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United Sint Maarten Party determined to give the country a different choice

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten - While this will be the first time the United Sint Maarten (US) Party will contesting an election, the 15 member team is confident that they can be the change Sint Maarten needs and is ready to rise to the challenge.

The US Party officially unveiled their party’s candidate list on Friday, July 11; at the Government Administration building during the Postulation activities, which drew hundreds of their supporters to the streets.

The US Party which made its debut during Postulation Day was inaugurated earlier this year and is headed by the Party Leader and #1 candidate Member of Parliament Hon. Frans Richardson.

Governed by the mission statement “to expanding opportunities to all residents by providing social, economic and political resources that will maximize their power as citizens and voters.’  The US Party hopes to provide the people of Sint Maarten with a different option, a party that is new, thrives on integrity, and encourages forward and innovative thinking and responsible public service policy.

In a Release to the press, the United Sint Maarten Party said “US Party recognizes and embraces the fact that it is accountable to the electorate and fully expects voter to monitor its initiatives and provide feedback.” The also maintained that, “The USP will exemplify a spirit of excellence and will perform its duties with integrity and to the high ethical standards citizens demand and deserve.” (Contributed by the UP Party)

The U.S Party will go to the polls with the following candidates: Frans Richardson   #1; Leona Romeo-Marlin #2; Anna Richardson #3; Reuben Thompson #4; Lisa Alexander #5; Harlec Doran #6; Richinel Brug #7; Fernando Clark #8; Earl Duzong #9; Myrna Richardson #10; Sergio Bryson #11; Curtis Thomas #12; Jeanine Espacia #13; Roberto Hunt #14; Lloyd Paul #15.

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Sint Maarten on INTERPOL Orange Alert for Dangerous Escaped Prisoners after Canadian Helicopter Jailbreak

FRANCE-SINT MAARTEN – Because Sint Maarten is one of the 190 member countries of the International Police Organization (INTERPOL), law enforcement authorities are on an orange alert after Canada made a request to INTERPOL which has issued an international alert, or Orange Notice, after three prisoners escaped from a detention centre in Quebec using a helicopter.

Sint Maarten law enforcement authorities are to assist by arresting the fugitives from justice should they find their way to the ‘Friendly Island.’

The three men, Yves Denis, aged 35, Denis Lefebvre, aged 53, and 49-year-old Serge Pomerleau who escaped on Saturday 7 June, were awaiting trial on charges related to drug trafficking, murder and gangsterism.

Following a request from INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau (NCB) in Ottawa, the Command and Co-ordination Centre (CCC) at the General Secretariat headquarters has issued an Orange Notice to all 190 member countries.

All NCBs have been requested to circulate the Orange Notice – which can be issued for any act or event which poses a risk to the safety and security of citizens around the world - to all relevant national and migration authorities.

The three men should be considered dangerous and members of the public are not advised to approach them, but instead report any sightings to their local or national police.

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Statement: Cornelius de Weever #2 on the DP slate

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - As Minister of Public Health, Social Development & Labor, and my role has allowed me a unique opportunity to gain insight into the lives of those whom I serve in St. Maarten.  I can be nothing but grateful to the many people who placed so much trust in me-enough trust to share the details of their private lives and personal challenges, much of it very difficult to bear. 

How difficult that must be for someone to share this is something that does not escape me. Each and every day my mind and my heart are shaped by these experiences and the issues they subsequently raise.  As my Ministry and I navigate the details of these individual issues to provide solutions on a daily basis, over time I come to see them in a broader and more systematic context.

As I begin to look for solutions to these problems to minimize future issues for others- this ultimately allows the ministry to delegate its efforts to the next emerging challenge. We cannot look at issues and challenges one-dimensionally – we must see the bigger picture. This is how my ministry works. And this is how I work.

My decision to run with DP stems from my firm belief that it is the most stable party in our nation and a revitalized Democratic Party.  While I strongly believe that as a country the best days are ahead of us, I am equally of the belief that we have just as much to be grateful for. The DP Party is not new- but the ability to be innovative and bold with new ideas and visions that accommodate a dynamic and ever changing landscape must come from knowing the past- what works, and yes, what doesn’t. 

No party in the history of St. Maarten has that breadth of knowledge and experience.  The world is evolving at an incredibly rapid pace.  There is often a mindset to be “out with the old, in with the new”.  I would argue that we as a country must be mindful of the work of those before us, as well as the cultural component that makes us uniquely “St. Maarten”.  

