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Construction greenhouse for senior citizens completed

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - The construction of a new greenhouse adjacent to the hospital in The Bottom has been completed. The wheelchair accessible greenhouse was built for clients of the LIFE Center, a program for the senior citizens.

Clients of the LIFE Center program joined Commissioner of Health Care and Agriculture Rolando Wilson, head of the Planning Bureau Bobby Zagers, Planning Bureau project manager Evita Pronk, head of the Agricultural Department Randall Johnson and representatives of the Saba LIFE Center in a visit to the location earlier this week.

Construction of the 22ft. by 12ft. greenhouse by Donisa Construction started late February and was completed late March. The structure is made of wood and has netting on the sides so wind can pass through it. The greenhouse has shelves for the plants at wheelchair height. There is a wheelchair ramp, put in place by Work Monster, the company that also poured the foundation of the greenhouse.

Commissioner Wilson said he was content that the project had been completed so swiftly. He thanked the contractors. He pointed out that there are multiple benefits to this project. “Not only will this help to keep the clients of LIFE Center healthy, strong and active, but it will also give them the opportunity to grow their own plants and vegetables, do something that they like,” he said.

The LIFE Center is a program of the Benevolent Foundation Saba, the foundation that runs the care home, located next to the medical center. The construction of the greenhouse is the first part of a more comprehensive outdoor recreation area that the Benevolent Foundation wants to establish for the clients of The Home and the LIFE Center. The greenhouse will be further fitted by the Benevolent Foundation, and officially opened at a later date.

Some of the materials to grow plants have already been ordered, while donations of additional materials are most welcome. This comprehensive project has several advantages for the clients: it promotes healthy eating, offers recreational activities in the fresh air, and being engaged in outside activities together reduces loneliness.

The US $21,000 greenhouse project is financed by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK), the Public Entity Saba and the Benevolent Foundation. A similar greenhouse has also been constructed at the Sacred Heart School so children can learn about growing their own vegetables.

Greenhouse Life Center 01

 

 

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Week-long Shark Research to be Conducted in St. Maarten Waters

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - During the week of April 11, 2021, members from the Nature Foundation St. Maarten, the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA), the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF), and Beneath the Waves will be conducting shark research in the territorial waters of St. Maarten. This activity is a part of a wider research project into Tiger Sharks in the region funded by World Wild Fund for Nature the Netherlands (WWF-NL) through the Biodiversity Funds and the Dutch National Postcode Lottery. The goal of the week-long project is to gather data on sharks in Sint Maarten and for participants to be trained in ultrasonography technology to later determine whether the Saba Bank is a breeding area for tiger sharks in the Eastern Caribbean. The week-long project will be called the ‘Shark Shakedown’.

Tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) are large, apex predators found throughout the world on coral reefs, pelagic environments, and oceanic atolls, including the Saba Bank. A previous study by Wageningen University showed that the Saba Bank might be an important nursery area for tiger sharks. Tiger sharks are currently categorized as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Currently, however, there is little data regarding the reproductive biology of tiger sharks.

The high-definition ultrasound technology the team will be using has been created by E. I. Medical Imaging and pioneered by collaborator Dr. James Sulikowski, of Arizona State University. This technology has successfully been used to identify maturity state and the stage of pregnancy in various shark species. This methodology will be used to produce an image of the inside of a shark which will help determine the presence and reproductive stage of female tiger sharks present on the Saba Bank, including their movement patterns outside the boundaries of the Dutch Caribbean. Tiger sharks are a transboundary species, meaning they travel and live in more than one area or country.

The information gained from this research will provide a better understanding of the importance of both the status of sharks in Sint Maarten’s territorial waters and in the Yarari Sanctuary and the role these ecosystems play in the life-cycle of tiger sharks in the wider Caribbean Region.

Additionally, the data will provide vital information for conservation strategies not only in the Dutch Caribbean, but the wider Caribbean as a whole. A week-long expedition to the Saba Bank is currently scheduled for August 2021.

Though tiger sharks occur in the region, they spend most of their time offshore in deeper water and are rarely recorded close to shore. Unfortunately, there have been two incidents in previous months involving negative shark/ human interactions: one in St. Martin and one in St. Kitts. The week-long project will also investigate if there is any change in the behavior and distribution of sharks in the area. Tiger sharks play key roles in maintaining the balance within local and regional marine ecosystems and are critical to the health of the Marine Biodiversity of the Wider Caribbean Region.

