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St. Maarten Yacht Club new sponsor of the NARC

SIMPSON BAY - The Sint Maarten Yacht Club is excited to announce that they are officially sponsoring the North American Rally to the Caribbean (NARC). The NARC, which departs November 1st, (or best weather window near that date) 2015, is free for participants to join. The sponsorship puts new emphasis on the NARC's finish in St. Maarten where the Sint Maarten Yacht Club will host the final party and offer an early sign-up discount for the 36th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, scheduled for March 3 to 6, 2016.

The 16th annual NARC's primary function is to encourage boats that are heading south from the U.S. East Coast to join together for socials, discounts, and shared weather routing. "The NARC started in 2000 as a way to move the Swan charter fleet to the islands and over the years it has morphed into a much anticipated event for boats making the annual pilgrimage south," said Hank Schmitt, organizer of the NARC and CEO of Offshore Passage Opportunities (OPO), a crew network service.

Also new is an opportunity to participate in the first annual Dominica P.A.Y.S. (Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services) "Yachtie Appreciation Week" on the island of Dominica. P.A.Y.S. is a non-profit organization aimed at providing yacht services and security to visiting yachts, thereby assuring future development of the yachting industry in Dominica.

Scheduled for February 14 to 21, the Yachtie Appreciation Week has been organized to celebrate the installation of a new mooring field that Schmitt - working with P.A.Y.S., the Tourism Board of Dominica and generous OPO members and other sailors - has been orchestrating in Prince Rupert's Bay over the last few years. The current situation in Dominica after Tropical Storm Erika, a 20 plus loss of life and great damage to the roads and infrastructure, makes the idea to build a mooring field and help the local economy recover, all the more important.

The Sint Maarten Yacht Club will additionally organize a race/rally from Dominica to St. Maarten to get boats to the island in time for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.  The Yacht Club feels that this sort of partnership is beneficial not only to the island but to the region and is pleased that St. Maarten will be location for the final party of this rally.

Chairman of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, John Gifford, stated "The Yacht Clubs aim is to promote the sport of sailing in St. Maarten, which it successfully does with the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. In addition to other events that the Yacht Club organizes, like the La Course de L'Alliance, this sort of Rally brings much needed sailing tourism to the island during the low season, which is why the club is so pleased to be a part of it. Hopefully the NARC participants will want to spend some time on the island and take advantage of the vast marine industry that it has to offer."

For more information on the NARC or Offshore Passage Opportunities, contact Hank Schmitt, 1-800-4-PASSAGe, +1 631-423-4988 or visit www.sailopo.com.

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AUC, Caribbean Gems donate to ACE School

CUL DE SAC - Caribbean Gems on Front Street and American University of the Caribbean (AUC) School of Medicine Phi Chi Fraternity in Cupecoy have thrown their support behind education with donations to All Children’s Education (ACE) Foundation School on the L.B. Scott Road.  

Caribbean Gems blessed the school with a donation of US $555.55, while AUC blessed the institution with US $350. The Phi Chi Fraternity acquired the funds donated via a fundraiser it held.

The funds donated were used to acquire much-needed educational material for classrooms, teaching material and ample stationary for pupil’s daily work.

The school said after the institution had been cleaned in preparation for the start of the new academic year, the funds were used to ensure that ACE’s grades two to six had sufficient school material to start off the new academic year. Items such as math books, exercise books, colouring books, story books, sciences books, chalks, pencils, pens, colour pencils, crayons, glues, rules, sharpeners, erasers and copy papers, etc were acquired for the school to use.

Pupils and teachers were very happy to receive the items, which were handed over on August 10, 2015. The teachers said the items received would definitely help make their work to educate pupils much easier and would save them a lot of time that they would have used to make their own materials due to the financial constraints at the school.

ACE School said it is very grateful for the donations from the two community minded groups and thanked them for their gesture and thoughtful blessings.  

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“SXM Reads” literacy campaign officially launched this Friday

PHILIPSBURG - A brand-new literacy campaign, called “SXM Reads” will be officially launched this week with an opening ceremony on Friday September 11th at 7.00 pm at the Asha Stevens School in Cay Hill.

