12 Rescued from Stricken Bitumen Tanker

first_imgTwelve seafarers of Indian nationality, manning the Panama-flagged asphalt-bitumen tanker Durban Queen have been rescued by the French frigate Cassard, after their vessel got into trouble in the Persian Gulf on November 20.The French Defense Ministry informed that the frigate was preparing for refuelling at sea when it received a distress call from the nearby tanker.A helicopter was sent to the stricken vessel, which had listed and was taking on water. Four crew members from the tanker were airlifted to a nearby merchant vessel, while the remaining eight mariners were evacuated to the frigate.The ministry added that some of the mariners suffered minor injuries and that they were provided with medical assistance.The crew was subsequently transferred to commercial vessel Sea Princess, as the frigate proceeded to Kuwait for bilateral exercise Pearl of the West.last_img read more

SPSCC Presidential Candidate Stokes To Visit Community And College On December…

first_imgFacebook0Tweet0Pin0 Submitted by South Puget Sound Community CollegeOLYMPIA – The last of five candidates for president of South Puget Sound Community College will visit the campus and community, Tuesday, Dec. 11.  Dr. Timothy S. Stokes, executive vice president for Academic and Student Affairs at Tacoma Community College in Tacoma, Washington, will tour the campus and community, meet faculty and staff, visit with the Board of Trustees, and take part in an open forum for the community and campus.Prior to his tenure at Tacoma Community College, Stokes served as vice president for Student Learning at Texas State Technical College and executive director of the Southwest Arkansas Technology Learning Center at Henderson State University. During Stokes’ tenure as Tacoma Community College’s executive vice president for Academic and Student Affairs, the college has been nationally recognized for its adaptation and implementation of technology, closing the achievement gap in one of the most diverse communities in the Pacific Northwest, and for developing innovative instructional programs that aid in the economic development of the greater South Puget Sound.  Stokes is active on numerous community and workforce development boards and has a history of ensuring alignment of institutional goals with regional economic development goals..The Dec. 11 forum will be held on the South Puget Sound campus in the Building 26 Lecture Hall, Room 105 from 2:15 – 3:15 p.m.  Four other candidates have or will have visited the community on the following dates:*   Tuesday, Dec. 4. – Dr. Larry Galizio, president of Clatsop Community College in Astoria, Oregon*   Wednesday, Dec. 5. – Dr. Douglas W. Allen, president of Ridgewater College in Willmar, Minnesota*   Thursday, Dec. 6. – Dr. Sandra A. Fowler-Hill, executive vice president of Instruction and Student Services at Everett Community College*   Monday, Dec. – 10. Dr. David M. Smith, vice president of Instruction and Student Affairs at Colorado Northwestern Community College in Rangely, ColoradoMembers of the public are encouraged to attend the forums.last_img read more

Suddenly hot: A’s walk off Cleveland again to keep momentum going

first_imgOAKLAND — If emotion and drama can springboard a baseball team, the A’s find themselves in a good spot about now.They have had plenty of emotion and drama since returning home from a one-win trip through Toronto, Boston and Pittsburgh.Saturday, Oakland won for the fourth time in five games on the homestand, beating Cleveland 3-2 behind more brilliance from the bullpen (save for the ninth inning) and another walk-off celebration as Ramon Laureano’s bloop single to right knocked in the decisive …last_img read more

Ohio FFA Convention schedule

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The 91st annual Ohio FFA State Convention and Expo is being held May 2nd and 3rd at the state fairgrounds in Columbus. FFA Chapters from across the state will be interviewing, competing, and recognized on stage. A complete schedule can be found here.last_img

