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SMART Visitors to receive a Sneak Preview of Newest Attraction in Northeast Caribbean

PHILIPSBURG - Visitors coming to Sint Maarten this June to participate at Saint Martin Annual Regional Tradeshow (SMART) will receive a sneak preview and experience St. Maarten’s newest attraction of Rainforest Adventure Park presently under construction at Rockland Estate.

This was released today by four SMART organizing partners L’Association des Hoteliers de St. Martin (AHSM), Saint Martin Tourism Office, St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA).

After a sneak preview of the Eco Park, RFA will host a cocktail at the Emilio Wilson Museum which was the former plantation house, built in the 1700s.

The RFA Eco Park will officially open this Summer, visitors will be able to enjoy a sneak peek of the Soualiga Sky Explorer chairlift, a tranquil ride up the 2630 ft. span as the landscape unfolds below to the top of one of St. Maarten’s highest mountain where spectacular panoramic views await you.

The various attractions the Park will offer are the Flying Dutchman which is the steepest Zip Line in the world. The Sentry Hill Zip Line where you fly high over the mountain ridge enjoying the stunning views.

The Schooner Ride where you’ll surf down the mountain in an inner tube. The park will also have a Restaurant, Gift Shop & Museum offering a permanent exposition on the island's history.

The park is the newest effort in order to continuously innovate the Sint Maarten / Saint Martin tourism product. Both cruise and tour operators have already made the attraction part of various packages. 

The preview will be followed up by the official opening party at the hosting location Westin Dawn Beach Resort Casino & Spa at 7pm.

Both the Rainforest Adventure Park sneak preview commencing at 3pm as well as the Westin Opening Event take place at June 14th. The conference ends at June 16th. Until May 8th, "Early Bird Week" takes place for both buyers and suppliers wanting to visit the event.

SMART connects international tour operators and regional hotels as well as product vendors, forming the largest tradeshow of the Caribbean. The annual event is organized by the tourism boards and hospitality representatives of both sides of the island.

The tradeshow provides a unique opportunity for local and regional hoteliers and activities providers to present their tourism product, network and negotiate prospective business opportunities.

During the tradeshow, travel partners and wholesalers as well as hotel and excursion operations come together for one-on-one discussions on potential business ventures.

An invite movie launched om behalf of Early Bird Week showing the island's strong points, scenery and venues can be found at https://youtu.be/RAFGr3axPFc

More information and answers can be requested by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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One arrest in connection with an ongoing Fraud investigation

FORT WILLEM - As result of a complaint of embezzlement, forgery and theft filed by Insel Air in 2016 against S.B.B (sales agent) and A.A. H. (sales manager), in which together these employees are suspected to have embezzled approximately US $100.000,-, a criminal investigation into this case was started. 

In connection with this ongoing investigation the arrest of A.A.H. was made this morning May 16th at his home in Fort Willem.  A.A.H. was questioned after contacting his lawyer and he remains in custody for further investigation.

In this same investigation the arrest of S.B.B. was made, when on Monday 1 September 2016, in the morning hours, the suspect S.B.B. reported to the Philipsburg police station and was arrested.

This investigation is being conduct by the Fraud Department of the KPSM. (Police Force Sint Maarten)

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WIB supports the Rambaud-St. Louis Fete Association

PHILIPSBURG - The Windward Islands Bank Ltd (WIB) understands the importance of supporting cultural activities that encourage the participation of the island’s youths and elderly to learn from each other.

WIB made a generous contribution to support the traditional activities planned by the Rambaud-St. Louis Fete Association which will be held on Sunday May 21, at the St. Louis Cultural Grounds.

WIB is proud to support our Heritage.

cultural fete inside

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TelCell “I Am Carnival” Motor car Prize-winner officially named

POND ISLAND – The lucky winner of a brand new motor car in this year’s TelCell, “I Am Carnival” Car Raffle draw, has been officially named as Sales Rep. Mr. Vibert Richards.

According to the grand prize winner, a call that he was the winner of a prize that required him to be at the Festival Village, left him with no doubt that he would be taking home a brand new (name of vehicle) to his family.

“When I entered for the TelCell SMS raffle only the motor car prize was being promoted so that was all I want thinking about when I went to collect my prize,” explained Vibert.

