Archive for February 12th, 2012

Port choice’couldn’t be worse’

Port choice’couldn’t be worse’

| 12/02/2012 | 76 Comments

Cruise-Regional-Revenue1.jpg(CNS): The opposition leader has stated that if the government had deliberately searched the world over it could not have found a more inappropriate company to develop the cruise berthing facilities. Alden McLaughlin said it appeared that wherever China Harbour Engineering Company was working there seemed to be concerns of one kind or another. Despite his own belief that there is a pressing need for cruise berthing in the capital, he said that government really should reconsider this current proposal. Not only is CHEC the wrong company, the project has become much wider than had ever previously been intended and has turned into a financing deal that will in the long run be paid for by Cayman.

Given what he described as the “reputational issues” relating to the Beijing based firm, McLaughlin wondered what it was that had driven the government to select this company. "If the government had hunted every corner of the globe, I don't think they could have made a worse choice," he said.

The opposition leader also queried the decision of government to allow the project to double in size and cost because, he said, in the end Cayman would pay.  “CHEC is not going to mind about the extras, as the more we add on the more we are going to pay," he said. “This is a major financing deal and every penny will have to be paid back by the Cayman Islands Government with interest,” McLaughlin warned, adding that it was no surprise that the Chinese developers were happy toincrease the project size.

According to the planning agenda for 1 February, the upgrade to the Spotts Jetty will cost a further $3.2 million on top of the approximate $200 million the George Town facility is now expected to cost.

The planning department has confirmed that planning permission was granted to the Port Authority to develop an open-sided tourist facility, including restrooms, waiting area and an information booth at Spotts, which will still be needed to offer tendering to ships in bad weather and for when the four berths in George Town are already full. The coastal works licence to construct the jetty will need to be approved by Cabinet and at the time of the planning application this had not yet been submitted.

The government has also stated that it wishes to develop another pier in West Bay across from the Cayman Turtle Farm but a cost estimate for that project has not yet been revealed.

McLaughlin said the increase in the size of the George Town project plus the jetties at Spotts and West Bay were likely to offer a return to CHEC that the firm would not be able to get anywhere else, which was why it was more than happy to 'up the ante' on the overall size and scope of the deal, should government sign on the dotted line.

The need for cruise berthing in George Town was obvious, McLaughlin, stated but he had questions about these add-ons as well as the scale of the upland development that would accompany the berthing facilities in the capital.

The opposition leader also noted that the project, and in particular the government’s preferred partner on the deal, has never been through the central tendering process and that CHEC was not even on the original list of bids received by the Port Authority.  He said there was a lack of transparency all along, and although there was provision for a sole contractor, there was a process for that which needed to be followed.

Defending the choice made by the PPM administration, of which he was a part, to sign an MOU with Atlantic Star, he pointed out that in that case the developer owned the land that would have been involved in the upland element of the development, making it a unique case. He said that had the issue progressed beyond talks, there was provision in the Public Management and Finance Law for government to apply to the Central Tenders Committee to consider awarding to a specific developer under such circumstances.

Looking to the future, the opposition leader pointed out how difficult it would be to unravel the deal down the line if the CIG commits to the growing project. As was clear from the premier’s rejection of GLF construction (government’s second choice to develop the facility), even before a heads of agreement was signed there were significant consequences, namely the approximately $3.5 million settlement reached with GLF after it was rejected by the premier on the eve of signing a full deal, which will, it seems, be paid for from the public purse, McLaughlin noted.

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Activists press on with campaign against Dart deal

Activists press on with campaign against Dart deal

| 12/02/2012 | 25 Comments

DSC00253 (205x250).jpg(CNS): The Save Cayman, West Bay Action Committee and the Concerned Citizens Group will be hosting a public meeting on Thursday evening at 7:30pm in George Town on the court house steps to outline the issues relating to the proposed closure of what is now understood to be close to 4,000 feet of the West Bay as well as the proposal to move the landfill to Bodden Town. In opposition to the proposed deal government is negotiating with the Dart Group, PPM member for East End Arden McLean will also be hosting a public meeting in the district Monday evening at 8pm, where he will be addressing that and other issues.

