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Suspect wanted on 2015 arrest warrant arrested in ongoing investigation

PHILIPSBURG - On Tuesday February 14th 2017 at approximately 10.05 a.m. the suspect with initials E.L. Jr. for whom an arrest warrant was issued since March 2015 was arrested by police.

The arrest took place in the vicinity of the Police Headquarters in Philipsburg after he was spotted and stopped by police driving as a passenger of a black SUV.

When the suspect was being put in handcuffs, to be transported, he took off running in the direction of the Sint Maarten University.  The officers chased the suspect on foot and in that process two warning shots were fired.

The suspects immediately stop fleeing and surrendered. He was immediately taken to the police station where he was placed in custody for further investigation. (Police Force Sint Maarten)

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Port St. Maarten and Walter Plantz Square Spread Valentine’s Day Cheer

PORT ST. MAARTEN – In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, red roses were given out to the ladies and customers at Port St. Maarten, the Walter Plantz Square (WPS) and at the St. Maarten’s Senior Citizens Home at St. John’s Estate, as a loving gesture and giving back to the community on this special day of the year.

Valentine’s Day comes once a year where one expresses their love for our significant others and sweethearts by giving Valentine’s cards, sending flowers, and doing romantic things, but this should be done every single day of the year. 

Port St. Maarten Management values its employees and customers every single day, and wishes them a Happy Valentine’s Day. 

WPS staff at the Senior Citizens Home

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Detectives seek public help for November 4, 2016 Back Street Shooting Incident

BACK STREET - The detective department is conducting an investigation into the shooting that took place during the evening hours of Saturday November 4th, 2016 at approximately 11 p.m. in a home that is situated on the Back Street in down town Philipsburg.

Under the direction of the Public Prosecutor’s offices a team of detectives are following up on different leads into this incident and are soliciting the public’s assistance as the investigation continues.

Detectives are interested in speaking to the drivers of the dark colored Hyundia Sonata and a white Kia Picanto that happened to be on the scene when this act was being committed. 

Both drivers of these vehicles are potential witnesses to the shooting as both reverse at high speeds away from the scene of the crime as the assailants were carrying out their assault. 

Detectives are also interested in speaking to some people who were walking next to the Kadaster building in the direction of Front Street as the crime was taking place. The person’s in question consisted of one man and three women. They were seen walking together along the Cannegieter Street just behind the office of the utility company GEBE.

These four individuals walked from the Cannegieter Street into the Hensy Beaujon Steeg (this is the side road between the office of the Kadaster and New Testament Church of God). As these four individuals were about to cross from de Hensy Beaujon Steeg onto the Back Street a white vehicle drove pass them. This vehicle then stopped directly in front of them in the middle of Back Street.   

The detectives are requesting the aforementioned drivers of these cars, as well as the aforementioned pedestrians, or any person with information about this case to contact the detectives conducting the investigation via telephone number (+1721)542222 ext 175 or 176. They can also contact the detectives anonymously via the TIP-line 9300. (Police Force Sint Maarten) 

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CARIBBEAN TOURISM ARRIVALS HIT ALL-TIME HIGH – 29 MILLION VISITORS

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN – Caribbean tourism broke new ground in 2016, surpassing 29 million arrivals for the first time ever, and once again growing faster than the global average.

“Despite political, security and economic uncertainties and challenges in our main source markets, tourist arrivals to the Caribbean increased by 4.2 per cent in 2016, better than the 3.9 per cent overall internationally,” secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) High Riley announced today in presenting the Caribbean Tourism Performance Report 2016.

“Encouragingly, we welcomed over one million more visitors last year than in 2015, to reach 29.3 million, continuing our proud record of continuous growth for the seventh straight year,” he told a news conference held at CTO headquarters, and streamed to a global audience.

Visitor expenditure also hit a new high, growing by an estimated 3.5 per cent to reach US$35.5 billion.

The United States remained the Caribbean’s primary market with an estimated 14.6 million stay-over arrivals, up 3.5 per cent on 2015.

However, it was Europe that recorded the highest rate of growth among the main source markets, led by strong increases from Germany (8.2 per cent) and the United Kingdom (4.1 per cent).

“Despite terrorist attacks in some countries, the Brexit referendum in the UK and bumpy economic outcomes across continental Europe, arrivals from that market climbed by 11.4 per cent, to reach 5.6 million. The strong European performance was evident by the healthy increases of between six and 16.8 per cent in each month, compared to the corresponding month in 2015,” Mr. Riley said.

Intra- Caribbean travel also so performed well, recording a 3.6 per cent increase – the second straight year of growth – despite costly and fragmented air service.

