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10th Youth Forum Selection Process: Gumbs proposed as representative

PHILIPSBURG - The 10th UNESCO Youth Forum will be held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France from 25 to 26 October 2017.

The forum brings together expert youth from all regions of the world to discuss pertinent issues related to UNESCO fields of competence. During the youth forum, a series of recommended actions and priorities will be drafted to guide UNESCO’s youth actions for the next biennium. These will be presented at the 39th Session of the UNESCO General Conference.

For the 10th UNESCO Youth Forum selection process, there were four candidates who submitted an application, namely:  Kamilah Gumbs, Celine Mayeko-Coklee, Rochana Richardson, Mirla Cortico-Ramirez.

The deadline for submissions was June 9, 2017.  The 10th UNESCO Youth Forum was advertised via newspaper, online and Facebook pages of Government, UNESCO and Youth Department.  The application was also made available online via the Government website, the UNESCO website and Facebook page. 

On June 27, 2017, the first review session was held where the four (4) applications were reviewed thoroughly. During that meeting, the date for the interview session with the candidates was also set, and a rubric for evaluating the candidates was used to score some of the key areas.

The selection committee for the Youth Forum consisted of Ms. Faye Arnell and Ms. Marcellia Henry.  Mrs. Connie Francis-Gumbs, who is also a member of the committee abstain from participating since her daughter was also a candidate.    

During the July 4th interview session, the four candidates were interviewed, and the rubric was used once more for evaluating the face to face session.  See below the rubric used to evaluate the candidates.

The cumulative points of the candidates after the review of the application form and the interview session is as follows:

  1. Kamilah Gumbs:  86 points
  2. Celine Mayeko-Coklee: 85 points
  3. Rochana Richardson: 74 points
  4. Mirla Cortico-Ramirez: 62 points

From the performance of the candidates in both settings, it is the recommendation of the committee that Kamilah Gumbs represents St. Maarten at the UNESCO Youth Forum.  If there are additional funds, or if UNESCO Paris is able to sponsor a youth participant, we will then recommend that Celine Mayeko-Coklee also attends.

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Leonald Conner School officially handed over

COLE BAY - On Monday August 14, 2017, the first day of the school year 2017-2018, the Leonald Conner School was officially handed over to the Government of St. Maarten and by extension, the school management of the Leonald Conner School.

In November 2016, the school was closed and the students were dispersed to various other public schools and the community centers. Inspections were carried out based on the air quality in the Cay Bay/Cole bay area, and it was ascertained that the best short-term solution was the installation of air conditioners in the classroom to minimize the negative effects of the air.

In order to complete the installation, the school required an electric upgrade to carry the load of the classrooms. the Ministries ECYS, VSA and VROMI, were vital parts of the inspections and upgrades at the school.

The handing over ceremony took place at the school, whereby NV GEBE CEO Mr. Kenrick Chittick, handed the school over to Mrs. Glenderline Holiday, head of Division Public Education. In turn, Mrs. Holiday officially handed the school over to Mrs. Alice Samuel, Leonald Conner School manager.

The repairs were part of the critical upgrade project required for the various public schools, however, due to the urgent situation at the Leonald Conner school, the repairs were done ahead of the time. Fortunately, NV GEBE, as a Good Cooperate Citizen, opted to pay for the complete upgrade and installation in the amount of $300K.

The critical upgrades will take place for all public schools including the electrical, cabling and plumbing. “We would hope that in the future, more Good Corporate Citizens would show their willingness to give back to our community,” Minister Jacobs said. The Minister thanked NV GEBE for their Corporate sponsorship extended to the Leonald Conner School, and to any other initiative they will continue to support in the near future.

Head of New Projects, Mr. Kurt Ruan thanked CECC, HEMCO NV, The Division Public Education, NV GEBE and the board of directors, Ministry VROMI, and the school manager Mrs. Samuel for their support and contribution to the emergency project. “I am very thankful for NV GEBE for making this project possible, as well as continued ventures with NV GEBE and Division Public Education.”

“We are doing all that we can to help our schools. We need more employees in St. Maarten to have a higher education. To obtain higher degrees, it has to start with primary school.

“We [NV GEBE] need to invest in education in order to have better employees in our workplaces,” Mr. Kenrick Chittick, CEO NV GEBE said during the ceremony. Mr. Chittick thanked the Minister for being persistent in getting the objective achieved and thanked the school management for having the patience to see the project through to completion.

