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Nature Foundation Assists Law Enforcement during Tuesday Morning Cole Bay Fire

COLE BAY - The Sint Maarten Nature Foundation assisted law enforcement officers with battling the Cole Bay Fire on Tuesday Morning.

Nature Foundation staff noticed a large fire close to the organization’s Cole Bay office and upon responding to the event noticed that law enforcement personnel were responding without protective facemasks protecting officers from the smoke caused by the fire.

The Foundation made facemasks available to responding law-enforcement personnel. In cooperation with Coast Guard Officers the Foundation handed out protective facemasks the organization has been handing out to protect the community from the fires at the Philipsburg landfill officers at the scene.

The Nature Foundation hopes that everyone is safe responding to the large fire in the Cole Bay Community.

nature fire inside1

nature fire inside2

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Airport to commence with demolition works of interior. Waterproofing of Roof to take 18 weeks

SIMPSON BAY - The management and staff of the Princess Juliana International Airport- SXM continues its efforts to rebuild St. Maarten’s award-winning airport. The Supervisory Board and Management of the Princess Juliana International Airport is aware that people are curious about the pace of the recovery and reconstruction at PJIA.

The travel industry, stakeholders and the public at large can rest assured that the PJIA speedy recovery and reconstruction is on track. Despite the devastating damage caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Princess Juliana International Airport team was able to restore basic operations on October 10, 2017.

Since then, the airport has been able to use temporary structures to accommodate passengers traveling to and from St. Maarten. Based on the input from the customers and travelers, PJIA is working on improving service and comfort of our temporary facilities, as the work to restore the terminal building and related facilities get underway.

Meanwhile, new, more efficient and passenger friendly tents are being erected. PJIA expects both the Departure and Arrival processes to be improved, with two modern tent pavilions.

The container offices have also been installed, to accommodate the airline partners and in the coming days the data connections will be completed. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, cleanup and damage assessment work continues. An initial cleanup was conducted following the passing of the hurricanes.

During the course of this week, the water removal activities are ongoing in preparation for the demolition works on the interior of the terminal building; the demolition starts next week.

During the demolition, a mold assessment will be carried out to determine if further mold remediation is necessary. The roof structure, in particular, was found to be severely compromised. Temporary fixes to the roof were not cost effective, nor technically feasible. A redesign of the roof structure is necessary, in efforts to sustain wind loads in excess of 185 mph.

In addition, the roof must be waterproofed. Waterproofing of the roof will start in January and the project is expected to take 18 weeks from start to finish. An improvement to the roof structure could include the placement of solar panels. This innovation will allow PJIA to become more energy efficient. Management will continue to provide information on the progress of the recovery and reconstruction of the PJIA, as the work progresses.



SHTA supports Sarah's call to suspend the MP/Minister redundancy pay

PHILIPSBURG - The St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA) has taken note of a Facebook message by President of Parliament Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah-Wescot-Williams in which she explains the law on redundancy pay for MP's and Ministers.

According to Wescot-Williams, redundancy pay works for "any amount of time served, one (a MP or Minister: Ed) receives the minimum of one year monthly payments. If a person serves for more than one year, then one is entitled to equal amount served. In other words, if you serve four months, you are entitled to one year, and if you serve 13 months, you are entitled to 13 months. If you serve 26 months, you are entitled to two years, not however for 100% of your salary earned. This however only for those not yet 60 years of old. Persons can also decline".

In the same response, Sarah-Wescot-Williams tables to adjust this law as an emergency measure, she stated: "But I believe the law should be adjusted as an emergency measure, given our serious financial situation".

“SHTA supports this call to halt redundancy pay and have the law adjusted to more realistic regulation of redundancy pay for MP's and Ministers.

“Furthermore, SHTA calls the incoming Government to take further austerity measures in light of the serious budget deficits it is facing for the 2018-2020 period.

