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Mother’s Day donation to new moms at SMMC

CAY HILL -  In observance of Mother’s Day, on Monday, May 15th, 2017, the Strictly Business Foundation donated several gifts to mothers at the Obstetrics and Gynecology ward (OB/GYN) at the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC).

Representatives of the foundation, Julian Rollocks Jr., Bryan Barry and Melvin Austrie, visited the hospital to donate the gifts as part of the foundations efforts to give back to their community.

Their thoughtful gesture particularly focused on mothers who gave birth on Mother’s Day at the hospital. However, the donation was made the day after Mother’s Day in consideration of the patients’ privacy and comfort level.

The patients were asked permission in advance whether they would be open to receiving the presents and meeting with the donors. The moms were open to the gesture and the gentlemen met with the mothers to congratulate them with their newborns and to present them with their gifts personally.

Continuing their generous spirit, on behalf of Strictly Business Foundation, the gentlemen then surprised the nurses on the OB/GYN ward with Mother’s Day gifts as well. Overall, the donations were part of the organization’s wider objective of giving back to mothers on their special day.

The donations that the new moms and the nurses received were sponsored by Strictly Business Foundation, GEBE and Caribbean Jerk.

The giving spirit of the community adds communal value to the work done at SMMC. Together the community and SMMC provide a caring environment for the patients at the hospital. Donations are always appreciated by the St. Maarten Medical Center.

If you would like to contribute to your local hospital, donations can be made via SMMC website, or by contacting their Communications Department for more information about the hospital’s donations program at 543-1111 ext. 2508.


Be The Change continues on its Mission to Contribute to the Community

PHILIPSBURG - Be The Change continues with its mission to encourage the St. Maarten community to actively contribute to various non-profit organizations and local causes.

To that effect, in February we presented a donation to SXM BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) youth campaign to send young athletes from St. Maarten to the IBJFF Pan Championships to compete and represent St. Maarten.

In March, Be the Change gave a donation to Les Fruits De Mer’s Amuseum Naturalis for their educational and cultural exhibit titled, “Women, People of Colour, and The Making of Natural History in The Caribbean.” The donation, made possible by the crowd-funding members who contribute each month, went towards funding this exhibit and the upcoming accompanying website. 

In April, Be the Change donated to the Green Star Foundation’s Agri-Edu School program. This program helps school-aged children, starting from day cares to secondary, learn about growing their own food and the importance of living a healthier lifestyle.

Be The Change also benefited from an Earth Day celebration on April 22 hosted by Buccaneer Beach Bar and in collaboration with local organization Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC), where new trees were planted to better serve both the environment and the community at large.

Be The Change Foundation will continue to serve the local community of St. Maarten in the coming months in various ways, but especially by highlighting and donating to a unique organization each month.

For a list of future organizations, we will be assisting this year, please visit our website: and stay up to date by following us on Facebook.

Our web page also provides information on how to become a member and how to donate to our various causes and scholarship program.

Becoming a Be The Change member means you are participating in a social philanthropic movement, hence making a united effort to change and improve life on the island.


Forensic results of body found in Great Bay is of R. Brous

PHILIPSBURG - In the month of January 2010 family members of R. Brous filed an official report with the authorities on the French Side of the island stating that Brous had gone missing and had not returned home.

He had been last seen driving a blue rented BMW. The police authorities on the Dutch side of the island were also informed about this missing person and joined in the search to locate R. Brous however; this lengthy search did not have any positive results.

On Monday January 23rd 2017 in the morning at approximately 9.00 a.m. police were called to Great Bay to investigate a case involving a vehicle which was found submerged approximately 200 meter from the shore line in the vicinity of the Walter Plantz Pier.

A local diver discovered the vehicle while diving in Great bay harbor and immediately notified the police. The vehicle in question was a BMW with four doors which showed signs of being submerged for quite some time.

The vehicle was removed from the water at which time during the investigation, what seemed to be human remains, was found in the vehicle. The vehicle and the human remains were confiscated for further investigation.

