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Library's DigiKidz Media Lab Attracts over 200 Students

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - Philipsburg Jubilee Library’s (PJL) recently launched Digikidz Media lab has provided workshops in digital multimedia to over 287 elementary school students, since it began in April.

The Media lab was officially opened on April 17, 2014 before invited guests including Jorien Wuite, Secretary General for the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs, Forsee representatives and school officials.

Students from the Seventh Day Adventist School, Helmich Snijders Christian Hillside School, Asha Stevens Hillside Christian School, MAC Browlia F. Maillard Campus, St. Dominic, Sister Regina, Ruby Labega, St. Joseph and Leonard Connor School have taken courses in Movietrader, Internet Safety, creating animation movies, and making short film reports.

“We are very happy that we finally have our own medialab. Since the start of the first workshops, we have already noticed how excited children are about our new Media Lab. We hope to attract more adults to our afternoon workshops as well. Getting familiar with digital media is of the utmost importance for all citizens of our island,” stated Library Director, Monique Alberts.

This week, Design specialist, Niels Hoebers, conducted Media Lab workshops on creating animation movies and short film reports.  Hoebers also conducted classes for Curacao’s Media Lab.

“The kids at my workshops are having a lot of fun making their own animated films. They are stimulated to create little stories by manipulating various simple materials like toys, paper and fabric. Students take a picture of the material in small steps by moving them a little bit each time. Pictures eventually come to life by replaying them successively and more quickly. They learn to be creative and have fun. This technique trains individuals to use their creative mind through hands on work and computer skills. The workshop is a great mix of digital and analogue work. One kid said “best fieldtrip ever". When I hear children say things like that, I know the DigiKidz Media Lab works,” stated Hoebers.

The medialab project is an initiative from Foundation Kultuurkameleon.  The Digikidz project was made possible through funding from the Windsong Foundation and the Kultura fund.  Digikidz is a project from the Foresee foundation.

Classes are available for schoolchildren and anyone that is interested in learning about the use of modern internet technologies and multimedia. The courses are free to students between 9 to 18 years of age, as well as Teachers. Persons 18 and older pay a contribution of $ 5 at the start of the workshop. Interested persons can call the library at 542-2970 and contact Joy Lambert for more information or register online at http://www.medialabsintmaarten.com

Photo Caption: Workshop Facilitator, Niels Hoebers assisting two students of the Sister Regina School with their Animated Film. (PJL photo)

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Minister Lake pleased with outcome of meeting between Simpson Bay Community Council and SXM Airport

SIMPSON BAY VILLAGE, Sint Maarten – Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (Ministry of VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake is pleased with the discussions that took place Wednesday night between the Simpson Bay Community Council and SXM Airport.

Minister Lake initiated the meeting in order for both parties to have a better understanding of each other.  Yvette Halley represented the Simpson Bay Community Council (SBCC) while Regina Labega, was the head of her delegation.

“In my back to basics approach it is very important that all parties understand each other in order to be able to move forward.  With respect to the plans for our national airport and the interests of the people from the Simpson Bay Village and surrounding environs, some clarity had to be brought on matters of concern to the latter party, and the meeting basically brought a lot of clarity. 

“An agreement has been reached where SXM Airport will meet with the SBCC on a quarterly basis.  I applaud the airport’s management on its transparency and openness and willingness to also help the community as part of its social corporate responsibility,” Minister Hon. Maurice Lake said on Thursday.

The SBCC questioned a number of things such as the amount of filling that would take place in the Simpson Bay Lagoon; congestion within the lagoon; the lagoons beauty and nature; further mega yacht developments in the Lagoon; noise pollution concern and new jet engines that will be more silent, were some of the issues discussed.

During the meeting a number of projects, primarily those that would be implemented in the next three to five years in accordance with SXM’s short term strategic plan were highlighted.

Regina LaBega, Managing Director of SXM Airport, was accompanied by her team and was pleased with the outcome of the meeting. “SXM was able to give clarity on a number of developments pertaining to the most immediate plans of the airport as well as listen to some of the concerns of the Simpson Bay community,” LaBega said.


