Tag: Plan

The plan for a new aquatics and recreation center in Great Falls has hit a snag





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The plan for a new aquatics and recreation center in Great Falls has hit a snag

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German rail operator rolls out plan for ‘safer’ Christmas travel





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To handle an expected increase of Christmas passengers as coronavirus cases remain high, Deutsche Bahn (DB) announced on Wednesday it would run special trains over the holidays to allow more room on-board and to maintain social distancing.

With passenger numbers well down on normal levels, DB still expects reduced business over the Christmas period compared to normal years, but also a sharp uptick on the current traffic.

Taking advantage of the timely receipt of 15 new high-speed ICE trains, the German rail company plans up to 100 additional train runs, especially on main routes between large cities.

Twice as many special trains as normally run during Christmas will be used, between December 18 to 27.

The extra trains increase DB’s daily long-distance capacity by 13,000 seats, almost 10% above current levels, according to the company.

This year, “we have more capacity than ever before,” said Berthold Huber, the head of DB’s passenger transport board, in a statement.

Social distancing and mask checks

To ensure that passengers can be seated as far apart as possible, DB has also updated its reservation system.

Overall, only 60% of seats on each long-distance train will be able to be reserved, though passengers are not required to do so.

With the expected increase in trains and passengers, Deutsche Bahn also intends to increase checks to ensure that all passengers are wearing masks.

In total, some 4,000 security forces are being deployed along with 5,000 federal police officers for this purpose.

“It’s our responsibility to make travel as safe as possible ahead of Christmas,” the head of DB’s infrastructure board, Ronald Pofalla, said in a statement.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, DB expects ridership to be significantly lower through the holidays. One consumer survey suggests passenger volume will fall some 60% compared to normal levels, reported news agency DPA.

Author: Michael Buchsbaum

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Help us plan Byron Bay’s new skatepark and recreation precinct

Plans are underway to turn what is a tired and under-utilised space known as Sandhills on the fringe of the Byron Bay CBD into a vibrant skatepark and recreation precinct.

A much welcomed injection of $2.05 million from the NSW Government’s Roads and Infrastructure Election Commitment, and another $600,000 from Council has meant the project is now ready to progress to the detailed design phase.

One of the world’s leading skatepark designers, CONVIC, has been engaged to design the skatepark and recreational hub but first Council wants to hear what locals would like to see included.

Sandhills is the area behind the Byron Bay Library, the Sandhills Childcare Centre and near the Byron Youth Activities Centre.

“This area is crying out to be activated, cleaned up and turned into something the entire community will be able to use and enjoy,” Byron Shire Mayor, Simon Richardson, said.

“This is not just about building one of the best skateparks in regional Australia, it’s about acknowledging the nearby wetlands that are degraded, restoring them, building boardwalks and paths providing a beautiful green link to the beach and foreshore area, the recreation grounds and the CBD,” Mayor Richardson said.

“Importantly, this project will also acknowledge and incorporate the strong cultural ties the Arakwal people have to this area,” he said.

Anyone with an interest in the Sandhills area is now asked to share their thoughts, ideas and opinions on concept plans for the area that were developed in 2018 at Your Say Byron Shire.

The aim is for CONVIC to take those initial concept plans and, using the feedback from the community, build on them to develop detailed designs that will then be presented to Council and the community.

Feedback can be provided via a survey on Your Say Byron Shire until 14 December 2020.

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Despite a Second Wave Of COVID-19, 1 In 3 Americans Plan Holiday Travel

Despite a second wave of COVID-19 cases and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging Americans not to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday, the Sunday after Turkey Day was the busiest airports have been since mid-March when the pandemic began altering everyday life in the United States. 

According to a recent survey, and despite tightening COVID-19 restrictions in cities across the country, a larger percentage of people say they plan to travel for December holidays in the coming weeks. In fact, one in three Americans surveyed by The Vacationer said they plan to travel for Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa.

The checkpoint data from the Transportation Security Administration tells us that 1.18 million travelers went through airport security screening on Nov. 29. That’s down from 2.88 million on the same day in 2019, but much higher than in the spring when, on some days, fewer than 100,000 people were screened. Road trip travel is harder to track. But an analysis from Arrivalist shows road trip travel over the Thanksgiving holiday was down 35 percent from last year.

Of the 553 Americans queried for a recent survey published by The Vacationer, 33.46 said they planned to travel for Christmas compared to the 20.3 percent of those who said they had Thanksgiving travel plans. 

