CHI Fit & Smart Ready To Eat Cereal (Voice Over) – Nigeria

TV Commercial for CHI Fit & Smart Ready-To-Eat-Cereal
Client: Tropical General Investments Nigeria. Ltd.
Product: CHI F&S Ready-To-Eat-Cereal
Genre: TV Commercial
Duration: 60 sec.
Production House: AKKI Productions Pvt. Ltd.
Voice Over Artist : Thomson Andrews
Director: Pruthujay K. Raghani
DOP: Aakash K. Raghani
Producer: Ms. R. Mayuri

This content was originally published here.

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#KitaJagaKita: Singaporeans Are Helping Stranded Malaysians With a Place to Stay

#KitaJagaKita: Singaporeans Are Helping Stranded Malaysians With a Place to Stay

You can define humanity in a lot of ways and as cases of Covid-19 continue to surge, a little bit of kindness is what we all need. Just check out the hashtag #KitaJagaKita on your social media platforms and you’ll be surprised with the amount of Malaysians that are going out of their way to help each other at times like this.

This sentiment has spread across the crossway to Singapore too! Netizens down in SG are opening their homes to Malaysian workers who are stranded without accommodation after the Restrictive Movement Order (RMO), last Wednesday.

According to The Star, in response to a report about 20 Malaysians spending the night outside Kranji MRT station, many Singaporeans offered to house the workers in their own homes or to provide them with food and blankets.

A generous citizen, Eriyani Bakeri, offered one of her family’s spare rooms for free. Although she was not well-off, the housewife said she was saddened by the plight of the Malaysian workers in the aftermath of RMO and was more than happy to cook more food for her guests.

Charity organisation – Homeless Hearts of Singapore is doing their part by linking up Singaporeans who have rooms to offer to the Malaysians.

Ummar Hasim, on the other hand, called on fellow Singaporeans – through the Couchsurfing SG Facebook page to open up their homes to the workers. The group, of which he is a member, lets Singaporeans host travellers during their stay there.

Another SG citizen, Levin Foo, ordered 40 sleeping bags, 40 blankets, as well as some hand sanitisers and masks to distribute to workers still searching for a place to stay. The self-employed 36-year-old said the items cost about S$700 (RM2,130) in all and were sponsored by a friend.

“They have to leave their families to come to Singapore to work. Some Singaporeans don’t understand this,” he said.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth – Grace Fu, urged members of the public to contact the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) if they knew of any Malaysians who needed temporary accommodation. Fu said various Singapore government agencies were helping house Malaysian workers at the Jurong East Sports Hall, which has been converted to a temporary relief centre.

The workers are given a ‘ready pack’, which includes items such as toiletries, towel, toilet paper and a sleeping bag. They can even shower and wash up before leaving for work in the morning.

At times like this, we need to think about the less fortunate but most importantly, we need to act too. Do as much as you can while moving as little as possible. Whether it’s donating money to a charity, helping your neighbours to get some groceries, or even tipping your food-delivery rider.. let’s help each other as much as we can!

For more news, click here. 

“Oh, nothing! Just an e-girl reading an e-book”

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Death Threats On Our Director Satanic, Can Plunge Nigeria Into Religious War, MURIC Warns

person

*insists Muslims in South West sidelined on Amotekun

By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja

South West States Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) chairmen have called for the immediate arrest of some persons for allegedly issuing out death threats to it’s Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, saying it Satanic and could engulf Nigeria in a religious crisis.

They expressed this in a statement jointly signed by the six chairmen Ekiti (Murician Qasim Salahudeen), Ogun (Murician Tajudeen Jimoh), Oyo (Murician Salahudeen Abdul Wasiu), Osun (Murician Marufdeen Odedeji), Ondo (Murician Abdul Ganiyu Maroof) and Lagos (Murician Shefiu Ayorinde) and made available to AUTHENTIC News Daily on Tuesday January 28, 2020.

“A twitter handler directed a death threat to the director and founder of our Islamic human rights organization, Professor Ishaq Akintola, about a week ago. 

“He wrote a chilling comment on Professor Akintola’s picture and posted it. 

“The post was, in turn, screenshot from the Whatshap status of a contact who identified herself as Tosin Elizabeth a.k.a ‘Hidee’ with telephone number 08163964812.

“The death threat was issued under the caption, ‘THIS COBRA NEEDS TO BE KILLED’ and the exact words used were:

“There is one big COBRA we must kill, before it kills all of us with its venom. This MURIC man, Professor Ishaq Akintola, must be tamed, else he will succeed in destroying Yorubaland with venom from his religious stupidity. He sees, he talks and behaves like a big radical Taliban. He’s an agent of disunity, and must be called to order before it is too late.”

“We, the chairmen of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) branches from the South West, specifically from Ekiti (Murician Qasim Salahudeen), Ogun (Murician Tajudeen Jimoh), Oyo (Murician Salahudeen Abdul Wasiu), Osun (Murician Marufdeen Odedeji), Ondo (Murician Abdul Ganiyu Maroof) and Lagos (Murician Shefiu Ayorinde) hereby totally and categorically condemn the death threat issued against Professor Ishaq Akintola, the director of our organization,” it said.

They said that the death threat is Satanic and provocative. 

“It is capable of causing religious crisis not only in the South West but in Nigeria as a whole. Apart from revealing a desire to assassinate our director, it is also an incitement of the Yoruba people against the founder and director of our organisation. We insist that no harm must come to Professor Ishaq Lakin Akintola.

“It is clear from the words used in the death threat that the brain behind the satanic message is a Yoruba person who feels aggrieved by MURIC’s stand on the Amotekun security outfit which the governors of the South West have proposed. 

“For the avoidance of doubt, MURIC did not oppose the establishment of a security unit in Yorubaland so long as it is for better security. MURIC only opposed the way Muslims in the region have been sidelined in the arrangement. We reject the idea of collecting birth certificate from churches or letters of recommendation from pastors.

“Is that why our leader must be killed? Is that why Akintola became your first target? Is there no freedom of speech in this country? Are we not in a democracy? Is this how you want to treat Muslims after establishing Amotekun? We are certain that your intention is to turn Amotekun to a terror machine. You want to train assassins for eliminating Muslim leaders one by one.

