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Around Slovakia

Librarian: Youth don't read books
Aquapark to be built in High Tatras
Father of three dies in plane crash
Lucky gambler takes Sk39 million
City on alert, unknown sniper in streets
Roma couple teaches cheap cooking

Žilina
Librarian: Youth don't read books

NORTHERN Slovakia's Žilina City Library is alarmed at the falling rate of young readers.
Its annual statistics show that every year fewer young readers borrow books from the library. Of its 16,000 visitors last year, only 28 per cent were school children.
To attract more young readers, the library has started organising various events it believes could draw kids back into the world of printed fiction.
"We are trying to attract children by organising not only reading events but also various social games and other events we think could bring them into the library," the head librarian, Mária Balkóciová, told Nový Čas daily.
"At least we managed to stop the fall in the number of children coming here last year, and we hope that this year will be even better," she said.


Poprad
Aquapark to be built in High Tatras

CONSTRUCTION of a new aquapark on an area of around 12 hectares will be started this year near the tourist centre Poprad in Slovakia's High Tatras.
Poprad Mayor Anton Danko told journalists March 31 that a contract between the city of Poprad and the British company Letheby & Sons establishing protection mechanisms to land ownership rights had been signed on March 29.
The project, to be carried out by a new joint company Aquapark Poprad, will cost around Sk1.8 billion (43 million euro), of which Sk135 million (3.2 million euro) should be invested this year. Construction will be performed in three phases and is expected to be completed in 2009.
Poprad's contribution to the project will be in the form of land and geothermal springs worth around Sk115 million (2.7 million euro).
The new aquapark will consist of several pools, hotel facilities, and various other attractions aimed at boosting tourism in the region.



A PLANE piloted by a 20-year veteran airman crashed near the central Slovak village of Sudince, killing the father of three.
photo: SME, Ján Krošlák

Sudince
Father of three dies in plane crash

IN AN unexplained plane accident, a 46-year-old pilot and father of three died after his light plane, usually used for crop dusting, crashed into the ground.
The accident happened on the afternoon of March 26 in the southern village of Sudince.
Those who knew the pilot, Peter Benko, were shocked at the accident, saying he had been a very experienced pilot and flew planes as a hobby.
"He had been flying for 20 years," one of Benko's colleagues said.
Benko ran a private driving school in the central Slovak town of Zvolen.
Zvolen police launched an investigation into the cause of the accident. The damages to the plane were estimated at Sk400,000 (9,600 euro).


Prešov
Lucky gambler takes Sk39 million

IN THE country's highest lotto win in modern history, Milan Homola from the Prešov region netted a cash prize of Sk39.2 million (940,000 euro), after placing a bet in an eastern Slovak branch of the Tipos betting agency.
His lucky bet, six out of six numbers, was drawn on March 26 and he collected his prize on April 1. The winning numbers were 17, 23, 25, 27, 31, 39, and 15.
Mária Ondrejkovicová from Tipos said that the agency had deducted tax of 20 per cent from the jackpot, which left the victor with a net profit of Sk31.4 million (750,000 euro).
The cash could buy 100 of the cheapest model of Škoda car, a luxury villa in the best quarter of the capital city, 20 standard flats anywhere in Slovakia, or a small hotel in a popular holiday resort.



THE PEACE of Košice's sedate centre was disrupted by an unknown air-rifle assailant.
photo: Ján Svrček

Košice
City on alert, unknown sniper in streets

AN UNKNOWN sniper in the eastern city of Košice had inhabitants on the alert after at least three people were shot, presumably by the same person with an air rifle.
The sniper most recently struck on March 21, from an unknown position at a pedestrian crossing on Štúrova and Zborovská streets.
One 63-year-old victim, Ján P., told daily SME: "I was walking down Zborovská towards a cobbler's shop when suddenly I heard a swoosh sound and I felt a hot pain under my right shoulder blade. I touched the back of my jacket and felt that there was a hole in there but there was no blood running out."
He said that his wife, a former nurse, treated his wound and he then went to report the incident to the police. Later, when he was sent to get a health report from a local surgeon, he found out that he had not been the doctor's first patient with a shot wound.
A group of employees from a nearby branch of Tatrabanka were also targeted by the sniper but no one was hurt. A 29-year-old man, however, was shot in the calf, and doctors say it will take nearly a month to recover from the injury.
According to local police spokesman Pavol Falis, the case is being investigated, but locals have complained that the police are not doing enough to catch the shooter.
Marta Keresztesiová, the owner of the cobbler's shop, said: "This is not the first time there has been a shooting here. A year ago I informed the police that there was someone shooting at passers-by from a skylight in the roof of a building opposite."
"Police came but they never got to the skylight because [the door leading to the roof] was locked. I was really disappointed about that, and ever since then I have never called the police, even though the shooting still happens from time to time," Keresztesiová said.


Myjava
Roma couple teaches cheap cooking

PAULÍNA and Karol Herák, a Roma couple from the western town of Myjava, decided to help their community by organising cooking lessons and housework study courses.
The courses have become very popular, particularly the cooking classes, and are regularly attended not only by young Roma women but also by young men and mothers.
"We teach them to cook cheaply," Paulína Heráková told Nový Čas daily.
The Heráks work in partnership with the local municipal office, the labour office, and gynaecologists who advise young Roma women on various problems.
Unlike many of the country's estimated 500,000-strong Roma minority, the Heráks are employed and organise the courses in their spare time for free.
"We want to prevent crime [in Roma communities] and this is how we can do our bit," the couple said.


Compiled by Martina Pisárová from press reports

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