Key projects discussed included the relocation of the fuel farm, construction of a new FBO facility, construction of a bypass, upgrades to SXM’s Rescue and Fire Fighting facility as well as SXM’s construction of a substation for the government fire department which will serve the Simpson Bay and surrounding areas and will be equipped to also house the country’s ambulance.  

In addition to the ongoing developments at the airport, SXM  also discussed ways that it can be of assistance to the Simpson Bay community in keeping with its corporate social responsibility. Upgrades to the community’s current youth center and lighting for the basketball court were among some of the projects discussed. The main highlight of the meeting was SXM reinforcing its commitment to engaging SBCC by announcing it will begin quarterly meetings with the Simpson Bay Community Council to keep members abreast of the various developments, projects and plans being executed as part of SXM’s Capital Improvement Program.

This announcement was very well received by SBCC and the members look forward to further discussions with SXM. “We value the input of the Simpson Bay Community and remain committed to including them and keeping them abreast of our plans,” LaBega concluded.

PHOTO CUTLINE: SBCC Yvette Halley (5th from left), Hon. Minister of VROMI Maurice Lake (4th from left), SXM Airport Managing Director Regina Labega (3rd from left) along with other members of the SBCC and airport management staff.

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Natural Hair Workshop Returns to St. Martin Book Fair

GREAT BAY/MARIGOT, St. Martin—Another fun and informative natural hair workshop will take place during the St. Martin Book Fair on June 7, 2014, at 11 AM, at the University of St. Martin, said Rochelle Ward, the workshop organizer. Dr. Veronica Reid, who launched her natural hair and skin products in 2011, and is the author of Chances Are You’re Not Natural, will conduct the hair workshop. The owner of Beautiful Earth Natural Hair Haven in Jamaica is also well known as Ewurama.

 

“It’s exciting to introduce Dr. Reid to the St. Martin people, especially to our young women aspiring to start their own business, and to be able to say, ‘Here is someone who has turned her passion into a business. See? Now, do’,” said Ward. Dr. Reid obtained her PhD in business and management at the University of Nottingham, England, and had returned to Jamaica with the intention to be a lecturer but decided to start a beauty care business. 

 

The free book fair workshop is entitled ‘Partners in Crime: Going Natural and Staying Natural’ and promises to surpass last year’s hair workshop, which was a mega hit at the literary festival. “Two hundred (200) plus persons attended the ‘Natural Hair Mixology’ workshop last year and some were turned away,” said Ward, who is a published poet, high school teacher, and blogger. 

 

“This year I don’t want to turn people away, so I am encouraging future attendees to register online at www.partnersincrime.eventbrite.com. This time you can reserve your seat and your place will be secured,” said Ward. (The theme for the 12th annual St. Martin Book Fair, June 5 – 7, 2014, is “Crime&Punishment.”) 

 

The new workshop is organized by Don’t Break the Comb (DBC), the island’s first natural hair group, which was co-founded by Ward and organized last year’s ‘Natural Hair Mixology.’ 

 

“As you will see, becoming natural is more than just growing out your God-given hair. This new workshop with Ewurama is also for those who are thinking about transitioning, in need of hair care and styling tips or having trouble maintaining their natural hair,” said Ward. 

 

Dr. Reid has been featured in The Gleaner and has made numerous appearances on television, radio and in the Jamaican press. Conscious Lyrics Foundation and House of Nehesi Publishers are the organizers of the island-wide book festival, in collaboration with St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, University of St. Martin, LCF Foundation, and St. Martin Tourist Office. 

 

Caption1: Dr. Veronica Reid, also known as Ewurama, author of Chances Are You’re Not Natural and owner of Beautiful Earth Natural Hair Haven in Jamaica.

 

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Miami International Airport and 21 other US Airports Alert Travelers about MERS Infection

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Travellers from Sint Maarten heading to the United States of America will be alerted once they arrive at one of 22 airports – Miami International Airport included – a warning sign about Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a coronavirus.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause a range of illnesses in humans, from the common cold to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.  Viruses in this family also cause a number of animal diseases.  The strain of MERS was first identified in 2012 in Saudi Arabia.  Medical understanding of the virus and the disease it causes is continuing to evolve.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has put 22 airports on alert around the country for the illness.

