SEPTUAGENARIAN Michal Čurna looks on forlornly at his pile of firewood scattered by the earthquake.
photo: SME - Jana Beňová
As the world turns
AN EARTHQUAKE measuring a magnitude of three on the Richter scale was recorded on September 23 in the southern Slovak villages of Ladzany and Žemberovce, reported the daily SME.
The earthquake lasted a mere few seconds but enough for locals to feel its effects.
"I was sitting comfortably on my sofa, watching TV when I felt the shake. I thought at first that a car must have crashed nearby. My kitchen clock fell off the wall and bottles rolled off the table. When I ran outside my stack of firewood had spilled everywhere," 74-year-old Michal Čurna told the daily.
Ján Kvanka, mayor of Žemberovce also felt the ground tremble.
"I'd describe it as a strong bang which shook the furniture, flowers and my crockery," he said.
One woman, 83-year-old Mária Majerová, even called the municipal office complaining that someone was trying to pull her house down. Others contacted the authorities to report damage to their property. The most serious cases of structural damage were a collapsed chimney, cracked walls at a family house and at a local kindergarten.
Whistling down the wards
TREBIŠOV hospital has established special wards, where patients are given whistles to blow to alert staff when in need of medical attention.
The so-called "whistle wards" have been set up for patients who are hospitalised for prolonged periods of time.
According to one senior nurse the system is proving to be a success.
"It works very well. The telephone connection [from individual hospital rooms] is not working anymore and the head doctor decided to give whistles to the patients instead. Whenever they need medical attention, they just blow on the whistle, and we can tell by the direction of the sound what room we have to go to," head nurse Beáta Fabiánová told the Nový Čas daily.
The patients are also pleased with this innovation. "It is great fun. We feel like we are in a football match. But we only blow the whistle when it is necessary. The nurses come immediately," patient Verona Múdra, 72, told the daily.
Whatever the merits of the alarm system, it is only a temporary measure. At the end of this year the whole department is moving to new premises where a regular communication system will be installed.
City messenger saves on stamps
WHEN bills for sending internal mail to offices of the Nitra municipality became too costly its administrators found an alternative method to post their letters: They employed a messenger to deliver its official mail by hand and foot in this western Slovak city.
"Our postage fees were immense and so we established the position of a city messenger. In one year we have saved Sk800,000 (€19,000). After deducting the messenger's wages and his local transport fees the net saving is Sk600,000 (€15,000)," Jozef Korec from Nitra town hall told the daily Nový Čas.
The messenger Vladimír Adamčík, 51, walks up to ten kilometres per day and takes local buses to farther areas. He says that his new job also provides good exercise.
"In a few months I lost 10 kilos. It's a tough job," he said.
Bear killed by truck
A BEAR weighing 270 kilograms and measuring over two metres in length was killed by a passing vehicle, the Nový Čas daily reported.
The bear was found on the road in the village of Turany in the central Slovak district of Martin on September 21.
Michal Kalaš from the local Malá Fatra national park authority said that a truck probably hit the bear because a smaller vehicle would have crashed on impact.
"In Malá Fatra there are very few bears this big. On its hind legs it would probably have been around 2.3 metres tall," Kalaš said. He estimated the bear's age at around 10 years.
MUNICIPAL officials are considering bids to save 16th century tower.
Ancient fortress up for sale
A FORTRESS built to ward off Turk invaders hundreds of years ago is up for sale.
Municipal officials in the village of Štiavnické Bane have decided to put the site on the market because they have insufficient funding in their budget to restore the dilapidated building, which dates from the turn of the 16th century.
According to the daily SME two investors have already expressed interest in the ancient piece of architecture. The mayor of Štiavnické Bane Milan Ernek told the paper that local MPs were planning to discuss the offers shortly.
"It is possible the MPs will reject the offers. But if we want to save the site we have to act quickly because severe winter weather will only worsen its condition, perhaps irreparably," he said.
Ernek also added that money from the sale of the fortress was not a priority.
"Saving the site is the main thing. It is important for us to see how much the investor is prepared to put into the reconstruction of the site, for the benefit of the village's heritage," he said.
Malá Fatra - Zvolen
Deaf mute Czech woman found in cabin
A DEAF and dumb Czech woman was discovered hiding out in a log cabin in the Malá Fatra mountain area by a group of local hunters, reported the daily SME.
"Last weekend local hunters found the 40-year-old woman in a log cabin near Mojžišove springs. The men attempted to enter the cabin after ending their hunting trip, but the woman refused to let them in," said Juraj Malko from the local volunteer rescue team.
"When we arrived she wrote us messages on a piece of paper and demanded that the police come," he said.
When they arrived the woman handed over her passport to the officers.
"The police told us that she was not a wanted person nor did she have a criminal record," Malko said. "She even had enough money with her for food," he added.
No police action was taken against the woman because she had not committed any crime, and it remained unclear why she chose to hide out in the mountains of Slovakia. According to SME she previously lived in Prague and left the city after experiencing difficulties in her relationship.
"Maybe this is just a way of solving her own problems," said Malko.
GARDENER Ján Svetlák from the central Slovak town of Martin has recorded a personal best: He has cultivated two huge sunflowers measuring upwards of four metres.
The 63-year-old amateur gardener planted the seeds last spring in a flower bed outside his block of flats in Martin city centre - with astonishing results.
"I did not intend to break any records. I thought they would grow their regular height of two to three meters but they grew rather bigger than that. The tallest one measures 4.1 meters," he proudly told the Slovak daily Nový Čas.
4. Oct 2004 at 0:00