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Asher Otto & Itchy Feet to open up the Caribbean Jam Night of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta

SIMPSON BAY - Many exciting changes have been implemented this year for the 35th St.Maarten Heineken Regatta, and one of those will be the Saturday night party, which will take place on Kim Sha Beach in Simpson Bay. This evening promises to be a night filled with undeniable sex appeal and a line-up that boasts not one but two powerful female performers. Asher Otto, from Antigua will perform onstage at 8:00pm with her well known band Itch Feet. This winning combination will make sure to get the crowd jumping with a variety of music from rock, reggae, soca, pop and folk and make it a true Caribbean Jam.

Asher Otto was born and raised in Antigua and began her singing career at the tender age of four. Influenced by musicians such as Alicia Keys and Erica Badu, Asher has developed into a soulful artist who draws you in and keeps your head filled with the soothing sounds of her voice. Her stunning looks and smooth vocals make for a stunning combination. Can't wait till Saturday the 7th? Please click on the link at the bottom to get in the mood now.

Itchy Feet was established in 2006 and quickly became a household name in and around Antigua. They have performed at many different events across the Caribbean and have opened for Maxi Priest. In 2011 Asher joined the band and the rest they say is "history". The band is comprised of five members. Paddy Prendergast on guitar, keys and vocals while Tony Mayers plays bass. Jocelyn Beldman comes in on the keys as well as vocals and Darron Jonas plays the drums. Main vocals are sung by Asher Otto and together this group of five extremely talented musicians brings an infectious vibe to the stage.

Asher Otto & Itchy Feet will be bringing you hits like Daft Punks-Get Lucky, and many of your favorite songs, but of course with their own "island style" twist and completely in style with the theme of the evening 'Caribbean Jam'. Their ability to put their own mark on popular songs is what makes them so much fun to listen too.

Finally onSaturday March 7th, once Asher Otto & Itchy Feet finish their performance, the stage will again be lit up with another Caribbean powerhouse, Tessanne Chin. Making it a double impact of leading, sultry Caribbean women who will most certainly bring their powerful vocals to the main stage.

For the full line-up of all artists and performers during the 35th St.Maarten Heineken Regatta make sure to visit the regatta websitewww.heinekenregatta.comwhere you will find up to date information for both on and off shore events.

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Conference on the Last Colonies in the Caribbean Slated for March

GREAT BAY – The Independence for St. Martin Foundation will be organizing an international conference here under the theme, “The last colonies in the Caribbean,” from March 6 – 8, 2015.

Invitations have been sent to individual scholars and organizations in the region engaged in the decolonization of the remaining territories in the region, and according to ISM Foundation President, Jose Lake Jr., the response has been “quite encouraging so far.”

The aim of the conference, he explained, is to bring together those in St. Martin with others in the otherremaining colonies in the Caribbean who believe in the goal of political independence for their territories, especially in view of the fact that the United Nations has set 2020 as the target date for all colonies to achieve sovereignty.

Among those who will be making presentations at the conference is Dr. Carlyle Corbin, a renowned expert on governance and decolonization. Dr. Corbin recently observed the referendum held in St. Eustatius.

Some of the presentations at the conference will be considered for publication by St. Martin’s House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP), which has been working on a volume on the topic for some time now.

Jose Lake Jr., author of the seminal work, “The Republic of St. Martin,” also published by HNP, said the conference is long overdue, given that “we’re only five years away from the 2020 deadline set by the United Nations.”

Coordinating the conference is Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, who stressed that the conference is open to the general public. “The opening is set for March 6, at the Cultural and Community Center on Backstreet while the conference proper will be held at the University of St. Martin on March 7,” she said. “Participants, especially those from abroad, will be able to return to their respective territories on March 8.”

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NAGICO staff plants garden for Sr. Basillia Center

ST. JOHN’S ESTATE - As part of our commitment to give back to the community, through our NAGICO Lend a Hand program; a group of staff from NAGICO Insurances visited the Sister Basillia Center in St. Johns Estate on Saturday morning, where they created a vegetable garden for the residents and staff of the center, to aid in their healthy eating food program.

More than a dozen staff of NAGICO arrived at the Center's head Quarters in St. Johns early Saturday morning; equipped with gardening tools, seeds, manure, soil, paint and customized wooden plant boxes which they used to get to work immediately to create a beautiful garden which was requested by the Center's Activities Coordinator; Mireya Torrenga - Maria.

"At NAGICO we are known to sponsor and donate to a number of community events and projects on a daily basis, but for this year we wanted to do more by taking a more hands on approach," Executive Marketing Manager Paul Dijkhoffz said. "We began in December with the NAGICO Food Drive which was very successful after that we had internal discussions as to how much we could impact the lives of people more in our community and be more involved in the process."