“Yoruba Muslims have the right to speak freely. We are in the land of our ancestors. We are not foreigners. Nobody can expel us from the land of Oduduwa. We will continue to exercise our fundamental human rights without fear while we remain peaceful and law abiding. We are willing to live peacefully with our neighbours whether they are Christians, traditionalists or atheists. 

“The Nigerian Constitution accommodates all faiths. We are even ready to join the new security outfits in our different states once the religious bias is removed and the legal technicalities are resolved. But no true Muslim will give his or her blessing to a security organization which begins by showing anti-Muslim bias and targeting our Muslim brothers in the North.

“For the sake of clarity, we affirm that MURIC is a peace-loving organization and our motto is ‘Dialogue, Not Violence’. Incidentally, our leader, Professor Akintola, is also a peace-loving man.

“He has never engaged in violence or supported any violent group. He has always condemned Boko Haram and promoted peaceful coexistence among the adherents of different faiths. Akintola is also an anti-corruption jihadist.

“The implications of attacking the director of MURIC will have far-reaching effect because MURIC is not about one man. Its membership spreads beyond the South West to the North. Those who have been used to persecuting the Muslims while the same oppressors shout to high heaven without anybody challenging them now see him as a threat because he has challenged the status quo and changed the narrative.

“Already, there is tension among the Muslims over the threat to Akintola and the Nigerian Council for Shariah (South West zone) issued a statement on the threat on Sunday, 27th January, 2020. Therefore, anybody planning to attack such a man is planning to plunge Nigeria into another crisis.

“We wish to warn those behind the death threat against Akintola to know what they are up against. Think well before you act. Akintola is the voice of the voiceless Muslims in Nigeria and he is recognized as such throughout the length and breadth of the country. You cannot attack such a person and get away with it so easily. Don’t cause trouble in Nigeria.

“This January 2020 alone, Akintola emerged as Number 4 Most Important Muslim in Nigeria for year 2019. This was the outcome of a public ranking conducted by a Nigerian newspaper. Also in 2019, our director and founder was turbaned the ‘Lion of Islam’ (Kinniun Adinni) by the League of Imams, Ikotun, Lagos State. We all know what it means for hundreds of Imams to unanimously agree to give such a title to an Islamic scholar. We do not need to remind those threatening to kill our director that the lion is the king of all animals, including the leopard (amotekun). What do you think will happen if the leopard attempts to launch an attack on the lion?

“In conclusion, we hereby call upon the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of the Department of State Security (DSS) to unmask, apprehend and prosecute those who threatened Professor Ishaq Akintola and to provide adequate protection for him. Professor Akintola is a tax payer and deserves to be well protected. 

“We believe that the security agencies will understand the enormity of the issue and realise that it is a matter of national interest. We affirm that Allah is the best protector and the Most Merciful (Glorious Qur’an 12:64). We also restate our full confidence in the ability of the Nigerian security agencies to get to the bottom of the matter, particularly with the lead provided above as the person on whose status the threat was screenshot (Tosin Elizabeth a.k.a ‘Hidee’, telephone number 08163964812).”

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Ripples over mechanic allegedly fortured to death by Rivers policemen

By Rosemary Nwisi, Port Harcourt and Nicholas Kalu, Abuja

Nigerians are demanding justice in the case of a Port Harcourt mechanic , Chima Ikwunado, said to have been falsely accused of robbery and tortured to death by the  police.

Four other young men described as Chima’s friends who were similarly arrested and slammed with the same allegations are languishing in prison.

The police denied killing Chima.

They said autopsy showed that he died of ‘high sugar level.’

The five men were arrested on December 19, 2019 ostensibly for driving against traffic in the city by officers  from Mile One police station.

The police ,according to a man who claimed to be the owner of one of the cars being test driven by Chima,demanded bribe from the boys who said they had no money on them.

He said that the police proceeded to search the boys only to find various sums of money.

His story which was shared on Twitter had generated over 11000 angry reactions as at 4pm yesterday.

His account: “I gave my car to my usual mechanic to fix AC Gas on the 19th of Dec 2019. Called him several times on the 20th and did not get an answer. I decided to visit his shop physically at Ikoku to find out that my car and the mechanic are nowhere to be found. I asked fellow mechanics around and one said he saw when the mechanic was driving one way and he suspects that he might have been apprehended by the Police. My mind came down a bit after hearing this.

“I started visiting Police Stations in Port-Harcourt one after the other making enquiries until I got to Mile 1 Police Station and I saw my car parked in front of the Eagle Crack Police Division(a.k.a E-Crack). I felt relief thinking that the Police is my friend, I was totally wrong. I presented myself quickly at the front desk to say that the car belongs to me and I want to know the reason it got to this place. I was shocked to be pointed a gun by one of the officers and I was asked to leave before I get shot. Wow…. I wondered what crime I could have committed to present myself as the owner of my car. But I had to leave before I get shot.

“I got to my house and was drafting a strategy to attack this issue. It was exactly 2hours later when I noticed a knock on my gate. I opened my gate to see a young man who introduced himself as ‘Obinna the brother to Chima’. Chima is the name of my mechanic. He asked me my name which I told him and that he was directed by his brother to meet me. So I asked him quickly if he knew the reason for the arrest. He said Chima told him that he and his boys were testing two cars, 3 boys in a Camry and 2 boys in my car, after doing some work on them. The traffic in Port-Harcourt around that time was terrible and they decided to drive one way.

“The police apprehend them and asked them for money. They offered an amount which was not comfortable for the Police officers. The eyes of the Police officers were completely red looking for money to solve their Christmas matters as this usually happens during the Christmas festive period in Nigeria. The police officers immediately changed the case to robbery, accusing the boys of robbing the two cars.

“The officers asked the boys to raise their hands and searched their pockets. They found money in each of the pockets of the boys. According to Obinna, N97,000.00(ninety seven thousand naira) was found on Chima, N50,000.00 (Fifty thousand naira) on one of them, N16,000.00(Sixteen thousand) on another etc, totally over N150,000.00(one hundred and fifty thousand naira) in their pockets. In the minds of the Police officers; (we cannot afford to loose this money we have seen physically in their pockets. Our Christmas is guaranteed a success if we can obtain all the money). Which indeed they achieved.

