Archive for May 8th, 2013

NRA-Dart deal stalled

| 08/05/2013 | 62 Comments

(CNS): It appears that the government's deal between the National Roads Authority and local developer Dart Realty has hit a major stumbling block as the parties are unable to reach an agreement regarding the so-called third amendment to the deal, which involves the widening of the Esterely Tibbetts Highway from Camana Bay to George Town. Dart issued a release on Wednesday afternoon throwing the entire deal in question, when the developer said it had withdrawn from the talks over the proposed amendment to the deal, which Cabinet Minister Mark Scotland stated last week was "imminent". However, Dart said it now wished for the public to see the independent review as well as the original NRA agreement signed in December by the former premier and the two subsequent amendments.

Government confirmed Wednesday afternoon that it would be discussing the issue at Thursday's regular morning press briefing but it is clear that this deal will be pushed into the hands of the next administration.

In its release Dart said that after seven months of negotiations on the proposed third change to the original deal, government and Dart could not agree and as result the developer had withdrawn from further negotiations.

“Dart Realty expects that by withdrawing from negotiations on a Third Amendment, which has delayed the finalization of the Independent Review begun by PricewaterhouseCoopers in March 2012, the public will quickly be provided with the results of the Independent Review as well as the release of the executed NRA Agreement, and the First and Second Amendments,” it said.

“Dart Realty remains supportive of the new components in the proposed third amendment, which includes the widening of the southern portion of the ETH through Camana Bay to the Butterfield roundabout, and land transfers to Government adjacent to Smith Cove and Barkers.

“Dart Realty does not believe discussions on the third amendment should hold up the finalization of the Independent Review any longer as the components could form a separate agreement between Government and Dart Realty at a later date,” the developer stated in the release, raising questions once again about the value for money that Cayman will receive as part of the wider ForCayman Investment Alliance and whether the widening of the last part of the road will now be tied to the relocation of the George Town landfill.

Dart Realty Chief Operating Officer Jackie Doak pointed to the need to release the review to the public, not least because of the General Election which is just two weeks away.

“We believe that the public should be informed of the results of the Independent Review as soon as possible, particularly in the contextof the significant progress being made on the main projects and in light of the upcoming election,” Doak said. “Dart Realty is optimistic its decision will expedite the completion of the Independent Review and the public release of the results. In the meantime, Dart Realty continues to fulfill its obligations under the executed NRA Agreement,” she added.

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Sun halo appears in lunchtime sky

| 08/05/2013 | 21 Comments

sun halo.JPG(CNS): The relatively uncommon but beautiful phenomenon of a solar halo was visible in the sky over Grand Cayman on Wednesday lunchtime when a perfect rainbow circle appeared around the sun. According to scientists, the prism effect of these sun rainbows are caused when the light from the sun is seen through high, thin cirrus clouds that are made of ice crystals. Although not necessarily rare, they are not an everyday sight and are incredible things to see when they do appear.

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Mosquito boss immortalized in new hanger

| 08/05/2013 | 20 Comments

Cessna-in-mangrove-1-700x466_1.jpg(CNS): Dr William Petrie, the director of the Mosquito Research Control Unit (MRCU), has become the eponymous hero of its new facility, and while the mosquito boss was immortalized in the new hanger, long term MRCU employee Janet MacMillian was honoured with the pesticide building being named for her. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, who has responsibility for the MRCU,announced the names of the buildings at the opening of the aircraft facility, which includes a 12,402-square foot hangar, a 2,787- square foot custom-built pesticide store and a 1,600 square-foot evaporation basin and car park facility last month.

O’Connor-Connolly named the main MRCU building after Petrie for his tireless work in the eradication of mosquitoes and MacMilliam, who has been employed with MRCU since 1967, was honoured for her complete dedication to the department. Both said they were extremely honored and thrilled by having a building that will bear their respective names.

The facility cost CI$5.8 million and was started in 2008 but went through some hard times including a change of contractor. Hadsphaltic was awarded the original tender in 2008 but went into liquidation in June 2009. The project was then re-tendered in August 2010 by the Central Tenders Committee and a new contract was signed with Edgewater Development on 20 April 2011 and work commenced 31 May of that year.

