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Traffic Interruption on A.T. Illidge Road on Monday

PHILIPSBURG - The Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) hereby informs the general public of a planned traffic interruption on the A.T. Illidge Road on Monday February 25, 2019.  

The interruption is in connection to the repair of manholes in the area and will be in the vicinity of the intersection of Arch Road and A.T. Illidge Road, and also at the intersection of Van Gogh Straat and A.T. Illidge Road. 

The pubic is asked to pay keen attention to the traffic signs displayed and to follow the instructions of traffic controllers at the work sites. 

The work will be carried out by Windward Roads on behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten.  Ministry VROMI apologizes for any inconveniences caused.

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K1 Britannia’s Disaster and Crisis Team launched in Curacao

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - In September 2018, K1 Britannia Foundation formed and launched a Disaster Relief and Crisis Team called K1 DIRECT on St. Maarten.  Shortly after assembling the team in St. Maarten, K1 initiated a branch of DIRECT in Curacao and will be strengthening the team this year. 

The decision to develop a branch in Curacao stemmed from reasons including the need to be dependable in their commitments to the Government of St. Maarten (in the roles of shelter management, first response, and mass distribution), the strategic location of Curacao and the risk of a disaster striking St. Maarten and affecting the team. 

In a wake of a disaster, the team on St. Maarten would potentially become victims and would not be able to assist at their full capacity due to extreme damage to their homes, loss of belongings and other personal tribulations.

In August 2018, K1 launched an online survey for residents of Curacao interested in joining K1 DIRECT, in which 34 persons participated. This survey, similar to the one launched on St. Maarten, covered vital details that would link the persons’ interests and commitments to K1 DIRECT, such as prior disaster management trainings, willingness and ability to travel for disaster relief work, and medical concerns. 

Program Manager Iris Hakkens states, “Based on our information sessions & surveys, we received many recruits with prior experience in the field or in relevant fields, such as engineering, ex-military and/or law enforcement, search & rescue, and even a member with qualifications in stress management.” 

As Curacao is a part of the Dutch Kingdom, and already has a direct connection with St. Maarten, K1 decided Curacao would be the best option to mobilize a team. “The suggestion came to us by one of our St. Maarten DIRECT members. 

The idea was that if St. Maarten DIRECT members were affected, we should have a back up plan in place, and Curacao seemed like the most strategic option since it is placed out of the hurricane belt, amongst other factors”, added Program Manager Alan Schet. 

After the survey was launched, K1 Britannia Disaster Relief Program Managers Alan Schet & Iris Hakkens travelled to Curacao to recruit the volunteers. K1 DIRECT has recruited 20 members, 12 of which have signed confidentiality & volunteer agreements.

While in Curacao, Iris and Alan also took this opportunity to research options for insurance and trainings on the island. Currently approximately 12 members are insured. 

K1 hosted an information session at the University of Curacao about the development of the program on St. Maarten and the goals for K1 DIRECT Curacao. 

They were able to meet and collaborate with persons of RIVERT (the Refinery’s Emergency Response Team), CUSAR- Caribbean Urban Search & Rescue and Voluntary Corps of Curacao and Head of the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard, and the Head of Disaster Coordination Curacao. 

The initiation of K1 DIRECT Curacao, received a great deal of Public Relations exposure in Curacao. The two Program Managers gave two live TV interviews on Telecuracao on “Moru Bon Dia”, and “TV DIRECT” on “DenKonteksto”.

Next steps and goals for K1 DIRECT Curacao would be to complete all relevant trainings and qualifications, equip the team with supplies and completeinsurance to adequately prepare them for a disaster situation. Program Manager Alan Schet states, “Future goals of K1 DIRECT Curacao are to grow the team into a well-rounded group of volunteers that are confident in their abilities to help others during a disaster. 

“Personally, I’ve always felt a need to help people and this is one of the ways that I can. I hope we can continue to inspire each other within the team and out, while building this team together.”

The development of K1 DIRECT St. Maarten and Curacao is made possible through funding of Carnival Cruise Line and the NRF. “Carnival Cruise Line wanted to be a part of a long-term solution for disaster relief. 

“Because of its heart for those in the Caribbean region who were affected by the 2017 hurricane season, the cruise line found it imperative to play a meaningful part in not only the recovery but also preparation. We are grateful for the opportunities the sponsorship has allowed,” concluded K1 Co-Founder, Priya Thirumur. 

For more information about K1 Britannia Foundation and K1 DIRECT, visit their website www.k1britanniafoundation.org, their Facebook www.facebook.com/k1sxm, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +(1)721-543-3332.