“Hand cuffed all of them, took their money and their telephones and arraigned them to the Police Station. Getting to the station, hung this boys upside down in fan hooks and started brutality on them with various weapons. The youngest of them which is only 19yrs was almost at the point of death and accepted to confess whatever they ask him to say. He started making false confession about my car, he agreed that my car was rubbed and that, the car belongs to a lady and that, they jumped into the ladies compound, broke the glass of the car, opened the door and used a master key to start the car. Broke the gate and drove off.

“This was the information I got from Mr. Obinna. At least I know the reason why my car is there. So I made contact with the Nigerian Air force Base who sent 2 soldiers to accompany me in my next visit. The two soldiers arrived my residence and accompanied me.

On arrival at the Mile 1 E-Crack Division, the IPO in charge of the case was very rude to the air force soldiers, insulting them saying that this is purely a civilian case and a case of robbery. The soldiers got angry and asked me if they can start beating up the police officers, I calmly told them not to do so as it will make matters worse for the innocent boys in police custody. So I left with the officers. I then called the Air force Commander and updated him on current status, he asked me if I had copies of my car papers, I told him I would get them and revert to him accordingly.

“I searched in my house for the car papers and did not find. But I remembered that my driver was the one who renewed the papers not up to 2months back. So I asked my driver for the papers and he informed me that he forgot the original and photocopies inside my car. I asked him to call the man at Inland Revenue to print copies. I got the copies and contacted the Air force Commander again to let him know that I have the papers.

“The Commander joined me to the Police Station on 23rd of Dec 2019. We met the Commander of E-Crack, I noticed the name on his uniform as Benson. The Air force Commander introduced himself and introduced me as his brother. Mr. Benson called the IPO of the case to come and narrate the story. The IPO explained how the boys jumped into a lady’s compound, broke the glass of the car, used master key to start the car, broke the gate and drove off. That they, the police officers apprehended the boys at the point of sale. That the boys were communicating with the buyer from Aba and that one of the boys has already confessed to the crime.

“After hearing this, at first I was wondering if it was some Nigerian movie the man was narrating or was he talking about my car? The E-Crack Commander now asked the IPO to bring the boy who made the confession. The boy was brought in after 2mins limping seriously with smelling wounds. The E-Crack Commander now asked the boy to tell the truth that no one would torture him. The boy now started talking by saying that he is only an apprenticed under his boss ‘Chima’, that the car belongs to Chima’s customer, that he made the false confession because he was tortured almost to the point of death, at this point, he stretched his arms with handcuffs towards the commander showing him the smelling wounds.

“The E-Crack Commander now asked the IPO to return the boy. I now told the E-Crack Commander that I have copies of my car papers here which I got from the Inland Revenue today as my driver forgot the original papers as well as the photocopies in my car, is it possible for the IPO to check my car, get all the papers in it and we compare with what is in my hands. The E-Crack commander agreed and sent the IPO to get the papers.

“After 3mins, the IPO came back and said there were no papers in the car. Well, I have copies right in front of us, I asked the commander if the copies I am presenting can be verified, and he concurred. I left the station with the Air force Commander.

“On the 30th of December 2019. I returned to the police station and met the commander to verify if my presented documents have been verified. He called the IPO and the IPO confirmed that the documents are authentic. The commander now asked me my full name and I told him. He says that the name on the papers bears the same surname but different first name, why is this so? I explained that, the first name and second name on the car papers belong to my younger sister. He insisted that I must bring her to the station. So I called my sister and picked her up at her office and brought her to the station. I presented her to the commander.

“The commander asked how long she has been using the car and she confirmed that it is over 2yrs. He asked the IPO to release my car as well as the second car which was an old model Camry. Before leaving his office, I asked about the boys because I still have an unfinished business with my mechanic. He asked me how long I have known the mechanic, I told him that I have known the mechanic for more than 4years and that the mechanic fixes all my cars. The Commander now told me that he is investigating a case of cultism against all the boys. I wondered in my mind how a case of charged “Robbery” could change to cultism. I had no choice other than to leave the station with my car. On the 2nd of January 2020, I got a call from a barrister saying that he was engaged by the families of the boys in custody. That he has spoken with the Commander with regards to the case. That he was shocked to know that the commander was now working as a commander in that division as he has long known him. That in fact the man is his friend. He continued by saying that the commander told him that the case is a bad one, his boys have over worked. Speaking in pigeon saying “de case don spoil, my boys don over work” The Barrister did not understand. The barrister kept on insisting until the man opened up to say that my mechanic ‘Chima’ is dead. He was tortured to death.

‘The barrister now asked him where the corpse is. The Commander says that he does not trust him enough to reveal that kind of classified information. That the best thing he can do for the remaining four boys, is to look for a small charge to charge them, so that as soon as they get to the court, bail will be granted easily. He asked the barrister to come the next day. According to the barrister, as soon as he left the police station, the Commander immediately charged the boys to court that same day on the charge of my car robbery and cultism. After hearing this from the barrister I again thought, the police had released my car to me after verifying that it is my car and I never told them that my car was ever robbed, why did they still charge the boys for my car robbery? I later found out the answer which I will say shortly after. As I write this story, the remaining four boys are in prison custody with wounds getting rotten and smelling. Chima that the police killed is tagged as ‘At Large’. The answer to my question came out when the families of the deceased visited the court to see a copy of the charge sheet confirming that the police wrote on it that the owner of the car, which is supposed to me, confirmed to them that his car was stolen as described. I have never made such a statement anywhere. My car was never robbed.

Read Also: Family petitions police over attack on disputed land in Ogun community

“The families of the boys visited the prison in Port-Harcourt to see their loved ones and insisted to take photographs after seeing the wounds of some of them excreting water and decayed substances. The prison warders said each photograph will cost them N15,000.00 (Fifteen Thousand Naira) each. The families not being able to afford the money, left the prison sobering.

“At this moment of my life, I and my family members are very scared of the police. I wanted to send my brother out with my car, immediately I realized that his drivers license is in process. I got scared and did not engage him anymore, because if police can take a life because of “one way driving”, then it means they can take a life for not having Drivers License and many more.

“As I write this message, my wife is beside me shivering and saying that I should make the message anonymous, for fear that I could get killed by the police for making it public.

“Please if I get any mosquito bite, you know who is responsible.

“I came to know that the deceased mechanic got married just six months ago and that his wife is a few months pregnant.

“Again, the families of the 5 boys are in abject poverty and could not even afford lawyer fees to follow up the case. What a shame.”

