The New York Legislature has approved a measure that would allow the state to issue special Jamaican Bobsled Team license plates. The Democrat-controlled Assembly passed the measure Thursday, a day after the Republican-led Senate approved the bill. The legislation would allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue license plates honoring a team that famously made its Olympic bobsled debut at the 1988 Calgary Winter Games. The plate's design would be developed and approved by the DMV commissioner. The bobsled plates would cost an additional $25 on top of regular registration fees. Proceeds would go to the New York-based Jamaican Bobsled Foundation, a not-for-profit group that supports the team. It's led by Devon Harris, a member of the original '88 team. The measure now goes to Democratic GovernorAndrew Cuomo. For the latest news, download our app athttp://bit.ly/GetALoopJMfor Android; and athttp://bit.ly/GetiLoopJMfor IoS.

Screenshot of a video purportedly showing killer whales off the coast of Jamaica.

Lecturer in Environmental Studies at the University of Technology, Christine O’Sullivanis cautioning Jamaicans not to get into the water with the orcas (killer whales) that have been spotted off the coast of Montego Bay, St James. A short video purportedly of the group of whales is making the rounds on social media and hasmany Jamaicans excited at the rare sighting. O’Sullivan, who has a Masters in Marine Mammal Science from the University of St Andrews, Scotland, told Loop News that while there have been no reports of orcas hurting humans in the wild, it is best to keep a safe distance from the huge animals. O’Sullivan noted that where orcas have attacked humans, it is usually in captivity. “We have to be aware that these are wild animals so I would not recommend anyone trying to get into the water with them. If you are in a boat don’t get too close to them and don’t approach them too closely or too rapidly,” the marine scientist said. O’Sullivan explained that such action can affect their behavior. She noted that the video of the group of whales suggests that there is at least one calf among them. “They may be very protective of that calf as well and when you have a lot of boats in an area attempting to follow a group of dolphins it tends to affect their behavior. Killer whales are dolphins,” O’Sullivan said. She stressed that if their behavior is affected, they may, for example leave an important feeding ground. To avoid interrupting the behavior of the whales, O’Sullivan said the animals should be viewed from a respectful distance. When asked why they may have shown up in Jamaican waters, O’Sullivan explained it may be their natural grounds, or part of their migratory route. She reasoned that they may normally be found in Jamaican waters but farther off shore. She reminded that some years ago the Negril Marine Park had photographed some killer whales along with sperm whales off the coast of Negril. For breaking news, download our app athttp://bit.ly/GetALoopJMfor Android; and athttp://bit.ly/GetiLoopJMfor IoS.


Kerry-Ann Stewart was recently appointed to the role of Branch Manager at Massy United Insurance’s newly opened location in George Town. The company, which since inception has paid out multi-millions of US dollars in claims in response to destruction caused by major hurricanes and other acts of God, recently expanded its operations to the Cayman Islands, providing Caymanians with tailored insurance solutions to help them protect their livelihood. "When hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria hit the Caribbean in 2017, Massy United Insurance was there for our customers, paying out over 250Million USD to hundreds of people who lost so much in those disasters. That’s what being a reliable insurance company is about," Stewart said. She explained that the company is ready to help Caymanians find the best insurance solution to meet their needs, whether it is marine, motor, home or commercial insurance. Massy United Insurance is one of the Caribbean’s leading insurance providers andoffers a wide range of general insurance products and services to customers in 18 territories throughout the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean. The financially strong and reliable company has maintained a rating of ‘A-’ (Excellent) by A.M. Best, one of the most reputable provider of ratings and financial data in the insurance sector, for 11 consecutive years. Massy United Insurance is a part the Massy Group, which is a regional conglomerate of over 60 companies. For more information, visit the Massy United Insurance website athttps://www.massyunitedinsurance.com/

