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Stories picked from the Headlines
Girls screamed, builders clung to their scaffolding and worried residents ran out of their houses when a 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook Utila at 7.48am on the morning of Friday 24th September.
The initial bang even the woke the most hung-over of sleepers and took everyone by surprise, “I nearly jumped out of my window… naked!” said a confused Mr.G.
Although the quake, centered under the ocean 90km WNW of La Ceiba, was strong enough to knock items off shelves it caused little damage on the island apart from a few cracks in the walls.
Despite rumors of chunks falling off the public school building it remained intact however the hoards of frightened kids (and teachers) were sent home immediately.
“Everyone overreacted because they don’t know about earthquakes, we're going to teach the children and the teachers what to do next time,” said Mery Duenas who, along with the Director, was absent on the day of the incident.
Although Utila does lie on a fault line, earthquakes are pretty rare. The quake was felt on the mainland in San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba, but no damage was reported.
In the event of an earthquake try to avoid fleeing your house in panic, you’re more likely to get hit by flying debris. Instead duck under a doorway as these are unlikely to collapse, failing that protect your head under a table. The worst of the quake hits in the first 30 seconds, if it hasn’t got stronger by then you can usually relax.
Young Lejourn Hill, 9, bravely spent the last three years battling leukaemia. He is now in remission and told us about his experiences.
How did you find out you had leukemia?
I was getting fever and headaches, mum kept carrying me to Ceiba but they said it was normal. Eventually we went San Pedro Sula, the doctor took one look at my hands and said I had leukemia.
Tell us about the treatment.
I had chemotherapy for three years, every week I had a shot, it makes you sick for a few days, my bones and head hurt, I lost my hair. Twice a month I gave a blood test but the worst was the back test. They put a rod into my back to take bone marrow to see for cancer cells every three months. I didn’t like that.
What about school?
I couldn’t go school, I would get sick off the other kids too often. But I’m back now.
How did you find hospital?
I made a lot of friends in hospital but it was sad because we would go back and they were gone, they died. One day I met the presidents wife, she came and took her picture with me. The great news is you’re now in remission, tell us what that means. I don’t have to take chemo anymore but I still have to be checked every month for the next five years.
Is there anybody you want to thank?
Thanks to God and my grandma and grandpa, and the Hospital Escuela for helping me.
Thank you to Lejourn and his mum for speaking to us, we wish him all the luck in the future.
The much awaited desalination plants donated by the Spanish government finally arrived safely on the island. Drilling has begun to reach uncontaminated salt water 200m underground in order to supply the plants. The stone laying ceremony for the new building is due to be held on 12th October. “Everyone is welcome to attend, please come and show your appreciation,” said Mayor Alton Cooper. It is hoped the plants will be producing water by march next year.
Katrina and Rita raise prices
Fuel and electricity prices on the Island increased at the beginning of September in reaction to the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Both storms caused havoc for oil platforms in the Gulf disrupting production and causing crude oil prices across the world to spiral. At the end of the month UPCO announced a further raise in tarifs to Lps. 5.15 / kW, due to take effect on the 5th of October.
Love sick lad in daring jet ski crossing
One devoted boyfriend was so exited about the return of his girl that he got the dates of her arrival mixed up. Upon discovering late that she would be in Tegucigalpa that evening he jumped aboard a jet-ski and speeded off to the mainland as fast as he could. “I made it! but boy did my a**e hurt after the ride” he said. And all because the lady loves...
New mission for HQ TV
Johnny Hinds has begun round the clock religious broadcasting from the comfort of his own front room. Mr. Hinds, owner of Utila's only cable channel, will be responsible for changing videotapes throughout the night. He has invited all churches to come to his house and have their own broadcast time. “I’m on a mission from God, all churches are welcome,” said Mr. Hinds. Shelby McNab's popular evening news show will continue with the recent addition of caller screening and id to help filter prank callers.
Methodist VIP's grace Utila
Methodist dignitaries Rev. Dr. George Mulrain, Connexional President in the Caribbean and Americas and Rev. C. David Goff, District President, visited the Island on September 10th. It was their first visit to the island where they were well looked after by Rev. Janet Corlett.
