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DUO opens temporary service centres in the Caribbean Area

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS - In autumn, the Education Executive Agency [Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs] (DUO) is going to open temporary service centres on Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire in order to provide information services to prospective and former students. DUO is also going to organise information sessions and offer tailor-made support. Residents of the Leeward Islands will have the opportunity to consult a DUO staff member via chat and video conferencing.

Service centres

DUO is going to open a temporary service centre on Aruba and Curaçao from the 1st to the 26th of November. Prospective and former students will be able to access the service centre without having to make an appointment for answers to all their questions about study financing and the repayment of their student debt. The temporary service centre on Bonaire is going to be open from the 29th of November up to and including the 10th of December. Residents of the Leeward Islands will have the opportunity to consult a DUO staff member via chat and video conferencing.

Information

During their visit to the Caribbean area, DUO staff members will also hold information sessions for prospective and former students who are about to start repaying their student debt. Anyone who cannot attend one of these meetings can register for a webinar which will have the same topics.

Tailor-made support

DUO is keen to help prevent former students getting into financial difficulties. For that reason, former students with payment arrears with DUO will be given a final opportunity to avoid a collection agency being called in. Some of them have received a payment arrangement proposal. Others will receive an invitation from DUO to meet with a staff member in order to find a tailor-made solution.

More information

More information about the locations and opening hours of the temporary service centres and the times of the information meetings can be found at duo.nl/bezoekantillen. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

Among other things DUO implements laws and regulations, on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW), relating to the funding of education institutions, the provision of study financing and school expenditure allowances, the collection of student debts and the management and the exchange of data linked to student registration numbers.

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Draft environmental legislation in place for businesses

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management and the Public Entities St. Eustatius, Saba and Bonaire have prepared draft environmental legislation for businesses. The legislation, that will go into effect in the second quarter of 2022, concerns a broad spectrum of environmental factors. Residents, businesses and organizations are invited to give their (online) opinion on the draft legislation through the following link: Reageren IAB BES .

The official name of the draft legislation is “Establishment and Activities Decree BES”. The draft decree includes environmental regulations for businesses that have an impact on the environment due to their specific activities. 

An example is a car garage where there is a possibility of leaking oil or a construction company where there is a risk of releasing hazardous materials into the environment. Depending on the impact of the activity, the business must adhere to general binding rules. A business can also apply for an environmental permit before starting its activities which can have an impact on the environment. 

When the decree is adopted it will form the legal basis for more specific rules in the form of a ministerial decree and an island ordinance. 

Annex 1 of the decree refers to the activities that will be regulated. On the legal basis of this decree, the general binding rules will be further transposed in a ministerial decree and an Island Ordinance.  

Everyone is invited to submit feedback and/or ask questions through the webpage Reageren IAB BES. Via the link IAB BES the English web text (E1) and draft decree (E2) under ‘Overige documenten’ can be found. The internet consultation on the draft started on September 15th, 2021.  (Statia GIS)

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Capacity building continues at NPOwer with successful Googles Suite workshop

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - 16 people representing 11 Non-profit Organisations (NPOs) participated in NPOwer’s Google Suite/Workplace on Saturday, part of a series of workshops geared toward empowering and strengthening the capacity of St. Maarten’s NPO community.

NPOwer and Director of the National Institute for Professional Advancement, Sergio Dimitri Blomont offered the six-hour workshop for St. Maarten based NPOs to learn how to effectively use Google Suite to improve the way organizations use and manage data.

The demand for capacity building within the nonprofit world pushed NPOwer to expand their numbers of participants from 12 to 16. “We were happy to see that everyone that registered to participate turned up and positively evaluated the workshop, '' said Jose Sommers of NPOwer. These 16 representatives walked away with valuable knowledge that will significantly benefit their respective organizations.

Sommers said, “It’s important that people have Information Technology and software skills that facilitate the smooth operation of their NPO. This skill will make operating efficient and effective; For instance, in google drive there can be a central database of all essential documents, allowing everyone access quickly and easily. This feature reduces the time group members spend trying to get copies of documents such as the chamber of commerce extract, minutes of meetings and notary papers for example.”    

NPOwer is in the second round of workshops for 2021, which will engage NPOs with topics ranging from governance, data collection to accounting and more will run until December. NPOwer thanks participants and workshop presenter Sergio Blomont for giving up six hours of their Saturday to strengthen their work for the people of St. Maarten through their various causes.

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New Developments Statia Waste Management

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - Many new developments have transpired at the St. Eustatius Waste Facility. Economy, Nature, and Infrastructure (ENI) highlights some of the latest improvements.  

Waste motor oil. 

The Public Entity St. Eustatius invested in a Waste oil Catchment at the waste facility late 2020 because of environmental benefits and for recycling. This catchment is intended to hold the waste oil in an environment safe manner. All waste oil is collected from different entities until the max storage volume is achieved. 12,000 gallons of waste oil was shipped abroad for further processing. This required two 20ft sea containers with a liner. The waste oil will be refined into new oil products once processed. Persons may contact the waste facility for more information about depositing waste motor oil.   