The “SXM Reads“ campaign aims to create awareness and find support for persons with low literacy skills. Many persons in our society have difficulty with reading and writing. People with low literacy skills are often neglected and suffer from isolation and low self-esteem.

The keynote speaker of the evening will be Ms. Jenny Fraai, President of the Pro Alfa Foundation Curacao. Ms. Fraai and her fellow volunteers have more than 25 years of experience in working with illiterate and semi-literate persons in 9 different communities in Curacao. Minister Bourne-Gumbs will also be present at the opening ceremony at the Asha Stevens School and will address the audience.

The partners in the campaign are the Philipsburg Jubilee Library, COME center and the Sint Maarten National Commission for UNESCO. The opening ceremony on September 11th is the first activity of the September literacy awareness month. 

Other upcoming activities are a workshop for literacy tutors on Saturday morning, September 12th, at the COME Centre, a movie and discussion evening under the title “the Reading Room” on September 19th  at the Library and a “Reading and learning in the park event”  on Saturday September 26th at the Emilio Wilson Park.

The General public is invited to attend the launching of “SXM Reads” this Friday September 11th at the Asha Stevens School.

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Governor Holiday address Parliament at Opening of new Parliamentary Year and presents Government's Agenda

PHILIPSBURG – The Governor His Excellency Eugene Holiday addressed the House of Parliament on Tuesday morning presenting the Government’s Agenda for the new parliamentary year 2015-2016 which are projects, programs and policies that will span over a number of years.

Various dignitaries were at the House of Parliament for the traditional annual opening of the new parliamentary year.

Here is the Governor’s address of the Government’s Agenda:

Mr. Chairman, Members of Parliament,

I herewith congratulate the people of Sint Maarten and the members of Parliament on the opening of the 2015-2016 Parliamentary year. As prescribed in our constitution this annual recurring event, held on the second Tuesday of September, marks the beginning of a new political year where as Governor, I present you and the people of Sint Maarten with an outline of the policy plans of the government for the coming year. This constitutional act as such represents an act of projection, an act of accountability and an act of transparency.

In just over one month, on October 10, 2015, we will celebrate Sint Maarten’s fifth anniversary as a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. As we approach this lustrum celebration, I invite all Sint Maarteners to reflect and to project. And in doing so, I encourage all Sint Maarteners to imagine ways to build a better and brighter St. Maarten for our and future generations. I believe that to achieve that, that we the people of Sint Maarten must work together: to strengthen families, to nurture  and educate our children, to increase community engagement, and to grow the general interest.

Mr. Chairman, Members of Parliament,

Together with government, you have been entrusted with a profound responsibility to serve the public interest on behalf of all Sint Maarteners. Thus as we look ahead I trust that you will carry that responsibility in concert with government to address the variety of challenges our country faces today.

Challenges due - in part - to our changing demographic landscape. Our population is ageing and people are living longer. There is an increasing number of single parent households and an associated increase in the number of lower income families. Attention is therefore needed to safeguard and promote equality, social inclusion and social cohesion as well as to facilitate the necessary support mechanisms. This is especially the case for vulnerable groups such as the elderly, the disabled, youths and migrants.  This in the face of moderate economic growth, tight budgetary conditions and an increasingly competitive regional and global tourist economy.

Mr. Chairman, Members of Parliament,

The Government has, based on its assessment of the issues faced by our nation, outlined its policy plans for the coming year. These plans are anchored in the Governing Program 2014 – 2018, entitled “Ready to work for you”.

The objective of government’s policy agenda is to improve the quality of life of the people of St. Maarten. That through measures to stimulate sustainable development and economic growth.

Government’s point of departure in seeking to realize its objectives is the continued adherence to the principles of good governance through effective representation, greater transparency, improved accountability and stronger fiscal discipline.

As a result government aims to create awareness and to motivate the general public; that through the completion of a National Development Plan with priorities in the short and in the medium to long term. Through the National Development Plan government intends to establish a shared national vision by working with and taking into account the aspirations of all stakeholders.

