Government-backed “North Sea Transition Deal” needed to aid UK oil and gas workforceOGUK noted that the official figures on both on and offshore employment would not be available until next year.But it said the tentative signs are “worrying” and underline the need for governments, industry and regulators to work together to protect the jobs and skills that will be needed to meet the UK’s energy needs now and as the country “moves to a lower carbon future”.Dr Thom believes a “North Sea Transition Deal”, supported by the UK and Scottish governments, can “act as a catalyst for this future”, and in so doing will “provide certainty on the sustainability for the sector in difficult times”. The OGUK report notes that the large reductions in global energy demand resulting from measures to restrict the spread of the virus “depressed commodity prices severely, threatening the viability of some operations” (Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Ralf Roletschek) The offshore oil and gas workforce in the UK has fallen by more than a third since the coronavirus pandemic began in March.According to official figures released today (27 October) by industry body Oil and Gas UK (OGUK), the number of workers on oil and gas installations at sea decreased by about 4,000 since Britain first entered into a nationwide lockdown to help contain the spread of the virus.OGUK said the average weekly personnel on board decreased from about 11,000 on the 8 March to just over 7,000 one month later, with drilling and engineering construction trades the “hardest hit”. Oil and Gas UK figures show the average weekly personnel on board installations decreased from about 11,000 on the 8 March to just over 7,000 one month later Uptake of the “Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme” recordedThe industry body’s Workforce Insight report 2020 also confirmed there has been an “uptake” of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme by companies, particularly in the supply chain, as many “positioned themselves to endure the triple whammy of low oil and gas prices and the operational impact of the coronavirus pandemic”.Dr Alix Thom, report author and OGUK workforce engagement and skills manager, said: “Our figures confirm the initial operational impact of the lockdown back in March this year, with the number of workers offshore decreasing considerably in the space of a month as companies reduced to minimum manning in a bid to control the spread.“Numbers have risen steadily since then as industry has adopted a robust Swiss cheese barrier model, with a range of preventative measures in place both prior to mobilisation and while offshore, which has helped secure more jobs and increase operations in the immediate term.“Despite this, we continue to see some very worrying signs for employment in the sector, with the uptake of furlough and continued suppression of global energy demand impacting our industry like many others in the wider economy.“As our report shows, the recruitment and retention of diverse and talented people will be essential as we work to support UK energy needs both now, and in a lower carbon context.”
Chancellor Philip Hammond has made several key housing announcements that will impact both the sales and lettings sectors of industry and which he said was part of a £44 billion package.“House prices are increasingly out of reach for many and it takes too long to save for a deposit and rent absorbs too much of people’s ability to save for a deposit,” he said during his speech.The most important of these is that Stamp Duty is to be abolished for first time buyers and, in more expensive areas of the UK such as London, the first £300,000 of a property’s sale value exempted from Stamp Duty, if priced less than £500,000.This, the chancellor said, would remove any Stamp Duty obligations for 80% of first time buyers.Other measures included enabling councils to charge a 100% council tax premium on empty properties – which may force many landlords to either rent out their properties or sell them.“Penalising empty home owners with a 100% council tax premium is unlikely to really be a deterrent for people who are likely to be high net worth,” says Nick Leeming, Chairman of Jackson-Stops.“If they don’t need the rent, this penalty probably won’t bother them either.”The Chancellor announced a building target of 300,000 new homes per year by the mid 2020s – a variation of a policy already announced.Longer tenanciesPhilip Hammond also revealed that the government will look to encourage longer tenancies by incentivising landlords to offer them – although no concrete plans were revealed.“From our research, we find that the majority of tenants are just as likely as their landlords to prefer the flexibility afforded by six-month break clauses,” says Will Handley, Managing Director of recently-launched online lettings platform Homerenter (pictured, left).