The United States of America is the first country in the Western Hemisphere to have MERS cases.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has now added the United States to a list of 13 affected countries reporting cases of MERS or evidence of infection since December 2013.  The countries are: Egypt, Greece, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The fifth meeting of the Emergency Committee convened under the International Health Regulations (2005) was held via teleconference on 13 May.  The Members of the Committee indicated that the seriousness of the situation had increased in terms of public health impact, but that there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission.

As a result, the Committee concluded that the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern have not yet been met, and added that its concern about the situation had significantly increased.

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Minister Lake inspects Nazareth community infrastructure improvements

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (Ministry of VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake visited Nazareth, Dutch Quarter to inspect the current infrastructure improvements that are currently underway in the neighborhood.

“Work has started on the main road which is in agreement with the residents of the area that we discussed in a previous meeting together as a community.

“GEBE has installed the street lights in the different areas of the community, and one resident told me that the area now looks like Las Vegas.  It is very important that we touch the neighborhoods, by improving the quality of life, by providing basic streets lights that would improve safety and security.

“It’s a back to basics approach.  You have to work from the bottom up. I came to the community and I listened to their concerns, ideas and suggestions.  Government has limited financial resources at this time, but with the little funds available, we are still able to do wonders by meeting the basic needs of the community.

“Taking care of the grassroots is what the back to basics approach is all about in every Sint Maarten neighbourhood.  So far this week I have been visiting the different districts and looking at the simple things that could be repaired which makes a big difference,” Minister Hon. Maurice Lake said on Wednesday.

Besides Nazareth road in Dutch Quarter, work has been carried out on Christopher Maccow and Felix Marlin road.

NV GEBE drafted a plan to install approximately 20 to 25 extra street lights in the area which would complete the first phase of the project.

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Office of Disaster Management calls on Nation to Prepare for 2014 Hurricane Season

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Office of Disaster Management (ODM), is calling on the Sint Maarten community to begin to prepare timely for the Atlantic hurricane season, and to have the necessary plans in place by June 1st, the start of the 2014 season.

Colorado State University (CSU) hurricane team Phil Klotzbach and William Gray have forecasted in their April report a below average number of storms systems to form during the hurricane season. 

CSU forecast nine named storms, three hurricanes and one major hurricane with over 111 miles per hour winds. The forecast is well below the long-term average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes each season.

Even though the official start of the season is over two weeks away, ODM is urging residents to use this period to prepare themselves adequately by reviewing their annual hurricane season preparatory list.

ODM adds that the country’s disaster preparedness and emergency management mechanisms are expected to be ready to deal with any eventuality arising during the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season.

“As we do for every hurricane season, preparing for a storm strike is necessary.  Remember it only takes one to make it a bad hurricane season.  Even though the forecast for the season calls for less storm/hurricane activity, every household and business should still take the necessary precautions by preparing, because it only takes one hurricane strike to make it a bad season.

“Check your disaster plan and review your disaster supply kit.  Prepare early and avoid being caught unprepared.  Minimize your dependence on government, family or friends.  Preparedness starts with every one of us within our communities,” ODM reminds the populace in a Wednesday statement.

Some of the preparations that should be carried out now are checking hurricane shutters and the roof of your home or business, and to make sure windows and shutters close securely.

Persons living along coastal areas as well as those in flood prone areas should start looking at what measures they would take in the event of a hurricane which could cause flood challenges. 

The 2014 hurricane season officially runs through November 30 and begins June 1st.

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Two Pelican Statues Stolen

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - On Saturday May 10th the man with initials M.M. filed a report with the Detective Department stating that between May 8th and 10th 2014 unknown persons have stolen two four feet bronze pelican statues from his property in Bryson Drive on the Mount William Hill. The statues resemble those that are located on the round-a-bout at the Princess Juliana International Airport. Each statue weighs approximately 100 pounds. The Detective Department is investigating.

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President Arrindell casts her vote for European Union parliamentary elections

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – On Tuesday afternoon President of Parliament Hon. Gracita Arrindell casts her vote for the European Union (EU) Parliamentary elections. Arrindell used her democratic right by visiting the Office of Dutch Representation on Front Street #26, Philipsburg.