Despite the difficulties of completing the project in austere times, O’Connor-Connolly said the upgrade was much-needed as it would bring significant improvements to the efficiency and effectiveness of mosquito control operations.

“The new facility will considerably improve the MRCU's ability to eradicate mosquitos and protect the residents of these islands. It will also assist in keeping the mosquito planes safe during a hurricane," she said.

The hangar is large enough to house both aircrafts and is being built to hurricane safety standards. Reinforced hangar doors (70ft wide) have rubber flaps between them to stop rainwater. The hangar floor has a trench drain at the entrance and a new concrete roof is a major improvement over the zinc roof on the old hangar. The new building is also farther from the runway.

It has a built-in fire suppression system using foam retardant. The building includes a workshop for aircraft maintenance, and a secure restricted-access store for aircraft parts. The MRCU facility has a generator, which means that operations can continue after a natural disaster.

The custom-built pesticide store is also built to hurricane standards to protect stock. The store is large enough to hold sufficient quantities of supplies and to store them in a safe and efficient manner.

Petrie said the facility will greatly improve working condition for the staff and protection for government’s investment in the event of a major storm. “This multi-purpose facility provides better working conditions and will improve operations as parts and the much improved workshop is all in one location. This is also the case with the pesticides, which will now be stored in this building, rather than off-site as before. We can save on operational costs, because we will no longer have to rent other facilities to for aircraft maintenance or for storage,” he added.

“From now on there will be no need to taxi the planes to Bobby Thompson Way and park them there during a storm; this sight I hope never to see again,” he said, notding that the old hangar was built in 1970/1971.  “Many years later a shelter was erected to provide some measure of cover for a second aircraft. But the original hangar was badly damaged during Hurricane Ivan and since that time international requirements would have necessitated a rebuilding at some stage anyway,” he explained.

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US visitor completes Little Cayman Grand Slam

| 08/05/2013 | 0 Comments

Landed-Permit (264x300).jpg(Southern Cross Club): A guest at the Southern Cross Club guest achieved something many fly fisherman only dream about last month when he landed a Permit, a bonefish and a tarpon within a 24 hour period to complete the Little Cayman Grand Slam. Considered the world championship of saltwater fly-fishing, this is the stuff of lore in the shallow flats and beach bars of the island. “I’m pretty excited,” said Schofield from his home in Traverse City, Michigan, “but I’m more excited about catching the Permit than the Grand Slam because you can go your whole life and not catch a Permit on fly.”

Permit are hard fish to find and harder to catch. Schofield had been trying to land one in the waters of Little Cayman for 12 years, so when Christopher Gough, the club fishing guide, rushed over with the news that a Permit was in shallows near the dock, he grabbed his gear and decided to go for it – not really expecting to catch it.

“I had no hat, no sunblock − I figured, the Permit would swim away just like the last 12 years,” he said.  Schofield cast his fly about six inches in front of the fish, worked his fly-fishing skills, and he was happily surprised when the Permit went for the hook. 

The battle between man and fish was on, right in front of the Southern Cross Club.  Peter Hillenbrand, owner of the resort, was watching from his porch. “I saw the hook up, gave a YEE HAW, grabbed the camera, and ran down to the beach to watch the fight,” he said. 

Word got around and soon there was a crowd watching the action.  “Peter said to me, ‘No pressure or anything, but half the island is watching!’” recalls Ross Schofield with a chuckle.  Being near the shore, Ross saw people sitting under trees, on the dock and on the dive boat watching his fight with the fish. When he landed the permit after an hour and 15 minutes, the crowd went wild.  “It was grand stand fishing!” laughs Schofield. “It was pretty exciting and really fun.”

“It was better than watching your favorite team win the championship – Ross holding up his Permit like a trophy in front of a full stadium!” said Chris Gough.   Having landed and released the permit first, angler and guide decided to go for the Grand Slam. Schofield landed a bonefish the same afternoon just before dark, and they tried for the tarpon that evening in the Little Cayman Tarpon Pond, but it was too dark so they stopped. Little Cayman is one of the few places in the world with a landlocked tarpon pond.

