story / george
In Dire Need
Jennifer Mathews; Photographs by Benjamin Roberts
Services Now Offered to Bay Islands
Shortis has flown more than 600 combat missions in his 50+
years in aviation experience, allowing him to make some
tricky landings and fly through harsh Caribbean storm systems.
helicopter is a Sikorsky S62A helicopter. It is a civilian
helicopter, never used in the US Coast Guard, who has 99
of this model up the US coast. This model was the main US
rescue helicopter servicing the US coastline for 20 years.
Other than in times of war (except for the Bel Huey) this
helicopter still today holds the record of saving more lives
than any other helicopter in the world. The craft is actually
a boat and can land on water. "This is an ambulance,
full stop, not a chopper," said Ronald Shortis, president
of Aeromedical Services, S.A. Inside, there is enough room
for three stretchers. For the main one, there is space for
a medic at the head of the patient, and a flight nurse at
the foot. The craft is equipped with emergency services,
such as oxygen. All staff is on a communication system so
they can communicate with the pilot.
Ronald Shortis and the helicopter came to Honduras from
Australia when it was leased to a Honduran company for tourism
purposes. When the 12 month lease expired, the craft was
supposed to go back to Australia. Shortis saw a need in
the Bay Islands for an aeromedical service and convinced
the Australian owners to keep the craft in Honduras to perform
aeromedic duties. It took six months to go through the paperwork
to comply with all regulations for the DCGA. To date, this
is the only fully dedicated ambulance helicopter in Honduras.
The service received final licenses in April of 2010.
decided to base Aeromedical Services in Roatan for three
reasons: Jet fuel is available there; It is a central location
for which to serve the Bay Islands; And it has the largest
to Honduran law, the company is not a charter service. The
Honduran government did not give a permit to charge for
services. This means Shortis can not charge for services
and is not allowed to accept any monies from insurance companies.
"This is not a business," said Shortis. "If
it were, it would never get off the ground. It is a self-supported
public utility. As such, it has been set up so that we never
have to ask the government for assistance. But we have to
be self-supported enough to where we can reach as many people
Services is dependent completely on funding from fees charged
to members. It is a private operation that is a benefit
for club members who pay a monthly subscription. Fees are:
$30/month for a single person, $40/month to cover a family
and their dependents, and $400 for the year if paid up front.
What constitutes a family? A dependent is defined according
to the definition of a "dependent" in the member´s
home country, whether Honduran or foreign. There is no limit
to the number of dependents. Corporate plans are available
and several resorts, banks and businesses in the islands
have signed up for their employees. There are also plans
for households, which would include the property watchman,
as well as special concessions for vacation homes as long
as the property is occupied less than 60% of the year. Short
term coverage is available for visiting family members to
cover the time they are in the Bay Islands. Shortis has
defined special plans for local communities according to
need and income. "This is not an elitist service,"
to Shortis, one member is a gentleman who has two families.
Both his spouse and the mother of his other children are
all dependent on his income. "We are not like an insurance
company. We do not discriminate, nor do we get involved
in people´s personal lives," said Shortis. "An
insurance company is set up to make money for shareholders.
We´re set up to take care of needs for members in
medical crisis. We don´t look at it as how not to
give you coverage. You're a member of a club." Shortis
considers club members as the leaseholders for the helicopter,
collectively leasing it from the Australian owners, Sun
City Helicopters based in Geraldton, Western Australia,
who specialize in leasing vehicles for search and rescue
and medical reasons.
a passion for helping people, Shortis does a significant
amount of fundraising for emergencies that may arise in
the local population. For this, he relies heavily on Rotary.
A Rotarian for seven years, Shortis adheres to the basic
principles of Rotary and the devotion to "learning
to work together for the good of all."
helicopter is owned by Sun City Helicopters, not Aeromedical
Services, leased by the members of Aeromedical Services.
Just the engine alone costs $¼ million. Every 1000
hours costs $165,000 to overhaul, which translates to $165
per hour to fly. A similar amount of money is required for
the airframe. Insurance costs $1500/week. Aeromoedical operations
by their very nature frequently occur in very adverse weather
conditions. The craft is extremely expensive to insure,
given that the insurers, Lloyds of London, classify mainland
Honduras as a "warzone."
members receive is a ride to La Ceiba or San Pedro Sula,
any time, night or day, as well as ambulance service if
needed. The medivac service takes patients to public and
private hospitals, depending on the preference of the patient.
