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Utila East Wind - June 2005 Edition

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News Items picked from the Headlines


Bank Fiasco...Will New ATM Help?

BGA Bank Queue - Click to enlarge
BGA Customers queue at 7:30 am before opening
ATM Machine - Click to enlarge
1st ATM Machine for Utila?

The BGA bank on Utila is clearly struggling to accommodate it’s increasing volume of transactions. Queuing starts an hour before opening and people are forced to wait for hours. “I’ve been here for three hours, it takes about 25 minutes to serve one person” said one customer. “They could at least open all the tellers, it might speed things up a little,” he said, but it appears staff shortages make this impossible.

Pregnant women and the elderly receive priority but still face long waiting times. “People ask me to come to the bank for them because I can do it quicker, but now I have to wait longer and longer and its not worth it” said a pregnant customer.

UPCO electricity payments have made up the bulk of transactions since the pre pay meter system was established in 2003.The bank insists upon handling these payments to ensure they receive their share of UPCO profits. The company owe them monthly installments for the 1.89 million dollar loan they took out with the bank two years ago. Ms. Vilmer Reye, public relations officer in La Ceiba said, “We are aware of the problems faced in Utila and are installing an ATM within the next two weeks in order to help resolve the situation”.

It will not be possible however to pay for electricity through the ATM. Many Utilians are concerned that the extent of the situation is not fully recognized by governing bodies on the mainland. Ricardo Flores, General Manager for UPCO has offered another solution. “We are willing to pay for installation and software for an additional payment point in Bush Supermarket,” he said. This service would be available from 6:30am – 6:30pm and run by supermarket owner Mr. Bush. “It would not only reduce pressure on the bank but would provide our customers with a better service,” said Mr Flores. Head Office is however reluctant to accept this proposal if the bank loses out on its 1.5% cut retrieved on each transaction.

El Banco BGA, se le ha dificultado el control sobre el creciente número de transacciones, uno de los clientes no comento: “he estrado aquí parado hace tres horas, tomo por lo menos 25 minutos atender a cada persona” asi como afirmaron las demás pesonas alrededor.“por lo menos su tuvieran todas las ventanillas abiertas, eso ayudaría a agilizar mas las cosas” pero la pequeña cantidad de empleados hace que las labores se tarden mas.

Hasta las mujeres embarazarad que supuestamente tienen prioridad, también les toca esperar mucho tiempo, así nos comento una mujer de 7 meses de embarazo.

El pago de UPCO también es otro impedimento para el rápido servicio, desde que se comenzó con este sistema de prepago en el 2003. Este Banco continua manejando este pago, ya que ellos reciben porcentaje por cada compra realizada, ya que UPCO le adeuda a este Banco por el cuantioso préstamo, que solicitaron al iniciar esta compañía. Snr. Vimer Reye, El departamento de relaciones publicas de este Banco en la cuidad de La Ceiba no comentaron: “ Estamos al tanto de esta situacíon, es por eso que en las próximas dos semans se instalara un cajero automático en esta agenzia, para ayudar a agilizar en algo esta situacíon.“

De todas maneras, esto no ayuda a agilizar el pago de la electricidad, al parecer ninguna autiridad o a quien pudiese colaborar en este caso, aun no se da cuenta de la necesidad que este pueblo atraviesa. El Gerente General de UPCO, el Sr. Ricardo Flores ha ofrecido otra solución: “Nosotros estaríamos gustoso de financiar la instalación de una cajilla especializada para ello en Bush´s Supermarket”. Esta podría esta abierta desde las 6:30 am a 6:30 pm, manejada por los propietarios del Supermercado. “No solo reduciendo la presión en el Banco, sino dando mejor atención al cliente” digo Sr. Flores.Pero esta propuesta es rechazada por el banco, ya que en ella perdería el 1.5% recibido por cada transacción.


UPCO Update

The results of the Government review of Utila Electricity company are still pending. Until results come out electricity rates will remain frozen.Mr. Ricardo Flores, Manager, said “We hope to restructure the terms of UPCO’s loan with the bank- reduce monthly repayments by increasing the loan period and ultimately fixing an affordable tariff.”

