Thurston County Wins Grant from Center for Holistic Defense

first_imgFacebook16Tweet0Pin0  Submitted by Thurston CountyThe county’s Director of the Office of Assigned Counsel and a handful of staff members traveled to New York City last week thanks to a technical assistance grant from the Center for Holistic Defense.Thurston County’s Office of Assigned Counsel is one of only four teams in the nation to win a 2014-2015 technical assistance grant that will link county staff with experts from the center to help build the “holistic defense” model into the existing public defender services provided by the county. The grant paid for county staff to travel to the Center for Holistic Defense in New York City to meet with staff and managers, and will also pay for center staff to conduct site visits to Olympia later this year and training in 2015.“This technical assistance grant will really complement our efforts to stop churning people through the criminal justice system, and instead give us tools and strategies to help us stabilize our clients’ lives to help them stay out of the justice system and succeed.” said Daryl Rodrigues, Director of the county’s Office of Assigned Counsel.“I’m very excited about this grant, and my hope is that it will really propel our efforts forward when it comes to improving the county’s criminal justice system,” said Thurston County Commissioner Cathy Wolfe. “The holistic defense model has seen great success in New York when it comes to getting better outcomes for clients and reducing criminal justice and incarceration costs. I’m eager to see what we can do in Thurston County to reach those same goals.”The “holistic defense” model was first developed in the late 1990s by a group of New York public defense attorneys and staff calling themselves The Bronx Defenders. Going beyond just legal defense for low-income clients for their criminal charges, The Bronx Defenders also has developed strategies to offer social work support, social services, plus legal advocacy for civil, family, housing, employment and immigration issues their clients face. The goal is to address the underlying issues that contribute to court involvement, and support clients so that they can break the cycle of criminal justice involvement and gain self-sufficiency while still requiring accountability. The Center for Holistic Defense is part of The Bronx Defenders organization, and the center’s technical assistance grants are supported in part by the Center for Court Innovation and the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.The Thurston County Office of Assigned Counsel provides legal defense counsel and services for poor citizens of Thurston County who are accused of crimes or who are at risk of having their children removed by the state. The team of 18 attorneys and eight staff members also provide legal defense services for defendants in Tumwater municipal court through a contract with the city.“One of the first things we’ll do to incorporate the holistic defense strategy in our office is to hire a social worker,” said Rodrigues. “We’re also looking at organizing our referrals for clients to some of the services that are utilized the most. Clearly the referrals for drug treatment and alcohol treatment are high on the list, but I think you would be surprised to learn how many of our clients just need some financial counseling or employment assistance or housing assistance to help get their lives back on track.”Rodrigues continued, “I’m confident that the assistance and training we’ll get from this grant will start paying off for our clients and for the county in no time.”To learn more about The Bronx Defenders and the Center for Holistic Defense, visit learn more about the county’s Office of Assigned Counsel, visit read more