The road closure and proposed landfill move are key elements in the government’s proposed investment deal with the islands' largest developer and investor and are contingent in the plans to develop the former Courtyard Marriott hotel into a five star resort and the further development of Camana bay.

However, the various groups opposing the road closure submitted a petition at the end of last year with some 4,000 signatures opposing the closure, but only days later an agreement was signed with the NRA paving the way for the road swap. Despite the set- back to the campaign, the activists have said they are not giving up their fight to preserve the road and are planning a demonstration outside the Legislative Assembly building during the next meeting, which has not yet been announced.

The three pressure groups based predominately in West Bay are now hoping to extend the campaign to people in other districts and are coordinating their campaign with those opposed to moving the landfill from its present site – the Coalition to Keep BT Dump Free.

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Smooth seas led to fair sailing at local regatta

Smooth seas led to fair sailing at local regatta

| 12/02/2012 | 0 Comments

Optis at East End (217x250).jpg(CISC): The 2012 Captain Leroy Watson Regatta was held at the Reef Resort, East End, Grand Cayman over the weekend of 21st and 22nd January 2012 and certainly lived up to all expectations. Fair winds and smooth seas provided perfect conditions to allow all sailors to give their best performance, unlike the previous year when sailors were confronted with waves crashing up the beach and winds up to 20 knots. The racing was divided up into three major classes: The Laser class for the more experienced sailors; the Pico class for the intermediate sailors; and the Optimist class for the junior sailors.

The double handed Picos raced right off the beach at the Reef Resort giving the supporting parents the chance to run along giving helpful coaching tips during the races. After many races, final winners were Jake Bailey and Doug Rowland.

The Lasers and Optimists raced around the corner where a longer course could be set between the reef and the beach. Beautiful conditions and a leeward mark close to the beach enabled enthusiastic spectators to see all the action at the mark rounding and encouraged competitors to show off their best sailing.

Conditions were breezy, at 12-15 knots, but well within the capabilities of the sailors. Four races were completed on day one, at the end of which Rob Jackson led the fleet by just one point, with Nick Taylor in second position. With four races ahead for day two, and a race to drop, the competition was far from over.

On day two, conditions were just as fine, but, to mix things up a little, the race officer decided to have the fleet race ‘Starboard rounding' (clockwise) – opposite to their regular 'Port rounding' (anticlockwise). Whilst not a difficult change for the sailors, it added additional colour to the event and would help separate the leaders.

Rob Jackson and Nick Taylor continued their tussles for the lead, with Kelvin Browne at their stern. After five races, the final positions were Nick first, Rob second, Kelvin third.

The Optimists sailed very well and in most races there was not a lot between them. Florence Allan won 5 of the 8 races to take first place ahead of Allena Rankine and Finley McDougall.

All the sailors would like to thank Peta Adams and her support crew for putting on two days of perfect racing; the Reef Resort and HealthCare Pharmacy for sponsoring the event; and the Cayman Islands Sailing Club for managing and organising another successful regatta.

Video of regatta taken by Sean Crothers, including some great underwater shots, can be viewed online at:


Rank Fleet HelmName R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 Total Nett
1st Standard Nick Taylor 2 1 -4 1 1 2 1 1 13 9
2nd Standard Rob Jackson 1 2 2 2 -5 4 4 2 22 17
3rd Standard Kelvin Browne 4 -5 1 3 4 3 2 3 25 20
4th Standard Charlie Grover -5 3 3 5 2 1 3 5 27 22
5th Radial Chris Delaney (14.0 dnf) 14.0 DNC 8 4 3 5 5 4 57 43
6th Radial Dave Stephenson 6 4 6 7 6 8 6 (14.0 dnf) 57 43
7th Radial Eduardo Bernal 3 7 5 8 (14.0 DNF) 6 14.0 DNC 6 63 49
8th Standard Bruce Johnson 9 6 7 6 7 (14.0 DNC) 7 7 63 49
9th Radial Thomas Bishop 7 8 -9 9 8 7 8 8 64 55
10th Radial Suvi Hayden 8 9 10 (14.0 dnf) 9 9 14.0 dnf 9 82 68
11th Radial Jesse Jackson 10 10 11 10 (14.0 DNC) 14.0 dnc 10 10 89 75
12th Radial Connor Hoeksema 11 11 12 11 (14.0 DNC) 14.0 dnc 14.0 dnc 14.0 DNC 101 87
13th Standard Wiekert Weber (14.0 dnf) 14.0 DNC 14.0 dnc 14.0 dnc 14.0 DNF 14.0 dnf 9 11 104 90
1st Optimist Florence Allan 3 2 1 1 3 1 1 1 13 10
2nd Optimist Allena Rankine 1 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 16 13
3rd Optimist Finley McDougall 2 1 3 3 1 3 3 3 19 16