“Including monthly stipends, Sint Maarten members of parliament as well as Ministers earn substantially more than their Caribbean counterparts. SHTA proposes to cut MP and Minister salaries towards the level of their fellow Caribbean counterparts by 30% and institute a hiring freeze.


Salary MP

Salary Minister


$ 7111

$ 7839


$ 6069

$ 8365

Sint Maarten

$ 11539

$ 12090

Government needs to lead by example and seeing the hardship the people of St. Maarten, including businesses, are going through since Irma, it would be only natural for Government to ease their burden on the country's coffers so a balanced budget may be found sooner,” the SHTA concluded in their Tuesday press statement.


Minister Wuite encourages participation in construction training abroad

POND ISLAND - Persons interested in becoming employed in the Building Construction sector now have a unique opportunity to follow a six (6) months training in Trinidad to become a certified tradesman.

The Division for Study Financing, the Department of Youth of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport and The Department of Labor Affairs and Social Services of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor have teamed up with the MIC Institute of Technology in Trinidad to provide young unemployed persons on St. Maarten with study financing, via its NL funded Studying in the Region Project, pursue training in the Building Construction trades.

Persons can become certified in areas such as Building Construction (general), Carpentry, Masonry, Plumbing, Electrical Installation, Welding and General Property Maintenance. These courses are CVQ level one certifications.

“During this recovery phase, these kinds of initiatives are critical to ensuring that St. Maarten bounces back from the setbacks caused by the passing of Hurricane Irma.” Minister Wuite encourages, “I implore those eligible to come out and register on Friday. Your country needs you.”

A registration drive will be held this Friday January 26th 2018 from 9 am to 1 pm on the main floor of the Government Administration Building.  Registration is open to persons between the ages of 18 and 35 who are Dutch nationals or possess permanent residence permit, have a strong interest in the Construction sector, must be willing to live and study abroad temporarily, have basic literacy and math skills and preferably some years of Vocational Education.  Persons attending the registration drive are kindly requested to please bring along a valid ID or Passport, Diplomas or Certificates and be dressed appropriately to avoid being denied entry into the building.

For more information regarding the training, please visit one of the following Facebook pages to view the brochure; Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs, Division for Study Financing St. Maarten or Department of Labor Affairs and Social Services St. Maarten. 


Port St. Maarten to discuss rebound and experiences at Caribbean Port Management Workshop

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten Management and Operations representatives will be attending the three-day Caribbean Port Management Workshop, organized and presented by the Port Management Association of the Caribbean (PMAC).

The three-day event is taking place in Panama from January 22-24, and it is bringing together regional maritime sector representatives who will be discussing the type and nature of last year’s destruction caused by several major hurricanes, and what technologies, systems and networks are now necessary to deal with future hurricanes. 

Also part of the organization of the workshop is Portside Caribbean and the Caribbean Maritime University. The Panama Manzanillo International Terminal (MIT) is hosting the workshop that will be held at the Sheraton Grand Hotel.

The workshop provides an early opportunity to analyze and initiate plans and strategies ahead of 2018’s Hurricane Season.

Port St. Maarten along with other representatives will share their experiences regarding the type and nature of port infrastructure damage and how defensive systems performed or failed under the onslaught of 2017’s mega-hurricanes to cruise ports and cargo terminals that were recently affected by destruction of land and port assets.

PMAC founding started with an inaugural meeting in Antigua on 26 June, 1998, having succeeded the Port Management Association of the Eastern Caribbean established on 16 May, 1988.

The main objective of PMAC is to improve the proficiency of member ports and the quality of services offered to their users, specifically through the facilitation of relevant training designed to maximize human resources, and effectively meet the ever increasing challenges of the global environment.

Moreover, amidst developments within the maritime industry, the Association strives to remain relevant by providing critical services to members, which entail the sharing of experience, information and ideas, as well as advocacy and representation at multilateral levels.

PMAC’s mission is to foster operational and financial efficiency, and to enhance the level of service to the mutual benefit of Caribbean Ports and their stakeholders, through the sharing of experience, training, information and ideas.

