Three communities were awarded grants this week by the Vermont Downtown Development Board to fund local infrastructure improvements such as new sidewalks, signage and streetlights.The Vermont Downtown Development Board announced the awards totaling $127,594 on Monday for Morrisville, Rutland City and St. Albans City. The funds, which are from the state’s Downtown Transportation Fund, are available to communities that are part of the Vermont Downtown Program. Established in 1994, the Vermont Downtown Program helps invest in the economic growth and cultural landscape of Vermont’s cities, villages and towns. Funding Awards:Morrisville – $27,594 for sidewalk reconstruction on and around Main Street and Pleasant Street, as well as new sidewalk and streetlights on Portland Street. Matching funds were provided by the town, as well as $15,000 in private donations to the community’s downtown organization. This project continues the town’s efforts to improve pedestrian access within their downtown.Rutland City – $25,000 for phase 2 of the city’s new wayfinding signage program to direct visitors to downtown destinations such as the Paramount Theater, the Amtrak train station and local shops.St Albans City – $75,000 for new streetlights along Main Street, as part of a larger $1.5 million project to improve the city’s pedestrian infrastructure, including outdoor dining, trees and broader sidewalks in downtown. ‘These are terrific projects that recognize the importance of high-quality pedestrian amenities in support of downtown business development,’ said Noelle Mackay, Commissioner of the Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development and Chair of the Downtown Development Board. ‘The board is pleased to be able to support these projects, and to recognize the energy and commitment in each community that makes our downtowns so special.’ The Vermont Downtown Development Board also renewed the village center designation on Monday for Enosburg Falls, West Rutland, Royalton and South Royalton, which are four of the 102 village centers participating in the Vermont Downtown Program. Downtowns and village centers that are part of the Vermont Downtown Program are eligible for a number of benefits, including tax credits, loans and grants from various state agencies to help enhance economic opportunities, preserve historic buildings and improve infrastructure in core areas.For more information, visit www.historicvermont.org/programs/downtown.html(link is external).
BOGOTÁ — Soldiers stretch on the parade grounds and playing field of the Escuela de Ingenieros Militares as if preparing for a sporting event. Lighthearted banter fills the Bogotá morning air. But despite appearances, serious work has begun: these are military personnel who have been injured and, in many cases, severely maimed by landmines. All but one of Colombia’s 32 departments are cursed with landmines, and at Bogota’s Centro de Rehabilitacion del Ejercito (CRE), everyone is all too aware of the damage and suffering wrought by these instruments of war. The clinic, officially known as the Batallón de Sanidad, serves as an office and rehabilitation center and is manned by doctors, therapists, social workers, orthopedic surgeons, psychiatrists and physiotherapists. All these health professionals are here to attend to those wounded by homemade landmines that plague Colombia’s rural areas. No single armed group in Colombia is solely responsible for these artisanal “quiebrapatas” or leg breakers, constructed from deadly explosives and hidden in ordinary household containers like plastic bottles and bags to waterproof them. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the paramilitaries typically use the same approach: place these booby-trapped devices to inflict as many casualties as possible, chasing villagers from strategic positions. In many cases, landmines have been hidden on or near paths leading to a town’s water source. Now, the Colombian Army’s Engineering Division – and the “Coronel Gabino Gutiérrez” Battalion in particular, which is dedicated to demining secured towns and rural areas – has taken on the role of “humanitarian demining.” But there still is much work to do. This year, Cadena’s team hopes to finish demining the towns of Zambrano in Bolivar, Carmen de Chucuri in Santander and Granada in Antioquía. Overall, 72 municipalities in 12 departments across Colombia have been given priority for this project. The key, said Cadena, is that each of these towns receiving humanitarian aid from military engineers must promise to reactivate the local economy. For example, Granada — in the department of Antioquía — is located just eight miles from the main highway linking Bogotá and Medellín. Due to Granada’s precarious situation, this short trip over mountainous terrain used to take six hours. Now, says Cadena, “it can be done in 40 minutes.” Antioquia is relatively accessible compared to the other Colombian departments most affected by mines – Putumayo, Cauca, Caqueta, Nariño, Meta and Norte de Santander. Virtually all of Colombia’s landmines are found in these mountainous, rural areas. The complexities of the civil conflict and the topography make the military engineers’ jobs particularly tough. And three years of heavy rains have triggered landslides throughout Colombia, displacing landmines and shifting their positions significantly. San Carlos is a success story Demining process continues in earnest While spirits are high here around the sports field, and those soldiers fortunate enough to have survived landmine explosions are under constant supervision, Ortiz observes that “each exploded mine, in general, represents one death and one injured.” And this is where Maj. Sara Reyes takes over as the leading physician in charge of rehabilitation here in Bogotá. As a veteran doctor with 14 years of military experience under her belt, the major has pretty much seen everything. “The issue with landmine victims is that this is an injury with massive impact but — over time and after rehabilitation — one which causes the least limitations in the victim’s lifestyle. Most of our soldiers injured by landmines who arrive here are between 16 and 29 years old, and this gives them far more opportunity to recuperate well.” So far this year, Reyes has treated 56 amputation cases; that compares to 274 cases in 2011. “A soldier’s recuperation owes a great deal to his or her personality and desire,” she said. “If that soldier does not have the emotional capacity or willpower, we cannot progress.” Interesting article, but I would like to get something straight: all the images that are shown here, were taken in the Health Battalion of the National Army, not at the Military Hospital. Thanks a lot. You are all so cute, killing yourselves for our peace. This ambitious