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Foundation honours annual cultural winners

Foundation honours annual cultural winners

| 12/02/2012 | 0 Comments

bar.jpg(CNS): The 18th Annual National Arts & Culture Awards Gala will be hosted by The Cayman National Cultural Foundation on Saturday, when those who have made a special contribution to the local arts scene will be singled out for celebration. From the CNCF’s heritage cross which is awarded to those who have worked to preserve Caymanian cultural heritage to the CNCF star for artistic work,  the evening also offers an opportunity for the foundation to applauded volunteers and corporate sponsor who help to keep the local cultural scene alive. The event takes place at the Beach Suites at 7pm. Medal winners are set out below.

Heritage Cross: GOLD  – Carmen Conolly
As a young girl growing up in the 1940s and 50s, Carmen did her share making thatch ropes and baskets, From an early age she loved her aunt Mary Watler who was a seamstress and as a curious and ambitious little girl was always looking to help, collect the bits of cloth cuttings and borrow the scissors.
Her aunt taught her to sew and as a young woman she was sewing her own clothes and for many others in the district of East End.
In the 1970s the Government moved to promote the arts and craft culture and brought in Ms Edna Harrison as a specialist from Jamaica to organize adult craft classes across the Island. Carmen attended the classes in East End and later joined Ms Harrison as an assistant teacher at the Cayman Islands High School. Mrs Conolly taught crafts at CIHS for eight years and them moved to the East End Primary School for some 12 years.
Since retiring from the classroom, Ms Conolly has continued her involvement in crafts to make items for display and sale at events and markets like Art at the Governors, Pedro St. James, Look-a-Ya at the Museaum, Cayman Traditional Arts and Market at the Grounds. Today she continues to teach and encourage local craft in her community through various activities and a ‘Gifted Hands’ working group in East End, which she assisted in creating.
Heritage Cross: GOLD –Alvin McLaughlin
Alvin Allen McLaughlin was born on 19th September 1949 in West Bay to the proud parents Lloyd and Christline McLaughlin. As a young but he attended East End Primary School and was taught by Ms. Islyn Connolly. At the age of 18 McLaughlin went to sea and sailed for 13 years. For three years he trained pump men for national bulk carriers. At this time the company has the world’s largest fleet of super tankers. In 1980, he retired from sea and came home. Today McLaughlin is the proud father of two sons and a doting grandfather. McLaughlin is married to Andrea McLaughlin.
In December 1981, he was employed by Caribbean Utilities Company, Ltd. (CUC) as the first full time welder. 30 years later, he is still employed by CUC. Mr. McLaughlin has been an invaluable part of the CNCF team over the years. Serving not only as a board member, but also as a community liaison who supports (and assimilates others in the East End community) CNCF programmes such as GIMISTORY, Rundown, Music Unplugged etc. and Pirates Week. Over these many years he has always enjoyed the long hours spent preserving the heritage of our islands.
Mr. McLaughlin has been an invaluable part of the CNCF team over the years. Serving not only as a board member, but also as a community liaison who supports (and assimilates others in the East End community) CNCF programmes such as GIMISTORY, Rundown, Music Unplugged etc. and Pirates Week. McLaughlin urges all of us to do all that we can to preserve our heritage for generations to come.