The complainant gave the names of the other boys as:Victor Ogbonna,Osaze Friday,Ifeanyi Osuji and Ifeanyi Onyekwere.

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Bishop Oyedepo Fumes As Highly Placed Living Faith Church Officials Steal Millions From Treasury

tie person

According to a report by The Nation, millions of naira allegedly stolen by some highly placed officials of the Living Faith Church Worldwide, a.k.a. Winners Chapel, drew the presiding Bishop of the church, Dr. David Oyedepo, into a rage at the empowerment summit organised for ordained workers of the church last Saturday.

The annual event, which is usually attended by pastors, zonal ministers and their assistants, deacons, ushers and other ordained workers of the church, where they are acquainted with the church’s programme for the year, was presided over by Oyedepo, while his deputy, Bishop David Abioye, was also in attendance. Both men ministered powerfully. Oyedepo ministered on service, while Abioye spoke on consistency in service.

Towards the end of the programme, however, Oyedepo took some time to talk about the goings on in the church. He revealed how some very high up officials, mainly accountants, had looted the church’s treasury.

The Bishop could not hide his disappointment that professionals trusted by the church to prevent fraud turned themselves into a network of fraudsters.

Expressing his disappointment in the errant church officials, who have since been relieved of their positions in the church, he said: “Can you imagine accountants perpetrating fraud in the house of God?

“We had no choice but to dismiss them. You can imagine top church officials engaging in doubling figures and other dubious practices.

“Even after we dismissed them, we discovered more fraud.

“Those who should discover the fraud were the ones involved in it. One of them refused to confess until the last minute.”

He admonished the church members against employing the dismissed officials. He said he had to tell everyone present because he knew the dismissed officials “will come to you for employment.”

“Don’t employ them and don’t sympathise with them. Whoever sympathises with the wicked is wicked himself.”

Dead silence fell on the gathering as the Bishop reiterated: “Don’t sympathise with any perpetrator of fraud, otherwise you are a partaker of the evil act.”

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KCC offers free manufacturing training for Battle Creek residents

person refrigerator chair

KCC program offers free manufacturing training available for Battle Creek residents


Elena Durnbaugh


Battle Creek Enquirer
Published 6:00 AM EST Dec 6, 2019

Kellogg Community College wants to help Battle Creek residents launch a career in skilled trades by offering a free manufacturing training program for those who meet income requirements. 

The Kellogg Advanced Manufacturing Assembly training program focuses on providing students the technical skills required to get a job in manufacturing and the professional skills needed to succeed.

“We have companies that are coming up and are like, ‘Hey, we need people,'” Workforce Solutions Career Coach Cherise Buchanan said. “They want people who are going to be committed and are going to stay there, and I think having these students come through our program and saying, ‘Hey, I can make it through this six-week program, and I can be there on time, and I can be there every day.’ You’re going to have a better opportunity.” 

Students at Kellogg Community Regional Manufacturing Technology Center campus experience what it’s like to work on a factory floor.
Elena Durnbaugh

The program will start in January at KCC’s Regional Manufacturing Technology Center campus. Courses cover foundational skills in technical training in manufacturing, Occupational Safety and Health Administration industry training, writing and computer classes and basic math for manufacturing.

Students also get experience working on a production line. 

“It’s changing the whole concept of what it means to go to college.” Kellogg Community College Chief Communications Officer Eric Greene said. “So many people… think going to college means I’ve got to be there for two to four years or longer. There’s going to be homework. It’s going to be all lecture based. But this is college. These are college credits they’re earning toward an actual degree, but it doesn’t feel like a traditional college experience.” 

‘What do you need to be successful?’

Students will earn 8.74 college credits, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration 10-Hour General Industry Certification and the WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate. 

Throughout their training, students learn industry standards for efficiency, quality control and safety so that, upon completion of the program, they’re ready for work in an entry-level position. 

“They’re actually learning these and putting them into practice,” Program Manager Lisa Larson said. “They’re debriefing at the end of each session. They’re doing several different production runs and then they’re talking about what defect they found and how they can do better.” 

As part of Kellogg Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Assembly Program, student learn what it’s like to work on an assembly line by building an industrial strength cart from these parts
Elena Durnbaugh

The program also teaches students the soft skills needed to get a job.

Through a partnership with Michigan Works and Goodwill Industries, students in the manufacturing program receive resume building and mock interview training, as well as financial literacy instruction. They also get assistance with job placement.

Students also receive support services to help them overcome other barriers such as transportation or having enough to eat.

“Anything our students need, we all kind of work together to make sure they get what they need,” Buchanan said. “I like to say, ‘Look at the total person…What do you need to be successful?'” 

DENSO, Trillium among employers

Companies including DENSO Manufacturing, Trillium Manufacturing and Advanced Special Tools Incorporated have hired people from the program, and more companies are taking interest.

“Sometimes when we go on company tours, we have past KAMA students from four or five years ago giving the tours,” Larson said. 

In some cases, Larson said, students who go through the manufacturing program will return to Kellogg Community College for more specialized training.

Greene said the program typically has high placement rates and job advancement rates.

“They come through our program, and they get a job, and then a short time after that, they get a raise or a promotion,” he said. 

Even if students can’t find a job right a way, they can enroll in a paid work experience in manufacturing through Goodwill.

“Everybody can leave doing something if they chose,” Buchanan said. 

The program is part of Kellogg Community College’s Innovative Accelerated Credentialed Training, known as iACT. The programs, which include manufacturing and nurse assistant training, are designed to quickly prepare people with workforce skills. 

“There’s just a lot of progress toward our local workforce becoming more reliable, more vital, just to the overall production that goes on in this community,” Greene said.

Paid for by W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Both iACT programs are made possible through three-year a $2.8 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Next year will be the final year of the grant. 

Larson said Workforce Solutions would like to expand the program.

“We’re hoping to just keep continuing this because it is a very popular program. The employers recognize it. They value it, and we want to keep it going,” she said. 

To be eligible for the program, those interested must be 18 years of age and a Battle Creek resident. They must also meet income eligibility guidelines determined by household size. For example, an individual must make less than $24,280 to apply.

Twenty slots are available in each session, and the deadline to apply for the January advanced manufacturing training program is Dec.16. Classes begin January 27. 

