Around Slovakia

Fredy, the assistant dog
Striking gold in Slovakia
Slovak-made Bethlehem in Brussels cathedral
Pilgrimage of men
Activists hand over petition against skyscraper
Tsetse flies to be exported to Ethiopia
Flood damage climbs to Sk116 million

Svätý Anton
Fredy, the assistant dog

MAN's best friend hard at work.
photo: SME - Ján Krošlák

FREDY is a two-year-old Labrador and Golden Retriever mix and the first assistant dog in Slovakia.
Fredy's owner, Jozef Kán from Banská Bystrica, who for eight years has been moving in a wheelchair, told the SME daily that he could not imagine life without his dog.
"People unconsciously think that dogs are mainly good for helping the blind, but still more dogs are proving that they can be useful with other handicaps as well - that is, not just as leading dogs but also as assistant dogs and signal dogs. Dogs are also used in dog therapy," Kán said.
Fredy proved that he could pull his master's wheelchair, keep the door open for him, and stop a running wheelchair.
"Fredy can also pull the chair in snow or pick up stuff that I drop at home. Fredy can also get the elevator or turn on the light," said Kán, adding that according to his estimates his mobility improved 50 percent with Fredy's help.

Revištské Podzámčie
Striking gold in Slovakia

THE WORLD Goldpanning Championships started in Revištské Podzámčie near Žarnovica on August 18 with 400 gold diggers registering for the race and another 100 estimated to join in later. Three men and two women formed the Slovak national goldpanning team, the SME daily wrote.
The championships came to Slovakia for the second time and were expected to close with a competition in gold-washing on the Hron River.
Representatives from South Africa, France, Great Britian, Belgium, the Czech Republic, and Germany were among the first teams to arrive to Slovakia as well as the president of the World Goldpanners Association, Vincent Thurkettle.
At the championships, Slovakia had 100 competitors from 12 goldpanning clubs, according to Milan Urbánek, head of the Slovak Goldpanning Association.
In each round, the goldpanners had to pan out flakes and nuggets of gold from a sack of sand weighing 8-10 kilograms within a given time, the state-run news agency TASR wrote.
Most of the gold pieces came from California.
Richard Kaňa, the vice-president of the Slovak Goldpanning Association and twice the world champion, said that a gold bearing stream in Slovakia does not exist but flakes could be found in Zlatno near Zlaté Moravce in western Slovakia, in Vyšná and Nižná Boca, and in Pukanec.
Kaňa told SME that the biggest pieces of gold found in Slovakia were nugget size, that is, around the size of a match head.
Kaňa said that during his whole career he had managed to wash around three grams of gold altogether.
Next year, the championship will be held in South Africa.

Slovak-made Bethlehem in Brussels cathedral

JOZEF Halmo puts heart and soul into his work.
photo: SME - Alena Borszéková

A SLOVAK-made Bethlehem carved of wood will appear at a annual exhibition of Bethlehems from various European states in the St Michel & Gudule Cathedral in Brussels, Belgium.
Jozef Halmo, a man from the village of Bošany in Slovakia created this Slovak nativity scene.
Krédo, a 30-member Slovak cathedral choir, is also going to appear at the event, the SME daily wrote. The choir is expected to participate in a traditional sermon and a presentation of Slovak Christmas customs.
The exposition will open on December 4 and will last for one month.
"This is the 12th Bethlehem I have made," said Halmo. His most recent piece will appear in Brussels and is 200 centimetres long, 120 centimetres wide, and 150 centimetres tall. Halmo worked on it for a year.
The Bethlehem includes 30 carved figures and a background showing the Slovak peak Kriváň and several famous Slovak buildings, including the Nitra Cathedral and Bratislava Castle. It is made from maple wood.

Pilgrimage of men

MORE THAN 1,000 men took part at the second annual Pilgrimage of Men, organised in Gaboltov in eastern Slovakia's Bardejov district on August 22.
According to the organisers of the pilgrimage, the goal of the event was to explain to men their role in the church and in society.
"It was our effort to discover the greatness that God put into each man's heart," priest František Boldy from Gaboltov told the state-run news agency TASR.
The pilgrimage ended with a sermon that was celebrated by archbishop Alojz Tkáč.

Activists hand over petition against skyscraper

REPRESENTATIVES of the 658 citizens living on Šancova Street and the nearby area in Bratislava handed over a petition against the construction of the 34-storey Europa skyscraper to the Environment Ministry.
According to the spokesman for the initiative, Peter Hodál, "the skyscraper represents a major architectonic intervention in the entire area", the state-run news agency TASR wrote.
Hodál said that if the building was completed it would become the second highest building in Bratislava, following the central bank headquarters.
The petition committee wants the construction company to stick to its permit to build a house of eight storeys. The petition was supported by renowned actors Martin Huba and Stano Dančiak, as well as former Ambassador to the US Martin Bútora.
Recently, Juraj Freyer, the corporate agent of the contractor, Istroreal, told the media that the company had "submitted an application to amend the permit. We are pleased that there's another petition in support of the construction".
He says Bratislava needs some representative housing in its centre. The 34-storey building could include 95 apartments with a view of the Carpathian mountain range, the castle, the Danube River, and Vienna - the capital city of neighbouring Austria.
A panoramic view for up to 600 tourists and visitors a day has also been planned.
According to the ministry's officials, the petition will be taken into account as an objection in reviewing the project's environmental impacts.
"Unless the ministry has delivered its position on the change of the construction plan, the local construction authority can't do anything," said Hodál.
The Memorial Institute of Bratislava, an important institution in such proceedings, has already delivered its position against the construction, and a construction inspection also found some drawbacks to the plan.

Tsetse flies to be exported to Ethiopia

SLOVAK researchers are helping to put an end to the dangerous tsetse fly.
Controlled breeding of the flies is taking place in an incubation centre in the capital city with the aim of eventually exterminate the flies that spread trypanosomiasis, also known as the African sleeping sickness, the Pravda daily wrote.
The colony already includes 50,000 flies and by the end of this year will be double that size, Peter Takáč, head of the international project at the zoology institute with the Slovak Academy of Sciences, told Pravda.
"This year we will start expediting eggs with male flies to Ethiopia where the freshly born flies will be irradiated with low radiation, which will de-fertilise them. Then they will be set free," said Takáč.
Once free, the sterile male flies are expected to block the wild males from mating and thus make sure that the tsetse females do not bear more offspring.
Based on the Slovak supplies of male flies, the Ethiopian operation should produce around 10 million sterile tsetse males per year.
The International Agency for Nuclear Energy wants to fight the sleeping sickness as well as a sickness called nagana, which attacks highly productive imported cattle.
The agency offered to establish the backup male breeding centre in Slovakia.
In Africa the disease causes billions in damages every year.

Flood damage climbs to Sk116 million

THE PRELIMINARY estimates of the damages caused by floods in the eastern Slovak Prešov region at the end of July reached Sk116 million (€2.9 million). The final figures will be announced later as assessment of the damages continues, the state-run TASR news agency wrote.
Veronika Fitzeková, spokeswoman of the Prešov regional government, said that the damage to citizens' property reached around Sk6 million (€150,000).
The damage to state property was about Sk15 million (€374,000), the local administration's property suffered damages worth Sk67 million (€1.7 million), and property belonging to municipal authorities suffered by Sk28 million (€698,000).
The damage to roads and bridges is estimated at Sk60 million (€1.5 million).

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