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Sint Maarten voted #2 as a Caribbean Destination, 19th Worldwide in 2016

POND ISLAND - Carol Johnson, Destination Market Manager of Florida, Mexico & The Caribbean for TripAdvisor presented Tourism Minister Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher with St. Maarten's plaque for being voted #2 as a Caribbean destination, and 19th spot worldwide in 2016.

TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice (TC) Awards are based on millions of personal reviews from the world’s most popular travel community. The awards recognize exceptional properties and destinations.

Winning the award is achieved by a combination of popularity, comments by visitors and overall ranking on TripAdvisor.

TripAdvisor is the largest peer-to-peer travel site in the world allowing travelers to comment about their experiences and recommendations. 

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Acting Island Governor ordered to sign decisions Executive Council agreed upon by majority of votes

ST. EUSTATIUS - On June 15th the Court of First Instance for Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba has rendered the verdict concerning the dispute between the two Island Commissioners as Plaintiffs and the Acting Island Governor of Statia as Defendant.

The decision of the Court is that the Acting Island Governor is ordered to sign the decisions the Executive Council has agreed upon by majority of votes.

These decisions concern the suspension of the Harbour Master, the signing of the Waste Management Agreement, the co-signing of a letter to the Minister BZK and the approval of an official mission by one of Commissioners to The Hague.

The Court has rejected the claim concerning the contract with NuStar.

The Court has reached this decision on the following grounds:

The Court has found that it has jurisdiction in this case. The claims of the plaintiffs, in their capacity as Island Commissioners, are admissible. There is also a pressing interest that allows the Court to give decisions in this injunction case.

On the merits of the case the Court has ruled as follows. There is no basis in the Wet Openbare Lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba for the Acting Governor to refuse to sign the decisions that were taken by the Executive Council with a majority of the votes cast.

The Acting Governor is, together with the Commissioners, responsible for a thorough preparation of the decisions. If the Acting Governor is of the opinion that the decisions are not in conformity with the law he (or the Kingdom’s Representative) has the possibility to request nullification of the decision by the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. There is no basis in the law for the Acting Governor to refuse his signature.

The Court has not imposed penalty payments on its order to the Acting Governor to sign the decisions. It is of the opinion that it should be a matter of course for the Acting Governor to adhere to court decisions.

The Court has awarded court fees to the Commissioners in the amount of USD 5.000,00. (The Daily Herald)

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Intellectual Property Business Clinic comes to SXM. Only 25 spots available

GREAT BAY – On June 22 & 23, Foundation INFOBIZZ along with the Bureau for Intellectual Property of St. Maarten (BIP) and Department of Economics, Transportation, and Telecommunication (ETT) will host the first ever Intellectual Property Business Clinic on St. Maarten.  Known as IP Impact, this two-day clinic is supported by the European Commission through COSME.

Facilitating IP Impact is the regional premier intellectual property specialist and lawyer, Kayanne Anderson, founder of IP Exchange Caribbean.  Anderson has worked for several governments throughout the region assisting them in building national brands and how to best protect that.

During the IP clinic, one of the key aspects that will be shared is how to best use intellectual property to scale and grow your business while building assets within your business.

Representatives of the Bureau for Intellectual Property will share the different tools that are available on St. Maarten to register different types of intellectual property locally, regionally, and internationally.

The Bureau for Intellectual Property has significant information available online on their website.  However, during the IP Clinic, they will speak to the framework that is available on St. Maarten, since there are country specific differences in registering intellectual property.

Since the beginning of the year, ETT has provided several workshops to build the capacity of entrepreneurs and small medium enterprises. Thus, in collaboration with INFOBIZZ and BIP, this is one of the long-awaited workshops.

IP Impact is the first intellectual property clinic hosted on St. Maarten.  In addition to gaining key insights about intellectual property and understanding how to register, attendees will be able to have one- on- one consult to privately discuss their specific situation with Kayanne Anderson or receive information from representatives of BIP.

The IP clinic will take place at Holland House in Philipsburg, which has joined as our host facility for the workshops. Sessions start at 8 am – 4 pm and includes morning refreshments and lunch.

