Archive for February 7th, 2013

Cop dizzy after road smash in Frank Sound

Cop dizzy after road smash in Frank Sound

| 07/02/2013 | 5 Comments

timthumb.jpg(CNS): One driver is likely to be facing trouble with the law after a road smash in Frank Sound Thursday afternoon. Police confirmed that around 3:45pm a cop car was hit from behind by another vehicle. The Officer driving the police car complained of dizziness and was taken to the Hospital. Police said they were now conducting an investigation into the accident. CNS would like to apologise to RCIPS officer Ronnie Pollard who is not on trial for careless driving as mistakenly noted earlier.

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Teen admits setting cell fire

Teen admits setting cell fire

| 07/02/2013 | 10 Comments

(CNS): A 17-year-old boy from West Bay admitted setting fire to cells in both West Bay and George Town lock-ups last year while being held there on remand without charge when he was only 16 years old. The teenager pleaded guilty to arson and being reckless with regard to the property he damaged and the possible endangerment to life but he denied doing so with intent, which the crown accepted. The court heard that the juvenile was being held by police without charge at the time he set the fires, which he lit in an attempt to attract the attention of the guards, who he said were mistreating him.

With the court awaiting a social enquiry report after hearing the circumstances of the case, on Thursday morning Justice Alex Henderson granted the teen bail with curfew conditions until his sentencing for the two counts of arson.

When the judge heard about the circumstance that led to the youngster setting the fires and that he had also been admitted to the Cayman Islands hospital critical care unit after the George Town blaze, the judge made some pointed comments about human rights.

He queried why a juvenile of 16 had been held without charge for two days at the West Bay police station cells and why he was then held for a further five days again without being charged with any crime in police cells in George Town before he set a fire there. Justice Henderson wondered aloud what kind of position the European Court of Human Rights would take on such circumstances, given its position regarding anyone being held in custody without being charged with an offence, let alone a 16 year old.

The case comes in the wake of a damning report by the UK’s prison inspectorate that looked at the police custody cells in George Town and West Bay and found them seriously wanting. The inspectors were here just a few weeks after the teenager had been held in what were described by the inspectors as “appalling conditions” that were “barely fit for human habitation.”

The court heard that the teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been arrested by police on suspicion of burglary. He had been held for two days in the cells in West Bay and claimed he was being badly treated by officers and being ignored. The arbitrary and discretionary treatment of prisoners was well documented in the inspectorates report as well as the difficulty detainees had in attracting the attention of the guards in the cells.

After several failed attempts to get attention from the guards so the teen could get some water, and frustrated by the circumstances, he succeeded in gaining their attention when he set the fire using a lighter, which was reportedly hidden in some plastic piping in the cell. The officers managed to remove the youngster from his cell and no one was hurt.

Following the incident he was transferred to George Town, where the court heard he was kept for a further five days, but again without being charged. During the first four days the youngster was held in the main cells with a guard permanently on duty there. However, as a result of various changes in the suspects being held at the jail, the teen was segregated and moved into an isolated inner cell, where again he was unable to attract attention to ask for food or water.

The teen then set fire to his new cell. However, this time the blaze was more serious and by the time officers arrived they were unable to pull the youngster from the cell because of the amount of smoke. The teenager was eventually rescued by fire-fighters. Officers suffered from smoke inhalation but the teenager received the worst injuries and was in critical care for some time after the fire.

The youngster was eventually charged with burglary and has since served relevant sentences regarding those offences. The teen was, however, still in custody on Thursday morning when he came to court on remand for the arson offences.

After hearing the facts of the crown's case and the reasons why the young man set the fires, Justice Henderson granted the teen bail until March, when he will return to be sentenced. He was ordered to live with his mother in West Bay and because the juvenile said he had a job he could go back to if released, the judge imposed a curfew from 5pm in the evening to 7am the next morning to allow him to work. 

See related story here

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Dart deal legally binding

Dart deal legally binding

| 07/02/2013 | 237 Comments

dart shovels_0.JPG(CNS): The deal signed between the former UDP government, the National Roads Authority and the Dart Group in December 2011 to close an almost one mile stretch of the West Bay Road is, according to officials, legally binding, despite the findings of the independent review by local consultants. Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said Thursday that the road is expected to be closed in around three to four weeks as a result of that agreement, which, according to all her advisors, is now unavoidable without running into legal contractual issues. She confirmed that the road would be closed in a matter of weeks and traffic diverted on to the new section of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, which was likely to be gazetted within a month.

Speaking at Thursday morning’s televised Cabinet press briefing, O’Connor-Connolly said that Cabinet would be having a meeting that afternoon with Dart and they would have more news about the closure and the related developments at next week’s press briefing.

However, the premier indicated that progress was being made by Dart on both the road and the proposed new hotel on the site of the former Courtyard Marriott. She said government was proceeding in accordance with the agreement that had already been made between Dart, the NRA and government.

