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The Philipsburg Jubilee Library Needs a New Home, URGENTLY - Pt 3

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Books, books and more books! That's what libraries are made of. The Philipsburg Jubilee Library (PJL) housed over 60,000 volumes before Irma. Books in English, French, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento. Books for preschoolers to research fellows.

The bookshelves are mostly empty now, with the vast majority of the publications sealed off in cartons where they obviously don't belong.  The cartons also contain a sizeable collection of DVDs (feature films for all ages, documentaries, etc.)

One of the most valuable collections in the library are newspapers that go back to the 1970s, in order words, to the beginning of modern print media on the island. Thank God the collection is, at least, partly digitized.

The Windward Islands Opinion of pioneer Jose Lake Sr., the Newsday of his son, Junior, the New Age of Mervin Scot, the Chronicle, The Guardian, The Caribbean Herald, and Today that became a casualty of Irma, are among the newspapers that have ceased to exist but whose pages contain invaluable information about the St. Martin they were writing about.

Can we afford to lose this treasure trove of historical information? I think not. How then do we ensure the continued existence of the Philipsburg Jubilee Library in a sustainable, structural and efficient manner?

Let me state that in my humble view, the present misfortune of the library offers a golden opportunity to address the foregoing question boldly, creatively and with a clear vision. What do we want the library to be, especially in this age of internet and Google? The answer to this question should lead us to consider whether the Philipsburg Jubilee Library should be turned into a real “public library” or even a “national” library. What is the difference, you ask?

Well, in its current form, PJL is a private library, in the sense that it is “owned” and run by a private foundation even if it is subsidized by government. As a public library, government would have to fund it while the librarians and other staff would become civil servants. As a “national library” it would have to be the principal repository of information about St. Martin, including acting as an archive for rare, valuable and important manuscripts, and establishing a national bibliographic record.

I recall that former Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, Dr. Rhoda Arrindell had begun discussions in this direction when she was in office, however, there is no evidence that this continued after she left.

“Libraries are everyman’s free university,” stated American writer, John Jakes. If that is true, then, like free universities, libraries should be funded by the taxpayer. And if we see the library, as novelist Doris Lessing does, as “the most democratic thing in the world (because) what can be found there has undone dictators and tyrants,” then we can no longer continue to ignore the dismal state in which the Philipsburg Jubilee Library finds itself.

Action is needed, not tomorrow, but right now, because as best-selling author, Sidney Sheldon said, “libraries… open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life. Libraries change lives for the better.”

By Fabian A. Badejo

PJL 7 kiddies corner

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Shooting incident. Shots fired at passing car

BELVEDERE - The Detective Department is presently investigating a shooting incident which took place on Tuesday evening in Belvedere at approximately 09.00 p.m, police said in a statement on Wednesday.

“According to reports a man fired shots at a vehicle in which three persons was driving. The vehicle in question was damaged but no one in the vehicle suffered any injuries.

“Detectives are presently investigating to determine why this incident took place and who the suspect is in this case.” (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Minister Stuart Johnson’s address for World Tourism Day

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Stuart Johnson issued the following statement on the eve of World Tourism Day, September 27, 2018.

In highlighting the theme of World Tourism Day, United Nations Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said, “Harnessing innovation and digital advances provide tourism with opportunities to improve inclusiveness, local community empowerment and efficient resource management, amongst other objectives within the wider sustainable development agenda.”

This year’s World Tourism Day seeks to highlight the investment needs in the tourism industry in what the United Nations calls “disruptive digital technologies” as a means of creating a more innovative and entrepreneurship-friendly environment within the tourism sector.

Already, both French and Dutch tourism offices have displayed a keen understanding of the benefits of incorporating more technological innovations in the marketing and promotion of the destination when they streamed live videos of St. Maarten for stakeholders in Holland to get real-time images of the progress being made on both sides post-Irma.

There are also efforts to generate statistical data electronically, which the secretary-general for TEATT is finalising.

This, along with the digital kiosks and e-Gate service at the Princess Juliana International Airport, forms part of how St. Maarten is already doing as it prepares to lead the Caribbean in digital innovation in the hospitality industry.

As we work to recover from the worst natural disaster in our history, this government is mindful of the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Opportunities for setting it right and building better, forms the basis of the government and the Ministry of Tourism's approach on the road to economic revitalisation.

We remain cognizant of the cost of change and the challenge in financing improvements. This requires strategic partnerships as we continue to push for the urgent completion of Princess Juliana International Airport with a fully operational US-Pre-Clearance facility. This will increase our regional presence as a hub for airlifts to and from the US mainland and make us the preferred direct link in the region, to the rest of the world.