There are only 25 spots available which is at no cost to the attendees. Registration is required and already there are eight businesses registered.  Interested small medium enterprises are urged to send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register.

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Belvedere: A brick house being built in the neighborhood.

BELVEDERE - With the launching the “Common Good in the Public Park”, public forums and listening sessions, the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF) aims to enhance community building and steps towards understanding the needs and resources.

During these "public forums" or public problem-identification and problem-solving sessions, residents are encouraged to discuss issues of importance to them. The SMHDF, Community Police Officer (CPO) and the Health Department are the facilitators that lead the discussion of various aspects of the issue like the community's strengths, potential problems and prevention.

The success of these forums is dependent on the resident’s participation, which offers valuable insights into the community developments.  The sessions are started with the SMHDF guiding and explaining, its core objectives and subsequent actions affecting the community.

Issues and concerns

You can pick your friends, but you can't pick your neighbors. Neighbors can play an important role in our community and our lives, and remember, each one of us in this room is a neighbor too.

As neighbors, we live close by one another, but "close" is a relative term. Regardless the distance between one another. Though good neighbors may live close, they respect your space and privacy.

Good neighbors' actions support community. Most importantly, good neighbors are respectful. They consider the others who live around them. They avoid keeping others awake with loud parties and violent dogs.

Updates were provided on the maintenance priority areas such as blocks 15, 16 and 17 in Belvedere and the replacing of the windows and doors in the mobile homes. Railing for the apartment complex are also being replaced, considering that many of our seniors live in them.

These updates are an effective way to keep our tenants informed. We urge the tenants to be understanding as the foundation can only do so much at a time, however, know that we are working on the worst-case scenario first.

Once this is done, we will be able to move on the minor issues and then the beautification of the homes such as painting of the exterior. Starting with the 5 - one bedroom apartment complexes mostly occupied by seniors by September.

At present the SMHDF is rewiring the electrical and plumbing aspects of these buildings as well as gel coating the roofs. Two units have been completed and the 3 remaining are progressing slowly.  SMHDF also urged its residents to play their part by living up their obligations, which will allow the SMHDF to invest more into the revitalization of the units. 

The CPO Leonard and Romeo informed that the Police and the SMHDF are not there to take away dogs and but would like to provide guidelines on how to keep the community safe. If your neighbors cannot enjoy their surroundings because of your Pitbull’s or other internationally banned dogs running loose than the police is called.

Lately the police are too often called for Dogs and Loud music in our communities. Let’s be considerate of our neighbors as none should life in fear.  Residents were provided with safety tips by the CPO and were given a flyer with the contact information of the CPO for their district.

These information sessions will continue throughout the month of June, starting the 12th until the 30th., Monday to Friday from 6:30 to 8:30pm. The SMHDF team will be there to inform you of the work in progress as well as hear your concerns. Look out for your invitation as each district is invited on different days.

Try to come out and get the information first hand.

We appreciate all our tenants. As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not shown in promises but rather in the actions we take. And remember, together we achieve more.

We look forward to seeing you there.

The second part of the “Common Good in the Public Park” which entails a fun filled water park exhibition will be held in the month of July 2017. 

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Bonaire connection and reconnection rates per July 1st

BONAIRE - The Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) will establish the connection and reconnection rates for electricity and drinking water on Bonaire per July 1st. The connection rates are the rates to be paid by consumers for the construction of a new connection. The reconnection rate is the amount that consumers will have to pay if they wish to be reconnected.

The Electricity and Drinking Water Act BES came into effect on July 1st, 2016. The ACM has the task to establish the rates for electricity and for drinking water. There are four types of rates: the connection rate, the reconnection rate, the fixed and the variable consumption rate. Per July 1st, 2017, the ACM will set two of the four rates: the connection and reconnection rates. The other two, the fixed and variable consumption rates, will be set by the ACM at a later date.