Informational session at University of Curacao

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Cft: Drastic measures unavoidable for Curaçao

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - The government of Curaçao has been given until coming March 6thto present solutions for a minimum amount of 127 million guilders with which the 2019 budget can be balanced. 

Just like it was the case the previous two years, this year again a budget deficit seems eminent, based on which the standards laid down in the Kingdom Act on Financial Supervision cannot be met. Therefore, substantial and urgent measures are needed to balance the Curaçao budget. The measures will need to have an effect that lasts for several years, because also on the long term a considerable shortage is foreseeable.

Minister Gijsbertha has already indicated that, considering the fact that the tax revenues did not meet the forecast, he will decrease the initial estimated revenues in the 2019 budget with 92 million guilders. In addition, a downward adjustment of other revenues of at least 35 million guilders must also be taken into account. 

In total, the government must therefore present at least 127 million guilders in real revenue-increasing and/or cost-reducing measures in 2019. As a result of the rising health costs and the costs of the old age fund (AOV), multi-year deficits in the social funds can also be anticipated. These rise to 1.25 billion guilders in 2028. Chairman Raymond Gradus declares: "In order to guarantee these facilities for later generations, reforms will be needed in order to make the multi-annual budget realistic and sustainable."

The government of Curaçao has already presented a number of measures, such as a commitment stop, no hiring of new personnel and the postponement of decision-making on the indexation of government personnel. However, the Cft has asked for a full bundle of measures that for the year 2019 will add to at least 127 million guilders whilst balancing the budget on a long-term basis as well. 

Moreover, the Cft has requested that the other risks for the budget, such as the education covenant, the additional charges for HNO, the residual debts of Sehos and the operating deficit of C-Post be registered and covered. 

The Cft has given the government the time to do so until March 6that the latest, so the budget can be audited by a committee that was set up for that specific purpose. This should lead to a budget amendment that will be submitted to Parliament before April 1st.

During its visit to Curaçao, the Cft spoke with the Governor, the Council of Ministers, the Minister of Finance, the financial committee of Parliament and the management of both Sehos and the SVB. Also, a meeting was held with the Minister of Finance, the SOAB, the National Audit OfficeCuraçao and the Cft, during which the roadmap towards an unqualified audit report on the 2021 financial statements was discussed. 

The Cft consists of the following members: Raymond Gradus (chairman), Gregory Damoen (member on behalf of Curaçao), Henk Kamp (member on behalf of the Netherlands) and Russell Voges (member on behalf of Sint Maarten).

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International Conference on Disaster Medicine and Hurricane Resiliency

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - “Congratulations are in order for the American University of Caribbean school of Medicine (AUC) who in collaboration with Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians (HMFP) of Beth Israel will be hosting an International Conference on Disaster Medicine and Hurricane Resiliency from March 8 to 11th, 2019”, expressed Minister Emil Lee at Wednesday’s Council of Ministers Press briefing.

“I would like to encourage the respective personnel of the various Ministries and Emergency Support Functions (ESF) to attend this important conference so that we can all be well prepared as we approach the 2019 hurricane season.” – Emil Lee, Minister of VSA

The conference is a collaborative effort and is the first major initiative of newly established Caribbean Center for Disaster Medicine, which fosters collaboration among professionals responsible for healthcare delivery, disasters preparedness, emergency response and medical education. 

The conference brings together physicians, nurses, educators and other professionals focused on patient care to explore disaster medicine in the context of hurricanes and other severe weather events. 

Through workshops, plenaries and panel discussions, attendees will gain essential emergency planning and preparation skills to better understand the role of disaster medicine in effective healthcare management.

The conference is open to the public with ticket costs set at $650. There is a discounted resident rate of $250, which is accessible to current medical students, post-graduate medical residents and fellows once this can be validated. 

To access this rate, use the promo code RESIDENT. This conference can count towards a maximum of 16 Continuous Medical Education (CME) credits. To register visit the Eventbrite page at www.eventbrite.com/e/international-conference-on-disaster-medicine-hurricane-resiliency-tickets-52159166471

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Four Metal Shark patrol boats arrive for SXM Coast Guard

SINT MAARTEN (POINT BLANCHE) - The four new high-speed Metal Sharks for the SXM Coast Guard arrived yesterday. With this delivery the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard (DCCG) completed the 12-boat order announced last year. 

The 38’ Defiant patrol boats are the result of a multi-year effort by the DCCG to deliver a replacement for the fleet of SuperRibs. The new boats will serve as the DCCG’s main interceptors, patrolling the territorial waters of St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba.