Govt gives breakdown of house lots distribution

first_img…says study into squatting to be undertakenAs of October of this year, 202 new housing units have been built by the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), while a further 52 which are still under construction are expected to be completed this month.An example of a housing unitThis is according to Minister within the Communities Ministry, Valarie Patterson-Yearwood, in defending her Government’s budget in the National Assembly on Monday.Giving a breakdown of the locations, the Minister said 149 units were completed in Perseverance in Region Four. Included in this number are 76 two-bedroom duplexes and 42 elevated units. In addition, 17 units were built at the housing scheme at Experiment in Region Five. Construction was also completed in Region Three.Earlier this year, it was reported that the housing scheme at Providence, East Bank Demerara that was dubbed the Re-migrants Scheme and initiated under the previous Government had 400 house lots up for grabs. According to Patterson, 331 house lots have since been allocated.According to the Minister, monies generated by these sales will be used to provide infrastructural upgrades. She also provided a breakdown of what the Government has been doing to upgrade infrastructure across Guyana.“As of October 31, new infrastructural development works were completed in Lust-en-Rust, Zeelugt, and Zeeburg in Region Three; Sections B and D, Non Pareil, La Penitence, Perseverance, Covent Garden and Farm; Phase Two in Region Four, Amelia’s Ward in Region 10, while works are ongoing in Providence, Peter’s Hall and Little and Great Diamond,” she explained“Upgrading of road works and other infrastructural works were completed in a number of areas. Parfaite Harmonie, Westminster and Tuschen, Perseverance, Phase Two of Herstelling, Block D, Bath; Number 76 village and Ordinance (Fort lands) in Region Six; Amelia’s Ward phase One, B and Two.”Plans for 2019Moving on to 2019, Patterson-Yearwood revealed that Government has plans to commission a study into squatting. According to Patterson, a total of 211 regularised squatter lots were distributed. However, she revealed that the former squatters have been slow to pay for the lots.“Seventy-four informal settlers from the Lamaha reserve will be relocated to Cummings Lodge in the new year. The buildings were numbered, household profiles completed, and an inventory is to be completed by the end of this year,” sh said,“It is widely known that persons in the lower income bracket represent the largest number of families in need of housing, and they are also the group that has the most challenges to acquire decent, affordable housing. We will be addressing this situation frontally,” she declared.According to Patterson-Yearwood, CHPA has designed several low-income housing units that will go on display during an exhibition in 2019. She projected that 350 units would be distributed next year, and revealed that the cost of these units will range from $4 million.“The Government has commenced discussions with our development partners to secure more financing to undertake new housing development. Once successful, funds will be provided to upgrade infrastructure in all CHPA schemes, the construction of houses in all regions,” she said.“In Region One, Mabaruma is earmarked for significant upgrade. Cocorite Hill Housing Scheme will benefit from road upgrade and the construction of a community facility. In Region Two, roads will be upgraded at Anna Regina, Onderneeming and Charity, and in Region Eight at Mahdia.” she added.The Parliamentary Opposition has been very critical of the coalition Government’s slow pace of housing drive and distribution of lots. Former Housing Minister and Opposition frontbencher Irfaan Ali has pointed out that under his tenure (which began in 2009) approximately 100,000 house lots were distributed, while others were regularised.last_img read more