According to Dijkhoffz, NAGICO's Marketing and HR department have been carrying out an internal campaign which influenced their staff to volunteer for community service. The NAGICO Lend a Hand Community program will consist of approximately 7 community projects per year, which are submitted by non-profit organizations, schools and other groups which are in need of help.

"This was a successful project for us, we had a good turnout, with a mix of staff and management coming out to help" he said. "Every staff that signed up showed up on time and excited, some even brought their children to assist and interact with the residents and staff of the Sister Basillia Center. I am very proud of the NAGICO staff; they really embrace the company's philosophy that our clients are our neighbors and have adopted the kind compassionate culture; which is The NAGICO Way of doing things."

Some of the vegetables planted were; lettuce, spinach, green peas, carrots, cucumber among others. (NAGICO)

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Island Gems sponsors’ air ticket for Math A-Lympiad

SOUTH REWARD - In keeping with its focus on education and youth, Island Gems Charity Foundation sponsored a round-trip air ticket for Milton Peters College (MPC) Mathematics A-Lympiad team to head to Garderen in the Netherlands to compete against other math whizzes.

The island’s oldest charity foundation was contacted by a parent of a team member seeking assistance for the four youngsters. The Gems thought it fit to sponsor at least one air ticket for the team.

“We did not specify to which student the ticket goes. We simply paid the cost of one ticket directly to the airline and it is up to the team to get the rest of its funding,” said Island Gems President Alita Singh and Vice President Karine Fleming.

“We wish our resident math whizzes the very best in solving their mathematical problems in the Netherlands. Their placement in the prestigious competition is already a boost for the country. It is also a great promotion point as well. After all, MPC has already brought home the top trophy once and we hope this team will do it again,” said Singh and Fleming.

Forming the MPC math team are Veerle Bok, Reno Brooks (who has competed before), Mahealeney Kemper and Melissa Mingo. They will be part of the final round of competition on March 14-15.

Island Gems Singh, Fleming, Kerisha James, Jody Rosen, Milva Hoeve, Monica Idnani, and Marieke van Zadelhoff recently met with the math whizzes at MPC to learn more about their preparation and to wish them well in their endeavours.

The Mathematics A-Lympiad is based on a problem-solving or modelling component found in mathematics curriculum in many countries. Working on these skills is often put on the shelf, because textbooks often do not provide good examples of appropriate tasks, and teachers do not know how they are supposed to deal with this. The Mathematics A-lympiad fills this gap by providing appropriate tasks to practice these skills.

The Mathematics A-lympiad has two rounds: the preliminary round with about 1,000 teams of students competing for a day at their own schools (in their own countries), and an international final in which about 16 teams compete during a whole weekend, in a conference centre in a Dutch national park.

In the Netherlands, the best nine Dutch teams are invited to the final round.

Since 2000, St. Maarten and Aruba have been part of the competition. As Dutch and English are the languages spoken on those islands, the assignments are also translated into English. Other teams will come from Denmark, Germany and other invited countries.

The funds used by Island Gems to sponsor the air ticket for the team is derived from its annual fundraising dinner. The foundation hosts one gala costume dinner annually, and distributes the funds to worthy social, educational, community and other causes on both sides of the island.

The 2015 dinner, themed Caribbean Creole, will be held at Captain Oliver’s restaurant in Oyster Pond on Saturday, March 28. Master of Ceremonies for the evening is the well-known entertainer Leroy “King Beau Beau” Brooks, who has donated his services to aid the for-charity event.

Tickets for the dinner cost US $125 each, and are available from all Island Gems members. (Island Gems)

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MP Lake submits list of discussion points for CECYSA Committee of Parliament on Education, Youth Unemployment and Culture

PHILIPSBURG – United People’s (UP) Party Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Maurice Lake, has submitted a list of points to be added to the plan of action for the Permanent Committee of Parliament for Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs (CECYSA).  The committee will be meeting on Monday to discuss a draft a plan of action for 2015.

Some of the issues that MP Lake has submitted are government recognition of the University of St. Martin (USM); strengthening USMs hospitality program and filling the gap for Sundial School; revisit the subsidy agreement between Government and USM; looking at more students being able to attend USM; and improving the incentive policy and package for returning young Sint Maarten professionals.

Another area MP Lake is interested in are statistics related to supply and demand for returning students who have graduated; the fields of study, and impact on the local labour market.

With respect to Culture, MP Lake would like to see culture and heritage becoming a main focal point in the educational system and within the community, adding that it would also benefit the tourism sector overall.

“Teachers have a guide book related to culture/heritage, but the students need a content book showing the national symbols, government structure and much more about our heritage, and every child should have one.

“As a member of the committee, the issues of education, culture, youth and sports are very dear to me.  We need to address the basic issues at hand that are affecting our young people.