“We have come a long way in our educational system, but we still have a long way to go. The Leonald Conner School is a more recently built school, but in 2017, there is still a need for maintenance and upgrades. Teachers, management, students, and staff of the schools are the ones who are able to identify the needs of the school. You are the ones who will feel the difference of the new installations, but we must also work on the other public schools.

“It is my goal, together with Government and all other Corporate Citizens, who would like to make a contribution to find ways to fund the other electrical, cabling and plumbing upgrades to be done. Unfortunately, it’s not on the Capital Budget for 2017, however, seeing we were able to get help from the business community, I will start looking in other areas to safeguard funding to get the other public schools to the next level. Take good care of your school, as it is the responsibility of every child, and every person who uses the school. Have a successful school year 2017-2018.,” the Minister added. 

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TelCell announces Sept. 1 launch party for high-speed 4G LTE mobile network

POND ISLAND - It’s official. Premium mobile provider TelCell, will be launching its brand new, super-fast 4G LTE mobile network on September 1 in a blaze of excitement in front of hundreds of invited guests at the St. Rose Arcade, on the Boardwalk.

TelCell says St. Maarten’s newest data network has been through a series of configurations and tests to prepare it for the Sept. 1 launch and as of this week, technicians and engineers are confident it will perform optimally once customers begin populating and using the network.

In order to enjoy all the features and speed of the TelCell 4G+LTE network mobile data customers must have a TelCell 4G/LTE sim card in their smartphone and 4G LTE enabled mobile devices. The sim card is available as a free swap from TelEm Group locations until the official launch date - when the free offer date expires.

TelCell says current sim cards can be swapped for FREE only until August 31, after which customers will have to pay for their own 4G+LTE sim card.

“Anyone who has not yet swapped their current sim card to the new 4G+LTE sim card should do so right away while the free offer is available  to avoid paying for the fantastic user experience everyone will be speaking about once they check out our service,” said TelEm Group Manager, Marketing and Sales, Grisha Marten.

She said after months of work behind the scenes and in the field, TelCell’s brand new mobile network is ready to make its appearance on the local telecommunication stage in a loud and colourful launch party to mark the occasion.

The launch party will feature high-end mobile phone giveaways such as iPhone 7s and Samsung 8s on the hour and a “Midnight Special” that will sent guests wild.

“Bands and DJs, including: SMS Entertainment Band,  Musicologist Band, Control Band, The Cut Creator Outkast, Mix Master Pauly and various Soca Rumble artist will be joining the party to keep the tempo up and our guests entertained for the entire night and into the early hour of the morning,” said Grisha.

The Manager, Marketing and Sales is especially pleased with the number of customers who have already called in at TelEm Group locations to swap in their sim card for their FREE new 4G+LTE sim card in anticipation of the Sept. 1 network launch.

“So many of our TelCell customers have been extremely loyal and have patiently waited to be officially informed via an SMS message that they can activate their new sim card and begin using the enhanced features. That wait will soon be over,” said Grisha.

She says as an additional gesture to other loyal customers, FREE sim card swaps will also be offered during the September 1st launch party even though the date for swapping will have officially expired.

“It’s all part of what we continue to do for TelCell’s amazing customer base – give them MORE whenever possible.” Grisha added.

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Leaks about euthanasia deal ‘damaging’ to Dutch coalition talks

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The leader of Christian party ChristenUnie, which is taking part in talks on forming a new Dutch government, has reacted angrily to reports that the four parties have reached a deal on controversial ethical issues.

The AD reported on Monday morning that the Liberal parties D66 and VVD and Christian parties CDA and ChristenUnie have agreed not to press on with calls for changes in the euthanasia law which would allow the very frail elderly to end their lives if they feel they are complete.

D66 is very much in favour of such legislation, but has now agreed to commission extra research into the plan, the AD said. This would involve assessing ‘if and in what circumstances’ the current legislation is inadequate, the paper, which has seen the draft document, says.

ChristenUnie is opposed to any widening of the rules on euthanasia and if there is a deal, it is likely to cause major disquiet among the party’s supporters. A second controversial issue is that of increasing research using human embryos, which is also opposed by the ChristenUnie.

According to the AD, a compromise has been reached here which would allow more research.

