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Island Gems donates art supplies to MAC Early Stimulation Centre

PHILIPSBURG - Island Gems Charity Foundation recently donated a significant amount of art supplies to the Methodist Agogic Centre’s (MAC) Early Stimulation Centre. The supplies will be used to support and foster the artistic talents of pupils.

Island Gems was approached by the Centre for support and this was quickly given as support for the arts, education and art in education are top priorities for the Foundation. This was not the first donation to the Centre. Island Gems has donated several times in the past items such as books and school supplies.

Delivering the supplies were Island Gems Kerisha James, Asha Stevens, and Jody Rosen. James said she was very happy to see the delight on the children’s faces as well as those of the teachers who were full of ideas to engage and education their charges.

Only registered foundations and associations from either side of the island come into consideration for funding from Island Gems. All projects or requested equipment must have a long term use and impact on the community. Requests are reviewed on their merits by Island Gems.

Approved projects do not receive money; Island Gems purchases requested materials, equipment or pays directly for services.

The foundation is the oldest charity on the island clocking in close to four decades of support for social, educational and community projects.

Funding for such donations is raised at the Foundation’s lone fundraiser – a costume gala. This year’s gala is set for Saturday, April 8, in Captain Oliver’s restaurant in Oyster Pond. The theme is “Fiesta” and is a celebration of all the countries throughout Americas from Canada to Argentina and every country in between.

Tickets cost US $125 each and are available from all Island Gems members. 


SCDF wins court case against two disgruntled booth holders. New booth holders happy for opportunity

PHILIPSBURG - The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) on Friday said it was very happy that the judge dismissed the case brought against it by two booth holders who challenged the foundation’s procedure to allot booths in Carnival Village for the Carnival season. The foundation was represented by Emmely de Haan and Femke Jansen of Lexwell Attorneys at Law.

The booth holders claims have been dismissed due to the fact that there was no prerequisite for emergency proceedings since the two booth holders were apparently already resigned to the fact that they wouldn’t be having a booth for Carnival 2017 and was seeking damages. The judge didn’t see any grounds for damages and as such no damages were awarded. Instead, the two booth holders have to pay the costs of the trial of Naf 1,000.

The foundation has explained publicly numerous times that for the past few years it has sought ways to afford other people in the community, in particular young entrepreneurs, the opportunity to operate a booth in Carnival Village. Persons who operate a booth are evaluated during and after Carnival and decisions are made on whether or not to allot them a booth the following Carnival once they have registered.

“There are so many people who want the opportunity, so many people with fresh ideas on how to improve the overall product in the village and add variety. So if you are allotted a booth, make the best of it. Don’t be closed for nights on end, be creative with it. We look at all of these things but some people don’t understand the full concept of having a booth,” SCDF President Alston Lourens said.

Additionally, he explained, there is still the misconception that people own booths in Carnival Village. “Nobody owns a booth in Carnival Village. The booths at all times fall under the auspices of the SCDF. When you register, it doesn’t mean you get a booth, you register for the opportunity to be considered. These stipulations are all outlined in the booth holders contract which all booth holders sign the minute they are allotted a booth. So it’s simply not true if any booth holder tells you they didn’t know,” Lourens explained.

In the meantime, new booth holders are very happy to have been selected by the SCDF to operate a booth in Carnival Village this year. Young entrepreneur Danielle Rivers said: “This is something I wanted to do for a long time since moving back to St. Maarten. I registered and got through. I feel very grateful and appreciate this opportunity. Being a ‘bacchanalist’ for years this is definitely a game-changer for me and a different experience and perspective of Carnival.”

New booth holders Leroy and Nadia Liburd stated that they were very happy to be operating a booth for 2017 Carnival Season. The husband and wife said that “this is a great opportunity to showcase our culinary skills while providing the community with sweet local tasting dishes. SCDF has been great at keeping us informed about the possibility of operating a booth in the village.  To work together with a vibrant group of volunteers who  organizes our largest celebration is wonderful.”

Lourens said the work towards the opening of Carnival continues non-stop. “We will have an epic Carnival season where the center of everything will be Carnival Village with its 79 booths and ambiance unmatched anywhere in the Caribbean.”