Private hospitals currently served are Vicente D'Antoni
in La Ceiba, and Cemesa Hospital in San Pedro Sula. Depending
on the severity of the situation, the crew will make necessary
decisions as to which hospital to visit. Oftentimes, it
has been necessary to stop first in L Ceiba to stabilize
the patient in critical condition before flying the extra
time to San Pedro Sula.
they land at the La Ceiba airport, then the service pays
for the ambulance from the airport. This eliminates the
need for people to have to worry about carrying or getting
cash for anything.
Services, S.A. touches down on the main dock at the Utila
Lodge. The dock is currently being reinforced to support the
helicopter in order to offer service to central Utila.
fly at night, it is at least more than $1000 the cost. Shortis has
to pay air traffic controller overtime, airport and security charges,
and runway lights at the departing RTB airport at night. Shortis
has clearance to take off from Roatan´s airport at night,
but not to land. Therefore, he is not able to return and has to
pay for hotel rooms for all paramedics and staff on board. If he
must return for other patients, such as if a group tragedy occurs,
then he has to ask for a special dispensation to return.
must maintain strict policies when it comes to making the decision
to fly. Because it is so expensive to fly, he must make difficult
decisions to protect the members and their investment.
he embarked on a search and rescue mission at sea, only to find
that the man was hiding with his girlfriend. Another search and
rescue mission found the culprit in jail in Belize, rather than
lost at sea.
receiving licensing in April, the busiest time the service has seen
is 16 flights in 21 days. All flights were for patients in critical
condition. Fortunately this is not the norm, and the average is
about three critical flights per week with current membership.
any foreigner dies in Honduras, Honduran law requires that an autopsy
must be carried out in La Ceiba or San Pedro Sula. Aeromedical Services
recognizes that taking care of the deceased is an important part
of assisting the family in their grief. Membership privileges include
this important function and have carried a number of deceased.
Way This Works
A doctor has to give a recommendation that the patient needs to
be medivac´d to the mainland. Shortis will only fly if it
is a serious injury or medical condition. "We´re not
going to fly anyone over for a broken finger," he said. If
a patient requires oxygen, he will fly. If the patient is confused,
the patient may have blood on the brain. If no doctor is readily
available, Shortis can use the satellite phone to get approval from
a doctor, even one abroad if the patient has a family doctor outside
La Ceiba, they can land straight at the airport or land in a field
beside the Vincent D'Antoni hospital within 27 minutes. To get to
San Pedro Sula takes one hour and six minutes and they are required
to land at the international airport. Their preference is to take
patients to La Ceiba for initial assessment and aid. They will remain
in La Ceiba until the hospital tells them whether or not the patient
requires further transfer to San Pedro Sula.
they have to spend the night, they will bring the patient back if
the patient is ok. "This is not a dump and go," said Shortis.
"It´s a club that looks after its members and their well
think it´s important for people to know a few things: I´m
here; I´m through all the paperwork hassles of getting set
up; I´m here to stay; and people will have difficulty accessing
our services if they are not members," said Shortis.
are apparently enough people on the Bay Islands who feel that the
service is worth the membership fees. In just three weeks, Shortis
has exceeded the membership goals he expected would take 3-4 months
Shortis would like to purchase a jet so that he has the option of
taking Bay Islands residents to the United States for medical treatment
if needed. It takes three hours to travel from Roatan to Miami.
For this, he´ll need a hanger and a jet, and while he originally
thought this might take three years to achieve, membership is growing
so fast, it might be much sooner before it becomes a reality.
On February 6, Ronald Allen Shortis had completed 50 years in aviation
in Australia. He gave war service and has flown more than 600 combat
missions. Some of the missions involved in fighting against children
soldiers. "This was a horror, a total horror, an aberration,
and unbelievably wrong," he said. Consequently, feels very
strong in his desire to help children, to save children. Since the
service started, he has been able to a number of children´s
lives. "This is the greatest reward of all. To see a child
you know would have died go back to school." Shortis recognizes
that he can not provide this service on his own indefinitely and
must look to the future. He is looking for support staff. Two pilots
will be trialing with him, beginning in July. "Hopefully both
will prove satisfactory and able to provide long term future for
this service." Though he is supposed to be retired, his passion
for the medical field, which he was never able to pursue as a younger
lad, and his passion for flying are the foundation for what has
become Aeromedical Services.
