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Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
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The San Pedro Sun
Another government Minister, Edmond Castro, embroiled in scandal
Another scandal is brewing and it involves the Minister of State in the Ministry of Works and Transport with responsibility of Civil Aviation and Area Representative of Belize Rural North Honorable Edmond “Clear the Land” Castro. A number of checks have been written by the Belize Airport Authority (BAA) to Castro and for expenses incurred by him. The checks have been surfacing in the media and are all from BAA, a statutory body that falls under the responsibility of Castro. The San Pedro Sun has gotten possession of images of nine checks.
Two of the checks are made out to Bowen and Bowen, one for the sum of $5000 and the other for $5321.66. According to Channel 5 News, those checks were used to pay for beverages for political functions held by Castro. There are three checks of varying amounts made directly to Castro as well. One is in the sum of $4,000, another for $900 and the third for $5156.55. According to the People’s United Party Belize Times Newspaper, the third check was given to Castro to offset burial expenses for a family member. But there is yet another check made out to David Coye Funeral Parlour for the sum $3337.50, which is believed to have been related to that very same burial expense.
Two wheels can be better than four when it comes to police patrols
Editorial: Tamara Sniffin
The ongoing problem of transportation for our San Pedro police offers has been a topic of debate for years. It seems that whatever the vehicle may be, a four-wheeler, motorcycle, Polaris or truck, it is reduced to shambles in a matter of months. We all know how hard the island environment is on vehicles, from rust to rain and ruined roads, they all take a beating, but it seems that police transportation suffers to the extreme. Is this because they have to take the vehicle to the limit in search of the bad guys or is it due to driving it without a care? I know this might be a touchy subject, but a lot of us own and maintain a vehicle here on La Isla and gosh knows they don’t look like the junk on wheels that sat on blocks in front of the hardware store on Pescador Drive for the last few weeks. It wasn’t until our Senior Reporter Jorge Aldana posted something about it on his personal Facebook page that the spectacularly beat-up police truck was removed. Ironically his post merited a call from OC Castellanos to this editor, stating that the truck had not been “crashed and abandoned” but left there with the intent of making the public aware of their less than adequate means of transportation.
nuDE architectures + interiors
nuDE architectures + interiors is a young San Pedro-based architecture company, owned by San Pedro native Javier Alamilla. nuDE(new Designers) made its premiere in 2011, offering services such as commercial ,resort and residential consultations, planning and designs. While nuDE typically delivers modern designs with rustic twists and simple warmth so as to compliment a natural environment, the company’s versatile design portfolio allows them to meet the needs of almost any clientele agenda. From a young age,owner Javier had a passion for design, and at 15 he was given the opportunity to do summer internships with established island architect Vicky Nelder. It was through this that he decided to pursue studies in architectural designs in Mexico. While enrolled in school, Javier was actively involved in several projects with his peers. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture specializing in Bioclimatic Design, Javier decided to invest in the start-up of his own company here in his hometown of San Pedro.
Belize/Guatemala Minister Strengthen Relations
On Friday, January 24, 2014, The Honorable Wilfred Elrington, Attorney General and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belize, His Excellency Fernando Carrera, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala and His Excellency Jose Miguel Insulza, signed a document entitled Roadmap for Strengthening Bilateral Relations in 2014 at the headquarters of the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. The signing of this important undertaking took place before Ambassadors and representatives of OAS member states.
Pic of the Week:
Total Relaxation in Paradise
Days off in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize are usually spent doing something like this. Locals take advantage of their free time and enjoy the island as tourists do. Well, if you are a tourist, then you can do this all day long for the length of your stay. Total relaxation at its best, seen here at Rojo Beach Bar's infinity pool in North Ambergris Caye.
Building San Pedro High School
Indeed this was early 1980’s and perhaps the very first efforts by students of San Pedro High to construct their new high school building. They were tired of using the community center, now the Town Hall and were on their way to clear the bush of the property at Boca Del Rio Area to prepare for the big project. The land had been a donation of the government of Belize under Area Rep. Hon. Louis Sylvestre. The building committee was busy raising funds and the kids took the pride and the task of cleaning the high bush. As they paraded, they reminded San Pedro to co-operate under this slogan: IF IT IS TO BE, IT IS UP TO ME.