Contact Elena Durnbaugh at (269) 243-5938 or edurnbaugh@battlecreekenquirer.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ElenaDurnbaugh. 

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Boko Haram Behead Christian Bride, Bridal Party En route to Wedding

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Every member of the bridal party for the bride-to-be, Martha Bulus, was killed by Boko Haram extremists on Dec. 26 at Gwoza, in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno state.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

A jihadist insurgency affiliated with Boko Haram brutally murdered a Christian bride and her bridal party days before her wedding, a spokesperson for a Catholic diocese in Nigeria has confirmed.

Father Francis Arinse, the communications director for the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri, told the Catholic News Service that every member of the bridal party for the bride-to-be, Martha Bulus, was killed by Boko Haram extremists on Dec. 26 at Gwoza, in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno state.

Arinse said the bridal party was traveling from Maiduguri to Bulus’ country home in Adamawa at the time they were killed.

Bulus’ wedding was scheduled to take place on New Year’s Eve in Adamawa state.

“They were beheaded by suspected Boko Haram insurgents at Gwoza on their way to her country home,” Arinse was quoted as saying, according to Christian Post.

According to Arinse, Bulus used to attend St. Augustine Catholic Church in Maiduguri when he was first ordained.

The alleged murders of Bulus and her friends came just a day after the murder of 11 Christian aid workers by the Islamic extremists after being taken hostage in Maiduguri and Damaturu.

The terror group known as the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), a breakaway group of Boko Haram affiliated with the Islamic Satte in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), claimed responsibility. A 56-second video was published by the Islamic States’ propaganda media arm, Amaq News Agency, showing one of the aid workers being shot and 10 others beheaded.

The terror group claimed that the killing of the 11 aid workers was revenge for the killing of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi thanks to U.S. military operations last October.

In the video, captives were shown pleading for the Christian Association of Nigeria and President Muhammadu Buhari to rescue them.

Arinse also told the Catholic News Service that there have been a series of abductions in the Maiduguri area recently, and called on government agencies to improve security in northeast Nigeria.

Last month, the U.S. State Department listed Nigeria on its “special watch list,” designating it among countries that have “severe violations of religious freedom” because of the Nigerian government’s inability to thwart an increase in violence and abductions carried out in various areas of the country.

“We are designating [Nigeria] special watch list for the first time because of all of the increasing violence and communal activity and the lack of effective government response and the lack of judicial cases being brought forward in that country,” U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback told reporters in December.

“It is a dangerous situation in too many parts of Nigeria. The government has either not been willing to or have been ineffective in their response and the violence continues to grow.”

The U.K.-based nongovernmental organization Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust issued a report in November claiming that at least 1,000 Christians were killed by Fulani and Boko Haram extremists in 2019 while as many as 6,000 have been killed since 2015.

Would you pray for Christians living in Nigeria? Please pray they will receive peace and comfort, and that one day they’ll be able to practice their faith openly without fear of death.

Nigeria ranks as the 12th-worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2019 World Watch List.

Borno Christians Among The World Most Persecuted

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Pirates Inbox: Chris Archer, Chad Kuhl | Pittsburgh Pirates

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PITTSBURGH — The holiday break is over and the new year is upon us, which means it’s time to kick the Hot Stove talk to another level. While the Pirates finalize their roster with an eye on Opening Day, we’ll answer some of the questions you’ve sent to the Pirates Inbox.

The Pirates are short on great starting options, so the chance of this is small. But, say they trade or acquire a starter and Mitch Keller and Chad Kuhl look good. Any chance they could try Chris Archer as a late-inning reliever, possibly a closer if they trade Keone Kela? He seems to be his best as a two-pitch pitcher and he’s an emotional guy. It seems like he could be a great reliever.
–Jason D.

It’s an interesting question, and it may not take an additional starter to bump somebody out of the rotation on Opening Day. Take a look at their top options heading into the new year, and you can easily come up with six pitchers worth taking a long look at: Joe Musgrove, Trevor Williams, Archer, Keller, Steven Brault and Kuhl.

I think you’re on the right track with moving somebody to the bullpen, but I don’t think it’d be Archer. He’s 31 years old and hasn’t made a relief appearance since the 2013 American League Division Series. His value, when he’s right, is as a durable starter — and it would make sense for the Pirates to try to maximize that value while they can.

That’s true, by the way, whether he’s on the team or a potential trade candidate. If he’s with the Pirates, you’re hoping that a new pitching coach will help him get back to his 2013-17 form. If you’re Pirates management and you’re also viewing him as a trade asset down the line, you could probably get more out of him as the starter he used to be rather than as an experimental reliever.

I definitely agree with your point that Archer, as primarily a two-pitch guy who tends to play with more emotion than your average starter, might be an interesting back-end reliever at some point. That said, his biggest issues last year were walks and homers; being prone to either would immediately spell trouble for him out of the bullpen, and there’s no guarantee that moving to a relief role would fix those problems.

But I do think you’re on the right track with moving somebody to the bullpen. I’d be really curious to see if Kuhl could work his way into a late-inning role. When he spoke near the end of the season, for what it’s worth, he said he was preparing to come back as a starter.

But I’ve heard from more than one player who thinks Kuhl has closer stuff — a high-90s fastball with a bunch of offspeed offerings that he could sharpen, refine and use more selectively when he doesn’t have to turn over a lineup three times. It’d be interesting to see, at least.

The risk there is pretty obvious: Kuhl is coming off of Tommy John surgery, and he’s been a starter his entire life. How would his arm respond to throwing multiple days in a row? How careful would the Pirates have to be with a potentially important arm in their bullpen? Do they really want to risk sending him to the mound 50 times or more when he hasn’t pitched in a Major League game since June 2018?

On the other hand, moving Kuhl to the bullpen would naturally restrict his workload in terms of innings and pitches thrown. There would be no expectation that he’d have to throw more than 70 or so innings out of the bullpen, probably even fewer than that.

Outside of a few pitchers, the Pirates’ bullpen was a disaster last season. But it might be an interesting group with Kela, a healthy Edgar Santana and Nick Burdi, a bounce-back year from Kyle Crick, a more consistent Richard Rodriguez, a still-developing Michael Feliz and Clay Holmes, a long man like Chris Stratton and the potential addition of Kuhl.

Who was the player to be named later that the Pirates got from Philadelphia for Corey Dickerson?
–Bob K.