As part of the investigation to identify the person whose remains were found in the vehicle, a DNA sample of the human remains and that of a close family member of R. Brous were taken and sent to the National Forensic Institute in the Netherlands for comparison.

The results that came back regarding this DNA investigation are that the human remains that were found in the vehicle are those of R. Brous. The investigation done on the vehicle also indicates that this is the same vehicle that R. Brous rented on the French side before he went missing.

The investigators of this case, thus far, did not encounter any evidence which indicates that the death of R. Brous was the result of a criminal act. The cause of death of R. Brous is still unknown. (Police Force Sint Maarten)



PHILIPSBURG – United Telecommunications Services N.V announces the start of a major brand revitalization focused on aligning customer experience with new technologies and improved business practices of the company.

The company affirms its belief that creating a meaningful connection with the customer is essential in ensuring continued successful operations. The company has been providing telecommunication services on St. Maarten, Saint Martin, Saint Barths, Saba and St. Eustatius Curacao and Bonaire for many years and has evolved by integrating new technologies and business practices along the way, moving it far beyond what the company once was.

Based on this evolution, the company initiated a brand revitalization project to ensure that the company fosters and further develops its relationship with the most important person: the customer.

The brand revitalization introduces a new brand identity that includes a new logo and icon. These will be used across all territories that UTS is operational in to maintain clear and uniform communication across all territories. The new UTS logo is comprised of the same three letters, U, T and S, used in a lower-case style to denote straightforward, bold simplicity. The logo will be used in combination with a new, very unique icon, intended as a symbol of connectivity, transformation, achievement and hope.

The brand revitalization effort is more than simply introducing a new logo and tagline. It’s about initiatives to improve customer experience at all moments that a consumer interacts with UTS.

Examples of this are an entirely new phone system to greatly improve the accessibility of customer support to the customer, increased speeds in broadband packages, continued expansions in mobile and fiber infrastructure. Additionally, the company continues to work on identifying operational efficiencies and the bolstering of the essential skills UTS staffers need to provide exceptional customer service.

UTS also unveils “Feel the Connection”. A new brand tagline, marking the company’s clear focus on the customer’s experience when connected by the reliable networks of UTS.

"UTS customers are central in everything we say and do are as diverse as the communities that we serve. The one thing our customers all have in common is that they are all people who work towards a better quality of life for themselves and their communities," said Glen A. Carty, CEO of UTS Eastern Caribbean.

"To get things done, they count on reliable and powerful connectivity to connect with others anywhere and anytime. We aim to provide the affordable solutions needed to give them access to information and tools that make them smarter, faster and more efficient. Important in that process is customer service that is respectful of their time and effective in resolving any issues."


Five House Searches in Connection with Air France Drugs Find; Items Seized and One Arrest

PHILIPSBURG - On the 30th of March 2017, a criminal investigation was launched by the public prosecutor under the name “Polaris” This investigation is in connection with a considerable amount of drugs that was found earlier this year on an Air France flight.

In connection with this ongoing investigation and by orders of the judge of instruction and the public prosecutor, five (5) house searches were conducted in the areas of Mary Fancy, Fort Willem and Cay Bay. During the searches, several items were confiscated.

During these house searches one male person was arrested for possession of an illegal substance. His arrest is not in connection with the ongoing “Polaris” investigation.

A search was also conducted at the Menzies ground services located at the Princess Juliana International Airport. The searches were done by the investigating team called the Alpha Team.

The Alpha Team is a team consisting out of the Local Police Force and Immigration, the Koninklijke Marechaussee and Customs Department. (Police Force Sint Maarten)


Clinical Geneticist provides new development in care on Sint Maarten

CAY HILL - Dr. Mieke van Haelst, Clinical Geneticist at the Academic Medical Center (AMC) and Free University Medisch Center (VUMC), Amsterdam, teamed up with the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) during her visit to the island in an on-going effort towards advancement in care given to patients with congenital abnormalities.

