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Case of Suspected Suicide on Cruise Ship

SINT MAARTEN/TORTOLA – The Royal Virgin Islands Police Force is investigating a case of suspected suicide onboard the Norwegian Escape cruise ship whose last port of call was St. Thomas.

According to reports, passenger D.G. (33), of Tennessee, USA, left his room around 3.00am on April 19.  A while after, the ships closed circuit cameras picked him up in midair descending toward the water.  His body was recovered by the ship’s crew.

An investigation is underway by the relevant authorities.  The deceased was traveling with his wife.

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SCDF wants ‘mess on Pondfill’ seriously addressed next year

PHILIPSBURG - The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) will seek a meeting with the Ministries of TEATT and VROMI following the Carnival season to discuss what it calls the haphazard erection of tents and other structures along Walter Nisbeth Road during the Carnival season.

Calling it “the mess along Pondfill”, the foundation lamented that government (VROMI) identifies the spots and TEATT subsequently grants the licenses without any sort of regulations attached regarding how and what should be built or placed on the spots.

The results, the foundation said, “is an ugly looking string of structures that does not enhance the tourism or Carnival product. Instead, anything that happens out there, is blamed on the Carnival foundation. We had visitors who thought that was Carnival Village,” the foundation said.

The SCDF pointed out that what started as a handful of vendors is now growing every year without regulation or supervision. “We have seen people throwing used cooking oil on the grass, garbage is left lying around, we have gotten blamed for noise pollution coming from the structures among other things,” the foundation said.

“If government is going to grant licenses for road side vending during Carnival, with the presence of Carnival Village, then we want to have a say in how many and provide suggestions on how they should be constructed that is actually appealing.

“How many is important because Carnival is a government subsidized event and Carnival Village must be protected. It is because of Carnival that they are out there, so we should have a say as to what happens during the season,” the SCDF said.

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Youth Extravaganza night is almost here

PHILIPSBURG–Youth Extravaganza is the only evening in Carnival Village this year that has no age limit, organisers announced over the weekend. Since implementing an age limit in 2016, no children fourteen years or younger have been allowed entrance to adult-oriented shows in Carnival Village without adult supervision.

The only exception to the regulation will be for the Youth Extravaganza and other youth-oriented shows that are held in Carnival Village. Two groups from three public schools will start the Youth Extravaganza programme this Monday.

Organisers found it important to involve public education in the show. The theme for this Youth Extravaganza is “We run it, Best of Dutch Side and Best of French Side Edition.”

For the first time in Youth Extravaganza history, there will be a dress code for youngsters: black if they live on the French side and white if they live in Dutch St. Maarten.

“We decided to theme the show in order to showcase the talent on both sides of the island and show that we run the island with great youth acts from both sides. We look forward to young people to come out to the show and cheer on all performers who will showcase their talent during the event.

The show is not a competition,” said Daniel Dormoy, Laugh Out Loud Public Relations Officer.

“Youth Extravaganza will be packed with youth performers and we expect to draw youngsters from both sides of the island and getting home from the village at a late time can be a hassle for these youngsters. This is why we intend to end the show at 12:30am the latest.”

Tickets are now US $15 at the gate and will kick off at 6:00pm until 1:00am. The show is sponsored by Port St. Maarten, TelCell, Designers Choice, First Response and McDonald’s.

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Stolen container, one man arrested

POINTE BLANCHE - On Wednesday, April 19 a container was stolen from International Liquor and Tobacco (ILTT) at the Harbor in Pointe Blanche.

The container was filled with cigarettes. Based on an official complaint filed by ILTT at the Police headquarters the investigation was started and resulted in an arrest on Thursday, April 20.

A suspect with the initials D.R. was arrested for theft of the stolen container. (Police Force Sint Maarten)

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Ministry of Public Health: Safe Food Preparation during Carnival Helps Prevent Gastroenteritis

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Collective Prevention Services (CPS) a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, said on Friday that safe food preparation at home, or grabbing a bite from food kiosks; street market vendors; booth holders; and other points of sale, it is therefore essential to observe safe food handling practices at any one of those locations in order for patrons to have a safe Carnival season.

Gastroenteritis, is the inflammation of the stomach and intestine, which is usually due to acute infection by viruses or bacteria or to food-poisoning toxins and causes vomiting and diarrhea.  Laboratory testing is recommended to identify the specific virus associated to the gastroenteritis.

Unsafe food poses global health threats, endangering everyone.  Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with an underlying illness are particularly vulnerable. 

Foodborne and waterborne diarrhoeal disease kill an estimated two million people annually, including many children.

Food can become contaminated at any point of production and distribution, and the primary responsibility lies with food producers and consumers.  A large proportion of foodborne disease incidents are caused by foods improperly prepared or mishandled at home, or in food service establishments.