Canada, normally a robust market for the Caribbean, recorded a decrease for the first time since 1994, and only the second contraction since 1982. The 3.3 million arrivals from that market represented a 3.4 per cent drop when compared to 2015.

The South American market also contracted by 10.6 per cent, mainly due to political instability in two of the main sources.

The CTO secretary general also revealed that cruise arrivals grew at a slower pace of 1.3 per cent to approximately 26.3 million, while the hotel sector recorded negative growth, with all hotel indicators contracting, with the exception of the number of available rooms, which grew by just over one per cent, according to Smith Travel Research.

Regarding the outlook for 2017, the CTO predicts increases of 2.5 and 3.5 per cent in long-stay arrivals and increases of between 1.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent in cruise passenger arrivals.

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February Medal Play: Stef Rumeser makes an Eagle on 12

MULLET BAY - With a total amount of 30 golfers, the February Medal Play event, organized by the St. Maarten Golf Association SMGA, was again a huge success. With a 66 Gross score, Howard Hobgood won both the prize for Tournament Overall Low Gross as well as 1st Low Gross in the Senior’s category. Tournament Overall Low Net was won by Sidsel Jacobsen with an outstanding score of 63.

1st Low Gross in the Men’s category was won by J.P. Clerk with a score of 79. In the same category L. Louchet won 1st Low Net with a score of 69.

In the Ladies flight the prize for 1st Low Gross was won by Sidsel Jacobsen as well with a score of 80, 1st Low Net was hence won by the runner up in this category M. Tortelier with a score of 67.

In the Seniors category, in addition to Hobgood’s nailing 1st Low Gross, Didier Bedu secured the 1st Low Net win with a score of 72.

The flight Super Seniors was won by Steve Mix with a Gross score of 80 strokes, 1st Low Net was won by Keith Graham with a score of 70.

The fewest putts during the round were made by Marc van Iersel with a solid 28 putts over 18 holes.

A small miracle occurred on hole number 12 where Stef Rumeser teed off and followed up with a shot over the water. After penetrating the air in a smooth flight the ball landed on the green from where it rolled gently into the hole. Even on an average PGA tournament event this is a rare occurrence.

Players that join the monthly Medal Play matches can qualify for the St. Maarten Golf team that will compete against other islands in the Eastern Caribbean Golf Championship.

The SMGA is a non-profit organization that welcomes all beginning and experienced golfers, tourists and St. Maarten / St. Martin residents alike to become members and join them during tournaments and matches. For more information about the SMGA, please contact the Golf Shop at the Mullet Bay Golf Course or like us on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/St.MaartenGolfAssociation

Website : www.sxmgolfassociation.com

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Month-long road closure in Point Blanche starting February 13

POINT BLANCHE, (DCOMM) – Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI), announces that scheduled road works will take place in the area of Point Blanche commencing on February 13.

The road works will continue until March 13 and will take place every day from 7.00am to 5.00pm on Merlin road and Mountain Dove road.

Residents and commuters will experience partial and total road closure and are therefore urged to pay keen attention to the use of heavy equipment by the contractor Clean St. Maarten.

Clean St. Maarten will notify residents about the particular areas in connection with road closures and traffic diversions.  Residents are advised to adhere to safety measures that will be put in place in order to ensure uninterrupted, safe and prompt working conditions.

The works are related to the laying of new conduits, new cables for street lights, high tension, water lines and sleeves.

Ministry VROMI apologizes for any inconveniences this may cause.

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Fathers, Pregnant and breastfeeding mother’s invited to February 15 Breastfeeding Cafe

GREAT BAY (DCOMM) – The 4th Breastfeeding Café will be held on Wednesday, February 15. 

This is being organized by Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour.

The objective is to promote breastfeeding by sharing information surrounding breastfeeding and other challenges for soon to-be and already breastfeeding mothers.

The Café will take place at the Baby Wellness Clinic (behind the Guardian Group Insurance Building or Opposite the Yogesh Building).  Registration starts at 5.45pm and the information session is from 6.00pm to 8.00pm.

Breastfeeding has so many benefits for a baby and their mother such as perfectly composed nutrients, special bonding moments, the best weight loss plan, and helps financially.

It is the best milk possible for your baby.  Dads, don’t feel left out. You will be joyous when your partner is eating right and is receiving your support, your encouragement and the guidance with the tasks surrounding breastfeeding, CPS points out.