Speaking after the briefing to CNS, the premier confirmed that the road closure was inevitable as it was a legally binding part of the deal signed more than a year ago. It was not, as had been suggested previously, subject to the content of the review but was a stand-alone deal. She said the ministry’s technical and legal advisors had all advised that the road closure was a lawful obligation.

There is still considerable opposition to the road closure, with activists vowing to physically prevent its closure if necessary, but work has been almost completed in preparation for the permanent diversion from the West Bay Road near to Governor’s Way down to Yacht Drive.

As well as the extensive road works that appear to be almost complete, Dart has been working on the site of the former Marriott Courtyard Hotel. The developer now intends to build a new hotel at the location rather than rebuild the old structure, which officials from the company claimed had been the original intention. Dart is understood to be taking advantage of the legislative changes that now permit ten storeys in the Seven mile Beach area and also plans to have its first hotel in Cayman set further back from the beach. The decision to redesign the hotel and build from scratch is understood to be adding more than 12 months to the length of the $140 million project, pushing back the opening to 2016.

The full details of the agreement between the developer and the government are still in question and the independent review, which is expected to show whether or not government will get value for money for the land swaps and concessions involved with the project, which includes dart taking 50% of the room taxes in the new hotel, has not been revealed.

O’Connor-Connolly said that soon after the Cabinet receives the review document it will be made public.

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Children playing in a busy street

Children playing in a busy street

| 07/02/2013 | 18 Comments

When I was first motivated to put pen to paper, or perhaps that should be "finger to keyboard", I thought about playing it safe. I then remembered that my father and many other men of his generation that went to sea weren't playing it safe. If they did, they would have stayed home.

In the final analysis, I don't need to play it safe when it comes to speaking the truth and quite frankly I am getting tired of these children that are playing in a busy street.

I have always been curious as to the origin of the term "political silly season". After watching the recent back and forth over the One Man One Vote (OMOV) issue, especially the accusations regarding who really supported the measure and who did not, I now understand. While I support the principle of OMOV, I did not support it in the referendum last year as I believed then, as I still do now, that the good intentions of the organizers where hijacked by the purveyors of political expediency. Some of the very people that are now pushing for OMOV in the upcoming elections are the same people who opposed it in the past, simply because it allowed them to get elected and maintain power.

For decades I have listened to some of my fellow Caymanians complain that the people who have come to our islands to live and work have taken advantage of our hospitality and are the cause of the ills facing our country. However, those that complain have failed to argue their point in a logical way. While I agree that some of the people who have moved to Cayman have taken advantage of our hospitality, the truth is that those people are in the minority. Our history is filled with many many more people who came to our shores when we were "the islands that time forgot" who, with their descendants, have helped and continue to help build these islands that we call home today. Any attempt to downplay or deny this fact is disingenuous at best. If we are to progress as a country we must, as we are encouraged to in the Bible, "know the truth" so that we can be "set free" to be greater than we ever dreamed we could be.

The simple truth is that some of the people in the Merchant Class are also to blame for our country's ills. Rather than using their resources to develop local talent, they have searched the world over for anyone else but a Caymanian to manage and work in their establishment. Almost 20 years ago, while working as a night auditor to save funds for college, I was getting paid CI$6 per hour plus grats that ranged from $8 to $10 a hour depending on the season. Today, two decades later, I have seen that same position paying around CI$6.50 per hour with grats around CI$4 to $8 per hour. This decrease in the quantity of income and the quality of available paying jobs are the real issues and it is masked in the argument of whether to have a minimum wage or not. We Caymanians are smarter than you think when we are asleep and way smarter when we are wide awake.

The Cayman Islands is no different from any other country in the world. People who have money want and use their money to obtain power. In the past it was easy to get power as some of them could afford to buy the votes in a whole district. The problem is that these districts have grown so large in such a short time and the economic realities have caught up to some of them that they can only afford to buy a seat within the district. In 1988 there were less than 9,500 people registered to vote in the Cayman Islands, of which 1,430 were in my district of Bodden Town. Today, 25 years later, the number of registered electors is closer to 19,000 nationally, and the number in Bodden Town has increased to almost 4,600. During that time George Town has increased from less than 4,100 registered electors to almost 7,500. The price of buying a district just went up.

Faced with a situation that they cannot control, they have turned to OMOV, but alas, the issue of the OMOV has been resolved. The people have spoken and just above a third of the registered voters (37%) said they wanted it. Slice it and dice it all you want but it was still a minority of the voters. If Caymanians wanted it bad enough they would have come out and supported it.Then again, for some people, maybe they are just used to the minority running things.