The 2019 Ohio Crop Tour – I-71 Leg – Day 2

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Click on images for a closer lookClinton CountyCorn: The potential in this field is hurt with the amount of bird damage. Some GLS and NCLB. Nice ears with good kernel depth, though some tip back was occurring. The yield estimate came in at 149 bpa.Soybeans: The eastern leg ended the tour in style when it came to soybeans – the nicest on the tour. Canopy height was at 27” and 2” between nodes. Absolutely no disease or insect pressure in field, plus the beans are heavily podded. The field came in as an excellent rating and is expected to yield 50-60 bpa with rain.Highland CountyCorn: This corn has a long way to go and not much time to get there. A unique piece to this field is every single stalk has two ears, and unfortunately, ear fill is just blistered. We are concerned as to whether or not the second ear will make it, and come harvest whether or not it will pass through the snapping rolls or end up in the grain tank. That is the main concern as this is a very clean field with no noticeable disease or insect pressure. A beautiful field of corn with an estimated yield of 138 bpa.Soybeans: Reaction to this field is wow from the outside looking in, until you walk in and start pulling. Canopy height is 36” with no insect pressure. Unfortunately, the looks are very cosmetic as the amount of pods per plant is disappointing. The 1st pod was at 8 inches from the ground with lower blooms aborted. 12 average pods per plant. Also observed very heavy frogeye. Rain remains a factor, but the yield estimate is 30-40 bpa.Fayette CountyCorn: An overall good field that amounted to a yield estimate of 189.5 bpa. Some green snap and gooseneck was found, plus tip back brought down the yield. Light GLS across sampled areas.Soybeans: A really good looking field of beans that are weed free. Some compaction was noted. For this field to turn out, lots of rain is needed in a timely manner. A heavy pod set on most of the beans. Several 4 bean pods on plants. With rain, 50-60 bpa is possible. Overall, a good to excellent field.Ross CountyCorn: An extremely good looking field of corn. Only negatives were a bit of GLS down low, but less than 1 percent at ear leaf and above. Very little tip back. Overall this was the furthest along corn seen so far on the eastern leg of the tour. Ears had strong fill and excellent kernel depth. The field is rated as excellent with a very realistic estimate of 208 bpa.Soybeans: Nice, clean field that would benefit from a fungicide application due to frogeye starting to pop. Great potential, but again it is only at early R4. Still putting flowers on and still growing. Get some rain and things will be looking very good for these beans. 34” canopy height with 2” between nodes. Most pods are 3 bean pods. Estimating 50-60 bpa (with rain).Fairfield CountyCorn: Late planted corn just finishing pollination. Most of it is in blister stage, 30,000 population. This was a very healthy field with the least firing seen in a scouted field at that point on the tour. A bit of GLS present. Like a broken record, we again said the field is far behind. Still, the possible estimated yield is 181 bpa – that’s if rain comes and a frost isn’t until late.Soybeans: This soybean field saw heavy weed pressure with weeds controlled late in their life cycle. Most of the grass was already gone to seed which likely took a lot of moisture away from the bean crop. The canopy height was very irregular. There were beans anywhere from 14-28” high, and development from R2 to R4. A lot of spots that appeared to have been flooded out with sparsely populated bean stands. Overall rating of the field was poor to very poor and scouts did not expect it to make 30 bpa.Pickaway CountyCorn: This was a corn after corn field planted May 16 and looked very good, especially for what it had been through. This field had seen considerable standing water (pictured below) and then a long period of dryness. Some tip back was noticed, plus light GLS pressure, bringing the field to an overall rating of good and an estimate of a 174 average bpa.Soybeans: Planted May 22, this 28” canopied field is seeing very little insect pressure but heavy frogeye pressure. There was a discussion with the farmer, who has the ability to spray, that a fungicide/insecticide application would pay for itself with an addition of 1.5 to 2 bushels an acre. 1.5-2” between nodes with lots of 2 bean pods. 40-50 bpa estimate on this field.Madison CountyCorn: This was a stop at the Farm Science Review demonstration plots and it goes without saying this is unique situation. 