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Assistance for Saba’s goat owners

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - The Public Entity Saba is cognizant of the challenges that owners of free-roaming goats face in the transition process of the goat control project, and will therefore provide additional forms of assistance to help goat owners remove and/or control their goats.

This additional assistance consists of a four-month extension of the first grace period, the availability of a meat-processing unit as well as chiller and freezer units, the investigation of possible markets to sell goat meat abroad, help with the shooting of goats and the recovery of carcasses, time off for civil servants to shoot their goats, the availability of ammunition, subsidized fencing and building materials for pens, subsidized veterinary care, assistance with animal food, and access to a goat-farming advisor.

An explanation on these additional forms of assistance was provided in a letter signed by Island Governor Jonathan Johnson that was delivered to the goat owners last week.

Additional time

Initially, goat owners were granted a grace period of three months from October to December 2020 to remove their goats with the possibility to request an extension of another three months. The Public Entity Saba decided to grant goat owners an additional four-month extension, giving them extra time to remove their goats. The extended grace period runs from January 1 to April 30, 2021. Goat owners can also, under certain conditions, request an additional term of three months maximum at the end of the second grace period from April 30. With the two grace periods and the possibility to request an additional term, goat owners will have been given 10 months in total to remove their goats.

As already planned, the removal of goats will start in the Mt. Scenery National Park, and the areas of the waste management facility and Fort Bay Road. Several owners of free-roaming goats are also civil servants. The Public Entity Saba will grant these goat owners who are civil servants time off to remove their animals.

Processing, storing and selling of goat carcasses

To accommodate the butchering of goats during the goat control project and thereafter, the Public Entity Saba will make available a 20-ft meat-processing unit for goat owners. The unit has been purchased and should arrive this month. With this unit, goat owners can still butcher their goats in the traditional way, but now in a more efficient, controlled and hygienic manner. The meat-processing unit was customized in close consultation with the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) to ensure that goat carcasses processed in this unit can meet the legal requirements of preparing and trading food products in the Caribbean Netherlands.

To ensure there is adequate freezer storage capacity to store the goat carcasses during the goat control project, the Public Entity Saba will make a 20-ft chiller container and a 20-ft freezer container available to goat owners. The units have been purchased and should arrive this month with the meat-processing unit. They too were customized in close consultation with the NVWA. One of the limiting factors for goat owners to shoot more goats was lack of storage. These container units were purchased to address this problem. These units will also be used after the project has ended and animal husbandry has further developed for the butchering of different types of livestock.

Goat owners are responsible for the sale of their own goat meat. The Saba government will investigate for free-roaming goat owners whether the option of a viable market/avenue through which they can sell carcasses to neighboring islands is available.

Shooting of goats and carcass recovery

To assist goat owners with ammunition to shoot their goats, the Public Entity Saba purchased 3,750 rounds of ammunition in the Netherlands. The ammunition is available to the goat owners via the local reseller. The goat control project paid for the transportation to Saba.

During the grace period, goat owners can, under certain conditions, receive additional assistance from the invasive species specialists to shoot their goats. After the grace period and when no additional term has been requested or granted, the specialists will come to each zone to shoot the remaining goats. Goat owners can request specified days for access to these restricted zones to shoot, which will be accommodated where reasonable.

The Public Entity Saba will provide additional manpower, under certain conditions, to goat owners to help bring back the carcasses of the goats that they shoot during the grace period. Assistance to recover carcasses will only be extended to areas where the goat owners shoot and go themselves to recover carcasses and in areas which are deemed reasonably safe.

Goats in fences

The Public Entity Saba wants to ensure that goats are ultimately kept behind fences and will therefore also help goat owners to ensure that their animals are properly fenced, have water, food and shelter, and are given the necessary care. Subsidized fencing and other building materials will be made available to help the goat owners with the initial investment and start-up costs of fencing in their animals. Also, the goat owners can make use of subsidized veterinary care in case their animals get sick. The Public Entity Saba aims to assist with food for goats that are fenced in and is currently investigating ways in which this can be made possible for not only goat owners, but also other livestock owners. To improve their farms, animal husbandry techniques and business models, goat farmers can be given access to a goat farming advisor.

Within short, the public will receive another update, focusing on the planning of the goat control project and what can be expected going forward.

Goats in the bush

 

 

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Front Street armed robbers shot by police. One dead and one wounded

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Central Dispatch received several calls about an armed robbery in progress at a jewelry store on Front Street on Wednesday morning at approximately 10.45 am, the police said in a statement.

