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MP Heyliger-Marten: "My pledge is to the people of St. Maarten"

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Member of Parliament (MP) Grisha Heyliger-Marten says the real Oath of Office that an elected member of Parliament in St. Maarten should take is to the people who elected them.

Her statement came on the heels of been sworn in as one of the 15 incoming members of Parliament on Monday, February 10th.

The Oath of office was taken in the presence of His Excellency’ the Governor Eugene Holiday’s office, who is the local representative for The King of The Netherlands.

During the ceremony, Heyliger-Marten opted to make her pledge to the people of St. Maarten.

She later issued the following statement; "With no disrespect to The King of The Netherlands, I felt my pledge as Members of Parliament should be about patriotism and loyal service to the people and allegiance to our island. The real Oath I take is a solemn promise to the people whose trust I will work to keep while upholding and improving the Constitution and the Laws for their good and in their best interest."

As a new MP Heyliger-Marten intends to work closely with all concerned to ensure that rules and roles are administered appropriately. She said the rule of law must work for the people and not be a hindrance to their progress or personal advancement. "The rule of law and the Constitution must also not hamper, slow or stall the work of the Executive Branch of Government. It must allow the Council of Ministers to work the interest of improving the lives and living condition of the people, and I will work to ensure that this happens," said Heyliger-Marten.

According to Heyliger-Marten, the role of the Governor should never hinder the advancement of our people. This relationship with the King/Governor and the Council of Ministers is established in the Constitution of The Netherlands. And, since the Governor is then part of the Executive Branch there should be no dispute between the decision of the Council of Ministers and the opinion of the Governor’s Cabinet as it relates to the Government’s’ duties. 

In this context, Heyliger-Marten said she looks forward to seeing work executed by the Executive Branch. These works should be consistent with the wish of the people of St. Maarten.

Regarding her new position as MP Heyliger-Marten said she was profoundly humbled and thankful to the people of St. Maarten for entrusting her to serve them as a Member of Parliament. "To have so many people put their faith and trust in me and the United People's Party, is humbling, and I promise to serve you with the utmost respect for you the people and to take seriously the responsibility you have given me."

MP Heyliger-Marten's campaign platform leading up to the January 9th 2020 elections, centered on the need to improve the Constitution of St. Maarten to reflect the needs of her people better. She will become the next Faction Leader for the UP Party which was founded by her husband and former Member of Parliament Theodore Heyliger. During her campaign, Heyliger-Marten made it clear to the electorate that a vote for her was a vote for her husband who she along with thousands on St. Maarten hold in high regard as a pioneer in the redevelopment of St. Maarten.

She said, "For a long time, the interest of the people of St. Maarten has been kept as a distant third to personal interest and the influence of foreign personal agendas. I make this declaration to you the people who elected me into office that I will serve you truthfully, humbly and respectfully. My service will be for the betterment of all of St. Maarten and not a selected few."

In keeping with her theme song throughout the elections Heyliger-Marten said she is ready to walk the walk. She said, “I have shown I can talk the talk and I am ready to stand up for you so they don’t take advantage of you.”

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Nature Foundation and Ocean Science Team Research Performance of Artificial Reefs

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - Last week, the Ocean Science Team of Reef Life Foundation was on the island to assess and research the 14 month performance of the ‘IntelliReefs’ artificial reef substrates which were developed to enhance coral and fish growth; deployed as a premier in St Maarten waters in the end of 2018.

The team which collaborates with the Nature Foundation was funded by the Waitt Institute, conducted several research and monitoring dives on the ‘coral enhancing’ structures in the Marine Protected Area and on sites around the island. The researchers discovered coral settlement varieties, important coral contributors and highly diverse marine species on the Oceanite substrates.

In the coming weeks, samples and monitoring films will be analyzed in detail to determine species composition and abundance on these substrates, stay tuned for scientific updates!

The Ocean Science Team consisted of marine biologists, coral scientists, photographers and videographers, storytellers and staff of the Nature Foundation, they were also locally supported by Pelican Peak, the Scuba Shop, and Dianne Smith, whose catamaran Random Wind, brought all the expedition teams to the dive sites on 29th of January.

The scuba shop provided dive equipment and assistance for the team and we experienced the beautiful views and adrenaline rushing zipline of Pelican Peak. “We are grateful for our local support in order to improve the resilience of our coral reefs” stated Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern Manager of the Nature Foundation.