25 Years Ago:
A Wealthy Living Lagoon
Today we know that this body of water right behind the town of San Pedro is void of fishes and has no economic benefits. The only purpose of this so called lagoon is for boat navigation from the sea on the east of the island to the west or back side of the island. There is no swimming, no hand line fishing, no fish traps, no casting of nets- nothing.
Not so years ago in San Pedro. In this lagoon there are several sink holes (posas) where fishing was frequent and exciting. Some of the largest black snappers and even Jew fish were caught with hand line in these sink holes. Most folks disliked fishing there due to the fact that if a fish did not bite the hook would get caught on some rock or coral on the edge of the sink hole. That meant that you had to forcibly break the line and you lost several yards of your precious line and the hook.
Misc Belizean Sources
The Grand Belize Entertainment Group Announces Plans for World-Class Casino Resort and Online Casino
The Grand Belize Entertainment Group has announced plans to build a world-class casino resort and spa paired with an online casino, a concept slated to be the very first of its kind by integrating an online entity within the design of a casino resort.
Casino gaming is projected to be a $390 billion industry in 2013. The online gaming segment remains one of the fastest growing in the industry with an average growth rate of 23% per year since 2003 and 32% in 2011.
Michael Glauser, chief operating officer of The Grand Belize Entertainment Group, said, “we are excited to be on the forefront of this innovative concept in gaming. As one of only four licensed casinos to Belize, the launch of the online casino will attract gaming aficionados around the globe while promoting our world-class property in Belize, even before it opens.”
According to Glauser, Peak Gaming Group will support the development, launch, and management of the online casino, which is scheduled to launch worldwide second quarter 2014. Blue Sky Advisory Group has been selected to assist in the development and manage the day-to-day operation of the casino resort and spa.
1 cup uncooked rice
4 cups water
1 cup milk
1 cup evaporated milk
1 can condensed milk (or to taste)
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 inch piece of ginger, grated
Western Ballaz Schedule
The Western Ballaz, who were on Sports Zone tonight, have their schedule out. Their first two games are on the road, and they'll face the Corozal Heats and Orange Walk Running Rebels. They'll play their first home game at the SHC auditorium on February 21st, and they'll take on the Dangriga Culture Warriors.
Amazing Adventures in Cayo
Arran and Alison Bevis, from Mountain Equestrian Trails, were interviewed recently, and they had a lot to say about Cayo, and Belize. Many of the great spots in Cayo are talked about in the interview, including Cahal Pech, Xunantunich, the Green Iguana Conservation Project, and MPR.
"I can take any of my kiddos here: both of these places are easily accessible with small children. At Rio On, there’s a variety of depths of water and many natural pools to choose from, so it’s great for swimming with the kids and sliding down the waterfalls. The enormous Rio Frio Cave, with its huge, impressive entrance, is also a great attraction for all ages, perfect for some spooky exploration, and easy to get in-and-out-of."
Belize History Association Formed
Congratulations to the newly elected executive board of the newly formed Belize History Association. Can't wait to see what they come up with.
"History was made in Belmopan on Saturday, January 25, 2014 with the formation of the Belize History Association and the election of its Executive Board. Congrats to the elected members:
Mr. Francis Humphreys - Chair
Mr. Gian Vasquez - Vice-Chair
Ms. Myrna Manzanares - Senior Member
Mr. Fred Hunter Sr. - Senior Member
Ms. Ifasina Efunyemi - Junior Member"
Belikin Stout National Domino Tournament
Belikin had their domino tournament in Cayo this weekend. The 2 winning teams received beer and a cash prize.
"The Belikin Stout National Domino Tournament was this weekend at the Spot Bar on Bullet Tree Road. The teams consisted of 8 players each. They had great prizes, beer and money, and trophies for the first and second place teams."
Banana Pudding with Nilla Wafers
This recipe for Banana Pudding with Nilla wafers is divine and simple to make. While waiting for the pudding to set, I got invited to a jewelry party so Jada stepped in and tasted the dessert for me. I didn't want it to go overnight before I showed you guys what the pudding looked like.