Having a national development plan is important. However, an implementation strategy is needed to strengthen national planning and to ensure that development objectives succeed. Essential components of government’s implementation strategy are (1) that its evidenced-driven “strategy for growth” development projects are results-based and (2) that these projects take place in a sound governance system.

Mr. Chairman, Members of Parliament,

Central to the implementation of government’s policy plans is the strengthening of the civil service to provide effective and efficient services for the people. Much has been done over the years, but improvement and re-development are concepts that are always on the move. Essential in that regard are:

  • First, establishing standards, increased use of technology, and data synchronization, aimed at reducing redundancy and bureaucracy;
  • Second, strengthening legal capacity through recruitment and a partnership with the Legislative Academy in the Netherlands to improve the legislative process;
  • Third, the creation of incentives in support of the “Brain Gain” activities;
  • And fourth, the further enhancement of the public service center formula based on the one-stop service provider concept.

Government’s efforts to strengthen its administrative capacity will - to be successful in meeting the needs of the people - go hand in hand with initiatives to strengthen national identity, participation and capacity. In that context government will take steps to implement a number of cultural programs. These include:  

  1. Development of national cultural awareness campaigns to teach citizens about the culture of Sint Maarten, along with support of existing efforts by local cultural organizations;
  2. Supporting of programs that create  opportunity for talented young artists to contribute to the development of the creative industries; 
  3. Investing in the national cultural infrastructure by building a Center for the performing arts, a National Library, a National Art Gallery, a National Museum and an Archaeological Center to develop, showcase, record, protect, and preserve Sint Maarten’s cultural heritage;
  4. The preservation of and support for our national monuments; and
  5. The development, revision and establishment of the requisite legislation to regulate these programs.
  6. short term labor contracts;
  7. the counterpart policy;
  8. enforcement of existing laws to promote fair business practices.
  9. First, the review and update of the public housing policy aimed at providing affordable housing;
  10. Second, the continuation of work on zoning plans directed at realizing greater control on the spatial development of our island; and
  11. Third, continued investment in the expansion of the sewage treatment facilities within the various districts.
  12. maintain reporting on key economic and social indicators;
  13. establish a tourism authority;
  14. strengthen its marketing efforts;
  15. reinforce product developmentthrough tourism awareness programs, service level training, and the cruise conversion program;
  16. promotion of private investments to complement public sector investments;
  17. introduce legislative and policy reforms supportive of services to foster Small and Medium Enterprises; and
  18. establish a national Civil Aviation and Shipping Registry.
  19. to promote economic growth as outlined aimed at providing a stable long term financial basis for increased government revenues; and
  20. to organize the tax system to improve the levying and collection  taxes with a focus on addressing tax arrears in the short term.

Mr. Chairman, Members of Parliament,

Integrity of government has been and continues to be at the forefront of the national debate. Addressing these issues is therefore essential. Government is committed to the implementation of the recommendations of the four integrity reports, that were published recently. Based on the recommendations, the national ordinance regulating the introduction of the integrity chamber has recently been presented to and approved by you and subsequently ratified. The implementation of the ordinance is one of the priorities of government. In addition, draft laws are being prepared to adjust existing legislation and where necessary to introduce executive regulations of the existing laws.  The project bureau integrity, as was established last year, is charged with the coordination of the execution of the recommendations.

Mr. Chairman, Members of Parliament,

With the focus on improving the quality of life, government’s education, youth and sports policies will focus on providing quality opportunities for all, with lifelong learning and career development. In 2016 government through its education, youth and sports policies will place special emphasis on continuous personal development, on capacity building and on standards and organizational reforms.

Government will therefore guide, partner and support the further strengthening of educational institutions offering secondary vocational education and tertiary education, namely NIPA and USM. Government will as a result present Parliament with (1) the Study Finance Ordinance, (2) the Higher Education Ordinance, (3) revisions to the Foundation Based Education ordinance and (4) amendments to the Secondary Education Ordinance, during the 2015-2016 parliamentary year.

