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SZV closed Thursday due to unforeseen incident. Services resume on Friday

PHILIPSBURG Social & Health Insurances SZV had to close its doors to the public today (Thursday November 23rd) due to an unforeseen incident where SZV staff and security were physically attacked by a visiting customer.

For privacy and legal reasons, it is not customary for SZV to disclose the details of incidents to the media or public but we see it important at this time to inform that these actions are never tolerated. All incidents where security has been breached are followed by an official police report and when required pursued further by legal action.

It is our duty to serve the community, adhering to the laws of the social and health insurances of which we manage. We aim to do so by offering the best possible service to each customer, at all times. Violence of any form towards or staff or endangering our staff and visitors is never condoned.

Legal action will be pursued in relation to the events of today and for this reason and to maintain the privacy of our staff we will not issue any more details as to not interfere with the ongoing proceedings.

The offices of SZV will re-open again on Friday November 24th during regular business hours; 7:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. 


Minister Jacobs expresses gratitude to various entities for aided goods

POND ISLAND - On Wednesday November 22nd, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, began the distribution of the larger school and office supplies to the public and subsidized schools and organizations.

The supplies distributed was part of the requested supplies by the schoolboards after the assessments were done post Hurricane Irma. The supplies were sent via the Karel Doorman through the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science in the Netherlands. The supplies are to assist in the recovery and bouncing back of the schools.

Schoolboard representatives and other representatives of subsidized organizations related to Culture, Youth and Sport, namely SECDA, Philipsburg Jubilee Library, National Sports Institute, Youth Council and the Monument Council were invited to a small press conference for the handing over of HP laptops, which are to aid in the loss of desktops during the storm.

The Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Silveria Jacobs, informed the schoolboard representatives of the vision behind receiving the supplies. “We are moving towards a technological world and we need to start digitalizing our documents and archive database.

The use of laptops in the offices will assist in creating digital files and allow easier storage of information in the event of a natural disaster, as well as allow remote use of the laptop, wherever situated.

The workers at the New Government Building were able to resume work more efficiently with the help of laptops and desktops; we were only in need of electricity to power up the devices and internet access to access other resources and archived files.

The schoolboards also received cleaning materials as well as classroom materials such as filing cabinets, pens, lined paper, glue sticks and much more items that will aid in assisting teachers.”

After the passing of Hurricane Irma, many of the public schools sustained medium to major damages, in particular the top floors of the buildings. Many of the air-condition units are non-functional, therefore, the Indian Merchants Association (IMA) saw it necessary and vital to donate 157 Lasko standing fans to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, and by extension the Division Public Education.

The presentation of the standing fans was made to Minister Jacobs and head of Division Public Education Mrs. Glenderlin Holiday. Minister Jacobs expressed her gratitude to the IMA representatives for the donation to the schools and expressed her wishes to have more businesses and communities adopt a school as part of the Education on the Move campaign. The fans will be distributed on Thursday, November 23rd, to the public schools.

Mr. Rafel Skeete, a local baseball hero, and member of the Piper Davis Group, a baseball group based in the United States, which travelled to St. Maarten and hosted a baseball camp, supplied through the Department of Sport, donated relief goods which will be distributed to specifically single mothers or fathers of student athletes.

The intention is to touch base with various sporting organizations to determine the need within the membership. Once the information has been ascertained, a date and time will be forthcoming for distribution.

The remainder of the school and office supplies, which are being housed at the L.B. Scot Sports Auditorium, will be distributed on Thursday, November 23rd and Friday, November 24th. All schoolboard representatives have been made aware of all the requirements and time slots for the pick-up of the supplies.

Minister Jacobs thanks all stakeholders, and specifically, the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science in the Netherlands, the Piper Davis Group, the Indian Merchants Association and all other critical organizations who have aided the Ministry and by extension the students and teachers of St. Maarten with supplies and emergency goods, which has and will continue to help in the reconstruction of our educational system on St. Maarten.

There are a number of additional groups and organizations, which have pledged their support. As the aid becomes available, the Ministry will make the information forthcoming to the public.


