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MID ISLE DONATES SCHOOL UNIFORMS TO SJIB

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Last week during the visit of Rotary District Governor Robert Leger and his wife Rosa, the Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle donated 75 pieces of school uniforms to SJIB (Stichting justitiele Inrichtingen Bovenwinden), the civic organization said in a press release on Thursday.

“These uniforms were given to children of Martin Luther King School, Prins Willem Alexander School,   Marie Genevieve de Weever School, Oranje School, Sr. Borgia Primary and St. Maarten Vocational Training School.

“The SJIB-Probation Department occupies a unique and central position in the St. Maarten justice structure. It is the only department that is in contact with the offender throughout the different stages of the criminal justice process. The department is the one justice system partner that regularly collaborates with all stakeholders as an offender moves through the system.

“To carry out its multiple responsibilities, the department functions in partnership with the system’s diverse stakeholders, including law enforcement; the courts; prosecutors; defense attorneys; community based organizations; mental health, drug and alcohol rehabilitators and other service providers; advocacy groups, the community; victims; and the probationer.

“The objective is to contribute to a safer society by guiding and supporting clients to not commit any further offences. The department uses its extensive knowledge and experience to advise the judge and the Public Prosecutor’s office about the risks of recurrence of a client’s criminal behavior, as well as to influence and change criminal and negative behavior with the aim of preventing recurrences of criminal behavior.

The Probation Department, like its counterparts, protects the community by providing sanctions, interventions, social guidance and services to adult offenders ordered onto probation or parole by the court, prosecutor’s office or Minister of Justice.

“The Probation & Rehabilitation Department produces reports and recommendations to the court, the Parole Board and the Minister of Justice and carries out orders from judicial authorities by monitoring probationers’ and parolees behavior in the community, identifying and coordinating treatment and other interventions, and execution of re-socialization projects.”

The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle presently meets Tuesdays at 7pm at Pineapple Pete in Simpson Bay. For more information please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit their Facebook page Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle.

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Nature Foundation and EPIC organized successful Second Simpson Bay Lagoon clean-up

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - Last Sunday the St Maarten Nature Foundation, Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) and the ‘A Bit at a Time’ initiative of Mason Chadwick organized a another successful cleanup event.

Approximately 70 volunteers came out in order to clean the Simpson Bay Lagoon coastline. This cleanup saw the largest amount of trash ever collected for an event organized by the Foundations with eight fully loaded large trucks leaving with trash and hurricane debris.

The island ‘Little Key’ and the lagoon area across from the airport entrance up to Sixt Car Rental are now completely clean of hurricane debris and garbage. The Foundations are urging the community to keep it that way.

A large thanks goes to the VROMI Ministry and Toontje (Claudius) Buncamper and team for the removal of all the trash and the safe traffic coordination. A special thanks goes to the St. Maarten Coast Guard team who due to their tireless effort left the entire coastline clean. Island Water World donated heavy duty gloves, reusable bags and t-shirts.

The organizations are asking the public to stay tuned for the following cleanup event, which will be the important wetland area Mullet Pond on the 24th of February. The community is also urged to responsibly dispose their garbage, trash laying around will end up in our marine and lagoon ecosystem impacting this fragile system and our own health.

PHOTO CUTLINE: Nature Foundation’s patrol boat fully loaded with hurricane debris from the island ‘Little Key’.

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PHOTO CUTLINE: The VROMI Ministry workers are loading the trash and hurricane debris on large trucks.

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PHOTO CUTLINE: Some of the volunteers and the St. Maarten Coast guard during the Lagoon cleanup event.

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Government Building to Reopen on Thursday. Majority of fire extinguished while several hotspots remain

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin in a follow-up update on Wednesday evening says the Government Administration Building will re-open on Thursday to the public and civil servants are requested to report to work.

The situation will be monitored and in the event of a change in the wind, it will be determined what action will be taken. The health and safety of the civil servants is top priority.

The smoke continues to smolder as Fire Department personnel along with colleagues from the North side of the island continues to work on extinguishing the limited areas where fire still exists.

The majority of the fire has been contained but there are still some hot spots. Water and sand is being used to eliminate the remaining hotspots.

PHOTO CUTLINE: Prime Minister/Minister of General Affairs Leona Romeo Marlin chairing the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) meeting on Monday. Seated next to her is Fire Commander/Disaster Coordinator Clive Richardson.

MinAGZ PM LRM in EOC Meeting on Monday

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Pride Foundation makes appeal to the Governor and Dutch Representation Office regarding Landfill

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Sint Maarten Pride Foundation has sent a letter to His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday and to the Dutch Representation Office in Philipsburg Head Chris Johnson with respect to the landfill fires on Pond Island.