“I was very excited to see the amount of life on the IntelliReefs in such a short time, including young coral colonies. Working with an incredible, dedicated team from the Nature Foundation and Reef Life Foundation inspires hope and sparks my imagination as an Art Reef designer” stated Colleen Flanigan part of the Ocean Science Team for the Reef Life Foundation.

In the last couple of years, the coral reefs on Sint Maarten have been deteriorating quickly due to diseases and storms, the reefs were already extremely threatened as pollution, large amounts of wastewater input into the ocean, overfishing and rising ocean temperatures are destroying coral reefs.

“If we do not have corals, many tourists will choose to enjoy their vacation somewhere else, causing large losses in income for St Maarten, loss of jobs and an average decrease in wealth and access to medical care, increasing poverty. Besides the importance to tourism, coral reefs are critical to protect us from storms and swells and are the home to many different fishes and marine life species, including the species we love to have on our menu, such as snapper and lobster. Therefore, we are honored to have these structures and their performance being tested on St. Maarten,” explained Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.

The Reef Life Restoration (RLR) nano-engineered reef habitats, called ‘IntelliReefs’, are using environmentally sustainable minerals as a specific coral species growth substrates, mimicking the complex composition of natural coral reefs. Biocompatible and highly diverse surface textures and formulations on and within these substrates are designed to function like established coral, including small holes where fertilized coral larvae can attach, be protected and grow to reproductive stage adulthood. These smart coral substrates are being designed to survive extreme weather, increased sedimentation levels, and changes to the broader ecosystem.

"After diving on the Sint Maarten IntelliReefs and conducting surveys of the structures, our initial observations and results indicate that they support an incredible diversity of life. Their porous design provides more surface area per square meter of reef material for settlement and protects early life stages of important reef-building organisms like corals.

“We were amazed to see wild coral recruits settling on one of our structures after only 14 months. Our preliminary results suggest that IntelliReefs can increase biodiversity of reef organisms even in very small areas and provide refuges to important fish and invertebrate species on degraded reefs," specified Emily Harris Reef Life Marine Biology Lead.

The vision of the ´IntelliReefs´ project is to deploy these smart substrates on reefs worldwide and use these technologies to protect and recover coral and biodiverse marine creature populations around the world, as many of the world’s scientists feel that entire reef populations will have to be moved to cooler waters, Reef Life structures can serve as “Living Shorelines” wave protection as well as individual boat mooring surrounds to prevent further damage to the reefs from anchoring.

The mooring habitat technology comes at a time when certain European Union countries are outlawing boat anchors except in proper mooring stations, so this system could globally contribute millions of sustainable boat mooring coral, fish, oyster and marine plant eco-habitats.

“What have I learned from Coral Reef systems? Healthy reefs are interdependent and take time to develop. I love the way the IntelliReefs initiative represents a win win for tourism, government and conservation. It is a long-term collaboration with wins for the environment, marine protected areas and the local economy. After 7 years of development, 14-month pilot test, and a week of diving repeatedly on the three sites in St Maarten, it’s clear to me that diverse marine life appreciates this Oceanite substrate. Every inch is covered in life.

“Most exciting are the recruits of mustard hill coral that are growing from the spawning event. Personally, I was honored to be tentacled by an octopus living in the heart of the IntelliReefs substrate, superior at attracting diverse biological growth to every nook and cranny. There are many more experiments we need to do to optimize the architecture and substrate, but for now, I’m thrilled to have a tested material that supports diverse biological growth,” said Ian Kellet Reef Life Global Project Lead.

“Reef Life Foundation supports global efforts being made to further marine protected areas: MPA expansion and effectiveness, as well as saving coral reef creatures great and small; and we hope to reinforce this by continued scientific development of coastal and oceanic solutions to the ravages of climate change” concluded Melody Brenna, Reef Life Foundation Director.

To learn more about IntelliReefs: Substrates for Super Corals, check out www.reeflifefoundation.org/intellireefs.

In order to assist to save our oceans, support by donating to www.naturefoundationsxm.org/donate and the “Gift A Reef” project: www.reeflifefoundation.org/donate.  