Because once it is lost, it is forever lost.  So it is important to me to move our country and our people into this new era with an excitement for all the changes it can bring while contextualizing it within our own rich culture.  The DP Party best embraces this duality, making it the ideal party to lead St. Maarten. This is how they work.  And this is how I work.

So today I formally announce my candidacy to represent St. Maarten as I ask for your vote for a position in Parliament.  I have devoted a significant part of my professional life to public service and I am extremely proud of the work within my present ministry. I am confident in my ability to continue to make this ministry, this government and this island better- better for ALL people. 

Those we have toiled with in the past and have earned the right to enjoy the fruits of that labor, just like those that work today to bring richness to our country in a variety of ways- culturally, financially, academically, professionally, environmentally and personally.   Everyone contributes. Everyone.  And to those that come after us- our young people, our future. 

We must accept our responsibility to continue to make St. Maarten a wonderful place to grow up, be safe and healthy, get a good education, and embrace our culture while maintaining a global mindset- it was the burden of so many before us.  Now it is our turn. I have only begun to do MY part. 

With the opportunity to represent St. Maarten in Parliament or as a Minister, I will continue to be approachable and available to my fellow citizens, working to create sustainable change that will be mindful of long-term impacts on our systems, our environment, our people. This is how I will work.

Mere weeks from now all citizens can exercise their right to have their voice heard.  It is YOUR choice. It is YOUR vote.  Please make your vote a vote for ME- A NEW DEMOCRAT, not one against my fellow candidates. 

As a country we must remain dignified, even during times of disagreement or conflict.  As people we must continue to elevate ourselves, challenging and voting with integrity.  And as a Member of Parliament or a Minister, I must have faith in God as he guides me to give all that I have and all that I am to my country St. Maarten.  THIS is how I will work. (Statement contributed by the Minister Hon. Cornelius de Weever)

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Minister Lake informs Parliament of decrease in NV GEBE Rates for General Consumers and Business Sector

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Minister of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake has forwarded a letter to the President of Parliament Hon. Gracita Arrindell with respect to a parliamentary motion that was adopted on January 16, 2014 calling for a reduction in utility (electricity) bill rates.

The letter informs the President of Parliament that the Minister as Shareholder representative has worked diligently to execute the House of Parliament’s motion.

“NV GEBE had to do its due diligence after the parliamentary motion was presented to the Board of Supervisors by my person as shareholder representative.  We must all remember that NV GEBE has its own financial commitments that the company has to meet on a monthly basis.

“Millions of dollars are spent annually to purchase fuel to run the generators, but we are working in changing this to renewable energy sources so utility bills can be lowered again once investments have been made in this area.

“We have to be very careful and look at the long-term future of the company and make the necessary investments to bring about permanent relief for the people and the business sector,” Minister Hon. Maurice Lake said on Thursday.

NV GEBE has proposed to provide a temporary relief for electricity rates of residents (Ang.0,05 per Kwh) and for Commercial clients (Ang.0,01 per Kwh).

Minister Lake has also forwarded a letter to the Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications Hon. Ted Richardson whose ministry is responsible for regulating the tariffs of electricity for the country in accordance with NV GEBE’s concession.

“I have asked my colleague Minister Ted Richardson to facilitate as soon as possible the necessary paperwork that would lead to the reduction of electrical bills for consumers and business.

“The aforementioned relief for the people and business sector is not an election gimmick, but of course you will hear this type of rhetoric in the coming weeks.  I worked on the basis of the parliamentary motion from January and have delivered. 

“Regarding bringing relief to our seniors, NV GEBE has drafted a program which is in the execution phase, and again I have delivered and in this case to our seniors.

“We have to focus on positive things and moving our country forward by developing strategies.  Empowering our people to continue to be leaders in social, economic and sustainable stewardship will grow our country for our people.  I’ve focused on getting the job done,” Minister Hon. Maurice Lake concluded.    

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Maria looking to move fresh ideas off the sidelines with UP

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - Convinced that her calling is to serve the people of St. Maarten, former Island Council woman, Commissioner, Senator, State Secretary and Minister Maria Buncamper-Molanus will contest the August 29 Parliamentary elections with the United People (UP) party. She will be candidate #21 on the slate.