The Vacationer’s survey was done by Eric Jones, the co-founder and head of operations at the site who uses his background in mathematics as a professor at Rowan College South Jersey to conduct statistical studies and surveys on traveling and vacation.

Coast to coast, from San Francisco International Airport to John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports in New York, a growing number of airports are offering COVID-19 rapid tests. XpresSpa, which once opened manis, pedis and massages in airport terminals for on-the-go travelers, has pivoted to being a wellness center with rapid COVID-19 testing. The XpresCheck centers also offer flu shots. 

Airlines, including JetBlue, Hawiian Airlines, United and American Airlines, have also announced that they will begin offering pre-flight coronavirus tests. Negative tests could be a pass for travelers to skip quarantine at their destinations.

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Coronavirus: Merkel slams state premiers over Christmas hotel opening plan

Chancellor Angela Merkel railed against the plans of some regional governments to let hotels open for family visits over Christmas, warning it risked worsening the coronavirus surge sweeping Germany, participants in a party meeting said.

Infection levels rose overnight compared to the same time last week, despite the partial lockdown introduced for November and since extended and tightened in an attempt to control the spread of the virus.

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Merkel and state premiers agreed last week that some partial easing of the lockdown would be allowed to allow families some low-key Christmas celebrations.

But in a video conference of her conservative party’s top leadership on Monday, Merkel said she could not understand the plans of some northern and western states, where the epidemic is less severe, to allow hotels to open to allow far-flung families to get together.

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Meeting participants told Reuters she saw this as particularly risky in large cities and in regions with high infection numbers.

Despite Merkel’s comments, however, the regional leaders have the final say on what happens in their states under Germany’s federal structure.

Her intervention came shortly before a meeting of the “coronavirus cabinet”, at which ministers are expected to discuss further responses to Germany’s greatest public health crisis in a century.

Though Germany has already mobilized unprecedented government aid to help support the economy through the pandemic, ministers warned on Monday that nothing could fully spare companies from the impact.

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“People have to show discipline,” economy minister Peter Altmaier, the architect of the economic response to the pandemic told Deutschlandfunk radio. “We have to do more to reduce social contacts.”

Altmaier added that pandemic aid for companies could not be extended indefinitely.

In an indication of the severity of the pandemic’s economic impact, the percentage of companies using the state-backed furlough scheme rose to 28 percent in November, up from 24.8 percent the month before, the Ifo institute said.

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COVID-19: Labour demands ‘comprehensive’ Christmas travel plan to help people avoid ‘chaos’ | Politics News

The government is being urged to suspend peak rail fares and introduce mass testing for transport staff, to help the country avoid travel “chaos” in the run up to Christmas.

Labour is demanding that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps present a “comprehensive travel plan” to the House of Commons next week that looks at the lifting of COVID-19 travel restrictions between 23 December and 27 December.

A temporary easing of restrictions has been agreed by the devolved administrations over Christmas, that will allow up to three households to mix in a single bubble.

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Virus ‘doesn’t know it’s Christmas’, says PM

Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy was appointed as a Christmas travel tsar in the week, and will look at what impact the easing of the rules will have on the air, rail and road networks during the five days, and scrutinise their preparedness.

Labour says more than two million people used the rail network to travel over Christmas and New Year in previous years, while millions more took car journeys.

To minimise the risk of overcrowding in trains, the party has called on the government to temporarily scrap peak fares during the lockdown-eased period.

It is also encouraging the government to implement mass COVID-19 testing for transport workers such as train staff, bus drivers and highway employees.

As well as that, Labour has also argued that planned maintenance works on the East Coast Mainline, which runs between London and Edinburgh, via cities such as York and Newcastle, should be delayed until the 27 December, so people can return home safely.

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) which runs the line said that planned engineering works will make alternative routes “very busy”.

Labour shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: “Families will be looking forward to travelling to see one another this Christmas after a really tough year.

“However, we cannot afford to be complacent. The virus still poses a very serious risk to people’s health.

“That’s why ministers need to come to Parliament on Monday with a comprehensive travel plan to ensure families travelling across the country are kept safe and chaos on our roads and rail network is avoided.”

He added: “This is too important for the government to ignore or leave until to the last minute. This is about protecting lives and livelihoods.”

The Department for Transport will publish measures next week that will ease travel disruption over the Christmas period, which will use analysis of demand for advance rail tickets and public surveys.

Mr Shapps has urged the public to make plans “very carefully” and “where possible, book well in advance“.

He said: “As some advance tickets go on sale and people begin to plan their journeys, we are closely assessing demand on the network and have already taken actions to minimise potential disruption.