I implore these special interest groups to leave this issue alone and focus on what really matters. If you are unsure where to start, please use your resources to develop plans to get our people working again. I realize that finding work for Caymanians may not be a priority as it is easy to just raise the prices on those of us that are working to offset the loss from those that are not working — but at a minimum, please tell me why a gallon of milk cost more than a gallon of gas.  

Walk good (and stay off the busy streets).

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Swindon Town FC Under 14s return to Cayman

Swindon Town FC Under 14s return to Cayman

| 07/02/2013 | 0 Comments

swindonvswbselect140312 046 (231x300).jpg(WBSF): For the second year running, the West Bay Sports Foundation (WBSF) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports and Culture, the Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA), Pepsi, Aquafina and a number of local companies, will once again be hosting Swindon Town Football Club’s talented Under 14 squad from the United Kingdom. The team will visit the Island for five days this month and play two exhibition games against local select teams comprised of the best Under 14 players currently playing in CIFA’s Under 13 and Under 15 leagues.

The team will arrive on Sunday, February 10 and will play Academy SC at the T.E. McField Sports Complex (Annex Field) in George Town on Tuesday, February 12 and a West Bay/Bodden Town Select at the Ed Bush Field in West Bay on Thursday, February 14. Both games are at 6:30 p.m. and the cost per game is $8.00.

Prior to the featured games, there will be a number of Under 13, Under 11 and Under 9 exhibition games beginning at 5:30 p.m.
This second visit by Swindon Town’s Under 14s and its coaching staff is the result of a flourishing relationship formulated between the WBSF and Swindon Town’s prestigious Youth Academy. In February 2012, this same team visited the Cayman Islands to play three exhibition games.

Visiting with Swindon Town, was13-year old local starlet Sebastian Martinez, who has been with Swindon Town’s Youth Academy since October 2011. Young Martinez’s contract was made possible by Swindon Town FC’s talent scout and former Swindon Town player and Reggae Boy Fitzroy Simpson. Mr Simpson’s recommendation to take Sebastian to Swindon Town FC was supported by the government and through a collaborative effort between the Ministries of Youth and Sports, Education and Development, and Sebastian’s parents, Martinez’s contract, which includes his continued education, was made possible.

This visit will also feature a second young Caymanian, Kray Foster, who joined Swindon Town’s Youth Academy in August 2012 after impressing the Swindon coaching staff and Mr Simpson on their initial visit. Following successful trials with the Youth Academy in March 2012, young Mr Foster signed a one-year rolling development contract in August 2012.

According to the Minister of Sports, the Hon. Mark Scotland, “The Ministry shares the vision of developing our youth through sports and so we are more than happy to play a significant role in making Swindon Town’s second visit possible. I also thank the private sector entities that have assisted thus far in making this trip possible especially the West Bay Sports Foundation. We are especially thrilled to welcome back our local boys – Sebastian and Kray – who serve as great ambassadors on the field and in the classroom.”

And according to Arden Rivers of the WBSF, they view Swindon Town’s two visits as very important and positive steps for youth football in the Cayman Islands. “Swindon’s first visit in February 2012 was very well received by the Cayman public so it was an easy decision for us to bring the team back.

Through the concerted efforts of several individuals and the favourable responses from our great sponsors, we are very excited in welcoming back Swindon Town’s Youth Academy to our Islands.”

Known as “The Robins”, “The Reds” or “The Town”, Swindon Town FC play in England’s League One and are based in Swindon, Wiltshire.

Technical Director of Swindon Town’s Youth Academy Jeremy Newton added, “Swindon Town is extremely excited about returning to the Cayman Islands. Last year, we were so well received by the Cayman public. Our aim this year is to continue to build working relationships with the local clubs, and the government in creating a platform to give the players on the Island an opportunity to play in England, and to be part of our club, much like Sebastian, and more recently Kray. We say special thanks to the government and all the sponsors for making this trip possible.”

Football fans are encouraged to come out and support the games.


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Community cops focus on safety

Community cops focus on safety

| 07/02/2013 | 0 Comments

Stride Cancer Walk 2.jpg(CNS): The RCIPs’ neighbourhood police have started the year with a focus on safety from keeping kids safe on the roads to protecting communities from crime offices in West Bay and George Town have been spending time at the heart of their communities. George Town Neighbourhood cop, PC Emrol Smith, delivered a safety presentation to the young students at Sunny Smiles Pre-school last week and helped to establish a Neighbourhood Watch in the Mulberry Road area. While in West Bay neighbourhood officer, PC Leslie Franklin was on patrol at the Tiffany’s pre-school annual Stride against cancer walk.

Smith and SPC Fran General, of the RCIPS Neighbourhood policing department, presented a NW sign to Alliyah McCarthy, president of the Webster's/ Cayman Retreat  Neighbourhood Watch and Russell Buntun, who is a resident of Mulberry Road, earlier this week. "Neighbourhood Watch is a great way for residents to look out for one another and keep their communities safe," said PC Smith.