With an uncontested wealth of experience under her belt since she first entered the political arena in 1995, Buncamper-Molanus said sitting on the sidelines while St. Maarten is in obvious need of stable, visionary leadership, was not an option for her any longer.

“I still have a whole lot to offer,” the former Minister said. “This country that we all love so much is facing a number of issues that are compounded by a void of anything resembling fresh ideas. The search for solutions equal to the scale of our challenges has to be the order of the day. It’s time to get fresh ideas off the sidelines onto the field. I believe this is only possible with the UP,” she added.

Re-entering the political field, Maria is adamant that the people of St. Maarten and potential supporters feel free to approach her and ask her anything they want to. She understands that certain issues might have lived a life of their own and others have tried to define her, but she is prepared to have a truthful and open conversation with the people who she hopes to serve again.

“Wherever you see me and would like anything or any of my campaign issues clarified, please approach me and we’ll have a conversation. I hope you will walk away knowing that while the path to get the chance to help move the country forward is daunting, it’s the only path I know. It’s the pursuit of the possible, not the perfect,” she said.

She continued: “I’m a pragmatist. I look for practical solutions to real problems. My experience, my ability to get things done, my ability to work for common-sense solutions to real life problems, led me to run again. I hope you’ll join me and work together to build up our country and shape a hope filled future.”

Buncamper-Molanus added that she was honored and feels humbled that the leader of the UP Theo Heyliger as well as the board of the party and general party family has accepted her into their ranks. “I promise to work hard to help deliver a victory for UP which will be a victory for St. Maarten.”

As core issues, she will focus on the benefits of an open, accessible government to all, building a strong foundation for economic success and shared prosperity by investing in high quality education, ensuring growth of St. Maarten’s tourism product and build the economy by seeking (then implementing and tracking) practical ideas from all stakeholders and achieving universal health care to guarantee access to health care services for all residents including the elderly and mentally challenged. She will expound on all of these issues in the weeks ahead.

With many accomplishments over the years, her initiatives while in office have strengthened the organization of government through the improvement and streamlining of service delivery and reduction in red-tape.

She accomplished this by spearheading a new business license ordinance that served to alleviate the administration of businesses and government alike, oversaw the automation of the Economic Affairs department, automated the Department of Business Licenses and Permits, implemented effective price controls, streamlined information for potential investors, launched the first Regional Small & medium Enterprises Platform conceived and designed to support and sustain the SME Intermediaries of the Region, ensured that all stakeholders had a say in new policies and legislation and drafted the Economic and Residential Zoning Policy which will contribute to a more structured approach to economic development, to name but a few.

Her initiatives are still the benchmarks used by government to date.

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ASDC partners seek ways to make SXM a more effective hub

SIMPSON BAY, Sint Maarten - When partners in the Air Service Development Committee (ASDC) met last week, the main objective was to seek ways to improve connectivity between international and regional flights to serve the needs of all members.

According to a presentation by Ian Bertrand of El Perial, the consultants assisting with further developing the hub function of the Princess Juliana International Airport, SXM, the time periods from 13:00 hours to 14:29 hours had the most arrivals or seating capacity of 7,705 seats serving 12 international gateways.

On the other hand, the time period from 14:00 hours to 15:30 hours had the highest number of departing passengers at 5,455 on international flights based on seating capacity.

“If SXM Airport has to be an effective hub, we need to encourage regional airlines and by extension, passengers to connect into these time periods,” Bertrand told the well-attended meeting.

Bertrand added that the Department of Civil Aviation has to make adjustments to facilitate the efforts of the airlines and ASDC partners in making the hub function as efficient as possible. For their part, the ASDC partners are encouraged to work with regional airlines to determine flight times that are desirable for the ASDC countries while SXM Airport could assist in this.

Bertrand stated that he is confident that the interest of all stakeholders can be served if there is a regional open sky agreement between SXM and its ASDC partners where airlines that are domiciled in those countries can be free to fly within the region occupied by the ASDC partners.

He added that the airlines should position themselves as the international airlines for the ASDC countries and to further optimize this an agreement has to be established indicating this condition applies to all ASDC countries.

The consultant further noted that notwithstanding the competition that exists among the airports, SXM, ANU (Antigua), and SKB (St. Kitts) offer a lot of complementary services. If a relationship is formed among these three airports and the respective tourism authorities, whereby each airport can benefit from the international route services offered from each other, this could result in a competitive advantage for all. These competitive advantages can encourage open sky agreements for airlines domiciled within these territories, he said, while the strategy will strengthen SXM as a premier hub in this region.