Connection rate

The connection rate depends on the size of the connection capacity. For all connection capacities up to and including 10 kiloVolt Ampère (kVA), the connection fee is USD 2.337,13. The connection rate for drinking water is USD 1.623,03 for the most common connection capacity, namely half an inch (the connection size). The ACM will not set a connection rate for larger capacities, but the costs for that specific connection will be charged to the customer by WEB. The ACM will then monitor the quotations and invoices issued by WEB to ensure that WEB charges a transparent and fair price. If a connection is located at more than 25 meters from the network, WEB is allowed to charge USD 11,24 per additional meter for electricity and USD 53,05 for drinking water.

Reconnection rate

The reconnection rate is the same for all consumers and amounts to USD 40 for both drinking water and electricity. If someone is disconnected (in the event of non-payment or at a person’s own request e.g. when a house is uninhabited for while), a fee of USD 40 will have to be paid to WEB to get reconnected. If reconnection is requested for both facilities, the total fee will amount to USD 80 (2x USD 40).

Fixed and variable consumption rates not yet established

The variable consumption rate is the rate paid by each consumer for the amount of power or water used in a month. That rate is expressed in an amount per kilowatt hour for electricity and in an amount per cubic meter for drinking water. The fixed rate is the amount paid by each consumer per month for the network, regardless of the amount of water or power that is used. The fixed rate depends on the connection capacity of a home or business.

The fixed and variable rates for electricity have not yet been established by ACM because the connection capacity for all individual connections on Bonaire is not (yet) known at WEB. This information is required for ACM to be able to establish the fixed rate. At the moment, WEB is taking inventory of those connection capacities so that the ACM is able to establish the fixed and variable rates for electricity per January 1st , 2018.

The ACM does not yet establish the fixed and variable rates for drinking water because the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and WEB are in consultation about the impact of the new rate structure on the various groups of consumers. Based on the outcome, the Ministry will decided on any possible additional subsidy. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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New attempt to involve GroenLinks in Dutch coalition government fails

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Talks on forming a new coalition government in the Netherlands collapsed again on Monday evening, when chief negotiator Herman Tjeenk Willink said the four parties involved had decided not to pursue the alliance.

The ruling VVD, Liberal democratic party D66 and the Christian Democrats met for a second series of talks with the left-wing green party GroenLinks over the weekend and on Monday but soon decided to call a halt.

Tjeenk Willink told a news conference said the stumbling block proved to be a motion about immigration which GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver rejected. ‘GroenLinks could not agree to my final proposal,’ Tjeenk Willink said.

Tjeenk Willink, who was involved in the formation of three previous cabinets, said his work on attempting to form a new government is not over and that he had so far only attempted to put together one option.

‘We are not going to give up, just because one has failed,’ he is quoted as saying. The Netherlands has been without a government since the March 15 general elections. Immigration was the downfall of talks between the same four parties earlier. (DutchNews)

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Man escapes from drive-by shooting

PHILIPSBURG - A man walking on Cannegieter Street near utility company GEBE on Sunday afternoon had to run for cover when two men reportedly armed on a motorcycle started shooting at him. Police were immediately contacted about the incident.

According to eyewitnesses they never saw the men on the bike in the neighbourhood, but the victim is a resident of Philipsburg. The shooting took place at 2:30pm and upon police’s arrival the man who had been shot at was nowhere to be found.

Police spokesman Chief Inspector Ricardo Henson confirmed that officers went to the scene and cordoned off the area in an effort to find bullets on the ground.

“We are investigating the matter, however we would like witnesses to come forward and share any information they can about the case,” stated Henson. (DailyHeraldReport)

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Alison Busby is the new St. Maarten Lions Club President

LITTLE BAY - St. Maarten Lions Club installed their new President and Board at the Divi Little Bay Resort on the 100th Anniversary on Lions Club International.  The incoming President for 2017-2018 is Lion Alison Busby.

The rest of Board of Directors are comprised of Immediate Past President Lion Davey Woods MJF, 1st Vice President is Lion Christ’l Larmonie, 2nd Vice President Carmen Lake, Secretary Lion Oralie Boirard, Treasurer Lion Claudio Buncamper MJF, 1-Year Director Lion Jennifer Johnson, 2-Year Director Wanuki Holiday and Membership Director Lion Eldert Louisa MJF.