“In order for USM to be accredited, Government has to recognize it as our national university. The subsidy of Naf.850,000 per year needs to be increased if we are serious about higher learning in the country. We need to be realistic and show more support to USM.    

“At the end of every school year, you have students graduating from high school.  We need a tracking system in place to know where they are going.  How many have applied for a scholarship to go abroad?  How many have gone to USM?  How many have applied to enter the local labour market? 

“How many leave the country to study abroad on their own with family assistance?  How many sit at home idling?  This information is very important in order for parliament to have an understanding of what is taking place within our communities and with our sons and daughters.  Youth unemployment is very high.  You have young people getting involved in crime.

“We spend millions annually to send our brightest minds abroad to study and we want them to return to help build the country. There is an expat policy, but we need to improve the policy for our young professionals who want to return.  There is a discrepancy between what is offered to expats and our young professionals.   

“As a representative of the people, these have to be addressed, and information and data are key to being able to find ways and means to address these challenges and many more,” MP Hon. Maurice Lake said on Sunday.

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SCDF: Carnival 2015 will have something for all lovers of fettin’

PHILIPSBURG - The official Scotiabank Carnival Schedule of events of the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) features what the foundation calls “something for everyone” in what will be a very long Carnival season. The schedule, already in distribution digitally via social media, will be distributed in hard copy format later this week. “If you love a good fete, this one is for you,” the SCDF said.

The schedule and all Carnival activities kick off with the 2nd Annual Causeway Jump-Up on March 14 and end with the Closing Jump-Up and Burning of King Momo on May 4. Combined with Carnival pre-events and parties, St. Maarten Carnival 2015 with its moniker “Come, Experience Life!” will span 29 days with the opening of Carnival Village officially on April 16.  

For Carnival lovers that crave the international concerts, seven of them are on the schedule. For folks who lean towards more of the local/cultural aspects, seven such shows are also scheduled including a new one entitled the “Soca Rumble” which will be detailed in the coming days. Five jump-ups, two parades, four pageants, a family play day and a Carnival Village Cook-Up are all part of Carnival 2015.

All Carnival events will be streamed over the internet to the world, but local online access blocked. Additionally, this year the SCDF is once again giving patrons the opportunity to purchase Carnival Season Passes which are US $250 and allows entrance to every show in Carnival Village after its official opening on April 16.

“The great thing about St. Maarten Carnival is the choices it offers. If you love concerts, we have them, if you love pageants, we have them, Calypso? Done deal. Jump-Ups? We have plenty. And of course you can tailor your Carnival experience the way you want it with several options,” the SCDF said.

“In other words, the season pass is US $250 yes, but Carnival lovers are also offered several “early bird” packages for the shows, they can choose to only attend the local events which are naturally cheaper than the international concerts. We have afforded the possibility to pay for the pass in two instalments etc. So everyone has options for how they want to tailor their experience.”

Most important however, the foundation stressed that it is most proud of Carnival’s all inclusive and ever growing status as St. Maarten’s largest, longest and best attended annual event.

“And this requires the continued contribution of all. Our growth is evident, the significance to our economy is undisputable. But we want to elevate Carnival to new levels moving forward, address our shortcomings and work towards financial stability with the cooperation of our dedicated corporate sponsors. Great things are ahead for St. Maarten Carnival and our hard working group of volunteers intends to give residents and visitors alike another memorable Carnival experience in 2015.” (SCDF)

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Minister Bourne-Gumbs says language is the most powerful instrument in preserving tangible and intangible heritage

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Saturday, 21 February marks International Mother Language Day.  The day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations (UN) Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999.

Minister of Education, Culture, Youth Affairs and Sports Hon. Rita Bourne-Gumbs, on Thursday said 2015 marks the 15th anniversary of International Mother Language Day.

The theme for the international day is: ‘Inclusion in and through education: Language counts.’

“Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing tangible and intangible heritage.  All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will not only serve to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education, but would also develop more awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions,” Minister of Education, Culture, Youth Affairs and Sports Hon. Rita Bourne-Gumbs said on the eve of the international day.

On 16 May, 2007, the UN General Assembly called upon member States to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world, and to promote unity in diversity and international understanding, through multilingualism and multiculturalism.

International Mother Language day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

The date represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.

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Minister Fleming-Artsen exchange views with Dutch MP Ronald van Raak. Continued dialogue and communication promoted

THE HAGUE, the Netherlands – Minister Plenipotentiary Hon. Josianne Fleming-Artsen recently met with Dutch Second Chamber Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Ronald van Raak where they exchanged views about developments on Sint Maarten.

MP Ronald van Raak has been very outspoken with respect to developments in other parts of the Kingdom, in Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten.

“MP Van Raak during our meeting was very clear in his belief that Sint Maarten was not ready to get autonomy in 2010 and his reactions come from this perspective.

