BY MATTHEW ROCCO Correspondent Although progress has been slow from one year to the next, Matawan High School’s boys basketball team is optimistic that this year will be the first winning season for the program since 1997. The Huskies will be looking to improve on their 12-14 mark from last season, and head coach Tom Stead, who took over the team four years ago after serving as Holmdel’s head coach, believes his Huskies will break out this season. “We will be looking to contend in the division and make some noise,” Stead said. “This group has a high energy level and intensity. We should be able to do some good things.” Stead characterized his team as being both intense and fast-paced, describing the Huskies as a team that is capable of wearing out opponents. “We are an up-and-down team in terms of tempo,” Stead explained. “We need to control the tempo and do a good job rebounding. We have made defense a priority.” With four returning starters from last season, the Huskies are poised to compete, especially if the team plays to its strengths. Matawan has developed into a defensive team that is intent on executing on both ends of the court. “We believe we can create points off our defense,” Stead said. “Defense is certainly our strength. We are a run-and-press team. We will force turnovers.” Three of Matawan’s returning starters are seniors. Stead identified point guard Cory Soanes (9.0 points per game last season) and Kyle Rean (7.0 ppg), a 6-2 forward, as team leaders. Senior Brian Dailey will serve as Matawan’s starting shooting guard. Junior Larry Alston is the team’s second forward, and freshman Kashaun Barnes earned himself a spot in the starting lineup. “Kashaun is a very mature athlete with football experience this year,” Stead said, adding that Barnes brings plenty of talent to the starting lineup. “We can live with the freshman mistakes,” Stead said. Beyond the starting five, Stead explained that his team has enough depth to keep the players rested. “Our guys off the bench might get 20, 25 minutes,” he said. “We have the ability to run 10, 11 guys. It keeps us fresh,” Stead added. “It gives us the opportunity to run and press, which is important for us. It allows us to wear teams down.” The Huskies are hosting a Christmas tournament this week. Eight teams are in the tournament, and each team will play a total of three games. The championship game is scheduled for Dec. 30 at 6 p.m. Freehold Township, Howell, Manalapan, Marlboro, Raritan, Long Branch and Mater Dei are the other teams in the field. Matawan opened the season with a win over Howell, 66-56, and won a second consecutive game by defeating Holmdel, 66-46.
Petron slayed the ghost of the last conference. Barely.“At the start of the game, we knew that we needed to take that memory away,” Sisi Rondina said in Filipino after firing 33 points in a 25-11, 20-25, 25-22, 25-27, 16-14 triumph over Cignal in the Philippine Superliga Invitationals at Caloocan Sports Complex Saturday.ADVERTISEMENT “It’s something we can’t forget easily,” she said, referring to the HD Spikers dethroning them in the All-Filipino semifinals two months ago.But the defending champions almost blew away the chance to get back at Cignal when it wasted eight match points in the fourth set before taking the fifth in a come-from-behind fashion to rise to 5-0. Cignal dropped to 5-1.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSAndray Blatche has high praise for teammate Kai SottoSPORTSBig differenceSPORTSAlmazan status stays uncertain ahead of Game 4Later, F2 Logistics turned back Generika-Ayala, 22-25, 17-25, 25-16, 25-21, 15-10 for its fourth win in five games. —MARC ANTHONY REYES View comments Taal Volcano’s lava fountain weakens, but Phivolcs says it’s not sign of slowing down LOOK: Taal Volcano island 2 days after eruption Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next LOOK: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 3 takes you straight to hell with a Music Video and First Look-Images Francis Kong, Jason Magbanua headline ‘The School for the Passionate, New Bold U 2020’ Lascuña rallies with 66 for third straight win Negros Occidental gov’t, church call for prayers for safety of Taal evacuees MOST READ ‘People evacuated on their own’ Daybreak as smoke, ash billows from Taal volcano PLAY LIST 01:04Daybreak as smoke, ash billows from Taal volcano01:05Poor visibility, nakaapekto sa maraming lugar sa Batangas03:028,000 pulis sa Region 4-A, tuloy ang trabaho03:57Phivolcs, nahihirapan sa komunikasyon sa Taal01:04Sold-out: Stores run out of face masks after Taal spews ash01:45Iran police shoot at those protesting plane shootdown Taal Volcano eruption: House to develop rehab plan for Batangas, Cavite, Laguna No need to wear face masks in Metro Manila, says scientist Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. LATEST STORIES
… as Copa collaborates with Mercy Hospital for Christmas festivitiesSays after a mother pleaded for public assistance to take her two-year-old son to Cuba to receive medical treatment for a rare eye cancer, Roraima Airways responded by donating the air tickets. The tickets were handed over to Cassandra Persaud at Captain Gerry Gouveia’s office on Friday.Director Roraima Airways, Gerry Gouveia with Omkar Persaud and his mother, Cassandra PersaudOmkar Persaud was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in the right eye and as such, needs to undergo urgent surgery to prevent him from going blind. His left eye has already been removed as a result of the same disease. However, the treatment will cost close to $4 million of which the government pumped in a million. The family raised another $1 million and the public would have responded to the call and donated another $2 million.However, on making the donation to the mother and son, Director of Roraima Airways, Captain Gerry Gouveia said he was made aware of the situation only recently and he was pleased to contribute to the recovery and improvement of the child’s eyesight and overall good health.“It is amazing to know how many Guyanese reached out to help in whatever way they could,” he stated. He added that the offer to Persaud and her son is an extension of Roraima’s continued commitment to the medical evacuation service operated by his company.Further, Gouveia expressed best wishes for successful treatment and recovery to the child on behalf of his family and company. The thankful mother accepted the tickets and expressed her appreciation to the company while noting that she was pleased with the public’s response and generous assistance towards her son.Roraima Airways since its establishment in 1992 has led the way in medical evacuation service, operating a 24-hour Air Ambulance Evacuation Service in Guyana, providing a domestic and regional reliable response evacuation service.The child along with his mother is expected to depart for the Republic of Cuba shortly. Meanwhile, Copa Airlines is collaborating with the St Joseph Mercy Hospital for a number of festivities the medical institution has planned this Christmas.The airline on Friday handed over a cheque to the hospital in support of several of these events. The funds are intended to support a children’s party and the annual Christmas tree light-up and carol singing event. The children of St Ann’s and St John’s Bosco orphanages will be guests of honour at the lighting of the Christmas tree. Copa and St Joseph Mercy Hospital have been in talks over the past several months, exploring opportunities for collaborating and building partnership. Copa’s Regional Sales Director, Diego Bermudez Parra, during a recent visit to Guyana, also met with Mercy Hospital’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Helen Browman and Associate Administrator Deborrah Ramsay.Meanwhile, in outlining the activities planned for the festive season, Ramsay said this year’s Christmas tree light-up and carol singing event promises to be even bigger than last year’s. She said planning has been moving along extremely well and a record number of visitors are expected. Regarding the children’s party, she said each child will be receiving a gift bag “with lots of goodies” and with the support from Copa, they will be extremely delighted.The children’s party is scheduled for December 8 and the carol singing and Christmas tree light-up event will take place on December 9 in the parking lot of the hospital.The collaboration with Mercy Hospital is the latest in a series of initiatives being undertaken by Copa in Guyana, geared towards strengthening ties and forging partnerships.
