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Soualiga Newsday Latest News (2325)

HBN Law donates to K1 Britannia Foundation

PHILIPSBURG – In the spirit of the upcoming holiday season, the Sint Maarten office of HBN Law has made a donation of USD 5,000 to the K1 Britannia Foundation. “It is our firm’s tradition to make an annual financial donation to a charitable cause.

“Our firm has the difficult task of selecting a charity as there are numerous active organizations in Sint Maarten and each of them fulfills an equally important duty in our community. This year we selected the K1 Britannia Foundation”, the firm’s partner Mr. Chris van Amersfoort stated.

K1 Britannia Foundation is a relatively young foundation in Sint Maarten that was established in 2014. “Our foundation works alongside the Britannia Trust in the United Kingdom, and its namesake is inspired by the Britannia, the famous historical sailing ship”, Ms. Priya Thirumur, Vice-President of the foundation explained.

“One of our main projects focuses on working with foster children”. “They are one of the most fragile and needy groups of youth on the island,” Ms. Thirumur added.

“What we appreciate about this foundation is that next to its foster care program, it plays a unique and important role in the Sint Maarten society by working with young offenders to give them a second chance through providing employment opportunities and job training”, Mr. Hendrich Seferina of HBN Law added.

The K1 Britannia Foundation also organizes volunteer programs that assist various foundations and charities on the island in need of staff. “We thank HBN Law for its gracious donation that will certainly help us in realizing our foundation’s goals”, Ms. Thirumur stated.

More information on the K1 Britannia Foundation can be found on its Facebook page.

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TelEm Group re-routes international voice and data traffic following outage in Miami. Equipment to be replaced on Thursday

POND ISLAND – TelEm Group last night (Wednesday, December 10th, 2014) re-route international voice and data traffic from its SS7 link operated through SMITCOMS N.V. to provide continuity of telecommunication service on St. Maarten after an important communication node in Miami became faulty.

As a result of the re-routing action, Wednesday night, many residential and business clients maintained international calls and/or data services, however a few clients have remained affected until the equipment is replaced today (Thursday, December 11th, 2014).

“We have traced the problem with the assistance of our overseas operator in Miami and meantime we have re-directed as much of the international voice and data traffic as we can on the available equipment,” said Chief Technical Officer (CTO), Mr. Eldert Louisa.

He said efforts were still being made late into the night with several vendors, to find other traffic routes before the start the business day Thursday, and has meantime apologized to customers who may be affected by  the outage. (Telem Group)

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CIA/LU win first place in the Oualichi Female High School Soccer Competition

CAY HILL - During the very intense final match of the Oualichi Female High school Competition the CIA/LU team managed to maintain their top spot in the Competition, finishing at the number one spot. Four schools qualified for the finals and had to battle it out last Saturday for the top three spots.

The final game proved to be intense with MPC controlling possession for most of the game, having many chances to score. From the defense to the attack the MPC girls gave their maximum and played their best game so far of the competition.

In the end the CIA/LU team maintained the score to a 0-0 draw, winning based on the points accrued during the whole competition. B&C beverages donated the second place trophy won by MPC.

For the third spot the St. Dominic team went home with the WIB trophy, winning the game by default due to insufficient players showing up for the Sundial team which resulted in them being disqualified. In true sportsmanship manner both teams decided to still play a friendly game.

The awards ceremony recognized key players for their dedication and talent during the competition. Daricia Arrindell (CIA/LU) went home with the Oualichi women of the tournament award and the most goals scored award. For MAC, Whitney Walsch showed her excellent skills as a keeper and won the Oualichi Best keeper Award.

The Female High School Soccer Competition 2014 was made a success due to the many volunteers who assisted in the low budget organization. The competition proved to be the stepping-stone for a yearly competition benefitting the soccer girls of Sint Maarten. (Oualichi)

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Public Service Center Simpson Bay celebrates one year of existence with Customer Appreciation Event on December 12

SIMPSON BAY – On Friday, December 12, 2014, the Public Service Center in Simpsonbay will be hosting a “Customer Appreciation Day” to mark a successful year of existence on St. Maarten.  The Public Service Center was established with the purpose of providing a centralized location where citizens can access a variety of government services.

Director of the Public Service Center, Emilia Thomas stated that since its inception the PSC has provided various services to over 30,000customers. Thomas stated that “the PSC prides itself for providing fast and efficient services”. “We will therefore continue in our efforts to focus service delivery around our citizens’ needs and on improving citizens’ access to government services”.

During the coming months the PSC will be embarking on developing value-added customer-related initiatives with other Ministries and semi-government agencies. Additionally, more digital services will introduced shortly through the PSC. More information about these services will be publicly disclosed in the near future.