Bertrand advised that SXM Airport, the Department of Civil Aviation, and the tourism authority should take the lead and invite ANU and SKB to work together and address the various issues common to the three airports.

The meeting then discussed the finalization of the establishment of the Foundation that would facilitate the joint initiatives of the ASDC partners within a legal framework and allow for fast decision-making as well as concerted efforts in pursuing the common goals. 

Two extraordinary meetings are scheduled to be held this month to finalize the establishment of the Foundation.

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Political candidates reminded to keep a financial register

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The Electoral Council would like to remind all candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections that in accordance with the National Ordinance on Registration and Finances of Political Parties they are required to keep a proper registration of all donations received.

The following information should be given for each donation received: The name and address of the person, the company or institution that gave a donation; the amount or value of the donation received; and the date the donation was received.

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TelEm Group Family Fun Day delivers on wet and wild promise

POND ISLAND –   Organizers of  the TelEm Group annual Family Fun Day are sending out a special “Thank You” to members of the public, especially families, who took part in the company’s annual event last Saturday.

According to Chief Financial Officer, Helma Etnel, the event was once again a raging success thanks to the many children who attended and enjoyed themselves on the record number of activities and rides.

“It is clear that families look forward to the Family Fun Day when TelEm Group and its staff can give something back to the community and especially the young people in our community,” said Mr. Etnel.

“On behalf of management I staff, I want to thank everyone who turned out and especially the parents and guardians who have been so positive with their comments about this year’s event,” continued Mrs. Etnel.

The CFO also took the opportunity to thank TelEm Group staff themselves for turning out in large number of volunteer their services by assisting visitors, manning the various activities and generally helping out whenever they can on the day.

Organizers of the TelEm Group Family Fun Day said they got more than they bargained for when they adopted a “Wet and Wild” theme for this year’s event, especially after a torrential downpour treated to put a damper on the activities for the day, causing those in attendance to run for cover.

“Luckily the rain turned out to be part of the Wet and Wild theme. We had warned parents to come with a change of clothes for the children anyway, so it all turned out to be a very enjoyable day for everyone,” said coordinator of the event, Angel Richardson.

She said the wet and wild theme also included the transformation of one of TelEm Group’s parking lots into an ice-skating rink, which was also a novelty item on the day.

Mrs. Etnel has personally thanked staffers, Angel Richardson and Suraj Ramdas for their continued work behind the scenes to make the Family Fun Day an enjoyable experience for TelEm Group customers each year.

“Without their special input and attention to budgeting restrictions an event such as the Family Fun Day would not be possible for us,” said Mrs. Etnel. 

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Missing girl contacts police

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The Police Department as of this morning July 8th has called off the search for the missing Tajrani ROOPNARINE a.k.a. “Sherika” because Tuesday morning at approximately 09.00 a.m. she contacted the police department by phone.

She stated that she is fine and in good health. The reason for leaving her home and not contacting her parents or other family members is completely personal. “Sherika” has been in contact with the Detective department and will be coming in to give a statement. (Contributed by the Police Force of Sint Maarten)

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Workshop on “How to Apply for a U.S. Student Visa or Canadian Study Permit”

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – On July 14, 2014, another workshop will be held at the office of the Student Support Services Division (SSSD) which is located in the Amigo Building across from the Police Station and next to the WIB. The workshop entitled, “How to Apply for a U.S. Student Visa or Canadian Study Permit,” will be held from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. It is organized by the Student Support Services Division (SSSD) of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs.

This workshop is being held for those students who were unable to attend the May 27th workshop and for those who recently received their I-20 forms from U.S. schools or acceptance letters from Canadian schools. During this workshop, information will be given on the application process for obtaining an U.S. Student Visa or Canadian Study Permit. The process can seem overwhelming and confusing; however, SSSD will help students to better understand the process.

There is limited space for this workshop; therefore, students are encouraged to call the office to reserve a spot. Students can call 543-1235 to speak to Mr. Chance about the workshop and availability of seats. Students are encouraged to be on time and bring their own writing materials.

SSSD provides many services to students. Some services include: psychological services, counseling services, social work services, educational diagnostic services, career services, and parent education. 

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