The Sukachev institute’s satellite data show that more than 29 million acres – an area the size of Pennsylvania – have been burned in Russia already this year. Orbiting cameras see a red-and-green checkerboard in Siberia, of “hotspots” among endless evergreens. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an authoritative U.N.-sponsored network of scientists, has long predicted that summer drying and droughts would worsen forest fires, which in many regions are primarily set by humans. Warming trend Global temperatures rose an average 1 degree Fahrenheit in the 20th century, and warming will continue as long as manmade “greenhouse gases,” mostly carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning, accumulate in the atmosphere, the panel says. “The change is much more rapid than initially forecast 10 or 15 years ago,” Brian Stocks, a retired Canadian Forest Service scientist, said of the fires. “It seems people are finally beginning to take a look at it.” The Scripps study, in the journal Science, was unique in collating detailed data from 34 years of U.S. western wildfires with temperature, snowmelt and streamflow records. Wildfire frequency varies widely from year to year, but the California researchers found a clear trend: The average number of large fires almost quadrupled between the first and second halves of that period. They also looked at land-use changes and forest management practices, but concluded they were secondary factors in the upsurge of fires. There were “many more wildfires burning in hotter than in cooler years,” they reported. Such detailed data don’t exist on a global scale. Doing a similar study in Russia would be difficult because Soviet-era records are unreliable. And specialists caution that wildfires remain complex phenomena. In many regions, slash-and-burn farmers, arsonists and others start most fires.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2 Critical link “Temperature increases are intimately linked with increases in area burned in Canada, and I would expect the same worldwide,” said Mike Flannigan, a veteran Canadian Forest Service researcher. Nadezda M. Tchebakova, a climatologist at Russia’s Sukachev Institute of Forestry, said southern Siberia’s average winter temperatures in the 1980-2000 period were 2 to 4 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the pre-1960 norm. “Snowmelt starts much earlier in the spring,” she said by telephone from the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. “Precipitation is decreasing. This combination of elevated temperatures and decreased precipitation should provide conditions for greater fire occurrence.” As she spoke, newly ignited blazes raced through the conifer forests of Evenkiya, a summer fishing and hunting region north of Krasnoyarsk. Scientists worldwide are watching temperatures rise, the land turn dry and vast forests go up in flames. In the Siberian taiga and Canadian Rockies, in southern California and Australia, researchers find growing evidence tying an upsurge in wildfires to climate change, an impact long predicted by global-warming forecasters. A team at California’s Scripps Institution, in a headline-making report this month, found that warmer temperatures, causing earlier snow runoff and consequently drier summer conditions, were the key factor in an explosion of big wildfires in the U.S. West over three decades, including recent fires east of Los Angeles. Researchers previously reached similar conclusions in Canada, where fire is destroying an average 6.4 million acres a year, compared with 2.5 million in the early 1970s. And an upcoming U.S.-Russian-Canadian scientific paper points to links between warming and wildfires in Siberia, where 2006 already qualifies as an extreme fire season, sixth in the past eight years. Far to the south in drought-stricken Australia, meanwhile, 2005 was the hottest year on record, and the dangerous bushfire season is growing longer.
