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As the sun went down on this years carnival partygoers drank and danced on the beach, exhausted from the weeks festivities.
The carnival had been officially opened by Miss Honduras joining local beauty queens for the traditional crowning ceremony on the main stage. Studio 99 and Shervin and the Boys were among the performers to glitz this years event, with new local talent, Utila Thrillas making their debut.
Despite heavy showers Saturday’s parade was hot, colourful and very loud with local businesses and families competing for the most elaborate floats. Organisers, pleased to see months of hard work pay off, would like to thank the sponsors and everyone who took part.
“It was beautiful, just beautiful. Boy I`m gonna sleep now though” said Miss. Lillian (Carnival Committee) at the close of events. Mr. and Mrs. Denny Bush kindly sponsored the main stage while Caribbean Sea Food brought in dancers from San Pedro Sula and Bruce Wardley gave away 60 free passages to performers.
“The whole town has been great, lots of people contributed”, said Patrick Flynn, also of the Carnival Committee. Money raised from this year’s carnival will go towards kitting out the new Lance Bodden Health Centre.
Iguana Station Take-over
Management of the Iguana Station changed hands on the 26th of July with Aurel Heidelberg replacing Ingrid and Lutz Dirksen after 22 months dedicated work. Following tradition Mr. Heidelberg is also from Germany and will continue to be assisted by groups of German volunteers. “Everyone is invited to meet me and a big thank you to Lutz and Ingrid” he said. Work at the station will continue as usual however Mr. Heidelberg, Environmental Scientist, plans to introduce new projects later on in the year.
ATM Teething Problems
BGA continue to have problems with the new ATM. Since being installed one month ago there have been many complaints. “I had to go to the mainland to get money out in the end” said Ms. Bardon, resident of 17 months. BGA give no explanation for the inconveniences but state that, despite displaying the sticker, the ATM does not accept Mastercard.
Docs get Dengue
The beginning of July was a bad time to get sick as both Dr. John McVay and nurse Mark Smith were hit by dengue fever. The duo were out of action for several days before bravely re-opening the clinic.
Dance 'til you drop
One professional dancer took the phrase “dance til you drop” a bit too literally at the carnival. She collapsed from heat exhaustion after hours of dancing in the summer heat. Several other cases of heat exhaustion have been reported, particularly amongst females. People are advised to keep hydrated, stay out of the midday sun and avoid strenuous activity during the hottest parts of the day.
The stairway up the hill between the Main Road and Lozano Road collapsed suddenly last month. By diverting funds from the current road maintenance project the walkway was rebuilt immediately. “It was time and labor intensive, they needed lots of cement to stabilize the new stairway.” said Mayor Alton Cooper.
Change of plans for Hole-in-the-Wall
To the relief of those on the point, owners of the Hole-in-the-Wall shop opposite Utila Dive Centre have reconsidered closing and decided to save the much used snack bar / convenience store. They had planned to close last month, as reported in Utila East Wind, but are reorganizing the shop instead and have plans for new stock.
I hope you all enjoyed this years Carnival, despite the odd shower. Its been a busy month at the municipality again, especially with the introduction of our new municipal police force. In the first week alone crime was greatly reduced and we all hope that things continue to improve. Thanks again for your support with the road works and remember, please feel free to approach me with any issues or concerns.
We have appointed a new municipal police force to patrol the streets from 10pm till 5am every night. The six men from the Island work closely with the Policia Preventiva to support our battle against crime.
The 6 year old pipeline network on the Cayes underwent testing and repair and 100 anchors were laid to stabilize the underwater pipelines. This is a continuation of the ongoing project to provide the Cayes with a reliable water supply.
The Towns water supply was also increased by at least 20% after we cleaned the wells at the beginning of July, aided by the Marine Corps.
After the sudden collapse of the step road to the hill we diverted funds from the road works project to repair the walkway immediately.
I am still focused on fully refurbishing the roads by the beginning of next year. Again I thank you for your patience as this work continues.
A young man's leg was set on fire as he slept outside the Casino nightclub on Saturday the 9th of July. Rene Cortez Portillo, known as Chiqui, passed out drunk on a bench after drinking all night with friends.
“I woke up around 4am crying and in pain. I have no idea who did this”, he said. Mr. Portillo sought help from good friends Pam Muñoz and Mac Cory Ramon. “We applied aloe vera and took him to the Health Centre.
I was very impressed with the quick reaction of the medical team,” said Mr. Ramon. The community donated cream to treat the burns however Mr. Portillo was taken to Tegucigalpa for further treatment after the wounds became infected.
“I would like to thank everyone who helped, I just hope I wont lose my leg,” he said. Mr. Portillo is currently recovering in Tegucigalpa but plans to return to his work on the island as soon as possible. Police investigating the incident are appealing to the public for any information.
Seven men appointed by the Mayor have begun nightly rounds of the island in an effort to combat the levels of crime. Working alongside the Policia Preventiva the new municipal police force will patrol the streets of Utila from 10pm to 5am.
Mayor Alton Cooper decided to take action as reports of crime increased dramatically over the past two months, “The last six weeks have been the worst we’ve ever seen” he said. The Police Officers have been given the task of protecting tourists, keeping kids of the streets and enforcing safety laws to restore a feeling of security at night.
“The situation was really bad, it’s a group of fellas, just a small little group of people causing trouble and scaring off the tourists,” said Wilfred James, one of the appointed officers. Armed with pepper sprays, batons, stun guns and handcuffs the officers are granted the power to arrest anyone caught undertaking criminal activities and detain them until a member of the Policia Preventiva arrives.
Khaki uniforms with matching caps and fully equipped holster belts were provided by the Mayor and make the officers easily recognizable.
The group are coordinated by Ronnie Ramon and work in pairs, communicating via VHF radio on frequency 78. “I’m gonna straighten it out, anyone you see stealing or breaking-in you can call me” said Mr. Ramon.
The substantial costs of maintaining the force are, at present, covered by the dive shops, however Mayor Alton Cooper appeals to all businesses for help. “We need the support of all businesses in order to sustain the project” he said. “We have already seen a dramatic improvement in just the first week so it is definitely worth it” he said.
Mr. James spoke out recently on HQ TV “We’re asking the parents to authorise us to grab the children and bring them home in the safest manner” he said. “Our objective is to stop this wave of crime in the community and it is working,” he said.
If you need assistance from the force they can be reached on VHF 78 during working hours or by contacting Mr. Ramon directly on 425 3187 or 425 3838.
Six passengers and a stricken sail boat were safely towed to Utila after a rough 12 hour ordeal at sea.
The Honky Tonk was caught up in a squall after setting sail from Omoa on Sunday the 24th July. “I saw the storm and tried to avoid it, but it made a turn” said Captain Mario Coupal.
Alongside Canadian owners Captain Coupal and Luice Sans Cartier the boat was also carrying four tourist passengers. The group called for help when the Captain became incapacitated and the boat started taking on water after the hatch blew off.
The May Day was received by Tony P, on Utila and a VHF support team was mobilized immediately. Captain Mannie who was dispatched to the rescue had difficulties reaching the Honky Tonk, as it moved away, unable to lower its sail.
“We were all exhausted and seasick, we had no energy for anything” said Ms. Sans Cartier Eventually after Captain Mannie’s son struggled on board the boat to take down the sail it was towed back to Utila for repair. “It worked out well in the end, we always wanted to come to Utila and its perfect timing for carnival” said Captain Coupal.
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