Alumna of St Dominic High School Defends her PhD thesis at Radboud Universiteit

REWARD - Ekta Foster-Lachmandas a graduate of St Dominic High School’s Class of 2008 successfully defended her PhD thesis on November 15, before the Faculty of Medical Sciences of Radboud Universiteit in Nijmegen.

The title of her dissertation was Host response to tuberculosis: impact of diabetes and cellular metabolism of immune cells.

Radboud University Medical Center Media Relations Office issued the following summary of Ekta’s thesis:

She “has examined host responses to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, integrating immunology and cellular metabolism, in the laboratory of the Experimental Internal Medicine of Radboudumc and the A-star institute in Singapore.

“Part of her work specifically focused on diabetes, a very important risk factor for tuberculosis, as part of the EU-funded TANDEM consortium which combines clinical-epidemiological and more basic research in Peru, South Africa, Romania and Indonesia to tackle the problem of combined TB [tuberculosis] and diabetes (”

After graduating from St. Dominic High School, Ekta began her tertiary education at HAN University of Applied Sciences in Nijmegen majoring in Life Sciences.

As part of her studies, she completed an internship at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. While there she began her research and was invited to continue in the Netherlands at Radboud Universiteit.

Ekta Foster-Lachmandas is recently married and currently resides in Zurich, Switzerland. 

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Causeway Swing Bridge Repaired and Operational

SIMPSON BAY – The Simpson Bay Lagoon Authority (SLAC) announces that the Simpson Bay Causeway Swing Bridge has been repaired and resumed daily bridge openings for vessels on Tuesday, November 21.

The swing bridge daily opening times are 8.00AM, 10.00AM and 3.30PM. 

An operational assessment of the Causeway swing bridge was carried out last month by engineers from Hollandia.

The swing bridge which falls under the Lagoon Authority has been open to limited marine traffic since the passing of Hurricane Irma on September 6.

The Swing Bridge on the Causeway is 220 feet long and weighs 450 tons.  The Causeway has a total length of 2493 feet and features a two-lane motorway, a bicycle track, footpaths and two round-a-bouts at the Airport Road near the end of the runway and at Union Road near the border.


Official Police Report of fatal traffic accident into the death of a two-year old child

PELICAN - The investigation into the cause of the death of a two years old infant who was ran over by a car on Sunday November 19th at approximately 1.30 p.m. in the parking area of Buccaneers Beach Bar and which was done by the police traffic department has resulted to be an unfortunate “traffic accident”.

The victim was struck by a car while the driver was reversing but could not see him. The child was treated on the scene by paramedics, but passed away at approximately 2.45 p.m. later that day.

After the in depth investigation at scene of the accident and questioning of the driver of the vehicle no indications of any reckless driving behavior or other negative intentions were found.

Deepest sympathy from the Police Department (KPSM) go out to the family and friends of the deceased. (Sint Maarten Police Force) 


Free Concierge Service Guarantees Smooth Sailing for the 38th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta

SIMPSON BAY – Another year of serious fun and serious racing is on tap for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, and the entire island of Sint Maarten/St. Martin is working in overdrive to prepare for the event’s 38th edition, scheduled for March 1-4, 2018.

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, organizers are encouraging participants to utilize the event’s free concierge service for assistance with everything from travel and on-site logistics to charter options and beyond.

“We have been attracting local and international talent to this regatta since 1980 with an epic experience both on and off the water for maxi, monohull and performance multihull classes,” said Regatta Director Michelle van der Werff. “We plan to continue in that spirit to make everyone’s experience next year as seamless as possible when it comes to logistics.

“The progress of rebuilding following Hurricane Irma has been impressive, and we are confident that the island of Saint Martin will be fully prepared to welcome sailors in March. In the meantime, competitors can visit the regatta website for the most up-to-date news on what hotels, restaurants and marinas are open and taking reservations. We also urge everyone to reach out for any assistance or questions that they may have.”

Already many shops, restaurants and hotels are open and bustling on the island, particularly in the Simpson Bay area where the regatta is hosted.