“So, whilst long-term tenancies can be of real financial benefit and security to both parties, we don’t see a one-size-fits-all approach working.”There was good news for letting agents worried about the introduction of Universal Credit, which the government is to spend £1.5 billion on to make payment fairer and quicker, Hammond said.This includes removing the seven-day waiting period which, many agents had been worrying, would lead to mass evictions of tenants on Universal Credit who were then unable to pay their rent.The issue has been much debated recently. A letting agent in Grimsby last week revealed that he had sent out hundreds of pre-emptive letters to his tenants ahead of the Universal Credit roll-out due to take place in the town on December 13th. Credit competitionOne surprise initiative in the Budget is a £2 million Fintech competition to help tenant creditworthiness by developing ideas to help them add their rent to their credit histories.“Rather than wasting £2m on a competition, the solution already exists,” says Sheraz Dar, CEO of CreditLadder.“We are already helping thousands of tenants have their on-time rental payments taken into account.”Industry reactionDavid Westgate, Group Chief Executive at Andrews Property Group“Being a regular commentator on the need for Stamp Duty to be reformed, it is encouraging to see that the Chancellor has announced that stamp duty will be abolished for first time buyers on property purchases of up to £300,000 and for higher value areas such as London, on the first £300,000 of a property’s price.“It doesn’t, however, go far enough in my view.“Stamp Duty is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, obstacles in getting our housing market really moving and I, along with many others, would have welcomed the removal, or at least reduction, of the surcharge on second properties.”Doug Crawford, CEO of My Home Move“The Chancellor has pledged to make the dream of home ownership a reality for all generations, and scrapping SDLT for first-time buyers will undoubtedly be welcomed whole-heartedly by those struggling to get onto the property ladder.“However, Britain needs to build, and while a new funding package for UK property development is a stride in the right direction, it will only help tackle our housing crisis if it is invested in the right places.The UK has been scraping the bottom of the barrel for affordable housing stock over recent years and it is vital that increased investment is used wisely to tackle such depleted supply.”Nick Leeming, Chairman of Jackson-Stops“I do feel the Chancellor has missed a trick by failing to reduce stamp duty levels across the board.“Stamp duty levels have acted as a brake across the entire market preventing the likes of downsizers and second-steppers from making their moves.“The housing market must be viewed as a whole, and comprehensive stamp duty reform would have increased overall fluidity to the benefit of all buyers.” Miles Shipside, Rightmove“First-time-buyers should think about acting quickly to take advantage of this stamp duty ban, before the extra demand it creates pushes up prices and starts to eat away at the extra cash this Stamp Duty exemption will free up.“The Government has already put buy-to-let landlords on the back foot with its 3% Stamp Duty surcharge, so this extra advantage of no stamp duty gives first-time-buyers an extra edge.” Ian Westerling, Managing Director of Humberts“The Chancellor is sensibly trying to secure the youth vote with housing measures aimed directly at them.“The £300,000 cut off for stamp duty is a positive measure, one which should help to give our first time buyers a leg up on to the property ladder.“Choosing to build is as always welcomed, however building 300,000 new homes every year by the mid 2020’s seems optimistic.” Matt Robinson, CEO of online firm Nested“Families in cities like London have been hung out to dry by Philip Hammond in today’s Budget, as he doesn’t do nearly enough to solve the capital’s stagnant market.“By only introducing cuts in Stamp Duty for properties under £500,000, the vast majority of London buyers will remain heavily penalised, where a modest family home can easily go for over one million pounds.“The Chancellor failed to provide any solution for those already on the property ladder and reliant on quick sales to downsize or move into their dream home. Far more still needs to be done to aid affordability and loosen up the market.” Mark Hayward, CEO of NAEA Propertymark“The announcement today from the Government to abolish stamp duty for FTBs will have a positive impact on the market.It’s a smart move to ensure the dream of homeownership for young people can become a reality and will help buyers across the UK, including London and the South East where property prices are higher.“We do however need to realise that this move will increase the demand for FTB properties and if we don’t have the supply it will push prices up. We have seen this in areas where Help to Buy is offered, as it attracts a great deal of interest from FTBs.” affordable housing Autumn budget 2017 Budget 2017 Budget 2017 Autumn Chancellor Philip Hammond November 22, 2017Nigel LewisWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021 Hong Kong remains most expensive city to rent with London in 4th place30th April 2021 Home » News » Budget 2017 – big news for first time buyers, landlords and tenants previous nextRegulation & LawBudget 2017 – big news for first time buyers, landlords and tenantsPhilip Hammond has today announced a raft of housing measures, the biggest of which will abolish Stamp Duty for 80% of first time buyers.Nigel Lewis22nd November 2017010,595 Views
