Jardim’s Helping Hand ; Abandoned Heritage ; Free Dental Check Ups ; Culture Tourism Plan

(30th September). ‘President For Teachers Defends Against Insinuation – In The Jornal da Madeira, Jardim encouraged the president of SPM not to forget who helped in her election. Marília Azevedo reacts’. The president of the Teachers Union of Madeira (SPM) reacted with a certain irony to the suggestion of Alberto João Jardim, who expressed an opinion in an article published yesterday in the ‘JM’, which alludes to some help, not specified, that was supposed to have led Marília Azevedo to victory in the election for the presidency of the union. "Dr. Alberto João is a lawyer, so he did not vote for me for sure", she said, noting that only teachers in the union could vote in that election. Therefore, she says that she has no knowledge "to whom he is referring" in his article.  She added that his statement did not bother her and she will not waste "a lot of time thinking about it, because it is an opinion". Jardim made the insinuation after the union expressed concerns about the fact that teachers career progressions had been stalled since 2005.

‘Manor House Donated To The Region Falls Into Abandonment – The ‘Solar do Aposento’, in Ponta Delgada, is shown in the guide books, but the tourists knock on the door with their noses’. The north coast historic building was given to Madeira 6 years ago, that is also known as the Museum of D. Hilária Freitas, is part of Madeira’s heritage, but it is abandoned and the maintenance neglected, and outside the weeds are taking control. The building is also not secure with old doors and windows, and there are fears for the security of the contents. The Solar was bequeathed to Madeira by the owner, who died in 2003. It is a building of 18th century civil architecture, and contains works of arts, antique furniture, chandeliers, and religious artefacts. It was officially adopted as a "property of public interest and local value" by the government in 2002. Ponta Delgada council are talking about it’s use as an old peoples home, and this could happen by 2011. ‘Knock on the door with their noses’ .. what a wonderful expression. I must remember that one next time the postman says he called (leaving a card) but no one was home, when for sure I was.

In today’s football headline : ‘Marítimo Not Rushed For Manager – SAD maritimista presents €1.4 million of losses’. At the general assembly of the club, attended by 92% of its capital holders, Marítimo declared losses of €1.4 million for the last season. The temporary coach appointed this week for Marítimo’s first team is also staying in charge of the ‘B’ team, and will remain in charge until a new coach with a proven track record can be appointed. Just as well Marítimo didn’t have to pay for it’s stadium then, or the €45 million needed to revamp it, thanks to Madeira’s government and taxpayers, otherwise the end of season accounts would have looked much much different.

‘Culture is the new ‘trump card’ for the promotion of Madeira – Department of Tourism increases its investment in the domestic market. Exhibition, theatre [?] and a new mini-series of TVI were some of the initiatives of the campaign launched on Tuesday in Lisbon’. In order to raise the awareness of the richness and cultural vitality of Madeira, the secretary of tourism, in partnership with the Department of Education and Culture will promote an exhibition of pieces from various museums on Madeira, in the Ajuda Palace, in Lisbon. Madeira has also been confirmed as a venue for a new mini-series on TVI (channel 4). These initiatives are part of the package that the government is banking on to attract tourists from Portugal to our region. In the latter case, the belief that the national TV series made here, Flor do Mar, has already increased tourism and warrants further exploring. As well as a new advertising campaign presented in Lisbon yesterday, the half yearly tourism figures were presented, showing a 15% rise in tourists coming from Portugal, with over 30,000 more coming here. Over the last two years, around 220 to 230 thousand Portuguese have come each year, increasing Madeira’s share of the domestic market. Another article talks about the initiatives outlined costing €680,000.

The new mini-series set on Madeira will run when the existing soap ‘Flor do Mar’ has finished, and filming will start in November. The new series doesn’t yet have a name, but will be the project of TVI, as was Flor do Mar, that received some funding from the Madeira government.

"One Doesn’t Even Make A Cêntimo For A Coffee" – Taxi drivers of Porto Moniz pass through days without having a fare’. The Diário’s featured location this week, covers the taxi drivers plight, where they go days without a customer and have weeks where they earn little more than €5. The crisis has not helped. The two drivers interviewed say they are tired of spending the day sitting on the rank at the Praça do Lyra, and also complain about the transport service provided for the sick, saying that the ambulance charges twice the price per kilometre that they do. The traders of Praça do Lyra are also suffering, with one seller of regional handicrafts saying his sales have dropped by 25%. Limited car parking also affects business.

‘PSP seized 300 doses of cocaine and €1500 resulting from drug trafficking – Officers from the Funchal Police detained a foreign individual and identified two drug drug addicts. The alleged activity was operating in the area of Avenida Arriaga’. Police intercepted on Sunday morning a male of foreign nationality in possession of several packages of cocaine and €1,500 in cash, allegedly resulting from illegal activity. Police had spotted a number of individuals seemingly buying / selling drugs and moved in. Subsequently they identified a house used for transactions, and in the house was found a precision scale, a prohibited weapon, several mobile phones and money. The individual detained is now subject to weekly reporting at a police station until investigations are complete.

12 suspected Gripe A cases were tested on Madeira in the last week, but only one man of 46 years from Venezuela was found to test positive for swine flu. He was taken into intensive care, but his condition is stable. That takes the total from the beginning to just 40 confirmed cases, with just one case in two weeks. Early days I know, but isn’t it reassuring that we are in the lucky position of knowing the age, sex, and nationality of all our Gripe A victims, whilst other countries have lists amounting to hundreds or thousands on a weekly basis. Just doing my bit in case any potential ‘non infected’ tourists come across this posting and fancy paying us a visit.

‘Oral Health Month Also On Madeira – 17 dentists on Madeira and Porto Santo join the initiative running during October’. In order to prevent oral diseases and improve education for proper oral hygiene among the Portuguese population, Colgate and the Portuguese Society of Estomatologia?? and Dental Medicine (SPEMD) are carrying out in October the 10th edition of "Oral Health Month". 15 of the dentists are in Funchal. They will be available next month to do free dental check ups (without treatment or radiographic examination). The annual initiative has allowed so far 95,000 free check ups since it’s first year, and more dentists are joining up. The main conclusion from 2008 was that less than 1% of adults have completely healthy gums and teeth.

Next Tuesday the cruise ship ‘Black Prince’ arrives in Funchal on its 594th and final visit. The ship has been in service nearly 43 years. Several initiatives are being planned to mark the final visit, including a short lecture on the ‘Black Prince’, which will take place tomorrow, 1st October at 18:30 pm, in the auditorium of FNAC in Madeira Shopping. The ship has been sold to a Venezuelan company, and it expected to remain in tourism activities.

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