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Brett Fraser wins gold in Geneva

Fraser won 2 gold medals at the meet.

More than four years after competing at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Cayman’s two-time Olympian Brett Fraser returned to the pool for official competition at the 2020 Geneva International Challenge Meet earlier this month.

Fraser took first in two events and second in another, matching his own Cayman Islands national record in the process.

He won gold in the 50-metres butterfly. His time of 23.66 seconds tied his national mark, which he first registered in the finals of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. He also took first in the 100-metres freestyle in a time of 49.06 seconds. He set a preliminaries round meet record in that same event earlier in the meet by touching the wall in 48.09. The 30-year-old also placed second in the 50 free with a time of 22.54 seconds.

Beach volleyball league sees new A division champs


In week two action of the Corona Beach Volleyball League, JoAnna’s Talls and Smalls beat Sets Offenders in the A division finals. It marked the second week in a row the two top teams faced off in the finals with Sets Offenders winning their first encounter. The team was untouchable throughout the day, winning five consecutive matches. However, JoAnna’s Talls and Smalls were out for redemption after their week-one loss and pulled off a 21-19 victory.

In the B division, both Boo-ack and The Krusty Krabs made their first appearance in thefinals. It was a back and forth game, but Boo-ack earned bragging rights heading into week three, after securing a 21-19 win.

Lastly, in the C division, The Strays came up short for the second week in a row to Son of a Beach. While The Strays lost, they gave Son of a Beach their toughest match of the day, with a close game that ended 21-18.

CIAA takes off with its first CARIFTA prep meet


Cayman’s track and field athletes set off Saturday morning at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex for the Cayman Islands Athletics Association’s first CARIFTA prep meet. No athletes met Cayman’s CARIFTA qualifying marks at the meet but Cayman national coach Kenrick Williams said the athletes will have several opportunities to make the standard.

Under 20 Boys 100 Meter Dash. Photo: Seaford Russell Jr.

“The purpose of the meet is to get as much kids to qualify as early as possible,” said Williams.

“If you look down in Jamaica and around the Caribbean, most of the meets start in the first week of January, and some others start in December, and currently in the States, they have indoor {meets] going on. After this, we only have about five or six more meets to get the athletes to meet the qualifying standards, so, what we are doing now is prepping them.”

Javelin thrower Rachel Pascal qualified for the CARIFTA meet at the Odd Meet on 11 Jan. This year’s CARIFTA event takes place in April in Bermuda.

A record 52 track and field athletes represented Cayman at last year’s games, held on home soil. However, many of those athletes did not make the qualifying standard, and Cayman walked away with only two medals from the event. Williams said this year will be a different story.

“It doesn’t matter how large the team is, what we are looking for is quality, and if you can get a quality athlete, then we can look forward to podium positions, meaning first, second and third. It makes no sense to [send] 30 athletes to Bermuda and, in the long run, only one can give you a medal and the rest drop out before the semi-finals or the final.”

He added, “Ten years ago, we were making the finals and semi-finals and, right up to the podium, getting seven medals, five medals, and that shouldn’t change because the qualifying standards basically remain the same. So, it’s up to us coaches to really put the work into the kids and let them deliver the goods.”

School fashion show features talented student designers

Clifton Hunter High School’s assembly hall was filled with thunderous applause Monday as students cheered on models and designers from the Design and Technology Department.

Year 9 students walked the runway wearing clothes from the school’s creative designers.
Charmaine Lindsay-Baugh, subject leader for the school’s Design and Technology Department, said the event was held to pique students’ interest in career paths that can lead from the subjects covered by the department.

Winsome Campbell, who modelled a navy-blue dress designed by fellow student Allenger McLaughlin Jr., commended the students’ creativity. “It’s nice to see people at such a young age making dresses,” she said.

McLaughlin said his inspiration came out of his doodling at night, and navy blue, which he matched with white for the dress, was his favourite colour. “I told my model to have fun, walk elegantly, and display a good attitude showing off the dress,” he said.

Designer Rochelle Ebanks, who also chose blue for her dress colour, said she created a lot of dresses, but a light blue short dress with frills for plus-size women was her favourite piece.

“I did that dress because I realise a lot of teen plus-size people don’t have that great variety of clothes to choose from when they are going out to a dinner or something fancy,” Ebanks said.

Student Alma Smith said her royal blue design reflected the colour of the sea in Cayman.
“Hosting the show makes the children see what they can achieve,” said Isabelle Grant, one of the models.

The ladies behind design and technology at the school. From left, Charmaine Lindsay-Baugh, subject leader, Kamilah Moncrieffe, home economics teacher, and Norma Ebanks, designer. – Photo: Jewel Levy

Lindsay-Baugh said the fashion show was an opportunity to sensitise students about technical and design subjects. “We used the forum to advertise the home economics and the technology areas, as well,” she added.

She said the school worked with Cayman fashion designer Norma Ebanks who, along with a group of students from the school, put together the InStyle Cayman Fashion show that took place some months ago.

“Some of those students were designers of garments worn by students here today,” Lindsay-Baugh said.

She added, “It was very good; they loved it and the kids were surprised it was their own students that designed some of the garments.”

Home economics teacher Kamilah Moncrieffe said she sees the programme as offering students a chance to showcase their talents outside of school.

“There are very talented students at Clifton Hunter and, I believe, with the re-introduction of a programme of this nature, it will allow students to showcase their talents within school and give them greater exposure when they leave school to start their own businesses, become entrepreneurs, or just to launch out in the world,” Moncrieffe said.