While this position will be primarily based in Parkersburg, but theparticipation in the research, clinical and academic activities atthe flagship hospital is encouraged. The Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery of the WVUSchool of Medicine and the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute isactively recruiting a board certified/eligible General ThoracicSurgeon qualified for appointment at either the AssistantProfessor, Associate Professor, or Professor rank as a chief ofthoracic surgery for Camden Clark Medical Center in Parkersburg,WV. The candidate will be joining a group of internationallyrenowned academic thoracic surgeons who are part of the WVUHeart and Vascular Institute and Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center.The advance training or competency in minimally invasive lung andesophageal surgery is required. In addition to providingexcellent patient care, the successful candidate will be activelyinvolved in the teaching of medical students, residents, andcardiothoracic surgery fellows.This opportunity enables you to join a renowned team of surgeonsand medical and radiation oncologists and others making anextraordinary difference in the lives of patients not only locally,but across our entire state. Ours is a collaborative atmospherethat allows you to practice advanced medicine in a highlysatisfying academic environment. Our mission is to provide the bestpossible cancer care for our patients. We do so by recruiting someof the finest physicians from across the country – men and womenwho are often recognized leaders in their specialty orsubspecialty; investing heavily in new technology; and placing thehighest emphasis on achieving great quality outcomes. Nestled within a community of about 90,000 residents, the city ofParkersburg is centrally located in the Mid-Ohio Valley alongthe Ohio River. Parkersburg provides low crime rates, lowcommuting times, and state-of-the-art healthcare facilities,combined with lower-than-average cost of living, excellenteducation systems, and an abundance of close-proximity outdooractivities. The area is a premier choice to raise a family, retire,or just enjoy a better overall quality of life. Because of itsconvenient location, Parkersburg is a short drive to multiple majormetropolitan areas such as Columbus, OH and Pittsburgh, PA.Successful candidates must have an MD or DO degree (the employeraccepts foreign educational equivalent) and be eligible to obtainan unrestricted West Virginia medical license. Candidates must beboard-certified or board eligible in thoracic surgery. For additional questions or to send your CV, please contactKelli Piccirillo, Senior Physician Recruiter, [email protected] & UHA are AA/EO employer –Minority/Female/Disability/Veteran – and WVU is the recipient of anNSF ADVANCE award for gender equity. Build your legacy as you serve, teach, learn and make a differencefrom day one. To learn more, visit http://wvumedicine.org/heart/ WVU Medicine is West Virginia University’s affiliated healthsystem, West Virginia’s largest private employer, and a nationalleader in patient safety and quality. WVUH provides the mostadvanced quaternary level of care available to the citizens of WestVirginia and bordering states. With more than 13,000 employees and$2 billion plus in annual revenues, WVU Medicine is West Virginia’spremier academic health system and provider of advanced specialtycare. WVU Medicine includes the specialists, sub-specialists, andprimary care physicians of West Virginia; the WVU Cancer Institute;the WVU Eye Institute; the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute; andeight West Virginia hospitals and their affiliated practices andclinics. WVU Medicine also includes dozens of medical offices and adiverse network of affiliated organizations. Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals withDisabilities.Please view Equal Employment Opportunity Posters provided byOFCCP here .The contractor will not discharge or in any other mannerdiscriminate against employees or applicants because they haveinquired about, discussed, or disclosed their own pay or the pay ofanother employee or applicant. However, employees who have accessto the compensation information of other employees or applicants asa part of their essential job functions cannot disclose the pay ofother employees or applicants to individuals who do not otherwisehave access to compensation information, unless the disclosure is(a) in response to a formal complaint or charge, (b) in furtheranceof an investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, including aninvestigation conducted by the employer, or (c) consistent with thecontractor’s legal duty to furnish information. 41 CFR60-1.35(c)