Dr. van Haelst, who specializes in Pediatric Clinical Genetics, has been visiting Sint Maarten once yearly for the last four (4) years, offering genetic consultation services for (parents of) patients with congenital abnormalities, also known as birth defects. She has also been providing teachings to medical professionals on the island about these (hereditary) conditions.

This year, for the first time, Dr. van Haelst collaborated with the Cardiologists at the medical center to tackle the issue of Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) in Sint Maarten, which occurs due to sudden loss of heart function. Families with children at risk for the condition have been requesting more information on this topic and, together with SMMC, Dr. van Haelst has been providing them with the necessary answers and possibilities of genetic testing for this condition.

Additionally, on Thursday May 4th, Dr. van Haelst along with Dr. Pieter Offringa, Pediatrician of SMMC, gave a lecture at SMMC about genetics, particularly with regards for Sint Maarten.

Medical advancement

For the last two years Dr. van Haelst has been working with the Sister Basilia Center as part of her research on birth abnormalities in combination with intellectual deficit syndromes, and she has been providing consultation to the families of the patients. She has dealt with conditions related to heart abnormalities, epilepsy, and growth retardations, amongst many other issues that she has been able to diagnose on the island.

Through advancement in the field, a new diagnostic test has improved detection of abnormalities in the genetic material causing these conditions. This progressive method is known as the “Whole Exome Sequencing” (WES). It allows specialists to analyze a significant amount of genes at one time thereby making it more efficient and effective to diagnose the presence of genetic diseases or raise suspicions thereof.

Since applying this method Dr. van Haelst has been able to make a diagnosis in all children suffering from rare congenital conditions that were selected to have this new genetic test.

The availability of this specialty and this diagnostic on the island is a benefit to the community. For many parents with children diagnosed with congenital abnormalities Dr. van Haelst can offer them information, reassurance and future guidance.

It offers timely diagnosis of conditions, thereby decreasing the need for continuous testing. Families are able to get answers much sooner and learn how to prevent and prepare for future complications. Parents can also be informed of the chances of a reoccurrence of genetic conditions in future pregnancies.

Dr. van Haelst currently visits the island once a year, but her efforts continue from afar nonetheless. Even in her absence she remains active by requesting genetic testing based on electronic consultations so on her return to the island she can give explanation on what she has discovered and offer guidance on how best the patient and their families can move forward.   

Regional collaboration

Dr. van Haelst started her work in the Caribbean in 2011. At the time she visited Curacao to train Pediatricians on Clinical Genetics. Soon thereafter she began to offer consultation services to a few patients, but over time demand for her expertise and services grew significantly in Curacao, whereby she eventually had many more patients. Interest in her specialization continued to grow as well from colleagues in Aruba, Bonaire and Sint Maarten.

As the care demand for Clinical Genetics increases the need for additional research on genetic conditions grows. Together with her colleagues at AMC-VUMC, Dr. van Haelst intends to expand her research and services on the island. This is part of the ongoing research being done on birth abnormalities and syndromes.

Her specialty and the new genetic test methods she uses bring much added value to the island, particularly to parents that have children with congenital abnormalities, syndromes or suspicions thereof. The field of Clinical Genetics continues to progress and the Caribbean cannot afford to lag behind in the developments. Dr. van Haelst remains stationed in the Netherlands, but continues to work closely with the Pediatricians of SMMC. This will continue to strengthen the relationship between SMMC and AMC-VUMC, particularly in the field of Genetics. As for now, Dr. Offringa will remain the contact person on this topic in Sint Maarten. 


Charlotte Brookson Academy of the Performance Arts Students Write CXC and Cambridge Examinations

PHILIPSBURG - Charlotte Brookson Academy (CBA) of the Performance Arts has been busy preparing the first set of students to write the examinations offered by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) as part of their high school graduation requirements. These first set of CBA students writing the examinations will upon their graduation have opportunities to further their studies abroad.

The Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC) and the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations are offered by Caribbean Examination Council, providing the region with syllabuses of the highest quality that is valid for entry into regional and international institutions of higher learning.

These examinations are offered in 16 participating territories including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, The British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Saba, St. Maarten and Suriname.

According to the CBA director, Mrs. Claudette Forsythe Labega, ‘our teachers and members of staff have worked diligently in preparing the students for these examinations and we are confident that they will be successful. This is our first cohort of students writing the examination based on the curriculum set by the Caribbean Examination Council and we know that they will do CBA and themselves proud’’. Sixteen 5th form students, two 4th form students, and one external student are sitting the CXC examinations.

The Human Resources and Finance Manager of CBA, Mr. Hiro Shigemoto, who has been at the helm of organizing all of the examination preparations, with the assistance of two teachers, is also pleased with the ongoing process. He said that ‘the process began with oral exams on April 1st 2017 as part of the Cambridge Dutch Language Exams (Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education – IGCSE).

The CBA students will continue to write the CXC exams in a number of additional subjects.  Mr. Shigemoto concluded by wishing all the students much success with their exams as they prepare to break ground and advance into the next phase of their studies.

The Charlotte Brookson Academy of the Performance Arts is a high school program established in 2012 on St. Maarten. They offer a full day program starting at 7:30 am with Academic classes and Performance arts classes (Music, Theater Arts, Visual Arts, Physical Education and Dance) beginning at 2:30pm until 4:15pm from Monday to Friday. CBA is located at the Former Government Administration Building, Clem Labega Square, Philipsburg, St. Maarten.  For more information on the school, visit CBA at or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


USM part of regional cooperation between tertiary institutions in the Caribbean and the USA

POND ISLAND - On May 10th an important step was taken in the regional cooperation between tertiary institutions in the Caribbean and the USA, and our University of St. Martin was part of this event.

New York’s Medgar Evers College, a senior college of the prestigious City University of New York (CUNY), the University of Trinidad & Tobago, the University of the West Indies, and 6 other institutions, including our University of St. Martin, established the USA-Caribbean International Education Consortium (UCIEC). 

The signing took place at the USA embassy in the presence of several dignitaries, including Dr. Keith Rowley, the Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago, and the USA public affairs officer, Stephen Weeks, who both stressed the importance of the UCIEC. The objective of the UCIEC consortium is to enhance and deepen academic cooperation enabling sustainable economic & social development.

Dr. Rudolph Carew has been appointed the first chairman of the UCIEC. The choice is symbolic of the force and pretention of the consortium, as Dr. Carew rose to prominence as the Chancellor of the New York City Board of Education.

Mrs. Geneve Phillip-Durham, the Dean of Academics, played a pivotal role in the USM’s inclusion in the UCIEC: “For me, it is important that regional cooperation goes beyond the CARICOM Caribbean. As such, I welcomed this initiative once it came to my attention, with a view toward having USM included.

“I am delighted that along with the likes of MEC and UWI, we are a part of this monumental step as far as cooperation in the higher education arena is concerned”. The first steps in concretizing the UCIEC as it relates to the USM is already underway. Talks have begun on establishing a detailed articulation agreement with Medgar Evers College, allowing USM students to transition to that New York college.

Also, the USM President, Dr. Francio Guadeloupe, and one of the master minds behind the consortium, Mr. Milton Lawrence, the Regional Education Coordinator of Medgar Evers, have begun exploring the possibilities of creating a joint academic course that could be taught in New York as well as on St. Martin.

With the signing of the UCIEC coming on the heels of its relationship with the University of the Virgin Islands, whereby via the latter school North American accredited BA and MA degrees are awarded, and the recent possibilities for USM students to transition to Hotel School, the University of St. Martin (USM) located on Pond Island is bent on broadening its regional and wider international appeal.   


Simpson Bay Resort concludes Carnival festivities

SIMPSON BAY - Simpson Bay Resort & Marina recently concluded its festive series of four mini-carnival parades and Soca themed poolside happy hour events.