Daniels, Khan and Kamalldin brothers among top performers

first_imgBCB/NBS 2nd Division Tournament…The Berbice Cricket Board (BCB)-organised New Building Society sponsored 40-Over Round-Robin Second-Division Tournament for over 80 teams in the county of Berbice continued last weekend with several matches.In the Tournament, teams are divided into 17 zones, with the top team in each zone going on to the play-off stage.At Number 72 Ground, Number 70 Spartan defeated Number 72 All-Stars by 88 runs. Batting first, Number 70 made 159 all out in 34.1 overs with Thameshwar Ramoutar top scoring with 37. A Hemchand grabbed 4-31 and W Garnett picked up 2-30 bowling for Number 72. Number 72 then were sent packing for an embarrassing 71 with only Ryan Ramdass offering some resistance with the bat, scoring 20 runs. Naeem Yaccob bowled a superb spell picking up a magical 5-10, with Omesh Khemraj and H Ramoutar picking up 2-23 and 2-9 respectively.In Yakusari, Black Bush Polder, Yakusari Caribs defeated Yakusari Horizons by 73 runs. The Caribs batting first on the small ground, made 143 in 20 overs. C Iyana and R Iyana were the chief scorers with 34 and 28 respectively. V Rampersaud 2-15, Karim Amin 2-20 and T Ramsundar 2-23 bowled well for Horizons. In Horizons’ chase, they were sent packing for 70 in 19.2 overs. Amin (20) was the principal scorer as Naipaul Iyana grabbing 5-10.In another encounter at Number 69, the Number 69 Red Rose Cricket Club defeated Number 70 Young Blood Cricket Club by five wickets. Number 70 Young Blood batting first made 142 all out with S Rampersaud (26) and V Lakeram (19) contributing to the score. Bowling for the Red Rose, Deoraj Rampersaud had 3 for 26, Deodat Seeram and Tarrick Chaitram both had 2 for 20 and Trishan Narinedat chipped in with 2 for 24.In reply, Number 69 Red Rose eased their way to victory ending on 143 for 5. Rampersaud made a rapid 70, while Deodat Seeram contributed 23. Ashwood Mahsond was the pick of the bowlers with 2 for 27.At Number 70 MYO, Number 70 MYO Cricket Club defeated Number 71 Sports Club by eight wickets.Number 71 Sports Club made 111 all out in 27.5 overs. Somedat Singh (21) and Karamchand Poopaj (30) were the chief scorers. Bowling for the MYO Cricket Club, Ahmad Khan, Areef Khan, Asardeen Mohamed and Asad picked up two wickets each.In reply, Number 70 MYO reached 112 for 2 in only 16 overs. Jameel Asad stroked an aggressive 49 and Salu Khan made 27.At Number 72, Cut and Load Cricket Club defeated Number 73 Young Warriors Cricket Club by five wickets. Number 73 Young Warriors Cricket Club were all out on 94 in 34 overs. Danesh Seenarine (13) and Azad Mohamed (28) top-scored. Rishi Persaud picked up 3 for 11; Devanand Chatterpaul had 2 for 15 and Imran Khan grabbed 3 for 16.Cut and Load with 95 for 5 in 10 overs completed their task in quick time, with Rishi Persaud blazing away with 53. Azad Mohamed with 3 for 25 and Ganesh Singh with 2 for 27 took the wickets for the Number 73 Young Warriors.At Number 48, Number 48 Challengers defeated Number 43 Scorpions by two wickets.Number 43 Scorpions Cricket Club piled up 205 runs in 34.3 overs with S Diaram scoring an impressive 67, and A Grant scoring an even 50. A Lensankar had 3 for 33 and M Drepaul 2 for 21. As the runs continued to flow easily, Number 48 Challengers Cricket Club raced away to 206 for 8, completing a successful run chase. Munesh Lalu entertained the crowd with an enterprising 94, Balram Persaud contributed 31 and Terrence Budhu, 34. Jaipaul Sewnauth had 3 for 39 while off-spinner Devin Baldeo had 3 for 12.At Courtland, Chesney Cricket Club defeated Courtland Cricket Club by six wickets.Courtland managed only 126 in 21.4 overs. Jermaine Cort (31) and Eon Gibson (21) were the only batsmen to offer resistance. Stanford superstar Imran Khan grabbed 4 for 38 and S Khan had three wickets. The Chesney Cricket Club made light work of the target, as they ended on 129 for 4 in 17 overs. Pavindra Somwaru (58) and Saif Latchana (18) were the main scorers for Chesney. Only Jermaine Cort’s 3 for 16 threatened the Chesney batting line-up.At Fyrish, Fyrish Cricket Club defeated Kilcoy Cricket Club by 51 runs.Fyrish Cricket Club made 171 in 27 overs with Y Chinapen (25); Y Cordyall (29) and K Rengasammy (22) scoring the bulk of the runs. H Mohamed picked up three wickets, but was on the expensive side, going for 60 runs. The Kamalldin brothers had 3 for 8 and 3 for 10 each.Kilcoy Cricket Club only managed 120 all out in 20 overs. K Ramnarain batted brilliantly for his 54, and H Mohamed made 18. R Ramcharran’s 3 for 10 and K Roopnarine’s 3 for 34 knocked over the Kilcoy batsmen.At Good Banana Land, Young Warriors Cricket Club defeated BG Triple Star Cricket Club by 27 runs. Young Warriors made 185 in 33 overs, with national under-19 opening batsman Alex Algoo scoring a quick fire 30, S Khan made 27, and Devindra Ramoutar adding 20 to the score. L Jugister (3 for 38) and O Emandin (3 for 27) were the standout bowlers.BG Triple Star were bundled out for 158 in 27.3 overs. K Sobhai (47); K Gangaram (42) and S Amichanen (20) all got starts but failed to convert. Devindra Ramoutar bowled brilliantly, snaring 5 for 44.At Mount Sinai, Mount Sinai Cricket Club defeated Bermine Cricket Club by 23 runs. Mount Sinai made 180 all out in 33.5 overs. R Mc Andrew (27); S Daniels (24) and R Barrington (36) did the batting for Mount Sinai. Left arm spinner Gregory Crandon grabbed 3 for 23 and R Seitaram picked up 3 for 22.In reply, Bermine fell short of Mount Sinai’s target and only managed 157 all out in 29.4 overs. K Roster made 38 and R Seitaram made 37. S Daniels was in top bowling form as he grabbed 6 for 34, and J Amsterdam supported with 2 for 31.last_img read more