Sandals Resorts International has dismissed as “misleading and downright spurious” a video criticizing the hotel chain’s entertainment hiring practices. The 10-minute long video accused Sandals of continuously showing disregard for Jamaican professionals by “putting foreign nationals in charge of entertainment, both at the corporate and contractor level”. It also accused the resort of racism in its hiring of senior managers including executive chefs and general managers. Sandals has however rubbished the accusations, stating that 80 per cent of performers in its Jamaican resorts are Jamaicans. “The remaining 20 per cent are used to execute circus shows, mainly as the local group capable of doing so is fully booked,” said the resort in a statement. It also said, “allegations surrounding racism could be no further from the truth as at SRI, the ratio of expats to Jamaicans is less than two per cent. “It is important to highlight that Sandals has several Jamaican General Managers and Hotel Managers leading resorts in other islands across the Caribbean,” the Gordon “Butch” Stewart-run hotel chain added. The Ministry of Tourism meanwhile said while it “reviews the concerns within the content, there is present misleading and erroneous information that must also be understood in the context of an increasingly competitive tourism sector." According to the ministry, the record growth in the industry has left “many hotels and attractions packed and bursting at the seams”. It also supported Sandals’ statement that 80 per cent of its entertainers are Jamaican. “We are working very closely with Entertainment and Culture Minister, Olivia Babsy Grange to meet with all relevant stakeholders to dissect and address upfront all concerns,” the ministry said. See full statement by Sandals published in the Jamaica Observer, which shares the same owner as the resort, below. Sandals Resorts International (SRI) categorically denies the assertions, as contained in an 'untagged' video currently making the rounds on social media regarding inter alia, the company's hiring practices. Indeed the World-Leading Resort chain considers the accusations misleading and downright spurious. SRI is a Jamaican-born and based organisation, proudly run by Jamaicans. For 37 years in operation, SRI has provided professional management services to 19 Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts across the Caribbean and has built a reputation of providing world-class services to all its guests who visit from diverse origins. This has led to the company maintaining the highest return-guest rate of over 40 per cent year over year. This has been achieved only due to Sandals' constant evolution of its business practices, its product offerings and amenities. Stagnation leads to extinction. While Sandals prides itself on providing the aforesaid international flair, catering to the requirements of its visitors, the allegations surrounding racism could be no further from the truth as at SRI, the ratio of expats to Jamaicans is less than two per cent. Sandals goes further to refute the declaration that there were three Heads of Entertainment at Sandals and that the Jamaicans are no longer with the company. This is blatantly false and/or misleading as David Ellis currently spearheads all entertainment operations at Sandals' largest resort, Beaches Turks and Caicos, and has been in that position, on his own request, since leaving Jamaica in 2012. Weston Haughton, former Group Creative Director who has been a part of the Sandals family formally for over 17 years has since retired, however he remains a valued consultant, is frequently hired and is Sandals' preferred 'go to' for many company events. In fact, he only last evening (June 7) hosted the company's largest staff recognition event, its Ultimate Award Ceremony, honouring top team members from across the Caribbean who were flown in for a week of VIP treatment. Haughton is the creator of the company's premier team member artistic talent competition – Festival of the Arts (formerly ENCORE) which also just wrapped its 14th anniversary show on June 7. The Grand Finals moved beyond Jamaica's shores, taking our talented team members to Saint Lucia to perform for the public with wide reaching media coverage. Sandals maintains a diverse mix of cultures across its group in keeping with its commitment to provide guests with authentic offerings - both within the region as well as wider-afield. It is important to highlight that Sandals has several Jamaican General Managers and Hotel Managers leading resorts in other islands across the Caribbean. Sandals can also categorically declare that several General Managers highlighted within the said video are very much born and bred Jamaicans. Sandals is proud of its commitment to developing its team members. Where an international chef is employed to maintain and authenticate the resort company's award-winning Global Five Star dining options, (Sandals is confident Jamaicans would rather showcase a Jamaican offering our world-famous Jerk) at the centre of Sandals' many years of success is training, and this presents a perfect opportunity for hands-on skills transfer to our local team. Sandals Resorts International is a Jamaican company and prides itself on its very rich cultural heritage and offerings. Based on inconsistencies when directly booking performing acts for its growing and expanding group, in 2009 SRI made the decision to adjust its entertainment contracting process but at no time has it diverted from its firm commitment to emphasising our Jamaican culture and its people. This decision would allow Sandals a more standardised approach including insurance coverage and fluid communication channels and thus, several companies who were known to manage talents in the form of dancers, singers and musicians were approached. These included Alex Foster (ShowJams), Sharon Burke and Jackie Jackson, husband of the Jamaica Music Federation President, Karen Smith. At the end of the presentations, Hah-R-mony proved more feasible. Currently 80 per cent of performers in our Jamaican resorts are Jamaicans. The remaining 20 per cent are used to execute circus shows, mainly as the local group capable of doing so is fully booked. Sandals has provided avenues for talented Jamaicans to kick-start their careers. In July 2017 five graduates from the University of the West Indies who completed the Entertainment and Cultural Enterprises Management programme were selected to participate in an 18-month Sandals Management Trainee Programme. In addition, the Sandals Entertainment Division has a strong relationship with the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts as well as the Brown's Town Community College. That these assertions are now being circulated under the guise of 'rumours' without accreditation to the video creator, its source or its content, are scurrilous at best. We can recall back in 2015 a contingent of senior SRI representatives met with a group of local entertainers and recommended that they source CSME Certificates to facilitate exploring movement into our non-Jamaican properties to provide much-sought after Jamaican performers. Sandals has heard nothing back and no-one has approached the company to take up this offer. A closer inspection of the video indicates that this creation is a compilation of half-truths, purported rumours and blatant falsehoods, indicative of a lack of research; however we encourage the person or persons behind its creation and/or dissemination to contact us for further dialogue. For the latest news, download our app athttp://bit.ly/GetALoopJMfor Android; and athttp://bit.ly/GetiLoopJMfor IoS.