Several patrols and detective personnel were immediately directed to the location. Shortly after the robbery, the Central Dispatch received additional suspect information that three men on two scooters, all dressed in dark clothing had robbed the jewelry store a few minutes prior to the call.

After robbing the store, they continued up Front Street in the direction of Juancho Yrausquin Boulevard. Based on information received, a police patrol spotted a scooter matching the description and attempted to intercept the suspects in the vicinity of the Freedom Fighters roundabout.

Upon sighting of the police patrol one of the scooter riders fled in the direction of Sucker Garden road. The second scooter took off at high speed in the direction of the Nisbeth road toward the Salt Pickers roundabout. Chase was given and shots were fired on Arch Road, leaving one suspect dead. The other suspect on the same scooter was wounded and later rushed to Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) for treatment.

Immediately several police patrols, detectives, Forensic investigators, and paramedics were dispatched to the scene to conduct the initial police investigation into what had exactly taken place. The area was immediately cordoned off for the different departments, to collect evidence and for detectives to speak to potential witnesses.

The identity of the suspects has not yet been established. The investigation is in its preliminary stages and more details are unavailable at this time. As soon as more information becomes available the public will be informed.

Anyone with information with about this or any of armed robberies that have taken place over the last weeks, should contact SUR detectives via + 1 721 542 2222 ext. 203, 204 or 205, the anonymous tip line 9300, send a private message via Facebook Page: Police Force of Sint Maarten - Korps Politie Sint Maarten or website www.policesxm.sx. (KPSM)

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Two arrests, house searches related to sexual abuse of minors

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Complaints about sexual abuse against minors involving an elementary school employee and her neighbor led to their arrests early today, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, by the Juvenile Department of the Police KPSM on the order of the Prosecutor’s Office OM SXM.

The houses of the two suspects were searched as part of the ongoing “Pandora” investigation that is also looking into child pornography. A firearm and a quantity of marijuana were found and confiscated from one of the houses. Data carriers were confiscated from both houses.

The investigation is ongoing and the suspects - J.D.W. and B.E.H.S. remain in police custody.

One of the suspects is a (suspended) school employee who targeted her victims at school. The (alleged) abuse later took place when the victims attended after-school tutoring at the suspect’s home.

The abuse of the minors took place at the homes of the suspects over prolonged periods of time starting from around 2010. The time span of the abuse differs based on each victim’s contact with the arrestees. In the case of one victim, the abuse occurred on the premise of an elementary school. The abuse of another victim took place in 2019 and during the 2020 lockdown when the child was at tutoring classes at the home of one of the arrestees.

Aside from complaints of sexual abuse, one complainant stated that photographs of the victim(s) were taken by the school employee and shared with the second arrestee, who is her neighbor.

All of the victims in this case are/were below the age of 13 at the time they were abused by the suspects.

Cases involving the sexual abuse of minors are considered as heinous by OM SXM and KPSM as they target the most vulnerable in the community – children.

OM SXM and KPSM are cognizant that cases like this are very emotional ones and urges parents and guardians not to let emotions guide actions. The police and OM SXM are working diligently on tackling such cases for the safety of the community and in particular our children.

OM SXM and KPSM encourage everyone in the community to be mindful about the welfare of all children and to report any and all instances of sexual abuse whether against minors or adults. To report (sexual) abuse, call KPSM on + 1 721 554-2222, extension 501.

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Traffic Department investigating a pick-up truck and motorcycle accident on the L.B. Scott road

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The personnel of the Traffic Department are investigating a serious accident that took place on Sunday April 4th, 2021 about 2.45 pm on the crossing L.B. Scott road and the Flamboyant road.

Upon investigation into what transpired, it was discovered that the driver of a grey pick-up and the driver of a motorcycle were both travelling in the same direction from St Peters towards the Church-hill roundabout.

At a given moment, the driver of the pickup opted to turn left to enter onto Flamboyant road. At the very same time, the gray-pick-up was being overtaken by the rider of the motorcycle who collided with the front side the pick-up.  

Due to the collision the motorcycle rider received injuries to his face and back. He was treated at the scene by the personnel of the ambulance and later transported to the Sint Maarten Medical Center.

