Archive for April 28th, 2014

Crown closes corruption case against suspended cop

| 28/04/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following more than two weeks of evidence the crown closed its case Monday lunchtime, against Elvis Ebanks who is accused of taking money from a Filipino work-permit holder to avoid prosecution over a stolen phone after it third attempt to prosecute the suspended cop. During the first two weeks of the trial the crown presented evidence from Len Ferares who claimed he found the phone at the Autospa in Red Bay when he was there cleaning and was later asked for money by Ebanks who was the officer called to deal with the case when the owner of the phone came to claim it. The jury also heard from several police officers involved in a sting operation and Ebanks’ arrest.

Difficulties with translators had seen two previous trials collapse but despite the time it took to present the evidence of Ferares through the interpreter this time the crown managed to get through his testimony as well as that of the police involved in the case without any further problems.

Following the closure of the case by the prosecuting counsel Trevor Ward QC, the deputy director of public prosecutions, which has already run over the anticipated two weeks, the jury were dismissed until Tuesday morning in order to allow defence counsel, Laurence Aiolfi to make a number of specific legal submissions to the judge ahead of answering the charges.
The case continues Tuesday before presiding judge, Justice Charles Quin in Grand Court one

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Road compromise reached

| 28/04/2014 | 42 Comments

(CNS): Government and the National Trust have reached an agreement on the route of the east-west arterial extension to Frank Sound which limits the encroachment on the Trust’s land. The extension, if it happens, will be financed by developers proposing a $360 million resort in the area, including a golf course, which they say is not viable without the road. Investors behind Ironwood will raise the $40 million for the road, which, according to the revised route, now avoids most of the Trust’s critical habitat and will recoup the cash via duty and other concessions over the life of the project. The whole plan is still contingent, however, on the approval of the UK as a result of the financing element and the need for CIG to comply with the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility agreement..

Premier Alden McLaughlin announced the new route at a press briefing on Monday alongside representatives from the Trust, the minister responsible for roads, Kurt Tibbetts, and NRA Director Ed Howard.

“There have been concerns about route but we have managed to reach an agreement that everyone is happy with,” the premier said, adding that the developer was also comfortable with the proposed redirection south in order to preserve important wetlands.

The Mastic Trail itself will now also be diverted at the southern head, and although the Trust will lose around three acres, government has agreed to hand over a similar amount of crown land in the area as compensation. Members of the Trust described the negotiations over the re-routing of the road as historic as it was the first time that government has sat down with the local conservation charity and listened to its concerns and recognized the importance of doing what it can to conserve important land and eco-systems.

McLaughlin said government had talked to the Trust about reviewing the planned route on to East End to avoid the wilderness reserve and the Salinas — critical habitat for the blue iguanas being released in the area from the Trust’s contained breeding programme in an effort to save the iconic, endemic species.

Although there are no plans for government to continue with the road east past Frank Sound anytime soon, the negotiations with the Trust included proposals to reroute that part of the road as well to allay concerns that the clock was ticking on the blue iguana release programme.

Any kind of major development, particularly so close to the Botanic Park and in what remains of Cayman’s dwindling natural habitat supporting the islands’ endangered endemic flora and fauna, is an on-going battle for the Trust and other conservationist. However, on this occasion the Trust was pleased and relieved that it was able to persuade government of the importance of the habitat the road would have threatened without the redirection.

“We are pleased government has listened to our concerns and we have noted that this administration has been supportive of the Trust,” Christina Pineda, the Trust’s Executive Director, said. “We were concerned that the road would cut through wetlands which feed dry forest in the area but we have been able to avoid it.”

She said the talks between government and the trust had proved to be a real success.

“It will protect integrity of the Mastic Reserve and it minimizes the losses in Trust land,” Pineda added.  “It is heartening to know that government sees the value of the National Trust preserving land and the developer has also made commitments to us to help develop a proper trail head,” she said as she thanked government forworking with the NGO so closely and including it in the negotiations, which she said was an important step forward.