The PSC provides those products and services related to Civil Registry, Receivers/ Tax Administration. The services of Labor Affairs & Social Services have been temporarily scaled back due to technical issues; however it is the intention to re-introduce these services fully in the future. Finally, the Customer Care & Customer Information representatives are readily available to provide customers with general information they require about various government services.  

Thomas believes that without our customers and clients, Government will not be able to generate revenues.  “I think it is therefore important to recognize and thank them for their business, patience and support”, Thomas concluded.

The Customer Appreciation event is therefore our way of saying “Thank you”. The event will include light refreshments and other treats as a token of appreciation.

“We look forward to seeing and serving our valued customers and clients on Friday, December 12, 2014, which will be held during the business hours of 8:30 a.m. and 12:00 noon,” the Director stated. 

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The K1 Britannia Foundation Encourages Volunteerism as it marks International Volunteer Day

PHILIPSBURG - Since 1985, the United Nations has been celebrating December 5th as “International Volunteer Day,” giving thanks to volunteer-involving organizations and individual volunteers, and of course encouraging volunteerism around the world.

“The K1 Britannia Foundation, recognizing the significance of volunteers to our foundation and to the island, would like to congratulate and thank everyone who takes the time out to volunteer here on St. Maarten and around the world. To the over 150 K1 Britannia volunteers, we would like to say thank you for signing up with us and being so dedicated and motivated to making a difference. Our foundation is largely based on people who act out of the kindness of their hearts,” said the volunteer program project manager, Iris Hakkens.

The foundation started working with volunteers since the establishment of their volunteer sector in June of this year, and has been going non-stop ever since.12 persons signed with them have followed and completed a course with the family guardianship, certifying them to mentor foster children. They’ve organized outings and fun-days for the children and teenagers in the different homes, and plan to continue doing so. Their volunteer program has grown quite a lot as of the last few months, as they’ve signed up nearly 100 students from the PSVE School so that they can complete their community service hours at the various organizations who have agreed to work with the foundation and its volunteers.

Also signed up with K1 Britannia is the IB year 1 class of the St. Dominic High school. “I heard about K1 Britannia from a fellow student. She explained that it was a much simpler way to find organizations for community service. It seemed interesting, and I asked for a form. The way it was set up made it easier for me: they had options that you just had to tick off, so I could apply for what I wanted to do and not have to go and look for an organization on my own. I could choose areas in which I had skills and a passion for, like working with kids. Once I went on St. Maarten’s day to work with the foster children, I felt like I accomplished something. I would definitely work with the organization again, especially with the foster kids,” one of the IB students, Clare Marks, had to say about the sign-up process.

The idea behind the volunteer program of the foundation is to empower every- and any-one to become a volunteer. Signing up is as simple as filing out a form with your areas of interests and how much time you have to give. “The reason we started the volunteer program is because a lot of people are concerned about the problems on the island but very few actually realize that they can be a part of the solution. Most people don’t feel like they have much to offer, so the idea behind the volunteer program was to give everybody a chance to make a difference in the area that they have an interest in and according to the time they can spend doing so.

Whether it’s an hour a week, or an hour a year- however much they can give helps. They can be instruments in making a difference, because helping somebody is a very life changing experience for both parties involved. That’s the main inspiration behind creating the program- It’s a way to facilitate not only giving everyone a chance to volunteer in a tailored made way that suits their interest and their time and schedule, but also to be able to help and push forward so many worthy causes, foundations, and organizations trying to make a difference on the island,” said the foundation’s vice president, Priya Thirumur.

“So, on this International Volunteer Day, sign-up. There are many organizations who need help to work with the mentally and/or physically disabled, foster kids, young offenders, animals, nature projects, disaster relief, medical relief aids, and so much more.”

Need help finding an interesting way to volunteer? Contact the K1 Britannia Foundation! They can help you find an organization, non-profit, or foundation whose aim matches up with your interests so you can have fun while getting the job done.

And to any and all organisations and foundations -- if you need help in carrying out charitable projects, let us know. Our volunteers will be glad to assist you!

Email them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit their Facebook page: ‘The K1 Britannia Foundation’

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Minister of Culture Lourens-Philip Invites Public to Annual Thanksgiving and Lighting Ceremony on Sunday

GREAT BAY – The Minister of Education, Culture, Youth & Sports Hon. Patricia Lourens-Philip is inviting the general public to the Annual Thanksgiving and Lighting Ceremony on Sunday, December 7 in front of the Government Administration Building at 4.30pm.

The theme for 2014 is: “Be Thankful and Bless His Name.”

The event is being organized in collaboration with Caribbean PITCH IT Foundation, St. Maarten/St. Martin Christian Council, St. Maarten United Ministerial Foundation and the Seventh Day Adventist Church.   