TelEm Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Kendall Dupersoy, and Manager Marketing & Sales, Grisha Marten, were both on hand last week to see Vibert take delivery of his grand prize at the TelEm Group main building on Pond Island. He also took home a Hyundai L575 Smartphone, a Hyundai Pulse Watch and a token for six-months of free gas from Texaco.

“I am personally very happy for him and wish him and his family many years of safe and enjoyable driving,” said Mr. Dupersoy.

The TelEm Group CEO acknowledged the part being played by TelEm Group and sister company TelCell, not only in the promotion of Carnival with creative themes like “I Am Carnival”, but also by giving back to the community in many different ways, from top rate prizes, to major sponsorships and hosting of flagship shows.

Manager, Marketing & Sales. Grisha Marten also congratulated the winner of this year’s motor car prize and other prize winners who were also announced in the Festival Village at the same time the motor car winner was announced.

The other winners were: Cuilian Feng ($50 monthly top-up for a year); Rolex Cheng (12MB internet for a year); Kyra Richardson (an IPhone 7Plus); Jeanine Davoren (a Samsung 7 Edge); Edmund Horsford (55” Smart TV) and Xavier Nicholas (a Go Pro Hero).

“From the time we announced the start of the promotion we were met with a terrific response from our loyal customers and also from many new customers who wanted in on the raffle to win a new car especially.

“I personally want to thank everyone for their participation, especially our co-sponsors, Marshall Motors, Texaco, Boolchands and Civil Law Notary office, Boekhoudt who notarized the draw. An extra big thank you to all my team at TelCell for their untiring input in coordinating with the various sponsors and Festival Village venue to get the message out about our participation in carnival for another year,” said Grisha.

She said, as promised, TelEm Group and its mobile provider TelCell are continuing to deliver on fun, exciting and creative promotions with prizes that are well worth winning.

“We are already well into our promotions for Mother’s Day, and encourage those who were not so lucky last time out to have a go and try to win a prize for Mom,” said Grisha.

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NAGICO 5th Annual Cycling Race Kicks Off on Friday with Over 80 cyclists

PHILIPSBURG - The 5th edition of the NAGICO to NAGICO cycling competition will kick off this Friday; May 19 at the Simpson Bay Causeway Bridge and the headline sponsors; NAGICO Insurances are in full gear as they count down to the event.

The NAGICO to NAGICO Cycling Race is organized each year in collaboration with the Velo Club de Grand Case Cycling Club and will kick off on Friday May 19th to Sunday May 21st with the schedule being as follows:

A brief Opening Ceremony on the Simpson Causeway Bridge on Friday May 19, starting at 6:30pm and the Time Trial Race in which the riders will compete against each other from 7.00 - 9.30pm. On Saturday May 20th beginning at 8:30am in front of Tackling Insurances on the French Side with riders doing several laps across the Oyster Pond Border- Casa Blanca / Bishop Hill Road -Tata Round, Dutch Quarter to French Border (7 laps).

On Sunday, the race will culminate on Sunday May 21st, at 8.30am beginning from NAGICO Head Office on the Dutch Side to the NAGICO Branch Office on the French Side.

“When we first decided to host this race four years ago, we had no idea that it would become an annual venture nor one of such magnitude,” Lisa Brown; Marketing Manager said. “Now we are in our 5th consecutive year and have more than 80 professional local and international riders all vying for the championship cup for the NAGICO 2 NAGICO Race.”

Over the years, the race which happens over a span of 3 days, has attracted scores of patrons from both sides of the island and continues to grow in capacity and as a result, security and safety planning and awareness have also increased. In a recent planning meeting, members of the Police/ Traffic, Ambulance, Red Cross, Coast Guard and SLAC sat with the stakeholders to outline a plan of action which will ensure the safety of the riders, patrons and road users.

“We have to take every precaution necessary, because all it takes is one mishap, so we have to always err on the side of caution,” Chief Inspector Benjamin Gout said to the group.

Brown on behalf of NAGICO thanked the department of emergency services who have worked with them closely from the very first year and lauded them for their efforts which have made the NAGICO to NAGICO race one of the safest event held on the island each year.