Bale of aluminum cans 

72 bales of compacted aluminum cans were exported to the central storage where they will join greater volumes at an aluminum factory. Soda cans take up very little space once compressed. The shipments will go to a European market. The product will further be made into new products. Sorted compacted exported.   

Waste Bin holding cells 

In past six months bin holding cells were made and placed at specific areas at Lower Town. The purpose of the bin holding cells is to prevent roaming animals and the occasional high winds from tipping over the bins. Also, to make waste collection available for pedestrians and beach visitors. The 3 bins holders are made from 50% recycled crushed glass. They are dressed with artistic work and stands out at Lower Town, reminding everyone to keep Statia clean. (Statia GIS)

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Prosecutor’s Office, SJIS, KPSM create criminal complaint info leaflet

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Prosecutor’s Office, in collaboration with Stichting Justitiële Inrichtingen St. Maarten (SJIS) and KPSM, has created an information leaflet outlining what occurs when someone files a complaint with police and the role of the prosecutor in the process. 

The Prosecutor’s Office and SJIS have added the “What to Expect After Filing A Compliant With Police” leaflet to the information package already provided to victims in criminal cases. The Police Force of Sint Maarten KPSM also has copies of the leaflet to give to victims of crimes or their family members as an additional resource when they file a complaint or if they are contemplating filing a complaint with police.

The leaflet is one component of a larger Domestic Violence and Mediation Restorative Justice Project. Another part of the project was an intensive mediation skills training, held in July, for professionals in the justice field.  The leaflet provides information for victims about what the procedure is after they have filed a complaint, It also contains contact information for Safe Haven, Police and other help sources.

The skill training and the several related activities such as a behavioral intervention program for offenders and their partners, and a pilot mediation in criminal cases will be implemented by SJIB and OM SXM in the coming months. These are steps to introducing restorative justice as an alternative approach to conflicts that are usually governed by criminal law, specifically domestic violence cases.

The Domestic Violence and Mediation Restorative Justice Project financed through the Resources for Community Resilience R4CR funding programme. R4CR was implemented by VNG International (the International Cooperation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities VNG) and funded by the St. Maarten Recovery and Resilience Trust Fund to improve the capacity of St. Maarten’s civil society organisations and to support reconstruction and resilience at the community level.

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Directors Childcare visit the Netherlands

SINT EUSTATIUS/THE HAGUE - As part of the twinning program, four directors of the childcare centers on Statia are currently in the Netherlands to visit the Kinderopvang Op Stoom in Haarlem. The twinning program forms part of the BES(t)4 kids' program which focus is to offer all children in the Dutch Caribbean a safe, high quality and affordable childcare. 

Zuwena Suares, Jarmila Berkel, Dion Humpreys and Sherees Timber join efforts with directors, managers and pedagogical staff of the Kinderopvang Op Stoom in The Netherlands to share their experience. A program was created including trainings and visits to various locations. 

The goal of our travel is to share knowledge, says Zuwena Suares, director of Buzzy Bees Inn Daycare Center. “Kinderopvang Op Stoom is an organization with 65 childcare centers with expertise. We join hands, share skills and talk about pedagogics. We visit childcare centers, preschools and out of school programs. We work together in childcare centers along with colleagues from Op Stoom. A good foundation has been established for a long-lasting working relationship,” Suares said. 

Quality increase 

The director of Kinderopvang Op Stoom, Linda Blankhorst, worked for a period of three years on Statia in the childcare center, 25 years ago. She now guides the directors to develop and implement a pedagogical policy for the childcare centers as part of Bes(t)4kids.

A great advantage is that Blankhorst knows the culture and the setup of the childcare centers on Statia. Linda Blankhorst: “We took a big step forward now with the visit of the directors. There is ample time to discuss the quality of childcare in depth. Based on examples from the different centers at Kinderopvang Op Stoom and the centers on Statia, the directors’ visions are enlarged, and they can implement what we do here and what can work in Statia as well.” 

Fun collaboration 

The directors from Statia were guest at the Op Stoom Talk show in a concert hall in Haarlem. Mega D. ensured that there was a performance during the talk show. Drew, Statia’s upcoming artist in Holland, gave a spectacular performance. Music connects and the staff from Op Stoom became fans of Drew’s music.  (Statia GIS)

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Saba Island Governor Johnson on working visit to The Hague

SABA/THE HAGUE — Saba Island Governor Jonathan Johnson paid a working visit to The Hague from Tuesday, October 5 to Friday, October 8. The main reason of Johnson’s visit to the Netherlands was his attendance of the Mayor’s Conference of the Netherlands Association of Mayors which took place this year in Veenendaal on October 6 and October 7.

During this congress, Johnson was able to catch up with many Dutch mayors on recent developments and important subjects in areas like crisis management, safety, government administration and the pandemic. “It was good to network with colleagues who face the same challenges and to hear how they deal with those challenges. Even though there is a difference in the situation, the challenges that we face are similar,” said Johnson.