By DONALD WITTKOWSKI and MADDY VITALEOzzy, OC, Tilda and the other raptors that have been spending part of their summer working in Ocean City may stay on the job a little bit longer.That is great news for Ocean City’s tourists. However, it is terrible for the seagulls.Ocean City is using the trained raptors to chase away the swarms of dive-bombing gulls that swoop in to snatch pizza, French fries and other food from unsuspecting beachgoers and people strolling the Boardwalk.Ozzy the owl, OC the hawk, Tilda the falcon and other birds of prey owned by East Coast Falcons, a company hired by the city to frighten the pesky gulls, work each day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The falcons and hawks fly around during the daytime shift, while the owl takes over at night.Encouraged by the success of the gull-abatement program, Ocean City Business Administrator George Savastano said city officials are thinking about keeping the raptors around longer.Originally, the agreement with East Coast Falcons was to have the raptors patrol the skies until Labor Day.Now, there is discussion about keeping them around through Columbus Day weekend, coinciding with the Fall Block Party on Oct. 12, an event that traditionally draws tens of thousands of visitors to town.“That’s what we are thinking,” Savastano said.Handler P.J. Simonis gets ready to send a hawk out on a late afternoon flight.While noting the success of using raptors to scare the gulls, Savastano said, “It seems like we hit a home run with our first choice.”Savastano also discussed other ways the city is battling the gulls. They include making sure that trash cans are covered and working with Boardwalk merchants to provide enclosed food containers for people’s takeout meals.“The gulls realized very quickly it is a very easy food source,” Savastano noted of the Boardwalk fare.Besides keeping the gulls at bay, the bird abatement program has also benefited the city by generating tons of positive publicity both nationally and internationally.“It’s certainly the most publicity we have had because it’s unique,” Savastano said, referring to the extensive news coverage.Ocean City is the first coastal community in New Jersey to use raptors to startle the bothersome gulls. The gulls are not killed. Instead, they are scared away from areas that are popular with the summer crowds.“This one has been working out fantastic,” Erik Swanson, owner of East Coast Falcons, told members of City Council of the efforts to drive the gulls back into their natural habitat, the ocean and bays.In what was certainly an unprecedented appearance by an owl in City Council Chambers, Swanson brought Ozzy with him while giving a report to the governing body and Mayor Jay Gillian during a meeting on Aug. 22.“OC” the hawk gets ready to take flight.The city is paying East Coast Falcons $2,100 per day to have the raptors patrol the skies over the entire island, particularly the tourist-friendly beaches and Boardwalk.While the original plan was to keep the raptors until Labor Day, the program has been working so well that city officials may extend it into the increasingly popular shoulder season.Since being hired earlier this month, East Coast Falcons has had a positive impact on the experience of Boardwalk strollers and beachgoers, city officials said.Vacationers and residents have been able to nibble on French fries, pizza, ice cream and other goodies without fear of gulls snatching the food off beach towels or right out of people’s hands.During the last few weekends, beachgoers and people on the Boardwalk have noted that only a few gulls seem to be lingering near the eateries and other “hot spots” that attract the birds.Even if the gulls hang around, they don’t seem to attack people’s food with the same aggression they showed before the raptors arrived in Ocean City.Ozzy the owl, held by East Coast Falcons owner Erik Swanson, works the night shift. Falconer Erik Swanson releases a falcon to patrol the skies in Ocean City during a display of the successful program in 2019.
Greggs chairman Ian Durant has been appointed chairman of furniture business DFS.Durant, who is also chairman of Capital and Counties Properties as well as Greggs, joins the DFS Furniture plc board from today (2 May).”I have long respected DFS and its success over the past few years. I look forward to joining as chairman and working with the team to maximise the clear opportunities for the group’s further progress,” said Durant.With a background in finance, Durant has more than 35 years’ experience in retail and logistics. He is a qualified chartered accountant and has held senior executive financial positions, including finance director at Liberty International and group finance director at Thistle Hotels.Durant has also held non-executive directorships at Home Retail Group, where he chaired the audit and risk committee, and at Greene King where he was chairman of the audit committee and senior independent director.DFS chief executive officer Ian Filby said he was delighted to welcome Durant to the DFS board.“His wealth of relevant experience will help drive us forward and continue the progression from being a great British business to a world-class business,” he added.Filby also thanked former DFS chairman Richard Baker for his “outstanding service”.
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead is in the midst of a rockin’ three-night run at the Brooklyn Bowl, celebrating the Freaks Ball with some great performances. The first night of music featured some unexpected twists from Almost Dead, including their first-ever cover of “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed” by the Allman Brothers Band as well as a debut of Father John Misty’s “I’m Writing A Novel.”The full recap will give you a complete sense of what went down last night, however, you can also stream audio of the whole show. Thanks to WMWV Radio (Quinfolk), the full listen can be accessed below:Almost Dead wraps up their three-night run at Brooklyn Bowl tonight, March 26th. See you there!