Heritage Cross:  Silver – William Banker
William ‘Billy’ Banker was born in West Bay on September 28, 1934.  He completed school at 16 and began working as a seaman at age 19 retiring after 24 years.  He worked for a further 27 years with Cayman Water Company.
Billy became a member of the West Bay Heritage Committee and remains active after 30 years of service.  He is involved in every facet of the committee but is mainly responsible for the demonstration of thatch rope making during Heritage Days.
He has also advised the Cayman Islands Museum team on traditional building techniques such as wattle and daub and volunteers at the Museum’s ‘Looky Ya’ events.
He is currently a resource for Cayman Traditional Arts and the Cayman Islands Traditional Arts Council, working at various functions showcasing Cayman’s Heritage to school children, visitors and locals.  Billy is keeping Cayman’s Heritage alive by involving his grandson whenever possible.
For Billy’s contribution to the preservation of Cayman’s heritage, he has received many awards. On November 3, 2007, he was presented with a 20 year service award from the Minister of Tourism for his involvement with Pirates Week.  Billy is hopeful that Cayman’s traditions will be kept alive for future generations.

Star for Creativity in the Arts: GOLD – Virginia Foster
She is consistent and dedicated to preservation of culture. She is an educator and storyteller who is always willing to participate in schools, the community and CNCF activities. She is a visual artist/craftsperson who is willing to teach and share her knowledge. She also collaborates with traditional arts and individuals in the community.
Virginia ensures the Sister Islands are always involved in arts and cultural activities. She is one of the most passionate individuals when is comes to the preservation of culture and the promotion of arts and heritage related activities. She has interviewed key persons in the community, work on the Save Miss Lassie’s House project, taught storytellers on several occasions and provides workshops on arts and crafts.
Virginia first became involved with CNCF in 1992 when “Maycow Monster”, a play she and her drama club students at the Cayman Brac High School submitted to the junior Playwriting Competition, was staged at the Harquail Theatre. The following year, she was invited to represent the Sister Islands on the CNCF Board, a position she held for thirteen years until her resignation in 2006. Virginia continues to support the work of the CNCF as Administrative Assistant, Librarian and Volunteer Coordinator at the CNCF Office.
In 2005, Virginia made her first appearance at Gimistory as “Auntie V” and has continued to participate in this CNCF storytelling festival ever since. She also makes guest appearances throughout the year at public and private schools, especially during Reading Week and on Heritage Days. She especially enjoys entertaining the residents of the Pines who always seem to take great pleasure in hearing Anansi stories. Virginia now writes and records her own local “Anansi in Cayman” stories. She can be heard on Radio Cayman’s Saturday morning  'Caymanian Stories'.  In her spare time, Virginia’s other creative outlets include ceramics, fashion designing, conducting craft workshops, making pressed flowers note cards and writing poetry.

Star for Creativity in the Arts: Silver – Rosalind Ebanks
Rosalind Ebanks was born in Grand Cayman on September 20, 1932. From as early as 8 years of age she became involved in ‘twisting strands’, the process of making rope from the silver thatch. In 1949 she married Capt. Cadian Ebanks and for the next number of years was kept busy raising her family of 11 children: 8 sons and 3 daughters.
However, after the children were grown she returned to her childhood craft of thatching and became renowned for her basket and hat making skills.  She is still actively involved in the industry and participated in the recent Art@Governor’s event.
This very important aspect of Caymanian heritage has been passed on to daughter, Rose May, who is arguably Cayman’s most recognised thatch crafter.
Mrs. Rosalind also makes volunteer presentations at local primary schools and at various cultural events, where she encourages young students to become interested in this important segment of our heritage.
Mrs. Rosalind thanks God for her long and blessed life and continues to give him the honour and the praise for all her accomplishments.

Star for Creativity in the Arts: Silver -Rose Mae Ebanks
Rose May Ebanks has devoted her life to keeping the tradition of thatching live in the Cayman Islands. She is constantly thatching, live a numerous functions. She does demonstrations in schools and teaches the youth at every opportunity. She has been teaching children and adults for over 20 years. Rose May has assisted the CNCF at many of their Summer Arts Programmes and has excellent support with students from all ages. Her tireless efforts have since been acknowledged by Her Majesty the Queen during the Quincentennial Year in 2003.

Star for Creativity in the Arts :Bronze – Quincy Brown
Quincy is an extremely, exceptional talented young person he excels in various artistic disciplines — stage acting, singing, writing, radio announcing, host and MC extraordinaire. In 2002 he was awarded CNCF’s Artistic Endeavour Award.  Quincy Brown made his singing debut in Church at the age of 6 and has for the last 20 years been involved in the performing arts in the Cayman Islands.  Whilst, it may be a misnomer to use the word ‘consistent’ to describe Quincy’s involvement in theatre, music and sotrytellying, his rather regular but brief bursts of artistic genius, continue to enchant and impress the Caymanian audiences of all ages.
Through his celebration of Caymanian dialect, he has done for the Cayman Islands what Louise Bennett achieved for Jamaica in the recognition of the local dialect.