The associated symptoms with gastroenteritis are diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, fever and headache.  The most common symptoms are vomiting and repeated episodes of diarrhea (three or more episodes within 24 hours). To ensure proper diagnosis, care and treatment, consult your physician and for confirmation must be referred to the lab by the physician.  

The infection can spread when bacteria found in faeces or vomit is transferred to other objects.  Bacteria can be transferred through poor hygiene. It is spread through contamination of hands, objects or food infected with the aforementioned.   

For example, if someone does not wash their hands properly after going to the toilet, any viruses or bacteria on their hands will be transferred to whatever they touch, such as glass, kitchen utensil or food.

To prevent the spread of the infection, wash your hands thoroughly after going to the toilet and before eating or preparing food. Make it a routine habit to adhere to proper hand hygiene and cough etiquettes.

If you are a food handler or a care taker, and you are diagnosed with gastroenteritis, with your physician’s consultation, you should remain at home and practice good hygiene while you recuperate.

This will help to mitigate the further spread of gastroenteritis cases within the community.  Be on the alert and help minimize the spread of diseases by taking the necessary hygienic and preventive steps.  Proper hand hygiene helps in preventing bacteria and germs.

For more information call CPS at 542-2078, 542-3003 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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#GetVax to celebrate a healthy tomorrow as VWA kicks off on Saturday in the Americas

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA) kicks off on Saturday, April 22, and will run through April 29.  Vaccines help your immune system fight more than 20 dangerous diseases.  From the time we’re born, vaccines offer protection to help individuals stay healthy throughout their entire lives.

This is the 15th year that it has been organized and will take place under the theme: #GetVax to celebrate a healthy tomorrow!

World Immunization Week starts on April 24 and runs through April 30.  It aims to raise awareness about the critical importance of full immunization throughout life, and its role in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, commends the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) with respect to its annual initiative in the Americas as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) for the recent gains in immunization coverage.

CPS will be organizing its own vaccination open house in the coming months.

VWA is an extraordinary effort led by the countries and territories of the Americas to advance equity and access to vaccination.

VWA activities strengthen the national immunization programs by reaching out to populations with little access to regular health services, such as those populations living in urban fringes, rural and border areas and in indigenous communities.

Since its inception in 2003, more than 640 million individuals of all ages have been vaccinated under the framework of VWA. Vaccination Week in the Americas also provides a highly visible platform to raise population awareness regarding the importance of immunization and to keep vaccines on the forefront of political agendas.

The Region of the Americas became the first to eliminate rubella, a contagious viral disease that can cause multiple birth defects as well as fetal death when contracted by women during pregnancy.

CPS points out that much progress has been made globally to increase immunization coverage, adding that it’s very important to get children vaccinated so they can grow up healthy and strong. 

VWA is also an opportunity to bring some attention to the various adult vaccines which the adult population is reminded to be up to date with especially considering their profession.

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SHTA Urges the Use of Sprinkler Systems on the Dump to Prevent Fire Outbreaks

PHILIPSBURG - In investigating the situation at the Sanitary Landfill on Pond Island a.k.a. The Dump, the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) has been informed that there are several water pumps currently in working condition at the Dump, the business representative organization said in a press statement. These are used to pump water from the Great Salt Pond in case of fires.

The association is urging Government to initiate the use of these pumps and to purchase a sprinkler system (similar to those water canon type sprinkler systems used by large hotels on the island) to keep the Dump perpetually wet. 

Keeping the Dump wet will help prevent fires thus reducing the toxic fumes that are being emitted from the Dump on a daily basis. The Dump being kept wet will also keep the toxic ashes from becoming airborne and poisoning our community. 

While indeed those in the immediate vicinity suffer the most, the entire island experiences ash at different times depending on the wind conditions.  The most recent volcanic like eruption on March 22nd had reports of ash in Cupecoy and Marigot.

The Dump can easily be classified as a national health crisis and as such Government should allocate emergency funds towards preventing fires and outing the daily toxic smoke that is poisoning the populace.

The SHTA is reminding Government of its primary duty to safeguard the health of its population as laid down in Articles 18.1, 18.2, 21.1 and 22 of the Constitution of St. Maarten. The present situation cannot and should not be allowed to continue without some immediate action even if interim to reduce the hazard to all of our health.

The suggested interim measure of a sprinkler system should be a prelude to a more permanent solution such as the integrated waste management system advocated by the Social Economic Council (SER) in their recent advice (SER/16/GR/080) to Government.