Current membership includes port organizations from the following islands, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Saint Martin, French Guyane, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, Cayman Islands, Sint Maarten, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Turks and Caicos Islands.  There are also a number of associate members.


Minister of Justice De Weever looking forward to productive discussions in Two-day Justice Conference

POND ISLAND - Commencing on Monday January 22nd, 2018 Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever in cooperation with the office of the Representative of the Netherlands in Philipsburg will be hosting a two-day working conference between Sint Maarten and the Netherlands on the topics of Border Control and the recovery of the local Justice-chain post Hurricane Irma.

Participating in the conference will be officials of the Sint Maarten Police Force, Prison, Customs, Coast Guard, Public Prosecutor’s Office, Royal Marechaussee, Court of Guardianship, the Foundation Judicial Institutes St. Maarten, the Sint Maarten Ministry of Justice, the National Security Service Sint Maarten, the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security, Dutch Customs, the Dutch Ministry of  Defense, the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK), RST and the Dutch National Police.

The conference will amongst other topics seek to discuss ways and means of further strengthening partnerships with regards to protecting Sint Maarten’s borders as well as to increase the organizational capacity of in particular the Police Force, the Customs Services and the Prison System.

The Point Blanche Prison suffered severe damages as a consequence of Hurricane Irma and assessments made by local as well as Dutch experts have advised Sint Maarten to pursue the construction of an entirely new Prison Complex.

Minister Cornelius de Weever welcomes the delegation from the Netherlands to Sint Maarten and looks forward to two days of productive discussions.


NIA collaborates with Armelle Six to host How to Live Again on Thursday

PHILIPSBURG - National Institute of Arts (NIA) in collaboration with Armelle Six to host “How to live again, after the worst has occurred” Conference on Thursday January 25, 2018.

“As part of the NIA’s ART HEALS program, the St. Maarten community is invited to attend this healing conference, brought about as an initiative by St. Martin Resident Marie Lecleve, who at the time of Hurricane IRMA was attending Armelle Six Training workshop on “Movement of Life” in Quebec Canada.

“Since her return, Marie noticed that the post Hurricane Irma Trauma is still very present on the Island. “The violence of the psychological aftermath is still there” says Ms. Lecleve. Ms. Lecleve reached out to Armelle Six and together launched a project to offer support to affected people in the post traumatic phase.

“The Conference will deal with answering the question “How to live again after the worse occurred”

“Armelle, herself a survivor of overcoming profound loss in her life is able to share with others the process of her healing journey.

“After the brutal death of her son, in April 2001 “my life went upside down” says Ms. Armelle.  she continued to add that “Facing the unexpected, the intensity of the event and the void, suddenly made me look inwards” Ms. Armelle’s healing process brought her through a rebirth within herself and a discovery of who she is at her core and what life is.

“Propelled by the aim is to teach the art of happiness and self-listening, Ms. Armelle Six has been touring the world sharing her process through her Lectures and Dance Workshop entitled, “Movement for Life” offering strength and support to communities in need,” according to a NIA press release.

Ms. Armelle will be on St. Maarten from January 23 to January 31. The conference is open to all, and will take place Thursday January 25 at 7:30pm at the National Institute of Arts located at the John Larmonie Center in Philipsburg.

This will be followed by a “Movement for Life” dance workshop and a spontaneous dance event. For more information, please contact NIA at 1-721-523-5066 or 1-721-524-0441 or 011-590-690-47-89-77.


Winair commenced service to Haiti with new aircraft

SIMPSON BAY – Winair commenced service to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, January 17, 2018 utilizing a state of the art Airbus 320.

“This aircraft is operated by Sunrise Airways, all seats are sold and marketed solely by Winair. This aircraft offers 138 economy seats and 12 business class seats.

“Winair will operate these services on Wednesdays and Saturdays, departure time in Haiti is 08:15AM for St. Maarten and aircraft departs St. Maarten at 12:00noon for Haiti.