No agreement

ChristenUnie Gert-Jan Segers told reporters that he had ‘read’ the reports but that ‘there is no agreement’. He went on to describe the newspaper article as ‘extremely damaging’ to the formation.

Prime Minister and VVD leader Mark Rutte declined to comment on the reports. ‘I am sticking to the position I have always taken [about talking about the formation process]. I am not going to say anything.’

Chief negotiator Gerrit Zalm told the NRC: ‘Something has been in the papers which should not have been. It is very irritating.’ The NRC said that if the AD report is accurate, it would appear that D66 has agreed not to make an issue about relaxing the right to die rules in return for ChristenUnie agreeing to wider use of embryos in research. (DutchNews)

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​MP Wescot and Lions discuss youth drug/alcohol use and bullying

PHILIPSBURG - St. Maarten Lion’s Club president, A. Busby and Lion members Gumbs, Boirard and Johnson recently held discussions with the President of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams, regarding the Lion’s Club focus on the youth for this lionistic year. Central to this theme are the topics of drug and alcohol use and abuse, and cyber bullying. 

Bringing the permit ordinance that regards the sale of alcohol to minors in synch with the legal age of 18 was again a topic of discussion as was the need for a broad discussion on (cyber) bullying.

It was explained by the President of Parliament that tabling the initiative law to amend the permit ordinance as presented by the Minister of ECYS in her former capacity of MP, was still possible, but needs to be done by the NA faction in Parliament.

On the topic of bullying, the President of Parliament expressed her opinion that Parliament would gladly collaborate through hearings etc. to bring about awareness regarding (cyber) bullying.

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Attempted burglary at bar. Police intervene and arrest 26-year old suspect

PHILIPSBURG - On Sunday, August 13th at approximately 1.10 a.m. the Emergency Dispatch received a call of an ongoing burglary at a popular bar located at Back Street. When the patrol arrived on the scene they noticed that a window of the establishment was and informed to the Emergency Dispatch concerning the ongoing burglary.

While on the crime scene the investigating officers noticed a suspicious man walking away from the bar and as soon as the police officers identified themselves, he took off running in the direction of Front Street. The officers immediately started the pursuit and were successful in catching the suspect.

A.B. (26) was arrested on the scene and taken to the Police Station for further investigation. The Police want to thank the community for calling the emergency number 911 and giving the police the right information that lead to the arrest of the suspect. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Roy Marlin Resigns from NV GEBE Board. Bienvenido Richardson appointed Chairman

PHILIPSBURG - On August 15, 2017, Mr. Roy Marlin tendered his resignation as the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Directors (SBOD) of NV GEBE, a press release on Tuesday from the Supervisory Board stated.

“During the SBOD meeting of August 15, 2017, the Supervisory Board resolved to appoint Mr. Bienvenido Richardson as the new Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Directors of NV GEBE.

“The SBOD thanks Mr. Roy Marlin for his role as Chairman and the work provided during his tenure as Chairman. The SBOD looks forward to working with the Shareholder, the Managing Board and the community in moving the Company forward,” the press release concludes.

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Disney Fantasy to Call at Port St. Maarten on Tuesday

PORT ST. MAARTEN – The 130,000-ton cruise ship Disney Fantasy will be in port on Tuesday, August 15 due to a change in its itinerary as a result of damage left behind last week by a passing tropical wave in Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI), its scheduled port of call.

Port St. Maarten is pleased to facilitate the visit of Disney Fantasy on Tuesday.  The Mighty Dow Steelpan Band will be on-hand to welcome Fantasy passengers as they disembark.

Port St. Maarten Management wishes the people and authorities of Tortola a speedy recovery after what has been described as one of the worst natural disasters to hit the BVIs.  

Disney Fantasy was initially scheduled to call at Tortola, but due to two-days of flash flooding causing millions in damages, collapse to infrastructure, mud-slides, the BVIs are still in a recovery mode to clean-up and clear debris from roadways and restore services to public and private sectors.

This is the second time in two weeks that Disney Fantasy had to change its port of call.  Last week the Fantasy had to cancel its planned stop in Cozumel, Mexico due to Tropical Storm Franklin.

Disney Fantasy left its home port Canaveral on a seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise.  The vessel is owned and operated by Disney Cruise Line, part of the Walt Disney Company.  The ship entered service in 2012.

Fantasy has a length of 1,115 feet, and was built at a costs of US$950 million.  It carries 2,500 passengers’ double occupancy and a maximum of 4,000.  The vessel carries a crew of 1,458.  

