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Soualiga News II (4336)

Air Caraibes flight makes emergency landing at PJIAE on Tuesday night

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Air Caraibes departed from the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) in St. Maarten with a destination to Orly, France at approximately 7:14 pm. A total of 46 passengers and 11 crew members were on board.

Following the takeoff, the pilot reported an engine failure to the Air Traffic Services (ATS) on St. Maarten. After further communication with the pilot, a “code red” emergency was declared, which indicated a high-level emergency. The aircraft made an emergency landing at the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) at approximately 7:29 pm, carrying 42 tons of fuel.

According to the Director of Operations, Mr. Emile Levons, the Air Caraibes aircraft landed safely, and there were no further incidents. In addition, there were no reported injuries among the passengers and crew.

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176 Vehicles controlled in Police Year-end Enforcement Program

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) – The Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) is executing its year-end enforcement program that includes several traffic controls whereby vehicles and persons were stopped and checked.

Operations were carried out on Sucker Garden Road, Welfare Road and A.Th. Illidge Road (Belvedere section). 

A total of 77 vehicles stopped and 113 people were checked in connection with unpaid fines. 

Fifteen fines were issued to motorists for different infractions. Thirteen vehicles inspected in connection with tinted windows and two were towed for unpaid road tax.

Another traffic control was conducted on Union Road in which 53 vehicles and three motorcycles were stopped and checked by police.

Twenty fines were issued to drivers. Fifteen vehicles were inspected in connection with tinted windows and three people were taken to the police station due to their outstanding fines.

During another road control held a few days later, this took place in collaboration with French side law enforcement at the border at Union Road. Forty-six vehicles were stopped and checked by police. 

Twenty-four of these vehicles were inspected for having tinted windows; 16 fines were issued and six people were detained in relation to outstanding fines. 

These traffic controls will continue until further notice. Police urge all drivers to keep their vehicle documents with them at all times while driving on the road.  

People with outstanding fines are advised by police to remedy this or face the "pay or stay" rule. (KPSM)

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Female victim stabbed after an altercation with her friend

SINT MAARTEN (SUCKER GARDEN) - On the morning of December 25, 2021, Central Dispatch received a call that a female had sustained a stab wound on Sucker Garden Road near the area where Cowboy bar was located. Several patrol officers and ambulance personnel were dispatched to the scene.

Here it was revealed that the victim had been feuding for some time with her boyfriend, who after a heated altercation had stabbed the victim with a knife. It remained unclear who had first drawn the knife used to injure the victim.

First aid was rendered to the victim with the initials D.F.R. at the scene by ambulance personnel and the female was later transported to St. Maarten Medical Center for further treatment. The victim's injuries were not life-threatening.

Later that morning the suspect with initials H.M.L appeared at the police station in Philipsburg. He was promptly arrested and taken into custody. This investigation is ongoing. (KPSM)

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Nature Foundation St. Maarten Records Fourth Fatal Sea Turtle Boat Strike for 2021

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - Once more, a sea turtle was fatally struck by a boat engine in the Simpson Bay lagoon, the Nature Foundation counted four sea turtle fatalities for 2021. The Foundation received a call regarding an injured sea turtle found in the Simpson Bay Lagoon by a Marina. The green sea turtle had no chance of survival due to the large propeller injuries. It had a deep cut in the head and also in the plastron (underside) of the turtle. Most likely the turtle got struck by a boat and was turned around by the force of the strike and hit again, fatally injuring the turtle. In this situation, the only humane option was to put the turtle down to prevent a slow, extremely painful death.

“It is heartbreaking to see another boat striking accident involving a sea turtle. Because of the profound injuries we had no other option than to put it down. If only the carapace (shell) would have been damaged, it could have possibly been mended and had a chance of survival. Due to the deep cuts in the head and underside we, unfortunately, had no chance to save it,” explained Tessa Volbeda, sea turtle intern of the Nature Foundation who was at the scene to retrieve the sea turtle.

Boat strike accidents, like this one in the lagoon, have contributed to the decrease of the sea turtle population. This year already 4 sea turtles have died due to boat strikes and another 5 turtles died in 2020. It is difficult to point out the guilty boat, as an injured sea turtle will dive down due to the strike. However, any boat which is traveling faster than indicated in the no wake zone, is an offender and contributor to the death of an endangered and protected species. Sea turtles’ surface to breathe as they have lungs and breathe air. During this time, the turtles are exposed to boats and especially their propellers, when boats are traveling at high speeds turtles are easily struck.