Star for Creativity in the Arts: Bronze -Leathan L. Martin
He was born on October 20th, 1939 in The Creek, Cayman Brac to parents Elton and Estella Martin.  At a young age in 1957 he followed in the Caymanian tradition and went to sea, sailing on National Bulk Carriers for 10 years. During one of his few return visits to Cayman Brac, he fell in love and became engaged to Laurel Martin. In 1967 he returned home to start his family and was married in May 1967. He has remained a committed and loving husband ever since.   He is the father of two sons, Linburgh and Lyndon Martin. In 1971 he took up employment with Cayman Brac Power Light Company as Assistant Linesman and Assistant Engineer.  He remained with the Company for 20 years and was invited to join the Public Works Department Mechanic shop in 1991 and remained there until his retirement in 2006.
Throughout the years he has performed in hundreds of drama skits and plays, earning several accolades, including the Heritage Award from the CNCF in 1991.
As a retiree he volunteers at the Humane Society Thrift Shop and actively participates in fundraising drama shows.

Star for Creativity in the Arts: Bronze – Michael McLaughlin
Michael McLaughlin got his first ‘Taste’ of theatre at the Cayman Islands High School. Upon his graduating he went off to collage and took some acting classes while majoring in other studies. After a number of years pursuing radio broadcasting and modeling adventures, Michael returned to the stage in Rundown 2007. Since then he has continued to work with the CNCF taking part in GIMISTORY and other productions. More recently Michael played a leading role in the CNCF produtions of Two Can Play.

Star for Creativity in the Arts: Bronze -Simone Scott
Simone Scott attended Ringling School of Art and Design, Sarasota Florida on a full CI Government Scholarship. After returning to Cayman Brac, Simone opened her small quaint gallery, Simone’s YFE Art Gallery located in her parents craft shop NIM Things.
Simone became a Board Member of the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands as the Sister Islands Representative a few months after it was first formed. She has since become the Cayman Brac and Little Cayman Officer for the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands.  Ms Scott promotes the arts through programmes that she introduced to the National Gallery such as a documentary series she made on the Native Sons, the programmes Elderly Artists, Traditional Arts: Thatching Class etc, workshops and children’s camps that she hosts. When Simone is not working or painting she volunteers in the community in such organizations as National Trust Cayman Brac District, CNCF Brac Cayfest and Cayman Brac Pirates Week/Heritage Day.

Star for Creativity in the Arts: Bronze -Mona Lisa Watler
Mona has been involved in the artistic community in the Cayman Islands since her teen years. Her performances as lead female vocalist for the band “Heat” for 6 years awarded her the opportunity to open for headliners such as Bryon Lee and the Dragoneers, Kymani Marley, Rupee and Chalice.
She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in 2005, graduating with Cum Laude honours from the University of Tampa. Returning home, she worked as digital video editor and associate producer for the Daybreak show developing the Artists and Rhythms segment which highlighted musicians, poets and artists within the Cayman Islands.
Balancing both full-time and part-time work she moonlighted as radio broadcaster with Paramount Media’s Vibe 98.9FM and Spin 94.9FM until 2009.
She is a member of the CNCF Folk Singers, former Vice President for the Cayman Music and Entertainment Association and in past years has volunteered her services for the Northward Prison Literacy Song competition; the Leo’s Club of Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac Miss Teen pageants; Pirates Week and Batabano Festivals, Cayman’s Got Talent and the National Council of Voluntary Organisations. In 2008 she was asked by the Department of Tourism to co-host the BET Jazz Festival.
Since 2007, Mona has been employed at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands as Communications and Marketing Manager where she promotes the development of visual arts within our community.  She is the proud mom of Blake and Sariah.

