Soualiga News Today


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Soualiga News Today (3732)

Two Pelican Statues Stolen

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - On Saturday May 10th the man with initials M.M. filed a report with the Detective Department stating that between May 8th and 10th 2014 unknown persons have stolen two four feet bronze pelican statues from his property in Bryson Drive on the Mount William Hill. The statues resemble those that are located on the round-a-bout at the Princess Juliana International Airport. Each statue weighs approximately 100 pounds. The Detective Department is investigating.


President Arrindell casts her vote for European Union parliamentary elections

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – On Tuesday afternoon President of Parliament Hon. Gracita Arrindell casts her vote for the European Union (EU) Parliamentary elections. Arrindell used her democratic right by visiting the Office of Dutch Representation on Front Street #26, Philipsburg.

“I call on all citizens who registered up until April 10 to exercise their democratic right to vote between now and May 22.

“I made use of this right this afternoon and voted for the candidate of my choice. Not too long ago, not everyone could vote, including women. To date there are millions of people around the world who still cannot or are not allowed to freely vote for the party or candidate of their choice.

“The opportunity was created to allow residents who met the criteria to vote in EU parliamentary elections, and we should make use of this,” President of Parliament Hon. Gracita Arrindell said on Tuesday.

The European parliamentary elections are considered the second biggest democratic exercise in the world, where 400 million people can cast their vote for a new European Parliament.

Elections are on May 22 for the 751 member chamber of the European Parliament. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) represent 503.7 million people in the European Union.

The 751 MEPs will take their seats in July and will set the course of European policies for the next five years. They will also elect the leader of the EU’s executive body, the European Commission President.



Business Cycle Survey Now Underway

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The Department of Statistics (STAT) informs the business community of the start of its Business Cycle Survey this week. Each year STAT carries out this survey in May through June and October through December, to gather up-to-date developments within our economy, based on the performance of the business sector.

Data-collection began on Monday May 12th 2014 and will continue for 6 weeks until June 20th 2014. The survey’s target group includes all businesses with ten employees or more; and a sample of businesses with between three to ten employees.

STAT-trained interviewers will be distributing and collecting the Business-Cycle questionnaires from enterprises and will also be on-hand to provide any additional assistance, that may be required.

The survey takes just a few minutes to complete, and refers to the situation of the business for the first-half of 2014. It covers brief questions on the level and changes in turnover and personnel, but also seeks to capture the opinions and expectations of entrepreneurs in 2014, as it regards investments, competitiveness and confidence in the economy. STAT is appealing to all businesses approached to participate in the Business Cycle survey, as the private-sector input is essential for the department’s work in measuring current economic developments.


Flooding of Districts, Invasive Species, Acidic Oceans and Bleaching of Coral Reefs All Part of Climate Change Impacts for St. Maarten

COLE BAY, Sint Maarten - The St. Maarten Nature Foundation recently presented a revised Climate Change Action Plan to Various Stakeholders explaining some of the projected impacts Climate Change will have on St. Maarten. The control plan outlines specific controlling methods to combat the effects of climate change to the coastal and near shore environments of the country. The re-issuance comes as a result of new reports from various international sources stating that the melting of the West Antarctic Ice Cap will have significant impacts to coastal communities around the world, including to those in the Caribbean.

This document is constructed as a plans of approach regarding the tackling of the effects global warming will have on the Marine and Coastal Zone Ecosystem of St. Maarten. The document also gives an overview of the causes and threats posed by Global Warming to the Marine and Coastal Zones, Parameters for Monitoring and Recording those threats and possible mitigating suggestions to the effects caused by Climate Change to the Coastal and Marine Environment, which are the ecosystems and population centers most greatly affected by Climate Change.

From the mid-19th to the beginning of the 21st century, the air temperature at the earth’s surface increased by between 0.6 and 0.8°C, and this warming is expected to accelerate during the current century if mitigating measures are not put in place. The sea plays a key role in limiting this process as more than 80% of the heat absorbed by the planet accumulates in the world’s oceans.

For St. Maarten Climate Change will bring with it serious consequences, particularly with regards to sea level rise, ocean acidification, invasive species and coral bleaching. It is estimated that by 2073 various districts on the island including Great Bay, Simpson Bay and Cole Bay will be submerged if current estimated sea level rise continues. The report outlines suggestions for mitigating the effects climate change will have on the country and outlines plans of action for addressing the issues climate change will bring with it.

St. Maarten, as a Small island developing State, is particularly vulnerable to climate change, climate variability and sea-level rise. The population of small islands like St. Maarten tends to have their population and infrastructure concentrated in the coastal zone and any rise in sea-level will have significant and profound effects on the economy and living conditions. The St. Maarten Nature Foundation hopes that, with this report, some measures can be taken to alleviate the stress climate change will have on St. Maarten. The plan can be downloaded via the Nature Foundation website



Prime Minister Wescot-Williams Congratulates Nurses for International Nurses Week

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams congratulated all nurses and health care professionals for international Nurses Week celebrated from the sixth to 13th of May.