Local Support provided by:

THE SCUBA SHOP  www.thescubashop.net

Pikes Peak Zipline Tours: https://pelicanpeaksxm.com/

Random Wind Charters, St. Maarten https://randomwind.com/

Initial Reef Deployment with Nature Foundation: https://vimeo.com/325568580

nature Sint Maarten IntelliReefs Fish Aggregation A 2020

Sint Maarten IntelliReefs Fish Aggregation A 2020.

nature Smart Substrates for Super Corals FB

Smart Substrates for Super Corals FB

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2019-nCoV Coronavirus Mass Hysteria Causing Social Media ‘Infodemic’

SINT MAARTEN (COMMENTARY – Roddy Heyliger) - The outbreak of a new coronavirus known as 2019-nCoV, is leading to local and international mass hysteria, a so-called ‘infodemic,’ or information epidemic. One can understand that people are worried, and you have a right to be so, but keep pace with factual information and news that is evidence-based and avoid getting into an unnecessary panic.

The coronavirus epidemic was officially declared on 31 December. The numbers of persons being infected is increasing daily as well as the death toll. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 99 per cent of the cases are in China, with 80 per cent of these cases in Hubei, China province; there are only approximately 225+ cases in 24 other countries up to 4 February – a relatively small number of infections outside China which have presented mild to moderate symptoms.

The WHO has taken steps to ensure that the coronavirus epidemic does not spark a dangerous international social media “infodemic” fueled by false information – fake news; and is working closely with major internet platforms to ensure that WHO’s information about the respiratory illness appears first in online searches.

There have been cases internationally on different continents that people of Chinese descent are being discriminated against. All nations should display support for those facing difficult circumstances and avoid the stigmatization of people that are innocent and victims of what is transpiring.

The Dutch Health Minister Bruno Bruins told members of the Dutch Second Chamber of Parliament this week that he was shocked how people in the Netherlands who are of Asian descent are facing discrimination.

Our Prime Minister Hon. Silveria Jacobs on Wednesday during the live Council of Ministers press briefing, alluded to citizens seeking official news sources such as the Government’s public information platforms for factual information about the coronavirus.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves in a public statement also acknowledged that it appears some regional countries are panicking in the face of the coronavirus, especially where it concerned a cruise ship that had a number of passengers – 23 at the time in St. Vincent - suffering from upper respiratory tract infections. The vessel was denied entry by the Governments of St. Lucia, Dominica and Antigua.

Prime Minister Gonzales added that not every case should be assumed to be the dreaded disease. His country was one of those who allowed the cruise ship AIDA Perla to dock after it passed international and local health protocols, pointing out that his country had “acted sensibly with the protocols and don’t panic.” The AIDA Perla was allowed to dock on Tuesday at Port St. Maarten after passing local public health screening protocols.

As with other respiratory illnesses, infection with 2019-nCoV can cause mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. It can be more severe in some persons and can lead to pneumonia, kidney failure or breathing difficulties/severe acute respiratory syndrome. The incubation period ranges from two up to 14-days. Based on current WHO information, the people who have symptoms are most likely to spread the virus.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in its February 5 epidemiology report says those most at risk were those with low immunity – pre-existing medical conditions - because of an underlying illness such as cancer, heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes, in addition to senior citizens.

Follow the widely known advice which has been promoted and continues to be promoted by our Ministry of Public Health of handwashing and cough/sneezing etiquette. These every day habits can help prevent the spread of several viruses such as influenza (flu) and the common cold.

The WHO reported on Thursday that there was a slight drop on Wednesday night in the number of people infected in China by the new coronavirus. It’s a good sign, but, its too early to make any analogy of what it means and therefore global, regional and local preparations have to continue where everybody puts into practice common sense advice of basic hygiene measures or washing their hands regularly and sneezing and coughing into the crook of their arm.

Roddy Heyliger

WHO antibiotics

WHO eat garlic

WHO flu vaccine

WHO gargling

WHO Pets

WHO saline

WHO seseme oil block

WHO specific medicines

 

 

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Minister Doran swears in 20 new cadets at Police Force

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Some 20 police cadets took the oath of office in the presence of the Minister of Justice on Monday February 3rd, 2020, according to a press release from the cabinet of the Minister of Justice.

“A ceremony commemorating this milestone was held in the main meeting room at the Philipsburg police station.

“These cadets who started their training in the latter part of 2019, were taught by trainers of the Police Academy in the Netherlands.

