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Royal Talens Foundation contributes to Recovery of Sint Maarten

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS - Royal Talens, has been inspiring and stimulating creative expression worldwide for over 100 years. The Royal Talens Foundation believes that creative expression is essential for everyone’s personal development and therefore contributes to a social better world. The Foundation in living up to its beliefs and holistic approach donates goods and materials to countries across the globe, where the need is greatest, according to a press release from Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary Michael Somersall in The Hague, the Netherlands at the Sint Maarten House. 

“This time it was Apeldoorn. The General Director of Talens, said that even though not being actively involved in the initial phase of the project, that after having read the proposal, he thought it only fitting to have Talens be a part of the recovery and assistance process on the island of Sint Maarten. 

“Giving back and actively encouraging development in the field of arts and craft, this is what we are about he stated. We have seen how donations like this has helped children cope with their trauma’s and I believe the same goes for St. Maarten. Creative expression brings people together, it stimulates conversation and it reduces conflicts where there are conflicts. We see this every day and that is the real goal of the Royal Talens Foundation. 

“Two pallets of goods consisting of 300 kilos of paint, easels, canvases, starter sets, and mixing trays donated by The Box Blikken. Royal Talens expressed the hope that the goods will find a good destination and purpose, where the youth in particular will have joy working with them in creating fine artwork pieces and that it will not only help with the recovery of St. Maarten but also with the cultivation of experiences through the expression in art forms using paint. 

“The Mayor of Apeldoorn Mr. John Berends affirmed what was spoken by the director of Talens and was moved by what he had seen during the official handover. The Mayor of Apeldoorn stated that it is good to see that we can work together and support one another in good and not so good times. He further expressed his admiration for the resilience of the people of St. Maarten through Deputy Minister Somersall. 

“He wished Minister Somersall much strength and told him that the people in the Caribbean has a special place in his heart.  Deputy Minister Somersall thanked all for their contribution and continued support to the people of St. Maarten. 

“Deputy Minister Somersall further thanked NIA, Tess Verheij and all the unseen stakeholders on St. Maarten who are helping the children and others cope with their trauma after the passing of hurricanes Irma and Maria. Honoring SMCP pledge to the people of giving back from their salaries, the transport and shipping of the goods to St. Maarten was donated by Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary Michael Somersall. We hope that this donation be utilized in a proper, transparent and efficient manner benefitting many, and growing Sint Maarten even larger in the area of cultural expressions through Art,” the Sint Maarten House press release concludes.

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Recovery Program Bureau signs US$550 Thousand Contract for Home Repairs

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Wednesday January 23rd,newly appointed Director of the National Recovery Program Bureau, Claret Connor signed a works contract valued at approximately 550 thousand US dollars for the repair of a number of buildings managed by the Sint Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF).   Once concluded, the 100 roofs and ceilings in up to 40 buildings will provide complete housing again to families living in undesirable conditions.  

As part of a 5 million US Dollars subsidiary agreement signed with the SMHDF, repairs to over 100 homes as well as complex repairs to a smaller number of severely damaged homes will be completed in the coming months. 

For this project, Caines Construction and Maintenance Services, was awarded the contract after completing an extensive bidding process, supervised by the Interim Recovery Committee.  The SMHDF will be responsible for the supervision of the contract.  The homes, located at the Delight, Anna’s Hope, Sugar Mill, FOGA and Careta Estates, were damaged as a result of the passing of Hurricane Irma in September 2017. 

The repairs fall under the 55 million US Dollar Emergency Recovery Project. This is one of the projects of the Sint Maarten Recovery & Resilience Trust Fund, which is financed by the Netherlands and managed by the World Bank. 

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Even more top-class acts unveiled for 39th Heineken Regatta parties

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Over the last 38 years, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta has developed a reputation as one of the sailing world’s most unmissable regattas – and now it is also gaining a formidable reputation for its legendary parties. Celebrating its 39th year this year, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta has a whole galaxy of stars on the lineup for their infamous parties!

Following the announcement of Alison Hinds, Shermanology and headline act The Jacksons, further acts have now been announced to ensure each of the four nights of parties go off with a bang – including St. Maarten natives Orange Grove, reggae/pop chart toppers The Elovaters, reggae royalty THIRD WORLD, local jazz group Funky Horny Horns and St. Maarten Afro-Caribbean band Youth Waves.

St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Production Director, John Leone, comments, “We have a serious racing schedule this year, so it is only right we match it with some serious fun at our legendary parties! 

