was concealed on the person of a man driving of a car which they pulled over for a traffic offence.

At approximately 12:40 am, police said officers stopped a vehicle after the driver failed to observe the stop sign at the four-way junction at West Bay Road and Town Hall Road. Whilst speaking to the driver, police officers noticed a bulge around his waist and carried out a search that led to the recovery of an unlicensed firearm. The 22 year-old driver and two occupants of the vehicle, aged 35 and 21, were then arrested for possession of an unlicensed firearm.

 “I am pleased with the quick-thinking actions of the officers that resulted in these arrests, as this demonstrates our commitment to tackling crime in the community,” Area Commander Chief Inspector Angelique Howell said.

With the men in custody the police are now investigating the incident and would like anyone with information of this or other crimes to contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling crime stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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Protected area key to Blue Iguana recovery

| 10/12/2008 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The plan to save a famously endangered creature of the Cayman Islands now hinges on promised action by the Cayman Islands Government. To enable full recovery of Grand Cayman’s Blue Iguana, a unique symbol of Caymanian wildlife, an area of Crown land in the east interior of Grand Cayman must become protected, according to the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme (BIRP).

In a release, BIRP said the long-term vision of the programme is now almost within reach following a four-day meeting, in which the third version of an evolving strategic plan to save the Blue Iguana, was formulated.

“We’re at a pivotal stage of the programme now,” said the BIRP director, Fred Burton. “We are poised to quickly restore a viable population of Blues in the wild, but will be totally stuck unless we can secure some more protected shrubland habitat. We have over 100 hatchings this year that will be ready for release by 2010, and we must be ready for that or else they will have nowhere to go.”

The renewed Species Recovery Plan ranges from education and awareness through captive breeding and iguana releases, to establishment and management of protected areas. Many aspects depend on the new protected area proposal, including an EU-funded project to build a visitor centre and shrubland education centre there, forming a major new nature tourism attraction in the East End.

Roger Corbin, the newly elected Chairman of the National Trust, said, “This project, which now enjoys the support of the Department of Environment  (DoE) and internationally recognized scientific bodies, has been a programme of the National Trust of the Cayman Islands from its beginning. It is important not only for saving the Blue Iguana but also because the endangered habitat in which the Blue Iguana lives must be protected and is about to become an important tourist attraction. The National Trust is in discussion with the Cayman Islands Government in an effort to acquire vitally important additional land for the expansion of the area into which the iguanas can be reintroduced.”

DoE Director Gina Petrie added, “Having been involved in this Programme from its beginning, it is very clear to me now that we are at a watershed – either the Blue Iguana and its extraordinary and unique habitat will be saved for future generations, or we all lose in the long run. I am optimistic that public attitudes can be reflected in national policy, and that our proposals to secure an area in the East Interior for conservation, are wise, realistic, and strongly in the public interest.”
 

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Chamber plan to boost Sister Islands’ economy

| 10/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Ministers Association (CMA) and the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce have joined forces to raise a target of at least $150,000 to give every household on the Sister Islands a Christmas donation of $100 to spend in the local stores. As well as offering a little seasonal spirit to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, the fundamental reason for the ‘Christmas Joy’ initiative, the Chamber says, is to invest some money in to the local economy.

Making the announcement at the Chamber of Commerce offices on Tuesday morning to the press, Pastor Al Ebanks, chair of CMA, said there would be a celebration starting at 4:00 pm on 18 December for all Sister Islands residents, and instead of donating gifts he said the projectwould ensure each household received a Chamber of Commerce gift certificate that could be redeemed in any store on either of the Sister Islands, enabling families to purchase exactly what they need, be it food, building materials or Christmas gifts for their children.

Eddie Thompson recalled the stress, pressures and hardships faced on Grand Cayman after Hurricane Ivan, and said Christmas Joy would bring an evening of reprieve, celebration and joy to demonstrate continued solidarity with Sister Islands residents who are much less fortunate than those on Grand Cayman this Christmas Season.

It is our desire and intention to provide a gift for every household in the Sister Islands in order to assist in making this Christmas as joyful and special as possible in spite of the hardships experienced by the residents,” he said. Our goal is to raise a minimum of CI$150,000.  If just 5% of Cayman’s population responded with $100 each, this becomes easily achievable. We are therefore requesting businesses, NGO’s and individuals to respond and help us reach this goal.

