By Lonnie WheatleyDODGE CITY, Kan. – Activity is picking up around the Dodge City Raceway Park 3/8-mile clay oval with opening night just 10 days away.But first, an open practice session is on tap for this Saturday, March 24 from 6-9 p.m.Grandstand admission is free with a $20 fee per person for admittance to the pit area. The practice session is open to all.Saturday’s practice session precedes the 2018 season opener by seven nights, with the Dodge City Raceway Park season officially getting under way on Saturday night, March 31.The March 31 season opener will feature a full card of championship racing action including IMCA Modifieds, IMCA SportMods, IMCA Sunoco Stock Cars and IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stocks.The March 31 event fires off at 7:30 p.m. with tickets $15 for adults while children 11 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Pit passes are $30.In total, the 2018 season at Dodge City Raceway Park is slated for 17 nights of action following Saturday’s open practice session.
Fifa has suspended the Benin Football Federation (FBF) from global football after a court ruling in the country blocked upcoming elections.A statement from football’s world governing body said: “The Benin Football Association (FBF) was suspended with immediate effect due to a recent injunction by a local judicial court which impeded the holding of the due election.”It means Benin are set to miss June’s 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Equatorial Guinea.The decision was made at the inaugural Fifa Council meeting, which is being held in Mexico.A court ruling in Benin on 4 May prevented the FBF from holding presidential elections and the suspension will be lifted only once a new Executive Committee has been installed.Benin are currently second in Group C, two points behind group leaders Mali. The Squirrels are due to host Equatorial Guinea on the weekend of 3-5 June and then travel to face Mali in September.Only the group winners guaranteed a place at the 2017 finals in Gabon.The Fifa Council meeting also ratified a recent of the decision of the bureau of the Council to appoint a normalisation committee to run the daily affairs of the Guinea Football Federation. –Follow Joy Sports on Twitter: @JoySportsGH. Our hashtag is #JoySports
By John BurtonAfter two decades at Ranney School, headmaster announces his retirementRanney School Head of School Dr. Lawrence S. Sykoff with ninth-grade students, from left, George Timmins, Alexis Auletta, and Jacqueline Lee.TINTON FALLS – The last nearly 20 years have brought a lot of changes, Dr. Lawrence S. Sykoff observed this week as he sat down to talk about his time as head of school at the Ranney School.While there have been changes in technology, education and in the actual facility, there have also been personal changes.“I think anyone who’s been in a position for 20 years changes with the school,” Sykoff said. “I think I really learned to value the people I met along way. I think all of that changes you.”Sykoff is looking toward his latest change, as he prepares to step down as the school’s head at the end of the 2012-13 school year.When Sykoff arrived at Ranney back in 1993, he remembered the facility had 12 Apple computers. “And we really thought we were cool,” he said, showing a smile over that quaint remembrance. The school now has more than 500 computers on campus and has established a laptop-to-laptop program for students to communicate with each other.There have been other, more significant changes in the past 20 years, Sykoff said. During his tenure the student population doubled to its current total of approximately 820 in the school’s pre-K-12 grade and the facility has grown by 150,000 square feet on the campus’s 61 acres off Hope Road.A major factor at the school has been the rise of the Internet, which Sykoff said, has had a significant impact on education and how the school provides that education. Twenty years ago, he said, students studying about Europe would go to the encyclopedias or other volumes and look up the entries.“Now,” he said, “students would use Skype and talk to people in Europe.“I think because of technology, students have more access to information at an earlier age,” he said. “We have a parent body that places an emphasis on 21st-century thinking.”Over the years the school, which was established in 1960, has continued to formulate and execute continuing three- and five-year plans to ensure it progresses and advances. Sykoff said he is a strong advocate for what he called “deliberate strategic planning,” a subject on which he has written books and given talks to professional groups.“The key is being great by choice,” he extolled.There have been numerous times that Sykoff has seen students begin at Ranney at age 3 and continue until 12th-grade graduation. When they arrive they get teddy bears and when they leave many continue their relationship with the headmaster and have a lifelong friendship.When they arrive, he said, “They call me the ‘teddy bear man.’ And when they graduate they call me Uncle Larry.”Over the years, students have remained in contact with him inviting him to college, law and medical school graduations and weddings. He recently attended the commencement ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis for two former students.Thinking back, he said he “will never forget that look in students’ eyes when I hand them their diplomas. They just sparkle.”As for his future, Sykoff, who is 64, said that it would be “maybe not retiring but rewiring.” He will continue to be part of the school community beyond June 2013, in a limited, advisory capacity and will be “helping with the transition of leadership.”He also plans to continue his work with various charitable organizations he has been working with over the years.“My charity work has always been very important to me,” he said.For the school’s future, he expects there will be more of what the school, which is still relatively young, has begun to see, as former students send their children and continue to establish that legacy.That legacy is one of “scholarship plus character,” he stressed.“Good students and good people,” Sykoff said. “That’s the legacy.”