Alongside the barnstorming headline acts we have secured some big name local and international acts that will bring a true flavour of St. Maarten to the regatta. We can’t wait to share our incredible homegrown talent with all our regatta guests – the 39th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is going to be hard to beat!”

St. Maarten natives Michael Maidwell and Jacob Steefkerk formed pop/reggae outfit Orange Grove when they were at college – fusing guitar and rap resulting in awesomely addictive results. 

Fast-forward to today and Orange Grove is about to release their much anticipated third studio album, ‘Ganja Rock’. With collaborations and guest features by legends like King Yellowman, Walshy Fire (Major Lazer) and Brainpower, the band have created something special for their fans as well as a great introduction for those who have yet to discover their music. Catch them on the main stage on Sunday.

Also performing on the Sunday of the regatta, The Elovators released their second album in October 2018, and it debuted at #1 in the Billboard and iTunes Reggae charts. Two months later it was voted people’s choice album of the year 2018 by Surf Roots TV & Radio. 

Having previously supported the likes of Ziggy Marley, Stick Figure, The Movement, Easy Star Allstars, John Brown’s Body, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and more, The Elovators have a unique brand of reggae that is sure to get toes tapping.

One of the longest-lived Reggae bands of all time, THIRD WORLD will take to the stage on the Saturday night. Celebrating 45 years of performing their own unique style of “reggae-fusion”, THIRD WORLD have 10 grammy nominations and a catalogue of charted smash hits under their belt, including “Now That We Found Love”, ”96 Degrees in the Shade” and “Try Jah Love”. Their positive, progressive and internationally relevant message is set to a hybrid of various types of reggae-based music, including elements of R&B, funk, pop, rock, dancehall and rap.

St. Maarten native Kenyo Baly began singing at church at the age of 6, and his melodic voice has often been compared to John Legend and Bob Marley. His soulful rendition of classic ballads and Caribbean standards has made him a crowd favorite. He has gained significant exposure as a featured soloist and has been interviewed and performed on major television stations including ABC, NBC, FOX5, Newsday, Channel 12, and CNN. Kenyo’s accolades are many and he continues to receive performance requests worldwide. Don’t miss Kenyo on the Main Stage on Friday night!

Local band Funky Horny Horns will be performing their unique brand of jazz on the Thursday night, while Youth Waves kick off the weekend in true St. Maarten style on the Friday night with their popular Afro-Caribbean sounds of Zouk, Salsa, Soca, Kompa and Reggae. What The Funk featuring Tanya Michelle and Shawn J. will perform on the Thursday night, covering some of the greatest funk, R&B, pop, soul, dance and rock groups from the 70s to the present day. 

MC Gee and DJ King Kembe will bring the noise and open each night of parties after the daily prize giving. St Maarten’s very own Mix Master Pauly will keep the energy at peak levels on the Sunday night.

The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is now in its 39th year, and now sports a brand new 2-handed racing class. The sailing and parties take place over four days February 28 – March 3, 2019. A cocktail of four days of World-Class racing mixed perfectly with the awesome Heineken parties are set to light up the island well into the night over the four evenings. The entire event is located at the St. Maarten’s Heineken Regatta Village at the Port de Plaisance Resort, Casino and Yacht Club. Get ready for some “Serious Fun” at the 39th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta!

Find out more about the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, and the island of St. Maarten here:www.heinekenregatta.com

hein orange grove

Orange Grove

hein elovaters

The Elovaters

 

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Geerlings holds ‘positive meeting’ with Weekers

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Netherlands’ Representative in the Steering Committee of the Recovery Trust Fund for St. Maarten managed by the World Bank Mr. Frans Weekers and Director of Reconstruction in The Hague, Mr. Hans van der Stelt held what has been hailed as a “positive meeting” with Finance Minister of St. Maarten the honourable Perry Geerlings on Friday last week. 

The Minister discussed several topics relating to the recovery of St. Maarten with the two Dutch representatives, which includes possible financing of some of the priority projects outlined in the St. Maarten United Christian Democratic Coalition’s 2018 – 2022 Governing Program entitled 'Building a Sustainable St. Maarten.'

The intention is to find ways to fund priority programs that are part of the Governing Program, which are not mentioned in the National Recovery and Resilience Program NRRP, as critical projects covered under the USD$550 million Trust Fund. 

