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Stories picked from the Headlines
Hurricane Wilma, narrowly missed a direct hit on the island, but still made her presence felt, her waves caused damage to many docks and heavy rain flooded the streets..
Wilma, the strongest Atlantic hurricane on record, brushed closely past Utila offering just a taste of its awesome power. Destructive waves, rising seas and storm force winds hammered the island which escaped relatively unharmed, bar a few docks.
“It was the worst we've seen since Mitch” said Mayor Alton Cooper, who along with the rest of the community had been tracking Wilma’s progress as she approached from the east, a category 5 hurricane. Islanders rushed to buy supplies and board up while the authorities evacuated the Cayes and issued advisories.
“They did a great job providing us with beds and food at the public school” said Mrs.. Munoz, evacuee from Pigeon Caye.
Wilma's wrath eroded the public beach, divided Coco Locos bar and tore planks out of most docks. Water pipes were ripped out and low-lying areas were also flooded. The storms aftermath brought a flurry of activity with everyone pitching in to help. Municipal workmen made quick work replacing the beach and the whole community managed to get the island ready for business as usual in just a few days.
“We shoveled sand in buckets off the street in front of the house… all day,” said Nadine Jackson of Sandy Bay.
With the ferry and planes out of action many were marooned on Utila, “I was supposed to be in Barcelona proposing to my girlfriend but I got stuck on this rock!” said Thomas White, stranded tourist.
The ferry was stuck in the mud in the lagoon and did not resume service until seven days after Wilma hit. However travel was possible by the Friday when planes began ferrying passengers.
The most lasting effect of Wilma was the temporary closure of its too most frequented bars, Tranquila and Coco Locos. “I feel a bit lost, where am I am supposed to go and drink beer now,” said Elliot King, tourist.
Should his column stay or should it go? That was the question posed to our readers last month and the response was overwhelming, Dr. John certainly has the island fired up!
After five months of printing his controversial subject matter the situation reached a head and complaints were coming in thick and fast.
“We are a religious island, you girls should be ashamed for printing that filth,” said Edwin Jackson, to East Wind editors. It seemed the only way to resolve the matter was to find out what East Wind readers really wanted in a readers poll.
Thank you to all those who took the time to cast their vote either online, in person or through the ballot box in Henderson’s. Votes were officially counted live on HQTV on the 23rd October alongside a heated telephone debate over the morality of the column in question. “Don’t worry, he wont give you a lethal injection tomorrow if you don’t vote for him” said presenter Annie Bodden during the show.
Results were unanimous however, Dr. John won a landslide victory, an amazing 2070 votes came in, 63% in favor of the column staying. As with any poll of this nature those who felt strongly could cast any number of votes in any number of ways.
“The poll was ridiculous, you could vote as many times as you like” said Jim Warren of Sandy Bay. “We love Doctor Johns column, its hilarious. If you don’t like it, don’t read it!” said Rosa….. “Normally my son never reads anything but as soon as the paper arrives he reads Dr. John straight away.” She said.
So, back by popular demand this month, find out what advice Dr. John has to give on page 16…. if you want to that is..
Tranquila Troop on Tour
Managers of Tranquila bar left the island for a well deserved last minute holiday on October 12th. Regular customers were not so enthusiastic about their sudden departure as the popular bar closed. Distraught customers were spotted roaming the streets at a loss for what to do. To add insult to injury Tranquila was hit by Wilma, delaying the reopening until Thursday 27th October, after a total closure of fifteen days.
Keller Nominated for Prestigious Award
Nominated for this years Copan Award was resident artist, Neil Keller, creator of the Jade Seahorse. Pipped at the post by Honduran singer, Jeronimo Anderson, Mr Keller's loss created quite a stir. “They passed up a privilege not giving the award to me” said Mr. Keller who attended the ceremony in Tegucigalpa. Also infuriated by the decision was award winning Demo Esperanza, who showed his dissatisfaction by throwing his own award at the judges offices after the event.