Ross and Chris went back to the pond the following morning, Ross finally landed his tarpon and the celebration was on.  All three fish were caught in about 15 hours, well within the 24 hours required for the Grand Slam.  Peter Hillenbrand says there have been four Grand Slams completed during his 18 years as owner of the Southern Cross Club, and he was delighted to see Ross Schofield, a long time repeat guest, complete his. 

“Ross Schofield has been diving and fishing with the Southern Cross Club for so long we forget when he originally showed up on our stoop for a dose of salt water adventure,” he joked. “His wife Sherry comes down to dive, but Ross likes to mix it up and he enjoys the thrills both in and on the water.” 

Ross agrees, saying Little Cayman, with its diversity and beauty, is special. “You can go blue water fishing one day, diving the next, fishing in the flats the day after that, or you can just lie in a hammock and read.” And although achieving the Grand Slam gives him a lot of satisfaction, Schofield says his real reward is the Little Cayman experience. “I love being outside and walking around in the flats seeing other things, like a little octopus, a baby shark, or little barracudas − you see everything in the sea.”

Little Cayman is acclaimed as a dive destination, but the fishing here is also world class, both inside and outside the reef. Fly-fishing in shallow water flats offer bone, tarpon and Permit fishing all year long. Anglers going for the big pull in the deep water off the island’s famous drop-off can hook wahoo, tuna and marlin. At the Southern Cross Club guests step out of theirbeach bungalow and can wet their line within 15 minutes. 

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Brackers take on underage drinking

| 08/05/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The mission to raise awareness about alcohol misuse in Cayman Bcac got off to a running start last month when the Brac Against Alcohol Misuse (BAAM) charity hosted a walk/run and evening of entertainment that raised more than KYD800 for its public education programmes. In the months before its launch, BAAM worked with the National Drug Council (NDC) to develop a community-wide programme to raise awareness of the dangers of alcohol abuse, and in particular underage drinking. Chairperson Annie Rose Scott said BAAM was born out of a deep concern about the increase in the number of alcohol related injuries and deaths over the past few years in Cayman Brac.

“Our strategy is to educate, encourage and enforce, paying special attention to our young people,” she said.

Some 300 people came out to support the group, including 92 walkers and runners who followed the course from the Scotts Dock to the old airport. On the evening of the run musicians and other performers entertained the guests and included testimonies from young people who had recovered from alcohol misuse.

To help combat what the group describes as the growing problem of minors misusing alcohol on the island, BAAM is taking a three pronged approach, by: providing young people with school-based life skills, working with families to develop effective communications skills and creating an environment of community wide surveillance.
The event was sponsored by the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It also received support from various private sector and community organisations and individuals


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CUC reap in profits as consumers struggle with bills

| 08/05/2013 | 0 Comments

cuc man.jpg(CNS Business): Despite continuing declines in kilowatt-hour (kWh) sales, CUC has announced improved earnings for the first quarter of the year compared to 2012. Grand Cayman’s monopoly power supplier stated that the company’s continued focus on controlling costs and improving efficiencies throughout the organization had helped with the significant increase in net earnings of $2.9 million, an increase of $1.0 million, or 53%, when compared to $1.9 million for the three months ended March last year. Given the hardships endured by CUC’s customers in Cayman, however, the firm’s efficiencies, lower general, administration and financing costs and increases in other income may not seem so impressive. Read more on CNS Busness

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Bank heist witness is ‘robber with a conscience’

| 08/05/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): In her closing address in the trial of David Tamassa, Rennie Cole, Andre Burton, George Mignot and Ryan Edwards for armed robbery, Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl Richards, QC, told the 12 member jury that the prosecution’s key witness and co-conspirator in the case, Marlon Dillon, was a "robber with a conscience". The jury was expected to begin their deliberations Wednesday following directions from the presiding judge, Justice Alex Henderson. The jury will decide whether Dillon will be alone behind bars for his part in the crime or whether the five defendants will also be jailed for the part the crown says they played in the Cayman National Bank daylight heist in June of last year.

Marlon Dillon was seen, not as a man of virtue, but instead as a man of courage for his assistance with the police to bring his accomplices to justice after expressing such great fear of them, the crown’s senior attorney told the jury as she summed up the crown’s case.  Dillon's evidence was the focal point of the case against the five men and Richards argued that, despite the suggestions made to him that he was lying about the identity of his co-conspirators during the armed robbery, Dillon, who has already pleaded guilty to his part in the crime, was a witness of truth.