PHILIPSBURG — Social & Health Insurances SZV hosted a well-attended information session explaining the rights and obligations of the Sickness Insurance Ordinance (ZV), Thursday evening at the University of St. Martin.

Discussions went on up to 9:00 pm as approximately 60 persons filled the conference room of USM; Insured, seniors, union representatives, social workers and formerly employed persons were present, seeking information on medical insurance qualifications and compliance procedures.

The information session was successful as questions were answered on the rights, obligations and procedures of the ZV Insured. The presentation of the information session will be available on the website of SZV

“When are you entitled to medical insurance from SZV? How do you get this, especially when your employer does not cooperate?” These were the type of questions we received yesterday evening.

“If you are working 5 or 6 days and earning a wage under the maximum wage limit, you qualify for sickness insurance at SZV. At SZV, the law is clear about this and we urge employers to be compliant but also urge employees to get familiar with their rights and administrative obligations.”

We gathered a good bit of questions during the session that we will have to follow-up on. We will also use these inquires to improve on the information resources that we are working on.”

In the presentation, SZV highlighted general information of the Sickness Insurance Ordinance, which included the procedures of control with the SZV doctor when unfit for work, maternity leave, the right to sick-leave pay via employer, the right and procedures to appeal official SZV decisions and important administrative obligations such as maintaining valid identification and employment records at SZV.

“The discussions that took place at the information session yesterday evening confirms that we have started on the right path, but we need to continue and do more. We will take all the necessary measures to ensure that we inform and educate our customers and the public on their rights and obligations. You will hear us speak about this often this year because it is important.” – Glen A. Carty – Director SZV

The plans of SZV as it relates to improving customer service were also presented; the premise being to create a hassle free customer experience by providing ease of access to information, professional assistance and an increase in online services. The medical coverage overview of the Sickness Insurance was officially launched and presented during the session as well; the overview is available for download on the SZV website

This information session was the first of a series of events that SZV will be hosting throughout the year with the aim of educating and informing the public and its customers on their rights and obligations as it pertains to the services of SZV.

On March 25th SZV will also be at the annual Lion Rudy Hoeve Health & Wellness Fair hosting informative sessions on the general rights and obligations of the Insured.

PHOTO CUTLINE: Reginald Willemsberg of SZV presenting at info session. (Photo contributed) 

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S’Maatin International Mother’s Language Day a success

POND ISLAND – On Tuesday February 21st, 2017 the Department of Culture in collaboration with the SG of UNESCO, Ms. Marcellia Henry, hosted the first annual S’Maatin International Mother’s Language Day competition.

The competition consisted of students from the St. Maarten Academy/PSVE, and the Charlotte Brookson Academy. The students were divided into two categories; Poetry and Skit/Storytelling.

The competition required the students, using the S’Maatin English, read either stories and poems or some form of narration. The Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Ms. Silveria Jacobs, attended the well put together event and commended the students for using the mother language of S’Maartin.

“The S’Maatin English is our heritage. There is a time and a place for formal and colloquial speech, however, tonight is the night to use the S’Maatin English,” Minister Jacobs added.

Knowing, writing and speaking in one’s mother language is an essential tool for the transmission and safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage (ICH).

Therefore, this year it was sought out to highlight our very own local and mother tongue language ‘S’Maatin English’ in order to increase awareness and inspire pride in our oral traditions, history and cultural expressions.

The general public was also given the opportunity to utilize the open mic session and recite poems and stories using the S’Maatin language.  

The finalists/winner from the Poetry category:

1st place: Aiyaunty Romney (Charlotte Brookson Academy)

2nd place: James Brooks (St. Maarten Academy)

3rd place: Ingemar Arndell (St. Maarten Academy PSVE)  

The finalists/winner from the Skit / Story Telling category:

1st place: Kiana Senol Arrindell (St. Maarten Academy)

2nd place: Group St. Maarten Academy PSVE: Ingemar Arndell, Malaika Clarke & Jodian McDonald

3rd place: Ronalie Smith (St. Maarten Academy)

The House of Nehesi Publishers also donated books to the participants of the competition as well as all the open-mic reciters. The event was judged by Brenda Maynard, Lucinda “La Rich” Audain, and Sjorensly Valies and hosted by Rene Violenus.