The personnel of the DCCG will start their Metal Sharks training to get acquainted with the boats. After the training they will officially start operating the patrol boats in the SXM waters. The patrol boats will be operating during all Coast Guard operations.

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Mini RYLA Exceeds all Expectations

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The mini RYLA was organized on February 16, 2019 by an organizing committee that comprised of Rotarian Jon Hart (chairperson) Rotaractor Micaela Hart, and Assistant Governor, Marcellia Henry, exceeded all expectations, Henry announced on Wednesday. 

Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) is an intensive leadership experience organized by Rotary clubs and districts where young people develop their skills as a leader while having fun and making connections.  The program is designed to shape leadership skills in young people who already possess and demonstrate outstanding leadership characteristics in their high school and community.  The participants are exposed to the many phases of leadership by learning from individuals who are already leaders in their community and businesses.

The RYLA held at the University of St. Martin was attended by 55 Interactors from Anguilla, St. Barths, St. Martin, Sundial, Milton Peters College, Learning Unlimited, Caribbean International Academy, Charlotte Brookson Academy, St. Maarten Academy and St. Dominic High School.  

Assistant Governor, Marcellia Henry gave the welcome remarks and introduction.  The first session of the day allowed the Interactors from the different islands to share some of the projects they execute on their islands, and how they contribute to their community and schools. Youth representatives of Anguilla, St. Barths, St. Dominic High and Milton Peters College gave presentations. 

The whole group and breakout sessions for the event that started at 9:30am and ended at 3:30pm were as follows: Fundamentals of leadership and ethics of positive leadership presented by Mrs. Josianne Fleming-Artsen, and Leadership and Customer Service Skills by Ms. Dimple Sagre. Ms. Chevonne Dasouza presented the importance of communication skills in effective leadership. Building self-confidence and self-esteem was presented by Ms. Georgette Rampersad and a second session was  given by Ms. Kimberley Duzong.  Mr. Lenworth Wilson’s presentation was on Problem Solving and conflict management.

For the French-speaking participants from St. Martin and St. Barths, the same sessions were offered but were delivered in the French language by Rotarians and Rotaractors from the northern side of the island and St. Barths namely: Ms. Jasmine Sally, Ms. Abigail Leese and Ms. Dahlia Francois.     

An award presentation for all participants was held at the ending of the day’s event.  

The organizing committee would like to thank the sponsors from University of St. Martin, Office world, Dazzling Gems, Jewelry Avenue, Sint Maarten, NATCOM UNESCO, Uncle Bob, Carl’s and Sons, Mr. Russell Bell, and the Rotary Clubs of Anguilla, St. Barths, St. Maarten, and St. Martin.

It is the intention to organize another RYLA during the next Rotary year 2019-2020 to shape leadership skills in students who already possess and demonstrate outstanding leadership characteristics in their high school and community.

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CPS monitoring global measles situation

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is closely monitoring the measles situation in Europe, as well as the USA and the Caribbean.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that can cause potentially serious illness. As measles remains endemic in most parts of the world, it can spread to any country, including those that have eliminated the disease. 

Every un- or under-immunized person regardless of age is therefore at risk of contracting the disease; this is especially true in those countries where persistently low immunization rates increase the risk of a large outbreak with possible tragic consequences. 

Countries should achieve and/or sustain at least 95% coverage with two doses of measles-containing vaccine to prevent circulation in the event of an importation of measles.

Travelers who are not up to date with their vaccinations are at higher risk of contracting measles when in close contact with travelers from countries where the virus is still circulating.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged European countries to target their interventions to those places and groups where immunization gaps persist.

The WHO says measles killed 72 children and adults in the European Region in 2018. According to monthly country reports for January to December 2018 (received as of 01 February 2019), 82, 596 people in 47 of 53 countries contracted measles. In countries reporting hospitalization data, nearly 2/3 (61%) of measles cases were hospitalized. The total number of people infected with the virus in 2018 was the highest this decade: 3 times the total reported in 2017 and 15 times the record low number of people affected in 2016.

CPS advises guardians and parents to check their children’s vaccination status to see whether they are up to date, adding that it is important to keep the Americas Region measles-free.  

If persons decide to travel, they should also check their vaccination status and to make use of every opportunity to get vaccinated according to the vaccination schedule.  Consult your physician for additional information.

The majority of people who get measles are unvaccinated.  

Other individuals who should get their vaccination status checked are, health care workers, pregnant women, pre-and exam class students, as well as groups at risks such as waste/garbage handlers, the Police, hotel and restaurant workers, and others to verify and update their vaccination status, particularly on Hepatitis B and Tetanus. 