“At the Nature Foundation, we are very worried about the decrease of our sea turtle population on Sint Maarten and the amount of fatal boat strikes. We are asking all boaters to reduce their speed and we are asking the assistance of the coastguard to have all boats adhere to the speed limit, especially in the lagoon. We are taking different actions to increase the awareness of the critical state the sea turtles are in, for example using signs on the bridge. However, boats are apparently still speeding in the lagoon and coastal areas creating a hazardous situation for sea turtles that come up for air. We also urge everyone to actively look out for sea turtles when driving a boat at all times” stated Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern, manager of the Nature Foundation St. Maarten.

All sea turtle’s species are protected by the SPAW Protocol and the Nature Conservation Ordinance St. Maarten Articles 16 and 17. This means it is illegal to kill, wound, capture or pick up sea turtles. It is also illegal to disturb their environment resulting directly or indirectly in a physical threat or damage or to commit other acts which result in disturbance of the animal. It is forbidden to disturb, damage or destroy sea turtle nests, lairs or breeding places. Also, it is forbidden, by the same law, to pick up or to destroy the eggs of any species of sea turtle. In short, it is illegal to disturb or damage the turtles, their eggs or their habitat in any way.

Humans are the primary source of many of the threats these animals face which result in only 1 in 1000 hatchlings surviving to adulthood. Despite their endangered status, green sea turtles are still being killed for their meat and shells. Habitat destruction has been an increasing problem as the coastlines are being overdeveloped since the 1990’s. This results in limited space available for natural beaches, which are necessary for sea turtles to nest. Poaching of eggs, fishery bycatch and trash pollution of the oceans are all also threats sea turtles must face.

The Nature Foundation asks everyone to be mindful of the threats sea turtles face and try to mitigate them. Minimize your use of single-use plastics, slow down your boats when traveling in the lagoon or coastal areas, always have a lookout onboard, and limit beach lighting during nesting season, which is from April until December. If an injured sea turtle or any sea turtle activity on the beach is encountered, please alert the Nature Foundation immediately.

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Minister Ottley: Scale back of business hours will be linked to COVID-19 hospitalization cases

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, Hon. Omar Ottley stated that while we are noticing an increase in active cases on St. Maarten, the public should not panic. Panic causes sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, and this is when things tend to go out of control.

Minister Ottley urges the public to remember to adhere to the health protocols, administer health passes for establishments, wear your mask, sanitize frequently, limit mass gatherings and get vaccinated / boosted.

"While I am the Minister of Public Health, I am also the Minister of Labor, and with the country facing dire financial strain, we just cannot afford any lock downs. Philipsburg, the hotels, taxi drivers and tour busses are finally thriving again, and I have noticed an increase in employment opportunities in St. Maarten,” stated Minister Ottley.

While the Omicron variant has not yet proven to be as severe as the Delta variant, it spreads at a much faster rate. Minister Ottley encourages everyone to go out and get vaccinated and if you have received two doses; get your booster to ensure maximum protection.

Preliminary laboratory studies demonstrate that three doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine neutralize the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529 lineage) while two doses show significantly reduced neutralization titers.

Data indicate that a third dose of BNT162b2 increases the neutralizing antibody titers by 25-fold compared to two doses against the Omicron variant; titers after the booster dose are comparable to titers observed after two doses against the wild-type virus which are associated with high levels of protection (Pfizer.com).

We have all the knowledge and tools we need to get through this without reverting to a lockdown.  It is inevitable that we will experience an increase in active cases due to the high infectious rate of the Omicron, but as Minister of Public Health it is also my responsibility to remain transparent with the public.

Realistically, it is safe to say that we may be headed towards an endemic state and will soon be transitioning from pandemic to endemic.

COVID-19 will be amongst us for a very long time, hence the reason I have decided to not only look at the active cases but to closely link the business life with hospitalizations and the capacity of St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC).

In the interest of creating a balance with public safety and economic activity/employment we have created the following phases:

There is a hospital capacity of 20 beds for COVID-19 (16 ACF and four SMMC)

Phase 1:

Four to seven hospitalizations (20%), scale back to 1:00 AM. If hospitalization should later decrease to less than four for a period of two weeks, then the time would be reverted.

Phase 2:

Eight or more hospitalizations (40%), scale back to 11:00 PM.  If hospitalizations should decrease to less than eight for a period of two weeks, then the time would be adjusted accordingly.

At this moment Omicron exhibits a 1% hospitalization rate and thankfully no deaths.