She explained that the land that the Trust is giving up was not inalienable and is part of the trail which leads into the Mastic Reserve and not such sensitive habitat.

Patricia Bradley from the National Trust Council pointed out the historical significance of the negotiations as this simply has not happened before. She described it as a very important move, not just because the discussions had resulted in the preservation of important habitat regarding the immediate plans but also any future, further extension. Bradley said it was “marvelous that we can now talk and explain why things are important instead of just being presented with what is happening.”

Explaining the importance of the land that has now been preserved, the Trust representatives said the wetlands and mangrove “acts like a blanket around the dry forest”, feeding it with water and creating the sensitively balanced eco-system in the actual reserve. Without the wetlands there would be no dry forest and had the road not been re-routed it “could have been devastating to that habitat”.

Kurt Tibbetts said his ministry and the NRA understood the difficulties with the original gazetted road so it was “a matter of sitting down and determining the best way and usually there is a way if we are willing to listen.” He said the NRA had worked closely with the Trust and several maps were drawn up until the one which appears to have the best result all round emerged.

The road has now been dropped well south of the wetland area, and although it is close to a subdivision, the road director said the right engineering can take care of any issues arising from that.

Now that the last part of the road route has been sorted out with the Trust, government is not anticipating many problems regarding the land along the rest of the route. Most owners will not need to be compensated as the road will enhance the value of their land in most cases. However, both the premier and Tibbetts explained that there was still some way to go before the road project begins.

The developers of the proposed Ironwood project are the ones who will be raising the cash and hoping to recoup around $25 million from duty and the rest from other possible concessions from government over the next twenty years.

While this loan will not be guaranteed by government, the money which would have gone to the public purse via duty will now be used to finance the loan. Any partnership the government enters into with the developer over the construction of the public road will need to fit within the parameters of the FFR and get the UK’s approval. With the route decided, Tibbetts said government could now begin to shape a plan to present to the UK to get that approval.

If the Foreign Office offers its support, it will then depend on the viability of and the investment that the proposed project, including the Arnold Palmer 18-hole golf course, can attract as to whether or not the developer will take on and complete the road project.

See the new route (blue) for the east-west arterial and the letter to the Trust from the government confirming its commitment to the changes.

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Malaysian charged with deception offence

| 28/04/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police from the RCIPS Finical Crimes Unit charged a 30-year-old Malaysian national Monday with obtaining a money transfer by deception, following the man's arrest in George Town on Friday 25 April. Detectives said the charges related to an incident at a George Town establishment but gave no details of the alleged financial con or how the suspect arrived in Cayman. He was due to appear in Summary Court today. Over the last few weeks three Malaysian nationals were all jailed for 16 months in connection with the use and attempted use of cloned credit cards in various high-end local jewelry stores and local hotels. Police have not stated if this suspect is accused of a similar offence.

The three men, who are currently serving their sentences in HMP Northward, all said they had travelled to Cayman separately via Dubai last October, armed with hundreds of cloned credit cards between them. They said they were forced into the crime by loan sharks in their home country.  

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LIME iPhone customers can now use LTE

| 28/04/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Local telecommunications firm LIME Cayman Islands say their iPhone customers can finally receive 4G LTE on their handsets now that Apple has authenticated its network. The firm said it is the only mobile operator in the Cayman Islands to be an authorized iPhone dealer and the only network that a 4G LTE iPhone device will work on.  “This means blazing fast speeds wherever you are in the Cayman Islands, with 100% 4G LTE coverage,” a release stated. LIME said it launched 4G LTE in November last year and have continued to expand their portfolio of 4G LTE devices. CEO Bill McCabe said, “We’ve been working with Apple to certify our network to ensure that customers will have a great experience having turned on LTE for iPhones. Read more on CNS Business

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Suckoo to be ‘man on ground’ at new PPM office

| 28/04/2014 | 28 Comments

(CNS): Government ministers Wayner Panton and Osbourne Bodden will be holding constituency clinics at the new PPM office in Bodden Town, which formally opened on Saturday, but it is PPM back-bencher Alva Suckoo, with the support of his veteran colleague, Anthony Eden, who will be the “man on the ground” at the constituency HQ. Suckoo said he wanted to develop a reputation for being the MLA that always answered his phone and always tried to tackle the issues presented by his constituents. The new office was formally opened on Saturday, almost six months since the party acquired the house behind Wendy’s in the Countryside area of the district.