In addition to the Heritage Awards, CNCF recognises the following:
Volunteer of the Year:  Winston Salmon: Winston 's nickname is "Never say No" and he has volunteered frequently and consistently during the past year. At Christmas Breeze, GIMISTORY, Cayfest, Culture Jam, Office work, costume room… just to name just a few. He is not only willing but always enthusiastic to volunteer.  It is our pleasure to award Winston the title ofVolunteer of the Year!
Corporate Sponsor of the Year – The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism; The Department of Tourism has shown their continual support of CNCF programmes, particularly that of Mind’s Eye (Miss Lassie’s House) and Cayfest. Over $75,000 has been donated to the CNCF over the past two years. We look forward to their continued support the work of the CNCF.

Chairman’s Award -Radio Cayman: Radio Cayman has been extremely supportive of the Cayman National Cultural Foundation over the years. In particular during Cayfest 2010 when the award-winning play, ‘Isabel’ was broadcast nightly for two consecutive weeks at no cost to CNCF.  This included all production and air time. The arts and culture awards show was also broadcast live at no cost to the CNCF in 2011. Radio Cayman has been a key player in allowing CNCF to reach a large captive audience in order to keep the community apprised and involved with the many events and programmes offered by CNCF.

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Officials warn of surge in local gastric sickness

Officials warn of surge in local gastric sickness

| 12/02/2012 | 5 Comments

gastroenteritis.jpg(CNS): With more than one hundred cases of gastroenteritis cases reported in the past two weeks, the Public Health Department is issuing a health warning. The Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kiran Kumar said that while there is often an increase in cases in the winter months the increase is significant. From the normal numbers of between 15 and 25 cases being reported to the Health Services Authority facilities each week with more than sixty were reported  in each of the last two weeks, the doctor said adding that this appeared to be a viral outbreak which experts are currently trying to identify. 

“Since Sunday, 5 February, about 67 people sought medical attention at the Health Services Authority facilities. Both children and adults are affected,” Dr Kumar added.

He said that 28 of those 67 people were under 5 years old and 18 children (most of which were under five were admitted to the paediatric ward for medical care.
“All are doing well and based on the patients’ symptoms it appears to be viral gastroenteritis,” Dr. Kumar clarified.

Public health officials will continue to monitor the incidence of gastroenteritis, he noted and stated that stool tests are being carried out t to identify the virus or bacteria which are causing the illnesses.

“Regardless of which virus is causing gastroenteritis, it is passed in stools, usually for one week. In addition, some viruses live in the respiratory secretions of infected children, and may thus enter the atmosphere. It is therefore important to practice good hygiene, especially when a child passes stools indiscriminately,” the public doctor warned.

Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and the small and large intestine resulting in diarrhoea and vomiting; abdominal cramps; fever; and dehydration. It is caused by a variety of viruses or bacteria, with the most common being the norovirus and rotavirus.

“If disposable diapers are used, take extra care when disposing it. If left in open garbage containers, flies may transfer germs from the stools to food and other articles thereby spreading the disease further,” explained Dr. Kumar.

To stem the outbreak of diarrhoeal disease, people should avoid contact with those who are ill, keep sick children out of schools/nurseries, stay away from work until 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped, wash hands often, especially when caring for a sick person scrubbing for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or an alcohol- based hand cleaner and control flies by ensuringsanitary premises, including proper collection and disposal of garbage.

Drinking water must be safe; use desalinated, bottled or boiled water and disinfect cisterns by adding 2½ ounces of bleach for each 1,000 gallons of water in the cistern.

Soiled disposable diapers should be placed in a garbage bag and securely tied. The bag should then be placed into a securely covered container for collection. Toilets should be disinfected after use by sick persons, so that others will not contract the illness.

Do not share towels, cups, or food with sick persons.

For more information, call the Public Health Department on 244-2632 or 244-2621, or Faith Hospital on 948-2243. For assistance with cisterns or sanitary advice, call the Department of Environmental Health on 949-6696 in Grand Cayman or 948-2321 on the Brac. 