A new recycling initiative for the island is being coordinated by Victor Lobo, owner of Victors Store opposite the Bundu Cafe. Bottles with a recycled ‘dot’ on the bottom and paper (not cardboard) can be delivered directly to Mr. Lobo`s store, or ask your nearest dive shop if they collect.
Innovative new courses at BICD
Bartending (where you actually get to work in a bar) and DJ-ing courses are now available at the Bay Islands College of Diving alongside the traditional dive courses. D’Arcy Kelly has big plans for the new Whale Shark Research Center at the College. “Eventually we want to establish a dive university, providing courses in any skill that’s useful in or alongside the diving industry.” said Mr. Kelly. As well as housing the ‘dive university’ the building will also provide facilities for marine science students and researchers.
Congratulations to the kids for a fantastic show on September 15th, it was good to see the whole town out enjoying themselves.
I would also like to give a big thanks to Randy Cordone, a great guy who’s given up much of his time helping the kids improve their baseball skills, a real asset to the community.
And now with September over lets all hope that October brings us a break from the pestering flies!
We've had an exciting breakthrough with the major Island-wide sanitation project. Soon all homes and businesses will be provided with proper sanitation systems. Before finalizing plans technicians will visit each and every household to talk to residents and discuss different possibilities. I ask everyone to please co-operate with them as they are working to try and help you.
I would like to invite everyone to the stone laying ceremony for the desalination plants on the 12th of October. As an expensive project it would be nice for the community to show their appreciation by attending. Drilling for uncontaminated salt water to supply the plants has begun and the project should be fully operational by March. None of this would have been possible without the generous property donation of Leiscter Jones (Mr. Slunken).
The Cayes received new benches and chairs for the school, with thanks to the ongoing support of Licenciada Olivera, Director of Education for the Bay Islands. Work also continued on the water pipelines, which should be up and running at last.
New bug spraying equipment is on its way, we will continue to use toxins especially designed for delicate natural environments like Utila.
The Methodist school has been blessed with twenty more computers thanks again to Dr. Hal and Donna Beuyer.
Roadworks will ease off as we start getting more rain and after a quiet September lets hope October brings a few more customers to the Islands businesses.
An army of residents thronged the crossroads on September 15th to celebrate Honduran Independence day.
The kids put on an impressive display marching through town in an explosion of color, singing and dancing, flaunting their spectacular costumes.
Teams of girls with pink pompoms, little boys in suits and shades and dizzying hula hula girls paraded down the main street stopping every fifty meters to perform for enthusiastic onlookers, showing that all those months of constant practicing were worth it!
“The rascals woke me up every morning with their banging, but this is fantastic - what an atmosphere!” said Ben Smith, tourist.
After a break for lunch festivities continued with more traditional fun and games organized by Johnny Hinds with the assistance of Tony Zelaya and funded by the municipality.
The ever popular boxing ring provided a stage for young bravados to release tensions and the seemingly impossible greasy pole had crowds holding their breath in suspense.
“It’s twenty meters tall and lathered in grease, the kids that get to the top and grab the money have got no fear.” said Charles Connor. The prize was eventually won by twelve year old Efrain Jeronimó Poblonc, who claimed the Lps. 4000 to share with his team.
Throughout the festivities money was fired out from above thrilling the crowds and garifuna dancers had people grooving in the streets.
“It looked like it was going to rain so we finished the games early, unfortunately we had no time for the traditional soda drinking and spaghetti eating contests.” said Mr Hinds.
A marathon was also organized for the first time this year raising Lps. 1250 for the Centro de Salud. Thirty eight fit athletes ran from Bar in the Bush to the airport and back all competing for trophies donated by Richard Del Ormo, mayoral candidate.
“The marathon is a good idea but it’s a shame it was at the same time as the traditional games, we didn’t have as many adults competing this year as we usually do.” said Mr Hinds.
As the day drew to a close families put tired children to bed and those who hadn’t had enough beer already headed for the bars.
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