95-day corn was planted in order to get things harvestable for the event, September 17-19. As a result, there are several unique issues to these fields. The corn is suffering from a drought and has had only about 1.5” of rain since July 1. 2 to 3 inches of tip back due to that dry weather. It possibly had corn earworm infestation with a tremendous amount of bird damage throughout. The corn came in at an estimated 120 bpa average.Soybeans: The field, planted April 28, looks good and mature from the outside looking in with some coloring beginning. Very well podded. By far the furthest along in pod set and grain set. 30” beans that had a fair amount of phytophthora and spider mite damage. These beans will likely be smaller after drying out – any rain at this point is too little too late since they’re starting to detach. Leaning towards 40 bpa.Farm Science Review has a unique growing situation that’s always interesting to compare to other traditionally-purposed fields.Clark CountyCorn: This corn was pretty far long. Tip back was a big limiting factor. Why? Most likely because of a lack of moisture. The area had been dry for some time. They received rain overnight but are in need of plenty more. Even though there was GLS on the ear leaf, there wasn’t any further up on the plant due to the farmer controlling disease. The timing on the fungicide could have been earlier than it was, but the field was greatly helped by the application. Stalks were sound and healthy. The average yield estimate came in at 165.5 bpa with a population close to 34,000.Soybeans: Another good looking, well-developed field. The uniqueness in this field were the first pods came in at about 4 inches off the ground – the harvester will like that, especially compared to low-podded beans in the other fields we’ve seen. 2.5” between notes, though the field was at the threshold frogeye level. Very little insect pressure across the field. Estimating about 50 bpa.Champaign CountyCorn: This twin row field was the furthest along we’ve seen with some ears starting to dent. Parts of the field had firing to the ear leaves. Some GLS. Overall, we give this field an estimated average of 198 bpa. Appropriate amount of tip back on these ears – the population was right on at about 35,500. The scouts said this was their most confident yield estimate so far this week.Soybeans: A nice looking twin row field. Beans are relatively short. The amount of 2 pod nodes and the amount of pods with just 2 beans was high. Some compaction issues were found, judging by the taproot in certain areas. Very little disease and insect pressure. Almost a weed-free field with a 30” canopy height. Just like in Union County, these beans didn’t look bad, but they were disappointing upon further inspection. Some blooms were aborting. Overall, we rated the field as fair and estimate about 35 bpa.Union CountyCorn: Thursday started off with a May 29 planted field that could be a predictor for quite a few previous fields we’ve scouted further behind in development. Dryness was evident with severe tip back (2-2.5”) and had scouts worried at this stage of the game. Stalk cannibalization was taking place. This field might be a predictor of what is to come. Moderate to heavy Gray Leaf Spot. Light NCLB. The yield estimate came in at 154 bpa.Soybeans: June 1 planted beans looked excellent. Like the corn, the dry weather has hit hard. The late pods have been aborted and pods are struggling to fill. Great weed control. No disease or insect pressure. Just needs water. 24” canopy height. Some of the better looking beans that we’ve seen with a later planting, but they’re running out of gas without moisture. 40-50 bpa estimate, maybe less if it doesn’t rain. From the outside, this was a good looking field – once you take a closer look, the farmer could be disappointed.last_img read more