The letter reads as follows: “The Sint Maarten Pride foundation, a community environmental nonprofit foundation, has been noting frequent violent landfill fires that have been flaring up before and after hurricane Irma. Even more worrisome is the violent flare up of the second Irma dump on February 4th.

“Our Group has noted that our local government has made no headway with a project of a modern waste to energy plant, or a plan of shipping waste off island.

“Our concern is that it is well known that the landfill has reached its expiration date several years ago and instead of our government placing this issue as a high priority of finding a long-term solution, government instead created a second landfill dumping area.

“This situation is exasperated by the mass waste of post hurricane Irma where not only regular household waste is discarded but also combustible containers and materials that should not be dumped on landfills due to their fire flammable dangers.

“Your excellency, our group is appealing to you as we have lost faith and trust in our local government in ensuring that our citizens health is secured. In fact we are worried that our children and adults are exposed to this environmental hazard and the toxins every single day. The landfill is constantly smoking and too often flares up as raging out of control fires.

“Not only are our firemen exposed trying to battle the constant fires but our residents far and wide are exposed to the foul burning odors.

“We are hereby requesting you to place pressure on our local government to expediently find a long-term solution to this hazard affecting the people’s health.

“Our people should not be expected to walk with face masks and close their windows and doors as a daily exercise. These procedures in fact do not even properly protect anyone from the toxic fumes.

“With this letter we are also appealing to the King of the Netherlands, His Majesty King Willem-Alexander, to intervene on behalf of us the people in his Kingdom, as it appears finding a solution to the landfill is outside the scope of the local authorities.

“With no headway being made by the local politicians and governing bodies, and the instability of our local governments not being able to govern properly due to government falling almost every 12 months, we are left no choice but to appeal to his Majesty, King Willem-Alexander, to intervene.

“No longer should our people wait and hear political rhetoric while our people are dying of cancers and respiratory diseases.

“People in the Dutch kingdom are guaranteed clean air in the constitution and so should it be for those living on Sint Maarten.

“As a community environmental group our focus is not only the environmental hazard but the wellbeing, health and hygiene of our residents and visitors.

“Our livelihood of tourism is at stake but more importantly our health and future livability as a people.

“We trust you will take our appeal on the landfill issue and the raging fires seriously. Our group would like to see a final modern waste solution found immediately. One that we can be proud of, one where our quality of life and our future in health can be guaranteed,” the letter concludes.

The letter to the Governor and the Dutch Representation Office in Philipsburg was signed by Barbara Cannegieter, Secretary of Sint Maarten Pride Foundation and Jadira Veen, President of Sint Maarten Pride Foundation.

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Minister Lee visits temporary shelter in St. Peters Community Center

SINT MAARTEN (ST. PETERS) - The ensuing smoke from the fire on the landfill created after hurricane Irma prompted the evacuation of the residents of Pond Island, schools in the persons staying in the temporary shelters, and the Government Building.

The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development, & Labor coordinated the evacuation of the thirty-three (33) persons staying at the temporary shelters in the Festival Village and the Little League Ball Park.

These persons were safely transported to the Community Center in St. Peters. Shelter services such as the preparation of meals and security are in place at the location. The relocation is temporary to safeguard the inhabitants from any health hazards.

They will be relocated when the smoke dissipates from the immediately affected area. Some persons in the shelter were able to stay with family and / or friends. Any persons seeking more information can contact VSA Staff Bureau located in the Government Building on Soualiga Rd 1, Pond Island.

The Minister of Public Health, Social Development, & Labor commends and thanks the civil servants and emergency personnel that executed the coordination of the relocation for their continued dedication to the people of St. Maarten.

Minister Lee visited the Community Center the following day (Tuesday February 7, 2018). While there, the Minister viewed the temporary accommodations made for persons staying there.

“The Ministry of VSA is working diligently to provide the persons in the shelter with a location that is more suitable for the needs of the people staying there. Their safety and well-being is of utmost importance. Many are working tirelessly and I thank all involved for their commitment,” said Minister Lee.

The minister also noticed of the condition of the playground and the basketball court located next the shelter and initiated efforts to remove the standing water that serves as a breeding ground for mosquitos. Discussions also included the repair / restoration of the playground, basketball court, and added security for the safety of the children that play there. 

Collective Prevention Services (CPS) is reminding the public of the health impacts of smoke inhalation. The magnitude of the health impacts depend on the concentration and duration of exposure. Short-term exposure (at high levels) can cause nose, throat and eye irritation, and exacerbate pre-existing respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.