“Through immense planning and preparation, we have been fortunate to be having this event for 4 years in a row without any incident and we want to thank the emergency services for all the effort they have put in to ensure that these races remain incident free,” she said. “We look forward to having another exciting, fun filled and safe event in this our fifth edition.”

The NAGICO to NAGICO Cycling Race is a free event and all are invited to come out and experience the fun with the NAGICO team.

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Workshop on Environmental Health Informative and Productive

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – “As Ministry responsible for Health, the Ministry of VSA (Public Health, Social Development and Labour) is constantly dealing with health complaints that are the result of Environmental pollution such as running septic water, air pollution such as at the Leonard Connor school and the dump.

“Dr. Virginia Asin of CPS or collective preventative services, a department of Ministry of VSA, took the initiative to organize a very candid and productive workshop.  As a result of the workshop, we are expecting a report with actionable steps to be produced on short notice with the input of various stakeholders.

“This report will make multi-ministerial recommendations on how to protect the health of the people by structurally tackling Environmental health.  Naturally, the emphasis will be on prevention," stated Minister of Public Health Emil Lee.

During the workshops, there were several discussions about the role of VSA and other ministries. Clearly, the Ministry of VSA has a role in setting the standards, parameters and indicators by law and policy. Also, the subject of Solid and Liquid Waste Management on Sint Maarten was addressed and options and opportunities discussed for solutions to the challenges through a Reduce Reuse Recycle strategy. 

This has to happen through an “Integrated approach where all partners and stakeholders know and comply with their responsibility.

The first day of the workshop was an internal Ministry VSA session with an in depth discussion on the roles and responsibilities of the Health Sector when it comes to the Environment.

On day two, the Ministry of VSA invited key stakeholders with the purpose to discuss their role and responsibilities in environmental matters and to get their feedback and input on the challenges and solutions.  According to Dr Asin, "We were delighted to have participation from public and private sector representatives such as representatives from the ministry of VSA, VROMI and TEATT, Port St. Maarten, Fire Department, Department of Communication, SLS Laboratory, SXM Airport, representatives of the hospitality sector, Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC), Island Global Yachting Marinas, the Nature Foundation, and the Civil Aviation/Shipping Authority.

The attendees received two presentations.  The first one was the concept of Environmental Health within the scope of sustainable development and social determinants of health disease burden.  The second one was on wastewater and solid waste management strategy.

The objective of the workshop as well as the steps to be taken thereafter is to allow the Ministry of Public Health to be able to address the public health aspects surrounding the environment in a timely manner along with ministerial partners and other relevant key stakeholders on environmental health matters.

The workshop started on May 8, and was facilitated by representative from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Office of Caribbean Program Coordination, Ton Vlugman, Senior Advisor, Water, Sanitation and Environmental Health.

Vlugman has an MSc. in Environmental Health Engineering from the Technical University of Delft in 1984 and is working for the Pan American/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) since 1987, serving CARICOM countries and presently working as Senior Advisor.

Vlugman has been involved in many projects of varying aspects of environmental health, including: groundwater quality monitoring program in Barbados; operational status of wastewater treatment plants in 14 CARICOM countries; solid waste management in many Caribbean countries; sick building syndrome, negative impacts from small scale gold mining in Suriname; health promoting schools projects in Bahamas and Suriname and other community based projects ; impregnated bed netting project (malaria project with support from Rotary); SMART Hospital Assessor; integration of rainwater harvesting in water supply systems at health care facilities.

Since many of the other Caribbean countries have similar issues with developing integrated waste management programs, the stakeholders believe that there are opportunities for a regional approach to developing solutions including but not limited to sharing best and worst practices, sharing research and economic feasibility studies, combined purchasing/negotiating strategies, and benchmarking costs.

Once the report from PAHO and CPS have been finalized, the draft report will be shared with the stakeholders for comment.   The final version will be presented to Council of Ministers for discussion and adoption. 

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SCDF cancels Calypso outsourcing agreement with Raw Promotions

PHILIPSBURG - The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) has cancelled the outsourcing agreement it signed a year ago with Raw Promotions to host the Nagico Senior Calypso Competition. The foundation took the decision during its annual evaluation of the Carnival season.