The Prime Minister emphasized that the nurses and caregivers of country St. Maarten continuously strive to deliver quality health care to patients; “Our Nurses on St. Maarten oftentimes go far beyond what their job description entails; providing care for our sick and infirm and ensuring that those amongst us who are most vulnerable receive their much needed care.

“I must also commend our nurses for continually innovating to enhance the quality of patient care provided here on St. Maarten, whether improving conditions for one patient or solving a problem for many, their work is indispensible.

“Patients island-wide are benefitting from nurses’ leadership role in improving quality health care and in using their knowledge, compassion, and skills in helping patients maintain and improve their health, educate them about their treatment, and care for their bodies and minds throughout their lives. So once again to all nurses and on behalf of the people and Government of St. Maarten I would like to say thank you,” concluded the Prime Minister.


Ministry VROMI announces traffic interruption on Union Farm road starting May 15

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI), hereby announces that there will be interruption to the traffic flow on Union Farm Road, leading to the 911 houses.

The interruption will take place on Thursday, May 15 up to Friday, May 16 from 8.00am to 7.00pm.

Motorists and pedestrians are requested to be vigilant and observant for the traffic directional signs indicating what works are underway in the respective area.

There will also be heavy equipment on the road during the road repairs in the aforementioned area.

Ministry VROMI apologizes for any inconvenience that this may cause.


Prime Minister Wescot-Williams Working on Solutions with Regards to Issues Pertaining to the Issuance of Passports

Highlights the Importance of Proper Information Being Given to the Community

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - In response to questions and concerns from Parliament the Prime Minister of St. Maarten on Friday highlighted that issues that are occurring at the Census Office have her full attention, and that her Cabinet is working diligently in addressing some of the issues which have been at play in the community; “With respects to the matter of the Census Office it was expected that members of Parliament would have brought up the issue of the complaints that have been coming from the public with regards top the processes at the Census Office.

There are two issues at play at the moment: The Government of St. Maarten does not issue Passports and secondly: the issue of cleaning up the Civil Registry. When persons go to the Civil Registry to apply for a Passport they may be asked to verify facts, which sometimes means that persons will have to bring new documentation.

Critical in this respect is the issue related to the Birth Certificate. This is playing very much in the Community. A case which my office has been dealing with these days particularly pertained to an elderly Dutch Naturalized lady originally from Jamaica who went to renew her passport and was told that she needed a new Birth Certificate from the Jamaica.

The elderly lady complied and presented a newly issued birth certificate, however she needed a so-called apostille from the Country of issuance which she was not able to pay for. I am confronted with this on a daily basis because of the cleaning up of the Census Office and the close scrutiny which is done with regarding Government and the Office of the Governor whose responsibility it is to issue Passports.

There have even been cases where persons received their Dutch Nationality by mistake and which have been subsequently revoked. I have seen tremendous hardship faced by those who have undergone this; persons have been told that because of certain issues this has led to the revoking of their nationality. I have been in discussion with the Census Office regarding this issue specifically and I am working on finding a solution to assist and give service in this regard.

We are currently pushing for a liaising with representatives of the Communities on St. Maarten and communicating with the necessary departments to ensure that there is a smooth process. This is a very important issue which can not be understated; I indicated to Parliament that information to the Public is paramount: the Census Office itself had some small gatherings in the districts in order to inform people of the role of the Census Office and has encouraged persons to contacts them in order to find out if their dossier is in order. Giving information on a consistent basis is key.

If someone thought of reminding that elderly lady that she needed an apostille on her birth certificate she would not have been faced by that particular problem. With information many issues can be solved,” stated Prime Minister Wescot-Williams.


Minister Lake welcomes court decision

Lake still in favor of purchasing Emilio Wilson Estate

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Minister of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake on Sunday said he welcomed the Joint Court of Justice ruling on Friday which suspended the earlier court decision by the Court of First Instance where government was instructed to purchase the Emilio Wilson Estate within 90-days or face stiff penalities.

“I still fully support Government purchasing the Emilio Wilson Estate, and will continue to work towards this being done in an open and transparent manner, and according to the proper procedures.

“The new court ruling allows Government to work in a proper way to make sure things are done according to good governance and not via haste which has resulted in a number of disturbing things related to the purchasing of the estate.

“An overview is needed of what was done in the past by the previous Minister of VROMI. The Foundation Governments Accountants Bureau (SOAB) has been asked to conduct a full investigation into the processes and procedures followed where Government was committed to purchase the estate for Naf.30 million, even though at the time there was no approved national budget.

“The Council of Ministers decision dated July 6, 2012; MR060712 agenda point: 4 relates to purchasing 360,000 square meters at US$45 per square meter for a sum of US$16.2 million. The letter of agreement drafted by the former Minister of VROMI made mention of an area of 370,000 square meters which is 10,000 square meters more for the sum of US$17 million. We have to question on whose authority did the former Minister of VROMI William Marlin act with respect to the additional 10,000 square meters? This means an additional US$800,000/Naf.1.4 million to be paid by tax payers.

“Then we have the whole story about the registration of a letter of agreement under number 1114/10 which was registered under Ministry of General Affairs, but not under Ministry VROMI. However, it’s not really about the registration of the letter.