Although the house where the district MLAs will be based has been in use since November, various issues served to delay the formal ribbon cutting but the office is now staffed during business hours and will offer an open door opportunity, Eden said, for people not only to stop by and discuss what’s troubling them but to discuss matters and raise ideas as well.

“This is an important link to the community where we can keep an eye on the issues and do our best to solve them,” Eden added.

Panton, the financial services minister, who will hold his surgery on Friday afternoons, said the office in Bodden Town, which is a housed inside a family home, was reminiscent of the one in George Town, creating the right kind atmosphere that fits well with the ethos of the party.  Bodden, meanwhile, will meet with constituents on Thursday afternoons.

Suckoo said he would spend most of his time there supporting the ministers as well dealing directly with constituency matters. He said he was also tasked with building up the party membership in the district, as he urged those who came out to mark the opening to encourage their friends to come and join the party.

With unemployment concerns being most common constituency issue being raised by those visiting the office since it opened, Suckoo said one of the major goals for the Bodden Town PPM team was to encourage the development of small business in the district to create localized jobs and boost the district’s own economy, helping people to work as well as live in what was once the country’s capital.

Suckoo said government was discussing possible incentives to help generate entrepreneurs in the district and is focusing more on tackling the unemployment across what is still Cayman’s fastest growing constituency.  He also revealed that the cabanas designed for craft, food and local art vendors would soon be in use but the units, which were constructed during the last administration, had not received planning permission.

Suckoo explained this was because there was no usage policy but the government had now undertaken that task and was expecting approval from planning to open them in a matter of weeks, creating an opportunity for local artisans to get the entrepreneurial ball rolling in the district.

Alongside the plans for boosting business, the opening of the boxing gym and the playing fields and track at the primary school to the public was offering new opportunities for residents to get fit. In addition, mended street lights and the start of a major road works programme was already improving life in the district.

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Premier warns MLAs to serve

| 28/04/2014 | 78 Comments

(CNS): The country’s leader urged his Bodden Town team to make sure they serve the needs of their constituents, otherwise they would not be returned to office. Premier Alden McLaughlin said thatwithout the Bodden Town members the PPM was unlikely to get a second term and that he knew very well how easily the voters would turn against their representatives if they do not believe they are working hard for their interests. Speaking at the opening of the new Progressives’ constituency office in the district, the PPM leader urged the people in Bodden Town to use it and if they didn’t find any of the four MLAs there he wanted the people to let him know.

“Representatives come and go and when they do not measure up the people remove them,” the premier said. “You are entitled to access your representatives and I know that if they do not serve you well, you won’t put them back and we won’t get the next government.”

Pointing to the importance of constituency offices, he said that the PPM headquarters and George Town MLAs office was always a very busy place and unless he was not on the island he did everything he could to be at his MLA surgery on Thursday afternoons to meet constituents and deal with their issues.

McLaughlin said it was one thing for members to perform well when they were in the Legislative Assembly but the voters need to see their MLAs and the members need to address constituency issues and serve them properly.

McLaughlin said that eleven months into office things were going well with his government, of which many, although exceptionally well qualified, were novice politicians. Like any other job, he said, these newcomers to the political arena had to learn how to do the job, and although there had been some bumps along the way, he was still very happy with how things had gone.

“We have never had a more professionally qualified and broadly experienced group in the Legislative Assembly before,” he said. “If we don’t do well it is no one else’s fault and we must make sure we don’t disappoint those in Bodden Town and across the island who helped us get into office … I am conscious of how easy it is not to do enough he said, I’ve felt it before,” he added, ahead of the official opening, as he askedfor feedback from the constituents regarding their representatives.