1 Liverpool fended off three goals in five minutes from Arsenal to salvage a 3-3 Premier League draw at the Emirates Stadium.Roberto Firmino’s strike looped home off Petr Cech’s attempted save, to ensure the Reds left north London with a share of the spoils despite having earlier squandered a 2-0 lead.Alexis Sanchez, Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil found the net in a stunning second-half triple salvo, to put Arsenal 3-2 ahead having trailed to goals from Philippe Coutinho and Mohamed Salah.Jurgen Klopp’s visitors thought they had the game won at 2-0, then quickly feared leaving empty-handed after Ozil’s neat finish – only to end up clawing back for the draw.Liverpool lost Jordan Henderson to a hamstring injury that clearly tempered their relief at holding on to fourth place in the league table.The Reds will doubtless emerge from this thriller the more aggrieved party, having failed to grind out the win from a position of serious strength.Arsenal could hardly have envisaged sneaking out of this clash with anything at all when trailing by two goals to a wholly-dominant Reds – but all that was before this gripping battle caught fire.Liverpool pounced on Arsenal’s malaise to dominate the first half to leave the Gunners supporters booing their troops resoundingly at the break.Firmino headed just wide after Coutinho’s cross, but Arsenal failed to heed that warning.Salah’s lofted chip let Coutinho open the scoring, the Brazilian heading home to punish the wayward hosts.Firmino almost doubled the lead when curling just over the bar, and then Cech denied Salah with a fine save from a one-on-one.Sadio Mane conjured a scissor kick in an attempt to bury the rebound, only to fire over the bar.Salah then fly-hacked at fresh air as Liverpool wasted another gilt-edged chance.Arsenal’s paltry attacking return was limited to the half’s final meaningful effort, as the unmarked Alexandre Lacazette failed to connect with a header.Normal service resumed after the break, Arsenal conceding possession cheaply and Liverpool breaking at pace.Salah could not muster any power when played in by Mane – but made no mistake when sent through the middle by Firmino.The Egypt hitman fired home via a minor deflection off Shkodran Mustafi, as Liverpool eyed full control.But just when the Reds expected to tighten their grip, Arsenal turned the encounter on its head.Sanchez headed in at the far post to halve the deficit, refusing to celebrate in rushing back to halfway.And when Mignolet flapped and missed Xhaka’s facile long-range effort, the Gunners were level at 2-2.Far from finished there though, the hosts stole the lead, Ozil trading passes with Lacazette, whose back heel allowed the German to apply a cool finish.Arsenal’s shambling defence proved their Achilles heel again however, as Firmino blasted Liverpool level again at 3-3, with the ball looping into the net despite Cech’s parried attempt at a save.Amid all the madness, Salah still had time to blaze wide and Mignolet to palm an aimless ball onto his crossbar. Three second half goals in five minutes saw the Gunners turn the game on its head
We’ve had some bad calls on the Sports Bar, but this one has to be right up there.Jason Cundy could hardly believe what he was hearing when Jeff the England fan called for Wayne Rooney to replace Harry Kane in the Three Lions starting XI.England delivered one of their worst performances in some time on Friday night, losing 2-1 to the Czech Republic. statement latest targets It was a first qualifying defeat for ten years and Gareth Southgate’s men were alarmingly flat.But fear not! Jeff has the perfect solution.“Jamie Vardy and Wayne Rooney should still be in the England squad, but they’re not,” he told talkSPORT.“Harry Kane hasn’t been doing it for England, has he? Spurs investigation into alleged racial abuse of Rudiger is so far ‘inconclusive’ Top scorer in 2019: Messi, Mbappe and Sterling trailing Europe’s top marksman Chelsea fan arrested for allegedly racially abusing Heung-min Son One England fan has had enough of Harry Kane LATEST FOOTBALL NEWS Steve Round reveals how Mikel Arteta convinced him to join Arsenal staff Getty update stalemate Tony Cascarino backs Everton to sign two strikers for Carlo Ancelotti Strugglers Wigan hold Blackburn to goalless draw in Championship 1 Liverpool transfer news live: Mbappe latest, Lille star wants to join Reds in future appointed rookie error on target Ian Holloway thinks Arsenal have made a mistake in hiring Mikel Arteta When asked to confirm whether he would drop Kane for Rooney, the caller said: “For England’s record goalscorer, yes.”At this point, Cundy labelled the man a ‘buffoon’.You can watch the hilarious call unfold above.
Honorable Mention: Today CafeThe Today Cafe officially opened last month in Universal Studios Florida, and appears to be a massive hit with everyone who has tried it with some great menu options. You couldn’t ask for better real estate, being located at the front of the park and across from the popular Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem attraction. I enjoyed the menu of the old Beverly Hills Boulangerie, but the new venue themed to the Today Show does pop visually in a way the former venue did not.Our corporate overlords are here and they bring with them…SYNERGY. (photo by Michael Carelli)Inside the Today Cafe. (photo by Michael Carelli)Various sandwiches are available. (photo by Michael Carelli)Some of the many dessert options. Blueberry cheesecake on a stick is E-Ticket. (photo by Michael Carelli)More desserts at Today Cafe. (photo by Michael Carelli)Acai bowl. (photo by Michael Carelli)The I Heart Vegan sandwich. (photo by Michael Carelli)Al’s avocado toast. (photo by Alicia Stella)Lemon Tart. (photo by Alicia Stella of Orlando Park Stop)Confetti Cake. (photo by Michael Carelli)Nitro cold brewed coffee. (photo by Michael Carelli)Coffee. (photo by Alicia Stella) # 2 – Jurassic ParkWhile Universal has still not announced what is going into the Jurassic Park area of Islands of Adventure, work is chugging along on what will almost undoubtedly be a new thrill coaster. Below is a photo taken a couple days ago by @bioreconstruct, flying above Universal in the high-in-the-sky blogger copter, and it shows just how much is going on inside the Jurassic Park land. You can also check out This Picture from Bio taken in early May that gives a much clearer look at what’s happening in the area.Overhead arial picture of Islands of Adventure with Jurassic Park in the bottom center. (photo by @bioreconstruct)Lots of work going on in front of the Jurassic Park Discovery Center. (photo by Michael Carelli)Update on the bridge which will lead from Jurassic Park to Lost Continent. (photo by @bioreconstruct)To make way for the new attraction, many current elements of Jurassic Park are being moved around, so there are construction walls throughout the land.Construction walls throughout