With respect to secondary education government will continue adapting Secondary Examination requirements to maintain the equivalency of diplomas within the Kingdom.  Plans also include the introduction of higher standards within Vocational Education to ensure that all students leaving secondary education possess the skills required for continued education or to join the labor market on their way to becoming independent responsible adult citizens. Government considers vocational education a key in the future of our economy. As a result innovative strategies for learning will be sought and implemented. This to ensure that students remain engaged in further lifelong learning to enhance their position in the labor market, decrease youth unemployment and build resilience that contribute to our youth reaching their full potential.

Within Public Education, initiatives such as the extension of the school day will be introduced as a strategy to enhance student performance. Government will also establish one public school as a Dutch primary school.  These initiatives will be supported by the establishment of a Summer School Program, a “One Tablet per child program”, a Comprehensive National Early Childhood Development Policy and an After School Care Policy.

Mr. Chairman, Members of Parliament,

Government’s 2016 objectives are to ensure the continuity of Sports Development on Sint Maarten as part of its quality of life vision. The focus remains on the further development of National talent, National Teams and National facilities. Government will to that end through its sports awareness campaign and the establishment of a national sports institute continue to work at partnering with schools and the various sporting governing bodies.

An area of concern however, is the number of at risk youths. The strengthening of prevention programs is as a result an essential policy strategy, to curb and ensure that the number of at risk youths does not continue to rise.

In the context of the social environment we must safeguard our youth against poverty, drug abuse, unemployment and human rights violation. The Court of Guardianship has, in this context, recently activated a child abuse alarm center.

In the context of the economic environment, youths must be prepared and given the opportunity to contribute as employees or productive citizens within the society.  Government’s emphasis will be placed on an interdisciplinary strategy to identify at risk youths and generate support mechanism to cater to their needs.

Mr. Chairman, Members of Parliament,

Government will in addition move to realize essential reforms to the social safety net systems such as healthcare programs, government welfare provisions, and pension schemes to safeguard their accessibility and sustainability.    

With people living longer government is in the process of introducing reforms to increase the participation of the elderly and secure the financial sustainability of support systems. Government plans to work with Parliament to introduce the draft legislation to increase the old age pension and to increase the pension age from 60 to 62 by the end of this year. Moreover government is reviewing the feasibility of a compulsory pension system.  

In the area of health care government’s emphasis is on managing health care costs and securing quality service. This by promoting public and private investments in preventive measures through the encouragement of healthy life styles and reducing medical measures and costs. That with a focus on reducing the number of persons suffering from prevalent illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

In the area of the labor market government’s objective is to decrease unemployment and to increase labor productivity. To complement its education and training policies  to prepare youths for the job market, government’s labor policies focus is on providing frameworks that encourage employers:

  • to take more responsibility for risk prevention in the workplace;
  • to promote good occupational safety and health conditions; and
  • to foster improved industrial relations.

As a result government is in the process of pursuing labor market reforms in the area of

Mr. Chairman, Members of Parliament,

Government to comply with its objectives and responsibilities, shall take measures to safeguard and improve the living environment and conditions of our citizens. Important programs in this regard are:

Moreover, located in the north eastern Caribbean, hurricane preparedness is key for our island.  As a result it is a priority of government to ensure the safety of residents and visitors by investing in the disaster preparedness infrastructure of our island. As a result government intends to introduce revised legislation that focusses on the quality of the construction of buildings and structures and to develop a storm water drainage and management plan.

Mr. Chairman, Members of Parliament,

Safety and security is key to the quality of life of our citizens. Recent developments in violent crime and the murder of police officer Benjamin in the line of duty is cause for grave concern. It is government’s policy to put safety and security first.

In line with its safety and security first policy government has decided to deploy a country wide security camera system to help fight crime and to realize a more effective and efficient logistical use of police resources on patrols as well as ambulance services. The preparations to implement this measure are in their final stages.

The security camera program will complement the community police program which has proven to be successful. Moreover, a new police sub-station was opened in the Maho area, while plans for another sub-station in the St. Peters area are being prepared.