The Traffic Department personnel could not do any investigation on the motorcycle involved in the accident, as unknown persons had removed the motorcycle from the scene of the collision prior to the arrival of patrols or Traffic Department. (KPSM)

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Statia informs stakeholders on draft road map for reopening

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - The Public Entity St. Eustatius informed key stakeholders last week about the draft plan to gradually open up the island. This week school leaders will be involved. Based on the input received by stakeholders, the road map will be finalized and communicated to the public. Meanwhile the Public Health Department requests everyone who has not been vaccinated yet, to register promptly as the second batch of vaccines will soon arrive.

However, residents who still want to get vaccinated, can still do so. Of the first badge received by the Netherlands, there are vaccines left. Vaccination is possible tomorrow, Wednesday, April 7th, 2021 at the Hospitainer, from 9.00Am till 16.00PM. Registration is not required.

Road Map

The road map that is now in draft stage includes plans to further ease the measures and open up the island. Each next step of the road map is linked to the number of Statian residents that must be vaccinated before Statia can take the step. The first decision was already taken. As of April 11, 2021, Statian residents that are vaccinated on Statia, will be able to return to the island without the need to go into quarantine. They will be tested after five days and must adhere to social distancing and hygiene rules during the five days. 

Technical

Due to a technical issue with the freezer in Statia, the 1200 additional Moderna vaccines for 600 Statians were sent to the Public Health Department in Saba. This is a temporary solution until Statia has received a new freezer. The vaccines can only be transported from Saba to Statia when the number of registrations increases. This is due to the fact that the vaccines can be stored in a refrigerator for a maximum period of a few weeks.

Target of 80%

Up till now 673 persons were vaccinated with both doses (2) of the Moderna vaccine and 241 with the first dose. These persons will soon be vaccinated with the second dose. This means that a total of 914 residents are shortly fully vaccinated, which is a bit more than 30% of the adult population. This is unfortunately nowhere near enough to reach the target of 80%. To reach 80%, in total 2000 Statians must be vaccinated, which means the Public Health Department must vaccinate approximately 1100 additional residents.

When a large part of the population is immune to a specific disease, such as COVID-19, it will help protect people who cannot be vaccinated because of their age or having certain medical conditions. 

Side effects

The persons that were already vaccinated with the first dose in February 2021, got their second dose mid-March 2021. Some of these persons experienced side effects such as fever, chills, tiredness and headache. This is not to be concerned about. Side effects after the second shot of the Moderna vaccine are normal signs that indicate that the body is building protection. These side effects may affect the ability to do daily activities but often go away after a day, or in a few days. Many people had no side effects except a sore arm.

To register for the COVID-19 vaccination, persons can call +599 3182981 or send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. (Statia GIS)

seu stakeholder presentation

 

 

 

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Statians get $10 discount on internet and higher speeds

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - As of January 2021, EUTEL N.V. customers get a $10 discount per month on their internet invoice. The speed of the packages offered will increase by 20% or more. This discount applies for at least five years and is in addition to the monthly subsidy of the Dutch government of $35 per Internet connection in Statia in 2021. The agreement has been entered into between EUTEL N.V., the Public Entity St. Eustatius, and the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations.

On October 17th, 2020, the Public Entity St. Eustatius and EUTEL N.V. announced that an agreement had been entered into with Saba Statia Cable System B.V. (SSCS B.V.[1]) for the next five years. It was indicated at the time that the financial benefits of this deal would be transferred entirely to the customers and companies of EUTEL. In practice, this boils down to ten dollars per customer.

Central Government Commissioner Van Rij and State Secretary Knops are pleased about the Internet rate discount. For the Statia residents and businesses this entails a difference of $120 per year and is in addition to the monthly subsidy of the Dutch government of $35 per Internet connection in Statia in 2021.

Besides the financial advantage, the Internet speed has increased. Especially in times like the present, a good and fast Internet connection is important to the residents and businesses in Statia. Many rely on the Internet for keeping in personal touch, for doing business, and for their studies and education. (Statia GIS)

[1] SSCS BV is owned by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations.

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Garrick J. Richardson sworn in as Secretary General of Parliament

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Mr. Garrick J. Richardson, LL.M, ML, took the oath of office as Secretary General (Griffier) of the Parliament of Sint Maarten on April 1st, 2021. The swearing in ceremony took place in the Legislative Hall of Parliament and was officiated by President of Parliament, the Honorable Rolando Brison. Present at the ceremony were Members of Parliament, the Staff of the Secretariat, Faction staff and family members of Mr. Richardson.