Groups that are particularly susceptible to the adverse respiratory and cardiovascular effects of exposure are children and the elderly. Persons with underlying cardiovascular disease (hypertension, diabetes, ischaemic heart disease), respiratory disease, and pregnant women. It is important to take steps to protect yours and your family’s health.

Especially if you are pregnant, elderly, or have children. These steps include keeping indoor air clean by closing windows and doors, using fans and / or air conditioners set on recirculate where possible for air circulation and to guard against the heat, avoid time spent outdoors in the affected area, monitoring indoor air quality.

Other symptoms of smoke exposure include wheezing, shortness of breath, burning eyes, and headache. Please limit your exposure to smoky air and contact your health care provider if you have heart or lung problems. Persons should avoid the affected area until the smoke has cleared. 

MINVSA TEMP SHELT INSIDE1

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Union leader concerned about “occupational health and safety” of small businesswomen

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - WIFOL union president Theophilus E. Thompson said that the continuing insecure condition of the small businesswomen at the destroyed Philipsburg Marketplace is against international “occupational health and safety” standard.

The reference to Thompson’s statement follows last week’s rain and windstorm that destroyed or damaged a number of the temporary tents and goods of the vendors — who had their kiosks destroyed by the former tourism minister on October 9, 2017. 

“The decision of the Minister,” following hurricanes Irma and Maria, was found to lack “proper reason, motives and grounds” by the Ombudsman’s legal report.

The situation of the market women, including those who are the main breadwinners of their families and some who create “Made in St. Martin” products, reached the floor of the territory’s Parliament in public discussion on January 24.

According to the parliamentary agenda for the day, the Central Committee discussed with “the market square vendors about the injustices against their livelihood by the Government of Sint Maarten.”   

“A number of things happened which showed the lack of vision among our political leadership; action taken like destroying the marketplace in Philipsburg,” said Thompson in an SXM Daily News interview in early January.

“And now we see where people are being put back, rushed back, in conditions which are not according to ILO conventions, occupational health and safety doesn’t meet that standard,” said Thompson. Conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) are ratified by most of the world’s countries and their territories, including the Netherlands, St. Maarten, and France.

The action by the small businesswomen who witnessed the tractors destroying their solid wooden kiosks, set the ball rolling. According to the Ombudsman, “On 12 October 2017 thirty (30) Marketplace vendors, represented by Mrs. Ingrid Grell-Davis (Complainants), informed the Ombudsman that they were negatively affected by the decision of the Minister of Tourism Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunication.”  

Following the vendors action came the Ombudsman official investigation; solidarity from cultural and labor activists, travel writers and tourists on social media, and the media release of the Ombudsman’s report in early December; a more open public opinion favoring the vendors by mid-December; the January 5 news of the Pasanggrahan court ruling against government’s placing of six market kiosks on Great Bay Beach; the former tourism minister’s acceptance of the Ombudsman report by mid-January; and the parliamentary Central Committee meeting of January 24.

The vendors have long been seeking to regroup at the market grounds, meeting with Economic Affairs department inspectors about their locations, setting up temporary tents and umbrellas, attempting to sell their souvenirs, arts and crafts, and snacks to post-hurricane visitors and the St. Martin people.

Thompson said that the women at the market are trying to make a living and take care of their families. He said that licensed vendors are independent small business people, providing a needed tourism service, instead of being dependent on government.

PHOTO CUTLINE: Philipsburg Marketplace kiosk being destroyed, with “No tangible considerations regarding the impact of the decision has on the livelihood of the vendors,” according to the Ombudsman’s investigation. (Credit: OES)

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PHOTO CUTLINE: Temporary tents of vendors in February 2018, on the grounds of Philipsburg Marketplace that was destroyed on October 9, 2017, by decision of the former tourism minister (TEATT). (Credit: OES)

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Contractors, skilled workers needed for Home Repair relief program. Sign up today

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Community Development, Family & Humanitarian Affairs Department (CDFHA) from the Ministry of Public Health, Social development and Labor Affairs in collaboration with the Salvation Army will embark on its home repair relief program in February 2018.

In light of the abovementioned, CDFHA and the Salvation Army are in need of contractors, skilled workers i.e. carpenters, masons, helpers, and site supervisors to participate in the home repair relief program.

Interested contractors and persons are encouraged to visit and register at any of the following Community Help Desks in St. Peters, Dutch Quarter and Cole bay or call 1721-5500118 or 1721-5204318.

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Requirements for Maximum 21 day Vending Permit

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Inspectorate of TEATT (Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunications) and the Department of Economic Licenses would jointly like to advise the general public that those persons wishing to request a permit for activities to be carried out for a maximum of 21 days, such as vending permits for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Carnival, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc., should submit a completed application to the Department of Economic Licenses at the new government administration building located on Soualiga Boulevard.