Some of the projects identified for consideration include the complete reform of the Tax Department and reform at the Public Finance Department to improve financial management of the Country. On the subject of Tax Reform Geerlings said, they also broached the subject of options for financing the preparation of necessary legislation to realise Tax Reform, and fund the introduction of much needed new technology and additional human resources, and the construction of our own Tax Inspectorate Building. 

Minister Geerlings said, “We also spoke about the Airport Bridge Loan, and I am happy to report that all parties remain very committed to seeing it to fruition. I must say this does offer a level of comfort as it gives us a light at the end of what could have been a very dark tunnel for the airport.” He was referring to the financial precarious situation at the Princess Juliana International Airport, and the Council of Ministers’ effort to resolve the problems by accepting an offer from the World Bank Trust Fund and EIB to fund the Airports reconstruction to the tune of USD$100 million. 

Of that amount, USD$50 million will be in the form of a loan and another USD$50 million as a grant. 

Minister Geerlings has in the meantime facilitated critical liquidity support to the Airport of USD$5 million, which allowed Airport workers to receive their salary for January and avoid a full default on the Airport’s commitment to its bondholders amongst others. Friday’s meeting was held inside the Cabinet Office of Finance Minister Geerlings at the Government Administration Building in Philipsburg.

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Forum on the importance of a library in the community

ST. MARTIN (MARIGOT) - The importance of a public library in the community is the theme for the upcoming forum, scheduled for Thursday, February 7, starting at 7:30pm, at Chamber of Commerce building, Spring Concordia, Marigot.  

The educational and informative public forum will focus on the essential role libraries play in the rebuilding process. The three panelists to discuss this vital issue are Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, linguist, author, educator; Joselyne Arnell, author, educator; and Danielle Chance-Glasgow, school-librarian, and educator. The moderator for the entire proceeding will be Frantz Gumbs, educator and former president of the Collectivity. 

“The ravaging of the country’s public libraries by hurricane Irma in September 2017, left the island nation in a drought of libraries,” said educator Lenny Mussington. The senior educator also raised some serious concerns about the various students who are busy preparing their final exams and have no place to do the proper research. 

“We have to do something about these shortcomings towards our children educational future. It is putting our children in a very unfavorable position to be successful in their exams,” concluded Mussington.  

library rhoda panel

Dr. R. Arrindell

library Joselyne panel

J. Arnell

library D Chance panel

D. Chance

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Johnson pleased Airport got US$5m. ‘Sings high praises to MinFin’

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Shareholder Representative for the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) and Minister of Tourism the Honourable Stuart Johnson has expressed his satisfaction at the Airport received the USD$5 million liquidity support so that its workers could be paid.

He says he will do his “utmost to ensure that the cloud of uncertainty regarding salary for the over 270 workers at PJIA is permanently removed.” Johnson said on Monday, "The “livelihood of the over 270 employees of the airport is my primary concern as I know not only do they need to meet their monthly obligations, but their salary is essential to satisfy the basic needs of their families."

He said, "I know there are single parents whose families are depending on their monthly salary especially in these still very trying times.” 

Johnson cut short a series of meetings planned at the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association FCCA’s Platinum Associate Membership Advisory Council Cruise Summit (PAMAC last week, and called an urgent meeting with the PJIA Management and Supervisory Board Chairman along with Finance Minister Perry Geerlings upon his return to the island. 

During that meeting, the group worked out a way forward for the Airport, which includes receiving a Bridge Loan of USD$15 million for PJIA within the next few weeks, and immediate liquidity support of USD$5 million.

Johnson said, “I must commend my Colleague in the Council of Ministers the Honourable Perry Geerlings for his amazing efforts to secure the liquidity support in the amount of USD$5 million to the Airport.” 

Geerlings updated Parliament last week of his intention to do his best to ensure that the Airport does not default on its commitments to its Bondholders. He also told Parliament it was important that the Government of St. Maarten did what it could to ensure the workers received their salary. 

Johnson also attended that meeting of Parliament to lend his support to his colleague Minister who fielded several questions from the Members of Parliament regarding the short-term non-interest bearing loan to the airport. 

The meeting was requested by Geerlings to inform Parliament of his intention and get their blessings, pending a formal procedure, which will then require their approval. 

Following the meeting of Parliament Johnson took note of some media comments made by Members of Parliament who questioned whether he had changed his position on rejecting the loan option from the World Bank Trust Fund and the EIB. Johnson said, “I wish to make clear as Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunication and designated Shareholder Representative for our nation's airport, I remain committed to ensuring that the Airport workers continue to be paid, our airport remains open, and to the complete reconstruction of the airport including US-Pre Clearance.”