Government minister to undergo spine surgery in the USA
The Honorable the member for Mesopotamia division and Minister of Housing Mr. Michael Finnegan left Belize today for the United States where he is scheduled to undergo surgery to his lower spine.
The wife of the veteran parliamentarian Diane Finnegan today confirmed to Patrick Jones that Mr. Finnegan’s stay in the USA is dependent on the success of the surgery.
The five-time Mesopotamia area representative has a degenerative condition that, when it last flared up, wore down two spinal disks and caused pain in his left leg after touching a nerve root.
Hon. Finnegan is a prostate cancer survivor and has lived all his life with a disability that has affected his arms.
Heavy sedimentation reported on the Sittee River
Concerns are being raised over the extraction of material from the Sittee River bed.
The operation, which was photographed near the Kendall Bridge over the weekend, could be under legal permit from the Department of the Environment, although this has not been confirmed.
A request for information from DOE via email has not yet obtained a response.
Indications are that the activity on the Sittee River may have been going on for a while now and there are complaints of heavy sedimentation downstream.
We await a response from the Department of the Environment and will post an update when that expected response is received.
Good weather and lots of sunshine in the forecast
There will be sunshine this week … lots of it.
That is the general consensus of the Belize Weather Bureau where forecasters say mainly fair weather conditions will prevail over the course of the next couple of days.
Today will see mostly sunny skies. Skies will be clear tonight and little or no rainfall is expected. Winds are easterly to southeasterly at 5 to 15 knots and the sea is choppy.
High temperatures this afternoon will be 89 degrees Fahrenheit in Punta Gorda town, Belize City and Corozal town. It will be 84 degrees Fahrenheit in Belmopan, San Ignacio town and Spanish Lookout community. Up at Baldy Beacon, the high temperature this afternoon will be a comfortable 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Despite His Police Connection, Corporal Gino Peck Found Guilty
Police Corporal Gino Peck is at the Hattieville Prison tonight - sent there by the GSU for possession of firearms and ammunition.
Peck, who has been in the Department for 22 years is staring down a 5 year sentence after he was convicted of firearm offences at the Magistrate's Court this afternoon.
Viewers may remember the sensational case of Peck and his wife who were busted at their home on Currasow Street on January 19 of last year with unlicensed and prohibited firearms and ammunition.
Peck's case was particularly scrutinized because it divided the Police Department's Eastern Division. The Gang Suppression Unit said that he needed to be charged, while the senior rank and file refused to support the GSU on that action.
As we reported, at around 6:30 a.m. on that day 53 weeks ago, the GSU raided his house, and Peck handed over his police issued glock 9mm pistol with 13 live rounds of ammunition. The officers continued their search and inside a chest of drawers, they found 8 live rounds of .45 ammunition which is prohibited.
Son Faces Murder Charges For Killing Dad
54 year old Hensley "Nick" Jones said he was shot three times in the head by his own son on New Year's Day - and tonight that son Hendley Jones is accused of patricide, killing his own father.
"Nick" Jones, passed away on Saturday from complications relating to his head injury.
As we told you, on New Year's Day, Corozal police responded to a report in Ranchito Village where they found Hensley Jones suffering from 3 gunshot wounds to the head. He told police that his son shot him in the head for no apparent reason. He suffered 2 wounds to the left side, and 1 to the back of the head, and police found him running out of his house, and they rushed him to the hospital. After 24 days in which he had showed encouraging signs, he passed away while undergoing treatment.
Tajah Is Surviving
And while Nick Jones was shot on New Year's Day, 19 year old Tajah Staine was shot on New Year's Eve in Belize City. The young lady was shot ten times, allegedly by her own 16 year old male cousin.
But, incredibly, she survived and four weeks later is continuing to to make strides back to health. Today her mother told Monica Bodden how Tajah is doing:..
Jermaine Thompson - Mother of Shooting Victim
"So far we found another bullet lodge in the wrist part of her hand. We will try to see if we can take that out tomorrow, but other from that is as we go along. The other two bullets are still lodge in the back of her neck. The doctors are still contemplating whether they should move it or leave it as it is because they say if it is not affecting any nerve then its best they leave it as is. That is where we are when it comes to the bullets."