The requirements to qualify for a vending permit for a maximum of 21 days are:   

  1. A completed application form (can be collected at the Information Desk of Economic Licenses – Counter B at new government building;
  1. A valid colored copy of your passport or a valid colored copy of your identification card (of the applicant & helper).  
  1. From the Civil Registry: A copy of your Census Registration Form.                   
  1. Two (2) passport pictures (of the applicant & helper).      (Only colored passport pictures will be accepted)
  1. A valid copy of food handler’s certificate, if selling food and beverages. (Of the applicant & helper).

Lastly, in order for the application to be processed, payment of the processing fee of Nafls. 5 (per day of vending) is required.

The department strongly urge all those interested in any form of Public Street activities to get approval from the Minster of TEATT via a permit before commencing in public street trading activity in order to prevent enforcement action being taken against you.

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Minister of Justice commends law enforcement on apprehension

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever commends the Sint Maarten Police Force as well as other law enforcement entities with respect to the apprehension of two men who were classified as armed and very dangerous.

The two individuals with initials V.E.B and F.J. were apprehended in the area of Oyster Pond on February 1.  The arrests was made in connection with two on-going major criminal investigations called ‘Toermalijn’ and ‘Droomkwartz.’

The community were also very helpful with the information that they provided to authorities that led to the apprehension of the aforementioned.

“I take this opportunity to commend our men and women in blue for all the work that they do on a daily basis with limited resources that they have.  I pray for their safety every day.

“The apprehension of dangerous criminals is a very positive development for the community.  It means two less dangerous persons in our communities.  I commend our community for speaking out and working with our law enforcement entities which is very important.

“Fighting crime is not just an effort of law enforcement, but an entire effort of the community, and this leads to results,” Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever said on Monday. 

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Nature Foundation Distributes Facemasks to Protect Community against Harmful Fumes

COLE BAY - The Sint Maarten Nature Foundation has distributed almost 300 facemasks on Monday to residents affected by the landfill fire which has been raging at the Irma Landfill.

Facemasks were especially distributed to the elderly, those with medical issues and those in difficult financial situations. Facemasks were also distributed to law enforcement personnel controlling the checkpoints at the landfill fires for further distribution.

“Again we are faced with a situation where the community is brought in danger by this significant fire and the smoke caused by it. As we still wait for action to occur regarding the management of our solid waste issues we encourage that especially expectant mothers and those with a weakened immune system wear facemasks to reduce the risk caused by the landfill.

“We also are really urging that restoration funds be used towards the management of the solid waste issue once and for all. Only though public, open and transparent funding with all the necessary checks and balances can we adequately address this issue. We have communicated this to the World Bank and to Government for inclusion in the restoration fund,” commented Tadzio Bervoets, Nature Foundation Manager.

During previous studies in air quality and soil composition at the Philipsburg landfill the Nature Foundation recorded positive results for nickel, zinc, arsenic, lead, cadmium, copper, chromium and other heavy metals.

Of particular concern are arsenic, lead, cadmium, and copper because of the human health effects. Particularly lead, arsenic and copper can be quite toxic to humans and have been shown to cause some forms of cancer.

These same chemicals are released into the atmosphere through either smoke or through falling fine ash and therefore pose a significant health risk to the community. Landfill fires also release high levels of Carbon Monoxide (CO) into the atmosphere which causes additional health effects through depriving the body of oxygen.

During a survey conducted by the Nature Foundation it was shown that all districts of Sint Maarten have been effected by the smoke caused by the landfill fires; 35% of everyone surveyed  frequently experience negative effects throughout the year from fumes coming from the landfill; 50% of all respondents complained about trouble breathing due to the fumes coming from the landfill; 73% of all respondents mentioned burning in their eyes, nose or throat; 50% experienced burning, watering eyes because of the toxic fumes; 30% experienced nausea combined with vomiting; 50% experienced uncontrolled coughing; and 40% have sought medical assistance because of health complications arising from the fumes caused by the landfill.

“The Foundation has continuously communicated the results, findings, recommendations and suggestions to decision-makers and it is the hope of the Nature Foundation that a solution to this serious health issue is arrived at urgently, in the meantime we suggest the wearing of these masks” concluded Bervoets. For those in need of facemasks can contact the Nature Foundation through their Facebook page or by calling +1 721 5444267.

PHOTO CUTLINE: Bervoets giving law enforcement face masks. (Photo contributed)

Bervoets masks law enforcement

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