Turns out, there wasn’t one. The Trade Deadline deal was initially announced as Dickerson for $250,000 in international slot space and a player to be named later, but there was no player sent back to the Pirates.

The way the whole thing played out was strange. Every report out of Philadelphia at the time of the trade indicated there would be no player coming back, and everything I heard also signaled that the deal was just for additional international spending capacity. But for whatever reason, when the move went down, the announcement included a player to be named later … who was never named, even five months later.

After we talked at the Winter Meetings out in San Diego, my MLB.com colleague Todd Zolecki and I made one more push for information and only heard back that, “It was a cash deal.” It wouldn’t necessarily be unusual if that meant the Phillies sent the Pirates cash instead of a minor prospect; some trades allow for the final piece to be a PTBNL or cash. But that wasn’t mentioned in the initial announcement of the Dickerson deal, and there was no clarification as to whether that meant additional cash or just the international slot we already knew about.

It’s not like the Pirates gave away Dickerson for nothing — teams can turn $250,000 of international spending space into a good prospect or prospects — but I hope nobody was getting their hopes up about that PTBNL.

With a first-time manager, shouldn’t the Pirates have hired a more experienced bench coach to help with strategy? I love Donnie Kelly, but just wondering if it’s too much, too soon.
–Terry L., Pittsburgh

That’s usually how teams support a first-time manager, but I don’t know if it was necessary for Derek Shelton. For one, he’s a first-time manager, but he’s managed in the Minors, coached for more than a decade and spent two years as a very involved bench coach. It’s not like he’s jumping into the dugout with no relevant experience.

Second, Kelly spent the last year working closely with Astros manager AJ Hinch and bench coach Joe Espada. He was essentially training to be a bench coach, whether it was here, Houston or elsewhere. And in terms of in-game strategy, he spent most of his playing career thinking along with the manager. He’s prepared.

There is also experience elsewhere on the coaching staff, primarily in the form of third-base coach Joey Cora. He served as a Minor League manager as well as a big league bench coach and interim manager in the Majors before joining Pittsburgh’s staff. You’ll just about always find Cora on the top step of the dugout, closely following the game. He’ll help, too.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

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Breakout prospects for 2020 | MLB.com

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Every organization takes pride in its ability to identify and develop talent. We’re the same way at MLB Pipeline, especially when it comes to predicting future breakout prospects.

Looking at last year’s list of breakout candidates, we see many examples of players who realized their potential en route to becoming some of the sport’s premier prospects. White Sox outfielder Luis Robert shot up from No. 44 to No. 3 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list thanks to a 32-homer, 36-steal campaign across three levels, while Blue Jays right-hander Nate Pearson, another three-level climber in ‘19, ascended from No. 90 to No. 10.

With the start of the 2020 season around the corner, MLB Pipeline once again is picking one breakout candidate from each organization. And while some of the names on this year’s list might be more recognizable than others, they all have the potential to jump on the scene during the upcoming season and establish themselves as can’t-miss prospects.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP (No. 6) — The Mets’ second-round pick from the 2018 Draft pitched better than his numbers suggest he did at Class A Columbia, and he made six impressive starts for Class A Advanced Dunedin after joining the Blue Jays in the Marcus Stroman Trade Deadline deal to finish his first full season with a 126/24 K/BB and .238 BAA in 106 2/3 innings. The 19-year-old righty is a high-ceiling pitching prospect, armed with a plus fastball-curveball combo, an advanced changeup and a mature overall feel for his craft that could help him move quickly through the Minors.

Orioles: DL Hall, LHP (No. 3, MLB No. 60) — Baltimore’s 2017 first-rounder boasts some of the best pure stuff in the Minors among left-handed pitching prospects, with a plus fastball-breaking ball pairing and a promising changeup. Hall’s overall control, however, leaves much to be desired after the 21-year-old southpaw issued 6.0 BB/9 over 80 2/3 innings last season at Class A Advanced Frederick. The good news is that Hall has never had any issues missing bats (11.1 K/9 across his first 185 1/3 pro frames) and continues to be tough to barrel (.201 BAA), so it’s easy to envision him taking a step forward in 2020 with improved strike-throwing ability.

Rays: Shane Baz, RHP (No. 7, MLB No. 94) — Acquired from the Pirates as the PTBNL in the lopsided Chris Archer deal, Baz spent all of 2019 at Class A Bowling Green in the Midwest League, pitching to a 2.99 ERA with 87 strikeouts and 37 walks in 81 1/3 innings (17 starts). He was especially good down the stretch, too, posting a 2.22 ERA over his final six regular-season starts for the Hot Rods before turning in an eye-opening performance in the Arizona Fall League. With a fastball that can touch triple digits, a devastating slider and a raw but promising changeup, the 20-year-old right-hander could develop into a front-of-the-rotation force if he can improve his control and command.

Red Sox: Gilberto Jimenez, OF (No. 7) — A $10,000 steal from the Dominican Republic in 2017, Jimenez skipped a level last season and led the short-season New York-Penn League in batting (.359) in his U.S. debut. The best center-field defender and one of the fastest runners in Boston’s system, he’ll make the jump to full-season ball in 2020.

Yankees: Clarke Schmidt, RHP (No. 5) — Schmidt had Tommy John surgery as a South Carolina junior a month before New York made him a first-round pick in the 2017 Draft. Though he has been brought back slowly, taking that summer off and totaling 114 innings in 2018-19, he already has reached Double-A and shows the makings of four plus pitches.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

Indians: Aaron Bracho, 2B (No. 13) — Bracho’s advanced bat earned him a $1.5 million bonus out of Venezuela in 2017, but he didn’t make his pro debut until last season because he fractured his right arm in May 2018. A switch-hitter who possesses deceptive power and precocious command of the strike zone, he hit .296/.416/.593 in the Rookie-level Arizona League last summer.