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Draft dump policy completed

| 28/04/2014 | 47 Comments

(CNS): The minister charged with tackling Cayman’s growing rubbish problem has said the strategic outline case that will define the government’s first comprehensive waste management policy is expected to be discussed by the government’s parliamentary group and hopefully be on Cabinet’s agenda this week. Osbourne Bodden said that as soon as Cabinet gives the SOC the nod, it will be made public and within a matter of weeks an RFP will be circulated to find the consultants who will help work out how to best implement that policy. Aware of the publicpressure to address the dump now, Bodden said it could not be done piecemeal but the process was on track for a fully functioning system before the end of 2016.

“We can’t do this piecemeal as I know some members of the public want,” he said. “We have to do this in a systematic manner and with a policy as a starting point as we have never had one.”

Bodden said he was very pleased with the SOC, which outlines the objectives for the future of waste management and the creation of a fully function comprehensive waste management system from collection to reuse.

He said things were on course for to have an operational system in place collecting, sorting, using and managing the country’s waste before the end of 2016. Bodden said that the RFP (request for proposals) for the outline business case, which will define how the policy in the SOC can be implemented into a practical operation, will be circulated to find the right company to deliver. He said he anticipated that the release of the RFP for the development of the system would happen early next year.

Bodden said that no matter how much people wished for an instant solution, the historical neglect has created the need to follow a process that starts with the missing policy to detail the objectives. Bodden explained that if government does not know what it wants to achieve, it cannot create a request for a proposal. Once a policy is defined, which is now the case with the SOC, he can present that to his government colleagues and then the Cabinet to ensure it has the necessary support.

The first major step in the long road to a comprehensive solution, the SOC would be in the public domain at the earliest opportunity before the RFP is circulated for the technical consultants, he said.

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Block thrower smashed speeding car’s windshield

| 28/04/2014 | 47 Comments

(CNS): The RCIPS have confirmed that a driver who was driving through Bodden Town at high speed last Wednesday was slowed down unexpectedly when a piece of block was flung through his windshield. The driver, who had a lucky escape, was uninjured though his vehicle was damaged. According to a police spokesperson, the incident happened at around 9:30 on 23 April as the man drove between Everglo Bar and Chester's. He admittied that he was travelling at a high speed and has a loud muffler, which may have caused the attack, but police said they are currently investigating. Residents from the district who spoke to CNS stated that in the last few weeks there had been several other similar incidents.

While there have been incidences in the district in the past where rock throwing had plagued pedestrians in certain residential areas of the district and rocks have also been thrown at motorists on the East-West arterial and Shamrock Road, police believe that this is just an isolated incident as they said that no other cases were reported to them.

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Fire service tackles back to back blazes

| 28/04/2014 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Fire fighters tackled three different blazes Saturday morning: a structural fire in central George Town, a brush fire in Pedro and another blaze at the landfill, all within less than an hour a half of each other. The battle to extinguish the fires began at around 7am on 26 April, when crews were dispatched to a blaze close to the NevLaw Building on Shedden Road, where a storage room was engulfed in flames. But as fire officers began to deal with that fire, less than minutes later another crew was sent to Savannah and within another forty minutes, as crews continued on the first two fires, a truck was sent to a third fire at the dump to get that under control.

Two water tankers and the rescue command vehicle responded from the capital to deal with the fire in George Town. The fire crew was able to bring the blaze under control, preventing its spread from the storage room to the area of the home that was occupied. While firefighting continued to fully extinguish the blaze and cool hotspots, central station’s back-up tanker responded tobrush fire in Pedro.

As the two crews were still handling those two incidents, CIFS was also dispatched by 911 to a fire at the George Town landfill. They were able to contain and prevent further spread and, with the help of an excavator crews, cleared a barrier between the burning garbage and the remainder of the site and the fire was extinguished .

As the crews from George Town tackled the three back-to-back blazes, the crew at the Frank Sound Sub Station was placed on alert and dispatched to their Bodden Town standby location in case they were needed.