"Tajah bounced right back, I mean it surprise me, she is ready to back to school. The only thing that bothers her is the bullets that are still lodge in her. She cries in the night of pain, so she lives on pain killers until the doctors decide what they will do."
Aragon Jr. Distances Himself From Land Scandal
And turning now to politics, there was an interesting development in Orange Walk East today. That's the division where the UDP is having a convention in a few days' time on February second. And last week, aspirant Elodio Aragon Juniour was dogged by allegations that his father, former area representative Elodio Sr had snatched up an abandoned piece of public park land as his private property. Add to that the fact that the title for an adjoining basketball court is missing, and you had the key elements for a land grab scandal.
The interesting part is that the Aragon attack was allegedly orchestrated by fellow UDP's - from the rival camp in this hotly contested convention.
So today, Aragon had to move smartly to gain distance from a toxic political situation. But he couldn't very well renounce his own father. So how did he play it? That's what Jules Vasquez went to Orange Walk to see:...
Jules Vasquez reporting
Guadalupe Park, it's been in a state of ruin for decades, but recently it became the site for a different kind of sport: political football. And this morning Elodio Aragon Junior tried to score an equalizer after losing points when it was alleged that his family was guilty of a land grab with public lands.
BT Charged For George Street Shooting
Last week, 7News told you about the shooting of 19 year-old Steven Alvarez, which left him with a bullet in his left leg. Well, police believe that the shooter was 28 year-old Brandon "BT" Tillett, a well-known figure to police who lives on George Street, the same street where Alvarez was shot.
Tillett was arraigned before the Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith, on the charges of attempted murder, use of deadly means of harm, and dangerous harm. Due to the nature of the offences, he was remanded to prison until February 27, his next court date.
Tilett made our newscast as recently as last year in August when he claimed that the Gang Suppression Unit brutalized him. The Gang Suppression Unit charged him for allegedly assaulting one of their officers, Detective Constable Abner Itza. He is facing charges of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and wounding. That case is still pending in the Magistrate's Court.
Leroy Gomez Acquitted Of Escape
26 year-old Leroy Gomez, who is currently serving a 15-year sentence dodged more jail time after he was able to beat an escape charge which was brought against him.
A jury of 9 heard his case where it was alleged that on August 27, 2011 he escaped from Police Constable Jarcel Savery while being detained at the Mahogany Police Station.
During that time, he was wanted in connection to rape and robbery. Savery told the court that he handcuffed Gomez, and while he was making a call Gomez escaped from custody. He says that when he returned, he saw Gomez running down Oleander Street. He fired warning shots in the air but Gomez made haste. He was caught 3 days later.
Gomez, who was unrepresented, chose to remain silent, but called an alibi witness on his behalf.
Horse And Others Still Waiting For PI
30 year-old Jermaine "Horse" Garnett, his 23 year-old step-son, Cassian Bennet, and 35 year-old Kenneth Barrow will have to wait until Friday for the Chief Magistrate to determine whether or not they will have to stand trial in the Supreme Court.
Viewers may remember that on last week Wednesday, the Preliminary Inquiry started for these men. The issue at this time is that the main witness is believed to have left the jurisdiction, and police can't locate her. She has fingered all 3 men as the shooters who killed 19 year-old Raheem Requena in her statement to police, the prosecution's case against the men is at a crossroads.
Attorneys for all 3 accused submitted that even if that main witness could be located, the evidence she would give is flawed because in her account, there are discrepancies of line of sight and visibility.
Sugar Deliveries Moving Along Steadily
The 2014 Sugar Crop season started on Friday and tonight the good news is that deliveries have come up to speed - and everything is proceeding apace. That's a rare stretch of good news in an industry that has seen nothing but discord and discontent for months.
Alfredo Ortega gave us the update:..
Alfredo Ortega - Vice-Chair, BSFCA's CoM
"On Friday we were unable to achieve the six thousand. We were a little bit below; 400 tons was needed to meet the target, but as of Saturday and Sunday we have met the target which we have delivered up to this morning at 6am above 18,000 tons of cane."