Explained: The MS Dhoni-Amrapali connection

first_imgCricketer and former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is seeing his and his wife Sakshi Dhoni’s names being dragged into the controversy surrounding the troubled real estate developer Amrapali Group.The Amrapali Group has been accused of committing fraud by siphoning money paid by tens of thousands of home buyers and of cheating by not completing housing projects for which the developer had accepted payments.The Supreme Court, which accused the Amrapali Group of committing a “first degree crime”, has ordered a probe against the company’s top management and has asked the government-owned National Buildings Construction Corporation to take over and complete Amrapali’s unfinished housing projects.MS Dhoni has found himself getting embroiled in this controversy, with an audit report submitted in the Supreme Court alleging that companies linked to the cricketer and his wife Sakshi Dhoni were among those used by Amrapali to illegally divert the funds. The allegations have been denied.HOW DID MS DHONI GET INVOLVED WITH AMRAPALI?Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s involvement with the Amrapali Group began with him coming on board as a brand ambassador for the real estate company.MS Dhoni was the brand ambassador of the Amrapali Group for six to seven years, during which period he shot advertisements for the real estate developer.Dhoni found himself in the eye of a storm in 2016 after aggrieved residents of an Amrapali project in Uttar Pradesh started tagging the cricketer on social media. Residents of Noida’s Amrapali Saphhire called on Dhoni to disassociate himself from the real estate group or get it to complete its pending projects.advertisementFollowing the social media controversy, MS Dhoni quit as brand ambassador of the Amrapali Group.WHEN MS DHONI SUED AMRAPALILast year, Mahendra Singh Dhoni sued the Amrapali Group for unpaid dues. The suit was filed, first in the Delhi High Court and then the Supreme Court, on his behalf by Rhiti Sports Management.Rhiti Sports Management is a sports marketing and management company in which MS Dhoni has major stakes. He is also managed by Rhiti Sports.In its suit against Amrapali, Rhiti Sports claimed that the real estate developer had failed to pay Dhoni around Rs 150 crore that was owed to him as payment for his services as a brand ambassador.SO HOW IS DHONI INVOLVED?According to an audit report submitted in the Supreme Court, MS Dhoni is involved in the Amrapali controversy through Rhiti Sports.The audit report claims that between 2009 and 2015, the Amrapali Group paid a total of Rs 42.22 crore to Rhiti Sports. Of this sum, Rs 6.52 crore was paid by Amrapali Sapphire Developers.The audit report says that Amrapali Group and Rhiti Sports got into several agreements during this period. However, the audit report says, these were “sham” agreements that had “just been made for payment of amounts to Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited”.The audit report contends that the Rs 6.52 crore paid by Amrapali Sapphire Developers to Rhiti Sports actually belonged to home buyers and so, was illegally diverted.HOW IS SAKSHI DHONI INVOLVED?The same audit report that talks about the dealings between Rhiti Sports and the Amrapali Group, says MS Dhoni’s wife Sakshi Dhoni was a director in Amrapali Mahi Developers.The audit report says that the auditors were verbally told Amrapali Mahi Developers was incorporated for the development of a project in Ranchi and that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was also entered between the parties.However, the audit report says, the MoU was never given to the auditors.WHAT DOES RHITI SPORTS HAVE TO SAY?Rhiti Sports, for its part, has said that the observations made in the audit report are “bereft of proper information or relevant document”.The talent company said that the payments received by it were valid payments for services provided by the company. “The question of siphoning funds does not arise because Rhiti provided all professional services as per the agreement,” the company said in a statement.Rhiti Sports also said that it had all relevant documents to establish a “clean image” and to show that the observations made in the audit report are “incorrect”.WHAT NEXT FOR AMRAPALI?As the real estate developer, the Amrapali Group is now doomed. The Supreme Court, in its scathing and landmark order earlier this week, cancelled the group’s registration under the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) [Rera] Act.The court has also ordered a probe into the Amrapali Group’s top management as well as the chartered accountant who oversaw the company’s accounts.The Supreme Court also ousted Amrapali from its prime properties in the National Capital Region and directed the state-run National Buildings Construction Corporation to take over all of Amrapali’s pending housing projects and complete them in a time-bound manner.advertisementThe Supreme Court’s Amrapali ruling is a landmark verdict that will have far-reaching consequences in all cases involved embattled real estate developers such as Unitech and Jaypee.READ | ICC chief Manohar got contentious payment from AmrapaliREAD | Lieutenant Colonel MS Dhoni deployed in Kashmir Valley as part of Victor ForceWATCH | SC relief to homebuyers as it asks NBCC to take over Amarpali projectslast_img read more