Tropical Storm Gabrielle leaves little damage in NC

first_imgBy The Associated Press HATTERAS, N.C. – Tropical Storm Gabrielle washed ashore and crawled slowly along the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Sunday but caused few problems and failed even to chase vacationers away from the beach. Warnings of gusty wind and rain didn’t stop Derek Creekmore, 32, who with surfing buddy Mark Carter drove to Cape Hatteras from Chesapeake, Va., to ride the tall waves brought in by the storm. “It’s a lot rougher out there, but this is what we look forward to every year,” Creekmore said. Officials said that there had been no requests for assistance, and that Gabrielle likely would be remembered mostly as an inconvenience. “We’ll be glad to help out if anybody needs it, but right now, we’re not hearing anything. It’s been kind of quiet,” said Julia Jarema, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety. Gabrielle brought gusty winds that howled at 50 mph, churning up the Atlantic surf to the delight of surfers and kiteboarders. Despite that, the storm failed to dump much rain inland, where much of North Carolina is experiencing severe drought. Forecasters kept a tropical storm warning in effect from Cape Lookout north to Cape Charles Light, Va. A watch also was in effect for the area extending to the New Point Comfort peninsula, along the Chesapeake Bay. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more


first_imgIN an historic week for the State, Donegal may have struggled to shout loudest about a special county event today – but thousands attended Donegal Live in Dublin.More than 20,000 in fact are thought to have been at Iveagh Gardens in Dublin for the festival which is aimed at promoting the county.Earlier this month a similar event in  Glasgow attracted 20,000 people. Up to 20 tourism sectors were represented at the Donegal Live event today which ended at teatime and included dancing, concerts, singing, poetry readings – and even a falconry display!The tourism promotional event is created and funded by a number of organisations including the Donegal Association in Dublin, Donegal Tourism Ltd., Failte Ireland North West, and Donegal County Council.Martina Bromley from Failte Ireland North West, hailed the event another success – following on from last year’s first Donegal Live in the capital.Events included concerts and exhibitions – all showing off our best hotels and culture. THOUSANDS ATTEND DONEGAL LIVE IN DUBLIN was last modified: May 23rd, 2011 by gregShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:donegal live in Dublindonegaldaily.comIveagh Gardenslast_img read more


first_imgA young woman has revealed how two thugs tried to hijack her car as she drove home from a friend’s house.The woman was travelling along Letterkenny’s Pearse Road at 2am on Sunday morning last when she was attacked.She stopped to allow two men to cross the road but the men suddenly turned on her and tried to get into her car. One of the men jumped on the bonnet and exposed himself.The other man banged the windows of the car and shouted obscenities at the terrified woman.The woman revealed her story on Highland Radio’s Shaun Doherty Show.She broke down in tears as she relived her horror. The woman revealed how another car even passed by and refused to come to her aid.The woman beeped her horn but the attackers continued to bang on her car and shout obscenities at the frightened woman.The woman eventually managed to get away and could see the men running away towards Letterkenny’s Main Street.The woman says she is over her ordeal but says it could have been much worse.“I’m a pretty positive person but it could have been another lady who didn’t have their doors locked and God knows what could have happened,” she said. The woman described the two attackers as 6ft tall, of slim build. One had red hair and the other was dark.The woman said she was particularly disappointed at the Garda response to her complaint.She revealed how she had one of the attacker’s fingerprints on her cars but the Garda did not take the prints.“I just thought they would have done more. I hope it makes women more aware to keep their doors locked,” she said. WOMAN LEFT TERRIFIED AFTER LATE NIGHT CAR-JACKING ATTEMPT was last modified: May 21st, 2012 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:attackCAR-JACKINGGardailetterkennylast_img read more