The formation of the new Dutch Government provided a good opportunity for Johnson and his support staff to meet various important relations and institutions in The Hague. Meetings were held with the Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations of the First Chamber, members of the Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations of the Second Chamber, Vice-President of the Council of State Thom de Graaf, Commissioner of the King of South-Holland Jaap Smit, Chairman of the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) and Mayor of The Hague Jan van Zanen, VNG Deputy Chairman Pieter Jeroense, Chairman of the Christian Democratic Party CDA and former St. Eustatius Government Commissioner Marnix van Rij, and, naturally, with the coordinating ministry for Saba, the Ministry of Kingdom Relations and Home Affairs BZK.

The main goal of these meetings was to give an update on how Saba is doing and to pave the way for further needed developments on the island. These vary from poverty alleviation and economic development to good governance and strengthening of capacity. During his update, Island Governor Johnson shared that Saba is currently working on a multi-annual plan with goals to be reached in 2030, whereby the Saba Package will be coming to an end next year. It is important to discuss the necessary follow-up with The Hague.

“Saba’s budget consists mostly of temporary funding for structural tasks or to eliminate backlogs. This creates undesired risks for the governing of our island and the execution of our tasks and responsibilities,” said Johnson.

The Island Governor explained that being a Public Entity actually means having four (4) different roles in one (1) decentralized layer of government. “We have municipal tasks, state tasks, province tasks and water management tasks. This demands a lot of the government and people of Saba. The civil service organization must be qualitatively robust and strong, to deal with these tasks and the budget should reflect this as well,” he said.

In the opinion of Johnson, citizens deserve a service-oriented government on both national and local level, with a keen eye for local circumstances and context. (Saba GIS)

Jonathan Johnson with Thom de GraafSaba Island Governor Jonathan Johnson (left) and Vice-President of the Council of State Thom de Graaf.

Jonathan Johnson with Marnix van RijSaba Island Governor Jonathan Johnson (left) and CDA Chairman and former Government Commissioner Marnix van Rij.

 

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New Coloring Book Highlights the Animals of St. Martin

SAINT-MARTIN (FRENCH QUARTER) - The Les Fruits de Mer association has published a new coloring book, Animals Around Me. The book showcases 44 animals that live on St. Martin. The book is also a nature journal, where kids can record their own observations and make their own drawings of animals. 

“It is never too early to learn about St. Martin’s amazing wildlife,” said author Mark Yokoyama. “Some of our most common animals are ones that live only here on this island, and nowhere else in the world. We made this book to share these incredible animals, and their stories, with younger kids.”

The book spotlights birds, insects, reptiles and more. For each species, there is an illustrated coloring page with a short description of the animal. There’s also a space to take notes on any sightings of the animal, and a place to do a drawing of it. There is also a visual guide on the back cover with color photos of each animal. These features encourage kids to observe these animals in the wild.

“In this book, everything is in English and French,” added Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “We wanted the book to be more versatile on this multi-lingual island. This also means the book can be a language learning tool, too.”

One hundred free copies of Animals Around Me will be given away at Amuseum Naturalis in October thanks to sponsor Delta Petroleum. Amuseum Naturalis is a free museum of nature and heritage located in French Quarter, St. Martin. It is open every day from sunrise to sunset.

The book is also available as a free download from http://lesfruitsdemer.com. Teachers and youth group leaders interested in copies are encouraged to contact Les Fruits de Mer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Companies or individuals interested in sponsoring copies for schools are also encouraged to contact the association. The book is also available on amazon.com worldwide.

Animals Around Me was produced with support from the Collectivité de Saint-Martin, the Agence nationale de la cohésion des territoires, and Delta Petroleum.

Animals Pages

For each animal, there is a coloring page, and space to record observations and make drawings.

Free Copies

Sponsor Delta Petroleum has provided 100 free copies for individuals to pick up at Amuseum Naturalis.

 

 

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Marechaussee makes arrest on suspicion of falsifying COVID tests

BONAIRE (KRALENDIJK) - The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (KMar) on Bonaire arrested a 42-year-old woman on Wednesday, 6th of October 2021, on suspicion of forgery and/or fraud. The woman is suspected of being responsible for issuing several tens of false commercial COVID tests to people who were tested before their flight to the United States. This concerns both antigen and PCR tests. 

When the travelers concerned handed over the test results on Saturday the 2nd of October in order to check in for their flight, doubts arose about the authenticity of the documents. It soon became apparent that the agency under whose name the test results were issued was not aware of the group of travelers and never issued them a test result. The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee was called in for this.

The KMar has launched an investigation into the case and is working closely with the Dutch Caribbean Police Force (KPCN) and the Public Health Department of the Public Entity Bonaire (OLB). One suspect was arrested in this case, who has also already been detained.

By virtue of her position, the suspect was involved in conducting commercial PCR and antigen tests, further investigation should determine whether she abused her position to falsify the tests. The KMar is also investigating whether there have been previous incidents in which the suspect was guilty. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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