Potrerillos Neighborhood Watch Report: 11/APR/12 (with additions)

Following is the latest Potrerillos Neighborhood Watch Report. Click on the photo for a larger image.

Potrerillos has been quiet, however there was one minor incident where an American from Potrerillos was assaulted.

On the date of Sunday 8-APR-12 a 68 year old American Man who lives in Potrerillos Arriba was the victim of assault when he had a heated exchange with his neighbor who is described as a Local National. The incident occurred when the American Resident had allowed his pet birds to venture onto the neighbors property. The neighbor became enraged and confronted the American about his animals. Information provided indicates that the Local National neighbor lost his cool and struck the American man on the side of his head and grabbed his ears. The Local Man also supposedly threatened to further harm him if he didn’t control his animals, this according to the American victim. The victim also filed a criminal complaint with the Police in Dolega. The victim received no injuries.

Several crimes to report from David;

Approximately 4 days ago an unspecified sum of money was stolen from an unsuspecting individual described as a Panamanian National when he was trying to purchase a car from another individual of Panamanian Origin. The incident occurred in the parking lot of Do-It Center when the two individuals agreed to meet to transfer ownership of a privately owned vehicle. The seller was provided the requested funds and produced what appeared to be authentic documents (title) intended to transfer the car. The victim was provided what appeared to be a key to the car and the paperwork. However the seller indicated that he needed to intercept his wife who was unable to come to their location but would supposedly be driving through the area so she could indorse the documents. The seller (suspect) requested that the buyer stand by in the parking lot while the seller drove off in the car one last time to catch his wife who was reportedly nearby.

Both the car and the victim’s money vanished leaving the victim waiting in the parking lot with a fake key and fake documents, this according to El Terronal Mall Security.

If and when you park your vehicle in the El Terronal Mall look for Sgt. Ivan (photo attached) who generally works in the front parking lot adjacent to Reys. Sgt. Ivan will be happy to watch over your auto while you shop.

In another criminal incident a Panamanian Man of retirement age was the victim of strong-arm robbery when he (the victim) was utilizing an ATM machine located at the Aztec Bank in David. The incident occurred when the victim was robbed of $300 in cash that he had retrieved from the ATM just moments prior, this according to Police Officials from David. Information provided indicates that the suspect believed to be a local thief was lying in wait for an unsuspecting customer to withdraw money from the ATM.

If you use ATM machines in Panama you should not conduct business alone, having a companion can and will often cause a potential thief to pause as he or she will now have to deal with several individuals as opposed to a lone victim. You are also advised to avoid using ATM’s in isolated locations and on paydays as this is like a dinner bell for thieves.

Now an update from the Potrerillos Water Team (American) Facilitator who represents the Expatriate Communities interests in the repair, restoration and control of the Communities Water Supply.

A request was sent out to the Ex-pat Community for assistance with the communities ageing water system. So far the response had been a little slow and insufficient to get us where we need to be in order to support the efforts to acquire much needed repair materials. The Potrerillos Water Distribution lines are approximately 30 years old and have been not only seriously neglected but have been slowly falling apart and suffers from lack of maintenance (IDAAN) including the damaging effects of mother nature.

A group of vested individuals from Potrerillos Arriba has decided to establish a Repair Team that I have named the Water Team. It consists of former IDAAN employees and long term residence who are tired of not having a reliable water supply. Initially the small group of Panamanian residence were struggling to fix and hold the water system together with little to nothing to work with and having to personally absorb all the costs. This repair activity has gained the attention of many in the Potrerillos Ex-pat community including myself. I have volunteered to be the Ex-pat point man in the struggle to help fix and maintain our Communities Water System.

A call went out for donations to help acquire repair materials including PVC pipes and pipe Unions both 4” & 6” along with PVC glue, fuel for chain saws and other support materials.

So far we have received donations from only 11 individuals out of the estimated 250 Ex-pats who reside in Potrerillos, most of whom benefit from this water source. I have received just $260 however the cost estimates for the needed materials are upwards of $650+. More cooperation is needed in order to insure that the Water Team receives the basic supplies we need to keep your water flowing. You are encouraged to participate in the repair and maintenance of our Community Water Service.

I have received 3 price quotes from local material suppliers in David for the acquisition of the needed materials, first one= $677, second= $644, third= $674. We are far short of the goal of $750+.

You are requested to contact all of your neighbors both Ex-pat and Panamanian and encourage them to support the Potrerillos Water Team. Don’t wait until the water stops flowing to mobilize, we are trying to put together a small stock pile of repair materials needed to respond to water outages caused by a variety of problems that the water system face mostly up in the mountains near the Aquifer (Toma).

