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Minister Jacobs hosts Attitude of Gratitude Thanksgiving & Tree Lighting Ceremony

PHILIPSBURG - Today Dec 3rd, the Government of St. Maarten in collaboration with the St. Maarten United Ministerial Foundation (SMUMF), Christian Council (CC) successfully hosted and celebrated the annual Thanksgiving Service and Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony heralding the end of the Hurricane Season 2017. His Excellency Governor E.B. Holiday and Mrs. Holiday, Chairlady of Parliament S. Wescott-Williams, Honorable Prime Minister R. Boasman, 1st Vice President of the Collectivite Mdme. Valerie Damaseau, Minister S. Jacobs, along with several other Members of Parliament, High Councils of State, Deputy Governor Mr. and Mrs. Reynold Groeneveldt were among the dignitaries present.

Under the theme - "Attitude of Gratitude" - the praise and worship team of the Christian Fellowship Church kicked off the service with songs of praise and thanks to God, followed by the St. Martin Song being sung by Pastor Benjamin Bell and an opening prayer by Pastor Orlando Wilson.

The service continued with poignant hymns of thanks, words of welcome from the SMUMF representative Wally Havertong and touching remarks of resilience and gratitude from the Honorable Prime Minister R. Boasman, who asked the congregation to give thanks at all times, not only in good times.

Even though we have been through the devastation of the Hurricanes, we will, with an attitude of gratitude, continue to give thanks for his grace and mercy and allowing us to be here with health and strength to work together to rebuild our beautiful Soualiga.

Several Renditions, scripture readings and prayers were contributed by representatives of the Seventh Day Adventist, SMUMF and CC.

Pastor Lewis Constant gave a heartrending and soul searching sermon, reminding the congregation that no one is higher than the Lord, He alone is God and he sees and knows all.

Calls were made during the sermon and prayers to put God first, Unity, Forgiveness, Love, Peace and Healing. All in all, the service was uplifting and brought participants a sense of peace and togetherness.

This sense of Peace and Hope was further realized with the commencement of caroling by the praise and worship team, and the lighting of the two Christmas trees by Prime Minister Boasman and Minister Jacobs.

The service came to a close with the Vote of Thanks by Minister Silveria Jacobs who gave thanks to the organizers and participants of the service and ceremony and also took the opportunity to commend the community workers, churches and organizations who played a key role in helping the people of St. Maarten directly after the passage of Hurricane Irma and handed out certificates to the various representatives present.

She also took time out to share the spirit of Christmas with those in need, and to continue to look out for neighbors and others still displaced or suffering at this time. The service ended with the benediction by Rev. Dr. Joan Delsol-Meade after which the Christmas Carol Medley allowed the congregation to mingle, meet and greet before leaving for their separate homes feeling blessed and refreshed.

PHOTO CUTLINE: Minister Silveria Jacobs

THANKS INSIDE

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Ministry VROMI: All emergency contractors has been paid

POND ISLAND -  The Ministry of VROMI would like to officially announce that all September invoices submitted by contractors who have worked along with the Ministry after the hurricanes Irma and Maria in the emergency clean-up have been paid.

Currently, the Ministry is working on finalizing payments for the month of October invoices that have been submitted.

The Ministry from VROMI has been receiving complaints from workers concerning their payment. Employees who have not been paid as yet by their contractor, please contact them for further inquiries.

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COCI celebrates the Christmas Season with 5th edition “Christmas Street Fair 2017” on December 16

PHILIPSBURG - The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) is once again holding its annual Christmas Street Fair. This is the prime time to visit the Philipsburg area right before the Christmas shopping rush to get some shopping done, the COCI said in a press release.

With musical entertainment and various desserts on sale, this fair is an ideal shopping opportunity for the entire family. Residents and visitors are all invited to come out and enjoy the real Caribbean spirit of Christmas.

The Cannegieter Street, starting from the Windward Island Bank to the intersection by the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce will become a Christmas haven for this upcoming festive season. The 5th edition of the COCI Christmas Street Fair is from 9:00am to 8:00pm on December 16.

The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry is giving various vendors the chance to sell their goods during this event. Vendors interested in obtaining a booth are urged to pick up an application form at COCI on the C.A. Cannegieter Street #11, Philipsburg.

Deadline for booth registrations is December 11th, 2017 

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Minister Doncher proud to have been able to establish Qredits microfinancing

POND ISLAND - Minister of Economic Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher has called the establishing of Qredits microfinancing on St. Maarten as one of the accomplishments she is most proud of during her tenure and complimented the hard work put in by the Department of Economy, Transportation & Telecommunication (ETT) to see it through to fruition.  