As turnover between administrations approaches in coming weeks, Saint Mary’s Student Government Association (SGA) will focus on several major calendar items at the College. During the month of February, SGA will host Heritage Week and Love Your Body Week with other organizations on campus. During the week of Feb. 18, the College will also launch its Capital Campaign, a major fundraising initiative. Another significant upcoming event will be elections for SGA, student body president Maureen Parsons said. “Currently we are working on updating our election policies and posting policy,” Parsons said. “We have callout meetings next Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 11 and 12, where candidates will be able to sign up and note what they are running for.” Parsons said she and student body vice president Meghan Casey will then go over the rules for elections with the candidates. “Student body president [and] vice president and Senate elections will be the last week in February,” Parsons said. “Big boards and class boards will be the first week of March. Candidates can start campaigning that Sunday and elections are held that Thursday. We will be doing elections through OrgSync.” Parsons and Casey will be running the callout meetings and approving each of the candidate’s platforms once it is are complete. “I also want to make sure that turnover is a smooth transition and the new president and vice president will feel comfortable in their roles,” Parsons said. Casey said she hopes to have an abundance of applications from students for SGA positions, especially the Senate, for the upcoming year. “Our Senate was not completely filled this year so I’m really hoping that more students will apply for positions within SGA so that the new structure can be used to its full potential,” Casey said. “I am looking forward to the transition so that Maureen and I are able to discuss our goals with the new administration and make sure turnover goes smoothly.” But before turnover, Parsons and Casey both have goals of expanding the impact of SGA in their remaining time, and they said they hope the events of Heritage Week and Love Your Body Week have solid attendance. “We want to get people really excited about Heritage Week and hopefully have the most successful turnout as possible,” Casey said. “Following through with our goals for Heritage Week and the Capital Campaign means a great deal to us.”
Who they are:Student body presidential candidate Becca Blais, a junior political science major with a minor in peace studies, currently serves as the student body vice president. In the past, she served on Judicial Council during her freshman year and was director of Internal Affairs on the Ricketts-Ruelas executive cabinet. A resident of Farley Hall and hailing from New Smyrna Beach, Florida, during her time as student body vice president Blais has previously focused on issues such as sexual assault and diversity and inclusion. Blais was also involved in the fight for the $250 increase in Flex Points this semester and reformed the Student Senate.Sibonay Shewit, Blais’ running mate, is a junior from Northern Virginia with majors in IT management and political science. A resident of Welsh Family Hall, she became involved with student government during her freshman year as a FUEL member. She also served as secretary and chief of staff for the Ricketts-Ruelas administration. Shewit is also a member of the Mendoza Student Leadership Association (MSLA) and Notre Dame’s chapter of Students Consulting for Nonprofit Organizations (SCNO).Top Priority: Expanding sexual assault resources and prevention methodsBlais emphasized the ticket’s plan for the implementation of Callisto, an online platform where students can report time-stamped information of a sexual assault. If a perpetrator’s name appears by more than one person, the information automatically goes to the Title IX coordinator. Blais and Shewit both commented on plans to work with NDSP to allow swipe access to campus buildings at night as well as a way to key a code, 5555, into the number pads that would immediately alert NDSP of an emergency.Best Idea: Hiring a third diversity and inclusion officer that focuses specifically on student needsBlais cited the fact that there were two diversity and inclusion officers that oversaw faculty and staff, but had spoken with Eric Love, director of staff diversity and inclusion, and confirmed the possibility of hiring a diversity and inclusion officer specifically for students. Improving and adding on to diversity and inclusion resources that the University currently provides is a main pillar of Blais and Shewit’s ticket. Other ideas include protecting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and undocumented students by connecting them with CUSE and the Career Center to make sure they have equal resources, working with SUB to bring in diverse performers and hosting a diversity-focused film festival.Worst Idea: Organizing an “ND, I screwed up” speaker eventBlais and Shewit plan on organizing this event featuring administrators, alumni and students perceived as “perfect” to share a time they made a mistake and how they overcame it. While well intentioned, bringing in successful people to share stories about “one time” they were imperfect seems less relatable or comforting, but rather, like an effort to reassure students who are already aware of the fact that no one is perfect. Taking comfort in the failure of those deemed successful hardly seems productive or healthy. Rather, it further builds upon the already high pedestal the panelists are on by asking them to publicly talk about that instance of failure so rare that they are now speaking about it on a panel of other successes also shocked about experiencing a bout of imperfection. It over-emphasizes the necessity of mistakes, that they are necessary for success