“These services connect with the entire Winair network making connections available from 12 destinations. For reservations please call Winair, or our website, or your favorite travel agent,” the airlines said in a press statement.


Work Group formed within EOC to assess National Tsunami Preparations

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – A small Work Group (WG) within the Emergency Support Functions (ESF) that falls under the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), has been formed to assess and ensure National Tsunami Preparedness within the Government apparatus, and to develop a national tsunami preparedness plan.

A tsunami is a very large ocean wave caused by an underwater earthquake or volcanic eruption.

On Tuesday a meeting chaired by the EOC Disaster Coordinator and Fire Chief Clive Richardson, and supported by ESF-10 Coordinator and Secretary General of the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) Miguel de Weever, brought together various government agencies that are part of the WG.

The WG is a joint initiative of the Office of Disaster Management and Ministry TEATT.

The agencies are: Sint Maarten Police Department, Fire Department/Office of Disaster Management, Meteorological Department of St. Maarten, St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, Department of Communication (DCOMM), and the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment, and Infrastructure Management (Ministry VROMI).

The WG and subgroups will meet on a regular basis and will be working on a number of areas such as warning systems, designated safe areas, public awareness campaign and post-Tsunami event.

One of the key areas discussed is the identification of an alarm center(s) that would then activate the EOC. This is critical, as evident in the real-life event of Tuesday, January 9 in the middle of the night when an earthquake in the Western Caribbean Sea resulted in a tsunami warning being issued for parts of the Caribbean.

The WG will be looking at the various forms of warning systems to ensure that the country has a comprehensive and effective system such as a siren alarm system and/or using electronic messaging via Smart Phones to alert the population and what action is required.  The system should also be able to issue messages in various languages.

The designation of Safe Areas where persons in the various low-lying districts need to go for safety are to be identified. The traffic flow via identified evacuation routes and the logistics need to be worked on in order to maximize the survival rate of the population.

A Public Awareness Campaign will be necessary to sensitize the population about the alarm system that would be put in place; what actions a person is required to take; the evacuation route etc.  The Public Awareness Campaign would also cater to specific publics such as public, schools (i.e. Children), Tourists, Vulnerable Persons/groups, etc.

Besides being able to respond to a tsunami event, the WG will also look at a Post-Tsunami Sint Maarten and what will be required in the aftermath.   

Members of the WG were of the opinion that Hurricane Irma has thought us many valuable lessons and one needs to ensure that we have an improved plan to execute and protect life, community and property on Sint Maarten during a natural disaster.

In the past 500 years there have been ten confirmed earthquake-generated tsunamis in the Caribbean Basin with four causing fatalities. An estimated 350 people in the Caribbean were killed by these events.

During the relatively short 500-year period of written Caribbean history, tsunamis have inflicted a small amount of losses compared to other hazards such as windstorms, earthquakes and volcanic activity. The impact of a large tsunami can be as devastating as earthquakes or an erupting volcano.

The Eastern Caribbean islands lie in a setting where major structural changes are occurring in the Earth’s crust. All known sources capable of causing tsunamis (that is, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides) occur within striking distance of the Eastern Caribbean, and there are also distant sources across the Atlantic.

Since the islands lie in an area of relatively high earthquake activity for the Caribbean, the most likely tsunamis to affect the Eastern Caribbean are those which can be triggered by shallow earthquakes (<50km depth), in the region, greater than magnitude 6.5, according to the Seismic Unit of the University of the West Indies.


The 38th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Raises Funds for Local Foundations

SIMPSON BAY - In the wake of Hurricane Irma, organizers of the annual St. Maarten Heineken Regatta have announced to use the Caribbean’s key maritime and cultural event to raise awareness and funds needed to rebuild the island of St. Maarten.

The 38th edition will aim to raise funds for dedicated marine, humanitarian and environmental efforts through the K1 Britannia Foundation, the St. Maarten Nature Foundation, the St. Maarten Sea Rescue Foundation and the St. Maarten Yacht Club Regatta Foundation.

