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Minors arrested for fighting outside of school. On Student Uses Brazz Knuckles

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The new school year started less than a month ago and already the Police Force of Sint Maarten and Prosecutor’s Office OM SXM have had to tackle fights among students outside of school premises.  

This latest show of aggressive behavior has landed two minors behind bars. They were arrested for participating in a fight filmed by other students. One of the minors is seen on the video supplying the other with a brass knuckle rings used to injure a third student. The injured student had to be tended to at the hospital. He was released after his wounds were treated.

The preliminary police investigation found that the basis for the brutal fight was set a few days ago at which time the injured student was reportedly threatened by his suspected attackers.

Police does not rule out further arrests in this case. 

KPSM and OM SXM urge students to think deeply about their actions, to keep tempers in check, and avoid starting or instigating fights. Participation in fights around school areas can land participants in trouble with the law, and getting in contact with the law can harm future prospects - everything from gaining entrance into institutions of higher education to job prospects. Aiding someone in a fight can constitute complicity, which is also punishable by law.

Further, fights create an unfriendly and unsafe atmosphere for fellow students and sets a bad example for other (younger) students. Bystanders who cheer on and/or film videos of these fights should reflect on their behavior as they are creating and contributing to an atmosphere where people get hurt.

Fights involving minors outside of school premises are unacceptable and punishable by the Court. Highlighting this was the sentence of three minors on March 18, 2021. They were sentenced to community service of 60 to 100 hours for mistreating another minor in fight outside of their school in January 2021. This is not the only case in which minors have received sentences for similar offences.

Violence, in and around schools, is not acceptable, and will not go unpunished. The basis for these fights are often laid during school hours, escalating to violence at the end of the school day when the minors are just outside of the school ground. Minors are usually still in their school uniforms at the time of such incidents.  

Violence in and around school is prioritized by the Joint Committee on Youth and Crime JCO. This committee is composed of representatives from OM SXM, the Police Force of Sint Maarten KPSM, Foundation Judicial Institutes St. Maarten SJIS, the Court of Guardianship, and the Truancy Office of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports. The committee’s goal is to coordinate policies and case strategies in an early phase to prevent crimes committed by the youth. (KPSM, OM SXM)

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Minister Lawrence: Together Everyone Achieves more

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) Hon. Roger Lawrence would like to acknowledge and celebrate the work and dedication that has been put into the recovery of the Princess Juliana International Airport Terminal Reconstruction Project.

The direction taken in the rebuilding and modernization of the hurricane damaged terminal is the result of solid teamwork, and the avenue needed to continue to move forward with other imperative infrastructure projects. This is the start, and the success of these endeavours will demonstrate that, “Together Everyone Achieves More”.

In moving forward, as an immediate order of business, the Minister will focus on communication, teamwork, and execution.

He will also concentrate on investment, which is key to the growth of Sint Maarten, building on our country’s image as a reputable place where people want to travel and invest. This will involve working on the accessibility of doing business as a high priority and ensuring that the Ministry of TEATT achieves the strategic objectives of the government.

The Minister and team will be establishing a framework for reviving the tourism industry based on both resilience, and flexibility. As the island grows in all sectors an additional point of focus will be improved Internet connectivity on the island, bringing new innovative products, experiences, and services to a broader market.

It will be strategic for Sint Maarten to influence, attract, and position ourselves as a destination with a strong brand image. The ultimate goal is to elevate the overall experience for residents and guests alike.

In closing, Minister Lawrence brings attention to the rise of COVID-19 cases, he reiterates the importance of adherence to the COVID-19 guidelines, hand hygiene, wearing of face coverings, and physical distancing.

The pandemic is not yet over, and it is important to continue to utilize all preventive measures available, regardless of your vaccination status. Reminding everyone to stay vigilant and take precaution, it is imperative that we all do our part to stop its spread.

Sint Maarten is our home, and we all participate in the growth of the island, let’s continue to elevate. Together Everyone Achieves More.

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Three students arrested and fined for damaging cars with eggs

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Three students were arrested by police around 1:00pm on Friday, August 27, for pelting cars with raw eggs and for the damage their actions caused to private property.

The trio was taken to Philipsburg Police Station where they had to await their parents who were summoned by police. Fines were issued to all three students.

Police addressed the bad unlawful behavior with the parents and minors before they were released from police custody.