Peterkin, head flight nurse, is originally from Peru, and
is fluent in Spanish and English, Spanish being her original
language. She worked for 27 years in the emergency room, trauma
level 1 in the North Broward Hospital District.
from Barbados, Joe Peterkin, paramedic and flight coordinator,
worked as a paramedic, trauma helicopter crew chief and firefighter
in Broward County, Florida. He currently also trains firefighters
and Joe retired to Roatan from the states six years ago. They
originally came on a cruise ship and fell in love with the
island. They have been married 34 years. They were enjoying
a drink at Infinity Bay 3 years after their move to Roatan.
When the owner introduced them to Ron, they knew immediately
it was a good fit. Cyndie, whose father was a rescue helicopter
polit in the Peruvian Air Force, feels like this is an opportunity
for a new lease on life. "It´s in my blood,"
she said. "We´re here to stay; and we have to give
back to the community." Cyndie and Joe have an extensive
collection of emergency trauma gear in their house alone.
"Without them this service never would have happened,"
Grier, EMT, DMT, is from Chicago, but has lived on Roatan
for 22 years. She came as a diver and worked at CoCo View
Resort. Now she owns the Dockside Dive Center there, which
does retail, repair, instruction, and rental. The last three
years, she worked as a full time volunteer with the fire department.
She is a specialist in diving related emergencies, which is
a valuable addition to patient treatment in the Bay Islands.
this is a non-profit business, everyone works on a volunteer
basis, including Shortis, himself. "My main goal is taking
care of people. It´s not about the money," said
Shortis. "I´m paid in the fact that I can still
fly," said Shortis. "I go nuts if I don´t
July 10, there is a new paramedic coming from the states as
a one month volunteer. Since the crew works under such intense
circumstances, all new staff must be able to fit in. "We´re
in such close workings that any square peg doesn´t work,"
said Shortis. "A helicopter crew is a very close knit
group of people. There is a very special bond between each
other. We're like family."
Bay Islands Communities
Shortis is working on the best way to serve the communities.
For example, in some of the more isolated Utila cays, it may
be better to bring the doctor to the cays, rather than fly
the patient out.
Bay Islands Voice accompanied the medivac helicopter to Pigeon
Cay on June 1, where it is 21 miles to the mainland and the
rough seas can be brutal. On the cay, medical services are
scarce. A dentist visits the island once a month and a nurse
practitioner, infrequently. According to Henry Karpinski,
owner of the Harbour House, seven to ten of the residents
rely on fishing and diving, and the rest are shop keepers.
The island has had electricity for 6.5 years and receives
running water once a week, sometimes twice. On this Cay there
are an estimated 300 to 500 people.
20 people attended the meeting. Discussions included specific
concerns of the local families. "The community needs
to get together to govern themselves for this service,"
said Shortis. He suggested the community designate an emergency
coordinator on the island and for nearby Cay communities.
The optimal spot on the Cay to land is on the property of
Bess Diamond, which is essentially a vacant lot next to her
house. "I wanted to meet the pilot before giving permission
to make this the Cay´s landing pad. I thought it might
be a small plane," she laughed. "I think this is
a very important service and would be very happy to have the
land be used to help the people of the island." The lot
was full of trash such as plastic bags, which is extremely
dangerous for landing and taking off conditions. Diamond said
she had intentions of cleaning the mess and putting in gravel
or sand to facilitate the landing pad.
crew then landed at Coril Beach in the center of Utila Island.
This particular part of the island is typically only accessible
by boat as the access road is usually rough. Residents travel
by hefty four wheelers. Most residents are equipped with basic
emergency kits for animal attacks such as snake and spider
bites, and but no equipment for serious injuries. Though an
independent and self-sufficient community, residents here
were particularly concerned with quick access to emergency
hospital locations, because of the treacherous and long journey
it takes to get to the nearest doctor on the island, if that
person is available. According to resident Andi Sims, Utila
Realty, "People who live on the South Shore pretty much
like to be here and don't like to leave. If we call for emergency
service, there's a good reason."
team then headed to the main airport in Utila. Immediately,
the police arrived on the scene with warnings of severe action
if they land as an unidentified aircraft, particularly at
night. The crew met with several members of the Utila Town
community to introduce the service. Kurt Halverson, retired
chiropractor, orthopedist, physician, and acupuncturist, and
who currently works with Utila Land Company, has been on Utila
for 15 years. "I've seen a lot of injuries through the
years in this community. This is a very valuable and necessary
service," he said after examining the helicopter and
meeting the crew.
perfect central landing location, Shortis is working with
owner Kisty Engel to fortify, certify and register the helipad
dock at Utila Lodge in Utila Town.