Port vote case begins

Attorneys challenging the vote on the cruise berthing and cargo project have said local legislators breached their duty by failing to enact a general framework for holding referendums.

It was a point attorney Chris Buttler, of Matrix Chambers, raised Wednesday as the judicial review case filed by Cruise Port Referendum Cayman member Shirley Roulstone began in Grand Court.

Roulstone’s case, which was filed against Cabinet and the Legislative Assembly, challenges the referendum law that was passed last year specifically to pave the way for holding a vote on government’s $200 million cruise berthing and cargo project.

Buttler, representing Roulstone, argued that the port referendum law was “unlawful” as it failed to address critical issues that would guarantee the protection of a citizen’s right to vote.

Referring to the Court of Appeal’s ruling in the Chantelle Day/Vickie Bodden Bush marriage case, Buttler argued that a similar principle of unlawfulness created by the absence of a legislative framework for same-sex marriage also applied in Roulstone’s case.

He said there is a need for a “stable framework rather than one that changes” every time a referendum is held.

This was not the case when the process for the people-initiated referendum on the port project was triggered, he said.

Without proper official guidelines, it was left to the Elections Office to determine the verification process of referendum petition signatures, one that CPR objected to. It also allowed government to determine the date and the question of the referendum before a law was implemented.

“A general law would help protect the right to an effective vote,” Buttler contended as he outlined his case before Justice Tim Owen and a packed courtroom.

Owen pointed out that government, through its attorneys led by Mark Shaw, QC, has indicated that a general referendum law will be introduced in the second half of this year.

Buttler argued that having such a general referendum law would have addressed the problems raised in the judicial review and, therefore, Roulstone’s team is seeking an order quashing the port referendum law as it is.

The problems the absence of a general law caused, he pointed out, include: the absence of provisions for voter registration; the absence of rules for campaign financing; a lack of clear rules on party political broadcasting; the absence of general rules on the formulation of the referendum issue, i.e., confirming it is an issue of national importance; and the absence of rules on providing objective information.

Related story

Environment board to decide on EIA update

Prior to commencing the case, Justice Owen sought to clarify what matters were left before him as he noted that government had undertaken concessions that related to the initial case submitted by Roulstone’s legal team.

Those concessions include amending the referendum question, which was done late last month; government’s declaration in its arguments that it has a duty to protect the environment in its decisions; and the submission of an environmental impact assessment scoping update on the project.

Government, he pointed out, has paid Roulstone’s legal fees relating to the concessions on the wording of the referendum question.

Buttler said government had issued a statement on the scoping update, but his team was yet to see the document and what it entails. The update was issued on Tuesday afternoon, the day before the judicial review began.

A citizen’s inherent right to a free and fair vote, he argued, was impacted by the lack of set guidelines for the verification process of the CPR petition, an absence of rules for execution of the vote, and no clear provisions on how the process should be followed as it relates to who is eligible to vote in the referendum.

The National Trust, which has joined Roulstone’s judicial review as an interested party, offered to provide submarine tours of the reefs to be impacted by the project and also suggested a site visit.

However, Owen said he did not see the need for that since the government had committed to its duty to protect the environment.

Buttler said further to the absence of a framework that governs how referendums are to be held, government also has the ability to set the terms and conditions of the referendum; which could skew the outcome of the results of the referendum in favor of the government.

“What are the rules of the game?” asked Buttler. “Can you change them [the rules] referendum by referendum? Government are players in the game and therefore they should not be allowed to set the rules of the game.”

He added that government had mixed the issues that are currently being addressed, “that is, the issue of the refurbishment of the cargo facility, which the petitioners support, and that of the construction of the cruise berthing facilities, which could skew the results”.

Buttler said the current referendum law does not address who should be allowed to decide what issues are of national importance.

He also raised what he called “one-sided, partisan misinformation” that was presented by the government using public funds.

“Our issue isn’t that government should not be allowed to present whatever information it wishes to,” said Buttler. “Rather we say both sides should be allowed to present their information, but there needs to be an independent party that also presents objective information.”

The need for an independent body capable of presenting balanced and objective information was also stressed by Tom Lowe, representing the National Trust.

“This is a fairly small jurisdiction, and therefore it lacks resources and bodies needed to facilitate discussions,” said Lowe.

He added that, unlike in England and Wales,  Cayman does not have a body that is capable of commissioning an independent inquiry into projects of national importance.

“There is the NCC (National Conservation Council) but it does not have the ability to commission its own independent study into projects of national importance,” said Lowe. “The NCC does not have any ability to call in an inquiry or force the government to accept its findings.”

Lowe acknowledged that the current judicial review was not to consider the legality of government to draft the law, nor was it a review to address the legality of government’s ability to disseminate information, nor was it the correct forum to address environmental concerns. However, he noted they were concerned about the “misleading statements” about the impact of the project would have on the port, and the fact that “the government is able to project the information with the full might of the civil service and government departments”.

The government is expected to give its response on Thursday at 10am.

Legal teams

Roulstone’s legal team: Chris Buttler of Matrix Chambers, Kate McClymont and Richard Parrish of Broadhurst LLC.
Government’s legal team: Mark Shaw, QC, Jessica Boyd and Michael Smith.
National Trust’s legal team: Tom Lowe, Nicholas Dixey and Colm Flanagan of Nelson and Co.