The police patrols in school districts, especially at peak times, have been increased based on a ministerial decree issued by the Minister of Justice. More controls will be conducted by police officers to prevent acts of further public disorder in school districts. (KPSM)

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Exhibit of French Quarter Etchings by Sir Roland Richardson Opens at Amuseum Naturalis

SAINT-MARTIN (FRENCH QUARTER) - A new outdoor exhibit is now open at Amuseum Naturalis in French Quarter. The exhibit is titled The Last Frontier: Sir Roland Richardson’s French Quarter. It features etchings of people and places in French Quarter, and Richardson’s memories of the time he lived there. Visitors can come and enjoy the exhibit any time from sunrise to sunset, any day of the week.

“We are so excited to share this with St. Martin,” said Amuseum co-founder Mark Yokoyama, who developed the exhibit with Richardson. “It is an exhibit about art, and about French Quarter, and about St. Martin’s past. Sir Roland’s etchings aren’t as well-known as his paintings, but they are historical treasures. This exhibit presents them much larger than life size, and the detail is amazing. Combined with his memories, this is an exhibit that transports you to a time and place that no longer exists.”

The Last Frontier features eight Richardson etchings. Subjects include an etching of the house where Richardson lived in French Quarter, and The Old House, the historic building where Amuseum Naturalis is located. The text, taken from interviews with Richardson, reveals a French Quarter where traditions still survived on a rapidly changing island. He also shares insights into his artistic process.

Sir Roland Richardson remembers his time in French Quarter fondly, “I felt that was part of my real privilege, that opportunity to sleep with my doors open. I didn't have any worries and I felt totally at home, but I felt really privileged to have out of every door or window where I looked, the natural landscape. I did a huge, huge body of work during those years.”

Amuseum Naturalis is located at The Old House in French Quarter. It is always free to visit, and all displays are now outdoors. Guests are welcome to make a self-guided visit any time during daylight hours, any day of the week. The Last Frontier is on permanent display just in front of the house. For more information, visit amuseumnaturalis.com.

This exhibit and other projects were made possible by support from the Collectivité de Saint-Martin and the Agence nationale de la cohésion des territoires.

Last Frontier

The Last Frontier is a new exhibit of etchings and memories of French Quarter by Sir Roland Richardson. 

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Man drowns in Great Bay Beach. No Foul Play Involved

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Friday morning, August 27, 2021, at approximately 5:00 a.m., the Dispatch Center received a report that a body was floating in Great-Bay near the Walter Plants pier in Philipsburg.

Several patrols and paramedics were dispatched to the location. Upon arrival, it appeared that bystanders had pulled the victim out of Great Bay and were in the process of performing CPR.

Upon further inspection by ambulance personnel, it was determined that the victim with the initials M.P. no longer had a pulse and was presumed to have passed away.  

Based on a preliminary investigation by detectives and the police doctor it was concluded that the victim had drowned and that there was no foul play involved.

The Sint Maarten Police expressed their condolences to the families of the deceased. (KPSM)

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CPS to host Vaccination Pop-up on Saturday at CPS Vineyard Office Park

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Saturday, August 28th, there will be a vaccination Pop-up at Collective Prevention Services (CPS), located at the Vineyard Building, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

CPS would like to encourage all residents of Sint Maarten, 12 years and older, who have not been vaccinated, to come out to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. All persons interested in receiving the vaccines are asked to bring along any form of photo ID for registration.

Considering the increase in the number of positive cases on the island, CPS has implemented several safety protocols for the vaccination pop-ups moving forward. Please note that there is no need to be concerned about attending the pop-ups, as there will be crowd control in place.

Vaccination Pop-ups are scheduled to take place every other Saturday until Saturday October 30th. The Minister encourages all unvaccinated persons to please take advantage of the upcoming opportunities to be vaccinated.

Parents are encouraged to bring their children 12 years and older, to receive the Pfizer vaccine. While being young and healthy significantly reduces your chance of developing severe complications from the disease, it is not guaranteed that this will be the case for everyone. It is important that you protect your offspring(s), 12 years and older against COVID-19, especially since schools have returned to in-class learning.

It is safe to say that the Pfizer's two-dose COVID-19 vaccine being used on Sint Maarten, has received full approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The great news comes amid lingering vaccine hesitancy among the community.

The CPS COVID-19 drive through testing facility, at the harbor in point blanche, will be relocating to the Community Help Desk in Hope Estate, from Saturday August 28th. 

Persons should no longer go to the harbor on weekdays or to the CPS office on Saturday mornings. Instead, persons are advised to go to Hope Estate's Community Help Desk. The hours of operation are Monday - Saturday from 8:30 AM to 12 Noon.

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SEARCHES IN CONNECTION WITH FRAUD

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - Under the supervision of the BES Public Prosecutor's Office, the Rijksrecherche has, for some time, been conducting a criminal investigation concerning fraud on Saba. Within the framework of the investigation, searches were conducted yesterday morning, August 25, 2021, under the supervision of the examining magistrate in cooperation with the Police Force Caribbean Netherlands (KPCN) and the Detectives Cooperation Team (RST) on Saba.