The Cayman Islands celebrated Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 92nd birthday on Saturday. Senior government officials gathered with other dignitaries and members of the public to observe the ceremony, held in front of the Legislative Assembly building in George Town. The programme included the traditional parade by uniformed services, a royal salute, 21 gun-salute and three cheers for the Queen. Governor, Anwar Choudhury recognised past and current recipients of Queen’s Honours. Olive Miller was the sole Officer of the British Empire (OBE) recipient. She was recognised for her life long commitment to community services, including founding the Girls Brigade, helping to open the Cayman Islands High School and Pines Retirement Home, developing the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), and serving as government’s first Information Officer. It was also announced that the Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, would be the newest recipient of the Member of the British Empire (MBE), for his services to the Cayman Islands. Additionally, three young people were presented with the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award; Kimberly Carlos, Daniel Reid, and Lauren Williams.

The parents of a 5-year-oldbrain cancer survivor havelaunched a special initiative in the form of a cart filled with games and other items which will be available for pediatric patients at the Cayman Islands Hospital. The parents of brave little Skylar May “Mimi” Ebanks named the cart‘Mimi’s Happy Cart’ and it will offer children a creative and thrilling distraction while they wait to be seen by a doctor or admitted to the ward. Mechon and Tommy Ebanks launched the initiative to spread awareness of childhood cancer and give back to the community in celebration of their daughter’s fifth birthday and five years in remission. At five weeks old, Mimi was diagnosed with brain cancer at the Cayman Islands Hospital. The five-year-old underwent treatment including two brain surgeries and six rounds of chemotherapy at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, US. Since Mimi’s treatments in the United States, subsequent checks have consistently shown no evidence of disease. “The support that we received from the community throughout these five years has been amazing and means a lot to our family. We consider Mimi a miracle baby and a blessing. To show our appreciation we wanted to pass that blessing on to our community by giving back to other children who are going through challenging times,” said Mimi’s mother, Mechon. “She is a miracle baby. When she was diagnosed, there was a grim prognosis for her and a lot of things were against her, even her survival,” added Mimi’s father, Tommy Ebanks. In addition, the family teamed up with the Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) to repaint the paediatric clinic, decorating the walls with Dr. Seuss quotes and animal decals. The Ebanksalso delivered gifts to children at the paediatric clinic and on the ward. “This is such a heartwarming moment for me and the paediatric staff. We want to thank the Ebanks family and their little warrior princess Mimi for their very thoughtful and generous contribution to our unit. I know Mimi’s Happy Cart will definitely bring smiles to our patients’ faces,” said Head of Paediatrics Department Dr. Chela Lamsee-Ebanks. Mimi’s mother noted that the family will be replenishing Mimi’s Happy Cart monthly. Mimi Ebanks celebrated her fifth birthday on May 31.


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