In addition, government is continuing to invest in the training and development of law enforcement officers. A board for the Justice Academy comprised of the representatives of the law enforcement services has been installed. And a complete new program for basic and further training and education as well as certification of officers is in its final stages of development. At the same time plans for the purchasing of property to establish a new state of the art shooting range, operational training and logistical center, as well as a forensic laboratory for the police force, have already been worked out and are nearing completion.

Moreover, government has introduced a new comprehensive justice information system with the Court of Guardianship functioning as a successful pilot. Meanwhile information systems for the Prison, Customs, Probation Services, Youth Detention Center and Immigration are ready for installation for use in combatting crime.

And finally in the area of law enforcement, the renovation of the present prison has been finalized and concrete measures to increase the security around and in the prison at Pointe Blanche will be implemented by the end of this year. Additionally plans for the expansion of the prison are ready for implementation.

Mr. Chairman, Members of Parliament,

The realization of government’s policies is dependent on favorable economic developments. As a result government’s economic policy agenda will be geared at facilitating sustainable economic growth and development within its coordinated “Strategy for Growth”. Central aspects of government’s economic agenda are the enhancement of service, the creation of jobs and economic diversification. To pursue its economic agenda government intends to make use of the following policy instruments:

Mr. Chairman, Members of Parliament,

Essential to Sint Maarten’s development as a small open economy is the maintenance of good external relations.

On a Kingdom level government will continue to work at partnering with other members in Kingdom. Key areas of cooperation are law enforcement, central banking, and dispute regulation.

The joint cooperation teams of the police, royal military police, customs and immigration and border protection services are proving to be effective. Recently successful operations have been carried out in the area of human smuggling and trafficking leading to the arrest of several perpetrators.

The functioning of the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten continues to be a point of attention and discussion with the government of Curaçao. Government is at the same time also working towards the renovation of the existing facilities and the transformation of the local office into a full-fledged branch. This in addition to plans to pursue the construction of a new building.

In fostering good relations, Government will host a tripartite meeting with the prime ministers of Aruba and Curaçao, in November of this year. And next year Government will host the fourth Kingdom Conference.

Considering the tensions between the Kingdom partners related to the discussions regarding the instructions by the Kingdom Council of Ministers, Government is a strong advocate of the introduction of an independent Kingdom dispute institution. Government considers an institution like this necessary to build trust and strengthen ties between the Kingdom partners.

Mr. Chairman, Members of Parliament,

On a foreign relations level, government considers cooperation on a regional and international level important to support its domestic agenda. As such government will continue to work at maintaining good relations with its regional and international partners. Government’s objective in this regard is to continue to develop closer ties with Saint-Martin. This through an efficient cooperation structure to address issues of mutual concern. In particular, Government as part of its safety and security first policy, will work closely with its Saint Martin counterparts on the implementation of the recently ratified Treaty on Police Cooperation in the fight against crime.

As a young country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands Sint Maarten intends to present itself in the region and at international fora to protect and promote St. Maarten’s national interests abroad. This will be realized through bilateral partnerships with regional partners and participation in international organizations.

Mr. Chairman, Members of Parliament,

To cover the costs of government’s policy agenda it is essential to generate additional revenues. This to ensure compliance with provisions of the national ordinance for government accounts as well as with the criteria of the Kingdom Law on financial supervision.  In that respect government has in an effort to generate funds developed a Strategy for Growth as part of its policy agenda. The objectives of this strategy are:

To support these actions and generate needed additional funds government shall implement measures:

  • to control and clean-up the tax registry;
  • to accelerate the collection of  tax arrears and the handling of complaints;
  • to improve tax compliance; and
  • to reform the tax system starting with the wage, income and profit taxes.

In addition, government to support its national development plans, shall seek external funding from potential donors such as the European Union, the International Labour Organization as well as the World Health Organisation and the Pan American Health Organization. This where possible in  collaboration with French and British territories.

Mr. Chairman, Members of Parliament,

Government in keeping with its governing program “Ready to work for you” is committed to delivering its policy agenda to improve the quality of life of the people of Sint Maarten. 