The searches involved two premises, one in The Bottom and another in Zions Hill. During the searches, documents and data carriers, among other things, were seized for investigation purposes. As of August 2020, the Rijksrecherche will be permanently present in the Caribbean Netherlands (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba) stationed on Bonaire.

The operating procedures of the Rijksrecherche are described on their website: www.rijksrecherche.nl.

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Man Traveling from D.R. arrested for trying to enter the country with false documents

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) - A man with initials R.L.G. travelling from the Dominican Republic (D.R.) was arrested by Immigration Officers on August 21 for attempting to enter the country with a false French residence permit.

The Alpha Team was notified of the situation and assisted in the apprehension of the suspect. After arrest, the suspect transported to the police station for questioning and is held for further investigation.

The Alpha Team is a joint multidisciplinary team consisting of KPSM, Customs, Immigration, Royal Military Police and Coast Guard. (KPSM)

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Saba puts US in very high-risk category

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - Saba’s Outbreak Management Team (OMT) on Tuesday decided to place the United States (US) in the very high-risk category per Thursday, August 26. Curacao, Aruba and St. Maarten are already a high-risk destination. Also, the OMT decided to change the entry and on-island requirements for vaccinated persons arriving from a country in the very high-risk category.

To enter Saba from a very-high risk country, persons must show a negative PCR test taken maximum 72 hours prior to arrival on Saba and a valid electronic EHAS entry form. They must also always wear a mask when out in public, avoid large gatherings and crowded areas, practice physical distancing and excellent hand hygiene, ensure that rooms are well ventilated, work from home, and test on day five after arrival at the testing center. 

Persons working with vulnerable people are required to stay at home for the first five days upon arriving on the island until being tested negative on day five. These professions include all persons working with children as well as medical staff. Local organizations have been recommended to make a specific plan on how this will affect them and their staff.

The conditions go into effect on August 26. Further information concerning the requirements can be found on the Saba Tourism website, www.sabatourism.com. Island Governor Jonathan Johnson announced the changed requirements for arriving vaccinated persons via an audio message on Tuesday. 

On May 1, Saba began to reduce some measures and opening up the island little by little. “After being in our own bubble for over a year, with very restrictive travel measures, these more relaxed measures are something that takes getting used to. Saba has a unique situation, whereby we have a high vaccination rate of over 90% of the adult population, and these vaccination numbers continue to increase as we continue vaccinating persons and now including the youth,” said Johnson. 

“However, as we saw in the past weeks, just like everywhere in the world, we will also have COVID-19 cases. Because of our on-island measures, these cases have not resulted in local transmissions. As we are in the mitigation phase, these things will happen. Mitigation means that we are not closing the island, but our measures help to minimize any COVID-19 outbreaks, while analyzing the situation globally and regionally, and adapting where necessary to ensure our public health is not at risk,” said Johnson. 

“We are all in this together, and everybody must do their part. It is not only the duty of the OMT or government to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, but also of the community. Continue to take personal responsibility when traveling and adhere to the on-island rules of your travel destinations,” Johnson reminded the people on Saba. 

The community was also asked to call the Saba Cares clinic if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms, to stay at home as much as possible when sick, and continue to monitor all communications from the Public Entity Saba. “The COVID-19 virus can affect anyone, and we should treat everyone with respect,” Johnson said.    

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Renovated Tourist Bureau reopens, Holm recognized for his dedication

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - The renovated Saba Tourist Bureau in the Windwardside was officially reopened on Sunday. At the same event, farewell was said to former Director of Tourism Glenn Holm and his successor, Malinda Hassell was welcomed.

There was much praise and many words of thanks for Holm, who has recently retired after a career of more than 40 years at the Tourist Bureau. “When one thinks about the tourist office, or tourism on Saba, many think of Glenn. He became well known for his charisma, his positive attitude and love for Saba, not only here in the region but throughout many international destinations. It is only fitting that we express our gratitude and appreciation for his efforts to help build Saba as a destination and for helping to put our unspoiled queen on the radar for travelers throughout the world,” said Commissioner of Tourism Bruce Zagers.

Zagers commended Holm for being able to build relationships with media outlets and others while having to work with a very small budget and limited advertising opportunities. “He was often able to get substantial coverage for Saba at rates that were friendly for his little budget. His passion and the ability to build relations stand out to me. Having traveled with Glenn to the Vakantiebeurs in the Netherlands, I got to see him at his best. Glenn was in his element when speaking about Saba. It was impressive to see the scores of people who would visit the Saba booth just to see him.”