“Minister Doran, who himself is 27 years of age, during his congratulatory message, expressed great satisfaction upon being able to yet another class of recruits graduating, and especially seeing among them many persons his age and even former colleagues taking on this bold step to become members of the Police Force of Sint Maarten.

“The Minister also emphasized taking this step should not merely be a job, but a job that you should love while having a strong desire to serve your country, which would help you to carry out your tasks with pride and dignity.

“He encouraged them to trust themselves and strive to be the best police officer ever.

“Chief Inspector Appellhof, who is charged with the police training for all Caribbean islands, also attended the ceremony and wished the cadets all the best and asked them to do their utmost to develop themselves and become proud police officers.

“Chief Commissioner of Police Carl John informed the 20 cadets that a career at the Sint Maarten Police Force will change their lives, and reminded them that it all comes down to integrity, respect and being a role model, on and off duty, while serving and protecting Sint Maarten''.  

“As is usual, trainings will be continuous in order for the officers to have the opportunity to elevate themselves and execute their duties in an even more efficient manner as they climb the ranks. In closing Minister Doran wished the officers much success as they move forward,” the statement concludes.

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St. Maarten Heart & Stroke Foundation Partners with Motorworld to host “Wear Red” Event This Friday

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - “Go Red for Women”, is a comprehensive platform designed to increase women’s heart health awareness and serve as a catalyst for change to improve the lives of women globally.

With emphasis on International Wear Red Day® this Friday, February 7, 2020, the St. Maarten Heart and Stroke Foundation (SMHSF) encourages the community of St. Maarten to wear red and raise awareness about cardiovascular disease, particularly among women, and save lives!

Towards this end, the SMHSF has partnered with Motorworld Group of Companies, to host its first annual “Wear Red Day” event, and thereby, raise awareness and work towards the prevention and cure of heart disease in women. This event will be held on Friday, February 7th from 7:00–10:00 PM at Motorworld’s showroom, located on Welfare Road in Colebay, St. Maarten.

“It’s not just about wearing red; or sharing heart health facts. For us it’s about all women making a commitment to stand together in solidarity and ‘Wear Red’ to take charge of their own heart health, as well as the health of those they can’t bear to live without,” shares Martha Thewett, Founder and President of the SMHSF. “Many are faced with heart disease themselves or, among loved ones, and often miss the simple signs. Making a commitment towards healthy behaviors isn’t something you have to do alone. This is why an event of this nature is necessary. We encourage everyone to come out to learn more, and bring along friends, family members and/or your colleagues and, join us in the movement to make a ‘Wear Red’ commitment!”

By coordinating the ‘Wear Red’ event, the Foundation will be highlighting women with heart disease, and their life-saving testimonials. This event will be structured as a mini symposium with medical expertise shared by local cardiologists from both sides of the island in a fun manner. Interactive and informative presentations will be made by the following guest speakers:

  • Dr. Marjorie Boulogne Abraham, Cardiologist
  • Dr. Emiko Bird-Lake, Cardiologist
  • Dr. Tasika Bell, Family Practitioner
  • Caroline Van Oost, Psychologist.

In addition to the above-listed medical experts, the ‘Wear Red’ event will also feature an engaging fashion show, art and poetry presentations, along with complimentary refreshments.

Moreover, a prime feature of the event will include the unveiling of a great surprise, which is being made available for a fundraising raffle, that anyone can win. All proceeds will go towards the SMHSF.

This is an evening that attendees will not want to miss! It will be a fun, informative and insightful fundraising event. The event is free and open to the general public. All guests are kindly asked to ‘Wear Red.’ Everyone, including men, are cordially invited and welcome to attend. Working together, we can all “have a heart, and save a heart.”

The sponsors for this event include Motorworld, St. Maarten Medical Center, So Contagious Studios, N.V. GEBE, T’s Closet and Total Perfection.  

For further information and/or to RSVP, please log onto St. Maarten Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Facebook page and, be sure to click “Going” to RSVP for the event. 

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Arrest made at Adult Entertainment establishment, for illegal fire arm possession

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Sint Maarten Police Force Patrols made an early morning arrest over the weekend on the 2nd February 2020 of a male carrying an illegal firearm, police said on Monday in a statement.

After the male with initials G.H.C (34) was spotted entering the establishment with a firearm, the police were immediately notified. G.H.C was placed under arrest at approximately 5:10am, when the patrols arrived on the scene.