Immunization averts an estimated two-three million deaths every year, protecting children from diphtheria, measles, pertussis (better known as whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhea, rubella, tetanus and others.

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Minister Smith congratulates G.I.F.T.E.D. ROYALTY AWARDS Nominees

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, the Honourable Wycliffe Smith extends his congratulations to the GIFTED Foundation on the hosting of their 4thGIFTED Royalty Awards. The foundation is set to host this year’s ceremony on Sunday, February 24th, 2019 at the Belair Community Center.

There are 6 local high schools participating in this year’s event. In 2015, this initiative was launched with the “Young Kings Awards”, recognizing five dynamic young men from our local high schools in the areas of Athletics, Arts, Academics, Leadership and Community Service.

In 2016, this was expanded to include the recognition of our remarkable young women in the same categories, renaming of the awards to “THE G.I.F.T.E.D. ROYALTY AWARDS”. A total of 161 students have been recognized and celebrated since we started in 2015.

In this year’s celebration of youth excellence, over 40 students have been nominated by their high schools for this prestigious recognition of their hard work, dedication, and exemplary standard in their school and in the community. According to Minister Smith, “This is a good reminder for us at a time when negative news seem to bombard us concerning our young people. However, these nominees for GIFTED Royalty Awards should be shared and celebrated in our community and on social media for their achievements. Congratulations to all the Royalty Awards nominees. You are all Young Kings and Queens!”

The profiles of all nominees have been posted on the GIFTED Foundation’s Facebook page. In making their nominations, the following exemplary students were considered by their high schools.

In Academics, these nominees are noted as excelling consistently in their academics. 

They are marked by discipline and diligence towards academic excellence.In Expressive Arts, these nominees are considered exceptionally skilled and dedicated to at least one discipline of The Arts. The nominees must be currently active in the expressive arts. His/her character should be marked by discipline and integrity.

In the category of Athletics, these nominees are considered exceptionally skilled and dedicated to at least one sport. The nominees are currently active in an individual or team sport. Their character is marked by discipline and sportsmanship. 

For Community Service, these nominees are known by their peers and teachers for giving themselves to volunteerism in school and the wider community. Their character is marked by generosity, respect and a willing spirit.

In the area of Leadership, these nominees are considered as consistent in demonstrating leadership among their peers. The nominees are esteemed as dependable and they take initiative to guide and influence his/her peers towards positive behavior. They have earned the respect of their peers as well as teachers and staff. His/her character should be marked by discipline, integrity and influence.

GIFTED Foundation is a not-for-profit organization focused on youth and community development on St. Maarten/St. Martin and the wider region. The organization’s aim is to continue highlighting the positively outstanding youth of Sint Maarten and subsequently inspire the next generation. 

The initiatives seek to proactively tackle social ills such as youth delinquency, crime, violence, and child-abuse, among others issues by promoting social values such as education, justice, unity, volunteerism and youth dynamism.

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TelCell supporting music concert for Domestic Violence awareness

SINT MAARTEN/ST. EUSTATIUS - TelEm Group’s mobile provider TelCell, is in neighboring St. Eustatius this upcoming weekend, to give a big boost to a “Zero Tolerance” Domestic Violence Awareness event on the island.

The company says a team of TelCell staffers will be on Statia later in the week to take part in several activities planned for the weekend, including a music concert, with Reggae star Ky-Mani Marley, heading a group of talented performers.

The weekend is kicking off on Friday, February 22, with an All-White Party to officially mark the start of the Awareness Weekend and ends Sunday with the Family Fun Day.

This will be the second year in a row that TelCell is sponsoring the locally organized event, and says it is fully behind the cause to stamp out violence in the home.

TelCell is especially pleased with the hard work of event coordinators, Mega D’s Youth Foundation and Dare 2 Care, who are setting out to raise funds so that they can continue to bring awareness to the general public about Domestic and Youth Violence on the island.

Both groups believe the best way to tackle the scourge of violence of any kind in the home is to first recognize that it exists and then to find support for those who ultimately become the victims.

The Mega D’s Youth Foundation say the upcoming activities are in keeping with their goal and mission to educate and prepare Youth on the island for adolescence and adulthood, and note that Domestic Violence, and how to avoid it, is a very real issue that Youth need to be aware of at an early age.

Similarly, Dare 2 Care, also takes their mission to educate the community about domestic violence very seriously. Members go a step further however by offering assistance and support to the victims of domestic violence with programs that include counselling, treatment for persons with violent tendencies and a safe haven for female and youth victims, whenever the situation calls for a refuge against violence.