1 Raheem Sterling Manuel Pellegrini refused to blame Raheem Sterling following Manchester City’s defeat to Juventus as he insisted his side did not get what they deserved.City went down 2-1 to the Italian champions in their opening Champions League group stage game on Tuesday night.Sterling was guilty of missing two good chances for the hosts, and his performance drew criticism from Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard, who was acting as a TV pundit.Pellegrini admitted he was disappointed his side were not more clinical, but he was not prepared to point the finger at his summer £49million signing.He said: “I expect that when we have chances we must score. The differences are very slight, especially against a strong team like Juventus. Maybe Juventus didn’t create so many chances but they had a strong finish.“I don’t think this result is just because of Raheem. We controlled the game and didn’t have many problems but football is like that.“I don’t think we deserved to lose. We played better than Juventus and we had three clear opportunities to score.“Buffon made some very good saves but I think we were very unlucky. We never want to lose here at home, we never want to lose important points, but we have 15 points more to play for.”
Frank Lampard is the latest Chelsea player to be linked with a move to China.The Sun say Super League outfit Guizhou Renhe are willing to pay Lampard and Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand £250,000-a-week each.Lampard has also been linked with a move to the United States.It is also claimed that the club plan to make an offer to Real Madrid’s former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.Guizhou chairman Wang Guolin said: “I want the best team in China and we are prepared to invest a lot of money to bring Ferdinand and Lampard to us.“Many people here watch the Premier League and know how good the two players are.”Meanwhile, the Daily Mail suggest Borussia Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp is now a serious contender to become Chelsea’s next manager.It is believed Klopp could take over should top choices Pep Guardiola and Mourinho prove to be out of reach.The Independent say Chelsea are planning a £30m bid to land Newcastle pair Cheick Tioté and Tim Krul in the summer.And Dickson Etuhu has vowed to quit Fulham in the summer after falling out with boss Martin Jol, The Sun report.The Nigeria midfielder, 29, recently lost his first-team place to new signing Mahamadou Diarra and apparently believes he will be moving on at the end of the season.Etuhu is quoted as saying: “All is not well with me and the manager and I think I’ll be heading out of the club in the summer.“But, right now, I’m focused on helping Fulham get a European spot for next season.”Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebook
In the remote Karoo village of Nieu Bethesda is a fascinating world of concrete sculpture, fantastic figures and mythical beasts set around a house decorated with luminous paint and multicoloured panes of glass.This is the Owl House, created by the reclusive Helen Martins and her labourer Koos Malgas in the 1940s and now regarded as a masterpiece of visionary art.Nieu-Bethesda, set in a valley of the Sneeuberg Mountains, is in the heart of the vast and arid territory known as the Great Karoo. The town was once the vibrant centre of the local farming community, but in the 1940s and ’50s was eclipsed by larger towns in the district and went into decline.Having lived and worked in different parts of South Africa, in her late forties Martins found herself divorced and alone, her parents dead, and back in the tiny town in which she grew up. The Owl House was her attempt to bring light, life and colour into her lonely grey world, and soon became a major obsession.Martins was born in December 1897 and grew up in Nieu Bethesda, the youngest of six children. She obtained a teacher’s diploma in nearby Graaff-Reinet and moved to the then Transvaal province to teach.In 1920 she married Johannes Pienaar, a teacher, dramatist and in later years a politician. The couple lived on her brother Peter’s farm at Wakkerstroom in the Transvaal, and appeared in theatrical productions together. Helen also spent time in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. The marriage was troubled and officially ended in 1926.In the late 1920s Martins returned to Nieu Bethesda to care for her elderly parents. Her mother died in 1941 and her father in 1945. She was left alone, with few prospects, in the remote Karoo village. Some time after this, when she was in her late forties or early fifties, she began to transform her surroundings.Light and colourThe story goes that Martins lay ill in bed one night, the moon shining through the window, dwelling on how grey her life had become. There and then she resolved to bring light and colour into her life.It is not known in what order the work was done, other than that the interior of the house was virtually completed before the exterior was begun. There was no overall plan, but what began as decoration soon developed into a fascination with the interplay of reflection and space, of light, dark and different colours.From the mundane articles around her, Martins created sun-faces, owls and other images. These were set against a luminous backdrop of walls and ceilings coated with elaborate patterns of crushed glass embedded in bands of brightly coloured paint.It was only when the interior of the house was virtually completed that Martins applied her imagination to the world beyond her door. She was particularly inspired by biblical texts, the poetry