He was brought to the Police Headquarters where he is being held for further investigation and the illegal fire arm was confiscated. (KPSM)

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PJL Black History Observance Month Starts Feb.01. Theme: Passing on our Legacy

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The annual Black History Observance month starts on February 1st, 2020 at the Philipsburg Jubilee Library (PJL). It began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.

Black History month is a time to reflect on what it means to be an African descendant. It is also a time to reflect back on the activists and organizers of the past who fought for racial equality for everyone. For this occasion, PJL acknowledges our local heroes for their role of bringing awareness to the community during the month of February for the last years.

Following the tradition, the PJL has a program prepared consisting of storytelling, dance, music, poetry and our power of knowledge series. The program commences on Wednesday February 5, 2020 with an opening at 6 p.m. at the library by the PJL director, Mrs. Glenderlin Holiday, featuring Mr. Alex Shujah Reiph, president of Conscious Lyrics, presenting the St. Martin Black History Month Story.

Every Saturday of this month there will be story telling by local story tellers, on Wednesday, February 12, there will be a session by Mrs. Maccow-Thomas, featuring the production of local herbal teas under the brand Teezan, and on Friday February 28, PJL will feature our local artist Ms. Tamara Groeneveldt, with poetry and a dance production by our local dance choreographer Mr. Rudolph Davis.

The full program can be found on the PJL web-site: www.stmaartenlibrary.org and on the PJL Facebook page: Stmaarten.pjlibrary.

We also encourage the general public to make use of this opportunity to visit the PJL during the regular opening hours to learn more about the African diaspora through the Alice and Lionel Romney collection and the Sint Maarten collection.

It will give you a better view on the past and also on the people that built Sint Maarten to what it is now. Please, come out, learn more, become aware, and celebrate Black History Observance month with us.

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St. Martin artist Deborah Jack exhibits in Africa

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - The art of Deborah Jack, probably St. Martin’s most reviewed visual artist, has been on exhibit in Bamako, capital of Mali, since last November.

“I exhibited with MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora at Bamako Encounters – African Biennale of Photography,” said Jack.

Jack’s photograph in the exhibit is called “Untitled,” from the series, The Season of Bloom. The group show ends January 31, 2020, as the 12th edition of “Bamako Encounters.”

“My work seeks to articulate an historical and cultural injury in a way that tries to avoid and subvert images of suffering and victim-hood that have been used as visual hot buttons in the past,” said Jack, who is a published poet under the name Drisana.

The Bamako festival “is the principal event dedicated to contemporary photography and new imagery in Africa,” said Lassana Igo Diarra, General Delegate of Bamako Encounters.

Jack is noted in US reviews for her wall-size, contemporary St. Martin sea and salt-inspired video and sound installations, said Lasana Sekou, her book publisher at HNP.

In the Huffington Post, what NYU professor Jacqueline Bishop called Jack’s “hauntingly familiar” work, also includes paintings and photography.

Jack’s art is currently on exhibit across the Atlantic from Africa as well.

According to Miami Herald, the St. Martin artist is in the show called “The Other Side of Now,” at the Perez Art Museum Miami through June 7, 2020. The 14 artists on exhibit in Florida are pondering “what might a Caribbean future look like?”

Jack’s schedule is revving up in 2020 in more ways than one. There is already a solo exhibit lined up for New York City; and there is her work as an associate professor of art at New Jersey City University. Deborah Jack is also featured in the forthcoming book A to Z of Caribbean Art.

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Prime Minister Jacobs meets with Postal Services St. Maarten representatives to address current issues

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - During the past week, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs met with Head of Postal Services St. Maarten (PSS) Marinka Gumbs and accompanying representative, Ms. Wilson to address the current issues that PSS is being faced with.

“After the discussions, and based on information received from the Central Bank and other banking officials, it was clear that the issues arising concerning international money transfer services no longer being provided by PSS was due to the absence of a Compliance Officer,” stated Prime Minister Jacobs.

Thus, the Postal Services St. Maarten was informed that once they have hired a Compliance Officer, they will then be able to continue with their international money transfer services.

The representatives of PSS expect to tackle the situation as soon as possible and follow up with Prime Minister Jacobs in order to ensure that international money transfer services resume at the post office.

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