“We are currently developing a plan focused on tackling disruption – including running longer trains and relaxing rules to allow more types of coaches

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Arizona legislators, Trump lawyers plan Phoenix meeting on election

President Donald Trump talks to reporters at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Phoenix. (Photo: Alex Brandon/AP)

PHOENIX — Arizona legislators and lawyers for President Donald Trump will hold a meeting at a downtown hotel on Monday to discuss the election as they continue to dispute his defeat earlier this month despite there being no evidence of widespread fraud.

The gathering may rally Trump supporters and provide counter-programming on the same morning Arizona’s secretary of state is scheduled to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state, but it is unclear how legislators could do much of anything about the outcome of the race.

While the Trump campaign andstateRepublican Party have filed election lawsuits in Maricopa County, they have not put forward evidence of fraud and judges have so far tossed out the cases.

Republic Gov. Doug Ducey said earlier this week that he trusts the state’s election system after he had held off acknowledging Biden had won the state, citing the court cases that were ongoing.

“I’ve said several times: Arizona is a good government state,” Ducey said Tuesday. “I trust our election system. There’s integrity in our election system. Joe Biden did win Arizona.”

Nevertheless, in announcing he would chair Monday’s meeting, Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, said his “worst fears have come to light” after “examining potential fraud pathways and illegal actions through which our 2020 election could have been tainted.”

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Not a legislative hearing

The meeting at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Phoenix is not a hearing of the Legislature as Finchem and Trump campaign’s legal team have cast it. 

The state Legislature is not in session. The speaker of the House of Representatives and the president of the Senate can call for committee meetings in between sessions but they have not authorized the event.

Finchem said he requested approval a few weeks ago for a meeting of the House Federal Relations Committee, which he chairs, but has not received authorization from House leadership.

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Tucson International Airport, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (Photo: Alex Brandon, AP)

“After a review of the statistical anomalies, and there are to numbers to count [sic], affidavits of improper actions and community outrage that has grown out of what appears to voters to be an attempt to throw the election through a number of fraudulent efforts, we decided as Members of the Legislature, and not as members of any specific committee, that we should move forward with a public hearing,” Finchem wrote in a press release.

Jenna Ellis, a lawyer for the president, wrote Friday that she would be present along with Rudy Giuliani, the most prominent figure in the Trump campaign’s legal efforts.

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Plan calls for housing homeless in transformed Kansas hotel

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A proposal to transform a hotel near downtown Wichita into housing for the homeless goes before the city council next week.

The owner of the 316 Hotel has agreed to sell the building for $2.6 million, according to Wichita spokesperson Megan Lovely. Renovations for the studio apartments are estimated to cost another $1.6 million, The Wichita Eagle reports.

The project is expected to be funded with $2 million in city funds, nearly $2.3 million in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act dollars and another $200,000 in private donations, she said.

HumanKind Ministries, which was previously Inter-Faith Ministries, would own and operate the location.

“The 316 Hotel Project is a rare opportunity,” city of Wichita Housing and Community Services director Sally Stang said in a news release, adding that it would help slow the spread of COVID-19 and “provide much needed supportive housing for our community.”

The 2019 Point-In-Time Homeless Count in Sedgwick County reported 593 people that met the definition of being homeless. That’s 20 more people than reported in 2018 report and the highest number back to 2014.

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Harley Street dentist says he ‘didn’t plan to have sex with patient at Savoy hotel’

A Harley Street dentist to the stars who slept with a patient after wining and dining her at the Savoy said he only had a condom with him to carry water in an emergency.

Dr Sahil Patel, 28, said he had the contraceptive in his bag ‘for several years’ after attending a survival course.

The dentist twice met up with the woman at a pub in north London after providing her with his mobile phone number.

He then took the patient out to dinner at the Savoy on November 1 last year after completing her veneer treatment.

They carried on drinking until after midnight, when the dentist said he could not get home ‘as there are no underground trains,’ the General Dental Council heard.

Dr Sahil Patel (pictured), a Harley Street dentist to the stars who slept with a patient after wining and dining her at the Savoy, said he only had a condom with him to carry water in an emergency. Dr Patel, 28, said he had the contraceptive in his bag 'for several years' after attending a survival course, the General Dental Council heard today

Dr Sahil Patel (pictured), a Harley Street dentist to the stars who slept with a patient after wining and dining her at the Savoy, said he only had a condom with him to carry water in an emergency. Dr Patel, 28, said he had the contraceptive in his bag ‘for several years’ after attending a survival course, the General Dental Council heard today

The dentist twice met up with the woman at a pub in north London after providing her with his mobile number. He then took the patient out to dinner at the Savoy on November 1 last year after completing her veneer treatment. They carried on drinking until after midnight, when Dr Patel said he could not get home 'as there are no underground trains,' the tribunal heard

The dentist twice met up with the woman at a pub in north London after providing her with his mobile number. He then took the patient out to dinner at the Savoy on November 1 last year after completing her veneer treatment. They carried on drinking until after midnight, when Dr Patel said he could not get home ‘as there are no underground trains,’ the tribunal heard

Dr Patel then went to the patient’s hotel room across the street and had sex with her, the tribunal heard.