“It’s about the procedures that we as representatives of the people follow; the decisions we make and the execution of these decisions, which if we are careless in our actions can put this country in very serious financial predicament that would have serious repercussions for foreign investor confidence, on-island business sector confidence and the overall economy.

“In the case of the purchase of Emilio Wilson Estate, it is my responsibility as the present Minister of VROMI to ensure that all the facts are in place before I commit government to such an enormous capital expenditure.

“I have been given a mandate by the Council of Ministers to execute matters pertaining to the Emilio Wilson Estate and I am committed to do so with all diligence, transparency and integrity in the best interests of the people of this country,” Minister Hon. Maurice Lake said on Sunday.


Ministry VROMI continue clean-up activities on Sunday due to torrential rainfall of over six inches on Saturday night

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI), Department of Infrastructure Management was busy on Saturday night and Sunday cleaning up after the torrential rainfall event that the country experienced on Saturday evening, according to department head Claudius Buncamper.

On Sunday morning infrastructure crews started to clear drains and waterways as well as other road debris from small rock falls to other debris that washed unto the road from more than six inches of rainfall that the country received.

Storm water pumps will remain operational until water levels in the Salt Pond and Fresh Water Ponds reach an acceptable level.

A number of the country’s roads were flooded as well as surrounding areas including Zaegersgut road, Bush road and partially the L.B. Scott road.

A trench was dug on the beach near the Sonesta Great Bay Hotel & Casino in order to facilitate the large volume of rainwater that had collected in the Fresh Water Pond basin to flow into Great Bay. Current floodgates could not contain the volume of water and therefore were breached.

Link 1, phase 2 in Cay Hill was closed to all motorized traffic due to rock falls in that particular area.

An infrastructure preliminary assessment carried out revealed that there was some serious flooding in the Cay Hill area in the vicinity of the St. Maarten Medical Center.

Puma road and the Octavious Richardson Street were flooded out completely. The residential areas of St. Peters and Ebenezer experienced a lot of water, but no serious flooding was detected in an initial on scene assessment by public works.

In Suckergarden and Arch road, flooding took place. Several vehicles ended up in the trench due to the high water levels while other cars stalled on the country’s road network. The Police assisted in removing the vehicles from the trenches.

The Dutch Quarter area also experienced serious flooding in the area of Quiltor drive, but as the water subsided vehicular traffic was able to navigate through the area.

The Cole Bay area suffered some serious flooding especially on Orange Grove road, Wellington road, Wigley Street, and Washington Street. Water levels were very high and moving fast. Public works immediately closed off these areas and re-opened them once water levels subsided and passage through those streets was declared safe.


NIA Co-director inducted in Order of Orange Nassau

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten —Arlene Halley, co-Director of National Institute of the Arts (NIA), was among six persons who were inducted into the Order of Orange Nassau during this year’s King’s Day celebration at Fort Amsterdam.

Halley, who along with Clara Reyes, guides St. Maarten’s newest performing arts institution NIA, became a Member in the Order of Orange Nassau as a result of her years of dedication and work in the fields of education, arts and culture.

For Halley, news of the induction came as a complete surprise.
“I was astonished really, but I was also completely elated. What was really interesting to read was the documentation that was involved with the process; the recommendations and the supporting letters that went in. Reading through all of that was like reading a resume of my life. It gave me new perspective on my contributions to education, youth and dance. When you are doing things, you know, often you do them not because you are looking for any rewards or acknowledgments; you do them because they are your passion or because you know that it is in the best interest of young people and of your island, so to read through and reflect on my journey from other people's perspectives was quite fascinating," Halley said.

Halley said she was thrilled to be a part of the entire King’s Day celebration, the first of its kind in over a century. She said that this year’s event, honoring a king instead of a queen for the first time in 123 years, signaled the fact that change and continuity can go hand and hand. Halley’s careers in art and education have also been one of transformations and adjustments, though anchored in her steadfast devotion to her love of the arts. She said that this induction has only strengthened her desire to remain on her path.

"It is just added motivation to continue doing what I have been doing over the years and now with this new vehicle that is NIA. At NIA we aim to lay the strongest foundation of excellence in culture and arts, so that future generations can both look back and enjoy what we did, but also immerse themselves in the various forms of arts and continue to build on what we have developed. That is central to our mission and I think that this induction acknowledges not only the kind of work that I have done, but also the work that we are doing and will continue to do," Halley said.

Halley said that she was extremely pleased to hear the governor reiterate his support for the creation of a national centre for the performing arts during his address.

“It is important that the performing arts continue to develop into the future and in order to ensure this we must provide a physical space where performance artists can go and exhibit their talents, the skills they have honed in classes and so on. So to hear the governor again acknowledge the need for such was very powerful,” Halley said.

She said that she wanted to thank those who had nominated her and who had submitted supporting letters on her behalf.

“Reading through those beautiful words really touched me and I am honored, not only by the induction, or its ceremony, but also by the people who think so highly of my contribution to arts and education on St. Maarten,” Halley said.

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