“The MP is concerned about white collar crime and the casino sector, and he feels that not enough is being done, however, he supports the efforts of the Dutch Government regarding Integrity, but feels that another approach should have been taken.

“Regarding the Integrity Chamber, the Dutch MP feels that the course taken by the Kingdom Council of Ministers regarding the chamber does not leave much room for dialogue between the Netherlands and Sint Maarten.

“In our discussions, we also spoke about the social issues, and I informed him that social issues should be tackled simultaneously, and he agreed, and also declared his willingness to look at ways to help empower the social structures of country Sint Maarten.

“The MP and I also discussed where he gets his information about Sint Maarten, since this shapes his opinions and reactions on issues.  I informed him some serious allegations have been made over the years pertaining to integrity issues, but without proof to substantiate these allegations, they tend to live a life of their own, and this has been creating a certain perception in the Netherlands and putting the relationship between our two countries sometimes unnecessarily under pressure.

“The meeting with Dutch MP Van Raak gave us both the opportunity to discuss the issues in an amicable manner.  It was an open minded pleasant discussion.  We both recognized the need for continued dialogue and communication.

“I also pointed out that whatever perceived problems may exist, a discussion was needed and a solution found in a mutual manner using the articles of the Kingdom Charter rather than initiative laws that will only further raise tensions unnecessarily between the two countries,” Minister Plenipotentiary Hon. Josianne Fleming-Artsen concluded.

The meeting took place at the Sint Maarten House in The Hague.  The invitation to meet came from MP Van Raak when the Minister briefly met him at the Ambassador’s Conference back in January.

Dutch MP Van Raak is a member of the Socialist Party (SP).

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TELECOMS REGULATOR HOSTS SEMINAR ON MOBILE SPECTRUM MANAGEMENT

LITTLE BAY - On February 16th 2015 Bureau Telecommunications and Post St. Maarten (BTP-SXM) hosted a seminar on Next Generation Mobile Spectrum Management at Divi Little Bay Beach resort, to educate St. Maarten Telecom providers on several topics that are important to effectively manage a mobile telecom network. 

Chief Operating Officer of BTP-SXM, Mr. Giovanni King, gave a presentation on the role of the regulator, the future of telecom and the importance of embracing latest technology standards for the betterment of telecommunication services on the island. Mr. King stated: “mobile broadband is key for socio-economic development of a country, and managing & harmonizing mobile spectrum is required for sustainable development of mobile broadband.

Key note address came from Dutch Telecom Expert Mr. Jan van Rees. During an in-depth presentation, Mr. van Rees discussed several global case studies and shared his thoughts on the future of technology.

“Nowadays, mobile users are consuming ten times more mobile data than in the recent past, and usage will only go up as people are using their mobile devices for video calls, TV, social media, online shopping, banking, health, education and much more. In addition to that, “machine to machine communication” is becoming more popular globally.

“Just think of all the cars, copy machines, alarm systems and electronic meters that are equipped with mobile chips and directly communicating with other devices. These developments are all very positive but it requires an enormous amount of mobile bandwidth, and mobile operators can only facilitate this data growth if they upgrade to latest mobile technology standards such as LTE”.

Amongst the people present where local telecom providers, Telem, UTS, Scarlet, Zenitel and the new concession holders Corporate Innovations and Beach Mart Television. Mr. King is extending his gratitude to all the providers for their active participation in this session.

In closing Mr. King stated:  “I realize that the mountainous landscape of St. Maarten and the small economy of scale often makes it more challenging for local telecom providers to provide state of the art telecom services. But despite these disadvantages, I’m pleased to see that all the providers are making great efforts to bring in new technologies to offer good, reliable telecom services on our island”. 

Presentations will be availible on the BTP-SXM website: www.sxmregulator.sx 

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ST. PETERS COMMUNITY COUNCIL ON BOARD VROMI COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS

ST. PETERS - Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure (VROMI) Department of Infrastructure Management hosted a meeting with the St. Peters Community Council and CPO last night, inaugurating the long-term collaboration of the council in assisting both the ministry and the KPSM in effectively executing responsibilities and enhancing the quality of life for the residents of St. Peters.

The St. Peters Community Council is the second assisting group to join the effort which was initiated with the South Reward Community Council last week. Ministry VROMI is experiencing positive growth to the tri-party assembly.

Attendees acknowledged a joint responsibility in the activities going forward to assure a fruitful collaboration that would generate the desired results. Next steps discussed includes an inventory of critical issues and concerns that require immediate attention, follow-up meetings with the council and relevant stakeholders to establish and execute a plan of approach, and measurement tools to identify best practices and overall progress.

St. Peters Community Council President, Natasha Manuela confirmed that the initiative is a well needed assistance in the area of St. Peters and “We will do our part,” she said, to create the environment her council desires for the entire community of St. Peters. (Dept. of Communication)

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