Non-Board positions that were also installed at the ceremony were Lion Michael van Grieken as Tamer and Lion Claudius Buncamper PMJF as Tail twister.

The outgoing President Lion Davey mentioned his long list accomplishments to the crowd of Lions, partners in service and families at the dinner which was also attended by Honorable Minister of Justice Mr. Rafael Boasman, who is also a long serving Lions member.

Minister Boasman gave a speech about how proud he felt being a Lion, congratulated the club on it’s many achievements and gave a toast to Lions Club International, District 60B and the   St. Maarten Lions Club. Zone 2B Chairlady Lion Ernie Hodge-Carty from Anguilla also attended the event along with the President and members from the three French Lions Clubs, Lions Club Oualichi, Doyene and Fort Louis.

Club President Lion Davey Woods stated, “It was a pleasure to serve as President of such prestigious Lions Club while also serving the St. Maarten community. I received great support from my board and general membership. Apart from the Signature Project we have accomplished everything else that I have set out to do from the start of year and much more”.

Incoming President Lion Alison said, “My focus will be on our young people on St. Maarten especially with drug and alcohol abuse and we will be going back into the various communities to see where help is needed. The St. Maarten Lions Club wants to serve it’s communities and by going into those communities it can get a good assessment of what the community needs are”.  

The night was capped off with the outgoing President giving out various plaques to deserving members of the club while various speeches were given concerning the 100th anniversary celebration followed by a buffet dinner.

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Eight injured in ‘not-deliberate incident’ with car at Amsterdam railway station

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Eight people were injured in an incident involving a car in front of Amsterdam’s main railway station on Saturday night but police say they do not think the action was deliberate.

The black Peugot 307 was apparently parked in a spot where waiting is not allowed, local media said. According to the Parool newspaper, police spoke to the driver and asked to see his licence which he showed them.

The man then drove off, hitting several people, and ploughed into a low wall next to an entrance to the metro. A police spokesman said it appeared that the driver may have been taken ill.

‘Of course we are carrying out further inquiries to rule out anything else,’ the spokesman told reporters. Two people are said to be seriously injured and have been taken to hospital.

The others were treated at the scene. Eyewitness John Berg said on Twitter the incident was ‘terrifying’. The main area in front of the station was sealed off for a time but train services were not affected and passengers were still able to use the side doors, Dutch Railway Company NS said.

Tram services which terminate at the station’s main entrance were rerouted. By 11pm, the car had been towed away and the station square re-opened to the public. (DutchNews)

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‘Miserable and inhumane’ Brabant trailer park to be closed down

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A campsite in the province of Noord-Brabant which is permanently lived in by hundreds of people is to be closed down by the local council because conditions in the camp are ‘completely unacceptable’.

Local mayor Leny Poppe-de Looff told a news conference on Friday that the state had to intervene, because the Fort Oranje trailer park has been taken over by criminals. The 624 residents, including 123 children, are living in ‘miserable and inhumane’ conditions, the mayor said.

The situation at the camp, she told reporters, is untenable and a threat to public order. ‘The filth, the poor condition of the many of the caravans and the fire safety are extremely worrying and unacceptable,’ she said.

Last month, some 50 local government inspectors visited the trailer park and found evidence that its residents are involved in growing marijuana, human trafficking and prostitution.

In an earlier visit in 2014, local health officials said the park resembled a slum rather than a campsite. The campsite hit the headlines earlier when it became the subject of a reality soap show on SBS6 and questions were raised in parliament about why the local council continued to give people – including many migrant labourers – permits to live there.

Social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher visited the park shortly before the March general election. He said the park appeared to have been over-run by criminals who should not have the upper hand.

Resettled

Poppe-de Looff said that an action plan had been worked out together with local and national government officials, the police and the health service. Some of the families would be resettled in ordinary residential areas while other people will be supervised.

It will take a year to find everyone new homes and close the camp, she said. Paul Depla, the mayor of nearby Breda, told the news conference there are similar situations at other trailer parks in the Netherlands. (DutchNews)

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