and experienced by everyone, a reality that Notre Dame students are already aware of without this event.Most Feasible: “Flipping the model” and interacting more with the student body for ideasBlais and Shewit referred to “flipping the model” as increased involvement with student groups and considering their input when making new policies. Blais said she hopes to have a couple members of her team go and speak to different groups on campus at least once a week. “To a very large extent it’s a complete flip,” Blais said. “Some of the best ideas we got came from this.” Blais said the best ideas come from meeting with dorms and student groups and not from student government remaining isolated in their LaFortune office. She said because of the consistent flow of new ideas, her ticket works on a live platform and her team constantly updates it with input from groups that they deem possible and beneficial to the campus as a whole. Shewit said student government listens to the student body and attempts to solve the problems that they identify. “We want to make it student-first and student-centered as much as we can,” Shewit said.Least Feasible: Ensuring all campus buildings are handicap accessible by Spring and Summer 2017On their platform, Blais and Shewit state their goal of ensuring that “all campus buildings are handicap accessible, and fight for necessary changes to those that are not.” They listed the deadline for reaching this goal for spring and summer of 2017. Last year, The Observer did a series on disability and spoke with university architect Doug Marsh, who said Notre Dame had over 100 buildings built before 1992 whose barriers were grandfathered in and posed complexities when making completely handicap accessible. When The Observer asked the ticket about the feasibility of their goal and the impossibility of making every dorm handicap accessible, Blais backtracked. “Unfortunately, not every single dorm … is exactly 100 percent handicap accessible,” Blais said. “A lot of the things in our platform again are being updated so that’s something we need to adjust accordingly. Instead of saying push to make 100 percent of them handicap accessible, we should say push to make sure all the ones that are handicap accessible are to the fullest extent and continue to expand that reach.” As of Monday night, Blais and Shewit’s “living” platform still stated their intention to make all campus buildings 100 percent handicap accessible.Bottom Line: Prioritizing diversity and increasing resources of support for studentsBlais and Shewit understand the need for improving upon and creating more resources for students, especially in the areas of diversity and inclusion and sexual assault support and prevention. Due to Blais’ previous experience, the proper connections to University administrators have already been constructed, and the ticket could hit the ground running immediately if elected. Although several ideas on their platform seem far-fetched, the ideas that are more feasible, centered around student safety and inclusion, hold potential of success and are centered around the students. Blais’ established connections combined with her emphasis on a dedication to listening and enacting student ideas could ensure that the administration hears an accurate representation of the student body’s thoughts and opinions.Tags: Becca Blais, blais-shewit, sibonay shewit, Student government
What up 2012!Wow, here we are already. As we reflect on the past year of experiences, challenges, successes, failures, good people, and good places, it would be natural to call out some resolutions for the new year. That can be a cathartic and inspiring self-reflection process.After grappling with a couple of resolutions for this year, I spoke with a friend of mine about an approach that takes New Years resolutions to the next level. You may remember the mention of self-affirmation statements in a previous blog post regarding finding “The Zone” in athletics. This new approach that I was told about widens that strategy from athletic performance to seeking happiness, success and fulfillment in everyday life.3 WordsRather than committing to resolutions that can either be too specific or too vague to truly inspire throughout the year, the idea is to come up with three words that will guide you as you attack 2012.These words run much deeper than the specific goals that fall by the wayside so quickly, and the more that you think about them, the more applications you will find for them in your life. They can continue to guide and inspire you even after those short-term goals and resolutions have been achieved.This is a very cool concept, and I think I’m going to give it a shot. I certainly have a number of specific goals for myself this year, but I think the holistic application of a couple of key concepts will pay greater dividends in the long term than my resolutions ever would have.So without further ado, here are my three words:FocusThis means total commitment to whatever I am doing. I would like to combine this word with the concept of balance in my life so that I am in the present moment at all times. When I am spending time with my family or my girlfriend, THAT is my priority, not checking emails on my phone or surfing the web. When I am working, I am working hard and doing as good a job as possible to create opportunities for myself and my co-workers. When I am outside playing, I am 100% in the present, listening to my heartbeat, paying attention to the sights, sounds and smell of the trail, river, or forest. I am not worrying about my student loan payment or a new scratch on my car.PositivityThis word represents two things: making the best of any situation, and giving people the benefit of the doubt. There have been a number of situations that I found myself in in 2011 that I thought were complete disasters, but then miraculously worked