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2017-2018 HYPE Agendas on schedule for new school year

PHILIPSBURG - After a one year hiatus, the 2017-2018 HYPE Agendas will be available for high school students in St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius in time for the new school year.  

The locally produced Agendas have been completed and will be ready for students to use at the start of the new academic year, coordinator Zulayka Peterson said in a press release on Monday.

The Agendas are usually produced every year, but due to unforeseen circumstances did not come out for last academic year. The agendas give students easy access to a range of useful data, inspirational stories and contains lots of space to note down their important school related information and reminders.

The Agendas are specifically tailored for the academic year and cover the months that coincide with the school year making them easy for students to use for school related reminders such as noting down their assignments, projects, homework and other school related things.

The HYPE Agenda is a product for the youth by the youth. It was produced by Voice of the Youth St. Maarten in collaboration with a group of students from the various high schools in St. Maarten. Participating students were from St. Dominic High, Charlotte Brookson Academy (CBA) for the Performance Arts, Sundial School, St. Maarten Vocational Training School (SMVTS), both sections of St. Maarten Academy, Milton Peters College (MPC) and Learning Unlimited (LU) Preparatory School.

Students and teacher role models from all the high schools in St. Maarten as well as from the Saba Comprehensive School (in Saba) and Gwendoline van Putten School (in Statia) are profiled in the agenda. So irrespective of which school a student is from, their current and former peers who are role models, are featured.

Participating students were actively involved in the production process and determined the information they wanted to see reflected in the publication; went out and conducted research and wrote most of the articles and profiles that will appear in the Agenda.

The articles reflect the general theme of the Agenda, which focuses on the environment. Peterson said environmental protection was a subject that was close to the heart of the students, who were part of the production process as they see the importance of its preservation and wanted to have this reflected in the agenda.

Peterson said the purpose of the agenda is to inspire youngsters to pursue their personal best and to aim for the stars. She said readers will be delighted by photos that are featured throughout the agenda, which were all taken locally, involving students from the various high schools and they reflect various aspects of the general theme.

This is the seventh year the HYPE Agendas are being produced for high school students in St. Maarten, Saba and Statia. Agendas were produced in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015 and now in 2017.

Coordinators are in the process of contacting organizations to sponsor agendas for the various schools so that each high school student can have their own personal copy and to help reduce the financial burden on some parents. The 2017/2018 HYPE Agendas cost a nominal fee of Naf10,80 or US$6.00 each.

Interested sponsors or for further inquiries please contact Zulayka Peterson at tel. 520-1941 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Human remains found at Belair Beach on Tuesday. Developments related to ongoing investigations

BELAIR - During a search done on Tuesday August 1st by members of the Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) assisted by the Dutch Marines stationed on the island, human remains were found in the vicinity of Belair Beach.

These human remains have been confiscated for further investigation. The identity of the human remains has not officially been established, but the remains are most likely linked to an ongoing police investigation.

As more details become available the media will be informed. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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TelEm Group says despite falling revenues company posts profit for year 2016

POND ISLAND - St. Maarten’s incumbent telecommunication provider, TelEm Group, has posted a profit for the year 2016. The actual figures have been presented to the company’s Supervisory Board of Directors and the Government shareholder in recent weeks for their consideration and review and are not being made public at this time.

The announcement was made to TelEm Group personnel in a brief internal announcement Friday, in which Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr. Kendall Dupersoy, and Chief Financial officer (CFO) Mrs. Helma Etnel, praised management and staff for the positive financial returns for 2016 in the face of the trend of decreased revenues in the telecommunication industry generally.

Mr. Dupersoy said he has followed the company’s financial progress as a former member of the Supervisory Board of Directors, and most recently, from the start of the year 2017, as the company’s Chief Executive Officer and is “pleased with the figures for 2016, considering the challenges that were faced.”

He intends to continue to put things in place at TelEm Group to maintain the company’s sustainability by rolling out exciting new products and services based on investments made in the past two years that will soon be coming to fruition.

The CEO informed staff that he will be meeting with them to outline the company’s achievements in the past financial year and also to look ahead to what it taking place in the current financial year with projections for the year.

“We are already making some fundamental changes in the way we have been doing business and the persons we have been doing business with and we are also forming new friendships and partnerships for the future,” said Mr. Dupersoy, noting that amongst these new “Friends” is the MER Group from Israel, who will be starting work on the company’s massive Fiber-To-The-Home roll out island-wide within the next few weeks.