June 2, the crew met with Alberto Busmail N., manager of medical
operations of Vicente D'Antoni Hospital in la Ceiba, in order
to establish a protocol between the hospital and the Bay Islands.
"This connection is just one of many in the safety net
of providing professional safety services," said Shortis.
having extra bright lights, at night Shortis is legally required
to land at the La Ceiba airport. However, Vicente D'Antoni
Hospital is installing night landing lights so that in the
future night operation landings to the hospital will become
routine. They will have to go through the legal process to
get landing pad approved for night operations. The hospital
is slated to complete a direct access gate to the landing
field in July. With this direct connection, Shortis can have
a patient to the landing field in 27 minutes, and into the
emergency room within 35 minutes of leaving the islands, versus
the 66 minutes it would take to reach the San Pedro Sula airport,
15 minutes to transfer the patient to an ambulance (which
sometimes does not have oxygen available), 30-45 minutes driving
time, and 10 minutes to clear security and transfer to an
emergency room. For this reason, Shortis prefers to use Vicente
D'Antoni Hospital as the first stop to stabilize critical
patients. As there are few specialists and surgeons on the
islands, the hospital also has a wealth of specialists on
can always select which hospital or city they prefer to go,
but in the event of emergency, Shortis and his crew will make
whatever decisions necessary to stabilize the critical condition
of the patient.
The most dear to their heart is the "miracle boy."
He fell from the second story at school when the balcony gave
out. The result was a rebar impaled 2 ½ inches into
his brain. He was stabilized in La Ceiba, then flown to San
Pedro Sula. He died twice on the way. Cyndie brought him back.
Now he is back in school and seems to be a perfectly normal
young boy, with only partial loss of movement in his left
hand. Shortis and staff can´t wait to go back and revisit
him and take him for a ride. He has no memory of how his life
'worst' trip was taking a patient to San Pedro was the middle
of the night, when it took three hours. Shortis had to keep
back-tracking 40 minutes through the storm to see if he could
find a line through the thunderstorm. He and the crew were
carrying a gentleman severely injured in a road accident.
They finished up flying through a bottom of a thunderstorm.
"It was very unpleasant, not an experience we want to
repeat in a hurry," said Shortis.
year, Shortis was hit by lightning twice, one time causing
a 6x4 inch hole in the blade. Despite his expert knowledge
of flying in inclement conditions, he will refuse to fly if
he feels there is any danger to the crew. "There is no
sense in getting killed to save one life if we could save
40 next year."
The warehouse of spare parts are in Australia. Transferring
needed spare parts to Honduras can be a hassle. At the time
of writing, Shortis was waiting on a package of "four
little bolts," which left Australia on a Monday and were
in Honduras on a Friday. The cost of the bolts are no more
than $10 each, but they are specially machined. Customs held
up his delivery for weeks. He can not go to San Pedro because
at the moment he is the only pilot. If someone needs his services,
he needs to stay on the island.
Services has lots of bills, but not a lot of money. "Boats
are a hole in the ocean, helicopters are a hole in the air,"
said Shortis. He regards himself as a mere custodian of the
members' investment. "I'm not allowed to touch their
investment. It's a very delicate financial juggling act to
maintain these services."
further challenge is the simple fact that they are the first
aeromedical service in Honduras. "It has taken time for
the authorities to realize that all I want to do is achieve
something worthwhile for them and their country," said
Shortis. "Plus the fact that I'm an Aussie," he
winks. "Sometimes we're a bit hard to handle."
a business, we are still in diapers, trying to get into short
pants," said Shortis. "We don't yet have the staff
we need, and it's possible we will get overloaded. We are
not machines." The whole staff can be severely affected
emotionally by the distress they see, particularly when helping
children in critical conditions. "With a child, I think
that there´s 60 yrs left on this child, and only a few
left in me."
personal issue is that, being such a small community in the
Bay Islands, the crew knows many of the people they fly, and
always someone associated with the person. Taking care of
friends in critical conditions is an entirely different kind
of emotional strain.
are limits to what a pilot can do: the number of hours a pilot
can be on duty, and the numbers of hours a pilot can fly are
internationally regulated. These limits have been developed
by international aviation authorities based on stress, exhaustion,
and decision-making ability. This is one reason it is so important
new staff joins the team as soon as possible. In times of
fatigue or sickness, Shortis must stand down.
final challenge to remember is personal," said Shortis.