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New Activity Book Highlights St. Martin Nature and Heritage

SAINT-MARTIN (FRENCH QUARTER) - The Les Fruits de Mer association has published a new activity book, Super St. Martin! This unique bilingual activity book invites young people to explore and celebrate the amazing nature and heritage of the island of St. Martin. It has over a hundred pages of discovery and fun, with mazes, word games, coloring pages, creative writing activities, and much more. The book features over 150 plants and animals that can be seen on St. Martin, including some that are only found here, and nowhere else in the world!

“We hope St. Martin kids and families will really enjoy this book, during the holiday season and beyond,” said author Jenn Yerkes. “It’s important for kids to have books about where they live. Imagine doing a word search with local names for birds, inventing short stories about this island’s night creatures, dreaming up a new kind of insect, or creating a beautiful floral pattern for a traditional dress!” 

“Every activity is in both English and French, so it can also be a great tool for language learners,” added Mark Yokoyama, co-founder of Les Fruits de Mer.

One hundred free copies of Super St. Martin! are being given away at Amuseum Naturalis in December and January 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.

Super St. Martin! was produced with support from the Collectivité de Saint-Martin, the Agence nationale de la cohésion des territoires, and Delta Petroleum.

Super St Martin Pages

The book is bursting with fun activities like mazes, word games, coloring, and creative writing and drawing.
 SSM Free Amuseum

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

 

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Saba, Kindernet sign twinning contract

SABA (THE BOTTOM) —The Public Entity Saba and the Kindernet childcare organization from the Netherlands last week sealed their collaboration by signing a twinning contract.

As part of the BES(t)4Kids program, the Day Care and After School Care organizations on Saba are working in a twinning program together with Kindernet in the European Netherlands. The twinning program was set up to share knowledge, experiences and best practices between the organizations. The program is mutually experienced by the partners as very inspiring and useful.

“Children in the Caribbean Netherlands are entitled to the same opportunities to develop optimally as children in the European Netherlands. We are happy to contribute to this,” said Director of Kindernet Selma Ozkan.

As part of the program, employees of the organizations got the opportunity to visit and work at each other’s locations. Over the summer of 2021, two Kindernet employees worked on Saba for three months, and recently six employees from Saba went to the Netherlands to work and gain experience at Kindernet.

Last week, the Kindernet management team visited Saba to support and work with the Saba Childcare Management. During this week, Saba Childcare Management, along with staff input, created a solid foundation for a shared vision, mission and core values for childcare on Saba.

During this visit, the twinning contract was signed by Island Governor Jonathan Johnson and Kindernet Director Ozkan, in the presence of Saba Commissioner of Social Affairs Rolando Wilson and representatives of Saba childcare and Kindernet.

“This has given us a renewed passion and commitment. The week in its entirety was truly an inspiring one. Kindernet has provided much needed guidance and support for both organizations on the island, as we go forward and strive to provide better quality childcare services,” stated Saba Childcare Management. 

group photo signing twinning contractRepresentatives of Saba Childcare Managament and Kindernet with Director of Kindernet Selma Ozkan and Island Governor Jonathan Johnson, Commissioner Rolando Wilson (second from right) and Project Leader Saba BES(t)4Kids Rosa Johnson (right).

 

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It's Time SXM Foundation Hosts Successful Children's Christmas Fun Day

SINT MAARTEN (DUTCH QUARTER) - On Tuesday, December 21st, "It's Time SXM" foundation made its grand debut as they hosted the First Annual Children's Christmas Fun Day in Dutch Quarter. 

Founded by Ohndhae Cloyd Marlin, the "It's Time SXM foundation has been developed to provide community initiatives and programs geared towards building a better, stronger and more productive St. Martin," shares Marlin.  

The First Annual Christmas Fun Day was hosted in the community of Dutch Quarter as an opportunity to celebrate the spirit of Christmas within a part of the community that has been severely impacted by a series of unfortunate events, including hurricane Irma, the COVID-19 pandemic and, moreover, a series of infrastructure setbacks caused by ongoing disputes between Government and contractors.

Hosted by internationally renowned, local artist Dr. Rum, the Christmas Fun Day also featured King Vers another award-winning local phenomenon, who, together, brought jubilant shouts of joy and dancing during their interactive performances, which captivated over 100 children between three to ten years of age. 

McDonald's graciously opened their doors for this exclusive event and sponsored complimentary lunches with happy meals, as well as, ice cream treats that were enjoyed by everyone in attendance. As Santa Clause arrived in Dutch Quarter, McDonald's came alive with festive cheer that could be heard throughout the entire neighborhood. The parents also enjoyed, as they participated in the fun activities, dancing and singing of Christmas carols. In addition, complimentary food vouchers were provided to assist some families.

