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MLK School receives AquaBox from Tzu Chi 

DUTCH QUARTER - The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Primary School (MLK) received an innovative portable water filter container dubbed AquaBox from Sandra Cheung of the Tzu Chi Foundation. 

"Contributions for our school and especially those benefiting our students does not go unnoticed. I deeply appreciate these initiatives as it will take the entire community to rebuild education in all facets," remarked Stuart Johnson School Manager of MLK. 

The simple boxes filter deadly bacteria’s like cholera and typhoid out of contaminated water making it safe to drink.

Johnson thanked the foundation for their contribution and looks forward to a healthy working relationship. 

"The foundation will be back soon and the next outreach of this group will be catered for each student of the school. I look forward to that in the coming weeks," Johnson concluded. 

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Primary School is a public education school located in the district of Dutch Quarter. 

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DP Faction calls for weekly Q&A between Government and Parliament

PHILIPSBURG – The Democratic Party (DP) faction in the House of Parliament lead by Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams, on October 4, 2017, submitted a motion to the House with respect to the post Hurricane Irma era that the country is now living in.

The motion that calls on the Government to implement the points that are in the aforementioned as noted below, is expected to be voted upon when the suspended session of the House resumes in the week of October 9.

The DP motion calls for a weekly question and answer hour; regular consultation with French St. Martin and to inform parliament of such; calls for clean-up of the Simpson Bay Lagoon in consultation with St. Martin; calls for the creation of a guarantee fund to protect mortgage debtors; a framework for community and district councils; to open and strengthen lines of communication with the Kingdom Government; a new formal dialogue structure is established with the business community of the country; and a review of the disaster management structure of the country.

Part of the motion said: “That the parliament of St. Maarten is its role as the supervisor of the government has an extraordinary burden to ensure that accountability and checks and balances remain in place, eve in these trying times.”

Once the motion has been voted upon in the House of Parliament, it will be forwarded to the Governor, the Parliaments of Aruba and Curacao, and the Kingdom Government.

PHOTO CUTLINE: The Lolo's in Grand Case, St. Martin were decimated by Hurricane Irma.  From this photo there is nothing left.

lolos grand case pix2

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Ministry VROMI: Marking on the structures are solely for assessment

POND ISLAND - The Inspectors of the Inspection/Permits Department from the Ministry of VROMI are currently assessing all structures post hurricane Irma and Maria. 

Homes that are deemed unlivable will be marked with the letter O. This information will be used in the social assessments.

Structures that are marked with the letter B indicates severe structural damage. This information will be cautiously used for assessment for rebuilding.

Structures with no markings have no structural issues.

Home or property owners who are planning to reconstruct, repair or rebuild a structure that is not in accordance to their issued building permit, are requested to report to the Ministry of VROMI’s Inspection/Permits Department in the New Government Building on Pond Island to fill out a building permit request form on Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM or call +1 721 520 6573.

VROMI ASSESSMT INSIDE

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Tourism officials to wear symbolic t-shirts when airport, sea port open

PHILIPSBURG - Ministry TEATT (Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunciations) on Friday announced that the first arrivals at the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) on October 10 and at Port St. Maarten on November 11, will be greeted by staff of both strategic ports and personnel of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau in shirts with a clear message: St. Maarten is open for business. Or, to put it simple, “Yes, We’re Open! Several volunteers will also be present in the shirts.

The shirts depict an airplane for PJIA and a cruise ship for Port St. Maarten. Adorned in St. Maarten colors, the commemorative logo also features St. Maarten’s National bird the Brown Pelican, an outline of St. Maarten in the background, the latitude and longitude coordinates of St. Maarten and the hashtag #sxmstrong, made popular on social media in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria. The October 10 and November 11 dates also form part of the logo. Finally, St. Maarten’s area code “721” is emboldened in the middle of a symbol of a hurricane.

Head of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau Rolando Brison said the shirts are expressions of pride over the re-opening of St. Maarten and its world class ports in the wake of devastating storms. “We want to acknowledge the resilience of our businesses and our people by means of this logo, particularly to show that the cruise and aviation sectors are open despite lots of work ahead,” Brison said.

He said both sectors have a lot of work still to do, but the message about St. Maarten on the international stage has to change. “The narrative has to change. STB will be working diligently with our international marketing partners to let the world know that we are on or way back up,” he said.

Brison reminded that although hotel inventory is low, there are still properties that can accommodate guests and more are working hard to be back online soon. “Doesn’t matter how many people are on flights come Tuesday, the point is there are people coming to St. Maarten. We want to welcome them back and say thank you, He added. 

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October 9 is a public holiday. Businesses can remain open

POND ISLAND - Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher on Thursday said that Monday, October 9, in line with Constitution Day, is a Public Holiday and all businesses can remain open at their discretion.

Constitution Day is not one of the annual Official Holidays that dictates mandatory closure by all businesses except for a few.

While businesses can remain open at the discretion, all business are reminded that in accordance with the Labor Laws of St. Maarten, employees who work on Monday, October 9, will have to be remunerated accordingly.

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TelEm Group planning “Pink Ribbon” Breast Cancer Awareness campaign

POND ISLAND - TelEm Group is not allowing the effects of two devastating hurricanes to get in the way of the company’s annual Breast Cancer Awareness campaign that brings attention to personnel and the general public about the dangers of an equally devastating disease.

Each year TelEm Group focuses on the campaign by participating in various Breast Cancer Awareness events, and by decorating the company’s lobby area in the main building on Pond Island to stimulate public attention and reaction.