Garrick J. Richardson is a son of the soil, who was raised on St Maarten. Upon completing Secondary education at Milton Peters College, HAVO stream in 2007, he pursued his education in the Netherlands. Mr. Richardson moved to the Netherlands in 2008, where he attended the Hogeschool Leiden in Leiden from 2008 till 2012. While pursuing his Bachelor of Laws degree, he also interned at a bailiffs office in The Hague and a local law firm here on Sint Maarten. He attained his Bachelor of Laws degree (LL.B) in 2012.

After following the pre-Master program at University of Tilburg from 2013 till 2015, he continued and pursued a Masters in Dutch Law with a concentration in Constitutional Law. During his time at the University of Tilburg, he interned at the Legal Affairs and Legislation department of the Government of Sint Maarten and also at the Advisory Division of the Council of State of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in The Hague. He was also active in the law study association of the University of Tilburg, Magister JFT and the Tilburg Debating Association Cicero.

Mr. G.J. Richardson attained his Masters of Laws degree (LL.M), at the University of Tilburg in 2017.

In 2016, Mr. Richardson started working for the Parliament of Sint Maarten, stationed (on secondment) at the Ministry of Security and Justice of the Netherlands in The Hague. During his time at the Ministry he followed a post-Masters in Legislation (LL.M leg/ML) at the Academy for Legislation in The Hague. For the completion of this degree and also in preparation of his return to Sint Maarten he also interned at the Second Chamber on numerous occasions and also the First Chamber of the Netherlands.

A cocktail reception was held in the afternoon where Mr. Richardson was officially introduced in his role as Secretary General of the Parliament of Sint Maarten, to his counterparts and different departments. Present at the ceremony were among others, Members of Parliament, Secretaries General of the High Councils, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries General of the Ministries as well as the Head of the department of Legal Affairs.

In his address to the gathering, Mr. G.J. Richardson reminisced on his educational journey and highlighted the fact of his many opportunities for internships and the importance of contacting and keeping in contact with students and young professionals abroad. Cognizant of the challenge that awaits him as a very young Secretary General of the island’s highest legislative body, he placed the importance of his role in context explaining that the progress of the island calls for continuous improvement of the legislature. Appealing to the African philosophy of “Ubuntu”, he explained that he believes in the philosophy of “I am because of who we all are” and emphasized that collectively we can make Sint Maarten a better place! He used the philosophy of Ubuntu to call for cooperation as well as collaboration amongst all levels of the community in order to realize the very important (legislative) changes that are necessary through innovation, creativity and solutions to problems within the confinement’s of the law.

He pledged his own, as well as the Secretariat of Parliament’s, full support in bringing about the changes necessary from the role of the Secretary General and the Secretariat of Parliament.

Mr. Richardson expressed appreciation to all those who have reached out in support of his appointment. He specifically thanked his family and support staff for their support and expressed his desire to continue a great working relationship with all.

The Secretary General of Parliament fulfills the role of advising, assisting and supporting the Presidium, President, Members of Parliament and Parliament in the execution of their tasks, and manages the Secretariat of Parliament and the overall budget of Parliament.  

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Prudential Tax Services launches Audit services

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - For the last three years Prudential Tax Services (PTS) has been in a consistent upgrade of its management and staff in order to secure international standards in the financial field as a service provider, PTS said in a media statement on Thursday.

The St Maarten business community counts on numerous Administration and Accounting firms, where many remain in the same service bracket. Prudential has been escalating the ladder from “small business services” to Executive Tax Services and now opens the doors to Corporate Audit services.

The firm counts on several auditors, starting with manager Mrs. Natasha Manuela-Gumbs who recently graduated as an internal and external auditor from a worldwide International accredited and recognized institution.

The firm is supported by International Risk and Lead Auditors giving Prudential a unique characteristic and a leading edge in the accounting and auditing spectrum in the Dutch Caribbean.

Audits may be perceived as costly, but the benefits when presenting an audited report with a conformity opinion compared to a compilation or a Quickbooks print out are much more embraced by financial institutions, tax office and shareholders, due to its highly credible condition.

Audits grade assertiveness, compliance and reliability which are not obtained by the “regular” compilation engagement that most Sint Maarten Accounting firms offer.

The spectrum in this financial field is diversified in several segments. The scope of improvements emphasizes management performance orientation, while the financial audit verifies the financial figures sustainability.

In St Maarten there are some firms that promote audit services but in order to determine the qualified professional for the engagement, the scope of the Audit must be known. It is of fundamental importance that the professional in the exercise is accredited and certified to perform the task because not everyone may express a valid opinion on the results and therefore certainty about the matter must be obtained from the service provider.

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