See fact sheet on the illness below


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Local students move on Florida robot contest

Local students move on Florida robot contest

| 12/02/2012 | 0 Comments

robots (202x250).jpg(CNS):The Cyber Rays, a team of five students from years 7& 8 at Cayman Prep came tops at the West Coast Florida Regional First Lego League (FLL) tournament in Tampa earlier this month and will now advance to the State Championship. The team was awarded the programming trophy for their innovative use of the Lego NXT programming language in their mission solutions. 32 teams competed in the one day tournament, with 10 gaining coveted invitations to advance to the Florida State Championship to be held February 26 at Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, FL. Now the Cayman team will be up against 50 teams from the FLL five regions in Florida as the stakes are raised in this robot contest.

The Cyber Rays are Josh Martin, Ryan Kirkaldy, Nick Crawshaw, Mike Boucher and Drew Milgate.  The coaches are Allison Smith (Teacher), David Kirkaldy and Jeff Boucher.
The event comprised 20 potential missions to complete within a 2.5 minute round and the highest score of three rounds was counted.  The missions are intentionally set so no team can hope to have a perfect score, meaning decisions must be made on the viability of certain missions that are high scoring but inconsistent in execution versus lower scoring missions that can give a respectable score consistently.

The theme of the FLL mission board changes every year.  This year globally over 17,000 teams are competing in a 'Food Factor' challenge, with Florida alone having some 500 teams in sanctioned events. 

This involves using the robot to clear bacteria, reverse pollution, safely transport groceries, harvest of corn, and eliminate viruses to name but a few.  Each has to be solved by the students only with only coaching by the adult mentors. The team uses the Lego NXT-G programming language and only official Lego parts and sensors, typically from the Mindstorms and Technic Lego systems.

The team also has to research, prepare and present a project on the food safety theme.  The Cyber Rays developed a solution to combat milk spoilage and impressed the judges with their innovative solution for a milk dispenser in a fridge door, along the lines of a water dispenser, but with a recyclable milk bottle and sensors to detect spoilage. 

They found researchers that are actually working on similar projects in the 'real world' and added those scientific papers to their bibliography and project handouts. 

The robot is judged in a technical session to review the process from start to final robot including lessons learned and changes to the programme.  This technical session includes a three judge evaluation of the robot design and the attachments used to complete missions.  The team presented a documented technical workbook with design method and prototype challenges, along with details of the programming code used in each mission.  The team is also judged on its understanding of the FLL Core Values, with the key learning point being to always demonstrate 'Gracious Professionalism' and 'Cooperation'.

The level of competition is extremely high and our children have proven that an inexperienced team from a small island cannot only compete but excel,” said Janet Crawshaw, parent of Cyber Ray team member Nick.

“It is such a joy to watch them promote the Cayman Islands and see their pride as they parade and display the Cayman flag.” 

Robotics is now a part of the curriculum at Cayman Prep High School using the varied LEGO NXT programmable brick system and accessory sensors. 

"We started informally in September, 2010, as a club for the years 7-9," said Allison Smith, ICT teacher and now Cyber Ray coach.  "In September, 2011, the school introduced robotics into the curriculum for all year 7 students."

Principal, Sheila Purdom is an enthusiastic supporter of the robotics programme and says the aims to stay on the cutting edge of educational technology.

The Cyber Rays will travel to Florida On February 26 for the State championships and their progress can be followed on the team blog

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Tribunal set to hear workplace inequality complaints

Tribunal set to hear workplace inequality complaints

| 12/02/2012 | 6 Comments

sexual-harassment.jpg(CNS): Following the implementation of the gender equality law two weeks ago the tribunal that will hear complaints under the legislation has now been appointed. Chaired by attorney Sheridan Brooks the tribunal members are Karie Bergstrom, Shaun Cockle, André Ebanks and Tammy Ebanks.  Anyone with reasonable grounds to show they, or anyone they know, has been discriminated against on the basis of sex, marital status, pregnancy or gender, a complaint can be made to the five member tribunal within six months from the date of the incident.Approved by Cabinet on 31 January, Mike Adam the Minister responsible for gender affairs said that after thorough consideration the five qualified individuals had committed to the initiative.

“I am confident that this Tribunal will help improve work environments, so men and women can enjoy equal opportunities,” he said. The minister added that the tribunal members were equipped with qualifications and experience in fields such as gender issues, social development, human rights or labour as required by the law.

The law requires that the tribunal chair is a lawyer and Brooks was the first qualified Caymanian female attorney to open a legal practice in the Cayman Islands just over 21 years ago.  Brooks firm has a special emphasis on civil and matrimonial litigation.

