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Boat owners advised to review hurricane season preparatory plans

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Boat owners are being advised by the Office of Disaster Management (ODM) to review their hurricane preparatory plans, so they can be ready to take action in the event of a storm/hurricane threat to the country during the upcoming peak months of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season.

The 2018 hurricane season has already seen four systems form. The Office of Disaster Management hereby advises mariners to ask themselves, “How have you prepared yourself for the hurricane season?”

ODM is requesting mariners to make special preparations to stay with friends or in a hotel and not to remain on their vessel during the passing of a hurricane while moored in the Simpson Bay Lagoon or Oyster Pond.

Considerations to remain in port during hurricane passage must include an evaluation of the amount of protection afforded by the port.  The direction from which the strongest winds are forecast to blow along with the potential for storm surge must be factored in when deciding whether to seek haven pier side or at anchorage.

ODM is also calling on the marine community and service providers who have a direct relationship with mariners to also remind their clients about seeking safe shelter/mooring in the event of a storm/hurricane strike upon the country.

ODM says, ‘Remember It Only Takes One to Make It a Bad Season.’

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GVS committee installed. SZV to save Naf.6 million on medicines

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Three members of the recently established GVS-Committee (Remuneration System of Pharmaceuticals), who were appointed through national decree, were installed by the Minister of Public Health, Social Development, & Labor, Emil Lee, on August 9, 2018.

Minister Lee said that when the GVS are operational, the public and private sector would see some tangible benefits reflected in lower cost due to efficient management of the system regulating the remuneration cost of Pharmaceuticals.

The public will pay less for particular drugs and it is estimated that the Social & Health Insurances (SZV) will save approximately Naf. 6 million. The benefits are there, Minister Lee pointed out.

The GVS-Committee is designated to advise the Minister of Public Health on matters pertaining to the system regulating the remuneration cost of pharmaceuticals, referred to in Article 20 of the “Landsbesluit vergoeding kosten geneesmiddelen” (the national decree regulating the remuneration cost of pharmaceuticals).

The following members of this Committee were appointed by means of national decree dated June 19, 2018, no. LB-18/0356;

1.Mr. Peter Hendrik Bruns, Attorney of Law, appointed to serve as the independent Chairman;

2.Mr. Andwele D. Illes, Pharmacist, appointed to serve as the independent Pharmacist;

3.Dr. Gabe Gerben van Essen, Internist, appointed to serve as the independent Medical Physician;

4.Miss. Luchienne Wespel, prescription control officer at the Social & Health Insurances (SZV), selected by the Director and SZV board, appointed to serve as member of the GVS Committee.

Their tasked consist of; assessing applications submitted for inclusion into the annexes accompanying the previously mentioned national decree; provide an informed advice to the Minister of Public Health on the GVS Committee's assessment in respect to submitted applications; and the solicited and unsolicited advice to the Minister on all matters, including proposed amendments to the previously mentioned national decree.

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Back to School Message: President of the Sint Maarten Youth Parliament

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – “Summer vacation has come to an end, and it is time to face our sad but truthful reality. Prepared or not, school reopens this week. Currently speaking from a 5th former’s narrative; I applaud every student rewarded by promotion, for continuing to show hard work and dedication even after the natural disaster we faced.

“To those repeating, don’t be too hard on yourself. Try looking at this year as an opportunity to progress even more in ways that you planned to the year before. As my wise principal, Mrs. Baly would say, “For every set back, there is a comeback”, I do hope this year is your year of comeback!

“Well wishes, to us students who are to face the school year 2018-2019! I must say that last year was indeed challenging, but this year we’re the challengers! Challenging every obstacle put in our way to deter us from our goal.

“For some this year may be a first in a new school. Specifically, to first formers, always remember that this is a new step in life. Do not do things that will put your education in jeopardy. High school is a totally different atmosphere. You will meet children that are different, but don’t lose yourself trying to meet their standards. It just won’t work.

“To every teacher, we your students really do appreciate you. We may have a hard time showing it, but we know for sure the feelings are mutual. Your sacrifices don’t go unnoticed.

“This year may be tough for you due to the shortage of teachers on the island, but there is no task you can’t handle. I would personally like to encourage qualified teachers to apply. It might not be easy, but you are contributing to the future development of St Maarten, which I feel is one of the most important things a citizen can do.

“Let’s make this school year a great one. Let us leave all the procrastination, violence and lackadaisical attitudes in the past. We will walk into this school year only expecting and doing our best.