Noting that some positive steps were taken by Raw Promotions such as its website for calypso and historical perspectives, the SCDF said the very public issues between Raw and title sponsor Nagico, compounded by other organizational problems, led to the decision to cancel the outsourcing agreement.

The foundation said there are matters regarding the calypso competition that will be handled internally, but stressed that confidence in Raw from the calypsonians has been too far eroded to allow the situation to continue.

Additionally, “it was embarrassing to the foundation to have one of our most dedicated corporate sponsors (Nagico) dragged into a public debate in the same year the foundation chose to honor that company. It was not what the foundation expected or can tolerate,” SCDF said.

The SCDF made it clear that all financial obligations that Raw committed itself to, remains the responsibility of Raw. “The foundation will not assume responsibility and will not be held liable for any outstanding monies, agreements or the sort that Raw has committed itself to. We took the decision because we believe it is best for Calypso and to protect long-standing relationships. Raw Promotions is still responsible for its obligations to calypsonians and others,” the SCDF said.

The foundation did disclose that there are other parties interested in organizing the Calypso Competition and discussions will take place soon, with lessons learnt from this most recent incident. 

“Calypso is the heart and soul of Carnival. The foundation wants to involve as many stakeholders in Carnival as possible which is why we outsource certain events. But if we see the event heading in a troublesome direction, we will intervene if the intervention is absolutely necessary. In this case it was,” the foundation said.

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Belize leads Caribbean race to cyber preparedness

SINT MAARTEN/BELIZE - By GERARD BEST: Scandalous Facebook pages carrying the name “Belizean Cheaters” sparked public uproar in the country, revealing sexually explicit details of adulterous affairs involving men, women and even children. The sleazy barrage also stoked nationwide concerns about cyber safety, and the country is now working urgently to finalize cybercrime legislation, train law enforcement agencies and raise awareness among its vulnerable public. 

By raising consequential questions about privacy, law enforcement, individual rights and cyber-protection, the sordid incident put a spotlight on the need for a wider public conversation about online safety and Internet governance issues. And the country’s first-ever national cybersecurity symposium, which took place in Belize City from April 24 to 28, proved to be a timely icebreaker.  

Hundreds took part in the weeklong event, including judges, lawyers, businessmen, bankers, military and law enforcement officers, network technicians, government officials and lots of concerned citizens. Many were simply taking the rare opportunity to learn about the fundamentals of cybersecurity. But others saw an unprecedented opening to emphatically break the silence around issues of online pornography, cyber bullying, identity theft, computer hacking, pedophilia and human trafficking. 

“Belize is ill-prepared legally and otherwise to effectively address these challenges,” said First Lady Kim Simplis-Barrow, Special Envoy for Women and Children. 

“Cyber-crime knows no borders, we’re all in this together,” said Adrienne Galanek, chargé d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Belize. 

“In the United States, we are currently in the process of reviewing our cybersecurity national strategy and we encourage Belize and other nations to similarly review as needed their cybersecurity national strategy.” 

Indeed, the week culminated in the formation of a multisectoral task force charged with crafting a national cyber security strategy, working with a wide cross-section of society and with the declared support of top-tier officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber, Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin and Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte.  

“Cybersecurity is a very important issue. It deserves all of our attention. The government is fully committed to playing its part in protecting our country and our citizens from cyber threats. We will not drop the ball,” Faber said in the feature address at the formal opening. 

The high-level talks highlighted the urgent need to update the country’s legal and law enforcement framework to criminalise and prosecute online misdeeds. On this point, the Peyrefitte said the Attorney General’s office was “fully in partnership” with the symposium organisers. 

“It has been determined that cybercrime and cyber issues must now have a prominent place among judicial education. With impending legislation, that judicial education has to be fast-tracked,” the Chief Justice said. 

The week was hosted by the Belize Public Utilities Commission, and jointly organised by the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG), a non-profit that delivers technical training in network security. 

“Cybersecurity is a priority for the entire Caribbean. As citizens, businesses, financial institutions and governments place greater reliance on Internet-based technologies, greater attention has to be paid to increasing building local and regional capacity to protect our computer networks and systems,” said Bevil Wooding, executive director of CaribNOG and an Internet Strategist with Packet Clearing House. 