Acting Chief Fire Officer Roy Grant commended his officers on a job well done, stating that the structure fire and the landfill fires were handled aggressively and professionally with positive results.

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Parents urged to keep up vaccination protection

| 28/04/2014 | 14 Comments

(CNS): With a 95% coverage rate on vaccinations against childhood diseases, Cayman has a high level of protection. However, officials are urging parents that have not kept their children’s shot schedule up to date to take advantage of the clinics provided this week to mark the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)'s 12th anniversary of Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA). Public Health staff will be contacting parents to schedule appointments for children with missed vaccinations. Dr Kiran Kumar, medical officer of health, said the Heath Services Authority only procures vaccines approved by PAHO and all vaccines used in Cayman are safe. 

“They are administered in accordance with guidelines from the World Health Organisation and the Pan American Health Organisation,” he added.

VWA is observed from 26 April to 3 May, and this year’s theme, “Vaccination: your best shot” was chosen to encourage people to protect themselves and the region against the importation of polio, measles and other vaccine preventable diseases in other parts of the world, in light of the upcoming World Cup.

The health minister also urged parents to take advantage of the immunization programmes.

“I cannot over-emphasize the fact that immunization represents an important investment in the health of our children and protecting our future generation,” said Osbourne Bodden in his immunization week message. “If we do not remain vigilant with maintaining our immunization schedules, diseases we have already eradicated will ultimately return. I encourage everyone to check whether you or your family members have had all the vaccines needed and check for any boosters that may be required. Contact your health centre for advice or needed vaccines.” 

Since its inception in 2003, more than 465 million individuals have been vaccinated during immunization week. The local Immunization Programme Coordinator, Nurse Angela Graham, said, “In the Cayman Islands, we continue to promote vaccination through advocacy, education and communication activities during this week."

Over the years the Public Health Department has developed and maintained a robust vaccination schedule for most vaccines. But Nurse Graham said there were still some children who don’t complete their vaccine schedule, leaving them at risk. Special clinics have been organized to assist any children with missed vaccinations and parents are urged to use this opportunity.  

The current childhood immunisation schedule recommends that by the age of 15 months, infants should have received the following vaccines, which offer protection against 13 diseases:

  • Three doses of Hepatitis B; (at birth, 6 weeks, 9 months)
  • One dose of BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin – TB vaccine); (at 6 weeks)
  • Three doses of Rotavirus ; (6 weeks, 4 months, 6 months)
  • Three doses of the combined DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough), IPV (inactivated polio vaccine) and Hib (Haemophilus influenza type b) at 2, 4, 6 months)
  • Three doses Pneumococcal vaccine (Prevnar) at 2, 4, 6 months
  • One dose of Varicella (chickenpox) & booster of Pneumococcal (at 12 months)
  • One dose of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella); & a booster dose of combined DTaP and Hib (at 15 months).

Children also need booster doses of combined DTaP and IPV and 2nd dose of MMR at school entry (4-5 years). For children 6 months and older and all adults, an annual Influenza vaccine is recommended. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is offered to 11-12 year old girls and older children if they did not get vaccinated at this age. 

In addition to the childhood immunization, vaccines to prevent serious infectious diseases for adults are also available, including boosts for tetanus and diphtheria and the annual influenza vaccine.

For information regarding immunizations contact your private pediatrician or the following District Health Centres:

  • Public Health Department:   244-2648
  • West Bay Health Centre:   949-3439
  • Bodden Town Health Centre:  947-2299
  • East End Health Centre:    947-7440
  • North Side Health Centre:  947-9525
  • Faith Hospital, Cayman Brac:  948-2243
  • Little Cayman Clinic:   948-0072

Walk in Clinics on a first come first serve basis  for  children with missed vaccinations have been scheduled as follows:

West Bay Health Centre:                30 April 8:30am – 1:00 p.m.
Bodden Town Health Centre:         30 April and 2 May 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m
Public Health Clinic, CI Hospital:    2 May 8:30 am – 2:00 p.m.

Childhood Immunization Schedule and Facts on Vaccine Preventable Disease are attached below.

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