"From there you all are hoping to step it up. Will you all be able to step it up? Will you have the supply?"
Alfredo Ortega - Vice-Chair, BSFCA's CoM
"Yes, of course. Once the weather continues as is - we have seen that farmers are really geared in bringing the cane. We have seen that farmers are coming together in some areas where works were not done - they are coming in with stones and put where the trucks can pass and they are bringing the material right now to the mill."
Benque Game Was Brutal
Was It was win or go home this weekend in Premier League Football, as both semifinals series played their second and final games.
In game 1 on Saturday in Dangriga, the BDF Team was unable to overcome a three goal deficit when they drew with the Belmopan Bandits and one goal apiece.
So with that, it's over for BDF and the Bandits advance to the finals.
On Sunday night, the action moved to a very wet Marshalleck Stadium in Benque Viejo where the home Team FC Verdes just had to score one goal more than the visiting Belize FC team to advance. But, let's just say weather was an issue, a major one at that.
The game couldn't be played on Saturday in Benque because it had been raining all day, and then on Sunday the field was still too wet so the game was moved to Norman Broaster. But, it was quickly moved back because the Benque fans wanted their team on their turf.
UDP PAC Looking Into Venezuelan Housing Money
7News has been telling you about the Public Accounts Committee meetings which have been going on without PUP Chairman Julius Espat. It is the only committee which the Oppostion is allowed to chair, but Espat has repeatedly claimed that he refuses to support an inquiry that is reportedly not the mandate of this current PAC.
That's because the UDP majority wants to look into public spending prior before and after 2008, when there was a change in government administration.
The 2014 meetings of this UDP led PAC started up, and they looked into the spending which happened to the Venezuelan housing money in 2008, which was given away indiscriminately in the run-up to the general election.
After the PAC meeting, our colleagues at Plus TV asked the Pro Tem Chairman, John Saldivar, what the PAC has unearthed so far. Here's what he told them:
Hon. John Saldivar - Pro-tem Chairman, PAC
"This morning we were looking at the Venezuelan Housing Project - you know the 20 million US that was granted to the country by Venezuela half of which came initially and was given out within a 30 day period by the People's United Party government prior to the 2008 election and the other 20 million which we eventually got back from them under this new government. The report of the auditor general covered that first 20 million that was spent between December of 2007 and February of 2008."
Gill Got 6 Months For A Roach
33 year-old Lyndon Gill is at court tonight serving a 6-month prison sentence after he was convicted of drug possession in the Magistrate's Court.
Police on patrol, they saw Gill riding a bicycle on Vernon Street. When he spotted the mobile, he threw away a small package, which the police retrieved after he was detained. They found that it was less than one gram of cannabis, and so, he was charged with possession of controlled drugs.
Normally, he would have been given a fine, but because he has outstanding fines for drug possession, Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith sentenced him to serve 6 month in jail, instead.
UB Graduates 481
481 students graduated from the University of Belize on Sunday. It's a welcome bit of good news for the University which has repeatedly made headlines because of the sudden decision of President Cary Frazer to leave his post.
Our colleagues from Plus TV attended, and here's what Kay Menzies, the President of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry told the graduates as the guest speaker:
Kay Menzies - President, BCCI
"Often in our society we don't talk enough about success. We talk about success as achieved, like for example when you go out today and tomorrow and so on everybody's going to say you got your degree, cool, congratulations, what you get your degree. But they are not aware of what went in to getting that degree. As the master of ceremonies said earlier, early morning bus rides, long hours, missed occasions - it's been a really tough few years I am sure but today you have achieved academic success and the proof is in your hand."
Papa Mena Won Dangriga Convention
Former UDP Mayor for Dangriga Frank Papa Mena is now the UDP's new standard bearer in that division.
In a convention on Sunday, he bested former UDP Area Representative Arhur Roches by almost 500 votes. The final tally was Frank Mena, 1,077 Frank Mena?and Turo Roches 581 votes. 1,676 ballots were cast which the UDP Chairman says is the largest convention the UDP has ever had in Dangriga.