The Thanksgiving Day proclamation has had a great impact on the community over the years and brings together the different denominations and the community at large.

Churches are encouraged to observe this proclamation during their morning services in their respective house of worship as a day of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Service is observed annually based on the Executive Council's proclamation of December 1, 1999 which outlines that Thanksgiving Day should be observed on the first Sunday of December following the official end of the hurricane period. (Dept. of Communication)

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Information session on “Bullying: what parents should know!”

PHILIPSBURG – An information session entitled “bullying: what parents should know!” is being organized by the Student Support Services Division (SSSD) of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs for the general public especially parents.

The information session is free and will be held on Friday December 5th at the University of St. Martin from 7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.

The objective of the workshop is to bring awareness to parents about bullying and its implications on a child’s life and how parents can best support their child (ren). Do you suspect that your child is being bullied? Does your child complain about not wanting to go to school or has unexplained bruises then this information session is for you.

Parents and other interested persons are encouraged to come out to the presentation. For more information, you can contact Ms. Maccow at 5226768 or email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The SSSD office is located in the Amigo Building across from the Police Station and next to the WIB. 

SSSD provides many services to students. Some services include: psychological services, counseling services, social work services, educational diagnostic services, career services, and parent education. (Dept. of Communication)  

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TelEm Group comes to assistance of Library, after damaging burglary and theft in August

POND ISLAND - TelEm Group recently made good on a promise to assist the Philipsburg Jubilee Library with its recovery plans, following a burglary in August, during which equipment was damaged and several items, including computer hard drives were stolen.

The company made a cash donation to pay for repairs of windows and doors, reinforce security and also replace some of the damaged equipment.

On Tuesday, Director of the Philipsburg Jubilee Library, Monique Alberts, gratefully accepted the donation from TelEm Group Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Mrs. Helma Etnel, after Mrs. Etnel was given a brief tour of the facility to show how the funds were being put to good use.

“A lot of the expense has gone towards securing our administrative offices, especially to make  them less vulnerable, and also to pay for the clean-up that was required at the time,” said Ms. Alberts.

She said the burglary in August was only a first blow to the facility because some weeks later, hurricane Gonzalo also came calling, causing other damage which also had to be repaired and paid for.

“We are most grateful to TelEm for being a good corporate citizen and for once again assisting us in our time of need,” said the Library Director.

She said as a non-profit organization, the Library continues to depend on donations  from companies and organizations in the community, subsidies, membership fees and corporate sponsorship to stay afloat, therefore the assistance from TelEm Group was especially welcomed.

The library is an important institution in our community which is used daily by hundreds of children and adults on a daily basis and as such needs to be updated, made safe and put up to standard under a general funding arrangement with government to secure this learning environment for the entire community,” said the Library director.

Mrs. Etnel said she was indeed impressed with how the Library director and her team are utilizing the funds donated, and suggested additional monitoring by a security firm, as an extra measure should funds become available.

“Over the years we have had a close working relationship with the Library because it serves a very important educational and social function, especially for our youth especially in the community.  Many of our own personnel have children who make extensive use of the library’s various facilities and services and that is another reason along to give all the support we can,” said Mrs. Entel.

She wished Mrs. Alberts and her staff continued success, especially with the replacement of stolen hard drives, which contained irreplaceable archived and general information and data that would be of no use to anyone other than the Library itself. (TelEm Group)

 

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SXM Airport Offers “24 Days of Christmas”

SIMPSON BAY, SXM Airport - The Princess Juliana International Airport, SXM, in connection with its concessionaires is offering what it has dubbed “24 Days of Christmas,” which started on Monday, December 1, 2014, and will continue until Wednesday, December 24, 2014.

The promotion involves free gifts at certain businesses at SXM airport against a minimum purchase, hefty discounts at others, and the opportunity to participate in raffles for tantalizing Christmas gifts at some stores.

“This is our own small way of spreading Christmas cheer to all airport users,” said Kalifa Hickinson, SXM Corporate Communications Specialist. Hickinson said that the airport premises would be appropriately decorated to enhance the season’s mood as has now become customary at SXM, and in addition, there will be an array of Christmas songs playing via the PA system for users’ enjoyment.

The Christmas promotion is available to all those who come to the airport for any reason during the three-week period leading up to Christmas. (SXM Airport)

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2014 Atlantic hurricane season comes to an end. Gonzalo leaves its mark

SINT MAARTEN - The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season officially came to an end on Sunday, November 30, and will be remembered as a relatively quiet season as was predicted according to the U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that falls under the U.S. Department of Commerce. Still, the season afforded NOAA scientists with opportunities to produce new forecast products, showcase successful modelling advancements, and conduct research to benefit future forecasts.