“The Heineken Regatta is one of our largest events of the year on the island,” said May-Ling Chun, general manager of the Commodore Suites, which is within walking distance of the St. Maarten Yacht Club, which serves as regatta host. “And although the regatta may not be exactly the same as it has been in the past, I strongly believe that our island is ready to host again.

“All 17 of our hotel’s units are in perfect shape and already booking guests. The hotel is also preparing for an expansion, with more units being added to the second floor, which will also be available in time for the regatta. We are ready and will provide all the services and amenities needed.”

Chun, who also acted as St. Martin’s Director of Tourism from 2011-2012, added that the regatta will be the first major event to take place since the hurricane. “We have something to work toward and St. Maarten is up to the challenge. It is all about the logistics and what we can offer the visitors."

The Princess Juliana International Airport reopened in October and welcomes more flights each day. The French side of Saint Martin already welcomed its first cruise ship and the Port of St. Maarten is preparing to welcome cruise ships next month.

Charter Options:

The regatta is well known for its large and competitive charter classes, and charter companies will once again bring their “A” game for the 38th edition, offering an array of different options to accommodate a range of clients. Whether competitors are looking to book a single crew space on a boat or for the full-service “soup-to-nuts” package, regatta organizers can direct sailors to the best fit.

Sunsail is one of several bareboat charter companies confirming a fleet of cruising boats available for charter in March. Providing a more performance-oriented racing experience are a number of groups such as Performance Yacht Racing, which has already relocated four of its race boats to Saint Martin.

“Performance Yacht Racing fundamentally offers two types of charter,” said the company’s Director Christian, “The first option is more full-service, for the client that wants to race in the regatta and needs a boat and crew. In this instance, we put together the team and take them out to train.

“Our second option is a whole-boat charter where essentially an existing sailing team or individual wants to race at the regatta, but they don’t want to deal with the logistics and expense of shipping their own boat. In this instance they charter a boat from us and put together their own crew.”

“We have been participating in the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta for 12 years now and are confident that the organizers will put on another great event in March. We will be there supporting it!”

The Caribbean favorite will host world-class competitors for the perfect mix of lively shoreside entertainment and rigorous racing in maxi, monohull and performance multihull classes.

inside heineken


Frans lauds GEBE management, personnel for ‘saving St. Maarten’

PHILIPSBURG - Member of Parliament Frans Richardson on Friday lauded the management of GEBE for the diligent work currently being executed and for their professionalism under pressure-filled circumstances following hurricanes Irma and Maria. The MP also praised GEBE’s personnel for going above and beyond in putting St. Maarten I position for a quicker recovery.

Richardson said the government and people of St. Maarten put its faith in three local professionals to manage and forge a future for the utility company and, in his opinion, they are fulfilling the obligations bestowed upon them.  He said Kenrick Chittick, Iris Arrindell and Veronica Webster-Jansen, CEO, CFO and COO respectively, should be commended for their work.

“There are many people predicted failure from these three proud local people. But they have handled themselves very well. I am sure they had their plans that Irma interrupted, but the test of a person is how you act in times of tribulation and chaos. Despite GEBE suffering major damage to its infrastructure, management rallied their staff and literally saved St. Maarten,” the MP said.

MP Richardson explained that he used “saved St. Maarten” because without electricity and water, the island would have been crippled. He mentioned some of the neighboring islands as examples, including Puerto Rico.

“Sometimes we take for granted the amount of pride our people put into their work and the amount of work it took to get us to this point after the biggest storm to ever strike this region. Think about the magnitude of Irma, look at the destruction of other islands and St. Maarten and look at what GEBE under current management was able to achieve. I think it is truly an amazing accomplishment and they should be honored and commended,” Richardson said.

The MP added that GEBE’s personnel who left their personal circumstances to go out into the community to restore utilities at record pace, should also be lauded. “All over Dutch St. Maarten you see our people restoring our island. We received help for which we are grateful, but much of the work was executed by our own who refused to let St. Maarten stay down. We should be very proud of the management and personnel of GEBE,” the MP concluded.