"I´m the only one person who´s completely
unprotected by this helicopter. If something happens to me,
I have to go by boat!"
Peterkin, Aeromedical's head nurse flies with the team to Utila
on for a meeting with the island's citizens on Tuesday, June
story / george
/ local news
______________back to top
Lessons: Getting it Right by George Crimmin
don't share Dr. Derbyshire's pessimism, but some of his
description of education - specifically, educational bureaucracy,
sadly rings true. The past 50 years are littered with hundreds
of pedagogical fads and theories that did little to advance
real learning. But now back to my theme of getting it right.
In Honduras history, I was taught that on the 15th of September
in 1821 Honduras declared and received her independence
from Spain. Simple enough - but is it really?
review the facts. According to historical records Mexico
declared its independence from Spain in 1810 thanks to the
influence of the American and French revolutions, and perhaps
most importantly, Spain was conquered by Napoleon Bonaparte
and was being ruled by his brother Joseph Bonaparte. Total
chaos and anarchy ensued, not to mention bloodletting for
the following eleven years. In 1821 the treaty of Córdoba
was signed granting full sovereignty to Mexico, which immediately
incorporated all of Central America except for Panama under
its rule. Panama attached itself to Colombia to escape the
bloody Mexican rule. This is undoubtedly the date Honduras
proclaimed as its independence. But is it factual? Let's
continue. For the next couple of years, civil unrest, chaos,
and violence continued, and in 1823 Guatemala, El Salvador,
Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica joined together and formed
the new United Provinces of Central America, freeing themselves
from the clutches of Mexico. In my view, seceding from Mexico
as a group still falls short of individual independence.
Of course the united provinces of Central America were short
lived. The bloody chaotic situation in Mexico was transported
to the new provinces, and finally, from 1838 to 1841 all
five provinces declared their independence FROM EACH OTHER!
Honduras being one of the first to do so in 1838.
which is the real Honduran independence date, 1838 or 1821?
I say 1838. But then again, we are reminded that "history
is the propaganda of the victors". There is also this
by American author William Graham Sumner (1840-1910) "All
history is only one long story to this effect: Men have
struggled for power over their fellow men in order that
they might win the joys of this earth at the expense of
others, and might shift the burdens of life from their own
shoulders upon those of others".
Clarence Darrow, an American lawyer (1857-1938) wrote: "Just
think of the tragedy of teaching children not to doubt."
Indeed! What is most striking to me about this statement
is, that as a child I was taught just the opposite. Do not
question your elders, especially your teachers. Whatever
you read in a textbook was accurate and true to a fault.
No question about it, period.
back one has to recognize the simplistic view of education
50 years ago - strong emphasis was placed on memorizing
facts and figures, while very little importance was given
to independent thinking and problem solving. Today, schools
are faced with a growing awareness that success in the 21st
century requires more than just core academic knowledge.
global innovations transform the way people live and work,
it is increasingly apparent that future success will depend
upon an ability to adapt to change and to constantly learn
and relearn. Students need to acquire a variety of social,
technical and communication skills; including critical thinking
and problem solving, which were, for the most part, excluded
from my generation. I believe in this one area education
today has changed somewhat for the better. I can't help
but take note however of a passage in John Derbyshire's
new book entitled: We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative
Pessimism. Dr. Derbyshire writes: "Education is a vast
sea of lies, waste, corruption, crackpot theorizing, and
careerist logrolling." He continues by stating "If,
as H.G. Wells asserted, human history becomes more and more
a race between education and catastrophe, we have lost the
race, and had better brace ourselves for the catastrophe."