Qredits, a foundation in Holland in existence since 2009, offers unsecured micro and small business loans to qualified individuals while the risk is carried by Qredits. An amount of about € 250 million has been made available for SME’s (small medium enterprises) on Sint Maarten. Qredits has the advantage of creating employment through job creation and increase revenue collection by government.

“First, I want to compliment Lucy Gibbes, Jude Houston, Makhicia Brooks and the entire team at ETT for the diligent work they put into this project and also the local team of workers including Edsel Gumbs and others. It is a proud moment to see local entrepreneurs getting financial help to either kick-start their business or make investments in an existing small business,” the Minister said.

“Having run local businesses in Philipsburg I know that financial assistance is essential to our people to help them to establish their dreams. It’s tough out there. So if we could make it possible to help our people and stimulate the economy at the same time, it was seen as a challenge worth taking up. I am proud to have been able to sign it into existence and proud of our people who did and continue to do the ground work,” the Minister added.

The Minister stressed that the empowerment of Sint Maarten’s SME’s, especially considering that these enterprises account for 80% of all businesses on the island, is extremely important for the future of the country. The access to microfinancing, she added, is an issue that young entrepreneurs has called for and that government has recognized that it must facilitate.

“Small businesses maybe a little under appreciated by the general population and they may not generate as much money as large companies, but they are a critical component of and major contributor to the strength of our economy. Small businesses present new employment opportunities and serve as our building blocks,” the Minister said.

“Most importantly, small businesses also help stimulate economic growth by providing employment opportunities and attract talent who invent new products or implement new solutions for existing challenges,” she added. 

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HM King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima arrive on Saturday

HARBOUR VIEW - His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima will be visiting St. Maarten on Saturday December 2, according to a press release from the Cabinet of the Governor.

“With this visit the Royal Couple shows their support for the people of Sint Maarten and their interest in the reconstruction of Sint Maarten. During the day, the Royal couple will visit reconstruction and aid projects and meet with affected individuals, volunteers, aid workers and first responders.

“The program will include visits to receive updates regarding the work of the Nature Foundation, the Charlotte Brookson Academy, the Red Cross, the White and Yellow Cross, K1-Britania, Qredits as well as of the work at the shelters and garbage depot as part of the overall social assistance, clean up, rebuilding and recovery efforts. 

“Governor Holiday states that Sint Maarten is looking forward to host the King and the Queen and expresses his appreciation on behalf of the people and government for their great support for the people of Sint Maarten in these difficult times. It underscores the bond between Sint Maarten, the Royal Family and the Kingdom of the Netherlands,” the press release from the Governor’s Cabinet concludes.

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Indian Merchants Association contributes relief goods for schools

POND ISLAND - Irma relief efforts made by the Indian Merchants Association (IMA) along with its Distribution Committee resulted in a number of goods being compiled and presented recently to the Minister of Education, Silveria Jacobs and members of her cabinet as well as Head of the Public Schools and her team.

Bearing in mind all the damage Hurricane Irma had caused to the schools and in order to ensure that the children are able to study in a more pleasant environment, 157 standing fans were donated to the following public schools: PWAS, MLK, SMVTS, RLS, ORANJE, LCS, and MGD.

The presentation took place at the new Administration Building. IMA President Damu Rawtani, Vice President Cookie Bijlani, Board Member Umesh Chellani and Distribution Committee Members Hanisha Alwani and Poonam Khanna were delighted to help the children of St. Maarten.

ima inside 1

ima inside 2

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Renzo Gracie Jiu Jitsu donates to Hurricane Irma Relief

COLE BAY - Local martial arts school SXM BJJ was able to make a $500 donation to the New Start Foundation foster home for children.

The donation was made possible by from support from Team Renzo Gracie Black belt professors Kay Stephenson of New York and Girls in Gis Association who held a fundraising seminar for over 100 female practitioners in New York City.

Pat Colligan and black belt professor Karel ‘SilverFox’ Pravec also held a fundraising seminar at Ottawa Academy of Martial Arts Academy and made a significant donation towards Hurricane Irma repairs.

SXM BJJ was happy to pass on their generosity to help the foster children of the New Start Foundation. Foster mother Sally Benjamin visited SXM BJJ dojo to collect the donation from head professor Melissa Bardfield.

For more information on martial arts training please visit www.sxmbjj or call 721 580-3894.

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Businesses allowed to open on Christmas

POND ISLAND - Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) Mellissa Arrindell Doncher on Tuesday announced that an exemption has been made to the official public holiday regulations to allow businesses to open on Christmas Day.