“As President of the Sint Maarten Youth Parliament I would like to extend these words of wisdom to every student, teacher, parent or whomever contributes to the youth of St Maarten. With this, Much Success in the school year 2018-2019!” David Clifford, President of the Sint Maarten Youth Parliament said in a statement on Sunday on the eve of the opening of the new school year.

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TelEm launches employee Leadership, Coaching and Management Training

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - In their efforts to further promote a culture of service excellence and to recognize the need to build resilient team members to enhance these efforts, the St. Maarten Telephone Company (TelEM) has enlisted the assistance of the Training Professionals International Firm (TPI) to launch a Leadership, Coaching, and Management Training to a selected group of potential team leaders to boost their development towards achieving overall success for all of its stakeholders.

“Upon taking up the position of CEO,” commented Kendall Dupersoy, “I took an entire year to evaluate the weaknesses within the organization.  I took note of the lack of a cohesive management team with the required skills to take the company to the next level.

To achieve this, training would be necessary. In conjunction with Shadira Lont-Richardson, Manager Human Resources and Development and her team, we contacted TPI, who has a syllabus of leadership and coaching programs. TPI customized a training program specifically for TelEm and I was happy that all the trainings are internationally certified.”

The training will encourage participants to adopt effective management and leadership skills by applying these skills and competencies in their daily roles and responsibilities, gaining a comprehensive understanding of the difference between management and leadership, adopting approaches to lead, guide, direct, support, and empower employees, practicing communication skills to enrich the work culture and adopting management and leadership traits that retain employees.

Through coaching, they can enable teams and individuals to be as creative, skilled, and internally motivated to achieve high performance results.

“This course will help the learners,” stated Dr. Natasha Gittens, President and CEO of TPI, “to help the people in their teams to achieve more and contribute more, energize and connect people to business goals in a powerful way, manage the performance and develop the skills of others through coaching, develop their own management and leadership competencies through coaching, inspire excellence, and foster potential.”

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Tzu Chi gives 500 bags of rice to 500 French side families

SINT MAARTEN (CUL DE SAC) - The St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation has again taken its rice distribution across the border to assist residents of French St. Martin, who are also in need. 

The foundation donated 500 bags of “Love Rice” to 500 families in French Quarter on Sunday, August 5. Each bag of rice contains 10kg (22 pounds) of rice.

It is estimated that the rice will benefit 1,546 family members. The distribution was held in front of the Cultural Center building in French Quarter. 

A total of 45 volunteers got another opportunity to practice leadership skills, gratitude, respect and love when serving others during the distribution. Twenty-three of those participating are Tzu Chi volunteers, 14 are Chinese construction workers and engineers from the Maho rebuilding project and eight are French Quarter residents who joined the foundation as new volunteers. 

The rice distribution gave Tzu Chi volunteers an opportunity to interact with residents living in the French Quarter district. Volunteers also got a chance to share information about the foundation and offered recipients a chance to give back, by putting a donation of any amount from their hearts in Tzu Chi’s bamboo bank (collection box).

Giving back in this manner follows the teachings of Tzu Chi Founder Master Cheng Yen, who says that “giving is not the privilege of the rich but is the privilege of a sincere heart.” 

Tzu Chi said in a press release that recipients were very happy to be given an opportunity to give. Some said they wished they knew beforehand that they could have donated and some returned home to be able to assist. At the end of the event US $160.50 was donated into the “bamboo bank.” 

Many of the residents are still out of job since hurricane Irma devastated the island and rendered many jobless in September 2017. “Recipients were really grateful to receive the Love Rice and for a chance to give to help others. The feelings of giving are very good,” Tzu Chi said in the press release. 

Tzu Chi St. Maarten Commissioner Sandra Cheung thanked volunteers for taking the time out to participate in the distribution. She also thanked the recipients for gratefully accepting the Love Rice and for helping Tzu Chi to continue its benevolent work by donating in the bamboo bank.

She also thanked Rose Rumnit, who assisted in identifying the 500 families in need in French Quarter and Leopold Illidge for allowing Tzu Chi to use his property for the distribution. 

Tzu Chi will continue to spread seeds of love by distributing more rice to families in need on the island. 

The 500 bags of rice donated on August 5, was part of a container of rice sent to St. Maarten by Tzu Chi’s head office in Taiwan to help alleviate the burden still being experienced by many residents in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria, which affected the country in September last year.