She said that the jury had been able to assess the demeanour in which he responded to the questions during his cross examination and infer his credibility when he gave his evidence. While it was suggested by the defence that Dillon had been reciting his answers from some sort of script prepared for him the crown’s lawyer, Richards said Dillon’s continued repetition was because he was telling the truth and facts cannot change.

The jurors had heard Dillon's motives for finally coming clean and admitting his guilt. The self-confessed robber said his reasons for assisting the police were because he didn't think it was fair for him “to go down alone” when he did not commit the robbery by himself. He also said he was severely hurt that his own vehicle had been used in the robbery, which led him to feel betrayed by his friends. He had said that "even a child would know not to use their own vehicle".

Richards told the court that it was not his fault that he was being rushed, causing him to forget his car keys, and that he could not have known that the intentions of his friends were to use his vehicle as the getaway car.

Amongst many others, suggestions were made by the five defence counsels that Dillon had hidden the names of his real accomplices because he was afraid the real robbers would hurt him and instead picked the men on trial. However, Richards told the jury that this was illogical and did not make sense for him to allow his "real" co-conspirators to go unpunished and wander at large, placing his wife and son in danger. The QC said it was ridiculous that Dillon would name five innocent acquaintances, who coincidentally were absent from work on that morning and matched the descriptions given by other witnesses.

Richards submitted that Dillon had no reason to lie to the police because they were knowledgeable of his involvement and if he had really wanted to lie about the men involved, he would have given false names.

Dillon was adamant that his confession had nothing to do with what the police said or did and that his motive was his own morals, and he had expressed gratitude to the police for their pressure and help.

Detective Constable Rachel Johnson was one of the officers involved in the case and had multiple interviews with Dillon, in addition to sweating the truth out of him. Crown counsel told the jury that the evidence put forward by DC Johnson was not tainted by pressure or special treatment, as suggested by the defence.

Richards summarised the important facts in the case against the five men for the jury and noted that, although Dillon did not identify Rennie Cole on the CCTV footage of the robbery, he had already identified him in a photograph spread and named him as the "bait" to distract the bank's security guard as seen in the footage. In addition, Cole had arranged an alibi to cover his presence at the bank. He had a cheque cashed and sent to his daughter from an employer in Camana Bay, which he had received almost a week earlier. The crown’s attorney noted that he could have cashed it at the Camana Bay branch rather than at Buckingham Square at the exact time of the heist.

Although the alleged getaway driver, Andre Burton, returned to work on time that day, he told the police during questioning that he had left work to go back to his home in West Bay to deliver marijuana for a man on Crewe Road. Counsel put to the court that it did not add up that Burton would leave home for work only to return shortly after just to give someone an amount of ganja if the delivery was pre-planned as he had told the police. When questioned on how he arrived back at work, Burton said that he did not want this person to be involved.

Richards said that the DNA evidence against George Mignot confirmed that he was a passenger in the getaway vehicle — Dillon's red Chevrolet Equinox — from samples taken from the headrest and a red cap found in the rear of the car. Mignot is accused of carrying the shotgun during the heist and Dillon's statements support Mignot's work records that he was absent for a period of time on the day of the robbery as well as a few days before.

Co-defendant and Jamaican national Ryan Edwards was found with over CI$34,000 in proceeds from the robbery overseas along with bank receipts for large sums of money. In addition, there were no records of Edwards' departure from the Cayman Islands.

David Tamassa is believed to be the mastermind behind the entire operation, who gave the men their instructions. The jury heard that he told Dillon that he would be the lookout for the robbery and had provided the gun. Richards told the court that he let the others do the dirty work and added, "He is a man who created distance between himself and this robbery."

Dillon was questioned as to why he had neglected to name Tamassa until such a late point, but the prosecution suggested that it was because the pump action shotgun had belonged to him and it would make more sense for Dillon to be reluctant to name the man with a gun than those without.