Additional reporting by Andrel Harris.

An SOS call to Cayman Brac


From his Cayman Brac home, Raymond Scott works around the clock to keep the seas safe. Through marine radio communications, he has facilitated hundreds of rescues in Cayman waters, with no reimbursement from government for that work.

When a vessel sends out a distress signal near Cayman, it is often Scott who answers the call and coordinates the rescue efforts.

Scott developed a love of the sea from a young age. He observed his older brother take to life at sea and would follow in his footsteps, joining Cayman Energy in the ’70s.

As part of the Cayman Compass #SaveOurStories series, Scott shared some experiences from his seafaring days and his current work facilitating emergency rescues. Below are his stories in his own words.

Brac shipping business

I was with Cayman Energy, which was an American company. I started out in 1978. I think it was in March or April 1978. I was 16 years old. My brother, Captain Radley Scott, was here on the island. He went to Captain Van Der Linde, the owner of [Cayman Energy].

I did mention that I would be interested in working with my brother or working on the tankers as well. At that time, there were not that many jobs around in Cayman Brac and this company was paying a salary of CI$200 every two weeks in 1978.

Anyway, two months after my brother started working with Cayman Energy, I got a job as well with Cayman Energy and went out on the tankers for the ship-to-ship transfer. My brother was an experienced sea captain prior to his employment. He started as a seaman at age 16 and he was a sea captain at the age of 19.

When I started working, I was an assistant to the mooring masters. A mooring master is the person that is experienced with taking command of the tanker from the captain and giving instructions as to the course and speed to approach another ship, and bring it alongside and keep it alongside parallel, until the ropes are connected and the ships are tied together to commence the ship-to-ship transfer of crude oil.

The first person that started out was Captain Harold Banks, which was the manager of Cayman Energy in Cayman Brac. He was the first mooring master, docking master for the tankers. Captain Harold Banks was the man that taught my brother how to dock the tankers. Also, he taught a total of seven other Caymanian men how to dock the tankers. I worked with all of them in the tankers.

Ship-to-ship transfer was a booming business in Cayman Brac from 1977 through about 1986. It was the best thing that happened to Cayman Brac since National Bulk Carriers. Cayman Energy had a staff of 93 persons at the peak of its operations in Cayman Brac and

I was among one of those 93 persons that worked with Cayman Energy.

Raymond Scott contacts a ship at sea from his home on Cayman Brac. – Photo: Ken Silva

A distress call in the night

When I was age 15, I had started communicating with ships [via radio].

There were no computers, no cellphones.

In 1978, I was employed on a salary of $25 a month to Lloyd’s of London to be their agent in calling up ships and finding out their names, their position, where they’re coming from, where they’re going, what they’re carrying.

I worked for 32 years as an agent or shipping traffic reporter for Cayman Brac, or for the Cayman Islands, and after 32 years, I only reached to a sum of $290, which was some of the lowest pay that anyone could have ever been paid for that type of work, but that was my salary.

In doing that [work], people here in the Cayman Islands started to contact me about when someone goes missing at sea. Their family members would be coming from Key West or Miami or coming from Honduras or from Jamaica and they could be overdue. Being as I was the man of the radio and communicating with the ships, I became like the maritime safety authority for the Cayman Islands.

I have been involved in several hundred rescue operations. I have saved many lives at sea in the 40 years that I’ve been doing it.

I’ve approached government on many occasions, for such an important job that I am carrying out, for them to put me on a salary and appoint me into a position as a search-and-rescue coordinator. But no one takes it as anything serious as to the importance of my duties in being the saviour of life at sea for so many people. All hours the night, I’ve been called out of bed, every hour and every half an hour. I’ve been called out of my bed to assist people in distress at sea by the marine department, by 911 communication, by family members, by friends of people, by foreign ships giving out a Mayday or SOS call.

My responsibilities have been quite overwhelming for me.

It has aged and educated me with a vast knowledge of the entire world, about its ports, what each port imports and exports from place to place.

And I’ve spoken with just about every nationality in the world on ships passing the Cayman Islands, coming from every country in the world – to and from the United States, Mexico, Cuba, Panama, and all those other places.

Rescue of the Angelique

A 62-year-old captain and his 61-year-old wife were coming from Cayo Largo, Cuba, to Little Cayman and their boat [the Angelique] started sinking. I think it was a 39- or 41-foot sailboat. It started sinking at about 12:24 in the afternoon, and I heard the SOS call and I dispatched the Cayman Brac fire service rescue launch to go up there and then contacted a ship.

The ship went to the scene and launched their lifeboat and took the captain and his wife on board, and then asked me what to do after that. I said, take the yacht in tow and tow it to Cayman Brac.

They were towing the yacht to Cayman Brac while it was sinking, but at 5 o’clock that evening, it started to go completely under. And then the captain on the ship called me and asked what to do if the boat is sinking.

I said, “Well, you are the captain. Decide what to do.”

Anyway, he decided to cut the rope and let the sailing boat sink to the bottom. She’s on the bottom [of the sea] about 15 miles north of Little Cayman right now.

The captain and his wife went back to Holland, bought another boat, and started an around-the-world cruise.

Ship ablaze

I saved the lives of 19 Hondurans when their radar had caught fire 80 miles southwest of Grand Cayman. It caught fire in the engine room and was burning and another ship got their SOS call at 2 o’clock in the morning and broadcast “SHIP ABLAZE, SHIP ABLAZE”.

