Archive for October 8th, 2011

Immigration holds 19 Cubans after boat runs aground

Immigration holds 19 Cubans after boat runs aground

| 08/10/2011 | 11 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands authorities have confirmed that they are holding 19 Cuban migrants on Cayman Brac after their boat reportedly ran aground off the Sister Island yesterday evening. Government officials said that the migrants are being temporarily housed under immigration control, and several other government as well as private sector agencies are helping meet their immediate needs. A spokesperson from government said that the group was expected to be transferred to Grand Cayman early next week for processing.

No information was given regarding the sex or age of the latest group of refugees from Cayman’s northern neighbour. Although Cuban boat people have frequently landed on the Cayman Islands in the past, the migration via Cayman had stopped throughout 2010 but this is now the fifth vessel that has passed through local waters this year.

Cayman policy dictates that Cuban migrants cannot be assisted by the Cayman Islands if they wish to continue with their journey. If they request help, even food, water and fuel, they are taken intocustody and eventually repatriated to Cuba. If the migrants choose not to be deported they must leave Cayman waters unassisted. In circumstances such as these, if the boat is not seaworthy the refugees face enforced repatriation unless they claim political asylum.

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Cayman Brac’s ‘Mr T’ dies at 88

Cayman Brac’s ‘Mr T’ dies at 88

| 08/10/2011 | 21 Comments

(CNS): Linton Nathaniel Tibbetts, OBE, who survived the 1932 Hurricane as a child and went on to make a vast fortune in the US, died late Thursday, 6 October, at age 88, in St Anthony's Hospital in St Petersburg. In Grand Cayman he is best known as the founder of the Cox Lumber store, a small part of large chain of lumber stores he built up in Florida. On Cayman Brac and Little Cayman he never stopped investing some of the wealth he made in his US business ventures, building three hotels and creating an airline just so that tourists could visit the Sister Islands. He also spearheaded the first museum in the Cayman Islands, located in Stake Bay on Cayman Brac, and he was the driving force behind both the Little Cayman Museum and the Little Cayman Maritime Museum.

Linton Tibbetts sold Cox Lumber Co. to Home Depot in 2006, and while the exact figure was not disclosed, the company, which reported sales of almost $400 million in 2005, was at the time the largest independent lumber and building supply company in the southeast United States, employing 1,600 people. In 2009, at the age 86, he and his family decided to start over by opening a new enterprise, Tibbetts Lumber Co., which already has four locations. He died just seven days after the grand reopening of the company’s store in St. Petersburg.

Tibbetts was born on Cayman Brac on 16 July 1923. As a child, he would milk cows before school and work in the family soda factory after school, and on Saturdays he would go to the Bluff to get provisions and check on the fish traps. “It was a hard life but it didn’t hurt. At least, it didn’t hurt me!” he later said.

When he was nine years old,the terrible1932 Hurricane devastated the island and among the dead were his 19-years-old sister, Jessica, his 64-year-old grandmother and his youngest brother, 10-month-old Cory, whose body was not found for several months. Like most Brackers of his generation, it was his strongest memory of childhood and the one he said he shed most tears over.

Tibbetts received all the formal education he would ever have in a one-room school-house in Cotton Tree Bay, where his favourite lessons were in mathematics, history and geography, since his single ambition as a child was to be a sea captain like the rest of the men in his family. Graduating from school, Tibbetts went to Jamaica to interview for a job as an oil refinery operator, but he and the other Brackers who went with him did not have the required qualifications. Instead, he found manual labour at the Belmont Dock for a year.

Back on the Brac, he helped build the motor ship Kirkson, owned by the Kirkconnell family, before heading off again, this time to the Panama Canal, where hundreds of Caymanians went to find work during the Second World War. He found employment constructing buildings to house the pumps that would be used to pump water from the Atlantic to the Pacific if the Canal was bombed, and also helped build the bases for electric winches to secure balloons, positioned to prevent enemy bombers from flying over the Canal.

After a few years, he returned to the Brac before heading out once more, this time to Tampa with, famously, just $16 in his pocket. A year in the Merchant Marines was followed by a stint in the Armed Forces on a US Army troop ship, transporting troops from New Orleans to all over the Mediterranean. After the war, Tibbetts went to St Petersburg, where he began building homes and developing property.

Then, on 28 October 1949 he found himself doing business with a small lumber yard called Cox Lumber Supply Company. When the owner told him he was going to close the yard down, Tibbetts offered to buy the company and they agreed to a price of $1,500 for half the business – for which he had to borrow $1,000.

In the mid-1970s, Tibbetts helped form Community Banks of Florida, which eventually grew to 24 banking offices in three Florida counties. In 1981, he and his colleagues sold the Bank Holding Company of Community Banks of Florida to Southeast Banking Corp of Miami. In 1985, he helped charter Marine Bank in St Petersburg, a successfully operated bank which was sold in 1998 to SouthTrust Corp. He also served on the SunTrust bank as a Director Emeritus.

Though he found huge financial success in the US, he never forgot his roots. In order to stimulate the economy of Cayman Brac, he built the first Brac Reef Hotel in the mid 1970’s. When he found that there was not a dependable airline for the island, he and a group of Cayman Brackers started Red Carpet Airlines, which flew into the Brac three times a week for almost ten years.

The first Brac Reef was sold to the DIVI Corporation, with the understanding that he would build another hotel. This was because Cayman Airways had committed to bring in a jet service to the Brac if there were 100 rooms on the island. The Brac Reef Beach Resort, which was almost completely rebuilt after Hurricane Paloma in 2008, is still owned by the Tibbetts family, as well as the Little Cayman Beach Resort, which was built in 1991.

Linton Tibbetts remained concerned about the Brac, and in June this year he wrote an open letter to the government, which was published on CNS as a Viewpoint, laying out his ideas to stimulate the island's economy.

In November 2003 he received the Order of the British Empire from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace for his many contributions to the economy of the Cayman Islands.

Tibbetts is survived by his wife of 63 years, Pauline Tibbetts; his two daughters, Mary Brandes and Donna Hooker; his brother, Burnard Tibbetts, of Cayman Brac; as well as his nine grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, 11 October at 10 am at Northside Baptist Church in St. Petersburg. A private burial will take place at Memorial Park in St. Petersburg beside Linton Tibbetts' two sons David and Daniel.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to the Tibbetts Family Foundation c/o National Christian Foundation P.O. Box 22774 Tampa, FL 33622.

A memorial service will be held on Cayman Brac at the Aston Rutty Center  5:30 p.m. Friday 14 October.
A memorial service will be  held on Grand Cayman at First Baptist Church 10.00 a.m. Saturday 15 October.
A memorial service will be held on Little Cayman at 2.00 p.m. Sunday 16 October.

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