Capable replacement

Tourism being one of Saba’s main economic pillars and considering the challenges that tourism has been facing since the 2017 hurricanes and with the current pandemic, Holm’s approaching retirement made it urgent to find a capable replacement with ample experience in the industry. This person became Malinda Hassell, who grew up on Saba.

“She is highly qualified and brings a wealth of experience which is needed during this recovery. We are all impressed with her motivation and ideas to help us build and diversify our tourism product. Malinda, we are happy to welcome you to our team and we look forward to seeing your passion result into tangible improvements for our tourism product,” said Zagers.

True ambassador

New Director Hassell referred to Holm as the “special person that has been the face of Saba for the past 40 years and a true ambassador of our island, an overall icon, and a beacon of light.” Holm has what she calls the “Tourism DNA: a mixture of passion for what you do with an unbeatable knowledge of our natural wonders that make you the most service minded, patient and caring person I know.” She commended Holm for always being willing to run the extra mile.

“Growing up on Saba, I saw Glenn as the face of tourism and someone I admired. I left when I was a teenager and a promised myself that one day I would return. Over the years I went on to study marketing and tourism consultancy and my career evolved in both public and the private sector over the past 12 years. I would have never imagined that years later I would be Glenn’s successor,” said Hassell.

Hassell said that with her knowledge and expertise, she looked to contributing towards the success of Saba’s sustainable tourism development during this post-covid economic and industry recovery. She said now, more than ever, Saba has to work towards formulating strategic approaches and look into transformational opportunities; destination alignment, sustainable development and values-based marketing that will help formulate decisions for the future that will effectively help lead the bureau and the tourism industry.

Tourism Master Plan

“We need to start the engines of a new Tourism Master Plan to understand where we are, where we want to be and what should we do to get there. The tourism industry is of vital importance for the economy and as the island continues to have positive developments also new room inventory in the next 2 years, maritime ferry connectivity project and the future harbor expansions it is crucial that stakeholders have a strategic plan with a clear direction, action plan and budget alignment for its implementation.”

Collaborations with neighboring islands need to be fortified, marketplace presence increased and travel possibilities and new itineraries for visitors created. This, she said, would help boost the day-trip market and overnight stays. Saba’s digital marketing efforts and PR presence should increase as well. “We need to re-position and promote Saba within our key markets. Seek collaborations but also support our airline and maritime partners. Explore opportunities and new product developments that sets us apart but ensures our natural and cultural heritage is promoted.”

Hospitality training in a post-pandemic era is extremely important in order to maintain a high-quality service level. The Tourist Bureau will explore the possibilities of also creating an e-learning Saba Tourism platform to involve the partners, youth and the community. Hassell said she would work closely with all partners, address the issues and challenges, hear constructive criticism, try to seek opportunities and solutions, and improve where needed.

Renovation

During the slow period created by the pandemic, the Public Entity Saba took advantage to expand and remodel the Tourist Bureau. The interior was completely renovated, and a conference room and public bathrooms were added. The conference room has been dedicated to Holm and is now called the Glenn Holm Conference room in his honor.

The office now has a more welcoming environment which is inviting for both visitors and stakeholders, said Commissioner Zagers. Everyone is welcome to pass by and to view the renovated Tourist Bureau.

In his speech, Holm looked back at the time when the office equipment consisted of a manual typewriter, a telephone and a hand-cranked mimeograph machine for making copies. “There were no glossy brochures, websites, social media platforms. Building a tourism industry didn’t happen overnight.

“It was a gradual process. In time as the island grew and offered more amenities and attractions, financing became available and more interest was shown in the off-beaten track destinations, the island became more known and sought after.”

Travel trade shows were attended with the assistance of the European Union and the Dutch Caribbean promotion program, a budget for advertising and promotion was deemed necessary by the Saba Government, more access to the island was developed by air and by sea and visitor arrivals began to increase.

Longest reigning

Holm said thanks to the staff that he worked with over the years, to the local stakeholders and the travel trade in general. “To all the friends and acquaintances that I have made during my time in the tourism industry, it has been an absolute pleasure. I enter retirement today with a great feeling of accomplishment, also knowing that I’ve been the longest reigning Director of Tourism in the entire Caribbean.”

From the hands of Island Governor Jonathan Johnson, Holm received an award of recognition, thanking him for the many years of dedicated service, commitment and integrity to the Saba Tourist Bureau, stakeholders and the community.

 Cutting ribbon opening tourist bureau

 The ribbon-cutting at the renovated Tourist Bureau.

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