Jurassic Park. (photo by Michael Carelli)Construction walls. (photo by Michael Carelli)Makeshift merchandise kiosk. (photo by Michael Carelli)New entrance to the popular Raptor Encounter, which just may be the best “meet and greet” in all of Orlando. (photo by Michael Carelli)For Jurassic Park and Jurassic World fans, there is a ton of great merchandise available. This T-Rex themed bubble wand comes to Florida from Universal Studios Hollywood, which is getting ready to debut their Jurassic World attraction soon.T-Rex bubble wand. (photo by Michael Carelli)I love this little display of the iconic Jurassic Park gate. (photo by Michael Carelli)Jurassic World pins and keychains. (photo by Michael Carelli)Jurassic World merchandise. (photo by Michael Carelli)Plastic in the Parks presents: Dr. Ian Malcolm at Jurassic Park. (photo by Michael Carelli) Next we’ll go to the former home of concierge. The large room at the end of the lobby is now walled off, with concept art of the new “grab and go” on the walls. When Sapphire Falls opened, it was clear that the Dutch Trading Co. store in their lobby was something that was needed at all of Universal’s hotels and it looks like they’re are heading in that direction. Share This!This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at everything going on at the UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT! This fine blog has had lot of incredible coverage of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – including the Batuu bathrooms (and you know we here at the SAT 6 appreciate our theme park restrooms) – but today we’re going to head over to Universal and check out all the stuff going on there, starting with…# 6 – Surfside InnLater this month Universal’s newest onsite hotel will open its doors for guests when Surfside Inn & Suites begins checking in guests on June 27. Located on the former home of the Wet ‘n Wild waterpark, Surfside is half of Universal’s Endless Summer Resort. Surfside’s sister hotel, Dockside Inn & Suites, is located directly across the street. Endless Summer will be Universal’s first true “value” resort with pricing that is going to force many offsite competitors to up their game to compete. Guests at Surfside will be eligible for early admission into the Wizarding World and Volcano Bay, along with bus transportation to CityWalk. Believe it or not, with a straight shot to the “hub” of Universal, Endless Summer is closer to the action than Cabana Bay is.New signage for Surfside is now installed. (photo by @bioreconstruct)Surfside flag. (photo by @bioreconstruct)Surfside’s port cochère. (photo by @bioreconstruct)A new sidewalk has been put in place around Surfside Inn. Not only do guests have bus access to the incredible Hollywood Drive-In Mini Golf in CityWalk, but they are walking distance to Congo River Mini Golf which is also a blast to play. (photo by @bioreconstruct)Sidewalk lined with palm trees going past Surfside Inn & Suites. (photo by @bioreconstruct)With Surfside in the foreground you can see The Wheel at ICON Park in the background. (photo by @bioreconstruct)Universal recently unveiled the crafted menus coming to Surfside, with some pretty tasty looking options. I’m still in shock how much we loved the food court at Universal’s Aventura Hotel, so we’re looking forward the culinary options Surfside brings to the table.Pipeline Burger. (photo courtesy of the Universal Orlando Resort)Cobb Salad. (photo courtesy of the Universal Orlando Resort)Assortment of freshly mixed drinks. (photo courtesy of the Universal Orlando Resort)Here’s the latest photo update of Dockside Inn & Suites. It resides in the former home of Wet ‘n Wild’s parking lot. It will be a much larger hotel than Surfside, have a lobby bar, and offer two onsite pools (compared to Surfside’s lone pool.)Dockside Inn & Suites. (photo by @bioreconstruct) The concierge desk used to be located at the very end of the lobby, past the check-in area. Now it has been brought to the front of the lobby and resides across from bell services. The “marble-like” color scheme you seen on the concierge desk is one that will be very prominent once the overall refurbishment is done. # 4 – BigfireThe newest eatery in CityWalk looks close to opening with Bigfire. Replacing Emeril’s Orlando, Bigfire looks to be targeting the crowd who may be intimidated by places like Toothsome, Antojitos, or Cowfish and “just want something normal.” Touting American fare like steaks, burgers, and freshwater fish dishes, one of the gimmicks that the restaurant has is an “open fire” cooking process that will use different types of wood. The building itself looks great, is in a prime location, and has an E-Ticket main logo once the sun goes down. Emeril’s Orlando was a great restaurant, and we’re going to miss Emeril’s signature banana creme pie dessert, but Bigfire is going to have a lot more appeal to families leaving the parks at night. It’s also interesting to note that while Disney seems to be getting away from running restaurants at Disney Springs and using third parties for just about every dining experience, Universal has gone the other way and replaced many of their third-party restauranteurs with Uni-run venues (such as Toothsome, NBC Sports Grill & Brew, and Breadbox).Bigfire. (photo by Michael Carelli)Bigfire is located directly next to Margarittaville and steps away from the entrance to Islands of Adventure. (photo by Michael Carelli)Outdoor lounging at Bigfire. (photo by @bioreconstruct)Nice signage for Bigfire Bar. (photo by Michael Carelli)Bigfire Menu spot. (photo by @bioreconstruct)Here’s some samples of what to expect when Bigfire opens.Bison Burger and fries. (photo courtesy of the Universal Orlando Resort)Cowboy ribeye steak. (photo courtesy of the Universal Orlando Resort)Baked Alaska. (photo courtesy of the Universal Orlando Resort) Double Secret Honorable Mention: Voodoo DoughnutOur favorite Voodoo Doughnut has been offering limited-edition doughnuts exclusive to Universal on a pretty regular basis, but the latest themed to the new Secret Life of Pets 2 may be favorite to date. Looking like the character Max, the yeast doughnut has a chocolate peanut butter filling, and as a huge peanut butter fan, this was fantastic because the ears also have a peanut butter flavor. If this Pets doughnut were offered on the menu year round it would be in our normal rotation including apple fritters, Portland creme, maple bar, and the voodoo doll.Secret Life of Pets 2 doughnut. (photo by Michael Carelli)Cross section. (photo by Michael Carelli)One year anniversary doughnut. (photo by @bioreconstruct)Easter egg themed doughnut. (photo by @bioreconstruct)Another Easter egg themed doughnut. (photo by @bioreconstruct)Cross section. (photo by @bioreconstruct) # 5 – Royal Pacific Resort Lobby RenovationLongtime SATURDAY SIX readers know that Universal’s Royal Pacific Resort may be pound for pound my favorite onsite hotel at either