first_imgFAILTE Ireland today gave its support to a unique link-up between three golf clubs aimed at bringing more tourists to Donegal and Sligo.The clubs – County Sligo Golf Club at Rosses Point, Nairn & Portnoo and Donegal Golf Club Murvagh – are coming together for the unique scheme which will allow golfers to play all three during breaks.These three great links courses have joined forces to produce a Golf Pass that allows golfers to play all three, at their leisure for only €149 a price that is right up there with the best value for money in the market place at the moment. Speaking at the launch, Martin Donnelly from Fáilte Ireland said: “The project is a partnership between the three courses and Fáilte Ireland’s North West office, aimed at improving not only the golf offering but also providing the local accommodation base, with the opportunity to build packages for sale around the three rounds of golf. We hope that this in turn will entice customers to stay longer and of course spend more, during those longer stays.”Terry Brady, 2013 Captain of Rosses Point Golf Club said: “We are delighted to get this product launched in conjunction with our clubs in Donegal. These are very competitive times in the golf industry and whatever we can do to compete more effectively in the market place, is very welcome. Well done to our General Manager David O’Donovan for his work on the project.”Peter Sweeney, 2013 Captain of Donegal Golf Club Murvagh said: “I’d like to thank our partner clubs, Co. Sligo and Nairn & Portnoo together with Fáilte Ireland for their support on the development of this important golf product and also say well done to Grainne Dorrian, our Manager who worked on the project.”Hugh Shovlin, 2013 Captain of Nairn & Portnoo Golf club went on to say, “Nairn & Portnoo Golf Club is always striving to improve our golf offering and by reaching out to our local clubs through the North West Links Golf Pass, we now have a great value, county wide product that we feel can compete in terms of quality and value for money, well done to Daragh Lyons our Club Professional and all the group working on the development”. The Golf Pass is support by 10,000 A5 flyers ready for distribution throughout accommodation premises in Sligo & Donegal and throughout Ireland and the Golf Pass itself can be purchased by contacting Donegal Golf Club, Nairn & Portnoo Golf Club or County Sligo Golf Club.Going forward, the North West Links Golf Pass will be promoted on the club web sites, and through Tourism Ireland’s web site for the overseas markets, together with upcoming golf, trade and general consumer shows in Ireland and overseas.  GOLF COURSES CLUB TOGETHER TO BRING MORE TOURISTS TO THE NORTH WEST was last modified: May 8th, 2013 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:GOLF COURSES CLUB TOGETHER TO BRING MORE TOURISTS TO THE NORTH WESTlast_img read more

College ropers beat the pros in Reno

first_imgReno >> A couple of kids who had never been to the esteemed Bob Feist Invitational handily dominated the 39th edition of the richest one-day open roping in the world.On Monday, 21-year-old Zac Small of Welch, Oklahoma, and 20-year-old Wesley Thorp of Throckmorton, Texas, roped six steers in 42.71 seconds to split $124,000 in the overall purse plus $6,000 in two of the six rounds. They also claimed a truckload of first-place prizes that included Coats saddles, Gist buckles, Myler bits, Best …last_img read more