The S’Maatin English Poetry/Storytelling/Narration Competition will become an annual event to be organized by the Department of Culture and the UNESCO Office.



PHILIPSBURG – The Rotary Club of Sint Maarten recently completed a successful cyber-bullying seminar with more than 300 in attendance.  International expert on bullying, cyber-bullying, and appropriate social networking media safety protocols, Dr. Sameer Hindjua presented to those in attendance at L B Scott Auditorium on the Friday, February 10, 2017. 

Dr. Hinduja is widely accepted as one of the world's top experts on topics of safe social networking and cyber-bullying.   Dr. Hinduja is Co-Director of the Cyberbullying Research Center ( and Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University (FAU).  During his session with St. Maarten youth, Dr. Hindjua used real time technology to interact with the audience and to personalize his presentation to the youth of St. Maarten in a meaningful way.

John Caputo, the Secretary and President-elect of the Rotary Club Sint Maarten said, “We are very fortunate to have Dr. Hinduja with us on our island.   From the discussions that have already taken place with our young people and their parents, we are already better equipped to handle cyber-bullying and improper online behavior.  Just talking about it, often makes a world that seems scary, so much more manageable. Thank you Dr. Hinduja.  I would also be remiss if I didn’t thank the many friends of Rotary that made this event possible.”

For more information about the Rotary Club of St. Maarten, please contact the Rotary Club of St. Maarten Press Officer at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the website

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SIMPSON BAY – Yacht Club at Isle de Sol and Simpson Bay Marina plan to host their second annual philanthropic initiative, Inspire Giving through You, on February 25. The two St. Maarten marinas will once again call upon the hands of IGY Marinas’ corporate staff, marina associates, Anchor Club Strategic Partners, yacht owners, captains and crew members to take part in supporting the local charitable organization – New Start for Children Foundation.

“On behalf of the Yacht Club at Isle de Sol, Simpson Bay Marina and IGY Marinas teams, we are excited to once again come together with members in our network and beyond for a day of giving, inspiring, and having fun,” said Brian Deher, general manager of both St. Maarten marinas.

“The New Start for Children Foundation has been active in the community for more than 30 years, providing their home to children in need of a safe and homely refuge. We are thrilled to be working with this tremendous organization and look forward supporting them this year.”

The New Start for Children Foundation’s mission is to make a difference in the lives of foster children by providing food, shelter, education, mentorship and support. As part of this year’s community outreach event, the marina volunteers will team up to renovate and improve the home’s appearances and will continue to look for other ways to support the home in 2017.

For more information on how to participate or to make a donation, contact Angelique Dollison at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Minister of Labour Lee meets with reps from WICLU about a number of issues

POND ISLAND - Minister of VSA (Public Health, Social Development and Labour) Emil Lee met with representatives of the Windward Islands Civil Servants Labour Union (WICLU) to discuss a number of issues related to the field of Labor, including Labor day celebrations, representation on SZV (Social and Health Insurances), International Labor Conference, changes to the civil code, improved compliance and concerns with a couple of businesses that are encountering financial difficulties.

Based on the outcomes of the meeting, the Ministry of VSA and WICLU have agreed upon key areas within labor that will require collaboration or attention in 2017; beginning with the Labor Day celebrations.

In the past the Department of Labor has been the lead organization in coordination Labor Day, however last year Minister Lee empowered WICLU to take on the role of coordinating the Labor Day celebrations in order for the event/activities to resonate with the working population.

In 2016, due to budget constraints, it was decided not to attend the International Labor Conference, however WICLU has expressed interest in a delegation attending in 2017. It was agreed that while the Ministry would prefer to host an event locally with support from ILO Caribbean, the Ministry would see if budget was available to support a delegation in 2017.

In addition, one of the critical legislative changes that the Ministry is committed to finalizing is the changes to the civil code, addressing the abuse of the 6 months contracts. The amendments which have been fully supported by the labor tripartite has been submitted to Parliament. 

However, due to elections and changes in government, it has not yet returned on the agenda of Parliament.  Furthermore, two staff members from the Labor Department left to take up positions in different Minister’s Cabinets leaving the department short staffed. 