Royals: Kyle Isbel, OF (No. 8) — The Royals were excited after Isbel’s exceptional pro debut after they took him in the third round of the 2018 Draft, but his 2019 season was interrupted by injuries and he played in just 59 games. He made up for lost time in the Arizona Fall League and should use his impressive .315/.429/.438 (leading the league in OBP) showing to catapult him to the upper levels of the system

Tigers: Parker Meadows, OF (No. 12) — The Tigers knew that Meadows — Rays outfielder Austin Meadows’ younger brother — would need time to develop when they selected the athletic prep outfielder in the second round of the 2017 Draft, and his .221/.296/.312 showing over 126 games at Class A West Michigan in his first full season only confirmed that assessment. However, the 6-foot-5, 205-pounder’s five-tool profile offers reason to be optimistic about his future, as all the raw qualities are in place for the 20-year-old to develop into an impact player.

Twins: Wander Javier, SS (No. 7) — While it’s true the Twins didn’t protect Javier on their 40-man roster this offseason, that was a relatively low-risk move given the shortstop hasn’t played above A ball. A torn labrum cost him the 2018 season and he struggled once he got to full-season ball for the first time in late May of 2019 (.177/.278/.323). But he still has tremendous tools, the ones the Twins saw when they gave him $4 million to sign in July 2015.

White Sox: Matthew Thompson, RHP (No. 13) — Before Chicago selected Thompson 45th overall last June, it had spent just two picks that early on high school pitchers in the previous 17 Drafts (Gio Gonzalez in 2004, Spencer Adams in 2013). Though he was inconsistent as a senior last spring, the White Sox love his athleticism and quick arm, which could result in a mid-90s fastball and plus curveball once he’s fully developed.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

A’s: Marcus Smith, OF (No. 30) — The Kansas City high schooler was a bit of a surprise third-round pick, one who wasn’t on our Draft Top 200 list in 2019, but he sure made the A’s look smart during his relatively brief pro debut in the Arizona League (.361/.466/.443 in 29 games). That advanced approach should serve him well and let him use his 70-grade speed to his advantage in his first full season of pro ball.

Angels: Jeremiah Jackson, SS/2B (No. 4) — He’s yet to reach full-season ball, but he set the stage for the jump by leading the Pioneer League in home runs and RBIs in 2019. He’ll need to cut down on his strikeouts (33 percent rate), but he’ll also only be 20 for all of 2020, so there’s time for him to refine his approach and become a truly impactful middle infielder.

Astros: Jeremy Pena, SS/2B (No. 8) — The son of offensive-minded second baseman Geronimo Pena, Jeremy was one of the best defensive shortstops available in the college class of 2018, when Houston popped him in the third round out of Maine. His glove was as good as advertised in his first full pro season, when he exceeded expectations by batting .303/.385/.440 with 35 extra-base hits and 20 steals between two Class A levels.

Mariners: George Kirby, RHP (No. 6) — Kirby made a name for himself as a control artist at Elon University and parlayed that into being a first-round pick last June. He showed just how good that command was by not walking a single batter in 23 innings during his pro debut. Seen as a safe pick who could ride his pitchability quickly up a ladder, his first full season could show that he’s more than that, with the potential to join others from his class on our Top 100 in 2020.

Rangers: Cole Winn, RHP (No. 4) — One of the most polished high school pitchers in the 2018 Draft, Winn went 15th overall but struggled more than expected while being kept on a tight leash in his first full pro season in 2019. But he finished the year with a 2.81 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings over his final 12 starts, showing signs of a quality four-pitch mix once he dials in his command.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: Bryce Ball, 1B — Ball spent two years in junior college before transferring to Dallas Baptist for his junior year. The Braves nabbed him in the 24th round of last June’s Draft after he hit .325/.443/.614 with 18 homers and then he hit 17 more combined in the Appalachian and South Atlantic Leagues during his pro debut. He might have the most power in the system and has already shown the ability to get to it.

Marlins: Braxton Garrett, LHP (No. 7) — The seventh overall pick in 2016, the Alabama high school product required Tommy John surgery after just four pro starts, costing him all of 2018. Garrett looked like his old self last season, pairing a low-90s fastball with a plus curveball in high Class A, and could move quickly in 2020 as he puts elbow reconstruction further behind him.

Mets: Francisco Alvarez, C (No. 5) — Alvarez’s $2.7 million bonus in July 2018 was one of the top totals handed out during the 2018-19 international period, and it wasn’t long thereafter that he began to receive rave reviews from those inside the organization. The Mets challenged Alvarez last summer in his pro debut, assigning him straight to the Rookie Gulf Coast League before a quick promotion to the Appalachian League, and the then-17-year-old backstop responded by slashing .312/.407/.510 with seven homers in 42 games between the two stops. The Venezuela native is already perhaps the best pure hitter in New York’s system, with defensive chops behind the plate that could make him an impactful two-way catcher.

Nationals: Jackson Rutledge, RHP (No. 3) Taken with the No. 17 overall pick in last year’s Draft, Rutledge, a 6-foot-8 right-hander, has some of the best pure stuff among college pitchers from his class with an explosive mid-90s fastball and a wipeout slider that front his four-pitch mix. Harnessing his stuff to throw more strikes and developing a better changeup will be developmental keys for the 20-year-old in his first full season, though he’s exactly the type of power pitcher the Nats have successfully developed in the past.

Phillies: Francisco Morales, RHP (No. 6) — One of the top pitchers in the 2016-17 international signing class, Morales has tremendous raw stuff. In many ways, it played well during his full-season debut in 2019, as he struck out just over 12 batters per nine innings and held hitters to a .226 batting average. He needs to refine his command to reach his very lofty ceiling, but here’s betting he takes a big step forward in 2020.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

Brewers: Tristen Lutz, OF (No. 2) — Tabbed as the Brewers’ top breakout candidate a year ago, Lutz advanced to Class A Advanced Carolina in 2019 and produced a nearly identical line (.754 OPS, 13 HR, 137/46 K/BB) compared to his first full season (.742 OPS, 13 HR, 139/46 K/BB). The elevated strikeout rates fuel questions about the 21-year-old’s hit tool, but there’s a lot to like in his blend of right-handed power potential and patience at the plate. Lutz has the makings of becoming an everyday corner outfielder if it all clicks for him, and a strong showing at Double-A in 2020 would mark a significant turning point in his development.

Cardinals: Ivan Herrera, C (No. 6) — Signed out of Panama for $200,000 in July 2016, Herrera was pushed up to full-season ball at age 18 in 2019 and responded to the challenge by slashing .284/.374/.405 with nine home runs in 87 games across two levels, including Class A Advanced Palm Beach. Herrera continued to impress on both sides of the ball after the season as one of the Arizona Fall League’s youngest players and will enter 2020 with a big up arrow next to his name.