Titan Is as Titan Does

first_img(Visited 24 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Saturn’s giant moon Titan keeps revealing mysterious dynamics in the here and now, leaving interpretation to fallible scientists who sometimes predicted otherwise.Going the second Nile:  A river valley rivaling Earth’s Nile has been found flowing into Kraken Mare, one of Titan’s large north polar seas.  Live Science‘s article includes a video trip along its 250-mile length as revealed by orbital radar.  Its blackness suggests it flows with liquid methane that rains down and flows through tributaries.  New Scientist claims the river is the longest ever found outside Earth.  Scientists believe the river tracks a fault line, even though they don’t believe Titan has plate tectonics.Icier than thought:  Thoughts can be warm or icy, but when PhysOrg says “Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, icier than thought” they undoubtedly mean scientists were surprised (again).  Indeed, “A new analysis of topographic and gravity data from Titan, the largest of Saturn’s moons, indicates that Titan’s icy outer crust is twice as thick as has generally been thought.”  They didn’t specify the generals that thought that.  Orbital dynamics shows either that Titan is misbehaving, or its human trainers were caught unprepared:From measurements of the observed gravitational field of Titan, one can compute what the shape of Titan ought to be. But the new data show that Titan’s shape is much more distorted than would be predicted by a simple gravitational model. That discrepancy means the internal structure of Titan isn’t quite so simple.Crater survey:  Of many Titan conundrums (if the moon is as old as claimed) is its remarkable lack of craters.  Either most have been covered by geological processes or there never were many impacts—hard to believe for the moon with the most gravitational pull.  A new paper on Icarus found that most craters on Titan are shallower by hundreds of meters than similar ones on Ganymede, a comparably-sized moon at Jupiter.  They proposed “aeolian infilling” (wind-blown particles) as the mechanism – a hypothesis subject to critique by the rates of crater formation, wind speed, and distribution of atmospheric movement.  It might seem plausible, for instance, that if large craters formed in steady-state over billions of years, some would be deep and others shallow.Rate expectations:  As Titan moves into Saturnian autumn, dramatic changes can be seen in the atmosphere.  A press release from University of Bristol reported that the CIRS (Composite InfraRed Spectrometer) team “observed an enormous increase in Titan’s exotic trace gases over the south pole within a relatively short time.” The trace gases are formed by sunlight hitting Titan’s upper atmosphere, converting the methane into ions that recombine into complex gases like benzene and hydrogen cyanide.  “[W]e did not expect such a large and rapid change: some gas concentrations increased more than a thousand times within only a few months,”one team member said.  “Also surprising was that this was happening at altitudes above 450 km, much higher than initially anticipated.”Circulation models did not predict activity so high.  “This calls into question our current understanding of how Titan’s atmosphere works and suggests new avenues to explore.”  Needless to say, understanding that is called into question ceases to qualify as understanding.  Any replacement model will also have to explain how this erosive process could have been sustained over Titan’s presumed billions of years, assuming we are not observing it under unique circumstances.  Is it surprising that‘s coverage of this news began with the L-word?  “Saturn’s cloudy moon Titan has a middle atmosphere containing organic compounds that could hold the potential for life.”The surface methane age problem:  New papers come out occasionally trying to retrofit the data to falsified predictions that Titan would be found with a global ocean (it wasn’t).  One such attempt in Icarus presented a new model for the atmospheric and surface liquid concentrations.  They calculated that surface liquids should be dominated by ethane (56%) over methane (32%), with much lower concentrations at the poles.  This seems to run counter to the observational evidence, where the only lakes found are at the poles, but the model appears to only discuss ratios, not bulk quantities.  Another paper in Icarus proposed a wavelength-dependent model for methane photolysis, but more data is needed, they said.The atmospheric escape age problem:  Another paper in Icarus discussed the rate of thermal escape of hydrogen from Titan’s upper atmosphere, caused by solar wind bombardment of methane.  They found that dissipation of hydrogen and methane is similar to Jeans escape, meaning that molecules escape the atmosphere based on their kinetic energy derived from temperature.  Jeans escape is also a function of the mass of the molecule, atmospheric density and mass of the planetary body.  While the summary did not appear to discuss age issues, the authors said, “A global and temporal description is required to model Titan’s upper atmosphere.”Does Titan ice float?  A curious paper in Icarus asked whether ice would float in Titan’s polar seas.  The answer: maybe.  Under certain assumptions of porosity and density, methane and ethane ice chunks should float, but then again, they might alternately float and sink.  Maybe this will fuel dreams of an epic movie, The Titan-ic.It glows:  We close with a factoid to amuse your friends: Titan glows in the dark.  That’s what Astrobiology Magazine and Live Science claim, at least.  When charged particles hit the atmosphere, the nitrogen gas lights up like a fluorescent tube.  At a millionth of a watt, though, you couldn’t see it, even if floating in a balloon with a very thick Christmas sweater.  Contrary to expectations, some of this “airglow” comes from deep down in the atmosphere—too deep to be caused by solar radiation or magnetic fields.  Cosmic rays?  Chemical reactions?  Imaging scientist Robert West remarked, “It tells us that we don’t know all there is to know about Titan and makes it even more mysterious.”Titan remains a fascinating and enigmatic world, illustrating two common principles of planetary science: (1) Scientists never predict what they find, and (2) Data do not cooperate with long-age assumptions.  Everyone can agree that having raw data is much better than listening to groundless speculation.last_img read more

