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Subsidy to lower increased electricity tariff

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - The burden of the steep, more than 30% increase in the electricity price since last year for consumers on Saba will be reduced to 10% thanks to a subsidy that the Public Entity Saba will be making available to the Saba Electricity Company (SEC).

Because of higher fuel prices on the international market, the cost of producing electricity has gone up considerably. If the increase of fuel price is passed on to the consumers, the electricity tariff would go up by 26.924% without the subsidy. The Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) in the Netherlands has set the new maximum tariff per July 1, 2022.

To help mitigate the steep price increase for the Saba consumers, SEC and the Public Entity Saba recently met to discuss the possibility of sharing the costs of lowering the electricity tariff increase. Subsequently, the Public Entity Saba has decided that it will make a subsidy available to SEC to enable the company to reduce the price hike from the original 30% to 10%.

The tariff reduction through this subsidy will benefit all consumers and will be in place until the end of the year. The Public Entity Saba considers the subsidizing of the electricity tariff a poverty alleviation measure that benefits the entire community in these times when the prices of goods and services are rapidly increasing around the world.

The idea is that the fuel demand will decrease in the future when a higher portion of renewable energy is generated via solar and wind power. Saba already generates a large part of its electricity demand via the solar parks next to the airport.

Aside from the local government subsidy to SEC to reduce the price increase, additional assistance for low-income families in the current trying times will be coming from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (SZW) and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK) in the Netherlands.

These ministries recently announced that they will help low-income households on Saba, as well as on Bonaire and St. Eustatius, with a one-time compensation of US $850 per household to mitigate the effects of higher energy prices. In total, the ministries have made 4.4 million euro available for the three islands. Further information about this compensation will be shared in the near future.

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Start consultation on modernization of social security in the Caribbean Netherlands

SABA/SINT EUSTATIUS - It is necessary to modernise social security in the Caribbean Netherlands. With this as point of departure, Dutch Minister Carola Schouten is presenting her bill for this purpose to the inhabitants through an internet consultation.

The Central Dialogues and public entities have already been asked to respond to the plans.

Various changes in laws and regulations are necessary to modernize the social security system in the Dutch Caribbean.

With desired changes which the bill aims for, among others, the vacation regulation for employees will be expanded and pregnant self-employed persons will receive an allowance during their pregnancy and maternity leave, just like in the European Netherlands.

The legislation for disability will also be expanded, so that more attention will be paid to reintegration.

Furthermore, as announced earlier, the present bill structurally regulates the double child benefit for parents of children with an extra care need.

Other measures, such as the introduction of an unemployment benefit, will be given further shape in the coming period so that they can also be implemented during this Cabinet term.

Joint task

The Central Dialogues and public bodies were asked earlier to send in their feedback on the plans. Minister Schouten attaches great importance to their input, as well as to the reactions to the internet consultation.

The legislative proposal and the internet consultation can be found at: www.internetconsultatie.nl/wijzigingswetszwwettencaribischnederland. You can respond until the 22nd of August. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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UNICEF & Positive Parent Support Program Holds Panel Discussions with Haitian Community

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Le Sommet Foundation (LSF) in collaboration with The Haitian Association of Sint Maarten (HASMA) hosted a panel discussion for the Positive Parent Support Program, an initiative of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports (ECYS), LSF said in a press statement on Saturday.

“Present in the panel discussion were board members of the Le Sommet Foundation and the Haitian Association of Sint Maarten (HASMA), UNICEF field assistant Bert van der Meijden, Head Caribbean Child Development Centre Cecile Minott from the University of the West Indies and Owen Blakka from the Active Parenting Partners Caribbean based in Jamaica and Christine Regis

“The panel discussion focused on active parenting, parental outlook, Discipline methods, and generational parenting differences within the Haitian Community and serves as part of a broader cumulative effort, to do a proper formative assessment with various focus groups throughout the island.

“The development of the program will take just about a year and will see the training of some 60 Facilitators and 20 Masters. When completed the program will highlight various niche-specific policies, intervention methods, and recommendations to the Ministry of ECYS for their Positive Parenting Support Program.

“The Positive Parenting Program which is an initial component of the "Child Resilience and Protection program gives parents simple and practical strategies to help them manage their children’s behavior, identify, intervene and prevent potential problems from developing, and foster strong, healthy relationships. All while helping support the psychosocial needs of the child.”

"Initiatives like these are exactly what we need. Better parenting leads to better kids which leads to better individuals within a society. I want to thank UNICEF, the University of the West Indies, the Active Parenting program coordinators, the Ministry of ECYS, and all other stakeholders involved.

“We are honored to be able to contribute to this worthy initiative". - Fabio Doralice. President of Le Sommet Foundation/ Vice President of HASMA.

"I want to applaud the government and all actors involves for taking on this project which is highly needed in our society. While we applaud this effort more needs to be done. 