UPCO is also investigating the installation of wind power turbines. Mr. Flores is in talks with Mr. Herman of Shellstede, a company that will work with UPCO on a consultation basis. “We are the most advanced alternative power scheme in the country, all the necessary permits are in place. ”Wind powered generators need special planning, the generator cannot be turned off, and energy produced must be burned. One suggested use for the excess energy is a fish packaging and icing plant


Fire Destroys House

House on Fire - Click to enlarge
Shannon Campbell's house on fire
House on Fire - Click to enlarge
The frames of Miss Campbell's' house blazing
House on Fire - Click to enlarge
Flames and smoke could be seen across East Harbour

Billowing smoke alerted the island to the raging inferno that was Miss Shannon Campbell's house at TradeWind properties on the evening of Friday the 27th.

In a mad rush people swarmed to the scene to witness the wooden house burn to cinders as firefighters struggled to control the blaze. Brave Ms. Campbell looked on tearfully as she recounted the chain of events, “I had just put a frozen chicken in the oven for my future son in law and walked over to chat with my neighbors briefly when we saw the smoke”. After rushing back to discover the plasterboard behind the oven on fire, very close to two propane tanks, Ms. Campbell only managed to salvage her bag, and land documents and passport from the drawer before running out of the house.

 “Three minutes later there was a massive explosion and the fire turned into a blazing inferno, spewing out thick black smoke,” she recalled. Members of the community rallied together to assist the fire department in extinguishing the flames.

Mr Johnny Hinds, who owns the house just four meters away was also concerned for the safety of his own home as the intense heat melted the gutters and cracked the glass in his windows. Luckily the wind changed direction and the threat diminished.

Mr Hinds’ tenant, Mr. Warren Cowling looked on anxiously from his balcony as Mr. Bush cut through his outside pipeline to access a further water supply. Inside Mr. Cowlings home smelt of a sauna as a result of the heat, “I have been dousing the walls with water in an effort to fend off the flames,” he exclaimed.

Mrs Campbell had recently brought furniture for her new business and was busy painting it inside the house. Everything was lost save for her electricity meter and the clothes she was wearing. 50 minutes after it began the fire was tamed and the hoards gathered on the beach made their way home.

This is not an isolated incident, many have fallen victim to the dangers of gas cooking. Miss Joya, restaurant owner, received third degree burns on her arm whilst lighting the cooker in her restaurant. Captain Hal Whitefield suffered similar injuries to both his feet from an unlit gas oven, “I didn’t even strike a match, the stove just exploded without warning, Kaboom!” he told us.

Una cortina de humo intenso, alerto a toda la isla del intenso incendio en casa de la señora Shannon Campbell en Tradewind properties la tarde del viernes 27 de mayo.

En el hecho ocurrido la gente comenzo a rodear el lugar de la escena, presenciando como el incendio se intencificaba mas, saliendose de control, desafortunadamente. Valientemente, la Sra. Campbell, observo la escena con sus ojos llenos de lagrimas al contemplar y relatar lo ocurrido, entre las cosas que dijo: “Acababa de poner un pollo al horno para su futuro nuero, luego salio a saludar a uno de sus vecinos, cuando comenzo a ver el humo”. Despues de recordar que los dos tanques de gas se encontraban detras una fina pared de madera que lo separaba del horno, corrio a sacar sus cosas personales como su bolso, documentos de la propiedad, su pasaporte y salio inmediatamente de la casa que comenzaba a arder en fuego.

Tres minutos despues surgio una fuerte explosion y se convirtio en un infernal incendio totalmente fuera de control, formando una condenza nube de humo, asi se refirio ella. Muchos de los miembros de esta comunidad, se acercaron a ayudar al departamento de bomberos para tratar de extinguir el fuego.