There is also a renewed interest in re transferring the ownership, maintenance and control of the Water System back to the Potrerillos Community. The Water System was constructed in 1980 by unknown member of the Potrerillos Community however approximately 15 years ago one of the former Representatives of Potrerillos Arriba sold the Community’s Water System to IDAAN. 15 years later IDAAN had basically abandoned the system and the community witch it serves. While IDAAN continues to collect the fees albeit small they also continue to systematically avoid and deny us the much needed maintenance and repair of the ageing system. In short they have forgotten us.

A group of vested individuals from Potrerillos are launching an initiative to take back the Water System from IDAAN including full ownership, maintenance oversight and administrative control of our water supply and delivery system.

There are approximately 500+ users tied into the main lines coming from the Aquifer (Toma) running all the way down to the end users at the Potrerillos Gas Station plus perhaps 3 additional home past that. Also there are several customers that are tied into the main lines leading down the El Banco Road. It is estimated that the service lines run about ¾ of a mile down the El Banco road before it terminates. Homes beyond that are serviced by a different source as I understand it.

The entire water system is approximately 12 miles long and services over 500 homes. Each home holds an account with IDAAN that produces a monthly revenue stream of about $1,500. This averages out to approximately $3 and change per house hold. If and when the Community is successful in recapturing the Water System from IDAAN the plan is to establish a local Administrator whose monthly salary would be around $400 or $500, this would leave about $1000 per month to fund repair and maintenance activities and also hire a part time employee to distribute the local water bills.

This is what I know at this point as your Water Team Representative. It should be noted that all donations, donors, expenses and any acquired materials for which the donated funds are intended will be considered public information and can and will be made publicly available as this project becomes better organized and better funded. We have received a total of $260 from 11 donations with several more who have pledged donations of $20 each but have yet to deliver. It is also understood that if for any reason this plan falls apart then all the donated funds will be returned to their original donors.

Additionally several people have expressed interest in touring the Toma site that feed our Community’s Water Supply. It is my intention to put together a trip up to the natural spring Aquifer (or Toma as it is called in Spanish) that bubbles up and out of the ground high up in the mountains above Potrerillos Arriba. It is about a 10 mile 4×4 ride up to end of the road and then another 1 ½ to 2 miles hike on a foot path that leads to the Toma.

I am hoping to arrange a trip up to the Toma in about two weeks or so, so anyone interested in seeing the site will need to coordinate with me so I can put together a plan. Perhaps we can make it a trail clearing mission and clean up the foot path along the way. This will require at least 2 chain saws w/gas support and a handful of machetes and shovels with human beings to operate them. Volunteers are needed, please contact me if you want to help.

Potrerillos Neighborhood Watch Facilitator

And now Water Team Facilitator.

13 thoughts on “Potrerillos Neighborhood Watch Report: 11/APR/12 (with additions)

  1. Greg,
    I want to help on the water problem and go on the trip. Can you reduce the above announcement and email it to me in Spanish so I can print copies of it to post around town and pass it around to my panamanian friends?

  2. Pingback: Happenings in Plaza El Terronal | Chiriquí Chatter

  3. The Gov’t in Panama should take a recess with getting money in with condos and apartments and take care of the citizens that live here. Stop the growth until they can handle what is actually needed with a reduction of gas prices, water supply to all who live here and a reduction in the crime and corruption. Starting from the bottom up and not from the top down would help the economy better.

  4. This may be all for nothing as the government has just announced a new water authority to handle all water distribution for the entire country…..

  5. I would like to ask what was the source of your Intel. I would also like to add that our small community is basically a rural township far removed from the big city influences plus our only water supply belongs to the Township not the government. It was built by members of our community 30 years ago and services only our community and is generated from a natural aquifer that is high up in the mountains above the town. No pumps, no chemical additives and very little interference from Government Entities. There is a Water Authority IDAAN but they do nothing but collect a small monthly fee of $3.49 per house hold that is hooked up to the source. They used to service the lines and make repair as needed but in recent times they have abandon us, so we are jumping in to fix and maintaining the system ourselves in order to keep the water flowing in the absents of help from IDAAN. There is an abundance of water, in fact at least 1/3 of the water shed is purged onto area stream as excess.
    If the GOV wants to control the townships nongovernmental natural spring water source then they might be in for a fight from the residents or our rural township.