"Cybercrime and cyber-safety issues impact all sectors of society. So the crafting of any solution has to involve all areas as well. That’s why a holistic, coordinated, national approach, as seen in Belize, is the most effective way to address the issues related to cybersecurity." 

On the back of this historic event, Belize is emerging as a leader in regional cybersecurity. But much remains to be done. John Avery, chairman of the Public Utilities Commission, may have summed it up best in his remarks. 

“This symposium is just the start. However, the people of Belize are committed to building on the solid foundation that has been laid.” 

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2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season Could be More Active

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN - There is the possibility that the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season could be more active than what was previously thought, reports Crown Weather.

“The latest data from the Canadian, NMME and European model are trending towards either an average or above average season in terms of the number of storms and hurricanes. These trends by the models will have to be watched carefully, but more importantly we will be monitoring current data to see if it matches the model data.

“Let's start with the Tropical Atlantic between the Lesser Antilles and the coast of Africa – The amount of unstable air (which helps to foster the development of tropical disturbances) is higher than it has been in previous years, however, it is currently mostly below average. In addition, the amount of shear is currently near average or a little above average.

“Turning to the Caribbean – The amount of unstable air is above average and the amount of shear is above average.

“It should be noted that the area above 30 North Latitude is not as favorable as they have been in previous years and this could be a signal that the deep tropics could be more active than it has been in previous years. In addition, the eastern Atlantic is quite warm as compared to normal and this supports the potential for a more active hurricane season in the tropics than what was previously thought.

“Let's take a look at the very long range model guidance. The latest NMME model guidance has trended towards the CFS model of a weaker El Nino and warmer ocean temperatures across the deep tropical Atlantic. More importantly is that the European model has trended much stronger towards a busier hurricane season.

“Previously, the European model was forecasting higher than average barometric pressures and below average rainfall which would have meant a below average hurricane season. Now, the European model is forecasting near average barometric pressures and near average rainfall as well as an average hurricane season in terms of numbers.

“In addition, the latest European model guidance is forecasting a weak to perhaps a moderate El Nino and warm ocean water temperatures across the Atlantic Basin.

The forecast barometric pressure map from the European model is forecasting higher than average pressures across the far north Atlantic and a trend towards lowering pressures from the Caribbean through the deep tropics.

“The forecast rainfall map from the European model seems to hint at above average rainfall from the Lesser Antilles eastward to just west of the Cape Verde Islands. In addition, the European model is forecasting above average rainfall across parts of the eastern United States.

“Here are my thoughts: It seems as if there are more and more signs that are pointing towards more favorable environmental conditions for the development of tropical storms and hurricanes this season. I think that ENSO will not be as big of a factor in impeding development this year.

“At this point, I'm leaving the forecast of 12 named storms, 6 of those storms becoming hurricanes and 2 of those hurricanes becoming major hurricanes the same.

“One thing that I am changing is the forecast risk areas: The Central & Eastern Atlantic from the Lesser Antilles to the coast of Africa could end up being more active than it has been in past years. The ocean water temperatures are now above average and it appears that wind shear could be near or below average leading to more active conditions than what was previously thought. My thinking is that the central and northern Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola may be an area to really watch for tropical storm/hurricane threats.

“Looking towards the Caribbean, it appears that the entire Caribbean could be more active this year than what has occurred over the last few years. The forecast trends from the European model are for more deep tropics activity which could impact the Caribbean. The Bahamas are another area that has an increased threat this year from either a very close brush or a direct impact from a tropical storm or hurricane.

“All-in-all, I think that we could see more tropical cyclone activity in the deep tropics this year with 3 areas of particular concern – 1. The central and northern Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola; 2. The north-eastern and eastern US Gulf Coast, including the Alabama coast, the Florida Panhandle and the west coast of Florida and 3. The US East Coast from eastern Florida to the New Jersey coast.”

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WIB contributes to Anglican Church Mother’s Day Luncheon

PHILIPSBURG - The Windward Islands Bank Ltd (WIB) assisted the Parish of Simon & Jude Anglican Church with a monetary contribution for their fundraising Mother’s Day luncheon.

Over the past 50 years, WIB has been an instrumental part of the development of St. Maarten. True to its slogan "Your Partner in Progress", WIB has, is and will continue to grow as the island develops.

WIB Your Partners in Progress

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