“The government needs to look into other social issues plaguing us and create a comprehensive approach to combat issues like teen pregnancies, birthright and residency issues, labor and domestic abuse, poverty, all need equal attention. Parenting is not easy by no means, but this is a step in the right direction." - Jean Boasman, Advisor on the HASMA Board/ Radio Host "Kat Sou Tab"

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New mural beautifies entrance side Saba Heritage Center

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - A large, colorful mural is now beautifying the wall at the entrance of the Saba Heritage Center in Windwardside. The mural was painted by artist Joan Bourque and designed by archaeologist/artist Finn van der Leden.

The 3 by 5-meter mural depicts Saba’s heritage, both tangible and intangible. It includes Saba’s important historic dates such as the abolition of slavery and elements of the Indigenous culture from the past up to today, such The Road, Saba Spice, Saba Lace, hat making, the Maypole Dance and fishermen.

Inspiration for the design of the mural itself came from Saba’s steep slopes, whose form is similar to that of the wall. Although not every aspect of Saba’s rich history could be captured in only one mural, care has been taken to include a full range of people, ages and activities. The historical accuracy of the depicted scenes came from resources in the Heritage Centre, but also from the many Sabans who were kind enough to review and comment on the design.

“We were looking for something unique, something that would stand out and act as an eye catcher for the Heritage Center,” said Treasurer of the Saba Archeological Research Center (SABARC) Vito Charles, who together with Chairman Jay Haviser and Secretary Peter Johnson forms the SABARC board.

Charles explained that the idea for a mural actually came from archeologists Corinne Hofman and Menno Hoogland during their recent visit to Saba. Hofman and Hoogland have many years of experience of archeological research on Saba and throughout the Caribbean. Borque, who is well-known for painting the mural at Fort Bay harbor and at the Eugenius Johnson Center, completed the mural within one week.

The Heritage Center has as mission to preserve, document and disseminate information about Saba’s heritage. The Saba people and their knowledge about heritage play an important role in this. “We want to do this by engaging people to tell us what they consider to be Saba’s heritage,” said Charles, who announced that in a few months, a new research and heritage coordinator will be coming to the island who will primarily engage with the population to gather and preserve information on Saba’s rich history.

Mural at Heritage Center 02

The mural at the Saba Heritage Center.

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Permit request for new harbor submitted

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - A large step was taken in the harbor project earlier this week with the submitting of the permit request for the construction of a new harbor at Black Rocks at Rijkswaterstaat in the Netherlands.

The total package that was filed contained the requests for the necessary building permits, and included the documentation that is needed to acquire the permits, such as the Environmental Impact Assessment, the archeological assessment and the navigational safety assessment.

Rijkswaterstaat will review and decide on the permit request in the coming months. Consultations with the local stakeholders have taken place in preparation of the permit request. A townhall meeting will be organized in the near future to inform the public about the harbor project and the latest developments.

Tender procedure

The next step will be the preparing of the tender, which is projected to go out in the first quarter of 2023. Harbor project manager Mario Prak and harbor policy advisor Zelda Meeuwsen are traveling to the Netherlands for market consultation meetings next week with a number of contractors from the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark that specialize in maritime construction.

The project team has already had consultations with Caribbean and North-American contractors. Local contractors will be doing as much work as possible in the harbor project. The works that require a certain expertise unavailable locally, will be done by contractors from outside the island.

Repair works

As part of the harbor project, investments will be made in the current Fort Bay Harbor which will become the designated cargo facility once the new harbor at Black Rocks is completed. The first repair works to the main pier and the Ro-Ro ramp, as well as the placing of new bollards and cleats, will start before the end of 2022. These works will be carried out by local contractors.

Revegetation

The construction road to the new harbor site is looking a bit greener with the planting of fruit trees. The Agricultural Department, advised by Jim Garza of the local hydroculture farm Gezondheid Farms, has planted some 40 coconut and sea grape trees along the construction road. An irrigation system was also put in place. The revegetation will help to mitigate erosion. Revegetation/reforestation is an integral part of the harbor project.

Vast experience

The harbor project team was recently reinforced with Mario Prak. The new project manager has vast working experience in the marine construction sector, the dredging industry and project management. He has worked in many countries around the world, including Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines, India, South Africa, Tanzania. His last job before coming to Saba was a consultancy job to supervise the removal of ship wrecks in St. Maarten’s Simpson Bay Lagoon.  

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Marijuana nursery dismantled

SINT MAARTEN (SAUNDERS) - Detectives of the Major Crimes Unit, in collaboration with the Uniform Division, conducted a house search in Saunders in the evening of Wednesday, 20 July 2022, based on information received about possible narcotics peddling.

An elaborate marijuana nursery was found at the location. The equipment, a large number of marijuana plants, and cash were confiscated.

Three suspects with initials E.A.G.R., E.E.R., and J.E.L. were arrested in connection with the marijuana nursery. The three men were transported to Philipsburg Police Station where they are held pending further investigation.

Anyone with information regarding similar illegal operations or weapons is urged to contact the Major Crimes Unit on +1 721 542 222 ext. 208, 214 or 224. 