He said reiterated earlier sentiments stating that while he welcomes financing options from anyone, “I maintain that the terms and conditions must be amicable and St. Maarten and its people must come first.” In 2018, he had insisted that without seeing the terms and conditions of the loan option of USD$100 Million World Bank/EIB loan and without knowing for sure that the loan offer was not a disguised hostile takeover, he was not willing to support it. At present only the EIB Terms and Conditions are known. It is good to note that the Airport is still ultimately the responsible entity for finding loans and this is still an ongoing process. 

“The long-term financing for the Airport is a much-needed process whether via the World Bank/Trust Fund/EIB or Piper Jaffray but in the meantime finalising the short-term liquidity position of the airport remains an immediate primary objective,” Johnson added.

 He said, “For St. Maarten to have a sustainable economy and rebuild its Tourism Product, we must have a completely rebuilt airport, complete with US-Pre Clearance as this is key to ensuring that we can attract much more airlines and reduce the cost of travel to our destination thereby making our tourism product the most attractive in the Caribbean region. This will significantly increase visitor arrivals. This cannot be ignored as it is a fundamental aspect of the sustainable redevelopment of our country.”

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De Weever Commends Police & Students on Successful TAPS Program

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – The Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) TAPS (Teens and Police Service Academy) program has been deemed a success by KPSM, and Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever would like to commend KPSM leadership, the coordinator, participating officers and students for a job well done.  

Minister De Weever stated that this type of program brings more awareness about pertinent issues that school-going youth are confronted with from time to time during their years in high school.

TAPS is an 11-week US program primarily designed for at-risk youth where students partner with mentor police officers to discuss such issues as violence, physical and sexual abuse, stalking, sexual exploitation, and bullying. 

The program was adjusted to meet the juvenile needs of the Sint Maarten youth according to a statement by the Sint Maarten Police Force back in October when the training started at the St. Maarten Academy P.S.V.E. section.

Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever said the program initiated by the Sint Maarten Police Force is a great initiative that comes at a time when students and the educational system are confronted with a number of social youth related challenges.

“There is no need to reinvent the wheel. There are a number of international programs designed to confront anti-youth social behavior and TAPS is one such program being utilized as an intervention by the Police Force.

“TAPS cover a number of areas pertinent to youth development such as conflict resolution, truancy, drugs and alcohol, safe driving and being stopped by the police, health, fitness and nutrition, service learning, human trafficking, victimization/bullying, and team building.

“Another program that the Police Force will be starting in February is Cops and Kids.  These programs are very important for the youth of the nation.

“Everyone has a role to play when it comes to our nation’s youth. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child, and the Police Force as an integral part of society, will do its part by creating awareness in order for our young people to make the right choices,” Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever said on Friday.

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Dr. Nilda Arduin receives Royal Decoration

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Bureau Ombudsman honored former Ombudsman Dr. Nilda Arduin in a farewell dinner held at the Simpson Bay Resort & Marina Ball room on Saturday 19 January 2019. The event was attended by various dignitaries, colleagues, former and present staff of the Bureau, family and friends. 

Words of gratitude, admiration and thanks to Dr. Arduin were given via video tribute from colleagues in the Caribbean Ombudsman Association (CAROA) and International Ombudsman Institute (IOI), other High Councils of State, close friends and staff of the Bureau.   In addition, addresses were given by the Honorable Prime Minister Leona Marlin-Romeo, Honorable President of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams and His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday.

At the ending of the Governor’s speech Dr. Arduin was called on stage whereby she was decorated as Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau.The former Ombudsman was recognized for her important contribution to the Ombudsmanship locally and internationally as Ombudswoman of Sint Maarten, President of CAROA, and as IOI board member in her capacity as regional director of the Latin American and Caribbean region.

Dr. Arduin herself took to the microphone after the presentation to share her own words of gratitude and appreciation. During her speech Dr. Arduin expressed her gratitude by calling on every former and present staff member, who were in attendance, to personally thank them for their contribution to the Bureau.   

The evening ended with dinner and live entertainment by Essynce and Connis Vanterpool. 

A DJ was also present for those who wanted to dance the night away.

Governor and Arduin

L to R: His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday and Dr. Nilda Arduin.