“I call on all citizens who registered up until April 10 to exercise their democratic right to vote between now and May 22.

“I made use of this right this afternoon and voted for the candidate of my choice. Not too long ago, not everyone could vote, including women. To date there are millions of people around the world who still cannot or are not allowed to freely vote for the party or candidate of their choice.

“The opportunity was created to allow residents who met the criteria to vote in EU parliamentary elections, and we should make use of this,” President of Parliament Hon. Gracita Arrindell said on Tuesday.

The European parliamentary elections are considered the second biggest democratic exercise in the world, where 400 million people can cast their vote for a new European Parliament.

Elections are on May 22 for the 751 member chamber of the European Parliament. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) represent 503.7 million people in the European Union.

The 751 MEPs will take their seats in July and will set the course of European policies for the next five years. They will also elect the leader of the EU’s executive body, the European Commission President.

 

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Business Cycle Survey Now Underway

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The Department of Statistics (STAT) informs the business community of the start of its Business Cycle Survey this week. Each year STAT carries out this survey in May through June and October through December, to gather up-to-date developments within our economy, based on the performance of the business sector.

Data-collection began on Monday May 12th 2014 and will continue for 6 weeks until June 20th 2014. The survey’s target group includes all businesses with ten employees or more; and a sample of businesses with between three to ten employees.

STAT-trained interviewers will be distributing and collecting the Business-Cycle questionnaires from enterprises and will also be on-hand to provide any additional assistance, that may be required.

The survey takes just a few minutes to complete, and refers to the situation of the business for the first-half of 2014. It covers brief questions on the level and changes in turnover and personnel, but also seeks to capture the opinions and expectations of entrepreneurs in 2014, as it regards investments, competitiveness and confidence in the economy. STAT is appealing to all businesses approached to participate in the Business Cycle survey, as the private-sector input is essential for the department’s work in measuring current economic developments.

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Flooding of Districts, Invasive Species, Acidic Oceans and Bleaching of Coral Reefs All Part of Climate Change Impacts for St. Maarten

COLE BAY, Sint Maarten - The St. Maarten Nature Foundation recently presented a revised Climate Change Action Plan to Various Stakeholders explaining some of the projected impacts Climate Change will have on St. Maarten. The control plan outlines specific controlling methods to combat the effects of climate change to the coastal and near shore environments of the country. The re-issuance comes as a result of new reports from various international sources stating that the melting of the West Antarctic Ice Cap will have significant impacts to coastal communities around the world, including to those in the Caribbean.

This document is constructed as a plans of approach regarding the tackling of the effects global warming will have on the Marine and Coastal Zone Ecosystem of St. Maarten. The document also gives an overview of the causes and threats posed by Global Warming to the Marine and Coastal Zones, Parameters for Monitoring and Recording those threats and possible mitigating suggestions to the effects caused by Climate Change to the Coastal and Marine Environment, which are the ecosystems and population centers most greatly affected by Climate Change.

From the mid-19th to the beginning of the 21st century, the air temperature at the earth’s surface increased by between 0.6 and 0.8°C, and this warming is expected to accelerate during the current century if mitigating measures are not put in place. The sea plays a key role in limiting this process as more than 80% of the heat absorbed by the planet accumulates in the world’s oceans.

For St. Maarten Climate Change will bring with it serious consequences, particularly with regards to sea level rise, ocean acidification, invasive species and coral bleaching. It is estimated that by 2073 various districts on the island including Great Bay, Simpson Bay and Cole Bay will be submerged if current estimated sea level rise continues. The report outlines suggestions for mitigating the effects climate change will have on the country and outlines plans of action for addressing the issues climate change will bring with it.

St. Maarten, as a Small island developing State, is particularly vulnerable to climate change, climate variability and sea-level rise. The population of small islands like St. Maarten tends to have their population and infrastructure concentrated in the coastal zone and any rise in sea-level will have significant and profound effects on the economy and living conditions. The St. Maarten Nature Foundation hopes that, with this report, some measures can be taken to alleviate the stress climate change will have on St. Maarten. The plan can be downloaded via the Nature Foundation website naturefoundationsxm.org.

 

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