Minister expects to be in Parliament in March 2017 to renew discussions with Parliament regarding proposed changes to the Civil code and the consensus document on labor reform.

The union representatives also expressed interest in strengthening union representation on the board of SZV.  Minister Lee commented, “Based on the impact that SZV has on the health and wellbeing of the groups that they represent, I could certainly understand their desire and will incorporate their desires in the selection of replacement board members for SZV.”

Final discussion point, was the concerns about a couple of businesses that were experiencing financial difficulties and possible impact to the employees.  Minister Lee assured the representatives that based on their concerns, the Department of Labor would check on the mentioned concerns.

In an invited comment Minister Lee stated, “I am very pleased with the positive and constructive relationship and dialogue that we have with the Unions.  Over the past year, we have built a great relationship based on open communication, trust and respect.”


Team recruited from South Reward for emergency work on the Arrowroot Road Sewage line connection project

SOUTH REWARD - Subcontractor for the Sewage line connection project on Arrowroot Road, D’MYRA General Maintenance and Construction, recruited a group of young men to carry out emergency work last weekend to ensure that the project stays on schedule.

In the week to come the sewage line connection project on the Arrowroot Road will be entering the next phase where homes are connected to the sewage mainline.

D’MYRA is in the process of recruiting young men from the area of South Reward for the continuation of the project. These young men will not only be helping with the construction, but also educated on the processes, intricacies of the work and materials used, which they can utilize in the future if looking for work in the construction field.

The connection of the homes is expected to take approximately three weeks.

The Honorable Minister of VROMI, Minister C. Emmanuel, was also present operating the excavator and giving a helping hand in the emergency work. Minister Emmanuel is pleased with how the work has been progressing and thanks the affected residents in the area for their patience during the construction process. 

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Thirty-three Birders, Including Celebrity Bird Expert and Author, Conduct Birding Tour of Sint Maarten

COLE BAY - Sint Maarten recently hosted some thirty-three birding enthusiast from Carefree Birding, a birding based cruising group that travel throughout the Caribbean to engage in the growing birding tourism sector.

Nature Foundation Board Member and Birding Guide Binkie Van Es showed the thirty-three birding enthusiast Sint Maarten’s unique bird habitat and species; “It is exciting to be able to bring increased birding tourism to Sint Maarten and put the island on the birding map.

“We often do not realize how unique and important birding tourism is for Sint Maarten and how much potential the island has in tapping into a significant market. During this trip I also had the honor to show Sint Maarten’s unique birding wildlife to Kevin Karlson and his Wife Dale, both celebrity birders and authors of multiple field guides, amongst which the famous book The Shorebird Guide.

“This goes to show that nature tourism and birding in particular can be a very valuable addition to Sint Maarten's package and that under management of the Nature Foundation and its expertise in this matter this can and should be further developed for the destination, “ commented Van Es.

Reader's Digest, an American general-interest family magazine which is published monthly and reaches approximately 40 million people in more than 70 countries, with 49 editions in 21 languages, recently named Sint Maarten one of the top ten birding sites in the Americas, siting the fact that conservation efforts and efforts to increase eco-tourism are starting to pay off.

Bird-tourism is a multi-million dollar industry and together with other eco-tourism initiatives it would be in the best interest of the country to continue to invest in building out this market. This shows that not only does environmental protection work in safeguarding nature, but also has an impact on the economy of St. Maarten in a very positive way.


Two arrests in fatal shooting at Hope Estate

HOPE ESTATE - Members of the St. Maarten Police Force and the Kingdom Detectives Cooperation Team (RST) led by the Prosecutor’s Office and in the presence of the investigative judge held two house searches in Pointe Blanche and in Belvedere on Tuesday afternoon, February 21, 2017, according to a joint press release from the Public Prosecution Service and the Police.

Two suspects H.H.M. (22) and H.F.M. (25) were arrested. Also digital data carriers and documents were confiscated.

The searches and arrests are in light of the ongoing investigation code-named Broccoli. This is the investigation into the shooting that took place on Wednesday, January 24, 2017 in Hope Estate during which the victim, Franky Brunache, was fatally wounded.

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