He also delivered a presentation on road safety and safety in the home to the young students at Sunny Smiles Pre-school with SPC Tim Balls and PC Leonard Blake who talked to the youngsters about how police motorcycles and patrol cars work.

Franklin, meanwhile, was on Patrol in the Bolton’s Avenue area walking with students, staff and parents from the Tiffany Pre-School keeping them safe during their annual charity walk. “It was great to be involved in this important event,” said PC Franklin. “As a new officer in the West Bay Neighbourhood Department, I’m really looking forward to working closely with all of the schools, pre-schools and community groups in the area. This is an important role for the NPD and it builds much greater understanding of what we, in the RCIPS, do and how we can work together to keep our communities safe.”

Anyone who wants to talk to the police about setting up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme in their area, to find out more about neighbourhood policing, requires crime prevention advice, needs to discuss any local issues with the officers, or who wants to learn more about partnering with the police should contact their local police station, where officers will be happy to offer assistance and advice.

West Bay police station PC Sharon Baillie and PC Leslie Franklin can be reached at 649-3999 or 949-3999 or George Town police station PC Emrol smith can be reached on 949 4222

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70% of students fail to pass maths

70% of students fail to pass maths

| 07/02/2013 | 117 Comments

math_disabilities (233x300)_0.jpg(CNS): Education Minister Rolston Anglin, who is also a CPA, has said he wants to tackle the underperformance in mathematics across government primary schools and that this was now a priority area for government. While a lot of emphasis has been placed on improving literacy skills, student performance in mathematics and numeracy is no less important, he said. Employers wanted to see improvements in school leavers’ numeracy standards, Anglin said, as he pointed to the poor performance by most students, with more than 70% failing to pass their maths exams — a significant issue for a country with financial services at the heart of its economy.

“While the numbers of Year 12 students graduating with 5 or more high-level passes has grown significantly, and we continue to celebrate this success, the same cannot be said of the numbers achieving a high level pass in maths. Since 2006, the percentage of students gaining an A-C grade or Grade I-III in CXC has ranged between 25-29%. This just is not good enough. We need to do better and I believe our students can do better. As a country and an education system, we must embrace the notion that 'maths counts', and continue to push for improvements.

“We know mathematical principles and concepts have become a part of almost every area of work and that knowing these principles will help our students succeed in both school and work," he said. “Yet, historically, this has been an area where too few of our students excel. Our employers tell us this is an area of weakness with applicants for jobs,” he added.

Both literacy and numeracy skills are prioritized in the Education Stabilization Plan (ESP), which was released in January 2011, and the new National Strategic Plan for Education 2012-2017.

Some nine months after the ESP was released Frank Eade, a Numeracy Specialist with over 30 years’ experience, was appointed to work with teachers and students across the government education system. Mary Rodrigues, the chief officer in the ministry, said Eade had changed the way students experience maths.

Eade has been working with teachers to support them in developing their interactive teaching skills in mathematics through the Leaders in Primary Maths Project (LPMP).  Teachers are said to be developing their own and each others’ skills and developing new approaches for teaching mathematics.

Officials said that although maths in primary schools is a priority this year, many important developments are happening in the high schools, where the ministry wants graduates to have the mathematical and problem-solving skills that will be relevant to employment and continuous education in their futures. At the secondary level, units of study are also being developed to encourage students to discuss real life scenarios, which will enable them to make sense of mathematics.

So far, 20 primary and secondary teachers have been trained as Mathematics Recovery teachers to support students who are struggling. This initiative allows teachers to diagnose children’s difficulties and to provide intense individual support, the ministry said, and helps teachers to work with whole classes to prevent students from falling behind in the first place.

Eade has developed a bank of videos of maths lessons, which will be placed on a website to develop teaching skills, and a series of activities and puzzles based on scenes or scenarios in the Cayman Islands, making maths “real” for students. He has also been supporting parents in understanding the maths their children are learning so parents can help the kids.

“I will continue to support teachers in as many ways as possible, and will also work with Year 3, 4, 5 and 6 teachers to develop units of study which would encourage a problem-solving approach to teaching and improve outcomes for students,” Eade said. “Teachers in the government system are really starting to help children to love mathematics. 

"Mathematics doesn’t just happen in the classroom, it is all around us. I want to see lots of discussion between teachers and students, practical activities, drawings and children using images to get the full experience of mathematics and to truly enjoy it.”

Officials said these were still early days in Eade’s work and the results will take time to have an impact. Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler said there had already been marked improvements in Year 6 last year.

“The percentage of students getting a Level 4 or higher in maths in the Key Stage 2 Standard Assessment Tests (SATS) has risen from 25% in 2011 to 42% in 2012.  This is a huge achievement,” she said.

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