If you wish to remain anonymous, use the tip line at 9300. A private message can also be sent via Facebook page: Police Force of Sint Maarten - Korps Politie Sint Maarten or website www.policesxm.sx.

(KPSM)

POLICE MARIJ PLANTS

POLICE MARIJ BOTTLES

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Saba promoted as environmental education island

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - A one-minute educational commercial about the Sea & Learn program and Saba as an environmental learning destination is featuring during primetime hours on US national TV throughout July. Taking place during all of October, the annual event features an impressive line-up of hands-on activities, lectures and discussions all designed to spotlight the island’s natural beauty as well as learn what is being done to protect it.

The commercial, produced by Viewpoint, first aired on Fox Business Network primetime TV on July 14. The commercial will also be aired during primetime hours (6:00pm-11:45pm) on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, Discovery Life and CNN Headline News during the entire month of July 2022.

Aside from the commercial, Viewpoint produced a short-form documentary, hosted by Dennis Quaid, that will be aired on US Public Television affiliates in the week of July 25, as well as a 6-minute documentary that the Saba Tourist Bureau can use for promotional purposes.

Viewpoint produces educational content for Public Television in all 50 states. As part of cross promoting the Viewpoint series, educational commercial segments air on major networks like CNBC, CNN, Learning Channel and Discovery Channel.

Natural beauty

The shooting of the footage took place in October 2021 during the Sea & Learn program. Saba was selected for its environmental awareness standpoint and natural beauty, being located in the “quiet Caribbean.” According to the Saba Tourism Bureau, the production highlights Saba’s unique ecosystem, vibrant biodiversity, together with the hands-on field exploration and education activities.

Hands-on activities

Throughout October last year, the Sea & Learn program featured hands-on activities, presentations and lectures by different scientists.

Participants could go on a night hike to discover insects and other animals with arachnologist Lauren Esposito of the California Academy of Sciences, take part in a field project to restore the long-spined sea urchin population with marine biologist Alwin Hylkema of the University of Applied Sciences Van Hall Larenstein in the Netherlands or join seismologist Reinoud Sleeman and volcanologist Elske de Zeeuw van Dalfsen of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Meteorology KNMI on a hike to one of their monitoring locations.

Other hands-on activities included building an underwater robot with marine scientist Erica Moulton and joining Kim Bassos Hull of Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium for a dive to see which species of sharks and rays appeared on a baited remote underwater video (BRUV).  

Edu-tainment

Sea & Learn on Saba, a grassroots education project that promotes hands-on learning via “edu-tainment” (education/entertainment), has been in existence for 19 years. It aims to make science fun by bringing the classroom to the sea or rainforest while providing new horizons and role models for Saba’s youth and brining locals, tourists, adults and children together.

All Sea & Learn activities are free and open to the public. The program is sponsored by the Public Entity Saba, local and regional businesses, stakeholders and receives financial support from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Caribisch Gebied. In October 2022, a new edition of Sea & Learn takes place. The program is being finalized and more information can be found on seaandlearn.org.

Urchin on artificial reef

Mount Scenery Tourism Bureau photo

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Highest point Under the Hill buildings celebrated

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - The highest point of all three apartment buildings of the Under the Hill project was celebrated with the workers on Tuesday, July 19th.

The principal of the project, housing corporation Bazalt Wonen from the Netherlands, Public Entity Saba and the main contractor Van Boekel, invited the close to 40 construction workers for a small celebration at the depot site close to the area where the project is being constructed.

“As principal, we find it very important that the people who have been working hard on this project to get the recognition that they deserve. We have reached the highest point of all three buildings and that is reason to celebrate,” said Maarten Koster of Bazalt Wonen.

Island Governor Jonathan Johnson was present at the event, as was Commissioner of Public Housing Rolando Wilson and Own Your Own Home Foundation (OYOHF) Director Eviton Heyliger. Johnson thanked the men in a short speech. “We are appreciative of your work. All three buildings have reached the highest point, and we are very proud of that. There is still a lot to be done, but together we will get there,” he said.

The 18 apartments will be delivered and ready to be rented out by the local social housing foundation OYOHF by the end of this year. The three buildings contain three 1-bedroom apartments, three 2-bedroom apartments and twelve 3-bedroom apartments.

Commissioner Wilson congratulated the companies and the group of men with this milestone. “You have worked hard and I’m sure you will continue to work hard to get this project completed. This is an important project because it will help to alleviate some of the burden for people who are in dire need of housing,” he said.

Funding for this project came from the European Union (EU), the Dutch Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK and Bazalt Wonen, formerly Woonlinie. The Public Entity Saba assisted with the transfer of 18,000m2 of government owned land to the OYOHF.

The main contractor for this project is Van Boekel along with various subcontractors. The groundbreaking for this project took place in December 2018. The project has been challenging due to difficulties in the excavation of the very steep hillside and delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Three buildings at Under the Hill reached the highest pointThe highest point has been reached of all three buildings.

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