The First Annual Christmas Fun Day was deemed a resounding success as the families left in high spirits, sharing love, good tidings and cheer.  

"This is the true spirit of the season!" says Marlin, "There are many in our communities who are suffering and not fortunate enough to celebrate the Holiday Season enjoying the traditional festivities. Therefore, particularly in times like these, it's more important to give than to receive. This is only the first of many more community outreach programs, events and activities that will be organized island-wide by the 'It's Time SXM' foundation'."

Everyone is encouraged to like and follow the 'It's Time Foundation' pages on social media to get more information and remain abreast of the ongoing developments. The planning is already in effect for ongoing community programs and activities throughout the year. 

In closing, Ohndhae Marlin shared these poignant remarks: As I look around and see all that is happening on our island, I recognize that "It's Time" to build a better and stronger St. Martin. "It's Time" to step beyond the smokescreens and truly care for our people. "It's Time" to activate a community of action-minded citizens and bring about productive changes and improvements to our beloved paradise." 

The First Annual Christmas Fun Day was made possible with contributions, in part, by the following sponsors of the event: McDonald's, Sound 2000, Kreative Juices and Simplicity Barbershop.

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Public service contract ensures connectivity

SABA/STATIA—The two-year Public Service Obligation (PSO) between the Makana ferry operator and the Public Entities Saba and St. Eustatius ensures that connectivity and service level between St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba are maintained.

The ferry operator Blues & Blues from Anguilla has signed a public service contract with the Public Entities Saba and St. Eustatius. This ensures that the operator maintains connectivity and a service level and obtains the rights to the subsidy provided by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW).

The Makana ferry has been providing comfortable and affordable travel between Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten since December 1. Even with the rough sea conditions of the past week, the ferry continued to provide service on the route. Contrary to some media reports, MV Makana is fully seaworthy and was recently inspected.

Due to a technical problem in the weekend the Makana ferry service is unable to operate since Sunday, December 19. Blues & Blues reached out via its agents to solve the transportation need of the stranded passengers. The vessel is currently in St. Maarten for repairs.

For the duration of the repairs to MV Makana, the Nikki V ferry will operate as back-up. MV Nicky V left for St. Eustatius on Wednesday, December 22, from where it will commence operations to Saba and St. Maarten on Thursday, December 23. All passengers who were stranded in the previous days, have returned home.

As a result of the technical problem with MV Makana, an evaluation of the contingency plan will be discussed after the holiday season. The PSO agreement monitors the operation to ensure improvement of service levels and a sustainable continuation after two years. The public entities and the operator started this collaboration for the long term, whereas the social and economic benefits to Saba and St. Eustatius are fundamental. Residents are encouraged to try the new maritime connectivity.

With the success of the maritime connectivity, the two islands have expressed an interest to also look into a PSO to provide air transportation for the Caribbean Netherlands. As this is a different legal framework, this will take time.

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Motorworld Donates Christmas Baskets to Miss Lalie Youth Care and Rehabilitation Center

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - It is an annual custom of Motorworld for all Management & Staff to come together to give back to the community during the holiday season. This year, the Miss Lalie Youth Care and Rehabilitation Center was selected to receive the Annual Christmas Donation.

The Miss Lalie Youth Care and Rehabilitation Center was opened in 2011 and currently is the home of 11 young boys. Supported by their 12 staff, the goal of the center is to correct, educate, guide and offer perspective to the young men. It serves as a safe space where they can work positively towards self-improvement.

“I would like to applaud the entire company for always going out of their way and contributing towards this very special event. We strongly believe that sharing is caring,” says Annesa Dwarka, Motorworld Representative.

Thanks to the donations from Motorworld Management & Staff, Christmas baskets containing items such as hygiene products, snacks, cookies and cider were distributed to the residents. Furthermore, a mix of perishable and non-perishable goods were also donated to the Miss Lalie Youth Care and Rehabilitation Center so that they can prepare Christmas dinner. Each member of staff also received a ham and chicken as a show of appreciation for their hard work with the residents. Representatives of Motorworld visited the center to surprise the residents and staff and present them with their Christmas baskets and goods.

“The boys had a great time when you all arrived, and the staff was very grateful to the donation because they had no idea that this was possible in these hard times. We would like to wish a sincere thank you to Motorworld and all of your colleagues,” shares Rikson Martina, Manager at Miss Lalie Center.

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