story / george
/ local news
By Jennifer Mathews
Islands Approved for New Tariffs and 150 KwH Subsidy
1996, RECO's direct operating expenses were $0.027 USD per KwH billed;
In 2004, they were $.067 and in 2009, they were $0.084, all not
including fuel cost, which today equals about US$0.20 per KwH. This
is due to the increased expenses for labor, insurance, generation,
order to provide alternative energy solutions, RECO is making a
$6 million dollar investment in renewable/ green energy. RECO has
recently purchased 26 wind turbines which should be operational
in about one year, according to Warren .
do not claim perfection, which eludes us all - but this company
is an open book and you can bore yourself to death by coming in
and looking at all our records"," said Warren .
been involved with RECO since 1992," said Harper, "and
it's the entity on the island that people love to hate. It's an
Compared to either Utila and Guanaja, RECO's current residential
rates are significantly lower, with 7.75 lps/KwH on Utila and 8
lps/KwH on Guanaja, as compared to RECO's 5.25 lps/KwH.
is also necessary to consider the historical value of the Lempira,
particularly because the diesel which is purchased as fuel for the
generators is purchased abroad and its value fluctuates with the
changes in the global market. In 1996, one Lempira was worth more
than $0.08; today, since then the Lempira has lost more than one-third
of its value and is valued at just over $0.05 USD.
does that affect the billing rate? Based on a standard average residential
rate of 3.21 Lps/KwH, and converting that amount to USD based on
the historical exchange rate in 1996, the inflation adjusted rate
in USD in 1996 was approximately $0.26 per KwH. Today, including
the fuel adjustment, the average residential rate per KwH in USD
is $0.27. If you look at the numbers in dollars, RECO's rate are
extremely close to what they were way back in 1996; however the
services being provided are greatly improved.
Hole teacher Caroline Larson remembers how only two years ago the
power was out regularly from 1pm - 5pm. "There were many days
we had to close school because it was just too hot. Now, we have
put this into perspective, consider the following:
The amount of bananas that one could buy in 1996 with $1 would cost
$2.10 today; $1 worth of Rice in 1996 would cost $ 2.33 today; $1
worth of Oranges in 1996 would cost $2.32 today; $1 worth of Peanuts
in 1996 would cost $1.99 today; $1 worth of Electricity from RECO
in 1996 would cost $1.42 today.
According to TV Channel 5, the central government approved the 150
KwH subsidy on June 2, 2010, in which the bills of Bay Islands residents
who use less than 150 KwH per month will be subsidized with government
money. According to Romeo Silvestri, this benefit stands to directly
benefit up to 45% of RECO clients. On July 7, Richard Warren is
expected to travel to Tegucigalpa to receive a formal resolution
of the RECO tariff proposal from the CNE, and to learn about details
of the subsidy, how it will be managed, and how this will be integrated
into RECO's changing financial structure.
to Roatan mayor Julio Galindo, "The law is clear about the
150 subsidy. Honduran citizens have been eligible for this subsidy
for many years. Regarding this law, now we in the Bay Islands are
finally being treated as citizens."
the RECO compound on May 21.
to many recent questions raised in the Roatan community about raised
RECO rates, the Bay Islands Voice held meetings with RECO president
Richard Warren, finance director Luis Rodriguez, and general manager
Matthew Harper to review RECO's financial reports from 1996 to the
present. Below are the findings from those meetings.
of RECO and National Energy
Roatan Electric Company, RECO, is a privately held public utility.
RECO began as a co-op; originally, the islanders were required to
purchase a Lps. 100 share in RECO in order to have service connected.
In April of 2008, Kelcy Warren, became 52% majority shareholder
in RECO. The remaining 48% share is still held by more than 2000
islanders, many of whom may be unaware of their interest in the
a national level, The Electricity Law of 1994 assigned policy making
to an Energy Cabinet chaired by the President of the Republic with
the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (Secretaria de
Recursos Naturales y Ambiente, SERNA) as its Secretary and Coordinator.
A regulatory agency, the Comisión Nacional de Energía
(CNE), was created to approve standards, monitor and enforce laws,
and approve tariffs, among other duties. Additioanlly, a national
utility Empresa Nacional de Energia Electrica (ENEE) provides expertise
to the government for policy making and regulation.
are the billing rates set and how are they changed?