Why does OSU have ANOTHER assistant coach leaving?

first_imgJemal Singleton leaves for Arkansas. (via YouTube)Jemal Singleton leaves for Arkansas. (via YouTube)On Wednesday it was announced that Jemal Singleton would be taking his talents to Fayetteville for a similar position and something like $30,000 more.For Singleton that amounts to about a 10 percent pay raise.It would be like one of us (not me) making $75,000 and getting a bump to just over $80,000 (#Math) which, I guess most folks would jump at.However, the effect on your life at $75K is far less than the effect on your life of going from the two hundred thousands to the three hundred thousands.Just wanted to say thank you to all the friends we made at Oklahoma State. Stillwater will have a place in my heart.— Jemal Singleton (@CoachSings) February 25, 2015This clearly isn’t a Jemal Singleton problem, though. He’s just the latest in a looooong line of OSU assistants who have exited stage right under Mike Gundy.So what’s the deal here? Does Mike Gundy have a problem retaining good coaches?[1. The thread on the tweet from Pokelahoma, by the way, (which you can read here) is pretty interesting.]Im now of the belief we have something internally wrong. Art freaking Briles and baylor have lost like three people total.— wherever Dez Bryant plays next year fan (@Pokelahoma) February 24, 2015I don’t think he does. OSU pays its assistants well compared to the rest of the league and has been a launching pad into big-time jobs across the country.Here’s the reality that none of really wants to admit: Nobody who works at OSU loves OSU as much as fans love OSU.You want to pay me $30K more to come do what I’m doing here and I’ll have an easier time recruiting? Sure, I’m in!This goes for players, coaches and probably a lot of administration as well. Think about any perceived “cool company” you’ve worked at. People oooh and ahhh at you work but to the person working there it’s still just work.I used to work for the Houston Astros during college and I got the same reaction every time I told somebody “holy cow, that’s awesome!”Nope. I still have to answer email, go to meetings and work on projects just like you do.Same thing applies here.“After meeting with Coach Bielema, Mr. Long and the rest of the Razorback football staff, I knew that this was something I wanted to be a part of,” said Singleton on Wednesday.“It was just the perfect fit, both on and off the field. The opportunity to coordinate special teams and work with two returning 1,000 yard rushers was icing on the cake.  My family and I cannot wait to join this great institution and community. I look forward to helping the University of Arkansas win an SEC championship.”Here’s the interesting thing — I think Oklahoma State as a whole has been far greater than the sum of its parts over the past decade.You can call that Gundy Magic or whatever you want to call it but this program has been really strong nationally for a while now and a lot of times it’s been an amalgamation of discarded parts and mismatched misfits (see: Weeden2Blackmon).I think coaches know this and have parlayed OSU’s national success into better jobs and more money. I’m not sure that’s what Singleton is doing — Travis Haney ranked Arkansas as the 22nd-best job in the country compared to OSU at No. 25 — but look at others who have gone on to become head coaches.Tim Beckman is 12-25 at IllinoisTodd Monken is 4-20 at Southern MissLarry Fedora is 21-17 at North CarolinaAll were successful at OSU — all have struggled at other spots.To me, coaches leaving is the sign of a healthy program because of the lack of loyalty to programs in general around the nation.Obviously there are a million other factors that weigh in, too.Maybe Singleton (or Bob Connelly) had relatives in Arkansas (or Southern California) or maybe their wives prefer Piggly Wiggly to Albertson’s or any number of factors.But the fact is, Mike Gundy is bringing in good coaches and they’re using OSU’s success to get better jobs (whether in pay or title) and that, though it creates short-term headaches for the Hooded One, is ultimately a good thing.Also, we’ll always have this.If you’re looking for the comments section, it has moved to our forum, The Chamber. You can go there to comment and holler about these articles, specifically in these threads. You can register for a free account right here and will need one to comment.If you’re wondering why we decided to do this, we wrote about that here. Thank you and cheers!last_img read more