I heard it. The call came through. I was asleep and it awakened me. I jumped up from the bed and got on the radio as quickly as possible, and I said, “Give me your position. Give me your position.” Then I contact Lloyd’s of London, that I was working with then, and they called the US Coast Guard and sent a Coast Guard ship that was around western Cuba.

They found 19 Honduran men hanging onto a partly sunken lifeboat. So, if I wasn’t doing what I was doing, those 19 Hondurans would have went into eternity. They would have all drowned out there that night.

So, anyone that was on the motor vessel Topaz, please, let me know if anyone knows of any seaman who were rescued from the sinking, failing lifeboat from the motor vessel Topaz, which sank off of Grand Cayman.

I would like to know or meet any of those 19 people. I would be delighted to hear from any one of them.

I don’t remember which year, but it seems like about 15 years ago.

Honouring the lost

Whenever a seaman passes away, or his wife or a family member, I will contact the captain of an approaching ship that is going to pass the area and make a request that, I would like you to pass by the island and give a five- or 10-horn blast salute to honour them, like Captain Charles Kirkconnell, for example, when he passed away, and many other people from the Cayman Islands.

There are hundreds of people that I have done it so far for.

Environment board to decide on EIA update

Environment officials are reviewing a report outlining how design changes to the proposed cruise berthing project will alter the environmental impacts.

Gina Ebanks-Petrie, who heads up government’s Environmental Assessment Board, said her team would be analysing the report from Verdant Isle Port Partners, which is the preferred bidder on the project, over the next few weeks.

The board has four weeks to issue a ‘scoping opinion’ based on the document as to what new work, if any, is required to update the environmental impact assessment on the controversial pier proposal. After that, there will be a period of public consultation, including a public meeting, before an updated report is commissioned.

Related story

Port vote case begins


A comprehensive EIA was carried out on the original design in 2015. That report concluded that there would be significant losses of coral reef habitat in George Town Harbour and that adjacent reefs, including Eden Rock and Soto’s Reef, would suffer serious adverse impacts.

It also concluded that the project would have no significant impact on Seven Mile Beach.

Since then, the design has been changed to move the piers to deeper water and limit the amount of dredging required.

Dave Anglin, senior coastal engineer with environmental consultants Baird, which carried out the original study and has joined the Verdant Isle group to work on the update, told the Cayman Compass in an interview in November that he expected the design changes would reduce the environmental impacts of the project.

He described the scoping document, submitted this week, as a systematic comparison of the new and old designs and a preliminary assessment on how the changes alter the environmental impacts.

Ebanks-Petrie confirmed the board had received the report and would give its verdict within four weeks.

“Our job is to review this report and to develop a scoping opinion that outlines what needs to be covered by an update to the EIA,” she said.

Any additional work, beyond what was done in 2015, she said, would be connected to the change in design, along with any other key parameters that had been altered in the past five years.

“This is standard for environmental impact assessments,” she added. “They are iterative. If you change the design, then that affects the potential for impacts.”

The update will also consider the likely effect of proposed mitigation measures, including the style of dredging and a proposed coral-relocation programme.

Once the Environmental Assessment Board releases its scoping opinion, the next step will be to confirm and approve the credentials of the team appointed by Verdant Isle to do the update.

After that, the consultants will work with the EAB to produce draft terms of reference – outlining the objectives of the EIA update and what it will cover.

Those will go out for public consultation during a 21-day period. People will have the opportunity to give feedback, including through a public meeting, before the final terms of reference for the study are completed.

The consultants will then complete the work and the study, and there will be another round of public feedback and meetings before the EAB issues a final updated report on the impacts of the port project.


Next steps

* The board has four weeks to issue a ‘scoping opinion’ outlining what updates are needed to the environmental impact assessment.

* Verdant Isle’s consultants will work with the board to produce draft terms of reference for the updated EIA.

* There will be a 21-day consultation period, including a public meeting, for people to give feedback before the terms of reference are finalised.

* Verdant Isle’s consultants will carry out the work and produce an updated report.
* That report will then go out to public consultation.

* The consultants will produce a final environmental statement on the likely environmental impacts of the project with the new design.

* The board may also produce a review and final statement on the project

Public Health on lookout for coronavirus

Health officials in hazmat suits check body temperatures of passengers arriving from the city of Wuhan, China, on Wednesday. – Photo: AP

Local public health officials are closely monitoring a newly identified strain of coronavirus, which has claimed the lives of 17 people in China.

The virus, which is a new strain of the coronavirus known as 2019-nCoV, or novel coronavirus, was first detected in Wuhan, China. It is the first time this strain has been found in humans.

According to Chinese state media, since the virus was first flagged on 31 Dec. 2019, 17 people have died in China from the infection. Wuhan authorities have confirmed 444 cases, which brings China’s national total to more than 500. Cases have also been reported in Thailand, Japan and South Korea. On Tuesday, the United States reported its first case.

The Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization have issued alerts on the virus.

Cayman’s Medical Officer of Health Samuel Williams-Rodriguez said that while there have been no local reports of the coronavirus in Cayman, the public health department is monitoring the situation.

“At the advice of the Pan American Health Organization, we continue to strengthen our surveillance efforts to detect patients with acute respiratory disease and to ensure all health care professionals are up to date with guidance on infection and prevention control, and standard recommendations to prevent infection spread of the disease,” he added.