Karie Bergstrom is currently employed at Deloitte in a dual role as a Director of Human Resources and Consulting and with over ten years’ experience in human resources she fulfils the requirement of a labour expert on the tribunal.

Shaun Cockle is a specialist employment lawyer at Appleby with over ten years’ experience dealing with litigation matters and advisory work. In this capacity, he advises and prepares matters for Grand Court and Labour Tribunal involving breach of contract, unfair dismissal/constructive dismissal and severance. \\

As also required in the law André Ebanks is a humanrights and social development expert. A. past member of the Cayman Islands Human Rights Committee, which was the predecessor to the current Cayman Islands Human Rights Commission, Ebanks also acted as co-counsel in the first Cayman Islands petition to the European Court of Human Rights. He is currently employed with Walkers as a fund lawyer.

Finally government’s policy advisor for gender affairs Tammy Ebanks completes the tribunal line up with her qualifications and expertise in the areas of gender, social development, and human rights. Formerly with the Women’s Resource Centre, she has also participated in regional research projects focusing on gender issues, as well as presented papers on gender focused topics at regional workshops and conferences. 

Look out for more information on how to file a complaint and procedures of the Tribunal and to learn about your rights under the new Gender Equality Law, visit

See tribunal members’ full biographies below

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Pharmacy split expected to increase effeciency

Pharmacy split expected to increase effeciency

| 12/02/2012 | 0 Comments

nurse_2082707b (241x250).jpg(CNS): In what officials described as a bid to improve patient safety, increase efficiency, improve customer service, and reduce waiting times, the Cayman Islands Hospital has introduced an in-patient pharmacy. The existing main pharmacy will no longer have to handle the medicines for those actually in the hospital freeing up staff to deal directly with outpatients which the hospital says will lead to shorter waiting times. The new in-patient pharmacy, which is located between the medical and surgical units of the hospital, has been designed to provide ample space for all ward-based pharmaceutical services.

Health Services Authority Chief Executive Officer Lizzette Yearwood said, “The H.S.A. is consistently seeking ways to improve our service and the satisfaction levels for both our in-patient and out-patients; after   assessing the operations of our Pharmacy we decided to completely separate services to streamline and improve service offerings to both these patient groups.”

To facilitate the new in-patient service, a new clinical pharmacist has joined the team which comprises a senior clinical pharmacist, clinical pharmacist and pharmacy technician. 

With a fully-staffed in-patient pharmacy service the clinical pharmacist will focus on patient education, the way medicines are administered, the effect it has on patients as well as general questions from staff on the in-patient units.  The other pharmacist and the pharmacy technician will focus on order-entering, filling prescriptions and ensuring that drugs and supplies are available.

“The Cayman Islands Hospital will have a complete multidisciplinary team on the in-patient units – including doctors, nurses, radiographers, lab technicians, dietician and pharmacists. Statistics have shown that having pharmacists interacting with patient care issues substantially improves patient safety, reduces medication errors, and reduces the patients’ average length of stay.  All of this adds up to decreased cost while improving quality,” Yearwood added.

The new dedicated in-patient pharmacy is expected to be fully operational by March 2012.

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Teen robbers hold up store

Teen robbers hold up store

| 12/02/2012 | 18 Comments

7596-cns.jpg(CNS): A George Town grocery store became the latest premises to be robbed this weekend when two masked men held up Miss Alex Variety Store, North Sound Road. At around 8:30 on Saturday evening the two young men believed to me teenagers armed with what appeared to be a hand gun and a flare entered the small store and demanded cash, police reported. There were four women and one young child in the store at the time of the hold-up but no shots were fired and no one was injured the men took a small amount of cash from the cash drawer and then left on foot. (Photo Dennie Warren jr)

Police said the suspects were both 5 foot in height and regular build. One had light brown skin the other dark skin and the witnesses stated they were possibly teenagers. Both were wearing long jean pants and shirts with one was wearing a stocking over his face the other a black mesh mask. Both males spoke with Caymanian accents.

Anyone who has any information regarding the robbery, is asked to contact George Town Police Station on 949-4222, the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777 or the confidential Crime Stoppers number 800-8477(TIPS).

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