With two cruise ships in Port, with a compliment of 5,000 people, the Minister said extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. She said government, the Port St. Maarten, merchants, tour operators and other partners has worked diligently to ensure that the island is ready in December to welcome cruise visitors.

"In a sense we are playing catch up in the season to other destinations, so we cannot afford to not take advantages of every opportunity to open and do business," she said, adding that the exemption is for all businesses, not just those in Philipsburg.

The Minister reminded that all businesses that choose to open on this day – January 25th, 2016 – as part of this exemption, must still adhere to all labor regulations.

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Saturday’s Festival Welcomed Back Birds, Habitats, and People

GRAND CASE, St. Martin—People of all ages flocked to Friar’s Bay to celebrate St. Martin’s nature and enjoy fun activities at Les Fruits de Mer’s 2017 Migratory Bird Festival, which was held this past Saturday at Kali’s Beach Bar.

The festival’s 2017 theme was “Welcome back!” to the island’s migratory birds and habitats that are recovering from the hurricane. The event also welcomed people back to the natural beauty of Friar’s Bay, and brought some to the French side of the island for the first time since Irma.

“It was a gorgeous day, and there was fantastic birdwatching on the pond! People were able to see migratory species like Greater Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpipers and Blue-winged Teal ducks, and year-round resident species like Snowy Egrets and Caribbean Coots,” said Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama.

Professional birding guide Binkie van Es helped event-goers discover local birds at the festival’s birdwatching station. Adults and kids also learned how to use binoculars and wildlife-spotting scopes to get up-close views of the birds.

The event’s calabash bird feeder craft was also a big hit. Festival guests painted their own feeders to take home with free birdseed to help provide food for birds while habitats continue to recover.

The Portable Pond Discovery Station drew a constant crowd as well, showcasing the tiny creatures that migratory birds come to the island to eat. Visitors young and old were surprised to learn how many flying insects, like dragonflies, begin their life in the water.

Event-goers found out how native trees and plants protect shorelines, and provide habitat for birds, from EPIC volunteers at the Restoration Station. Volunteers from Anguilla National Trust came over for the day to assist and share their knowledge about birds and nature. A team of youth volunteers from the Rotary Interact Club of St. Dominic High School also came to help out at the event.

“We were thrilled to have so many people come out to the festival, and we’re super grateful that we had so many volunteers at a time when everyone’s so busy with their recovery work. We also couldn’t have done it without our event sponsors, BirdsCaribbean, BZSE, Caribbean Paddling, Delta Petroleum, Lagoonies Bistro and Bar, Tri-sport and Van Dorp,” said Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “People really came together to make this event happen for the island when times are tough for everyone, and it was amazing.”

PHOTO CUTLINE: Volunteers from St. Martin and Anguilla came together for the 2017 Migratory Bird Festival. (Photo by Shuja Reiph)

MBF Volunteers

PHOTO CUTLINE: Event-goers learned how to spot birds at the Birdwatching Station. (Photo by Mark Yokoyama)

MBF Birdwatching

PHOTO CUTLINE: The festival’s Portable Pond Station showcased the tiny creatures migratory birds eat. (Photo by Mark Yokoyama)

MBF Portable Pond

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Minister Emmanuel: VROMI did as they should in the salvaging of the wreckage's in the lagoon

POND ISLAND – “The Ministry has been working diligently with the processing of salvaging permits. Thus far 90 salvaging permits have been given between the two companies Aquatic Solutions NV and Seacure Marine Construction,” a press release from the Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure Management (Ministry VROMI) Christophe Emmanuel said on Sunday.

“VROMI understands the severity of the state of the Simpson Bay lagoon but also needs to make sure that companies working have the proper documentation in place.

“There was some confusion post hurricanes Irma and Maria pertaining to salvaging wrecks and the barge “Titan” that was brought by Marine Management & Consulting. 

“Chairlady Sarah Wescott Williams brought the barge to the attention of the coalition members as well as the council of Ministers and questioned why the barge was not being operated at the time.  Thus it is confusing as to why she would mention in various media interviews she was unaware of the barge according to Minister Emmanuel.

“The Port Department in Nassau Bahamas made it clear that they are in full agreement that the vessel in question, Motor Vessel TITAN, should not be allowed to operate outside of her specified trading area.

“Acting Head Maritime affairs, Claudius Carty, mentioned in the press release dated October 26, 2017, that the barge was headed back to the Bahamas and expressed that it was very sad to see the facts being twisted in order to try and justify the willful wrongdoing of an operator.”

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