Williams-Rodriguez said travellers returning from countries with reported cases should contact a doctor as soon as possible if they develop breathing difficulties that are unexplained by any other illness or virus.

“At the moment, there is no vaccine available and treatment is supportive care based on the patient’s symptoms,” the statement added.

PAHO has not advised special screening for virus at points of entry nor recommended any travel or trade restrictions.

Same-sex marriage fight to go to Privy Council

Lawyers acting for a same-sex couple contesting Cayman’s marriage laws have confirmed plans to take their fight to the UK Privy Council.

Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush won their initial court fight to be granted the right to marry in Cayman, but that decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal, which ruled that Cayman’s Constitution preserved marriage for opposite-sex couples only.

The appeals court ruled that government was obliged to provide the couple, and all same-sex couples, with rights ‘equivalent to marriage’ and instructed government to introduce legislation to that effect. Attorney General Samuel Bulgin indicated last week that legislation for civil partnerships is being drafted.

Attorney Ben Tonner, QC, who represents Day and Bodden Bush, confirmed Wednesday that an application had been filed with the Court of Appeal for final leave to apply to the Privy Council in the UK. Once this is granted, the legal team will be able to file the appeal.

He said they would seek to challenge the appeals court’s decision in the higher court.

“It will be submitted that the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal should have interpreted the Constitution in a manner which protects and promotes fundamental rights and freedoms (as the Chief Justice did) rather than adopting an approach which does the very opposite,” Tonner told the Cayman Compass in an email.

Fire Service asks public not to tackle big fires

In this screengrab from video, a man is seen carrying a container of water which he proceeded to throw on the tree fire on Tuesday afternoon.

The Cayman Islands Fire Service is urging members of the public to leave the task of putting out fires to the professionals.

The call comes after video footage on social media showed people trying to extinguish a blazing tree and hedge fire on Tuesday afternoon near the old Hyatt building on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway.

Firemen was called to deal with the “well-developed” fire at 4:27pm Tuesday, according to a statement from the Fire Service.

“Emerging video footage of the fire prior to the arrival of CIFS shows members of the public attempting to put the fire out with buckets of water and vehicles passing dangerously close,” the statement said.

“CIFS would like to remind residents, businesses and visitors to the Cayman Islands that they should Get Out, Stay Out and dial 911 requesting fire and rescue. This includes outside wildfires where you should move to a safe distance, stay away and dial 911,” the Fire Service added.

Fire Service officials said they would only recommend that people tackle small undeveloped fires where it is safe to do so with an appropriate fire extinguisher to prevent further escalation and calling 911 to report the fire as a matter of urgency.

“Tackling larger fires, with no training, the wrong equipment or wrong extinguishing agent can lead to serious injuries or a fire-related fatality, and should be avoided in the interest of public safety,” the Fire Service stated.

More options for watersports events

New amendments to Cayman’s port regulations have paved the way for hosting watersports events outside of designated zones.

The changes allow for the creation of temporary watersports zones, subject to the approval of the Port Authority, for the hosting of one-off special events, according to Acting Port Director Joseph Woods.

Prior to the changes, Woods said, watersports events were only allowed in eight designated sites on Grand Cayman.

“The watersports operators who do special events like jet-ski races and [so on], they were wanting to put on races in areas that were outside of the designated watersports zones, and we couldn’t permit it because the law didn’t allow for it. Now the regulations cater for that,” Woods told the Cayman Compass in an interview on Tuesday.

He explained that the changes in the regulations allow the authority to approve watersports operators conducting an event in any particular area and issue measures the operators have to incorporate in order to hold their events.

“Normally, without [the amendment], you cannot travel parallel to the shore, closer than 50 yards from the shore, and you cannot exceed 5 miles an hour closer than 200 yards from shore. So, this allows us to waive all of those and set the parameters for that particular area in a particular event,” said Woods.

He made it clear that any event promoters applying for the authority’s approval will have to strictly adhere to the guidelines and parameters set out by his team.

Woods said the applications for approval do not carry a fee, and will be assessed by the authority and the Joint Marine Unit. He said he is uncertain if the newly formed Cayman Islands Coast Guard will also weigh in on the applications, as the amendment was set out before the new agency was formalised.

“We will consider [the application] and then we set the criteria for them to have [the watersports event]. They have to meet whatever safety restrictions that we put on, and once they agree to that, then they can hold it for the time specified for them to do so.

Then, after that, it’s back to normal,” Woods said.

Dozen Proud of Them Caymanians named

Twelve young Caymanians, ranging in age from 14 to 24, have been named the 2020 Proud of Them honourees for their achievements in academics, sports, career and community service.

Abbegale Seymour, Aliyah Myers, Arnold Berry, Lorena Morejon, Neesah Godet and Zariah Anglin were recognised in the category of academics. John Michael Bodden and Raeanne Ebanks-Hydes were both recognised in academics and sports. Janelle Woods was recognised for academics and community service. Hannah Peralta was recognised in academics and career while Stephon Wright and Shakur Ebanks were recognised in the categories of career and community service, respectively.

They were nominated by members of the public and selected out of 75 nominees.

The youngest honouree, Raeanne Ebanks-Hydes, 14, accepts her award from Chief Officer Cetonya Cacho and previews her billboard. – Photo: GIS

According to a press release from the Ministry of Youth, the 12 honourees were celebrated at a banquet ceremony at the Marriott Beach Resort on 16 Jan., which was hosted by the ministry and the Youth Services Unit.