Amongst the achievements outlined for the financial year 2016 are:

* The company’s high standard of completing its financial statements for the year timely and its high ethical standards based on a 95% Corporate Governance compliance rating.

* New loan with more attractive financing terms

* Strategic decision-making, including the purchase of St. Maarten Cable TV and installation of new state of the art switch for international and local fixed services, new prepaid platform

* New international network infrastructures – for mobile voice and data and also a new Internet infrastructure.

* Final phases of soon to be introduces products and services included Fiber to the Home (FTTH), LTE/4G and IPTV.

The CEO is also pointing to other important developments for the community in the past year, including the laying of the groundwork for a Camera Surveillance Project in the Philipsburg area in collaboration with the Police and the Ministry of Justice, a Multi-million dollar project to provide redundant broadband capacity to St. Maarten in the event of damage to the company’s main submarine fiber cable SMPR-1, and the upgrade of mobile cell sites to improve quality of service for customers.

TelEm Group Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Mrs. Helma Etnel, said the Net profit made by TelEm Group for the financial year 2016, is evidence of the sound business practices and strategies that were put in place to counter decreased revenues resulting from new trends in the local telecommunication industry.

She said traditional revenue streams for the past few years have been severely affected by free voice and data services including social media such as Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook, Messenger Etc, leaving TelEm Group to find new ways and means to sustain the company and ensure its survival in a competitively tough and oversaturated tiny local telecommunication market.

“Our purchase of St. Maarten Cable TV, added to other strategic decisions we have taken in the area of a new fibre infrastructure for St. Maarten and the installation of a new internet platform and our investment into the soon-to-be launched LTE/4G mobile voice and data network have all put us in a great position to continue to ride what has been a very challenging wave for the past few years,” said the CFO.

Mrs. Etnel thanked the Supervisory Board of Directors and the Shareholder Representative for their continued support of the company plans. She meantime reserved extreme high praise for the TelEm Group entire staff, the management team and her executive colleagues for their hard work and dedication and contribution in successfully completing the many ongoing projects, realizing a profit over the year 2016.

“I am pleased that we were successful in building very solid foundation for the future of our Telecommunication company even though I would still remind that we are still left to take some crucial strategic decisions that are pending with the shareholder, at some time in the future,” said Mrs. Etnel.

She said TelEm Group personnel have good cause to be proud of their achievements in the last financial year and counts on everyone for their continued support and commitment as the company continues to move forward.

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Plenary Session of Parliament about Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten continues on Tuesday  

PHILIPSBURG – The House of Parliament will sit in a plenary public session on August 1. The Minister of Finance will be present. 

The plenary public meeting has been set for Tuesday, August 1, 2017 at 14.00 hrs in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg.

 The agenda points are:

  1. Incoming documents;
  1. Approval Decision Lists Public Meetings Parliamentary Year 2016-2017 no. OV 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16;
  1. Draft national ordinance amending the national ordinance supervision of banking and credit, the national ordinance monitoring insurance business, the national ordinance monitoring stock exchanges, the national ordinance supervision of investment institutions and administrators, the national ordinance monitoring trust, and the national ordinance insurance broking business (National Ordinance monitoring, updating and harmonizing Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten);
  1. Draft national ordinance regulating rules for the supervision of money transaction offices (National Ordinance Monitoring Money Transaction Offices).

This meeting started on Monday, July 31, 2017 but had to be adjourned at a given point due to a lack of quorum.

Members of the public are invited to the House of Parliament to attend parliamentary deliberations. 

The House of Parliament is located across from the Court House in Philipsburg.

ARCHIVE - SUNDAY - PHILIPSBURG – The House of Parliament will sit in a plenary public session on July 31. The Minister of Finance will be present. 

The plenary public meeting has been set for Monday, July 31 , 2017 at 11.00 hrs in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg.

The agenda points are:

  1. Incoming documents;
  1. Approval Decision Lists Public meetings Parliamentary Year 2016-2017 no. OV 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16;
  1. Draft national ordinance amending the national ordinance supervision of banking and credit, the national ordinance monitoring insurance business, the national ordinance monitoring stock exchanges, the national ordinance supervision of investment institutions and administrators, the national ordinance monitoring trust, and the national ordinance insurance broking business (National Ordinance monitoring, updating and harmonizing Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten);
  1. Draft national ordinance regulating rules for the supervision of money transaction offices (National Ordinance Monitoring Money Transaction Offices).

Members of the public are invited to the House of Parliament to attend parliamentary deliberations. 

The House of Parliament is located across from the Court House in Philipsburg.