PHILIPSBURG - Wycliffe Smith, Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) announces that Shenella Browne will be contesting the upcoming elections on the slate of the Christian Party. Shenella is “Determined for Change”. Here is her story.

“Most people call me “Shenel”. I am a proud daughter of sweet St. Maarten and was raised in Dutch Quarter. I am the fifth of seven kids and was raised in a joyfully large and close-knit family, where individuality and self-expression were encouraged.

“Growing up, my mother taught me the true meaning of diligence. She is easy going, but takes every task seriously. To most, she is known as Mrs. Browne for 23 years at the Marie G. de Weever School. My father, now a pensioner, has given 26 years of service in the Ministry of VROMI, and like many of us, has contributed to the growth of St. Maarten. He taught me dedication to societal responsibilities.

“My parents instilled in me solid norms and values such as honesty, respect for everyone and resiliency and I live by these to this day.

“After graduating from the Dr. Martin Luther King School in 1998 I went to the Sundial School. At the time there was a stigma surrounding the school: that nothing “good” comes from it. But like many graduates then and now, this stigma has proven not to be true. I was determined to work hard and prove that I was capable of much more than just what my grades showed at the time. Hard work and effort made me eligible for consideration to transfer to the M.P.C (Milton Peters College). But just as life hits you a curve ball, another student was chosen over me.

“Nevertheless, I continued to push.  I studied Basic Health and kept busy with various school activities. I also got the opportunity to follow a Jaycees Training Course. Some years later I took part in the 5th annual interscholastic Talent Show and came in 2nd in the Speech Division. After graduating in 2002 from the Sundial School I went to Curaçao and later to the Netherlands to pursue my studies in nursing, where I graduated as a LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse).

“During my studies, I worked part-time to make extra money. Most can agree that having a side job during one’s studies is KEY! Being dependent on only study financing does not suffice.  My side jobs included cleaning office buildings, working at the post office, call centers and care institutions. No job was too little or too great!

“Having graduated in 2010 as a Medical Assistant, I was ready for the job market. I attended the Fred Expo in the Netherlands where the need for young professionals was expressed. Students were encouraged to return to Sint Maarten to serve in various areas. I got the opportunity to return home and serve my country with the skills obtained abroad.

“I started my career in Sint Maarten as a Youth Health Care Nurse in the Ministry of Health, then moved to medical assistant and now I am a project leader in the field of health care at SZV.

“I am sure that many young professionals would agree with me that it is amazing to be back home, especially with the intent to give back to the island and assist with the further development of the country.

“Like many young individuals, I too had to cope with the “culture shock “of being back home and the challenges of overcoming this shock while staying focused on my goals. Some of these challenges that I faced as a young adult were being able to take care of myself, the high cost of living, housing and transportation and career opportunities. However, despite these challenges I stayed focus, worked hard and refused to give up. This is how I managed to persevere. To achieve your dreams it takes a level of determination, focus and drive.

“Having been approached to participate in St. Maarten’s 2018 election and to be part of the Sint Maarten Christian Party (SMCP), I quickly realized that this was an opportunity for me to bring that level of determination, focus and drive to bear championing change in Sint Maarten.

“As a millennial, I believe that it is time for our generation to become involved in the reconstruction of the country and in developing a long-term vision for our people. Why the Sint Maarten Christian Party you might ask? That’s quite simple! The Party is built on a strong foundation called Principles! It is a party with a distinct ideology as well as a clear vision for St. Maarten and the people easily understand the Party’s principles and vision. I believe that the party offers me the opportunity to effect change in Sint Maarten. I feel a change coming, which is why I am determined to serve my country and my people for, Change!,” Shenella Browne, SMCP candidate said in a party statement on Sunday.


Police observe negative trends in the behavior of community in aftermath of hurricanes

PHILIPSBURG - In the aftermaths of hurricanes Irma and Maria the Police Department has noticed a trend in the unnecessary violent and or aggressive behavior among person within the community.

