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Puerto Rican Is Army’s Soldier Of The Year…Acevedo Confident Of Federal Wildlife Legislation For El Yunque…19 Fewer Murders Than Last Year…Comptroller: SJ Racks Up "Extravagant" Expenses…Green Party Says Urban Model Must Change…Rullan Warns About Dangers Of Generators…Prepa Claims Victory: Over 75% Have Power

Puerto Rican Selected As Army’s Soldier Of The Year

September 21, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Puerto Rican Wilfredo Mendez was honored as the Soldier of the Year by the U.S. Army, beating 20 other finalists in various physical and mental tests.

Mendez, a native of Rio Grande, was stationed in Corea del Sur with the Third Batallion of Military Intelligence, where he worked as a communications intelligence analyst, the Army said in a statement.

Mendez competed in one week at Fort Lee in Virginia, where he submitted physical fitness tests, a written exam, an essay about military themes, tests of combat skill, day and night tests, and a six-mile march in open country, among other tests.

The final test was an extensive oral exam before a military board headed by the Sergeant Major of the Army, Kenneth O. Preston.

Acevedo Vila Confident In Federal Legislation For El Yunque

September 21, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila announced on Tuesday that a federal Senate committee has approved a bill that would confer maximum environmental protection to the 10,000 acres of land that make up El Yunque.

Acevedo Vila said that the bill, ratified last Wednesday by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee of the Senate included an area of El Yunque in the National System for the Preservation of Wildlife. It will be up for consideration before a Senate board "soon," though an exact date is not known.

"I think that we have to deliver this legislation for the President’s signature before the end of the year," Acevedo Vila, the Popular Democratic candidate for governor, said in a statement.

19 Fewer Murders Registered Than Last Year

September 21, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — The number of murders already this year has reached 584, some 19 less than were registered last year by the same date, the police announced Tuesday.

The police zone with the highest number of murders is San Juan with 169, while the zone with the fewest is Utuado, with one.

According to police statistics, the police zone which has registered the biggest improvement is Carolina, with 27 murders less than last year.

Meanwhile, the Ponce command headquarters registered an increase of 27 violent deaths in comparison to 2003, authorities said.

[Police in the U.S. Caribbean territory reported 780 homicides last year. Authorities say most of the violence is related to the drug trade.

In July, Gov. Sila Calderón deployed National Guard troops to help police patrol San Juan and other areas on the island of four million residents. Since then, the homicide rate has tapered off.]

Comptroller Says San Juan Racks Up "Extravagant" Expenses

September 21, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — The municipality of San Juan, headed by Mayor Jorge Santini, has incurred extravagant expenses, the possible illegal use of public funds for political profits and bad management in the awarding of public contracts, according to a report by the commonwealth comptroller.

The document covers the use of more than $7 million in events and publicity as well as the possible awarding of political privileges to the committee organized the welcoming acts for former governor Pedro Rossello.

"The mayor moved away from the rules of the administration and from the austerity that should prevail in the use of public funds," the report says.

The expenses include the Miss Universe 2002 contest, in which $5.8 million in public funds were spent, despite the fact that "the city did not receive direct profits."

The capital’s deputy mayor Alfredo Escalera rejected the comptroller’s charges and said he thought the audits of the office had a "narrow vision."

"In our preliminary inspection we do not agree with the charges that they are making," he said.

Escalera also said that the report could be prompted by political motivations.

Commonwealth Comptroller Manuel Díaz Saldaña was named in 1997 during the New Progressive administration of Pedro Rossello.

Green Party Says Urban Model Must Change

September 20, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - The green party "Puertorriqueños por Puerto Rico" (PPR) announced on Sunday that damages caused by tropical storm Jeanne are evidence that it is necessary to change the island’s urban development model to adapt to atmospheric events that happen frequently on the island.

The president of PPR, Rogelio Figueroa, criticized the main political parties for their efforts to define the issue of status, relegating to "a secondary plan" projects related to urban planning, natural resources and maintaining buildings.

"Our current urban plan is characterized by a mess of housing, electrical wires and water pipes, which makes our island very vulnerable to weather and storms, so we have a giant tangle of facilities that are extremely exposed and difficult to maintain," Figueroa said.

The urban model of the environmental party calls for establishing "reforested pedestrian cities," that serve as a means of group transportation.

Health Secretary Warns About Dangers Of Generators

September 20, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - After two people dies on Saturday, presumably asphyxiated by gases released from an electric generator, Health Secretary Johnny Rullan on Sunday made an announcement about the dangers of carbon monoxide that can be emitted by the devices.

To avoid a dangerous situation, Rullan advised placing generators in well-ventilated areas and never in closed spaces.

"People should take every precaution when they use electric generators. They are emitting carbon monoxide gases that, sometimes, can have a detrimental effect on health, causing poisoning, and sometimes, death," he said.

The Health Secretary also urged people not to use generators without constant supervision, especially at night.

Prepa Claims Victory: More Than 75% Have Power Restored

September 20, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — The executive director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) said that the public company has surpassed the goal of restoring service to 75% of its clients during the weekend.

Rosario said that work is continuing to reestablish more service in the next 48 hours, however he said that some areas may take a little more time.

"We have 30 million distribution lines throughout the island with many small areas and we are working carefully to bring power to them in the shortest time possible," he said.

Currently, he said, there are 1,162,360 clients with working service, or 83 percent.

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