Universal or Disney (especially when I start to think about the Wok Experience). The fact that Royal Pacific is so close to Islands of Adventure, offers Unlimited Express Pass to every guest, and has a wonderful Polynesian theme, makes it my go-to onsite resort. After refreshing all the rooms at the hotel, the Royal Pacific – currently 17 years old – has now begun a massive refurbishment to their lobby area to bring it more in line with what guests are used to at the newer resorts like Aventura and Sapphire Falls.We’ll take a quick look at some of the changes already done. Upon entering the lobby, there used to be a small gift shop offering non-Universal branded items. This has been replaced with a Vacation Planning Center. Here you can purchase and pick up tickets, as well as getting any questions about the parks answered. # 1 – Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike AdventureWe are less than a week away from Universal Orlando’s newest attraction opening with Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Construction walls were removed earlier in the week, and the area in front of the ride has been set up for an upcoming media event. In May, Universal invited several members of the media to tour the attraction, and this looks to be a sure-fire hit with guests who want more Potter (and who doesn’t?). Be sure to check out Inside Universal’s recap of the tour that gives a first look at the queue and also don’t miss out on Orlando Park Stop’s invaluable Everything We Know About Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.Hagrid’s logo. (photo by Michael Carelli)Display in front of Hagrid’s attraction. (photo by Michael Carelli)Plastic at the Parks presents: Hagrid in front of his new attraction. (photo by Michael Carelli)Plenty of merchandise already available for the new coaster. (photo by Michael Carelli)The “Fluffy” puppet will surely be a big seller. (photo by Michael Carelli) Next to the the walled-off room is the new area for car rentals. I’m imagining once the grab-and-go area is completed, Royal Pacific will then work on totally revamping the other half of the lobby with an updated sushi bar and Orchid Court Lounge. # 3 – Universal MonstersMany fans of Universal feel that the stable of Universal classic monsters has been underutilized in the parks. Things seems to be changing though, with strong rumors of the monsters having their own “land” in Universal’s upcoming third theme park and a recent announcement that they will have a maze based around them in this year’s Halloween Horror Nights event. Inside Universal Studios Florida we’ve also had some indications that Universal is trying to revitalize their monsters “brand” including a complete new menu at Monsters Cafe. While you can still get pizza and standalone dishes, Monsters Cafe now features a BBQ option that should be familiar to anyone who has eaten at the popular 4 Rivers Smokehouse in Orlando or the Polite Pig at Disney Springs. The new menu allows guests to pick their own combination of meats and sides to create their own meal. The “perilous pair” offers 2 meats and 2 sides, while the classic 3 combo) offers 3 meats and 3 sides. Some of the meat options are also offered separately as sandwich dishes including The Invisible Man (beef brisket on Texas toast) and The Mummy (vegan jackfruit on a kaiser roll).Universal Studios’ Classic Monsters Cafe. (photo by Michael Carelli)New menu board out front. (photo by Michael Carelli)Selection of meats available. The rotisserie chicken and ribs were previously available, but sausage, beef brisket and the vegan jackfruit are all new additions. (photo by Brian Carey)The sides available to pair with your meat selections. Personally I’m a sucker for any place that offers crinkle cut fries. Like tater tots, there are not enough crinkle cut fries offered at Universal or Disney. (photo by Brian Carey)Sample dish. (photo by Brian Carey)The Mummy combo platter. Vegan Jackfruit sandwich, with fries, and watermelon. The drink is the new Lavender Elixir, made with Sprite, a flavor mixture, and blueberry popping boba balls. (photo by Michael Carelli)The crypt cookie, one of the various desserts offered at Monster’s Cafe. (photo by Brian Carey)Monsters’s Cafe does offer mobile ordering. (photo by Michael Carelli)Creature from the Black Lagoon. (photo by Michael Carelli)Theming from Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory. (photo by Michael Carelli)Some of the seating in Monster’s Cafe. (photo by Michael Carelli)Plenty of Coke Freestyle machines.(photo by Michael Carelli)A little while ago Universal transformed the old Terminator 2: 3D gift shop into one themed around the classic monsters. Those In The Know suggest that this was Universal testing out guest demand for the monsters, with a whole bunch of new shirts, cups, and other various other pieces of merchandise.Transportation devices from The Fly. (photo by Michael Carelli)Monster merch. (photo by Michael Carelli)Monster merch. (photo by Michael Carelli)There is a much bigger Ghostbusters presence in the gift shop than Universal normally offers, so let’s hope this also means our chances of seeing a Ghostbusters house at this year’s HHN are good. With a new Ghostbusters film being released in 2020 – bringing back original cast members such as Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver – it only makes sense for Universal to incorporate them more in the park. For those who don’t remember, Universal once had a Ghostbusters attraction at USF with the Ghostbusters Spooktacular show (held in the area now occupied by Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon).Ghostbusters merchandise. (photo by Michael Carelli) Triple Threat Honorable Mention: Not a hoax! Not an imaginary tale! MYTHOS CHANGED THEIR BANNER!!“Do you believe in miracles?!” – Al Michaels(photo by Hunter Underwood)So there you have it: The SATURDAY SIX checks out what’s happening at the Universal Orlando Resort! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the E-Ticket Report podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following: 6 Surprising Secrets of the Universal Orlando Resort6 Reasons We Love PORT OF ENTRY at Islands of Adventure6 Reasons We Love AVENTURA HOTEL at Universal Orlando6 Great Souvenirs From the Universal Orlando ResortSpecial Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, my personal protege Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and Nick, hot shot Michael Carelli, the incomparable Alicia Stella, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.FINAL PLUG! Did you know The 2019 Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando has a special edition of the SATURDAY SIX in it?That’s right, ANOTHER NEW ONE EXCLUSIVE TO THIS EDITION!Finally, someone came up with an actual reason to read a book. ORDER this baby now!Wait a second, does that say DOUGHNUT BURGER? Well, we know what we’re doing next….