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NIPA and WYCCF Sign MOU for Internship Placement of Students

ST. JOHN’S ESTATE - On Thursday August 10th, the boards of the National Institute of Professional Advancement (NIPA) and the White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation (WYCCF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to solidify their existing relationship.

The signing ceremony at the WYCCF grounds in St. John’s Estate was hailed as an important step in the continuous development of the local labor force.

From the inception of NIPA, the WYCCF offered internship placement to students of the Nursing programs (both practical and registered nursing). A strong proponent of having a local nursing school, the opening of NIPA was very much welcomed by the WYCCF and right away their cooperation in placing students started. With 90% of their workforce consisting of local employees, the WYCCF places great emphasis on continuous and professional learning and NIPA offers just that.

As the WYCCF also care for many clients with an intellectual disability, the start up of the Social Pedagogic Worker (SPW) program was very much welcomed. The Sister Basilia Center of the WYCCF is in need of employees with such a diploma and qualifications and therefore the internship program was expanded by placing these students as well in the organization.

Current employees of the WYCCF in need of such a SPW diploma will in the future also enroll in the evening classes at NIPA, to equip them with the latest knowledge and skills.

Earlier this year the board of NIPA reached out to WYCCF management and proposed to formalize the relationship by MOU. This ensures that the collaboration will be ongoing and structures the areas of partnership.

It also creates the platform to start working together for the benefit of the Hospitality & Culinary Arts students, as WYCCF has a large kitchen and students would be very much welcome there.

The NIPA board expressed their gratitude to WYCCF for their trust and confidence, as given from the opening of the school. Creating strong partnerships with community based organizations and foundations is a focus point for the NIPA board, ensuring high quality internships that will result in employment for students after obtaining their diploma. 

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Minister of Justice Rafael Boasman meets with Safe Haven Director Richardson and Ortega

POND ISLAND - On Friday the 11th of August 2017, Safe Haven Foundation Managing Director, Miss Cassandra Richardson, met with the Justice Minister Rafael Boasman and Mr. Benjamin Ortega of I-Novus to discuss the upcoming events surrounding the awareness campaign to eradicate domestic violence, an unfortunate phenomenon observed internationally.

The event themed "Fatherhood, Eradicating Domestic Violence: the need to father with purpose and love" is part of a series of educational events coordinated by Safe Haven. 

During this meeting, the parties expressed the need to promote, collaborate and eradicate Domestic Violence.  especially in our community on St. Maarten.
The Minister gave workable solutions to the various examples that we are facing in the community with regards to violence and in particular the crimes being committed by young men.

Richardson commented that the link between domestic violence and youth criminality is not a farfetched one." She elaborated," children who grow up in dysfunctional homes where (physical and verbal) violence is experienced consistently are susceptible to using violence as children and as adults when they become older".

In response and acknowledgement to social initiatives being done on the island but that are struggling to find synergy, Minister Boasman commented, "working together is great, yet ensuring that all processes and procedures are in place to successfully complete and stimulate the various initiatives are just or even more of an importance".

The meeting ended with the Ministers commitment to advocate, and encourage the various departments headed by the Ministry of Justice, i.e. police, immigration, and customs departments, and prosecutors office, and his proclamation to attend this worthy and much needed lecture.

Miss Richardson gave details of the process of Safe Haven's directives and challenges they face. She also shared further plans on how the Justice Ministry and in particular Police and Social agencies can work together to better the process of safeguarding the person(s) affected by domestic violence, including the most vulnerable -- the children. 

Mr. Ortega who recently signed an MOU for three years with Safe Haven explained the working relationship and the importance of getting the community involved in not only this initiative but stopping domestic violence through showing and doing better in the community. 

On the 23rd of August, there will be a free and open-to- the-public lecture that will be held at the Port of St. Maarten from 6 PM, with various key note speakers on the subject of being a good father and eradicating domestic violence.

Key note speaker for this evening will be Mr. Wendell De Leon from Trinidad. 
Mr. De Leon, who is a former police officer with the Trinidad and Tobago Police Department after leaving his police career acquired his Masters of Social work degree and has credentials as a behavioral therapist. Mr. De Leon's key interest is that of fatherhood and working with disenfranchised youth and helping families to build stronger and positive family structures.

For more information about this event please contact Safe Haven management via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Mr. Ortega via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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