The release quoted Acting Director of Youth Services Unit James Myles as saying, “The programme started in 2011 as a discussion at the National Youth Commission based on a problem we saw with our young people not receiving adequate coverage in the local media for their positive contributions to society. The idea of erecting the nation’s only roadside permanent billboards, featuring and celebrating exceptional young Caymanians was birthed to change the narrative. I am so proud of how the programme has evolved since and even happier about our Minister’s support and the mandate she has given to enhance the programme with a formal affair.”

During the evening, each honouree received a monetary grant of $1,000 and previewed the roadside billboards that will bear their images.

Guest speaker Chauntol Clark, centre, with Proud of Them honourees Aliyah Meyers and Shakur Ebanks.

The first billboards appeared on local roadside on Friday, 17 Jan. Each month throughout this year, an honouree will be featured on the billboards.

Youth Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, in her banquet address, congratulated the honourees and said she was encouraged by their commitment to excellence.

“As time progresses and our nation evolves, the bar for excellence is continually raised,” she said. “I am equally impressed with the ability of our youth to set the bar to greater heights. Many former honourees have already elevated to notable members of our society, who now contribute significantly to the social and economic development of our nation.”

Guest speaker and 2016 Proud of Them honouree Chauntol Clark delivered a motivational speech and highlighted some of the opportunities that would become available to the honourees.

The UWI medical student challenged them to view their Proud of Them involvement as an opportunity and responsibility to contribute something even greater to society. “And I leave you with these four important questions that my father gave me to guide my own life. Ask yourself: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going and how am I going to get there?” said Clark.

For more information, visit www.proudofthem.com.

Elite tops Scholars 2-0 in CIFA Women’s League


Elite SC beat a wounded Scholars ISC club 2-0 Sunday evening in a Cayman Islands Football Assocation Women’s League game at Ed Bush field, in West Bay. For the second week in a row, Scholars started their match without their full 11. Last week, the team started with nine players and this week they began with seven.

Scholars, however, managed to get three more players to help even the odds. Unfortunately for them, that didn’t stop Elite from getting the win. The game remained scoreless until the 75th minute, when Elite substitute Janel Ebanks broke the tie. Shanice Montieth added the second goal in the 88th minute.

Cayman looks to face Pakistan in international friendly


The Cayman Islands men’s national football team is set to play in their first international friendly of the year against Pakistan on 12 Feb. at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.

Cayman has won four of their last six international matches, while finishing second in its group in League C of the CONCACAF Nations League competition. Cayman played a home-and-away international friendly series last year with Cuba, drawing on the road while falling at home.

Pakistan played a pair of FIFA World Cup qualifying matches in 2019, losing to Cambodia in both games. Cayman comes in at 193rd in the FIFA world rankings, while Pakistan sits at 201.

Airport hickatees, tarpon, mosquito fish relocated

Cayman Islands Airports Authority staff and volunteers have relocated dozens of wildlife species to neighbouring ponds at Owen Roberts International Airport to facilitate upgrades, according to the CIAA.

Equipped with fishing poles, holding tanks, pole nets and cast nets, the team, led by CIAA safety officer Megan Ramnarine of the Airport Safety Office, relocated hickatees, tarpon, mosquito fish, crusted goby, tilapia and other wildlife that resided in the ponds west of the runway, the authority said in a press release.

The wildlife relocation forms part of the Airport Authority’s airfield-upgrade project, which began in December, to improve operations and safety standards at the airport.

Fishing poles, holding tanks, pole nets and cast nets were used to catch the creatures in the ponds.,

The ponds, located within the airfield perimeter, were identified during a study of wildlife at the airport, the Airports Authority stated.

It said the ponds not only provide a source of food and water for birds, but also a safe place to rest during their annual migration. The movement of the birds in and out of these areas consequently present a hazard to the safe operation of aircraft.

There are several ponds of varying size west of the start of Runway 08, one pond to the south of the runway, and one pond adjacent to the fire station.

Once the ponds are cleared of wildlife, they will be drained and filled with large-sized ‘Rip-Rap’ stone, the CIAA statement said. Geotextile fabric will be placed over the stone, and granular fill material will be compacted over the ponds to allow for extension of the runway into the area.

“We could not have saved these precious animals without the help and commitment of all the volunteers,” said Ramnarine in the press release.

The safety officer was recently trained on hazardous wildlife control at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport in the US and used the knowledge gained there to assist in the planning and execution of this project. The airfield-upgrade project is expected to be completed in August 2020.

Nearly 300 divorces filed in 2019

Divorces continued to keep Family Court busy last year, with 297 new proceedings initiated.

Though 18 applications short of the highest total of divorces filed (316 in 2018), for Chief Justice Anthony Smellie the hefty volume, coupled with the filing of a significant number of new applications with existing divorce proceedings, is a worrisome trend.

“While these cases are being disposed of in a generally timely manner, there is a growing concern within the judiciary about the escalating costs of family proceedings, as well as the disproportionate amount of court time being taken for resolving matrimonial property and child custody issues – matters which reasonable parties should be able to agree upon between themselves,” Smellie said during the Grand Court opening last week.

In an effort to reduce the strain, Smellie said, from the start of the year mediation procedures have been revised to provide more procedural consistency along with a dispute-resolution service.

He said the free service will assist participants in settling their family disputes “in a cost-effective and non-adversarial manner, minimising the emotional damage caused to families in the breakdown of marriage”.