By Hub City Times staffMARSHFIELD – After finishing second in the state in Division 5 last season, the Columbus Dons boys basketball team has opened another season. The Dons went 1-1 Nov. 29-30 at the 35th annual Cranberry Classic at Assumption High School in Wisconsin Rapids.After winning the tournament last year, and three out of the last four, Columbus opened up the 2019-20 season with a 70-68 loss to the Port Edwards Blackhawks on Nov. 29.The Dons led by as many as 10 in the first half, and had a six-point lead at halftime. But Port Edwards stayed close, and used a 39-31 second half to come from behind and win the game.Tom Nystrom, known now for his clutch five three-pointers in last season’s sectional final to beat Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran, and his buzzer-beating three-pointer in a last-second win over Bangor in the Division 5 state semifinal at the Kohl Center a week later, opened up this season with a three-point basket to give the Dons the early lead. He finished the game with seven–two shy of the single-game record of nine set by Jason Hertel in the 1991-92 season.Nystrom ended the game with 23 points. Wyatt Drexler added 18 points on six three-pointers, including five in the first half.The Dons were just 17-for-32 from the free throw line, including 8-of-19 in the second half.Columbus came back the following night and knocked off Assumption 58-41. Drexler scored 28 points in the win, and hit another five three-pointers. The Dons held the Royals to just 12 second-half points.Columbus Head Coach Joe Konieczny says he likes playing at the Classic, “We love coming to this tournament. I’ve been really pleased with our experience. It’s a great way to get two quality non-conference games before we enter conference play.”After opening conference play Dec. 3 against Colby, the Dons play at Spencer on Dec. 6. Columbus plays another non-conference game with Auburndale on Dec. 9 at Columbus High School.
Naicker said a substantial number of police officers would be drafted in to assist with the detailed safety and security plans. Provincial Commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni briefed the Cabinet at meeting in Ndwedwe on Wednesday, sharing some of the initiatives and strategies to ensure that the conference proceeds smoothly. More than 20 000 delegates, including heads of state and government from more than 100 countries, are expected to attend the summit. The 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) takes place at Durban’s International Convention Centre from 28 November to 9 December. 4 November 2011 “We are also pleased with the assurances from the police that the security needs of our communities will not be neglected while the police focus on COP 17 and delegates to the conference,” he said. KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize said COP 17 would be important not only for the outcomes of the negotiations, but because it is happening in South Africa, and in the province in particular. Normal policing unhindered The Cabinet was assured that normal policing would continue unhindered in the province during the high-profile conference. “The whole world is focusing on us, and we want to demonstrate that our country has effective and firm policing that can deal with any situation, as was evident when we hosted a great soccer World Cup last year. World’s focus on SA, KZN Further details about the plans could not be discussed, but Naicker confirmed that the SAPS would be working closely with the SA National Defence Force, Metro Police, fire department, correctional services and disaster management. The South African Police Service (SAPS) has briefed the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government on its readiness to handle the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference. Source: BuaNews Provincial SAPS spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker told BuaNews that a team of dedicated police personnel would be deployed around the ICC and exhibition area.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Monica Mullins is the vice president of asset protection and safety for Walmart Stores U.S. She oversees more than 9,000 corporate and field-level AP associates who are responsible for execution of AP and safety programs in 3,804 retail locations. Prior to her current role, Mullins was the VP of asset protection, safety, and compliance for the company’s logistics division.Before joining Walmart thirteen years ago, she was a risk control manager at ShopKo Stores and, prior to that, served as the assistant regional director of a non-profit agency that provided residential and vocational services to individuals with developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injury, and mental illness.In addition to her corporate duties, Mullins is a board member of the Loss Prevention Foundation, a member of the LP Magazine editorial board, and vice-chair of the Retail Industry Leaders Association’s (RILA) Asset Protection Leaders Council.- Sponsor – EDITOR: How do you view your role as the leader of Walmart’s U.S. asset protection and safety efforts?MULLINS: My role is to provide the AP and safety team with the overall strategy and mission of the organization and how that aligns with Walmart’s mission. As a team it’s our responsibility to drive execution of processes related to shrink, accident reduction, and security; support operations and merchandising in driving sales and profitability; and participate in developing the next generation of talent for Walmart. Additionally, we have to approach the business strategically, look to the future and what the organization needs to do or how we need to change to stay relevant to the changing needs of the business. I have a terrific and talented group of men and women in the AP and safety organization who consistently deliver results and who play an important role in the organization.EDITOR: Do you see your role as different from other retailers because of the size of Walmart?MULLINS: Our size adds complexities and responsibilities, but there are similarities with colleagues in the industry regardless of the size of their business or LP team structure. Becoming more involved with the LP Foundation and RILA, where I met LP executives like Mike Lamb for The Home Depot, Brad Brekke from Target, Libby Rabun from AutoZone, and others in similar roles, it became more apparent to me how much we have in common. I try to stay tuned in to the LP executives at the smaller retailers, especially the specialty stores, because there is a great deal we can learn from them. RILA and the LP Foundation provide a good avenue to do that. We have a good partnership with several other retailers with whom we do benchmarking. That’s invaluable.EDITOR: Tell us about your organizational structure and give us a picture of the breadth of your internal responsibility.MULLINS: I oversee the Asset Protection and Safety Division for Walmart Stores U.S., which includes our field team and the support functions based out of our home office. The field team is approximately 400 associates at market, region, division, and business-unit levels. At store level, most stores, depending on location and format, may have an asset protection coordinator, who is a member of the store management team, and asset protection associates. Additionally, we have safety managers and directors who also support field AP and operations.Within the home office, there are a number of different support functions including the merchandise protection and operations support; systems and analysis; the AP recovery and restitution team; facilities safety and security; event safety and security; AP health and wellness; and AP investigations.EDITOR: Is there a particular initiative that is something that you spend time