The rules under which RECO must comply are set by CNE. By law, a
tariff proposal must be submitted by the utility to the Energy Commission
every five years. The review of the proposal and confirmation of
expenses, capital contributions, operational efficiencies and practices
is the responsibility of the CNE, whose main role is to ensure that
rates are fair and reasonable. This process has not been completed
for RECO since 1996.
have a responsibility to see that the energy provider covers its
costs in order to ensure that the second function of the regulators
is upheld - to ensure that the public has available reliable energy.
are set for five years, however, the generation portion of the tariff,
which amounts to about half of the total cost per KwH, is reviewed
and appropriate adjustments made on an annual basis. The tariff
process implies that RECO presents to CNE what it expects to consume,
what the growth might be, how much additional generation will need
to be added, where the growth will come from, etc., over the five
year period. Investments must be made in advance in order to have
the capacity available when it is needed. RECO needs to be able
to generate sufficient revenues in order to have resources available
for capital expenditures for additional generation, distribution
upgrades and extensions, and in order to have the capacity available
when the demand is needed.
the next year RECO must purchase and install additional generation
capacity that will cost an estimated $6 million. That investment
must be made in order to provide sufficient energy for the expected
increase in demand due to growth in the island.
the tariff rates have remained unchanged, fuel adjustment charges
have been added to cover fluctuations in fuel cost without which
RECO would not be able to provide energy to the consumers on the
island. During 2009, RECO lost Lps. 34 million, according to audited
financial statements. Since commencing operations in 1993, RECO
has made a profit during three years; in 1997 (Lps. 1,706,764);
2003 (Lps. 547,746); and 2004 (Lps. 847,542). Over that same period
it has lost a total of US $30,353,962.
Dispatch for Bay Islands Near at HandBy
committee has requested the support of ZOLITUR for funding
to maintain permanent staffing of the dispatch center under
the security chapter of the entity. The goal is for the center
to be operational 24 hours a day, 365 day a year, and be staffed
by trained, bilingual operators. The staff will be trained
to answer emergency calls and coordinate dispatch of police,
fire, and ambulance emergency services throughout the Bay
Islands. Dispatchers would also be trained in basic first
aid and standard procedures in dealing with crisis situations.
The ZOLITUR charter requires that all the Bay Islands are
efforts to raise money for the project, a fundraiser was held
on Tuesday, May 4, at the Henry Morgan Resort. Five-time world
champion salsa dance team Swing Latino performed to raise
support for the purchase of equipment for the emergency service
hotline *199. The evening raised more than $1200 for the cause.
projects for the Public Safety Sub-Committee include: emergency
preparedness in earthquakes and hurricanes, and the improvement
of police stations for better quality of life for the policemen.
term, the Committee would like to find a new site for the
police station that brings together the police, fiscal, and
judges under the same roof, thus facilitating better communication
throughout all offices.
would be proud if this was the first successfully implemented
project of the Rotary on the islands," said Ake. "I
would like to thank the authorities, Mayor Julio Galindo,
Diputado Romeo Silvestri, and above all, everyone involved
with emergency services - police, fire, and ambulance. Commissioner
Vides has been particularly helpful in pushing this process
The newly established Rotary Club of Roatan has established,
as one of its first tasks, a Public Safety Sub-Committee.
The first priority of the committee is to set up a dispatch
for *199, the emergency services number, specifically for
the Bay Islands.
emergency number is already the established national number,
however dialing *199 currently routes callers to La Ceiba,
where their call is answered by a Spanish speaking operator.
Several reports have complained of operators simply hanging
up when callers say they are calling from one of the Bay Islands.
a project of the Roatan Crime Watch Committee under the direction
of Ilias Scott and Herb Morici, the project came under the
guidance of Edward Ake, when the Rotary Club took over Crime
Watch activities in April. The Roatan Crime Watch Committee
had already made significant progress on such things as importing
police cars, radio equipment, printers and establishing a
story / george
Bay Islands Get a Yacht Club By
John Morris Illustrated by Barbara Morris
Sailing in Half Moon Bay
Etches called a friend in Fort Meyers to take a preliminary look
and the report was that, if the boats cost $5000.00 new, they were
now worth $50.00! However, with a little work, they were still seaworthy.