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Police seek identity of Ball thrower as investigation gets underway

MAHO - The Sint Maarten Police Department (KPSM) is investigating a case which is called the “Ball thrower”. It is via social media that KPSM became aware of photographic images place on this site, where it is very clear to see when an unknown person, while bathing at the beach, threw an object which looks like a red or dark ball at an aircraft which was about to land at Princess Juliana International Airport.

KPSM is investigating this extremely dangerous act and is asking the public for any information that can lead to the identity of the person seen on these pictures.

Anyone who has information can contact the detective department at 54-22222 ext. 208/211/ 175 or the anonymous tip line #9300. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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EPIC Kayak Scavenger Hunt a Success

SIMPSON BAY  On Saturday, July 22nd, Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) hosted their first ever Kayak Scavenger Hunt, and it was success!

Participants were given the opportunity to participate in a “Plant and Animal” scavenger hunt or to simply enjoy kayaking.

Those that participated in the scavenger hunt were provided with a card of some of the most common plants and animals that can be seen in and around the Simpson Bay Lagoon. The team that identified the most plants and animals would receive a prize. 

Along the way, participants identified egrets, herons, pelicans, iguanas, upside-down jellyfish and much more. After some deliberation, it was found that the team of Karin Spaink gained the second most points by identifying and photographing seven types of plants and animals.

However, the winning team, consisting of Evelien Smeets and Carmen Mühlenberg, identified and photographed a total of 15 plants and animals! They even identified a number of plants and animals which weren’t on the scavenger card. 

As the winning team, they were presented with a gift voucher worth $50 that was kindly donated by The Stone Restaurant in Simpson Bay.

EPIC would like to thank the generous support from our two main donors: Tri-Sport for donating their kayaks and Antillean Liquors for donating drinks. Without their continued support, EPIC would not be able to host these fun and educational events.

EPIC would also like to thank St. Maarten Sails and Canvas for providing technical support and Maarten Rood of “Maarten like St. Maarten”’ for drone film and photography on the day.

To see more of his footage, check out www.facebook.com/MaartenLikeStMaarten.

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2017 study financing recipients head to the Netherlands this weekend

PHILIPSBURG - On July 30th, the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIAE), co-sponsored by Dominos Pizza, will host the 6th annual 'Bon Voyage' ceremony for all 2017 study financing recipients.

The ceremony begins at 1:00p.m. and will be stationed in the departure hall. The ceremony will include dj’s, food, and drinks. Family and friends are also invited to attend this joyous ceremony.

Thirty-three (33) students will be traveling to the Netherlands to further their tertiary level education. Two support officers of the Division Study Financing (DSF) will be accompanying the students to the Netherlands, which has been a tradition established over the past few years.

The DSF chaperones will also utilize the trip to meet with current students, residing in the Netherlands, who have been experiencing difficulties, and will provide in person assistance.

All departing students are required to assemble at the airport for 12:00p.m. The students will arrive in the Netherlands on July 31st, at 12:00p.m.

Upon the student’s arrival in the Netherlands, they will be greeted at Schiphol Airport by the Minister Plenipotentiary in the Netherlands, the honorable Henrietta Doran-York, staff members of the St. Maarten House, the Unified St. Maarten Connection (USC) board members, Study Financing guidance counselors and volunteers. 

The students will be shuttled to the 'Steigenberger Hotel' where a welcome ceremony will take place. They will be served refreshments, and officially introduced to the Study Financing Guidance counselors, as well as other stakeholders. At the end of the ceremony, the students will depart to their respective cities along with assigned volunteers. 

An orientation week will take place during the week of Monday July 31st- Saturday August 5th for the students. The activities range from registration at the Civil Registry, DUO, and the banks, as well as city tours and outfitting of apartments.

The students attending Tallahassee Community College (TCC), will be the only other group of students travelling together, and will leave in August. All other students will be leaving on various dates throughout July and August to commence classes.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS), would like to congratulate and wish all students leaving the best of luck while pursuing their studies. “Leaving your comfort zone is never easy, but with determination, continuous drive and a great support system you will make it.

You won’t always be the smartest student, but you have to be the one willing to work the hardest to see your dreams come to fruition. Ensure you are surrounding yourself with positive individuals who can help you realize your potential and help strengthen your weaknesses.

For some, the new journey will open your eyes and allow you to learn new things about yourself. Be a sponge, and harness your inner growth. Remember, as you pursue the goal you’ve set out to accomplish, the road may change, but always remember to keep a keen eye on the reason you embarked on this journey of personal development and adjust your sails accordingly to be able to achieve success.”