effort differs from conventional military practice in that three steps take place before demining begins, said Col. Carlos Ivan Cadena Montenegro, commanding officer in charge of the humanitarian demining division. “In March 2011 we were able to completely rid perhaps one of Colombia’s most violent towns — San Carlos, Antioquía — of landmines,” he said. “It was the first town to achieve this status in Colombia. First, the town had been secured from all aggressors. In the case of San Carlos, the local FARC militia had demobilized, permitting us access. Second, the municipality requested our help, and third, we can ensure there will be no further conflict in this town.” San Carlos was an extreme situation, he said, passed back and forth between FARC guerrillas, ELN rebels and then various paramilitaries over the years. Even the town’s central plaza – just 67 miles from the bustling city of Medellin, and neighboring the popular weekend destination and resort town of Guatape – had to be demined. “We were able to secure the return of 2,500 displaced families to San Carlos, a total of 10,000 people driven from their homes,” Cadena said. The Presidential Program for Comprehensive Action Against Antipersonnel Mines (PAICMA) estimates that 65 per cent of all municipalities in the country are affected by landmines. And at least 9,884 soldiers and civilians have been victimized by landmines since 1990, according to PAICMA – including 2,204 in Antioquía alone. At least 1,065 Colombians were killed or maimed in 2005 by stepping on mines — more than either Afghanistan or Cambodia, countries that have been ravaged by civil war. FARC, ELN and other violent groups have planted more than an estimated 100,000 explosive devices to protect cocaine crops. Many soldiers stationed in troubled areas and subsequently injured by landmines end up in the CRE’s Batallon de Sanidad in Bogotá. Col. Javier Ignacio Ortíz Rozo, the commanding officer in charge of the Batallon de Sanidad, is a much sought-after man. All medical staff and wounded servicemen here report to him. “The degree of rehabilitation required depends wholly on the amputation and the soldier’s state of mind,” said Ortíz, who deals not only with amputees from landmines but also victims of leishmaniasis and post-traumatic stress disorder. “On average, most servicemen stay here for six months before they are well enough to leave. We treat between 230 and 250 soldiers annually who have been injured by landmines.” Ortíz’s job is no easy task and not one he can leave behind at the base when he goes home each evening. “I have to treat each person the same as I would anyone else, amputee or not,” he said. “If I don’t force them to get up out of their wheelchair and engage in rehabilitation, they will never succeed.” PAICMA: Nearly 10,000 landmine victims since 1990 By Dialogo June 18, 2012 Attitude is everything when it comes to recovery
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — You get the sense Terrell Suggs would have made one heck of a professional wrestler in another life, walking to the ring while playing to the crowd — the man everybody loves to hate.That hatred pulsates nowhere quite like it does at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, where the Ravens linebacker’s impact is very real, unlike the heel wrestler cutting a scripted promo or using a steel folding chair when the referee isn’t looking.Suggs is perfectly fine with the hostility and the crude gestures. In fact, he loves it all.“This is my Madison Square Garden,” Suggs said. “I love playing in this stadium. I love the way the people treat me, the welcoming they give me with the [No. 1 fingers] — think of it. I love it. We’re going on the road in probably the toughest stadium to play in in the NFL. We’re expecting a physical football game, and this is football. I guarantee you the NFL, the world will stop for this game, and everybody wants to see it.”Though not quite the Super Bowl — or Wrestlemania, for that matter — all eyes will be glued to the Ravens’ second meeting with the Steelers on Sunday night with Suggs figuring to play a prominent role as he always does against Pittsburgh. Past characters such as Shannon Sharpe, Tony Siragusa, and Chris McAlister have long moved on, but Suggs still carries the torch as the loudest talker on the Baltimore side of the biggest rivalry going in the NFL.And the 28-year-old linebacker expects an angry Pittsburgh team with the bad taste of a 35-7 beating the Ravens gave them in Baltimore less than two months ago still lingering in the Steelers’ mouths.“They’ve already declared war on us,” Suggs said. “We’re taking 53 men to the apocalypse and we ain’t bringing flowers. We’re going to make it as hard as we can for them to get organized.”If anybody can say whatever he wants to Pittsburgh, it’s the one-man wrecking crew Suggs has been against Ben Roethlisberger. Including the playoffs, Suggs has sacked the Steelers quarterback 15 1/2 times, the most any NFL defender has gotten to the two-time Super Bowl winner.Suggs has accumulated 13 1/2 sacks in 17 regular-season games against Pittsburgh, the most he has against any opponent and the most any active player has collected against the Steelers. The trend continued in Week 1 as the four-time Pro Bowl linebacker compiled three sacks and forced two fumbles to earn AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in the dominating victory in Baltimore.His six sacks has led a renaissance in the Baltimore pass rush in which the Ravens have collected 25 sacks through their first seven games, the best start in franchise history and two fewer sacks than the defense had all of last season. While Suggs has likely benefited from improved outputs by other veterans and contributions from young players, there’s no doubt the Ravens’ leading pass rusher makes the job of everyone else far easier.“We’ve had more one-on-one wins,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Our pass rushers have done a better job of winning some one-on-one battles. That’s all those guys. You look at the young guys along with Terrell Suggs, all those guys have done a good job in one-on-one situations of beating the man over them.”In his last trip to Heinz Field, the Ravens’ 31-24 divisional playoff loss last January, Suggs tallied a playoff career-high three sacks, which trumped his previous two-sack performance in the 2008 AFC Championship game in Pittsburgh.Even with tremendous individual success against Pittsburgh, the hunger is visible in Suggs’ eyes as he talks about the Ravens’ aspirations to reach the Super Bowl, acknowledging the team standing in their way nearly every season. Metaphors and WWE promos aside, the facts are very real when it comes to the Ravens’ past failures against Pittsburgh when it matters most.Continue >>>