The 2014 season for country Sint Maarten will be a season to remember for the arrival of Hurricane Gonzalo on October 13.  As the Sint Maarten Office of Disaster Management (ODM) has always promoted every season, it only takes one to make it a bad season for the country, and that was indeed the case for many who suffered.  The country at the end of the season seems to have fully recovered with several boats still along the shore side which is a reminder that Gonzalo once visited.

Eight storm systems formed, six in the Atlantic Ocean and two in the Gulf of Mexico.  Six of the eight turned into hurricanes.  Two of them reached major hurricane status with sustained winds of over 111 miles per hour, namely Hurricane Edouard and Hurricane Gonzalo. 

The NOAA in its seasonal round-up stated the following: “Fortunately, much of the U.S. coastline was spared this year with only one land falling hurricane along the East Coast. Nevertheless, we know that’s not always going to be the case,” said Louis Uccellini, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “The ‘off season’ between now and the start of next year’s hurricane season is the best time for communities to refine their response plans and for businesses and individuals to make sure they’re prepared for any potential storm.”

The advice of the NOAA for the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season should be heeded.  We are now approaching the holiday season, and everybody’s focus is on the season.  After the New Year rolls in come January 1, 2015, it will mark five months before the start of the Atlantic hurricane season.

How the Atlantic Basin seasonal outlooks from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center verified for the 2014 Atlantic Season:

 

Actual

August Outlook

May Outlook

Named storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher)

8

7-12

8-13

Hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher)

6

3-6

3-6

Major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, 5; winds of at least 111 mph)

2

0-2

1-2

“A combination of atmospheric conditions acted to suppress the Atlantic hurricane season, including very strong vertical wind shear, combined with increased atmospheric stability, stronger sinking motion and drier air across the tropical Atlantic,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “Also, the West African monsoon was near- to below average, making it more difficult for African easterly waves to develop.”

New & improved products this year

As part of its efforts to provide better products and services, NOAA's National Weather Service introduced many new and experimental products that are already paying off.

The upgrade of the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) model in June with increased vertical resolution and improved physics produced excellent forecasts for Hurricane Arthur’s landfall in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and provided outstanding track forecasts in the Atlantic basin through the season. The model, developed by NOAA researchers, is also providing guidance on tropical cyclones in other basins globally, including the Western Pacific and North Indian Ocean basins, benefiting the Joint Typhoon Warning Center and several international operational forecast agencies. The Global Forecast System (GFS) model has also been a valuable tool over the last couple of hurricane seasons, providing excellent guidance in track forecasts out to 120 hours.

In 2014, NOAA's National Hurricane Center introduced an experimental five-day Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook to accompany its text product for both the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins. The new graphics indicate the likelihood of development and the potential formation areas of new tropical cyclones during the next five days. NHC also introduced an experimental Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map for those areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States at risk of storm surge from an approaching tropical cyclone. First used on July 1 as a strengthening Tropical Storm Arthur targeted the North Carolina coastline, the map highlights those geographical areas where inundation from storm surge could occur and the height above ground that the water could reach. 

Fostering further improvements

While this year’s hurricane season was fairly quiet, NOAA scientists used new tools that have the potential to improve hurricane track and intensity forecasts. Several of these tools resulted from research projects supported by the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, which was passed by Congress in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Among the highlights were both manned and unmanned aircraft missions in Atlantic hurricanes to collect data and evaluate forecast models. NOAA and NASA’s missions involving the Global Hawk, an unmanned aircraft that flies at higher altitudes and for longer periods of time than manned aircraft, allowed scientists to sample weather information off the west coast of Africa where hurricanes form, and also to investigate Hurricane Edouard’s inner core with eight crossings over the hurricane’s eye. NOAA launched a three-year project to assess the impact of data collected by the Global Hawk on forecast models and to design sampling strategies to improve model forecasts of hurricane track and intensity.

While the Global Hawk flew high above hurricanes, NOAA used the much smaller Coyote, an unmanned aircraft system released from NOAA’s hurricane hunter manned aircraft, to collect wind, temperature and other weather data in hurricane force winds during Edouard. The Coyote flew into areas of the storm that would be too dangerous for manned aircraft, sampling weather in and around the eye wall at very low altitudes. In addition, NOAA’s hurricane hunters gathered data in Hurricanes Arthur, Bertha and Cristobal, providing information to improve forecasts and to test, refine and improve forecast models. The missions were directed by research meteorologists from NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division, a part of the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami, and the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center in Tampa.

In addition, increased research and operational computing capacity planned in 2015 will facilitate future model upgrades to the GFS and HWRF to include better model physics and higher resolution predictions. These upgraded models will provide improved guidance to forecasters leading to better hurricane track and intensity predictions. (The majority of the information is provided by the NOAA)

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