Working on a limited budget, Aaron and his father decided it was
still worth the trip to have a look for themselves. There were 12
boats available scattered all over the property, dating from between
1972 and 1983 with two trolleys and some assorted spare parts and
sails. The owners were asking $1000.00 per boat, way out of the
planned budget. After consulting with William, it was decided to
at least try with a low ball offer of $4000.00 for 10 boats and
the two trolleys. To Aaron's surprise, they agreed to $4500.00.
The deal was done and arrangements were made to get them to the
arrival to Roatan, Aaron enlisted Denny Cooper to get the boats
back in shape and in the water. In the end, with shipping, repairs
and initial investment, the boats ended up costing about $ 800 each.
In order to cover initial investments and pay for ongoing repairs
and new parts, it was decided to offer very affordable yearly memberships
for singles, families and businesses, as well as daily rates for
visitors and vacationers. There is currently one sailing instructor,
Joanna "Jo" Carlow, who can teach up to three students
at a time. Aaron is now looking for a second instructor, as demand
is now higher than available time. All money charged for the lessons
goes to the instructor.
Moon Bay can be a tricky place to sail. The winds shift often and
gusts are not uncommon. Every Sunday, Sundowners hosts a family
BBQ along with sailing races. Aaron sets the temporary buoys and
draws a race diagram on a large chalkboard on the beach to study.
The turnout has been fantastic though sometimes puzzling. A few
weeks ago, a gentlemen, who appeared to be on holiday, inquired
if he could participate in the races. Of course, replied Aaron,
informing him the fee was just $25.00 for the day. The money was
paid and the new entry selected a boat and spent twenty minute re-rigging
the boat. Should have known then, smiles Aaron. The start of the
race was announced, which is currently Grand Prix style. The mysterious
sailor took off, finished the race and was having a cocktail at
the bar by the time Aaron, who was second place, hit the beach.
After some digging, it was finally learned that all the Bay Islands
Yacht Club members racing that day had been soundly beaten by one
Mark Foster, former Commodore of the USA's second oldest yacht club
in Corpus Christi, Texas and two time world champion in J 80 (a
larger sailboat) competition!
next steps for the Bay Islands Yacht Club is to try to get international
status, allowing members to sail at any other internationally recognized
yacht club and to begin to upgrade the equipment with some newer
boats. The Bay Islands Yacht Club wants to stress that this is not
and will never be a business for profit. If Sundowners can sell
more food and drink from the bar, they are happy. If William and
Lowie have an opportunity to sail when they want, they are happy.
But what it is really all about, is simply giving folks young and
old to have an opportunity to learn and to sail in a fun family
atmosphere on the island of Roatan.
sailboats dart around Half Moon Bay on most Sundays.
one strolls through West End along Half Moon Bay, especially on
a Sunday afternoon, there is something new and exciting in the water
just in front of the Sundowners Beach Bar, so exciting that already
some have been spotted running down the beach to have a closer look.
Believe it or not, a Summer Olympic event has come to Roatan thanks
to the combined efforts of a few people with a similar dream, and
that event is "One Man Dinghy Sailing" in a small yet
agile sailing boat called a Laser.
in the day of the Loafers Bar at the far west side of West End,
The Etches family dreamed of starting a sailing club but the location
of the bar proved to be too much of a late night club rather than
an afternoon hangout so the idea never came to fruition. When Loafers
was sold and the now famous Sundowner's Beach Bar was created, the
plan was different-start early and close early in an attempt to
grab those looking to spend the day at the beach, have a drink and
some food, maybe a bonfire and then close at a reasonable hour,
allowing the late night clubs to pick up the continuing party crowd,
keeping all those involved in the project to a more normal life
and schedule. With this being the foundation for a successful island
business, the idea of a sailing club once again was possible. A
chance meeting with William and Lowie Crisp, who were interested
to buy some beach front property with the same idea to start a sailing
club, sealed the deal and a partnership was formed and thus the
plan for The Bay Islands Yacht Club was launched.
some research, it was decided that the Laser was the sailing boat
of choice, partly because of availability and affordability, but
mainly because Laser sailing is an Olympic event with several already
established clubs throughout Central America. The choice provided
future possibilities which could include competitions with other
countries, as well as the opportunity for a sailor from Roatan to
train for the Olympics!
were posted on Laser forums, looking for some boats, and a response
came up on Sanibel Island off the west coast of Florida. It seems
that an old sailing club was being dissolved as the owners had decided
to retire, buy a large sailing boat and spend the rest of their
days sailing around the world.