DEADLINE FOR AFFILIATION NEARS- HOW DOES THIS AFFECT ME?

first_imgAs the October 14 deadline approaches for affiliates to sign on with Touch Football Australia, more and more people are contacting the office, asking how the decision their affiliate makes will affect them. In the past couple of weeks information packs were sent out to every affiliate Australia-wide (with the exception of NSW affiliates), containing info on the unitary model of managment and the process and benefits of affiliation with Touch Football Australia (TFA). This article contains 10 FAQ’s about the NTL, what this means for elite players, info for coaches/referees/selectors, insurance, assets and more. If you are wondering the importance of your affiliates decision for you as a general Touchie, click here for the full story: 1) I’M AN ELITE PLAYER. WHAT HAPPENS TO ME? Players must be part of an affiliated competition to be eligible to participate in the National Touch League (NTL) and all other competitions run or sanctioned by Touch Football Australia (TFA). Players from unaffiliated competitions will not be able to play in regional, state, interstate, national or international competitions. This follows through into Regional, State, and National representative teams, with only players from affiliated competitions being eligible for selection. This is no different than the rules in place already. The current NTL “Conditions of Entry” require that all participating ATA NTL Permit holders and CB’s and Participants must be fully financial with the ATA and abide by the laws and by-laws of the ATA – ie you (Participants) will not be eligible to be a part of the NTL if you are involved in a non-affiliated competition. Representative players are also currently chosen from affiliated competitions only. Talent ID and high performance support of all kinds, including funding assistance to events, camps, sports science and medicine – will only be available to players from affiliated competitions. There will be no elite pathway for athletes involved in unaffiliated competition. Rumours of “elite competition” against New Zealand teams are false. The Touch New Zealand Board has informed us that they will not be sanctioning any competition between non-affiliated regions in Australia with affiliated members of TNZ. Please note: NSW players are not affected, as under the new constitution NSW is a member in its own right. 2) I’M AN ACCREDITED COACH / OFFICIAL. WHAT HAPPENS TO ME? Touch Football Australia (TFA) is the peak body for the sport and is recognised by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC). TFA runs courses and accredits coaches and officials under the auspices of the National Coaching Accreditation Scheme and the National Officiating Accreditation Scheme of the ASC. To be eligible to further your career or knowledge as a coach or official under these schemes, you will need to be a part of an affiliated competition. Only TFA will run nationally recognised courses as these courses are copyright and non-affiliated bodies will not be able to run them. In addition only TFA will offer qualifications for coaches and officials that will be recognised nationally and internationally. Assessments for coaches and officials will only be available at TFA sanctioned competitions. State and national coaches, referees and selectors will be chosen from among those involved in affiliated competitions only. 3) AS AN AFFILIATE, WE RUN / WANT TO RUN AUSTOUCH. WHAT IMPACT DOES THE UNITARY MODEL HAVE? AusTouch is the official vehicle for introducing juniors into the sport. It was developed by Touch Football Australia (TFA) with assistance from the Australian Sports Commission and is copyright. No unaffiliated organisation will be able to run AusTouch programs or use AusTouch resources. 4) OUR AFFILIATE NEEDS SERVICE FROM DEVELOPMENT OFFICERS. HOW DOES THE NEW MODEL IMPACT ON THIS? Development Officers from the TFA offices in each state will provide service to affiliated competitions only. 5) OUR AFFILIATE RUNS/IS PLANNING TO RUN SPORTING PULSE FOR OUR COMPETITION MANAGEMENT. IF WE DON’T AFFILIATE, WHAT HAPPENS? Only affiliated competitions will have access to Sporting Pulse, which is paid for through affiliation fees. If TFA does not receive an affiliate’s fees, then it cannot provide the service to them. 6) WILL WE BE INSURED IF WE DON’T AFFILIATE? No. Affiliation fees paid to TFA include a component for insurance which is immediately forwarded to the national insurance provider along with details of whom is paying the insurance. If fees are not paid, you will not be covered. Non-affiliated competitions may seek other insurance arrangements. However, by virtue of large purchasing power, TFA is able to offer low rates and good cover. Alternative arrangements by smaller organisations are unlikely to be competitive or offer comparable benefits. 7) WHAT HAPPENS TO THE NTL PERMITS? The current arrangements for Permits in all states except Qld will not change, since all affiliates will become part of TFA. The current arrangements for NSW Permits will not change. 8) I’M FROM A QLD REGION THAT DOES NOT SUPPORT THE NEW STRUCTURE. WHAT HAPPENS TO OUR NTL PERMIT? TFA owns and allocates all Permits. The TFA Board will reconsider the allocation of Permits in Qld on the basis of the number of affiliates that become members of TFA as of October 14, 2005. TFA will cancel Permits currently allocated to those regions that are not part of the new structure. Sunshine Coast will be allocated the current Rustlers Permit. TFA affiliates across the Rustlers drawing area will be eligible to be a part of the Permit but athletes from non-affiliated competitions will not. Brisbane City will retain their Permit. 9) HOW MUCH WILL AFFILIATION FEES COST UNDER THE NEW STRUCTURE? For the upcoming season, fees will remain as they are now. However, once the new structure is fully in place and we are able to budget effectively, fees will be reviewed for season one 2006. 10) OUR AFFILIATE HAS ASSETS. IF WE BECOME PART OF TFA DO WE HAVE TO TRANSFER THEM TO TFA? No. Affiliates continue to operate as they do now. Assets of affiliates will not be affected; they will not be transferred to anyone at any time.last_img read more