Thompson and Ebanks said the system would be as well managed as possible and the certificates would be authenticated and stamped by the Chamber. Ebanks noted that while every family may not be in need, each household would still receive a certificate. But he hoped those that didn’t need the $100 would find it in their hearts to give theirs to a family in much greater need.

Thompson assured the community that no single interest group, church, politician or person would receive blocks of certificates and that they would be distributed to every family in a fair and equitable manner by a committee, which he said was headed by District Commissioner Ernie Scott.

He said the most important thing was that this would see a substantial sum of money making its way into the local Sister Islands economy, so not only would individual households benefit by being able to buy essential supplies, materials, Christmas food and gifts etc, they would be spending their certificates with local merchants who in turn would redeem the vouchers to the Chamber to get the money.

However, before the certificates can be given to anyone, and the funds need to be raised. Pastor Ebanks said that so far around $20,000 had come in from a number of donors and his own church collection this Sunday. Ebanks said individuals can make donations to either the Agape Family Worship Centre at 50 Fairbanks Road in GT, or the Chamber of Commerce office in central George Town. Corporate and business donations should be made to the Chamber.

Anyone interested in more details or in participating personally can also contact Pastor Al Ebanks at 949-2539, Wil Pineau or Eddie Thompson at 949- 8090 or Lizzette Yearwood at 916-7589.

 

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School projects shelved

| 10/12/2008 | 6 Comments

(CNS): The first serious casualties of the government cutbacks appear to be two of the Ministry of Education’s major school projects. Both the Beulah Smith High School in West Bay and the renovation of George Town Primary have been postponed. Education Minister Alden McLaughlin confirmedto CNS that both the projects were being delayed as a result of the current financial crisis and more details would be revealed during today’s Strategic Policy Statement.

“The start of a number of capital projects including the George Town Primary and the Beulah Smith High Schools are being deferred in light of the projected downturn in revenues as a result of the global financial crisis,” McLaughlin said.

A major part of the ministry’s goal to elevate the standard of education throughout the islands, the indefinite delay to the projects represents a blow to that ambition. However, McLaughlin made it clear this was a deferment and not a cancellation.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said at a recent media briefing that, while government would seek to pursue as many capital projects as possible to buoy up the local economy, there would be some things that would have to be sacrificed.

Although local contracting firm McAlpine had recently been publically awarded the Beulah Smith job, McLaughlin said that no contracts had been signed on either these jobs and that government was ensuring that none of the projects already underway would be stopped. McLaughlin added that the LoGB would be giving more details of the various projects that may be deferred during today’s statement in the Legislative Assembly, which will sett out the budgetary ambitions for the next fiscal year.

The Central Tender’s Committee awarded the $49,799,800 contract to McAlpine in September and the target for opening had been the 2010/2011 school year. And although nothing had been signed, bids had been submitted by subcontractors, and talk in the construction sector is that after this postponement alongside other private projects that have been cancelled there will be a number of lay offs in the industry next year.

“We don’t expect things to go well in 2009 and there will be a lot of local contractors laying people off in the industry, and many of these people are Caymanians,” one contractor told CNS.

The two other school projects — the redevelopment of John Gray High School and the new Clifton Hunter High School in Frank Sound — are both underway. There have, however, been a number of criticisms made regarding these projects, which are being undertaken by Tom Jones International. Despite claims by government that Caymanian workers will form the bulk of the workforce on its capital projects, there are unconfirmed reports that only three Caymanians are working on the Clifton Hunter site.  McLaughlin recently confirmed that as the General Contractor Tom Jones was employing only Caymanian sub-contractors at the site, who would in turn be doing the recruiting, but he indicated he would look into the situation and that government still wanted to ensure that as many local workers were employed as possible.

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Foundation to support women

| 10/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Estella Scott-Roberts Foundation (ESRF), a licenced non-profit company in the Cayman Islands was formed on 31 October 2008. Its objectives are to advocate for a life free of violence, to carry out activities to facilitate the empowerment of women and girls, to advocate for and support equity and equality for women and girls in all areas of life, to support policies and research projects that further the aim of gender equality, to do all other acts or things necessary, advisable or desirable for the advancement of women’s issues.

The foundation was formed in response to the tragic death of Estella Scott-Roberts on 10 October by her husband Rayle Roberts, who envisioned creating an organization that would continue to address the social issues that she passionately supported during her life.