Last October, a practice direction was issued requiring parties to file and exchange estimates of costs (legal fees) in all family proceedings in the Grand Court. The aim is to address what the chief justice called escalating costs of matrimonial proceedings.

These estimates must include the costs incurred to date, along with likely future costs. “It is in the interests of the parties that each should be aware, throughout the proceedings, of their actual and potential liability for costs. This information should help those appearing before the courts to recognise the benefits of alternate dispute resolution, especially mediation, and it should concentrate their minds on what are the real issues to be determined in a proportional and more cost-effective manner,” he said.

Criminal courts stretched

In the criminal courts, the volume of work continued unabated, with 1,292 criminal charges and 6,108 traffic tickets being filed last year.

“The statistics from the Summary Courts speak for themselves and again underscore the urgent need for dedicated courtrooms for those courts,” Smellie said.

In 2018, government purchased the Scotiabank building in George Town to house additional courtrooms for the Summary Court. However, to date, the necessary modifications have not been made.

Smellie said Judicial Administration “may not” undertake the courtroom project without the permission of the Department of Planning, and input from the Public Works Department and Lands and Survey, which hold the titles to all government buildings. He called upon those departments to recognise the urgent need for the courtrooms and asked them not to allow too much red tape to delay progress.

“We now have the largest number of indictments ever awaiting trial,” he said as he called for the two courtrooms to be made available no later than May this year.

“We will be engaging a project manager especially to work with the other agencies to have these courtrooms installed by May,” he added.

Report looks at impact of new port design

Verdant Isle Port Partners has submitted an environmental assessment scoping update on the $200 million cruise berthing and cargo project to the Environmental Assessment Board.

It comes on the eve of the courtroom showdown between government and those opposed to the project.

In a joint media statement issued Tuesday afternoon, government and Verdant Isle said, “The EIA Scoping Update takes into consideration the revised design of the proposed cruise berthing and cargo enhancement project submitted by Verdant after being announced as the preferred bidder in 2019, whereas the 2015 EIA was developed as part of the original RFP [request for proposals] process,” the statement said.

It continued, “The submission of the Scoping Update represents the next stage in a series of agreed project phases that must occur before Verdant can apply for the Coastal Works Permits associated with the Construction Activities. This process is also subject to the outcome of the referendum. A number of additional studies are scheduled to take place under an ‘Early Works Agreement’ currently being finalised.”

The scoping document, the statement said, was authored by Baird who were contracted by the Ministry of District Administration, Tourism and Transport to carry out the initial 2015 environmental impact assessment. Royal HaskoningDHV was engaged by the government to conduct a peer review of the EIA scoping update.

The scoping update was submitted on Tuesday.

Dave Anglin, senior coastal engineer with Baird, in an interview with the Cayman Compass in October last year, described the scoping document as a systematic comparison of the new and old designs and a preliminary assessment on how the changes alter the environmental impacts.

This latest development comes as government heads to the Grand Court Wednesday morning where the judicial review action brought by leading Cruise Port Referendum Cayman member Shirley Roulstone is set to commence.

The case has been set down for three days before Justice Tim Owen, QC.

Last year, Roulstone made good on CPR’s threat to challenge the referendum when she filed the court action.

The judicial review challenged government’s decision to hold the referendum on the cruise and cargo project on 19 Dec. 2019.

In December, Justice Owen granted a stay, delaying the referendum to allow for the judicial review hearing.

Among other issues, the review seeks to have the poll delayed until all relevant information, including an updated environmental impact assessment, is available.

Revised question

Last month, government revised its port question to be more in keeping with the request from Roulstone’s legal team, which had argued that the original question was biased.

The initial question approved by legislators was: “Should the Cayman Islands continue to move forward with building the cruise berthing and enhanced cargo port facility?”

The amended version reads: “Should the Cayman Islands continue to proceed with building the cruise berthing and enlarged and refurbished cargo port facility?”

In January, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie granted a protective costs order shielding Roulstone from having to pay any legal fees incurred by government should her case against it fail.

The National Trust for the Cayman Islands had also filed for a judicial review of the port and cargo project. That case was later linked with Roulstone’s because of the similarity of the environmental arguments.

Read the full press release: Verdant Submits EIA Scoping Update to EAB – January 2020

Gay Straight Alliance opens to all young people

Zoe Sulisz started Cayman’s Gay Straight Alliance Club at Cayman International School in 2019. – Photo: Stephen Clarke

Cayman International School student Zoe Sulisz, 17, who started the Gay Straight Alliance club at her school last year, has opened up membership to students from different schools along with any other interested youth.

Sulisz explained she started the club to help create a safe space for gay students and to build connections between gay and straight people.

“The reason for the naming of the club is because it’s not like an LGBTQ club only, it’s about LGBTQ issues. It’s about addressing those issues, opening dialogue and creating a safe space,” she said, adding she has always wanted to start a club like this on island.

“I see how generally homophobic our community is and even though I’m Caymanian and I support the culture, I do believe that we need to be more open. We need to be more open-minded and we need to cut the homophobia out of this,” Sulisz said.

She set out with the support of her school to create a safe space for everyone. She said this year she decided to expand club membership beyond CIS.

“After meeting with [advocacy group] Colours Cayman, I’ve decided to open it up. I have about 20 kids from a bunch of different schools. We’re trying to work with Colours to make it almost like an official programme because, right now, it’s just almost like a social youth group,” she said.