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Ombudsman concludes Systemic Investigation regarding Disaster Management Plan

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Ombudsman recently concluded a Systemic Investigation, initiated after the hurricanes of September 2017, regarding: the state of preparedness of the government of Sint Maarten pursuant to the National Ordinance Disaster Risk Reduction and the Disaster Management Plan for the hurricane season 2018, and lessons learned.

After providing a Preliminary Findings Report, the Final Report was submitted on August 7, 2018 to the Prime Minister, who is in charge of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

The Ombudsman concludes in her report that: ’Notwithstanding the enormous activities engaged by government in the aftermath of the hurricanes, the structural absence of vital documents, among which sub- and action plans to be provided by the various Emergency Support Function (ESF) groups, as well as external conditions such as the procedural rules to access the aid made available by the Netherlands through the Trust Fund, seriously impede the state of readiness of the country in the midst of the hurricane season 2018.

Government is not sufficiently prepared for the effective prevention of major consequences a hurricane may have on the public of Sint Maarten, and deal with same in the aftermath of a possible disaster’.

Based on the abovementioned, the Ombudsman has made the following recommendations to government:

  • 1) Prepare a comprehensive contingency plan for immediate implementation, describing real time actions in case of a hurricane, including collaboration with Collectivité de Saint Martin.
  • 2) In addition to the plan of action prepare a scenario of approach (‘draaiboek’), describing detailed executable actions (identifying persons, required tools etc.) required to actually realize the plans, including a checklist.
  • 3) Engage a public campaign to encourage the citizens of Sint Maarten to assume responsibility for the protection of private property by actively undertaking the necessary actions to repair homes and businesses to safeguard the well-being of the surroundings.
  • 4) Provide a solution for abandoned properties, which present a possible hazard for the surroundings.
  • 5) Consider structured and guided recycling of dumped material as a result of Hurricane Irma and distribute same in aid in the most vulnerable areas.
  • 6) Identify, prepare and publish the location of all available shelters soonest, and have them properly equipped to serve the communities.

The Final Report is available for download via the website: www.ombudsmansxm.com, under the ‘Articles and Presentations’ tab. 

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Internet experts call for more Community Networks in the Caribbean

SINT MAARTEN/PANAMA - A group of experts is calling for a different approach to providing Internet access to the poor, remote and underserved parts of the Caribbean region. 

“Governments, policy makers and the private sector are exploring strategies and partnerships to connect the unconnected,” said Jane Coffin, Director of Development Strategy at the Internet Society.

Coffin was one of three speakers in a panel discussion at a recently concluded conference hosted by regional telecommunications organization association, CANTO. She issued a call for all Caribbean stakeholders to look at innovative and smart ways to bring Internet access to the region’s underserved and unconnected communities.

Coffin highlighted community networks as a possible solution. Community networks are computer-based networks deployed and operated by a local group to meet their own communication needs. Unlike the top-down approach of commercial service providers, community networks are typically from-the-ground-up projects that enable local development and help keep profits local—generally providing training for the users and reinvesting any proceeds back into in the local community. 

Adriana Lambardini, a former commissioner of the telecommunications regulator in Mexico, gave insights on practical ways that governments can create an enabling environment for community networks.

"We need to make sure that the fiscal incentives are put in place,” she said, explaining that governments should consider creating polices to specifically address not-for-profit and small-scale operators, in order to address market dominance by larger, commercial providers.

Community networks complement traditional service providers by providing local access where mainstream networks do not generally operate. Several hundred community networks exist worldwide, some built and managed by individuals, others by organisations from the private or public sector. Whatever shape they take, community networks are basically do-it-yourself networks built by the people for themselves.  

Nicolás Pace of Altermundi, shared tales from the trenches of deploying community networks in Central America and the Caribbean. Community networks have also been deployed across the world, from some of the poorest peoples of Nepal, India, Kenya and Mexico, to the unconnected communities of New York and San Francisco in the United States, to the underserved communities of Georgia in Eastern Europe.

Pace pointed out that while the Caribbean could learn some lessons from observing other community network deployments, each community was unique, and each network emerged from a particular set of conditions.

Community networks can emerge organically as the result of people working together, combining their resources, organising their efforts, and connecting themselves to close connectivity. Or they can be deployed quite quickly in times of crisis, such as in the response to an earthquake or hurricane.

"No two community networks are necessarily the same," Pace said.

The expert panel was moderated by Shernon Osepa, Regional Affairs Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Internet Society.

The CANTO conference, which took place in Panama City from July 22 to 26, attracted a wide range of stakeholders from across the region’s Internet and telecommunications industry, including regulators, government ministers, policy makers, Internet organisations, network operators, suppliers and vendors.