From security guard to CEO

first_img30 June 2003Some 20 years ago, a young Mogwailane Kenneth Mohlala left his rural homestead on the outskirts of Steelpoort in Limpopo Province for the beckoning lights of Johannesburg, City of Gold. Today Mohlala is acknowledged as the man who has made the city lights glow even brighter.His has been a spectacular rise – from a security guard to president and CEO of a company with an annual turnover in the region of R2.5-billion. Since his appointment two years ago as head of City Power, Johannesburg’s electricity utility, the company’s performance has improved dramatically.Mohlala’s achievements have not gone unnoticed. In 2002, the man known affectionately as MK scooped the Impumelelo Businessman of the Year Award and the African ICT Public Service Delivery Achievers Award.In 2001, when he took charge of City Power, Mohlala found staff morale at an all-time low. “There were a lot of inefficiencies in the system in terms of cost management and customer service management,” Mohlala recalls. “There was no expenditure on the network, as the operating and capital budgets were slashed.”With Mohlala at the helm, the company has recorded a dramatic turnaround, from an indifferent performance to a healthy R12-million profit after tax in its first year as a corporatised entity. The company’s capital expenditure in the 2003/2004 financial year is a massive R246-million.Mohlala attributes his success to his “street-wise” management style. “You can’t manage an organisation through textbooks,” says Mohlala. “You must apply your learning to your context. You must think on your feet and be decisive.”There is nothing like consensus management for Mohlala. “Managers fail because they are not decisive.” But he qualifies this: “Of course, you will be working within the rules of the organisation at all times.”Mohlala has also cultivated good relations with employees, and restored staff morale. “When I came in, I made sure that I met each of the 2 000 employees in person. Even today, I eat in the company canteen with the rest of the staff. Trade union leaders know my door is always open.”Mohlala started his working career as a security guard at Eskom College in 1984, where he powered his way through the ranks, reaching the position of customer service regional manager for the North West, Northern Cape and Free State. At the same time, he was studying through correspondence, completing a Bachelor of Administration degree. He is now on the verge of completing his MBA.Mohlala is also a non-executive director of seven companies and a chairman of two others. His activities are not confined to the boardroom, though. He is a gym fanatic, keen golfer and avid reader. “I read a lot of management books and magazines,” he says. He is also a regular speaker at conferences.A religious manOn Saturdays though, Mohlala can be seen clutching a Bible and dressed in a grey designer suit, white shirt and maroon tie – full church uniform – as he makes his way from his home in Glen Vista to the International Pentecostal Holiness Church in Zuurbekom, west of Johannesburg. This African independent sect advocates strong family values underpinned by polygamy.A profoundly religious man, Mohlala follows the teachings of the church to the letter. “I don’t smoke and I don’t drink.”Quizzed on whether he would consider taking a second wife, his response is categorical. “Absolutely. I believe in polygamy. It is better than cheating. It’s honest. I intend practising it.” But when asked whether he has anyone in mind, he responds with a chuckle: “No, I’m still searching.”According to Mohlala, his wife Melita, a highly qualified entrepreneur in the furniture business, would not object to him taking a second wife.Asked how he manages to juggle his diverse roles, Mohlala waxes philosophical: “If you want to get work done, give it to a busy man.”Changing mindsets at City PowerBut it is City Power that takes up most of his time and energy. “When I arrived, the company was structured as a city department, and the workers thought of themselves as municipal workers. They had a different focus and a different organisational culture.”Mohlala set to work, giving the organisation a corporate look and feel. He notes with pride the progress the company has made.“We have created a key customer section to service 11 000 of our major clients. Our call centre is up and running. There has been a substantial improvement in street lights across the city. We have converted our accounting system from Municipal Accounting to the General Accepted Accounting Practice (GAAP). We are also working on activities such as the management of overdue accounts. We have improved our database and the quality of our data management.”The company has also implemented a new billing system called SAP, which has led to revenue collection increasing to more than 95 percent.Proud of empowermentBut it is the company’s empowerment record that is the source of most pride to Mohlala. “We have put new structures in place and successfully positioned the company in relation to the government’s transformation agenda. We comply with the skills legislation and have made affirmative appointments.”He is quick to point out that City Power has exceeded the requirements of the Black Economic Empowerment Commission’s scorecard. According to Mohlala, the company spent R220-million in products and services procured from black companies in the last financial year, an improvement of some R40-million over the previous year.Most of the services engaged were in fields as varied as information technology, power restoration, meter reading and security. Mohlala expresses overall satisfaction with the performance of black companies contracted by City Power.In terms of City Power’s staff profile, Mohlala says 60 percent the staff in senior positions are now black. He expresses regret, however, that women still constitute only 18 percent of management in the organisation.He fiercely defends the virtues of affirmative action. “Oh yes, I’m a product of affirmative action,” he asserts. “I give tribute to those who died so that we can have a better life.”But Mohlala is not about to rest on his laurels. “We must continue to improve service delivery and satisfy customer service.”Mohlala is quick to acknowledge the challenges facing the company. The company loses over R200-million as a result of non-technical losses – losses incurred as a result of illegal connections to the system and cable theft. Defaulting ratepayers also owe some R270-million to City Power, and “a more concerted effort must be made to collect the debt”, Mohlala says.But Mohlala is unfazed by these challenges. “I’m a workaholic and I have a passion for life. But I also make time to be on my own. It helps me to reflect, to take stock of what I do. I only participate in activities that add value to my life.”Source: City of Johannesburg websitelast_img read more