Cubs: Brennen Davis, OF (No. 3) — Though scouts considered Davis one of the better prep athletes in the 2018 Draft, a hamstring injury slowed him as a senior and helped Chicago grab him in the second round. More advanced than expected, he batted .305/.381/.525 and flashed 30-30 upside in low Class A last season — albeit while limited to 50 games by multiple finger injuries.

Pirates: Jared Oliva, OF (No. 11) — A seventh-round pick out of Arizona in 2017, Oliva has had a solid, if unspectacular, first two full seasons of pro ball with a career .274/.348/.403 line, to go along with an impressive 84 steals. He opened a lot of eyes by leading the AFL with 11 steals (in 12 attempts) and hitting .312/.413/.473, setting the stage for a big 2020.

Reds: Tyler Stephenson, C (No. 7) — The 2015 first-round pick got hit by the injury bug quite a bit during the first stages of his career, but he’s going to look back at 2019 as the year it all started to click. After a solid regular season in Double-A, the backstop had a very strong AFL campaign (.347/.372/.410 in 49 at-bats) to earn a spot on the 40-man roster. A big follow-up campaign should vault him onto the top catching prospects list and have him ready for Cincinnati.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

D-backs: Kristian Robinson, OF (No. 2, MLB No. 71) — Signed out of the Bahamas for $2.5 million in July 2017, Robinson offered a glimpse of his potential in 2019 as he slashed .282/.386/.514 with 14 homers and 17 steals while ascending from Class A Short-Season Hillsboro to Class A Kane County in his age-18 season. The 6-foot-3 outfielder’s massive right-handed power highlights an all-around exceptional set of tools, and, overall, it gives him one of the higher ceilings in the Minors among teenage prospects.

Dodgers: Diego Cartaya, C (No. 11) — MLB Pipeline’s top-rated international amateur in the 2018 class, Cartaya signed for $2.5 million out of Venezuela. Often compared to Salvador Perez, he has the tools to make a difference offensively and defensively and hit .281/.343/.432 between two Rookie-ball stops in his 2019 pro debut.

Giants: Alexander Canario, OF (No. 7) — Signed for $60,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2019, Canario possesses the quickest bat in San Francisco’s system and batted .318/.377/.623 with 16 homers in 59 games between the Rookie and short-season levels last year. He fits the right-field profile well and could have even more value if he’s able to stick in center.

Padres: Reggie Lawson, RHP (No. 21) — The Padres’ second-round pick in the 2016 Draft, Lawson spent much of the ’19 season on the injured list with a balky right elbow, but he returned late in the season to make six starts for Double-A Amarillo, then dominated while making three impressive outings in the Arizona Fall League (0.82 ERA, 14 K, 11 IP), where he operated with a mid-90s fastball, a sharp, 12-to-6 curveball and a promising changeup. With his blend of size and stuff, Lawson could break out in earnest with a healthy 2020 campaign.

Rockies: Helcris Olivarez, LHP (No. 25) — Olivarez made his United States debut in 2019 and missed a lot of bats in the Pioneer League (11.76 K/9 in 46 2/3 IP), largely with a very lively fastball. He’ll need to improve his command (4.63 BB/9) and tighten up his secondary stuff, but the ingredients are all there for him to take a big step forward, perhaps with a move to full-season ball.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

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Manwatū rugby mourns the death of ‘elder statesman’ Owen Gleeson | Stuff.co.nz

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WARWICK SMITH/STUFF
Owen Gleeson came from a staunch Manwatū rugby family and was regarded with respect as one of the union’s elder statesmen.

Manawatū rugby is reeling from the loss of another well-respected elder, after the death of  87-year-old Owen Gleeson at the weekend.

Gleeson was regarded as the elder statesman of Manawatū rugby after a long and storied career as a player, coach, president and life member of the Manwatū Rugby Union.

Union chairman Tim Myers said the rugby community had lost another legend,  just a week after the sudden death of former All Black Sam Strahan.

Both men were staunch supporters of Manawatū rugby, who made great contributions to the sport. “Like Sam, Owen was a true gentleman who will be missed by all who came into contact with him. Our thoughts are with his family,” Myers said.

Gleeson, standing on the right, served with the K Force in Korea.

Gleeson started his career as a flanker for the Feilding and Marist teams, before he was deployed to the Korean War in 1952, after volunteering to serve.

Gleeson was part of the New Zealand Kayforce rugby team, drawn from those serving in the Korean War, that toured Japan in 1953.

 After returning home, he played 24 games for Manawatū between 1954 and 1957.

The Gleeson name is a big one in Manawatū rugby. His son Mark Gleeson is a Manawatū Rugby Union board member, and Gleeson’s career began in the footsteps of his father William and his older brother Jack.

Jack Gleeson is a legendary All Black coaches, who led the team’s first grand slam tour of Britain for 50 years in 1978.

But first, he was the Manawatū coach, before handing the reins over to his little brother in 1970.

Rugby historian and chairman of the New Zealand Rugby Mueseum in Palmerston North Clive Akers said the younger Gleeson was also a great coach, with a real eye for talent, and his four years as Manawatū selector and coach left a big mark on the team.

Akers said he always thought Gleeson deserved to share the credit with his successor for the province’s famous Ranfurly Shield win in 1976.

The match against Auckland was Manawatū’s 13th challenge for the shield and its first win. Coincidently, Manawatū would fend off 13 challenges before losing the shield in 1978.

SUE WILSON/STUFF
Three legends of Manawatū rugby, pictured in 2011, from left, Hugh Blair, Sam Strahan, and Owen Gleeson.

Akers said it was Gleeson who systematically built and recruited a talented pool of younger players, largely from among Massey University students. Players such as Doug Rollerston and winger Hugh Blair went on to play a big part in the team’s Shield success.

After his coaching days, Gleeson continued to contribute to the Manawtū union, including a stint as president.

“He was very well respected and a top bloke. He was regarded as the elder statesman of Manawatū rugby,” Akers said.

​”Losing Sam Strahan was a big blow and now we’ve lost Owen too.”

Both men were always around to offer advice to the younger generations and tried to make every game despite their advancing years. Although, Gleeson’s declining health meant he couldn’t get to as many as he’d of liked in later years, Akers said.

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