on because of its importance or because you enjoy it?MULLINS: There are several ways to answer that question. First, what’s most important to Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart Stores U.S., is most important to me.EDITOR: That’s a good answer.MULLINS: We have great support from our executive leadership team. I’ve been in this position since 2007, and we are closely aligned with the business mission. We have to spend time on those things that matter most and will have the greatest impact, although it’s easy to get distracted given the nature of the business. I look at our AP and safety organization and ask, “How does our organization help Walmart achieve its mission?” We develop our business plan to reflect that. Everything we do has to support the greater good.EDITOR: Give us an example.MULLINS: It’s important to Bill and the operating division to have an acceptable performance in shrink. It’s important that we reduce our accidents and provide a safe working and shopping environment. These are two of the big “go-gets” for us.One of the others is talent development. Bill has said that if you’re not developing your people, you’re not doing your job. One of my priorities is to ensure we are developing our AP associates to get them ready for their “next step,” whether that’s in operations, asset protection, or any other function.EDITOR: How do you convince people at the lower levels that there are career opportunities both inside and outside of AP at Walmart?MULLINS: We do that by sharing other associate’s stories—those associates who spent time in asset protection and were promoted into operations, logistics, merchandising, finance, or whatever area it might be. Every time someone is promoted into or out of AP, we send an announcement out to the field. I think we have to continue to recognize the importance of communication.Additionally, we talk about it. During evaluations, one-on-ones, traveling together, I always ask “What’s next? What would you like to do in your career?” Since being in a leadership role in asset protection, I’ve told the team that I want AP to be a talent destination for the company. I believe we have an enormously talented group. My message to our AP associates has been that if you limit yourself to AP, you’re limiting your career.Years ago loss prevention, and retail for that matter, was very vertical. The typical career path was to move up or promote within your functional area. I think that’s changing. We encourage our people to think bigger and broader. As Walmart grows, we encourage other divisions to look at our AP associates as their need for talent grows.EDITOR: Why do you think of AP as a “talent destination?”MULLINS: AP is one of the most diverse organizations in terms of how much the people know about “the box.” They know inventory management; they have a good grasp of HR; they’re great investigators; they know more about operations than they sometimes give themselves credit for; and they understand merchandising. They may not be HR professionals or professional merchants at the time, but being a generalist in these areas makes them attractive.Also, AP professionals tend to be great at delivering results. They know how to plan, organize, and get things done. Then, as they grow in their roles and as their roles become more complex, we challenge them to move away from being the “doer” to being the idea developer, being more strategic in their thought process, thinking more globally. We challenge them to be the ones who are developing the AP and safety strategy for their region, division, or business unit.On the other hand, I don’t want to discourage the person who says, “I love AP and this is what I want to do.” Then, our challenge is to see how we can continue to keep that person engaged and excited about AP and help them develop the skills necessary to grow within the organization. We work closely with our training and development department to look at how we build the competencies and leadership skills that our AP people need to become future AP leaders.EDITOR: If I were a young person with little or no AP experience and just heard what you said, I would ask, “What credentials do you want from me? How do I become a candidate for a position on the Walmart AP team?”MULLINS: We’re finding that young people looking to get into retail asset protection do really well at the entry-level, store-level AP coordinator positions. It’s a great entry point, not only to AP, but to retail. They don’t have to have an AP background. It is helpful, but not required. On the other hand, a market-level AP management position requires some supervisory experience. People going into that role need to have managed people at some point.While neither of those positions requires a college degree, is a college degree advantageous? Absolutely. Not only in AP, but in general. It gives you that extra advantage over somebody who does not. However, we also understand that a lot of men and women are supporting families, caring for elderly parents, or are single parents and do not have the resources to complete a traditional four-year degree program. I think that’s where the Foundation’s LP certification programs are a great opportunity.Another great approach is the online degree. Many of my associates have gone back to school online and have had great experiences and success.But I will say again that it is great to have the LP Foundation’s LPC and LPQ programs available for people for whom a four-year degree is not practical or affordable. We need to provide educational opportunities for people who have a desire to excel and to do more, but who can’t swing the four-year degree. In fact, Walmart recently began a program for our associates that allows them to get college credit for the work they do in stores that can be applied toward an online degree from our university partner.EDITOR: Apart from experience, what do you look for?MULLINS: Generally, I’m looking for men and women who are enthusiastic, enjoy a challenge, and demonstrate leadership capacity. I’m interested in people, for example, with internal audit, business management, or safety and compliance-related backgrounds. But basically, I’m looking at the person first, the experience second.EDITOR: If you go back twenty or thirty years, most LP professionals understood that to make a name for themselves and get promoted, they needed to become adept at investigations or demonstrate an ability to catch shoplifters. How do you explain to a young person today that there is more to LP than just catching shoplifters?MULLINS: We have to do a better job explaining what our job is all about. It would be great if we could have an interested candidate spend a day in the life of an asset protection or safety professional at Walmart.Catching shoplifters and focusing on shrink are obviously very important. However, at least at Walmart, AP has evolved significantly. Our people must be able to organize and plan, have at least an elementary understanding of retail compliance issues, understand how to prevent accidents, and how to build a safety culture in which people take more ownership for their behavior at work. They have to understand how to navigate through a crisis, whether man-made or a natural disaster. AP is often called upon to help intervene and respond to these types of occurrences. And they have to understand how to manage and develop people.That is why we’re looking at less-traditional avenues for recruiting. While we continue to value people with criminal justice backgrounds, we’re also interested in people with undergraduate business degrees, security backgrounds, emergency management and safety degrees, as well as MBAs. We’ve also had good success with men and women coming out of the military.Just as we do not minimize a traditional law enforcement