Study financing is a privilege and comes with a responsibility to study, make good use of the finances and as good citizen, feel gratitude and accountability to repay the loan portion in order to facilitate the dreams of future students of St. Maarten.

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TelEm Group CEO cautions against “Free Wi-Fi” idea for St. Maarten

POND ISLAND - TelEm Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Kendall Dupersoy, is advising “caution” to an idea coming out of a recently concluded telecommunication conference in the Dominican Republic, that St. Maarten can enhance its telecommunication services to residents and visitors by offering free Wi-Fi throughout the island.

The idea was put forward by Minister of TEATT, Melissa Arrindell-Doncher during the recently ended 33rd annual Conference and Trade Exhibition of CANTO, in the Dominican Republic, and repeated in at least one online media outlet this week.

“I am all for making telecommunication services affordable for TelEm Group customers, however I cannot see how we can benefit by offering free wi-fi “spots” to the millions of visitors who come to the island each year, who are currently paying for this service,” said Mr. Dupersoy.

He said when the matter was discussed during a meeting with a well-known international vendor who can provide the infrastructure needed, he immediately expressed his concerns. He further offered to meet with the Minister when both returned home, to find ways of working together to make costs affordable without affecting the company’s bottom line.

Mr. Dupersoy says he is ready to use TelEm Group resources and in-house expertise to come up with a workable and successful project that is mutually beneficial to everyone and serves the purpose of the tourist industry, the Minister, the community and also TelEm Group.

In his view, government should not continue to give away services for free that are still being charged for in other countries and by other carriers, since TelEm Group has the very large expense of bringing internet to the island and must be able to monetize this while providing cost effective service to the community, business and visitors to the island.

“I feel it is important to sound a note of caution because, at CANTO, the idea of free Wi-Fi on St. Maarten was given only as exploratory talk, but now that I am back on St. Maarten, it appears that this is more than just exploratory talk,” continued Mr. Dupersoy.

“We are currently providing free internet to schools and institutions and are now planning a major Fibre To The Home (FTTH) island-wide roll out  that will also include a major increase in Bandwidth to these educational and community organizations. The plan also incorporates lowering prices to customers, however this can all be affected and may not be possible, if tourists and visitors generally can get Wi-Fi services for free, that they were previously paying for,” said Mr. Dupersoy. 

The TelEm Group CEO explained that Telecommunication carriers like TelEm are losing revenues every day from a decrease in fixed voice and roaming customers because of free services such as Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook, Snap Chat, etc.

“If data revenues are also now put at risk by giving away data for free, then any hope of keeping our costs to customers low, offering affordable rates and continuing with programs such as free fiber telecommunication services for schools and organizations, goes out the door,” said the CEO.

He said he will be seeking a meeting with the Minister TEATT to further discuss the matter and ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to identifying and providing the very best telecommunication services of St. Maarten and enhancing telecommunication services for residents and visitors to the island alike. 

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Minister Jacobs meets with two BOPP Students

POND ISLAND - Julianne Robert and Omari Philips are students currently placed in the Business Outreach and Placement Program (BOPP), organized by the department of Youth.

The two students are currently working at the Department of Communications (DCOMM) for the allotted time of the program.

The students met with Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Silveria Jacobs on Wednesday, July 26th, after the weekly Council of Minister’s Press Briefing.

Minister Jacobs was excited to encounter the two students from the BOPP project, a press release from the Minister’s Cabinet said on Thursday.

She expressed words of encouragement and well wishes for the duration of the program and for the continuation of their education. She also hopes that the work experience inspires all students to continue pushing for excellence during the new school year and throughout their lives.

The Business Outreach and Placement Program is in its 19th year of operation and began on July 10th through August 4th, 2017.   

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Kingdom of the Netherlands Voluntary National Review report online

NEW YORK - During the month of July 2017, St. Maarten joined other countries comprising the Dutch Kingdom, at the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) in New York.

This United Nations event served as a central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

St. Maarten formed part of the Dutch kingdom delegation, headed by the Netherland’s minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen. 

During the forum, some forty-four UN member states presented their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) of the 2030 Agenda on SDGs.

It was earlier decided that the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Aruba, Curaçao, the Netherlands and St. Maarten) would jointly draft a combined VNR report, wherein the state of implementation of the SDGs for the four countries are highlighted.

This VNR report of the Dutch kingdom has been presented to the UN secretary-general.

The full report is now online and can be found at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/16109Netherlands.pdf

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