El Señor Johnny Hinds, que es el vecino mas proximo a la casa, se preocupo al ver que la cercania del incendio comenzaba a dañar sus ventanas y el calor derretia objetos plasticos fuera de la casa como sus canales de agues lluvias. Afortunadamente, la direccion del fuego cambio de direccion disminuyendo los riezgos.

El Señor Hinds, tambien el Sr. Warren Cowlings y Sr. Bush que observaban desde sus balcones, audazmente vieron como tomar agua de la tuberias que pasan por el lugar para suplir de agua el incidente. Al mismo tiempo el Sr. Cowlings tamien trato de cuidar por su casa, ya que el calor estaba afectando su estrucctura, comenzo a empapar sus paredes de agua, para evitar el desformamiento de las paredes, nos comento.

Desgraciadamente la Sra. Campbells perdio todo, las unicas cosas que se salvaron fueron, su medidor de electricidad y la ropa que llevaba puesta. 50 minutos despues todo comenzo a calmarse , y la multitud de gente comenzo a dejar el lugar.

Este no fue un incidente aislado, muchos ha sido victimas de un infortunado incidente como este, por ejemplo la señorita Joya, recivio una quemada de tercer grado en su brazo y tambien el Capitan Hal Whitefield sufrio heridas similares en ambos pies por un hono de gas, ralato: que tambien al dejar de uasar su horno tubo que pasar una de estas experiencias.


Man Hunt for Escaped Convicts

Special Forces - Click to enlarge
Special Forces coming off the Utila Princess

Three escaped convicts had been sighted on Utila and were believed to be hiding out on the island. Manuel de Jesus Borjas, Mauricio Dubon Rodriguez and Oscar Rodolfo Velasquez escaped from Santa Barbra Prison, western Honduras on 20th May.

It is unclear how the trio reached the island, it is believed they traveled here hoping to lay low for a while, now the alarm has been raised it may be hard for them to escape again.

Mr Borjas was being held for murder, the other two for car theft. Extra police officers and resources arrived on the ferry on the morning 27th of May to assist local forces in the search.

The search effort focused on more remote parts of the island, including Pumpkin Hill and the north side beaches. As soon as the news broke islanders joined together in an attempt to root out the law breakers, inundating HQTV, Utila’s local television station, with reports of sightings and other information The channel has screened special live shows to keep the community informed.

Community members have been calling for tighter security on the Utila Princess. “Anyone can get on that Yacht, you should have to show identification when buying a ticket, just like when you travel by bus.” said one Utilian. At the time of going to press the perpetrators were still at loose.

La comununidad se une en busca de tres peligrosos delincuentes escapados de prisión Tres peligrosos delincuentes han escogido la Isla de Utila para refugiarse, responden a los nombres de :Manuel de Jesús Borjas, mauricio Dubon Rodr´guez y Oscar Rodolfo Velásquez, escaparon de la prisión en Sanbta Bárbara, al oeste de Honduras el 20 de Mayo.

No está claro aún como este trío arribó a la isla, se cree que ellos viajaron hasta aquí, esperando que las cosas se calmaran un poco, por un tiempo, ahora que la alarma se ha levantado de nuevo las cosas se han dificultado para ellos, en caso que quieran volver a escapar.

El Sr. Borjas es buscado por omicidio y los otros dos son buscados por robo de carros.Desde la mañana del 27 mayo, llego un refuerzo policial, para asistir a la policía local para la búsqueda y captura de los malhechores.

La búsqueda se ha intensificado aun mas en las áreas remotas, como Pumpkin Hill y las playas del lado norte de la isla.Tan pronto como se pudo, las noticias alertaron a los al puebla utileño, para que esten alerta, HQTV, el canal local, ha mantenido copertura especial para mantenernos informados, con boletines informativos siguiendo el caso de cerca.

Se llama a la comunidad para que se alerte del caso, así como al Utila Princess a reforzado su seguridad. “Calquier persona que desea viajar en el yate, debe de portar su tarjeta deidentidad, así también cuando compre sus boletos de bus”.Así podremos tomar medidas en contra para estos perpetraores.


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