Sulisz, who is also part of the Alex Panton Foundation’s Youth Ambassadors Programme, said homophobia on the island is affecting young people.

“I think a big point that should be stressed on island is that we need to work on being more inclusive, and we need to stop being so afraid. This has always been swept under the rug, no matter what,” Sulisz said.

She noted that the Gay Straight Alliance club is open to both straight and gay people, adding that the biggest misconception about the club is that only gay people can join.

“They hear the first word and then they completely neglect the second word. They don’t realise that you can be a part of the club and be straight; you could be an ally and just really want to make a difference on the island,” Sulisz said.

Billie Bryan, president of Colours Cayman, said the two groups have already started working together and hope to collaborate on the development of an educational centre and shelter for youth.

“We’re hoping to work with her and her group on developing more youth-oriented programming and provide resources to them, such as accommodation and refreshments for their regular social gatherings, collaborating with other like-minded organisations, such as [the Crisis Centre’s] TAYA Lounge and the Family Resource Centre, and bringing a wider variety of educational workshops to a broader audience,” Bryan said.

She added that clubs and programmes that support LGBTQ youth are crucial.

“Queer youth around the world are statistically at much higher risk of being victims of mental illness, bullying, domestic abuse, rape, suicide and far more. Anyone who has any concern for these issues should give even more consideration to the children, teens and adolescents who are disproportionately affected by them,” Bryan said.

Missing landfill worker declared dead

Nine years after she was last seen alive, missing landfill worker Anna Evans has been declared legally dead.

Anna Evans was last seen on 27 Jan. 2011.

The decision is a bittersweet milestone for Evans’ five children and her sister Noreen Dixon.

Though it is confirmation of the sad fact of her death, it means they can begin the process of administering her estate.

“The papers have come up now saying she is certified as dead and we have no choice but to accept it,” said Dixon, who raised Evans’ five children after her disappearance.

It still hurts that she may never find out how her sister died.

“We would like to know that. Somebody knows, but they haven’t come forward before, and I don’t think they will now. Let God judge them,” she said.

Anna Evans’ sister Noreen Dixon, left, and Shelley White, a partner at Walkers law firm, worked to get a declaration that Evans is deceased. – Photo: James Whittaker

The declaration of death means Dixon can apply for probate to administer her sister’s estate. Evans’ possessions and finances – frozen since she went missing – could then go to her children.

It also opens up the potential for a lawsuit against government. Evans, 37, was working at the landfill when she was last seen and is presumed to have died on the job.

Whether her death was an accident or something more sinister remains a mystery.
Dixon filed a ‘protective writ’ against the Department of Environmental Health in 2017, which preserved the right to bring legal action once ‘letters of administration’ for Evans’ estate were obtained.

The writ includes a claim for damages as a result of the “loss/death of Anna Evans caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default of the defendant”.

Shelley White, a partner with Walkers law firm, which has helped the family through the process of having Evans declared legally deceased, said the option of pursuing the writ remained open to the family.

Dixon said she would leave it to Evans’ children to decide.

“It is up to them and I will support them whatever they do,” she said.

A sad development

White said the declaration of death was a “sad development” but one that the family had sought in order to help achieve closure.

“This is what we have been working towards,” she said.

“We now have an order from the Grand Court saying that Anna is deemed to have died on or around 27 Jan. 2011.”

She said the main impact of that would be to allow Evans’ children access to their mother’s bank accounts, pension and savings.

Walkers attorneys Sarah Gavin, Lucy Diggle and Thea Maitland began working with Dixon and Evans’ family on a pro-bono basis after reading their story in the Cayman Compass.

Obtaining a death certificate has been a long and complex process. White said Walkers would continue to help the family as they apply for letters of administration over Evans’ estate.

Dixon said she was happy to have reached this point.

“It has been a long, rough road, but we have had a lot of help from a lot of good people,” she added.

She said she had accepted that her sister was dead, despite the mystery surrounding her disappearance, but it had been more difficult for other members of the family.

“The kids don’t talk about it much, but they were traumatised,” she said.

“My mother is still in denial, that she may come back. My father pined away and died thinking about my sister and what happened to her.”

Beach memorial 

The family of Anna Evans will hold a memorial at Public Beach Monday, 27 Jan., to mark the ninth anniversary of her disappearance.

The event has been organised by Evans’ children.

“We want to keep her in our hearts and minds,” said Chelsea Evans, who was just 12 when her mother disappeared after a shift at the George Town landfill site on 27 Jan. 2011.

The memorial coincides with the recent decision of the Grand Court to declare Anna Evans as legally deceased. Though the timing of the declaration was a coincidence, Chelsea hopes the decision and the event will help the family gain closure.

She said it had been a long struggle since her mother’s disappearance.

“It took a piece of me,” she said. “I did not have the opportunity to have that mother-daughter time. I was robbed of that. I still feel that part of me will never be filled.”

Evans’ five children, Christopher, Celena, Chelsea, Cody and Cruz, were aged between 7 and 19 at the time of her disappearance.

Chelsea said it had been a few years since they had held any memorial for their mother and she decided to organise Monday’s event.

Three cabanas at Seven Mile Public Beach have been reserved for the memorial, which starts at 5pm. Guests are asked to wear purple, which was Evans’ favourite colour, and bring a candle.

There will be speeches and refreshments, plus a display of balloons as part of the event.

This week