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Bolt fit and raring to go for first 100m of 2013

| 08/05/2013 | 7 Comments

bolt in cayman.JPG(CNS) Six-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt is fit to run and says he will be aiming for a fast time tonight when he hits the track at the Truman Bodden Stadium in George Town. This will be the first time that the world’s fastest man has run a 100-metre race this year and his appearance this evening at the Cayman invitational, organised by Cayman’s own sprinter, Cydonie Mothersill, will form part of his preparation for the world championships in Moscow in August.  Bolt told the press Wednesday that he was feeling good and allayed fears that his recent injury would prevent him from taking part. "I am definitely going to try running my fastest,” he said.

Bolt said the hamstring strain which kept him out of a Jamaican meet last weekend wasn’t serious and he pulled out of that race as a precautionary measure. He will be running in Lane 4 on Wednesday evening in front of what is expected to be a packed local stadium with as many as five thousand people there.

The Cayman invitational has attracted a star studded cast of track athletes, and although only the second time the event has been held, attracting the world’s fastest man has secured Mothersill’s event for the future.

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UDP official breaks HC code

| 08/05/2013 | 149 Comments

ja_Dr-Joseph-Marzouca.jpg(CNS): The deputy chair of the United Democratic Party, who is the honorary consul for Jamaica, appears to be breaking an international code that governs the special diplomatic post by becoming so closely aligned with a political party. Dr Joseph Marzouca, who was appointed to represent Jamaica in Cayman two years ago, took up the official position with the UDP earlier this year and has been appearing on the political platform ever since. However, according to the honorary consul international code, those holding the post should be “apolitical” and the doctor’s position has been questioned by an election candidate as well as Jamaicans resident in Cayman.

The incumbent independent member for North Side, Ezzard Miller, told CNS that he had serious concerns about the issue asit could have negative implications for Jamaican-Caymanian relations locally.

“Since the appearance of Dr Joseph Marzouca on the UDP platform at the National Launch in George Town and the announcement that he had been appointed as the party’s deputy chair in the capital, I have received calls from a number of Jamaicans in Cayman who are concerned about the potential backlash against their community. They believe the UDP and its candidates are trying to use the Jamaican voters in Cayman to out vote Caymanians and win the election,” said Miller, as he pointed to the influential position Marzouca has, given his role as honorary consul.

“That will cause greater resentment from Caymanians against the Jamaicans, which is already a potential problem in the country,” Miller added. “My question is, who are the UDP candidates campaigning to represent if they cannot rely on Caymanians to get them elected?” he asked. “The fact that the doctor is the duly appointed honorary representative in Cayman, appointed by the Jamaican Foreign Affairs Ministry to deal with all Jamaicans living here, he should be bound by the code of ethics which states clearly that they should remain apolitical,” Miller said.

The international code, agreed by the Federation of Consuls in Milan three years ago and posted below, states:  “Honorary Consul should be apolitical in their words and deeds. They should not act or use official resources in a way that betrays bias in favour or against a political party of the receiving or sending State. Honorary Consuls should not join any political party in the receiving State or take active part in the affairs or programmes of any such political party.”

Following Miller's comments to CNS this week, a number of Jamaicans confirmed that this was a “real concern” as it gave a clear impression that not only is the UDP directly courting the local Jamaican vote but it implies that all Jamaicans are supporting the UDP, which is not necessarily the case.

“The fact that many of the new voters in both the capital and Bodden Town are Jamaicans who were granted status in 2003 is likely to stir up arguments in the community about the Jamaican community’s influence on Cayman and presents a distorted image that the Jamaicans may even control the election result,” a prominent member of the Jamaican community told CNS on condition of anonymity. “Whether it is right or wrong, this will further fuel the distrust between the Caymanian population and the Jamaicans. Given that many Caymanians have turned their back on the UDP because of recent history and the allegations surrounding the former premier, if the UDP is returned on 22 May, regardless of the accuracy, this overt courting of the Jamaican vote will be seen as outside influence impacting Cayman politics,” she added.

Asked by CNS if he felt he was conflicted in anyway given his position or if he wished to comment on the questions about his role with the UDP, Dr Marzouca told CNS Tuesday evening that he did not wish to comment at that time.

CNS also contacted the Jamaican Foreign Affairs Ministry, which appoints honorary consul, and is waiting for a response.

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