of Omar Khayyam, and the works of William Blake.A unique creative partnershipIn order to accomplish the transformation of her environment, Martins hired the services of local workmen. First Jonas Adams and then Piet van der Merwe were employed with structural modifications to the interior of the house – mostly replacing original windows with the vast panes of glass that bathe Martins’s home in multicoloured light.In 1964 or thereabouts, she employed itinerant sheepshearer and builder Koos Malgas, who quickly developed techniques for manufacturing cement and glass sculptures. Martins obviously appreciated his ability and soon he was regularly employed on the creation of the Owl House.Every sculpture would be discussed beforehand over early morning coffee in the kitchen and, although Martins seldom did any of the physical work, together they would engineer each new inspiration into being. This process developed into a unique creative relationship that clearly defines Malgas’s integral part in the creation of the Owl House.Over about 12 years Martins and Malgas created from her imaginings the hundreds of sculptures and relief figures that crowd the Camel Yard and cover the walls of the house. Owls and camels – her favourite animals – predominate, but all kinds of real and fantastical beings are to be found. A procession of shepherds and wise men lead a vast, almost life-size camel train toward the east, integrating Christianity with Martins’s fascination for the Orient.The arched entranceway from the street, watched over by a stoic double-faced owl, is significantly barricaded by a tall mesh fence and a stand of tall queen-of-the-night cacti. Like the elaborately bottle-skirted hostesses within the yard, this arch must have been intended to welcome the visitor, but the fence speaks plainly of an increasingly troubled relationship between Martins and the outside world.An intensely passionate personIt is certain that Martins sought praise and attention through her work, but as time passed, and derision and suspicion grew in the village, she became increasingly reclusive. She was notorious for not taking care of herself and as time, arthritis, and her arduous work took its toll she became shy of her appearance and took great pains to avoid seeing people in the street.The friends she had, however, describe her as an intensely passionate person who became animated when discussing the latest ideas for her creation.To pursue her vision, Martins endured great physical and emotional hardship – until her eyesight began to fail. On a winter morning in 1976, at the age of 78, she committed suicide by swallowing caustic soda. It was her wish that her creation be preserved as a museum.After Martins’s death Koos Malgas stayed in the district for a further two years, until he moved to Worcester. In 1991 he was persuaded to return to Nieu Bethesda, where he helped restore Owl House until he retired in 1996. Koos Malgas passed away in Graaff-Reinet on 20 November 2000, in his early sixties.Martins’s desire to be recognised as an artist is magnificently realised in the attention the Owl House receives, and in the fact that her artwork, once an object of derision and embarrassment, has become the most important asset of the village of Nieu Bethesda.The latest yearly count of visitors to the Owl House has topped 13 000. As a direct result, the village now has 16 guesthouses, two restaurants, a coffee shop, a pub and two art galleries. Economic development has, so far, proceeded with suitable regard for the cultural and historical integrity of the village.The Owl House FoundationAfter Martins’s death in August 1976, the Owl House fell into disrepair and some articles were removed. After an outcry of concerned individuals the property was transferred to the ownership of the local council. Support organisations – most notably the Friends of the Owl House (Fooh) and their primary sponsor, PPC Cement – made physical and financial contributions to its upkeep.In 1991, Fooh brought Koos Malgas back to Nieu Bethesda to restore and maintain the Camel Yard. It is thanks to these initiatives that the Owl House survives in relatively good condition today.In 1996 the Owl House Foundation was formed as a non-profit organisation made up of Nieu Bethesda residents, the local council, PPC Cement and Fooh to provide a more consistent and locally based administration for a significant cultural heritage and tourist attraction. The foundation administers the Owl House by legal arrangement with the local council.Source: Owl House FoundationSAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material
South Africa’s electricity utility Eskom is set to increase free basic electricity for the poor. (Image: MediaClubSouthAfrica.com.For more free photos, visit the image library.) MEDIA CONTACTS • Fani Zulu Eskom Spokesperson +27 82 451 0457 +27 11 800 2265 [email protected] • Wanda Langenhoven Media liaison – Nersa +27 12 401 4600 [email protected] RELATED ARTICLES • Eskom gets $500m for upgrade • Eskom still cheaper than most • South Africa tackles power crisis • No power cuts in 2010 • Power from the South African Sun • SA’s power plan surges ahead Nosimilo NdlovuAs South Africans brace for a 45% electricity tariff increase, the poor have been thrown a lifeline in the form of a proposed increase in free basic power from Eskom, the country’s electricity utility.Speaking at a press briefing in Cape Town on 6 October 2009, Eskom chief executive Jacob Maroga said the plan is to up the basic free electricity allocation to poor households throughout South Africa – from 50 kilowatts per month to between 70 and 100 kilowatts by next year.In 2002 the South African government adopted a policy on free basic electricity, allocating 50 free kilowatts per month to poor households, but over the years indigent South Africans have been appealing for an increase, saying this standard amount is not enough for growing households’ needs.Reacting to Maroga’s announcement, Nonhlalhla Ntuli from Soweto – South Africa’s largest township, south of Johannesburg – said her community is encouraged by Eskom’s proposal as they feel their grievances are finally being heard.