In a release from ESRF, Roberts, who is Chairperson of the Foundation, states, “Creating this Foundation is but one way that I can ensure that the causes that my wife diligently worked on during her lifetime will continue to be addressed and in the public domain. Estella was known for being a voice for some of the most disadvantaged groups in our community, abused women and children. The vision of the Foundation is to continue to let her voice be heard and to promote peace and positive social changes in the Cayman Islands.”

Envisioning that the Foundation would also serve as an empowering medium for its directors, Roberts asChairperson was adamant that only women would comprise the key decision-making roles as guardians of the Foundation. The following persons have been appointed as directors of the ESRF: Andrea Bryan, Sara Collins, Marilyn Conolly, Novelette Ebanks, Tammy Ebanks Bishop, and Melanie McLaughlin.

Remarking on the directors, Roberts stated, “I am confident that the women that I have selected as guardians of the Foundation will work with me to achieve its objectives and to ensure that Estella’s voice and memory will never grow faint in our country.” As ESRF evolves, there will be future opportunities for other individuals and organizations to partner with it on various projects and programmes to achieve its objectives.

Roberts has requested that any initiatives being formulated by individuals or groups that are considering using Scott-Roberts name or image in relation to their project to please contact the Foundation prior to finalizing any plans. As the activities and projects of the Foundation are still in their embryonic stages, the guardians of the Estella Scott-Roberts Foundation will keep the public regularly informed as they are developed.

Individuals or organizations that would like to assist the Estella Scott-Roberts Foundation with its objectives can make monetary donations to Cayman National Bank Account Number 012-32856 (CI Chequing). For more information on the Estella Scott-Roberts Foundation please call 345-938-6300, email: esrfoundation@gmail.com or mail correspondence to P.O. Box 84 Grand Cayman KY1-1501 CAYMAN ISLANDS.

(Left: Board members of the Estella Scott-Roberts Foundation)
 

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Martin still facing trial

| 10/12/2008 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Despite the rather cryptic statement from the Governor Stuart Jack last week suggesting that the issues surrounding the entry into the Cayman Net News offices, which involved senior police officers and employees of the newspaper, were to be concluded, the former Sister Islands MLA and Net News reporter Lyndon Martin has told CNS that he has not yet received any notification that the remaining two charges against him have been dropped.

Martin was first arrested in March of this year on the day that the Governor and the Senior Investigating Officer of the Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT) Martin Bridger announced that the former Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon, Chief Superintendent John Jones had all been suspended from duty or, as it was it was described at the time, “placed on required leave.” The Governor also announced at that specially convened media briefing that a team of detectives from Scotland Yard had been in the Cayman Islands operating undercover since September 2007 investigating allegations by Martin that Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis was in a corrupt relationship with Desmond Seales the owner of Cayman Net News.

At that time of his arrest  there were some seventeen charges made against Martin, which were later dropped to 12 and then more recently just two. When he appeared in court last month, Martin was charged with the Common Law offence of doing an act tending and intending to pervert the course of public justice and the statutory offence of falsely accusing a person of a crime.

Martin has entered a not guilty plea to both charges and told CNS that while he has wrestled with the Governor’s 4 December statement to try and work out exactly what he meant by “must be concluded properly and with dispatch”, if the remaining charges against him were not dropped he had no doubts that his innocence would be easily demonstrated in the court room if it still does go to trial in March of next year as currently planned.

“I am confident that the absurdity of these charges will be exposed in the courtroom,” Martin said. He also indicated that the fact that most of the original counts against him, which included burglary and other offences, had been dropped was significant. “I think it is important that they have already dropped ten of the charges against me leaving these two charges which are essentially the same issue and clearly not true.”

While there is every indication that these charges will be dropped as well, Martin is still prepared for a courtroom showdown and has engaged the services of a senior British Council who is an expert in corruption issues and familiar with the Cayman Islands courts.

If Martin does go to trial, SIO Bridger will have to demonstrate that Martin did not actually believe the accusation he was making against Ennis to Kernohan and therefore doing so maliciously or for another purpose. Martine does not have to show that his accusations were true but merely that he had good reason to suspect they were. Martin insists that at the time he certainly did have every reason to believe the accusations he had made and can easily demonstrate that. He also noted that he had absolutely no reason to falsely accuse Ennis of anything.