out in an unexpected and very good way. Things happen for a reason, and I know that embracing hardship with a positive attitude will only make my life better. Also, although I do my best not to, I will admit to holding onto grudges on occasion. This is going to stop in 2012; it does not do good for any party involved. Note to self… this includes being nice to other drivers!GenerosityWhat can I say? I come from a Dutch heritage! I know how to stretch a penny, but it’s time to open up a bit and trust that it’s all going to work out. This includes educational institutions that I believe in, humanitarian charity and environmental nonprofits. This will manifest itself in my personal life and through my business.Honorable mention- Sustainability. I want to cut back on that petroleum IV drip as much as possible, and ride my bike and walk around town way more. This means for work, groceries, social life, and as much else as possible.Well, I don’t know how it’s going to turn out this year, but at least I’ve made myself accountable to the Blue Ridge Outdoors community!Now I must ask… what are your three words?Good Lines.Chris Gragtmans
By Claudia Sánchez-Bustamante/Diálogo March 23, 2017 U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South is the only one of U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) component commands to reside within the same headquarters building, allowing for closer interaction and collaboration among the members of both. Diálogo visited Brigadier General Kevin M. Iiams, commander of U.S. Marine Forces, South (MARFORSOUTH), to discuss his role, vision, and mission in the SOUTHCOM Area of Operations, particularly, since having been in the role for just over one year.Diálogo: What is MARFORSOUTH’s main focus with regards to U.S. Southern Command’s Area of Operations?Brigadier General Kevin M. Iiams, MARFORSOUTH commander: I look at our focus as establishing peer-level, trust-based relationships with our partners across the region, such that we can really start to broach into some new and diverse relationships with our partners and get after interoperability and teamwork; on what I see to be shared challenges and interests across the region.Diálogo: What do you expect to achieve or come to fruition specifically during 2017?Brig. Gen. Iiams: For 2017, I’m looking to improve those relationships, which means I need to do more travel so that I can be with our partner nations and my counterparts across the region and get a better understanding of how they see the region. With that, I think I become a better teammate. It will allow me to have a better operational picture of the region and understand the environment and ultimately how we will be able to better apply what Marine Corps forces we put into theater. Currently we put our Special Purpose MAGTF [Marine Air-Ground Task Force] into theater on a semi-annual basis. These improving relationships give us an opportunity to put the marines in at the right time and the right place, with the right partners and after the right projects, so that, we’re helping in the theater to establish better rule of law, better governance, and better quality of life for all of our regional partners.Diálogo: What is the Special Purpose MAGTF’s focus for 2017?Brig. Gen. Iiams: Our Special Purpose MAGTF will locate in the four countries of northern Central America: Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. We already have a small team of about five to seven marines who are in each of these countries year round – our Security Cooperation teams. For the second half of the year, overlaying the time that the hurricane season is most viable, we will put an entire Special Purpose MAGTF – about 294 marines – into Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras, as that locale gives us the strategic flexibility to quickly go into the most probable hazard zones for a hurricane impact. With that force going into theater, we’re able to engage with and alongside our partners using our engineering assets and undertake projects throughout the region to help them with their militaries and with their own ability to respond to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief events.Diálogo: Having been in this role for a little over a year (January 2016), how has your perspective of the region changed from when you came onboard to now?Brig. Gen. Iiams: I had very little prior experience in Central and South America coming into the position, and I was very excited about getting to learn a new language and meeting new partners. I truly enjoy meeting partners from across the region; the commandants of the partner nation marine corps, the commanders of the infanterías de marina, and our naval counterparts. That has probably been the best thing about this [role]. They have broadened my perspective on the opportunity that this is truly our shared home, and that it will be together, with our diverse perspectives and our common interests, that we can really look at the area and the region, and develop unique and dynamic solutions to get after the real challenges that we have ahead of us.Diálogo: What is your biggest concern or what do you consider the biggest issue facing regional security in the Caribbean, Central and South America?Brig. Gen. Iiams: I would have to say all of the nefarious actors and groups that work their way through this region and, essentially, the illicit networks that they operate through. They move through, weave through, all of our partner nations affecting their governments. They reduce the ability of those governments to provide good governance for their people, they impact quality of life, and human rights – So what I see as probably our biggest challenge is countering those threat networks, and to do that we are going to have to come together as a region. This is our home and these networks affect all of us. I think