The company has also sponsored various Breast Cancer Awareness efforts in the community in past years, including a sponsored cycle ride and a march through the Philipsburg area.

Starting Friday, October 6th, TelEm Group’s Commercial team will be distributing pink ribbons to staff and also to members of the public for them to wear.

Staff are also being asked to wear something pink each Friday to further bring attention to the campaign cause.

In the middle of the month the team is planning to hold sessions with male and female members of staff to talk about breast cancer and how the disease affects individuals and families.

“TelEm Group has a large number of women in employment to whom this kind of information can be very useful, but it will also be useful for all men in the company who want to better understand the disease and the support role they can play with their loved ones and others in the community with Breast Cancer,” said TelEm Group Manager, Marketing & Sales Grisha Marten.

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Police is trying to locate distributors of BLEU STORM VODKA brand

PHILIPSBURG - During the looting investigation eight cases of “Bleu Storm Vodka” was found and confiscated. This brand of vodka seems to be quite rear.

Many distributors and liquor stores were contacted but none confirmed to be the representatives of this brand.

The police department wants to return these cases of alcohol to the rightful owner and is asking the representatives/distributors to the police department to claim their belongings. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Police in search of family members of stabbing victim

OVER THE BANK - The Police Force of Sint Maarten (KPSM) is hereby sending a request to the family members of the victim R. Andrews, who was stabbed to death, on 17th September 2017, Over The Bank.

Any relative of the late Mr. R. Andrews, please report to the main office of the Police Station Philipsburg and ask for Chief Inspector Baptist, Inspector Rijna from Forensic or Inspector Mauricia of the Detective Department. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Winair announces official commercial operations as of October 10

SIMPSON BAY - Winair would like to inform its customers that their anticipated startup of commercial operations on Friday October 6th has been postponed to Tuesday October 10th, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.  

“Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher has announced this morning (Wednesday, October 4, 2017) that SXM Airport will be open to accept commercial flights per October 10, 2017. 

“Winair will operate limited scheduled service to the destinations Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Barth, Antigua and St. Kitts. The three (3) Curacao - St. Maarten - Curacao flights will operate only as currently scheduled this Thursday October 5, Saturday October 7 and Tuesday October 10.”

For bookings visit Winair’s website www.fly-winair.sx or your preferred travel agent. 

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Ministry VSA: Responsibilities of the Employers, Rights of the Employees

POND ISLAND – The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (MinVSA), issued the following press release related to businesses and employees.  “On Wednesday 6 September 2017, our island was hit with a devastating hurricane. As a result, many persons lost their lives, homes, businesses and other property.

“We sympathize with all who lost property and loved ones. However, in the wake of hurricane Irma, we appeal to all employers to practice good business practices and integrity when dealing with your employees. We understand the extenuating circumstances at hand, and therefore, encourage both employers and employees to cooperate and act in accordance with the labor laws of the land.

“We encourage employers firstly to communicate with their employees. The worse thing to do in a time like this is to abandon your staff completely. Invite employees to a central location and discuss with them the damages to the building and merchandise and the consequences thereof. Business owners may want to discuss payment and employment options with their staff on an individual basis. Be honest and direct, but give them options.

“We urge businesses as much as feasible to retain their staff. In an effort to do this, employers may want to reallocate or reassign staff members to different departments or duties. Perhaps it may be necessary that persons take on different roles for the time being to suit the immediate needs of the business for a time. We ask that workers also be flexible to accept reallocation of tasks or responsibilities.

“If the labor contract between the company and the employee allows, payment options can be discussed. All agreements outside of what is written in the labor contract must be mutual and in written form such as for example a reduction in working days or wages. Note also that the written agreement must be in accordance with the labor laws of the land. Any employers seeking assistance with drafting a sound mutual agreement can consult legal assistance or visit the Department of Labor Affairs and Social Services.

“Although, we strongly encourage businesses to seek means whereby they can maintain their staff, if dismissals must take place permission must still be requested by the Department of Labor Affairs and Social Services (applicable for employees in indefinite employ).  There is also an option of rescinding employment relationships through the courts. All persons under contract must be paid out for the remainder of their contractual period if the contract is not being extended, and given due notice. To reiterate, at present time, businesses have one of three options:

1) Retain employee through mutual agreement in writing (terms to include job duties, payment, work hours, etc.)

2) Mutual agreement in writing for termination of labor agreement ( to include severance payments, notice period, all outstanding vacation days and days worked)

3) Dismissal (through the Department of Labor Affairs and Social Services)  

4) Dismissal (through the court or legal system)

“An important notice for employers is that payment must be upheld for the periods of time when a national curfew was issued by the government of St. Maarten. Employees must not be financially penalized for these times since they were unable to work due to no fault of their own; therefore, they must be paid for those periods. Note also that the “No Work, No Pay” policy does not apply in this situation. If workers want to work, but are unable to work because their place of work is closed, damaged or employers have migrated, they are still entitled to their wages.

“Any employer or employee with questions concerning pay, dismissal, nature of work, work hours, etc. should visit the Department of Labor Affairs and Social Services and ask to speak to a Dismissal and Complaints Officer. We are currently located in the new government building across from the University of St. Martin (USM). Employees also have a right to apply for legal aid to contest any unlawful dismissal from their employer, or any action that they deem infringes on their rights.

“Again, the Department of Labor Affairs and Social Services encourages employers and employees to act responsibly and with integrity during this time. We encourage both parties to work together as the nation rebuilds. In order for the economy to revive, we must adjust, regroup and rebuild. We can rebuild and we will- together.” 

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