In this new parliamentary year, government will therefore present you with various legislative initiatives towards the execution of its plans and realization of its objectives. As representatives of the people of Sint Maarten, government looks forward to your participation and your support to serve the public interest on behalf of the people of Sint Maarten.

Mr. Chairman, Members of Parliament,

Thus, as you deliberate and decide on the issues that will come before you in the period ahead, I wish you much wisdom, strength, and God’s speed.

Thank you, God Bless you and God Bless our Beloved Sint Maarten.

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CARIBWORK-IT & SCELL MAKING ST. MAARTEN'S MALES A PRIORITY

POND ISLAND – University of St. Martin (USM) announced the opening of the St. Martin School of Continuing Education & Life Long Learning, (SCELL) on August 1, 2015. Since the opening of SCELL the new school has received overwhelming reception from the St. Maarten Business Community.

Information Technology Consultants, CaribWork IT offer their support to SCELL by sponsoring the SCELL’s Brain Bytes Men, Fathers Son's & Young Males Series  

Owner of CaribWork-IT, Serge Bakker stated: "We are proud to support this Brain Bytes series, especially because the target group are males. I am proud of SCELL's commitment to the community and their courage to highlight the need for these types of inspiring workshops that motivates change and personal development in our male population at large”.  

SCELL Director, Dr. Natasha J. Gittens stated: “this series is uniquely designed for Men, Fathers, Son's & Young Males of the St. Maarten community and surrounding areas.  This series is specifically developed to foster men to make positive life changes in their lives, while simultaneously evaluating their purpose and male role(s).

The objective of the series,  is to teach participants basic skills to make changes, identify and establish reachable life goals  and provide them with tangible opportunities to earn their GED at USM, an Associate’s degree and possibly pursue a Bachelors or Master's degree offered by our academic partner, The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) on USM's campus.  We believe this series will encourage males to enroll in our courses and increase USM’s male presence on our campus and in our classrooms in general”.       

The series will be facilitated on Saturday, October 17, 2015 @ USM. All participants will receive a certificate of completion. The cost will be $50 US per workshop for adults, $35 for attendees 15-19.  The workshop is open to the public and SCELL encourages everyone to attend.    

For Information: Contact SCELL @ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 554 – 2437.  

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Eleventh Shark Reserve for Saba and Bonaire

SABA/BONAIRE (Caribbean Netherlands) - State Secretary Dijksma of Economic Affairs opened a shark reserve during her visit on Saba and Bonaire. Shark populations are plummeting worldwide and therefore need extra protection against illegal fishing and the bycatch of regular fishery.

The local nature and fisheries organisations are involved in the protection. The Netherlands will actively protect sharks in the Caribbean Sea with the eleventh shark reserve.

Dijksma: ‘This special reserve will ensure the conservation of the animals in the waters surrounding Saba and Bonaire. Sharks are not only important for tourism but also for fishery. When there are more sharks, there also are more fish – contrary to what one would expect.’

Commissioner Chris Johnson (Saba):‘The effort to make the waters around the islands of Saba and Bonaire shark sanctuaries was kicked started earlier this year by the PEW charitable foundation on Bimini of the Bahamas.

The conference included the Dutch islands, British Virgin Islands and Samoa representatives, and philanthropists such as Jose Maria Figueres, the former president of Costa Rica, and founder of the Virgin companies, Sir Richard Branson.’

Commissioner Chris Johnson of Saba said that he is very happy that the two governments of Saba and Bonaire, along with the government of the Netherlands see the importance of this issue and the beneficial effect this can have for the islands and the region as a whole.

Research by Imares has shown that a decrease in sharks as apex predators leads to a disturbed natural balance in the sea. This could have consequences for the total fishery stock.

A good fishery stock is important for the fishermen on the islands, who are dependent on fishing. Tourism also benefits from coral reefs with sharks. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Port Management Updates Down Street Business and Community Council Association about Walter Plantz Square

PORT ST. MAARTEN - Port St. Maarten Management Team led by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Mingo recently met with the Down Street Business and Community Council Association (DSBCCA) headed by Godfried Richardson to discuss the Walter Plantz Square Cruise Heritage Development.