The Sint Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association is dedicated to bringing quality to all aspects of life on St. Maarten by promoting sustainable economic development for its members in cooperation with the social partners and the creation of a fair marketplace. For more information, please contact our office at 542-0108 or visit our website at www.shta.com

PHOTO CUTLINE: SHTA Photo of Pond Island Landfill. (Contributed)

dump on fire 1024x576

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Benjamin Ortega running for Chamber of Commerce & Industry By-Election on Friday

PHILIPSBURG - On the 21st of April small business owners that are eligible to vote for Chamber of Commerce and Industry Election (COCI) are requested to come out and show their support by voting for one of the candidate seeking a seat on the Board of directors of COCI, Benjamin Ortega said in a press statement on Wednesday.

“According to the registered list of COCI there are thousands of names that qualify for this opportunity to choose who they feel should represent them as small business owner on the Board. Although this is the case, generally a very small amount of persons actually take this opportunity and vote.

“For the last regular elections only a little more the 200 persons casted their vote for the three candidates at that time.

“Why is this? From thousands eligible to a few hundred! Is there no need to have representation? Do you as a small business owner feel there is a disconnect with the entity?

“Many questions come to mind when thinking about this situation. Also during my various conversations with local entrepreneurs the answers vary.

“On the Friday the 21st of April from 8 AM until 12 PM sharp at the COCI Building in Philipsburg or at the Simpson Bay Service Center come and vote for a candidate that wants to represent you to the maximum.

“I want to represent you, the local company who is important to ensure that you can be represented when decisions are made on your behalf.

“Your contribution to the community as a small business owner contributes directly to the well-being of the country’s economic growth and development.

“My aim is to continue to lobby for connection the various non- and governmental agencies and services through adequate information gathering that will enhance your output as a business.

“In this day and age having access to valuable information is one of key factors of a business success. Knowing your market, the value of your product and proper guidance and financial planning will make you and your business successful.

“As a Hard Working, Motivated and Innovated Individual with aims towards new directions to ensure that economic growth is based on a stable, strong and variable small business representation.

“My name is Benjamin Ortega and I am seeking your support and vote for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Elections.”

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Sharks Swim Team Nets Three Medals at Regional Swim Meet

SINT MAARTEN/ST. LUCIA - A small but powerful delegation of the Sint Maarten Sharks Swim Team travelled on April 5th, 2017 to compete in the 18th annual invitational at the Rodney Heights Aquatic Centre in Castries, St Lucia.

The competition, themed ‘Friendship Through Competition’ was attended by athletes, Nigel Fontenelle, Caeli President, Adaya Bourne, Ce'Mara Atlan along with coach Nicole Maccow and dedicated parents. 

This event has drawn over 300 athletes of 25 teams hailing from across the region. Included were swimmers from host country St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, New York city and St. Maarten.

The Sharks Swim Team athletes competed in a combined total of 30 individual events and successfully managed to be placed in the top ten finals of 26 events. Two of the youngest athletes managed to score in the top 3 on three different individual events.  Athlete Nigel Fontenelle (age category 7-8) placed second on the 50 metre backstroke, which he completed in 45.81 seconds and came in third place on the 25 metre backstroke in a recorded time of 22.21 seconds.

Caeli President scored third place on the 25 metre breaststroke, completed in 25.21 seconds. Both athletes Adaya Bourne and Ce'mara Atlan (girls 9-10) performed excellently while swimming some challenging events such as the 200 metre Freestyle and 200 metre individual medley for the first time and placing in the top 10.

Sharks coach, Ms Nicole Maccow, deems the event a great opportunity to expose swimmers to competitive swimming in the region. According to her, continued investments are needed locally to develop the discipline that will place Sint Maarten on the map.

Ms. Maccow also extends her sincerest gratitude for the sponsors and supporters who made it possible for the team to travel to St. Lucia. She expressed her enthusiasm in bringing the Sharks team to compete in the Annual Organization of Eastern Caribbean (OECS) competition which will be held in October 2017 in Martinique.

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Use of Ring Road Property of COCI during Carnival Requires Prior Approval

PHILIPSBURG - The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce (COCI) herewith wishes to inform the public that the use of the ring road property, located directly across from Beach Plaza Casino- John Larmonie Center, during the carnival season must occur with the prior approval of COCI, according to a chamber press release on Tuesday.

Structures to be placed must be done with respect to and without hindrance to the license holders established on the property. Structures must comply with the standards set by COCI, as weather conditions must be considered.

The space available must be utilized in an organized manner, permitting others an equal opportunity to enjoy the property. Therefore restrictions in size, type of structure will apply, as will COCI verify the possession of valid permits to undertake commercial activities.

All persons and/or entities must visit COCI prior to the placement of structures and commencement of activities. Placement of structures and commercial activities on the aforementioned property, without the required prior approvals, or in violation of requirements set, is not permitted.

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