The weekly events, running parallel to St. Maarten’s official carnival season, has proven a hit with guests, and is the second annual series so far.

The resort’s fresh take on improving visitor experience is meant to promote local culture and make it more accessible to guests, both loyal visitors and first timers. Some guests travel especially for St. Maarten’s carnival season. Local residents were also welcomed and encouraged to join the festivities this year.

The ‘Royal Jump Up’ was once again lead by signature local youth drum band, Generation New Status, and the Dazzling Divas dancers, who set the pace, kept the guests dancing, and gave energetic individual performances.

Wednesday’s finale also featured a few extras, such as costumed male revelers, trumpet players in the youth band, and a raffle for a one-week stay.

The event featured authentic carnival costumes of years passed, customized neon bedazzled shirts, as well as the latest regional and local carnival hits including those by many of this year’s Soca Rumble performers.

PHOTO CUTLINE: Resort guests are pictured with the Dazzling Divas dancers during the finale to a series of carnival themed events held by Simpson Bay Resort & Marina. Eduardo Garcia Gomez photo.

parade cu2


National Culinary Team gearing up perfection at third Fundraiser

OYSTER POND - After May 4th's successful fundraiser at Holland House, the National Culinary Team of Sint Maarten to be sent out to the prestigious TASTE of the Caribbean competition in Miami organized by CHTA will hold its third fundraiser at Canoa Restaurant at Oyster Bay this Thursday. As the event is almost the last high level practice event before departure, more aspects than before will be closely monitored.

After five years of absence, 2016 marked the return of the "Culinary Capital of the Caribbean" at the most prestigious cooking contest of the region. As all Sint Maarten Chefs as well as its Bartender returned with a prize in 2017, organizers decided to provide an opportunity for the same core team as last year to another attempt at hopefully conquering even more valuable medals.

The event is not only a contest but as well an important marketing opportunity in the highly-competed US tourism market. Next to being a key sponsor for the national team, the Sint Maarten Tourism Board will be joining the mission with a dedicated Sint Maarten booth at the Caribbean 305 event as well as visiting the upcoming Canoa fundraising dinner with a delegation for further support. Apart from the Tourist Board and the contributions of 110 visiting guests thus far, the event is sponsored by in total 25 companies and donations.

70 Visitors enjoyed a high quality five course dinner at Holland House at the 4th of May, preceded by various dances by artists of the National Institute of the Arts, whom host Holland House graciously donated the remainder of benefits from their side.

As the event comes closer, Canoas fundraising dinner will mark a further step to perfection for the Chefs. The dinner at Holland House meant the introduction of evaluation documents allowing the 70 visitors to mark points for improvement. Attendants assisted in suggestions on topics of presentation, use of spices, temperature of serving as well as excellence within the various categories. Next to implementing suggestions done by the public, team discipline and group effort will be even closely monitored than before as this itself forms an award category at the 2-6th of June contest in Miami.  The organizing parties very much encourage people from country Sint Maarten to attend the open competition in order to support the team.

However, a large amount still needs to be raised. Averagely, participating teams need to raise over 40.000 US dollars. Being the most prestigious culinary event of the region, as well as a highly-reputed learning curve for junior chefs from NIPA joining the event, Chefs of all teams bring their own equipment. This degree of perfection, next to travel costs for all 8 team members, makes the event a costly operation needing sponsors as well as fundraisers.

The organizing parties call on those culinary minded Sint Maarteners to enjoy a five course, five-star meal at Canoa Restaurant in Oyster Pond this Thursday at 7:30 pm to support the comeback of Sint Maarten as a culinary nation in Miami. As drinks are generously partially provided by sponsors like Antillean Liquors, CC1 and ILTT, the amount of $95 dollars per person stands for a combination of some of Sint Maarten’s best culinary flavors and wines at a very fair price.

For supporting the national effort, please reserve seats at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 542-0108 for more information. Limited seats remain so book now!

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