This behavior which is unlike that, under other circumstances, has the fullest attention of the police department and will be dealt with in accordance to the law. This violent and aggressive behavior according to the Health Care Psychologist Miranda Veltman, who has been working for the police force of Sint Maarten since the passing of these hurricanes, that these psychological symptoms can be experienced by anyone after a major natural disaster such as hurricane Irma or any other disaster.

Mrs. Veltman stated that; a stressful experience of that magnitude can cause an increase of violence by adults as well as youth. In the last few weeks and days the criminal offences have become more violent by the youth and as well as by adults such as; violent armed robberies, a group students ill-treating another student with a base ball bat, shooting incident in Middle Region, fatal stabbing in Sint Peters and a man pushing his fiancée from his moving vehicle, just to name a few. 

During a disaster your mind is so focused on surviving that it tends to function on ‘automatic pilot’. After things calms down in 4 to 6 weeks, your mind gets the chance to realize what happened.

At this point some people can go into shock. Some people can experience numbness and/or denial at first. After this initial shock other stress reactions can be experienced. These could be:

  • - having flashbacks
  • - negative mood changes
  • - dissociative symptoms (not aware of your surroundings)
  • - avoiding situations
  • - getting easily irritated or become aggressive

When people have unhealthy coping styles, like drinking alcohol or using drugs, aggression can increase.

The human resilience dictates that the majority of survivors will naturally recover from disasters over time. They will move on without having severe, long-lasting mental health issues. Certain factors increase resilience after disasters.

An important factor is the severity of the exposure. At highest risk are those that go through the disaster themselves. Injury and life threat are the factors that lead most often to mental health problems.

Other risk factors to develop a PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) have to do with the age, gender, culture, the network and other factors specific to the survivor (Mental Health Effects following Disaster: Risk and Resilience Factors, 2015 and DSM-5, 2013[1]).

According American research between the 30%-50% of the people who experienced a Hurricane (natural disaster), develop Post Traumatic Stress and need psychological guidance.

People with developing stress symptoms without the necessary help show an increase in these symptoms. For instance aggression-like symptoms will become worse and can endanger the individual or their environment.

The advice of the Police Department and that of the psychologist Mrs. Veltman is to immediately seek professional help when stress reactions are very severe and do not decrease over a period time or even become worse.  Ask your General Practitioner (house doctor) for a referral to a professional.

A lot of people lost their jobs after these major hurricanes. According to research, crime increases with poverty.  Study shows that caregivers as well as youth can commit crime. It is important to keep an eye on those who go through a difficult time. Be there for each other and help your direct environment/ neighbor.

Emotional support can reduce stress and help people to cope better with the situation. It is important that during stressful times to not neglect children. It is common that youth who committed crimes to have been physically and or emotionally abused or neglected.  “It takes a village to raise a child”. Give children positive attention and try to be available for them. Children can be happy with less but they always will need emotional support.

The Police department will support and will work together with any and all other instances who have taken this issue very seriously in the benefit of the community of Sint Maarten. (Sint Maarten Police Force)




Building materials and durable goods for Saba have arrived

SABA - During the course of last week and this week two flat racks of building material and one container of durable goods have arrived on Saba. The building material is for the repair of homes that were severely damaged by hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The cargo consists of besides wood, zinc and generators, also of washing machines, beds and refrigerators.

This building material is subsidized by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, which is responsible for the emergency help and rebuilding of the Windward Islands, St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius.

This regards a close cooperation established with the Public Entity of Saba. The building material will be used by the Public Entity to rebuild the damaged houses. The rebuilding will start shortly.

On Friday November 17th, the Unit of Social Affairs (SZW) plans to already start the distribution of durable goods to those families affected as a direct result of the hurricanes.

In order to accommodate persons and families, SZW has increased the minimum income criteria to one and a half times the minimum wage. The list of durable goods was also expanded to now include dining room sets, living room sets, sheets and pillows for those families who have lost everything.

This adjustment allows more persons on Saba and St. Eustatius to qualify for emergency assistance. The process for application closes on December 31st. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands/Saba GIS)

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