Moreover, it also appears that not only did Martin believe his accusations, but so did Jones and Kernohan, two very experienced and senior police officers, as well as John Evans, another Net News employee, Larry Covington, who has oversight of the UK’s overseas territories police services. Even the Governor reportedly believed it and for several weeks members of SPIT were also following the evidence that Martin says he had given to Kernohan.

 

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Global demand for oil to plummet

| 10/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(Financial Times): Global oil demand will collapse next year and commodities will not return to the highs they reached this summer in the foreseeable future, two authoritative reports said on Tuesday as they forecast a long and painful worldwide recession. The stark conclusions came as the World Bank’s chief economist predicted that the world faced “the worst recession since the Great Depression”. Go to article

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Remembering an angel

| 10/12/2008 | 5 Comments

One week after Estella Scott- Robert’s death I was asked to write a tribute, I really thought I could, but what came out was senseless rhetoric and platitudes that would have irritated all those who knew and respected Estella.

I am in a place where I can write from the heart, unfettered as I can under the circumstances and do justice to the powerhouse that she was.

Estella Scott-Roberts, a child of God, a woman of strength, a soul that never ceased sharing the light. Estella Scott-Roberts, a daughter, a wife, and had she lived longer, she would have been a superb mother. She reached out to all whose voices were being muffled from the world, she stood in the line of fire for those whose armour has been pierced with violence, pain, and shame, she advocated on behalf of those whose hearts bleed tears.

No one can really understand why she chose such gut wrenching work, but whatever the grit was in her oyster, she created pearls of hope and countless new beginnings for women and children who needed, and continue to need them. We all carry her pearls within us: let’s not let our pearls lose their luster. The luster of love and light, the love of advocacy, the luster of protecting those who can’t do it for themselves, the luster of the right to feel the sun on our faces, the luster of appropriate love, the luster of boundaries, the luster of healing touch, the luster of support through the journey of life.

I have been sick both in mind and body as I imagined what our angel endured on her last night one earth, but the time for that has ended. Now is the time to take up the parts of her soul that she left with us, take up her mantle and carry the light of love to those she would want us to. This includes all who were involved in releasing her soul from its earthbound form: we should forgive them and let God deal with their hearts and souls as this is what Jesus would have done "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" Luke 23:34.

They really did not know that God would have used her death to galvanize a community, they did not realize that advocacy groups would renew their efforts to ensure that all of God’s children are loved, guided, supported and respected, they did not realize that a community would decide that it must do everything in its power to provide a safe, violence free, loving atmosphere for all mothers and children who live in constant fear of pain or even death. They did not know that God uses the actions of his children, even those too painful to recall now, to create something wonderful, brilliant and awe-inspiring.

As we think on the reasons we must have programs to raise awareness of the delicate situation of mothers and children, let us forgive ALL persons involved in the tragic but beautiful death of Estella Scott-Roberts. Sad though we may be about the early end to her body, rejoice in the knowledge that her soul has cast a new light over our community, for she was simply too bright a soul to be trapped amongst us forever, Her light will live on in all of us, even in the hearts of her murderers. God is in full control of everything, even when Satan’s mischief tries to pervert His action plan.

Since Estella’s soul was released back to God, I have been unsettled in my mind and heart, so after one of my crying sessions, I penned these words which I dedicate to Estella Scott- Roberts and all those whose lives are at half mast because of fear or lack of anything:

 

My Heart Cries Out For Love

by Patrice A. Donalds

 

My heart cries out for love

Love that respects me…even the prickly parts

Love that understands me…even when we disagree

Love that guides me, especially when I lose my way

Love that hugs me…even when I may not deserve it

Love that supports me…even when I don’t ask for it

Love that links me to the past…and reaches for the future

Love that loves me…even when I am unlovable

Love that touches like feathers…and surrounds me like the ocean

Love that has my best interest at heart…even when the path takes me in a different direction

Love that cares for me…with no conditions

Love that stays close to me….when I cry inside

Love that warms me with the fierceness of the sun

Love that lifts me up…when I lose my wings

Love that teaches me how to love

Love that brightens my life in the darkness

Love that lifts my laughter to God

Love that covers me in smiles

Love that never leaves…even if the soul passes on

Love that lingers in the heat, in the cold, in the night, in the day, in the time of plenty, in the time of empty, in sickness, in health

Love that stands without judgment from a flawed heart, a broken soul, a damaged body, a fractured mind, a splintered life

Love that simply loves me…for me!

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