The meeting was held to give an update about the project and to further build upon the relationship between Port St. Maarten and DSBCCA especially looking at the long-term.

DSBCCA will be a tenant of one of the booths at the heritage square, and will be providing the opportunity to local vendors of locally made products to showcase them at the booth to cruise and stay-over visitors.

A number of points were discussed during the meeting which included the official opening of the Walter Plantz Square; upgrading of the area; entertainment initiatives; Jazz program; street fair; safety and security; lighting; taxi area; among other issues.

The parking in the area was also discussed with the DSBCCA as it is indeed a challenge. Port St. Maarten is looking into the possibility of acquiring properties in the area that could be turned into a parking lot with turn-around space for taxi’s and tour busses.  This would be done in consultation with Ministry VROMI with respect to development regulations for the area.

Port St. Maarten and DSBCCA are planning to work closer together and on a more structural basis by having regular meetings in order to ensure that all stakeholders get the maximum benefit out of the Walter Plantz Square Cruise Heritage Development.

The Walter Plantz Square at Down Street will generate a new spirit of life into the Down Street area for locals and visitors alike.

Eight small buildings have been constructed according to the traditional St. Maarten architectural ginger-bread design to reflect the national heritage of the destination which is part and parcel of Port St. Maarten’s reinventing cruise tourism.

The essence of the project is to bring in the heritage value of the destination by showcasing the ginger bread homes of the past.  This is part of the country’s cultural heritage and what makes us who we are, port management pointed out.  “It’s part of us and this is interesting to cruise and stay-over visitors.”

The Walter Plantz Square at Down Street is just one of several change community projects that will further enhance the country’s tourism product. 

These types of projects in the various communities will anchor them into tourism.  It is a ground up approach where Port St. Maarten wants to bring back the rich traditional heritage of the country’s forefathers.

As Port St. Maarten management has pointed out before, “This is the future where product enhancement is concerned. We are not only talking about cruise, but stay-over tourists as well.  No other destination has a duplicate of our cultural heritage.  We are all unique in each of our own way.  These change community projects will also be a showcase for our youth and generations to come.” 

The approximately US$2 million project entailed the construction of a square with cabanas to be used for a bar/restaurant, the selling of arts and crafts and other tourist related goods; water fountain; palm trees; toilet/bathroom facilities; lockers; the square will be disabled accessible; parking for five taxi’s; parking on the beachside and around the area; small splash pool for kids; water fountain illuminating 30 different lights at night; 24-hour security.

The square is strategically located next to the Walter Plantz Tender Jetty which connects to the boardwalk/beach promenade, Down Street and Front Street which allows for a broader distribution flow of passengers. 

The square will be fully equipped for local musicians, artists and bands with a ‘plug and play entertainment’ feature. Entertainment is an important part of heritage square which will also feature a stage, speakers and a generator.

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UP board extends deepest condolences to Johnson Family and Stuart Johnson Secretary General

PHILIPSBURG – The United People's Party (UP) family and board extends its deepest condolences to the family of the late Mrs. Linda Marie Johnson, especially her son Stuart Johnson, Secretary General of the UP Board, UP Party Board President Sylvia Meyers said on behalf of the party on Monday.

“Linda Johnson has been like a mom to many of our board members and an unwavering supporter. We will surely miss her advices and quick wit," the UP Party Board stated.  

“The UP family is now in deep mourning, and pray for strength during this time of bereavement for her family and dear friends. May her soul rest in eternal peace,” the UP Party Board concluded on Monday. 

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Van Henningen Wins “Back to School” Raffle at Kooyman

CAY HILL - Kooyman would like to congratulate the winners of its “Back to School” raffle. The raffle drawing took place over the weekend, including a first prize and second prize drawing for the “Ultimate Back to School Kit” courtesy of Intertoys St. Maarten.

These kits included, school stationary, educational games, books and creative crafts. The first prize was awarded to 9 year old, Zamaara van Henningen, whose mother Tamara van Henningen is a frequent shopper at Kooyman. The second prize was awarded to 8 year old, Chelsea Samuel, whose father Charles Samuel is also a Kooyman shopper.