  6. The person attacked was 78 and the attacker was NOT a panamanian though a latino.

  7. We met Sgt. Ivan today! I pointed out my window on the drivers side for which the motor does not work (close by hand) he said he would watch it closely. I asked him what he would like to drink. he asked for an orange juice so I got him a Gatorade. He was very excired and praised Greg Meyers no end. Felt real good.

  8. Joseph
    I try my best but with all the sketchy info I receive and later attempt to interpret and report it to the good folks of Chiriqui and sometimes becomes challenging. Fortunately the victim was given the benefit of the doubt on his age, must feel good to lose a few years. Also the hope is that Sgt. Ivan will be taken care of by those who recognize his diligent efforts to keep us safe.
    He’s a retired Police Officer so he known’s what he’s doing. Perhaps enough people will recognize his professional service and someone will take the time to write a letter of appreciation and sent it to the Director of his employer. Good job looking after him!!

  9. Greg,
    I strongly suspect that this water project you have taken on might backfire on you. I beleive so because the populace of Potrerillos is not aware of what is going on. They can’t know because you have not told them about it. I say this because I know a lot of locals here and when I ask them what they think about it they do not have a clue. I suggest you give them your news in Spanish and pass out the news via local stores in the form of news bulletins. These people have had enough of rulership without representation. But given the chance they will give you all the help you will ever need. Thanks, Joseph.

  10. Joseph,
    I can’t speak for your observation but I can clarify what I am doing or trying to do and what I am certainly not doing. Also I am not in contact with the Panamanian components of our community rather I am acting on behalf of the Ex-pats only. There are many other individuals of Panamanian origin who make up the Water Team and are tasked with communicating and representing the interests of the Panamanians in our community, not me.
    I am acting in good faith as a citizen of our Community and have volunteered to represent the Expatriates in our Township as it relates to certain water issues including the support for the informal Water Team.

    I am collecting donations from vested members of the Potrerillos Community to acquire some basic repair materials to help keep the “upper stage” of the Water System working. This consists of the acquisition or intended acquisition of several 4 and 6 inch schedule 40 PVC pipes including a supply of specials O-ring type pipe connectors that will facilitate repairs of the main line(s) coming from the Aquifer or Toma as it is called.

    There is a group of dedicated Panamanian citizens from Potrerillos who have kept the water system working for a long time however they have been absorbing all the costs and labor to keep all of us in the community with water. I was approached and asked to invite the Ex-pats in our community to participate in the upkeep of our water system. This would reasonably include assisting in the costs associated with repair materials as needed. Considering that I facilitate the Public Safety Programs in Potrerillos I decided to support their efforts and solicit additional assistance from the Gringo Community as I have greater access to them.

    What am I not doing,
    I am not doing anything more that assisting (on behalf of the Ex-pats) with skilled labor, advice and providing donated repair materials as needed. None of the donated cash that I have accumulated will be directly provided to the Water Team rather just repair materials and labor. However one possible exception would be to provide a small “reasonable” sum of money for fuel to those Water Team members who drive their privately owned vehicles up to the Toma, a 20 mile round trip drive.

    I am also NOT involved in the renewed effort to regain control of the Water System from IDAAN, that is a movement initiated and facilitated by several local Panamanians from Potrerillos.
    No Expatriates are involved in the plan to recapture the Townships Water System away from IDAAN, please make sure you are communicating this information correctly to your Local National contacts. You are also encouraged to donate $20 to the fund raiser that I am heading up so as to provide material support to help keep the Townships Water System operational.

  11. Greg,
    I have the highest regard for what you are doing. You are to be commended. I am sure that all of the expats agree. I understand your involvement with the physical system and your non-involvement with the IDAAN situation.
    All I am saying is that many locals know nothing about all that is going on. And that is a fact. That being the case what are the Panamanians doing that are tasked to inform the public as you just mentioned? Do they have an agenda of their own? Who are they? What are their names. What are their long range plans? Are they going to start a corporation? Are they going to raise the rates sooner or later? And it sounds like they themselves might have the best ibterests of the locals at heart. But why aren’t they informing everybody? I should really care less because I am a tenant and my landlord provides me with the same water. But I care about these locals and don’t want to see them hurt. Have one of these Panamanians you are working with comment here about there involvement (in Spanish). Thanks, Joseph

  12. Hi Joseph,
    You are correct in your observations, this sort of “take matters into our own hands” is what sets up the us vs. them situation that never turns out right. The locals have dealt with the problems for decades, failing to talk with them and finding out what is really needed is a classic newcomer mistake (one I have made often).

    Quite possibly, there are some locals who don’t want the water system “fixed” as they are at the headwater and have all the water they want.
    jim and nena
    fort worth, tx

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