The dentist is said to have referred to the woman a ‘Jewish princess’ but he denies using the phrase.

The disciplinary hearing is being held in Marylebone, central London, near The Harley Street Smile Clinic, where Dr Patel is an associate dentist.

The clinic lists former Everton and Scotland striker Andy Gray among its clients as well as TOWIE stars including Lauren Pope, James Lock, Frankie Essex and Kirk Norcross.

Giving evidence, Dr Patel admitted if the condom ‘was present without context then, yes it would show pre-planning’.

But he maintained he kept it ‘in a field craft kit which has been in my bag for several years, incidentally, since attending a training course. It’s used for water retention’.

He claimed ‘Patient A’ asked him to have sex a second time at the hotel.

In his witness statement, he said he turned her down because he was tired, and added today, ‘We couldn’t anyway, due to a lack of contraception’.

Dr Patel is said to have passed her his mobile number on September 27 last year and gone for a drink with her at the White Horse Pub in Parsons Green, south-west London.

Giving evidence, Dr Patel admitted if the condom 'was present without context then, yes it would show pre-planning'. But he maintained he kept it 'in a field craft kit which has been in my bag for several years, incidentally, since attending a training course. It's used for water retention'. Pictured: The General Dental Council building

Giving evidence, Dr Patel admitted if the condom ‘was present without context then, yes it would show pre-planning’. But he maintained he kept it ‘in a field craft kit which has been in

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Denver mayor apologizes for Thanksgiving travel plan

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is asking for forgiveness after coming under fire for his upcoming holiday plans.



Michael Hancock wearing a suit and tie: Denver Mayor Michael Hancock makes a point during a news conference about the rapid increase in coronavirus cases in the state Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, in Denver. Colorado lawmakers plan to draw up a package of financial aid for residents who have become unemployed because of the coronavirus during a special session set to convene at the end of the month. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


© David Zalubowski/AP
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock makes a point during a news conference about the rapid increase in coronavirus cases in the state Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, in Denver. Colorado lawmakers plan to draw up a package of financial aid for residents who have become unemployed because of the coronavirus during a special session set to convene at the end of the month. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Hours after encouraging Denver residents to avoid Thanksgiving travel, the city’s mayor office confirmed he is flying to Mississippi to spend the holiday with his daughter and wife, according to his office.

“I recognize that my decision has disappointed many who believe it would have been better to spend Thanksgiving alone,” Hancock said in a statement released by his office. “As a public official, whose conduct is rightly scrutinized for the message it sends to others, I apologize to the residents of Denver who see my decision as conflicting with the guidance to stay at home for all but essential travel. I made my decision as a husband and father, and for those who are angry and disappointed, I humbly ask you to forgive decisions that are borne of my heart and not my head.”

The apology comes after he posted a tweet on Wednesday morning stating that avoiding travel is a way to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The city also encouraged residents to only host Thanksgiving dinners with members of their immediate household.

In a statement previously sent to CNN, Hancock’s spokesperson, Mike Strott, that Hancock “will follow all necessary health and safety guidance and quarantine” upon his return to Denver.

According to the latest data provided by the city’s health department, there are 33,971 total reported cases of Covid-19 in Denver since the start of the pandemic.

Hancock isn’t the only local leader who’s not heeded their own advice.

Earlier this month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom received backlash after he and his wife attended a birthday party at the French Laundry restaurant with a dozen others from several different households despite state health guidelines recommending against such gatherings amid a surge in Covid-19 infections.

Newsom apologized for his attendance, acknowledging that he should be practicing what he preaches.

“I made a bad mistake,” Newsom said. “Instead of sitting down, I should have stood up, walked back to my car and drove home.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo canceled his plans after facing criticism for planning to have a holiday meal with his 86-year-old mother and two of his daughters amid escalating numbers of Covid-19 cases.

The governor had previously warned New Yorkers who plan on holding Thanksgiving celebrations as usual that it was dangerous given that the virus can spread in large indoor gatherings.

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