Nunavut RCMP investigate suspected homicide

first_imgAPTN National NewsNunavut RCMP are reporting a possible homicide in the Nunavut community of Cape Dorset after a stand-off with a suspect.At around 7:30 a.m. Monday, Cape Dorset RCMP found a dead teen male in what they called a “suspected homicide.”Police closed off a neighbourhood in the small, fly-in hamlet, which is located west of Iqaluit. Residents were advised to stay indoors and away from windows.A 28 year-old surrendered to RCMP without incident on Monday afternoon.last_img

Puerto Rico utility moves to scrap 300M Whitefish contract

first_imgSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The head of Puerto Rico’s power company said Sunday the agency is cancelling its $300 million contract with Whitefish Energy Holdings amid scrutiny of the tiny Montana company’s role in restoring the island’s power system.The announcement by Ricardo Ramos came hours after Gov. Ricardo Rossello urged the utility to scrap the deal for Whitefish’s help in rebuilding the electrical system from the damage inflicted by Hurricane Maria.“It’s an enormous distraction,” Ramos said of the controversy over the contract. “This was negatively impacting the work we’re already doing.”The current work by Whitefish teams will not be affected by the cancellation and that work will be completed in November, Ramos said. He said the cancellation will delay pending work by 10 to 12 weeks if no alternatives are found.Ramos said he had not talked with Whitefish executives about his announcement. “A lawsuit could be forthcoming,” he warned.Whitefish spokesman Chris Chiames told The Associated Press that the company was “very disappointed” in the governor’s decision, and said it would only delay efforts to restore power.He said Whitefish brought 350 workers to Puerto Rico in less than a month and it expected to have a total of 500 this week. Chiames said the company completed critical work, including a project that will soon lead to a half million people in San Juan getting power.“We will certainly finish any work that (the power company) wants us to complete and stand by our commitments,” he said.Roughly 70 per cent of the U.S. territory remains without power more than a month after Maria struck on Sept. 20 as a Category 4 storm with winds of up to 154 mph (245 kph). Ramos said Sunday that the total of cost of restoring the system would come to $1.2 billion.The cancellation is not official until approved by the utility’s board. Ramos said it would take effect 30 days after that.Ramos said the company already has paid Whitefish $10.9 million to bring its workers and heavy equipment to Puerto Rico and has a $9.8 million payment pending for work done so far.Ramos said cancellation of the contract will not lead to a penalty, but it’s likely the government will pay at least $11 million for the company to go home early, including all costs incurred in the month after the cancellation.Federal investigators have been looking into the contract awarded to the small company from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s hometown and the deal is being audited at the local and federal level.Ramos said the company contacted Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority two days before the storm hit, at a time when it was becoming clear the hurricane could cause massive damage.Ramos earlier said he had spoken with at least five other companies that demanded rates similar to those of Whitefish, but also wanted a down payment the agency did not have.He said Sunday he hadn’t consulted with anyone else about signing the deal and didn’t notify the governor’s office for a week. He again praised Whitefish’s work.“They’re doing an excellent job,” he said.