that if we look at these challenges as a family, amongst all of our partner nations, and come to the understanding that this is a shared threat to all of us, then with all of our diverse capabilities from all of our partner nations I think we’ll be able to tackle and defeat them.Diálogo: What is the importance of joint regional collaboration among partner nations and the United States in order to be able to achieve this united front?Brig. Gen. Iiams: We all need to realize that no one of us is as good or as capable as all of us together. We all bring certain capabilities and qualities that add to the relationship and to the capabilities that we, as a whole, can bring to bear against these shared challenges. This region has some really complex terrain. We have diverse riverine systems, vast littoral areas that open to the ocean and to the Caribbean. We’ve got the Andes Mountains, we’ve got deep, dense jungle, and amongst all of that, we have forces that have developed capabilities that are the best of breed across the entire region. So when we enable our partners to bring those capabilities to the table as part of the team, we all get better –every single one of us. We are better as a team and we will be stronger and more capable against the shared threats in the region.Diálogo: What regional strategies do you have in place now or do you plan to have in place to achieve this?Brig. Gen. Iiams: In concert with where SOUTHCOM is moving, we want to increase how much we partner with regional nations. Once again, the strength of our response is going to come from that partnership or the way that we have enabled our partners – so from the MARFORSOUTH perspective, this will be us taking our Security Cooperation teams down range to train our partners, and at the same time, get trained ourselves from our partners as we engage with them. We also want to improve our collective capability to go after the shared threats so that when necessary, we partner together with great interoperability and ensure success.Diálogo: How do the relationships you build help you strengthen and benefit the collaboration between the U.S. Marine Corps and the partner nations’ marine corps?Brig. Gen. Iiams: As Adm. [Kurt] Tidd [SOUTHCOM commander] always says, “This is our hemispheric home, all of our hemispheric home.” It has been, and will continue to be our hemispheric home, and we all need to recognize that. I would say that the relationships and the unity run so deep among the people of the Americas. It’s absolutely wonderful to watch and to be a part of. Additionally, if you know marines, there is also a very special bond of trust between marines. In this region, with the vast littoral areas and riverine systems, we have a lot of marine corps that have grown up here. These young marine corps have been embraced by their nations. They see them, and they see utility in having – just as the United States does – soldiers from the sea. We as marines bond together; we see how special it is to be a marine. So when we are able to get together with our partner nation marine corps, there is an immediate level of trust and recognition of capabilities that we then use to very rapidly move into interoperability, collaboration, and operations to get after these threats.Diálogo: How do you feel that your prior experience in CENTCOM and other areas of operation has prepared you for this role, and what lessons learned have you brought with you to apply to your current role?Brig. Gen. Iiams: Well, during my time in CENTCOM and then in the Joint Staff within the Pentagon, I got to watch the U.S. Government work on some very dynamic and challenging problems, “wicked” problems if you will, and I saw us utilizing a whole-of-government approach; the interagency, the services, and partner nations to get after these challenges. I am seeing the same thing happen at an international level here in this theater, where all of our partners come in, bringing diverse and sometimes unique capabilities, and we work together so that we have a unified collective approach to tackling very complex problems. I am trying to fold that experience at our national level onto the international scale here with MARFORSOUTH in the SOUTHCOM Area of Operations. Likewise, in my most recent job in the Third Marine Aircraft Wing, I had a great mentor who was the wing commander, and he showed me how to effectively lead large marine formations. That’s a large part of what I do here, and as we put marines into the field, I want to be able to give Adm. Tidd a better appreciation of what these marines can bring to the effort, what we can do with our partners in the region; from humanitarian assistance to disaster relief, and from partnering to enabling. Also in that experience at the 3D Marine Aircraft Wing, I served with great leaders across the MEF [Marine Expeditionary Force] that gave me an opportunity to grow as a young general officer, and to experience the gamut of what the Marine Corps can bring as a partner. So, I think that was a very beneficial job for me to be able to see how our command can bring what is the Marine Corps into bringing good to this area of operations.Diálogo: Is there something in particular you would like to add for our readers in the region?Brig. Gen. Iiams: I am honored and humbled to be partnering with some of the folks I’ve met in this region – with the military services and with the leaders across the region. I am very much looking forward to another year, maybe two, of operating with them and being on their team. I’m gaining a greater appreciation every day for the diverse perspectives on the AOR, and I am really enjoying the very rich cultures that are the Americas. From north to south, and it’s a wonderful region and a tremendous opportunity to see how we interweave all of our commonality and all of our diversity to bring it all together for good.