“We have been asking for an increase to at least 100 kilowatts, because 50 kilowatts is just not enough for the number of people living in each home,” she said.Ntuli believes the current allocation is not realistic. “It’s only enough for a household of two or three people: 50 kilowatts provides basic lighting, water heating using a kettle, ironing and maybe connection for TV and radio. Most houses here have six or more people, meaning the free electricity lasts a week at most, then you have to buy electricity for the rest of the month with money we simply don’t have.”Maroga cautioned that there might be another big hike in electricity tariffs when the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) decides on Eskom’s tariff restructuring application.The outcome of this decision will only be politically acceptable if measures are proposed to limit the effect on the poor – a continuing concern of members of parliament’s public enterprises committee. The committee is the shareholder representative for government with oversight responsibility for state-owned enterprises such as Eskom.The utility came under fire in June 2009 for increasing its electricity tariffs by 31,7%. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) along with other organisations and opposition political parties felt it was an unfair increase which would affect the poor severely.Eskom applied to Nersa for the increase to help it expand power-generation capacity over the next five years. It plans to spend US$52.2-billion (R385-billion) on building new plants during this period to to meet rising electricity demand in South Africa.Relief for Soweto’s residentsFor two years the Soweto Concerned Residents (SRC), an organisation that fights for basic needs in the community, has been appealing to Eskom not to increase the price of electricity as this would make it unaffordable. The SCR has approached government many times, asking it to protect the poor and offer them more free basic electricity.Thabiso Molefe of the SCR said Eskom’s price hikes are a real concern for his community. “Residents here often go without once the free electricity runs out, the continued price hikes have made it even more difficult for poor people to be able to top up their electricity. Increasing the [allocation of] free basic electricity is a huge need for us,” he said.Residents of Alexandra, one of South Africa’s most densely populated townships situated east of Johannesburg, are reassured by Eskom’s announcement. They say they believe this move by Eskom is only the beginning.“We believe our new government is a listening government not a dictator, they are sympathetic and really concerned about the problems of the poor in this country,” said Mangwane Raapoo.“This is only the beginning. I believe we will see more relief for the poor. Eskom has been so stubborn all along but now they are listening because there is a new man in power [President Jacob Zuma] who understands what it’s like to be poor,” she added.• Queries or comments? Contact Nosimilo Ndlovu at [email protected]
The ICC announced on Tuesday its latest rankings after India won the second Investec Test against England by 95 runs on Monday.According to the press release, India’s win has seen its young players make noticeable improvements on the Reliance ICC Test Player Rankings. India leads the five-Test series with the third Test to start in Southampton on July 27. Players who have risen in the rankings following the historic win include Man of the Match Ishant Sharma, fellow fast bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar, opener Murali Vijay and middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane.In the ICC Player Rankings for Test Bowlers, Ishant Sharma has returned to the top 20 for the first time in nearly three years. Following his match figures of seven for 135, including seven for 74 in the second innings, the towering Delhi bowler has jumped three places to 20th position. Sharma was last in 20th position following the third Test against the West Indies in Mumbai in 2013.Sharma now trails off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (11th), the highest-ranked India bowler, by 139 ratings points.Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 24, returned match figures of 47-17-103-6, including six for 82 in the first innings. He has vaulted 12 places to claim 34th position with team-mate Ravindra Jadeja in 28th position firmly within his sights.In the ICC Player Rankings for Test Batsmen, Vijay has rocketed 11 places to claim 19th position following his contributions of 24 and 95. This is his career-best ranking to date. Vijay is the third India batsman behind Cheteshwar Pujara (8th) and Virat Kohli (14th) to feature in the top 20.advertisementRahane, who scored a masterly 103 in the first innings, has gained 11 places on the table and is now sitting in 35th position.South Africa’s AB de Villiers is the No 1 Test batsman in the world, followed by Kumara Sangakkara and David Warner. Dale Steyn retains the top spot among bowlers, followed by Ryan Harris and Mitchell Johnson.