TelEm Group, Manager, Marketing & Sales, Mrs. Grisha Heyliger, says the TelCell Team visiting Statia this weekend are very excited about interaction with persons on the island and will be assisting in any way they can to get the message of domestic violence awareness out and into the Statia community.

“This is a great community effort that is well worth the support of everyone,” said Grisha.

For more information about Domestic Violence Awareness on St. Eustatius, visit the following Websites:

 www.safestatiaportal.com

http://www.myf4youth.com/

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Ashanti, Keyshia Cole, Ja Rule set to Headline ‘Soulful Company’ concert

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) will present a lineup of R&B music, Hip Hop and local soul on April 25 for the “Soulful Company” concert. Headlined by Grammy Award winning artist Ashanti, R&B and Soul songstress Keyshia Cole and rapper Ja Rule, “Soulful Company” is meant as a “smooth, groovin’ and boppin’’” night in Carnival Village. The concert will be presented in collaboration with Motorworld. 

The three US based, international artists will be joined by two of St. Maarten’s best young singers and their bands. Natisha Hanson, blessed with a powerful voice and the ability to sing ballads as well as Zouk music, will join Kenyo Baly, the reigning Soca Groovy King and R&B/Soul singer on stage as the acts representing The Friendly Island. 

“Last year when we first hosted this show, we knew where we wanted to take it eventually. When you start a concert event that you hope to present annually, it takes some work before you find the identity of that show. This year will be yet another big step forward in the growth of Soulful Company with three great international artists and our own superstar singers,” President of the SCDF Alston Lourens said. 

R&B, Soul and Hip Hop is not new to St. Maarten Carnival with several concerts of these genres forming part of previous Carnival celebrations. “It will be a cool, smooth, soulful night in the Village. These artists have very popular songs that fans of the genre will find themselves singing along to. We are really excited about Soulful Company,” Lourens added.

Tickets for the concert will go on sale upcoming week.

Ashanti

Ashanti was first discovered as a teenager and later signed to Murder Inc. Records in 2001.[1] That year, she was featured on Fat Joe's "What's Luv?" and Ja Rule's "Always on Time", both of which became two of the biggest hit songs of 2002; Ashanti became the first female artist to occupy the top two positions on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart simultaneously when "Always on Time" and "What's Luv?" were at numbers one and two, respectively. 

In 2002, Ashanti released her eponymous debut album, which sold over 505,000 copies throughout the U.S. in its first week of release. The album earned her many awards, including eight Billboard Music Awards, two American Music Awards, and a Grammy Award in 2003 for Best Contemporary R&B Album. In 2003, Ashanti released her second album, Chapter II, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 326,000 copies in the U.S. The album went platinum, selling over 1.5 million copies in U.S. since its release.[4] The album's singles, "Rock wit U (Awww Baby)" and "Rain On Me", were both commercial successes, peaking at number two and number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, respectively. 

Keyshia Cole

Keyshia Cole’s career began when she met MC Hammer at the age of 12, and later met rapper Tupac Shakur. At the age of 18, she moved to Los Angeles and was later introduced to A&M Records. She released her debut album, The Way It Is (2005), which spawned five singles: "Never", "I Changed My Mind", "(I Just Want It) To Be Over", "I Should Have Cheated", and "Love". It was certified gold within 17 weeks, and then platinum just eight weeks later. The album stayed on the charts for over a year, selling over 1.6 million copies. After A&M folded, Cole released her second album Just like You (2007) under Geffen Records, and the album debuted and peaked at number two on the Billboard 200. It was nominated for Best Contemporary R&B Album at the 50th Grammy Awards. 

Along with her music, Cole has ventured into reality television. She signed to a reality/documentary series Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is which aired on BET from 2006 until 2008, giving viewers a closer look into Cole's career and family life with her biological mother and sister. Her second reality show, Family First premiered on October 9, 2012. Her third reality show Keyshia Cole: All In premiered on February 24, 2015.

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Ja Rule

Ja Rule debuted in 1999 with Venni Vetti Vecci and its single "Holla Holla". From 1999 to 2005, Ja Rule had multiple hits that made the top 20 of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, including "Between Me and You" with Christina Milian, "I'm Real (Murder Remix)" and "Ain't It Funny" with Jennifer Lopez, which both topped the US Billboard Hot 100, the Grammy-nominated #1 hit "Always on Time" with Ashanti, "Mesmerize" with Ashanti, and "Wonderful" with R. Kelly and Ashanti. Due to his hits with his collaborators, Ja Rule has earned four Grammy nominations, and has had six top-ten albums, two of which, Rule 3:36 (2000) and Pain Is Love (2001), topped the US Billboard 200. 

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