BY GERARD BEST

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Rotary Club Mid Isle Inspires and Encourages with Back to School Back Packs

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Now that the summer vacation is over, we need to inspire and encourage our children to learn, but to do that we need to give them the right tools, Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle said in a statement on Thursday.

“Hence when Ki-Mani Olivacce reached out to The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle to help students in need within the community, to equip them for the school year they were ready to help.

“It takes compassion to think of others who are in need. While we are all taught to share and help our neighbors, 17-year-old Ki-Mani Olivacce a 12th grade student of The Learning Unlimited Preparatory School, has been inspired to take it to the next level. For the third year in a row

“Ki-Mani and his foundation ‘Voices of our Children’ have reached out to the community to come together to donate to a worthy cause of a ‘Back to School Drive’ for students in need. Ki-Mani is to be commended for taking the initiative three years ago to start this project.

“The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle heeded the call for the third year under the direction of Service Projects Director Grace Linger. This year we worked with the foundation ‘All about a Smile’, and other donors -Locally and abroad- to pack forty-eight school back packs for the less fortunate students in our community.

“This amounted to twenty-four back packs for elementary students, and twenty-four back packs for high school students with all the necessary items for the start of the new school year 2018-2019.  

“The back packs consisted of markers, crayons, pens, pencils’, pencil cases, scientific calculators, rulers, erasers, folders, 3 ring binders, loose leaf paper, geometry sets etc. The backpacks were donated by Rotarian Jeff Jhangani and his foundation ‘All About a Smile’.  

“A heart felt thank you goes out to the following persons, Jennifer Baker and Judy Sarvas, for donating school supplies, Don Patterson, for donating the calculators, and Robert Welch for financing the other items that were needed.”

‘The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you’ – B. B. King

The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle meets Tuesday at 7pm at Pineapple Pete in Simpson Bay. For more information please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit their Facebook page Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle.

CUTLINE: Special Projects Director Grace Linger, Ki-Mani Olivacce and Denise Antrobus.

BACK PACK PRESENTATION

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Police issues Back to School Message to Students, Parents and Teachers

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - As the New Academic year 2018-2019 begins on Monday August 13th the Police Force of Sint Maarten is extending the following words of encouragement to all students, parents/guardians and teachers.

“The Academic year of 2017-2018 was a very challenging one for everyone. During this period a number of serious physical confrontations among students took places which were later place on Social Media.

“These confrontations were at times so serious that students had to be treated for their injuries and even hospitalized. These are criminal offenses and the police department will not tolerate this type of behavior.

“It is unacceptable, and the police department will deal with this type of negative behavior and handle all situations in accordance with the law.

“The police department is looking forward to work hand in hand with all parents/guardians and teachers to guarantee the safety and security for all students, create an environment of learning and to make sure these incidents do not happen in this new academic year.

*A good beginning makes a big difference. Make sure you begin this academic year with new hopes and positive mindset to make a brighter chapter in your school life full of knowledge and learning.

*We all know that life is full of challenges and challenges are full of opportunities to learn… Never get scared from challenges and always welcome the chances to learn new things in life in order to grow and prosper.

*May students understand learning that isn’t just an in-class exercise, but that it requires initiative and effort outside the classroom.

*May parents and guardians understand that learning continues at home and look for ways to assist in, encourage and nurture an atmosphere of both knowledge and wisdom for their student children.

*May parents and teachers find ways to bridge communication gaps to not only share information but to listen as well.

“Wishing you all the very best in this new academic year.” (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Quick police action foils attempted armed robbery at casino. Suspect apprehended

FRONT STREET - On Thursday August 9th at approximately 12.30 a.m. the Emergency Dispatch was alerted by the security staff of the Coliseum casino on Front Street that two suspicious men dressed in dark clothing was planning to rob the casino.

These two men were spotted on the roof of the building by security. The police department was immediately informed, and several patrols were sent to investigate the situation.

One patrol spotted a man fitting the description of one of the suspects on Back Street. This man took off running through the Philipsburg area chased by a police officer on foot.

This suspect was caught in the vicinity of Oranje School and was arrested on the spot. During a search of this suspect several items such as a mask, fire-arm and gloves among other items which can be used to commit a robbery were found in his possession.

These items were confiscated for further investigation. The entire area was searched for the second suspect, but he was not located. The suspect that was arrested remains for further investigation by the Special Robbery Unit. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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