“Back to School raffle tickets were awarded to person purchasing ANG 100 or more at Kooyman from July 15th through August 26th. These frequent shoppers took the effort to participate in the raffle by simply filling out a ticket, and now these lucky kids have won big at Kooyman, said Kooyman Commercial Officer, Evencia Carty-Seabrookes.

We at Kooyman are very happy to give back to our shoppers; in one of the cases the parents were actually in the middle of a building construction and this prize came as a great financial relief for the parents and a wonderful reward for a great kid”.

There is always something happening at Kooyman, for more information and more chances to WIN. Visit www.kooymanbv.com  our like them on facebook www.facebook.com/Kooyman.St.Maarten

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Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance Officially Launch Regional Save Our Sharks Project

KRALENDIJK, Bonaire/COLE BAY, Sint Maarten - All six islands of the Dutch Caribbean are poised to benefit from a new funding initiative provided by the Dutch Postcode Lottery aimed at an essential conservation effort—saving and protecting shark species.

The fund will provide €1.6 million to the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) to assist with the effort of shark conservation on all six islands of the Dutch Caribbean; Saba, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire. The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) is a non-profit organization created to protect the environment and promote sustainable management of natural resources on the six Dutch Caribbean islands.

The Save our Sharks effort in the Caribbean may be the first to attempt a concerted regional approach in the global endeavor to save sharks and is one of the five major shark conservation projects running globally.

Conservation organizations worldwide are focusing on preserving sharks, which are some of the most endangered species on the planet. Science has described at least 500 species of sharks but many species, which have existed since the time of the Dinosaurs, face increasing human-related threats and, for some species, extinction.

The demand for fins and other shark products has driven a number of species close to extinction. More than 100 million sharks are killed each year as a result of fishing and shark finning activities, twice the rate at which they can reproduce. Sharks are especially vulnerable to overfishing and slow to recover from depletion because they are late to mature and produce few young.

Tadzio Bervoets, Vice-chair of DCNA and Chair of the Save our Sharks Project Committee, commented that all of the Dutch Islands aim to have a level of shark conservation in place at the end of the three year project: “Sharks are some of the most misunderstood species on the planet. For generations we have been led to believe that sharks are the villains of the seas and that they pose a danger to everything that swims in the ocean, including humans.

“But we now know that is very far from the truth; these magnificent creatures are essential to the ocean, and therefore essential to us as islanders because of our intimate connection with the sea. Without sharks we lose that which makes our islands so unique; our marine habitats. That is why we have embarked on this journey with the Dutch Postcode Lottery and our other partners, a journey of protecting these keystone species on all of the six-islands in the Dutch Caribean,” commented Bervoets.

Kalli De Meyer, DCNA’s executive director, also stressed the importance of protecting these critical species; “People need healthy oceans and healthy oceans need sharks, the apex predator of the ocean,” said De Meyer.

In the Dutch Caribbean, sharks face numerous threats from poaching, finning, overfishing and coastal development. With funding from the Dutch Postcode Lottery for this special project, DCNA will focus on Science: learning more about shark species; Education: helping more people learn about sharks; and Legislation: protecting sharks throughout the six islands and ensuring that that protection is adequately enforced.

Island conservation organizations that form the Dutch Caribbean conservation alliance will work with fishermen, local communities, and scientists to study local shark populations. The knowledge they gain will be shared with regional decision makers and other island stakeholders in an effort to create shark sanctuaries throughout the Dutch Caribbean seas.

Conservationists also will work to create different ways for islanders to benefit from the presence of sharks in Dutch Caribbean waters, such as making them a part of the dive tourism industry.

“Sharks are threatened worldwide and some are faced with extinction unless we act and act now. With the help of the Dutch National Postcode Lottery and our partners we will create a safe-haven for these majestic yet misunderstood creatures on our islands. Saving them from extinction and, invariably, saving ourselves as islanders,” concluded Bervoets.

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