“There’s nothing illegal here … Of that, we’re sure,” he said, adding that he welcomes a federal investigation. “The process was done according to the law.”Ramos said his agency at first believed the Federal Emergency Management Agency pre-approved contracts, something the agency has denied.FEMA said it has not approved any reimbursement requests from the power company for money to cover repairs to the island’s electrical system. The contract said the utility would not pay costs unallowable under FEMA grants, but it also said, “The federal government is not a party to this contract.”FEMA has raised concerns about how Whitefish got the deal and whether the contracted prices were reasonable. The 2-year-old company had just two full-time employees when the storm hit, but it has since hired more than 300 workers.The White House had no comment Sunday. Last week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the federal government had no role in the process that led to awarding the contract.“This was something solely determined by the Puerto Rican government,” she said Friday.Rossello said he has requested that crews from New York and Florida come help restore power in Puerto Rico as he criticized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for not meeting its goals. The agency could not be immediately reached for comment.The governor also announced the appointment of an outside co-ordinator to oversee the power company’s purchase and contracting division.“If something illegal was done, once again, the officials involved in that process will feel the full weight of the law, and I will take administrative actions,” Rossello said.A Whitefish contract obtained by The Associated Press found that the deal included $20,277 an hour for a heavy lift Chinook helicopter, $650 an hour for a large crane truck, $322 an hour for a foreman of a power line crew, $319 an hour for a journeyman lineman and $286 an hour for a mechanic. Each worker also gets a daily allowance of $80 for food, $332 for a hotel room and $1,000 for each flight to or from the mainland.The company is based in Whitefish, Montana. Zinke, a former Montana congressman, knows Whitefish CEO Andy Techmanski, and Zinke’s son also had a summer job at a Whitefish construction site.“I had absolutely nothing to do with Whitefish Energy receiving a contract in Puerto Rico,” Zinke recently said in a statement linked to a tweet. “Any attempts by the dishonest media or political operatives to tie me to awarding or influencing any contract involving Whitefish are completely baseless.”Democrats also have questioned the role of HBC Investments, a key financial backer of Whitefish. The Dallas-based company’s founder and general partner, Joe Colonnetta, has contributed thousands of dollars to President Donald Trump and other Republicans. Chiames, the Whitefish spokesman, has said that Colonnetta’s political donations were “irrelevant” and that the company would co-operate with any federal authorities.This week, Rep. Rob Bishop, the Utah Republican who heads the House Natural Resources Committee, sent the power company director a letter demanding documents, including those related to the contract with Whitefish and others that show what authority the agency has to deviate from normal contracting processes.“Transparent accountability at (the power company) is necessary for an effective and sustained recovery in Puerto Rico,” his office said in a statement.A federal control board that oversees Puerto Rico’s finances announced this week that retired Air Force Col. Noel Zamot will be in charge of power reconstruction efforts. Rossello and other officials have rejected the appointment, saying the local government is in charge of a power company that is $9 billion in debt and had struggled with outages before hurricanes Irma and Maria last month.last_img read more