|Rasťo Kopina from the band Nocadeň and Katarína Knechtová from Peha rejoice at winning the Slovak Grammy Award for best song, Za tebou, which they compiled together. The Slovak music academy awards for 2005, known as the Aurels, were handed out on March 22 in Žilina. Knechtová also won best female singer, while her Peha was named best band, and their album Deň medzi nedeľou a pondelkom was also given the top prize in its category. Jazzman Peter Lipa was voted best singer, and the finalist of the first edition of the hit reality series Slovakia Searches for a SuperStar, Zdenka Predná, was last year's top discovery. Pianist Richard Rikkon, who gained popularity by accompanying SuperStar finalists on piano, won an award for his instrumental achievements. Ondrej Rudavský won best music video - Sníh (Richard Müller/Iva Bittová) and Marek Ormandík took best CD cover - Lipa spieva Lasicu, which was the best produced album in 2005. Karol Duchoň was awarded for his life-long contribution to Slovak music.|
Regions receive bird flu manuals
MEMBERS of the national pandemic committee discussed the contents of two manuals on bird flu at a session held on March 15, Health Minister Rudolf Zajac told journalists in Bratislava.
"One manual concerns providing for the security of people who are dealing with the elimination of a possible source of the infection; the other one serves in case of suspicion of bird flu infecting a human. Both manuals have already been sent to all Higher Territorial Units (VÚC)," he said.
According to Zajac, a third manual is currently being prepared as well, and will be submitted to the committee by March 31. It will coordinate the co-operation of various types of hygienic and epidemiological services, so that police and army hygienists will know what to do and what kind of protective measures to take if such a situation arises.
The committee members also became familiar with the latest information on developments vis-a-vis the bird flu epidemic. They also discussed a report on vaccination of people.
According to minister Zajac, Slovakia has all the necessary means and drugs to prevent any major problems.
Long winter has serious consequences
ONE of the longest winters in the last half-century still does not want to end. Snowfall and icy winds are not only affecting the economy, but also people's moods, Pravda daily reported.
Some experts say that such a long winter has not been seen in Slovakia for at least 30, if not 40 years. According to the long-term forecast, the cold weather should last until the end of March, with a few warmer intervals.
Experts are mainly worried about a sudden thaw. For example, in the area of the Hričov reservoir in the northern Slovak Žilina region there is more snow on the ground than at any time in the last 30 years.
Meteorologist Milan Lapin from Comenius University in Bratislava warns of floods mainly in western and northern Slovakia.
After serious floods in the village of Cífer in western Slovakia's Trnava region in early March, the situation in Malacky in the Bratislava region and in Poprad and the surrounding area of the Prešov region is also giving cause for concern.
While Poprad regularly suffers from flooding in the spring, Poprad mayor Anton Danko says that there is far more snow in the area than last year. "We are powerless against nature. We can only try to limit the damage," he said.
Meanwhile, according to psychologist Marta Aibeková from a Bratislava telephone helpline, the extended winter is increasing cases of depression and even suicide attempts.
Koliba-Expo restaurant, railway line reopened
THE REOPENING of the Koliba-Expo restaurant on March 23 is set to contribute to the rejuvenation of Kamzík hill in Bratislava, coinciding with the ceremonial reopening of the funicular railway that links the hill to the popular recreational area for Bratislavians, Železná Studienka.
The Koliba building, a traditional Slovak shepherd's house, originally formed part of the Czechoslovak section of the international exhibition in the Canadian city of Montreal in 1967. After the exhibition ended, the building was moved to Bratislava, where it was used as a restaurant until the summer of 2004. The restaurant was closed when its new owners ordered the reconstruction work, TASR news agency wrote.
Apart from the popular funicular railway from Železná Studienka to Kamzík, due to open to the public on March 31, the Koliba-Expo restaurant is located near a training ski slope, a dry bobsleigh run, and the television tower that forms an important part of Bratislava's skyline.
According to restaurant manager Roman Vyňuchal, the restaurant owners want to create a special folk-culture area, with live music, traditional food and folk festivals.
Slovak wine makers in Italy
REPRESENTATIVE wine producers from the Bratislava district of Rača, renowned for its winemaking tradition, have for the third time attended the annual Thomas Aquinas ceremony in Priverno, Italy at the beginning of March.
The booth from Rača offered traditional Slovak culinary specialities together with the well-known wines Račianska Frankovka and others from the Rača vineyards.
The Italians were interested in possible cooperation in the spheres of tourism, culture, sport, as well as in various business activities in Slovakia, Rača mayor Pavol Bielik said after returning from Italy on March 10.
Priverno is around 80 kilometres from Rome and is known as the town where the famous 13th century theologian St Thomas Aquinas died.
Abandoned bear cub found
A TWO months old bear cub that was found on March 18 between the villages of Zázrivá and Párnica will find a new home in Bojnice zoo. After it grows a bit, the bear will be sent to a zoo abroad.
Currently the bear cub is in the care of employees at the the Malá Fatra National Park Nature protection authority in Varín, Pravda daily wrote.
The bear cub was named Eduard, according to the name that was celebrated in Slovakia on the day the cub was found. In Slovakia namedays are celebrated like birthdays.
Michal Kalaša from the Malá Fatra national park authority said the cub is in good health and is eating properly.
"In the zoo he should be placed with a female that has a cub the same age as Eduard," said Kalaša.
It is unclear, however, under what circumstances Eduard was actually found. The people who found the cub said they spotted it near a road. According to Kalaša, however, it is unlikely that the small cub would be able to walk such long distances alone. He thinks it possible that the people actually took the cub out of a den and that Eduard's mother was dead because otherwise she would have defended her cub.
Least developed Slovak region
THE KOŠICE region in eastern Slovakia has recently taken over the role of the most undeveloped region in Slovakia from Prešov region, Hospodárske noviny daily reported.
According to a recent report on the social-economic state of the regions, 20.4 percent of the inhabitants of Prešov region were unemployed in the third quarter of last year. At the same time about 24.5 percent of people in the Košice region were jobless.
Eastern Slovakia as a whole is still falling further behind the rest of the country. According to Eurostat, it is also the second-most undeveloped region in the EU, with only the Polish region of Lubenskie in a worse position.
According to Pavol Karázs, economist at the Slovak Academy of Sciences, regional differences are a feature of every country, and it is impossible to eliminate them completely.
Firms and conservationists fighting over Tatras
Little Edo will find a preliminary home in Bojnice zoo, later abroad.
ENTREPRENEURS, the Vysoké Tatry local authority and conservationists are beginning a fight for the future of the High Tatra mountains, Pravda daily reported.
The Vysoké Tatry municipality has begun evaluating comments made about local planning by the public and non-for-profit organisations. Major environ-mental organisations were also expected to publish their comments.
The first local area plans are beginning to take proper shape after years of waiting. This actually refers to a map that will define the borders of possible business activities. It will also define skiing resorts, designate areas for recreational forest parks, state changes in the route of the so-called "road of freedom", which is the main road through the Tatras, and decide how the High Tatra tramway will be developed.
"The time period allowed for comments from the public and businesses has already expired. The local authority now has dozens of ideas and comments from 65 entities at its disposal. Now the most difficult phase will begin - the evaluation, and decisions as to what will be changed in the planning proposal," said Eleonóra Weisová, who has been authorised by the local council to arrange area planning.