“Who wouldn’t want the healthiest feeding for their baby?  We know that breastfeeding can have its challenges at times, that’s why we invite you to come out and get the information from different medical professionals in a relaxed environment but also hear some experienced fathers that is currently reaping the benefits of having their toddlers breastfed. See you there,” CPS concludes.

For more information about the Breastfeeding Café information session, you can call CPS Section Youth Healthcare at 542-3003 or 542-2078 or the Baby Clinic 543-0295. 

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Minister Lee looks for structural approach to improving Health Care

POND ISLAND - Numerous rumors, accusations and melee are contributing to a tense environment in the development and improvement of healthcare in St Maarten. The current environment is unhealthy and not conducive to developing a proper structure for the improvement of our health care system.

The Ministry of VSA (Public Health, Social Development and Labour) is working on multiple fronts to improve the quality, access and affordability of healthcare in St Maarten. While VSA is working on the new St Maarten General Hospital, which is tied up in legal dispute with Vamed, National Health Reform and National Health Insurance there is also a need to develop our protocols, human capital and capacity within our health care institutions.

 "In order to work on these key points, we need to ensure that there is an environment of trust, openness and mutual understanding. Currently, I don't believe that constructive environment exists", said Minister of Public Health Emil Lee.

"In order to restore a constructive and structural approach to the improvement of our health care system, I have requested that an impartial third party come in to conduct an audit of the SMMC.  I believe that this audit will provide a clear and impartial path for all stakeholders to follow to structurally improve our healthcare system. While we are still discussing the scope of the audit, it is my hope that the audit will be as broad and all-encompassing as possible, including for example the referral process and continuity of care", commented Minister Lee.

"The SMMC welcomes the initiative of Minister Lee to bring in an independent audit of the healthcare provided by the SMMC. There is always room for improvement and having the opportunity to have the input of the health inspectorate of the Netherlands can be of added value.  As a long time professional In the field of healthcare, I have had lots of experience with the high quality professionalism that this organization there brings to the table. Further improvement of quality of healthcare is hereby the ultimate goal," said Director of SMMC Kees Klarenbeek.

The Audit will be conducted by the Inspectorate of the Netherlands (IGZ).

The following areas will be part of the scope of the audit:

1.       Governance (in relation to quality of care and patient safety).

2.       Quality management in the SMMC (key indicators, calamities, complaints, protocols, proper PDCA cycle etc.) 

3.       Patient safety.

4.       Competence and functioning of specialists and divisions.

5.       Inspection of: OR, ICU, NICU, Dialysis and blood bank. 

The audit will have to be planned in consultation with IGZ, but within the next 4-6 weeks depending on the availability of a proper team and will take about 5 working days.

In addition, there have been numerous discussions about working towards an accreditation program such as the Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation.  A number of the hospitals that SZV is currently working with such as Health City in Cayman Island and FCV in Colombia have expressed interest in not only working together on referral patients from St Maarten but all working in a consultative and structural way forward, beginning with Telemedicine, Education, Continuity of Care and advice towards accreditation.

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Minister Lee Meets with Bahamas National Health Insurance Initiative representatives

POND ISLAND - During Minister of Public Health Emil Lee's visit to the Bahamas, the Minister met with representatives from The Bahamas to discuss their plans to roll out a new National Insurance Initiative (NHI).

"Just like in The Bahamas, developing universal health coverage for our people is one of the goals that has been set out by government.  It is our goal to ensure that our people have access to affordable, quality health care close to home", stated Minister Lee. Minister Lee met with Dr. Delon Brennen from NHI Bahamas and Permanent Secretary.

"As part of our effort to research and develop a sustainable model for St Maarten's NHI, we have been speaking to as many of our other partners in the Caribbean to see how they are developing their models for NHI.  We believe that it makes sense to learn from the successes and failures from others that have already developed or rolled out NHI. 

“The presentation from Dr. Brennen was very informative and contained many points of concern for us to consider and many recommendations for St Maarten to take into account as we develop our NHI program.  Developing a sustainable NHI program on a small island is not a unique challenge and we welcome the opportunity to learn from our neighbours”, said Minister Lee.

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Progress Meeting meets with MP Wescot-Williams about prison and police

PHILIPSBURG - The Progress Committee paid a working visit to the Chairperson of Parliament, Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams and briefed the chairlady on their work and findings.

As is known, two areas of responsibilities still examined by the Progress Committee are the prison system and the police organization on St. Maarten, both which are critical to our justice system, MP Wescot-Williams said in a press statement on Wednesday.

Given the concerns addressed the Committee, it has been agreed that they would be invited to brief Parliament on their work and the two aforementioned areas. This meeting will most likely take place in March, MP Wescot-Williams added.

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