The Princess ferry had a run of bad luck last month. She broke down due to engine problems and then grounded on a shallow mud bank while seeking shelter from Wilma in the Lagoon. Here she was marooned throughout the storm as the heavy seas in the hurricanes aftermath made the crossing to the mainland too treacherous. Service of the unlucky ferry was not resumed until Tuesday 25th.
Doors are open to everyone at the rehabilitation centre ‘Delitorar Allantico’ in La Ceiba, just turn up! A full time phycologist is on hand to provide treatment in addition to daily, hour long visits by a general doctor. Once a month a neurologist attends the clinic and together the team treat a variety of illnesses from depression and low self esteem to substance addiction. “We recieve no government help and raise all funds ourselves, we feel passionate about helping people” said Mr. Montoya, President of the Board. For more information visit the clinic (half a block east of Casa Del Niño) or call 986 7979.
Island wide recycling scheme on the way
A recyclables collection service for dive shops and businesses on Utila will soon be available thanks to Dan Spatz, Watersports Manager and Troy and Edith Bodden. With financial assistance from US Aid they aim to distribute 50 gallon plastic barrels across the island to collect plastic bottles and aluminum cans and ship them to the mainland aboard the Bodden's cargo boat, Prime Time. “The minimal income will pay for a three wheeler bicycle to pick up the trash” said Mr Dan Spatz, who hopes to have the collection scheme up and running within a few months. Until then you can bring clean plastic bottles and aluminum cans to Watersports for recycling.
Pepe Lobo in town
Presidential candidate Pepe Lobo visited the Island on Sunday 9th October as part of his national election campaign. A National Party march and rally was organized in his honor and was well attended despite the early start..
What a relief we were spared from the worst of Wilma’s wrath! Her affects were felt however and I would like to congratulate everyone on their impressive and speedy efforts to return the island to normal.
Thank you to the Municipal Emergency Committee, including the fire department, municipal police and policia preventiva for being so willing and ready to help. Also to Mike Rose and Jernigan Cooper for providing a fantastic service evacuating the cayes and to Troy Bodden for his generous aid in repairing the road in Sandy Bay.
Chepes Beach was badly eroded during Wilma and municipal workers repaired the damage as quickly as possible. My apologies to everyone for the disruption to the towns water supply, storm repair was unfortunately delayed whilst we waited for the necessary parts.
Utila Municipality has been recognized as having the highest standard of living in the country! These are fantastic findings acknowledging the improvements we have all seen in our health service, education, water supply and general lifestyle. It is safe to say that Utila has progressed more than any other municipality in Honduras during the past four years.
A grand stone laying ceremony took place for the much talked about desalination plants on the 12th October. Thank you to those who attended and showed their appreciation, it was a great turn out and visiting parties were made to feel very welcome.
The sanitation project is well underway, every single home on the island and the cayes will benefit from this several million dollar programme. Representatives have begun house calls to identify the needs of the community.
Campoñado is currently being paved over, a much needed landfill operation!
As you all know the election is coming up at the end of November, please do not hesitate to approach me with any questions or concerns. I feel I have learnt a lot over the past four years and am proud to represent the community that I love. Together we can look forward to building an even better Utila.
The grand stone laying ceremony for the two million dollar desalination project was held on the 12th of October on Western Path. The day kicked off with speeches from an array of visiting dignitaries with Utila’s Mayor, Alton Cooper, receiving a standing ovation for his impressive oration.
The crowds were then treated to three well-rehearsed Polka dances performed by Public school kids who donned bright, traditional costumes for the occasion.
Refreshments followed the laying of the stone and everyone milled around enjoying the sun on the virtually mosquito free meadow. The plants were donated by the Spanish government and once up and running should provide the island with an unlimited supply of fresh water.
For these and more of the latest Utila News stories download the entire paper ( 7.67 MB Adobe PDF format)