Over the years, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta has proven to be an integral event for the island of St Maarten. Starting of as a relatively small event in 1980 with 12 participating boats, choosing its dates in such a way to extend the Marine and Hospitality high season into March, to the world-class event it is today.

Its economic impact evident through booking numbers at hotels and marinas, full restaurants, busy supermarkets and most often generating return visitors. The local population, regional and international sailors all join the “Serious Fun” that the event is known for, making this one of the most popular regattas in the Caribbean.

With currently over 50 boats officially entered, Regatta Organizers expect a good turnout for this unique edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. Michelle van der Werff, Regatta Director says: “It’s a very challenging year for everybody. We can’t just forget what happened in September, and the island is not back on its feet yet.

“But the support so far from the sailing community has been tremendous and we need them to help recover. Therefore, it was a no-brainer to go ahead with the Regatta this year and we decided to team up with these great Foundations to be able to directly give back to the community and help the people of St. Maarten in rebuilding their lives.”

One of the Foundations the Regatta will be working with is the K1 Britannia Foundation, whom are actively involved in many hurricane relief programs on St Maarten. Funds raised will help them continue their efforts. The K1 Britannia Foundation has selected four projects to which they will dedicate the funds raised during the Regatta.

The first is their Second Chance Program, which secures job opportunities and funding for education for at-risk youth and foster children on the island. “We work with vulnerable youth on the island, many of whom have so much potential but little opportunity to continue their studies after high school. With your help, they can continue their studies to become the chefs, pilots, and sailors they aspire to be,” said project manager Iris Hakkens.

K1 Britannia has also committed aid in the reconstruction of several community-oriented organizations on the island post-Irma. “Another important project we felt was necessary to include to secure funding for is the Disaster Relief Plan,” Hakkens continued. “We’ve just been through something catastrophic, and we should take the opportunity to learn from it and be better prepared for the next major hurricane. Hurricane season is just a few months away, so we’re preparing early to be fully equipped for when the season begins.”

Lastly, the Foundation will be launching their Partners for Change program during the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta; the program was developed to recruit long-term sponsors to fund the Foundation’s regular activities.

Another well-established Foundation that will be part of the 38th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is the St. Maarten Nature Foundation. One of their key priorities after the storm was cleaning the Simpson Bay Lagoon from sunken vessels and determining the state of the water. They have organized many clean-up activities and are generating awareness of the importance of the Lagoon to St Maarten’s environment. During the Regatta they will also focus on a clean, plastic-free ocean and update sailors about the marine mammal migration.

The St. Maarten Sea Rescue Foundation (SSRF) is the third Foundation supported by the Regatta. The SSRF is an organization that’s fully run by volunteers offering assistance to sailors and mariners in need of help. They’ve been an important Partner of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta since the inception, securing safety on the water. Their Rescue- and Communication Office got completely wiped out during Hurricane Irma and their boats suffered severe damage. Funds raised during the Regatta would assist them in the continuation of their services.

The final Foundation is the St. Maarten Yacht Club Regatta Foundation. Severe damage was done to its premises. Nevertheless, they’re resilient to rebuild and get their Youth Sailing Program back on track. Michele Korteweg, General Manager says: “Our Youth Sailing Program is of great importance to the Sint Maarten Yacht Club and the community. Therefore, every effort has been made to continue the program with the limited resources available, but we do need additional funds to rebuild our docks and replace our fleet to get it back to the old standards.

We aim to have our docks rebuilt before the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, but we still have a long way to go. We are keen to show the progress we have made so far to all of whom have been incredibly supportive. This year’s Regatta being a fundraising event is a wonderful development as the entire island needs the support and we are ready to welcome all the sailors and visitors back with open arms.”

All Foundations will play a significant role in the execution of the Event and will be present at the Regatta Village to provide more information about their projects.



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