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Port St. Maarten Receives PAMAC Award Caribbean for Everyone

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten received the ‘PAMAC Award Caribbean for Everyone’ on Tuesday this week during the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Platinum Associate Membership Advisory Council Cruise Summit (PAMAC).

On receiving the award, the Cruise Executives reminded the Port St. Maarten Management Team that St. Maarten “is the destination of choice.” A release issued by Port St. Maarten on Wednesday stated, “Once again, we have been recognized for all our hard work. This hard work is not only of the port, but also of all stakeholders throughout the country who have been working very diligently during the recovery effort.” 

One of the main messages coming from the very critical Conference is the need for St. Maarten to “continue to be on the ball and to shake things up, and not to allow things to get stale.”

“There are a lot of competitors out there vying for the same business. The message from cruise executives was, we are the destination of choice and not a destination that is part of the trip.”

On Wednesday, January 23, a delegation from FCCA PAMAC visited the destination onboard the cruise ship MSC Seaside. The PAMAC Summit is taking place from January 19-26.

Following the award ceremony, Minister of Tourism Stuart Johnson said, “Once again due to the stewardship at Port St. Maarten, the hard work of its staff, and the hard work of all stakeholders, hospitality sector workers and the population overall, the destination has been recognized by the cruise industry in their efforts for providing cruise passengers a memorable experience.  Congratulations to all are in order.”  

Port St. Maarten Management were ecstatic with respect to the recognition it received as well as the destination.  

During the MSC Seaside port call on Wednesday, marine and tourism industry pioneer and one of the first FCCA Platinum Members, Sir Bobby Velasquez, sponsored a tour for his fellow Platinum Members with an unforgettable day onboard one of the company’s vessels La Nina.  

On January 23rdthe boat was transformed into a unique tour designed specifically for the FCCA Platinum members, creating a memorable day filled as guest sailed along the coast taking in breathtaking St. Maarten views and enjoying some sun and sea.

More than 100 attendees, including FCCA Platinum Members-key cruise tourism stakeholders-and over 30 high-ranking executives from the FCCA’s 19 Member Lines, are attending the FCCA PAMAC Cruise Summit.  

The FCCA PAMAC Cruise Summit working visit on Wednesday was a perfect teaser for the attendees leading up to the PAMAC Conference that will be held on the island at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa in June. 

The seven-day event will feature a series of meetings, workshops and networking events connecting with senior cruise industry leaders to discuss industry trends and standards and develop relationships and mutual benefits for the cruise lines and members' companies and destinations.

The FCCA PAMAC Platinum Members are also visiting Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and The Bahamas.

The PAMAC event is one of many that the FCCA coordinates for its Platinum Members and Member Lines to stay at the forefront of information about both the industry and destinations while finding ways to maximize the benefits for all.

The FCCA is a not-for-profit trade organization composed of 19 Member Lines operating over 100 vessels in Floridian, Caribbean and Latin American waters. Created in 1972, the FCCA’s mandate is to provide a forum for discussion on tourism development, ports, safety, security, and other cruise industry issue and to develop bilateral relationships with destinations’ private and public sectors. 

By fostering an understanding of the cruise industry and its operating practices, the FCCA works with governments, ports and private sector representatives to maximize cruise passenger, crew and cruise line spending, as well as enhance the destination experience and increase the amount of cruise passengers returning as stay-over visitors.

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First International Day of Education

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Minister of Education, Culture Youth and Sport, the Honourable Wycliffe Smith announced that January 24 is being celebrated as the International Day of Education. 

This is the first time that this observance is being made by the United Nations. As a part of the UN 2030 agenda, the day was established to promote Sustainable Development Goal #4 which is focused on ensuring that quality education is accessible for all. 

“Regardless of gender, race, socio-economic status, age or any other factor, education is a universal right for all people. Here on Sint Maarten, I encourage each person to strive to continue your education. Once there is life, it is never too late to learn something new,” said Minister Smith.

Education is compulsory for children between the ages of 4 and 18 years old on Sint Maarten. Beyond ensuring that all children are in school, Country Sint Maarten has pledged to pursue the sustainable development goals, including Goal 4: Quality education. 

According to the United Nations, “Achieving inclusive and quality education for all reaffirms the belief that education is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development. 

“This goal ensures that all girls and boys complete free primary and secondary schooling by 2030. It also aims to provide equal access to affordable vocational training, to eliminate gender and wealth disparities, and achieve universal access to a quality higher education.”

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