background, we are looking for people with diverse backgrounds because the job itself has become more diverse. Give me a person who has great leadership capacity, we can teach them asset protection through LPQ and LPC and on-the-job training. We have thousands of years of experience in AP within Walmart. We can teach them AP.EDITOR: If I’m a young person, where do I go to find out about these opportunities and how does Walmart market these opportunities?MULLINS: In recent years, we have become involved with recruiting programs and external events that are more outside of our organization. For example, we are involved with the International Organization for Black Security Executives (IOBSE), and we’ve done some recruiting with the Loss Prevention Foundation. We’re getting more integrated with other organizations across the country, including the retail organizations.I am also working with the recruiting team that’s dedicated to asset protection. We’re working together to look for candidates with more diverse backgrounds. Walmart recruits from major colleges and universities across the country. But we always want to hear from other schools that have students with interesting and diverse backgrounds and work experience.EDITOR: Over the past eighteen months, you have broadened your personal work within the loss prevention community as a leader of some of those outreach initiatives. How can the leadership of today’s major retailers become more active in attracting young, new, and different talent to the AP field?MULLINS: I’d love to be able to go on the road with colleagues from the industry to visit universities and talk with students about the opportunities in retail AP. One challenge for all of us is time, and so we need to use other approaches. We need to take advantage of technology, such as recruiting via webinars or live video, and figure out how to use social media more effectively.I believe that I have an obligation to go out and find up-and-coming talent for Walmart and, of course, to develop the talent within the organization. For leaders of the retail LP industry, there is an obligation to do things together to attract talent to our field. At LP Foundation meetings and through RILA and FMI events, there is less sense of competition among our companies. This gives us the opportunity to be more open in sharing ideas and unified in this common effort.EDITOR: I know that you and other senior LP executives will be participating in the upcoming Asset Protection Leadership Committee session at RILA. Could you talk about that committee and some of its initiatives?MULLINS: One of the things we are looking at is talent development and recruiting; how we attract more people into the retail LP and safety field. We’re also looking at shrink management and inventory management processes, at how we can share best practices, using the expertise of the organizations that are around the table. Initially, there was concern that what happens at the big-box retailers is not necessarily what happens at some of the smaller retailers. I think we’ve done a good job ensuring that, when we’re brainstorming and sharing experiences, we are inclusive and representing the entire industry.We are not motivated by wanting to solve a Walmart-specific or Home Depot-specific problems. Rather, we want to afford our colleagues a venue to get together, look at how we can further advance the LP profession, discuss retail industry issues, and share best practices. We are also careful about not taking on too much and staying true to the desires expressed by industry leaders in the latest survey. In particular, they were interested in sharing best practices with regard to shrink management and talent development. It’s interesting to be a part of this grassroots process.EDITOR: You have mentioned that you didn’t wake up one morning as a young woman and say, “I want to be an AP executive in the retail industry.” Tell us about your career.MULLINS: As an undergrad, I majored in secondary education. But when I graduated, I decided I did not want to be “stuck” in the classroom. I already had some exposure to health and human services and social work. My mother worked for many years in social services and human services, and family members were in that field as well. That led me to become involved in the mental health field. I worked for several years in human services with children and adults with developmental disabilities, mental illness, and traumatic brain injury. I joined a non-profit organization that provided group home and apartment-living programs for people who had come out of state mental health institutions. It was a wonderful experience.After eight or nine years, I was ready to explore other opportunities. I heard about a graduate program in occupational safety and health and completed my master’s degree in safety at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie. I envisioned staying in the healthcare environment and was interested in compliance and licensing.As it turned out, I went into retail and started in the field with ShopKo Stores as a risk control manager. A few years later, I had the opportunity to join Walmart and did so in 1998 as a risk control manager. In 2002 I went to our logistics division as the director of loss prevention, safety, and compliance and was promoted to vice president in 2005. Two years later, I was invited to interview for this job, vice president of AP and safety for Walmart Stores U.S. I came into this role in June of 2007.EDITOR: In your early years at Walmart, were there individuals who were instrumental in helping or mentoring you?MULLINS: Walmart has a great environment in that regard. People want you to be successful. Along the way, various colleagues recognized that I had more to give or a learning curve to climb or they would challenge me to step out of my comfort zone. While I did not see myself here in this current role, as the company grew I was encouraged to take on additional responsibilities and look for opportunities that would give me a broader view of the business. Going into logistics was one of the best experiences I’ve had because I learned a lot about that side of the business as well as about LP. I also learned about what I needed to do differently in leading. My team taught me a great deal.What I love about Walmart is that there are so many supportive people who surround you. We want one another to be successful. I never go it alone, and that’s what I want my team to recognize. If you build these relationships and if you have the skill of collaborating and building business partnerships, you learn so much more.EDITOR: We can hear your passion and commitment. Fifteen years from now, how will your colleagues and team members talk about you as a mentor?MULLINS: I try to do for them what my mentors did for me—listen and provide counsel and candid feedback. I don’t have all the answers, but think I have a listening ear. I’m willing to share…formally and informally…the good experiences that I’ve had that helped push me forward in my career as well as the mistakes I’ve made.EDITOR: Like what?MULLINS: Not to get too distraught when things don’t go your way or when you feel like you’ve failed. It’s never as bad as what we think it is and it’s important to keep it all in proper perspective. It’s okay to stumble every once in a while. It keeps you humble, and I think humility is important as we grow as leaders, which is a never-ending process. It’s important to learn from the mistakes you’ve made, and to recognize the signs when you might need to take a step back and refocus.I don’t have all of the answers and most people who I mentor recognize that it’s more of a dialog, a discussion, a sharing of experiences and ideas between one another. Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now