Rebuilding brings with it an opportunity to redefine how we market our annual activities, such as the Heineken Regatta, Carnival, and the newly launched Oualichi Festival in July, as well as the Lighting Parade.

Support for these events and the promotion of them parallel to our destination marketing will strengthen our efforts to build a year-round sustainable tourism product with many attractive offers.

Adequately recognising them as part of the overall product we have to offer as a destination, will significantly increase visitor arrival throughout the year and contributes to our effort to move away from what traditionally has been a seasonal tourism market.

The rebuilding of our destination also creates an opportunity for us to improve inclusiveness by better recognising a large number of people with disabilities who travel globally and ensuring that our road and building infrastructure, as well as our methods of disseminating information about the destination, align with international standards and norms to accommodate visitors with disabilities.

Making our tourism product stand out as it did in the past and restoring our destination to being the beacon of the Caribbean, are part of our collective responsibilities as citizens of this great country. While we seek to foster local community empowerment, we must, as a community, take advantage of the unique opportunity to reinvigorate positive activities. Cleaning campaigns within the community ensures that a positive impression is given to visitors and residents who come into our areas. Providing friendly customer service in all areas, ensures that we are doing our part of rebuilding our tourism.

After all, we have been known for being the friendly island for years. Let this friendliness be evident in our interactions with the many guests who visit our shores, and let it begin with how we interact with each other here at home.

We live in a time of considerable advances in technology, and at this critical juncture in the rebuilding of our hospitality industry and recreating our tourism, I encourage industry partners to incorporate frontier technology as much as possible in the way they deliver their services.

As a country, maximizing the use of technology to disseminate the message about our tourism product, will double our reach in an era where the average person uses a cell phone more than any other device and relies on electronic devices and technology for communication, research, and decision-making about almost anything, including where to vacation.

This is why I have asked the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau to use the best technology available to recreate our website and media presence. Our communication via social media and the consistency in the delivery of our message will make the difference in how quickly the world learns about our resilience and readiness to welcome them back to our shores.

These opportunities and challenges that lie ahead will be tackled on all fronts with the combined resources and experience of the men and women in the Hospitality Industry on both sides of the island thanks to the memorandum of understanding recently signed between French and Dutch St. Maarten.

We must capitalise on this relationship to maximise the overall impact of our message of being ready to welcome visitors to our shores. On that note, to those of our visitors, the timeshare industry, those who have St. Maarten as a second home, and the Free and Independent Traveller (FIT Guests) who have returned, some several times since the island was devastated by Hurricane Irma in September last year, I wish to give a huge thank you on behalf of the government and people of St. Maarten.

Finally, almost two decades ago, a group of local experts and professionals in the Hospitality Industry came together with the support and leadership of some of the most visionary political figures of our time to form the St. Maarten Tourist Authority. Since then, the St. Maarten Tourist Authority has gone through several transformations, ultimately losing focus on its intended goal of being the body that reduces the bureaucracy that restrains the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau from providing timely responses in a continually evolving and fast-paced global travel and tourism industry.

If we are to improve the way we promote our destination, the pulling on all sides of the St. Maarten Tourist Authority must end, and as such, a model that meets the demands of the market and satisfies our partners in the industry will soon be realised.

Let us remember that we are all part of what makes St. Maarten stand out. We have the ability to make St. Maarten better by being better at providing service in our restaurants, building our hotels and homes to be stronger than before, and creating community beautification programs that transform our destination into the beautiful gem of the Caribbean it once was. Let us continue to rebuild an amazing St. Maarten sustainably.

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CANTO Prepares Regional Stakeholders in Transitioning to a Digital Region

SINT MAARTEN/GUYANA - CANTO together with one of its founding members Guyana Telephone & Telegraph Company (GTT), will co-host the Association's 35th Annual General Meeting & Mini Expo at the Guyana Marriott Hotel Georgetown. The event carded for the 27th - 30th January 2019, will welcome over 250 C- level CANTO members and stakeholders in the ICT sector from 30 countries.

The conference segment of the event will be guided by the theme ‘Transitioning to a Digital Region – Opportunities and Challenges’, and its emergence as a key driver of sweeping change in the world around us. The telecommunications industry is at the forefront of this transformation, both as an industry witnessing large-scale change in its market environment and as a key driver of worldwide digitalization. 

Deliberations along the captioned theme will contribute to improving the state of our region and by extension the world through the harnessing of the value added from digital transformation, both for business and society, while identifying the challenges to be overcome in order to deliver premium customer value in an equalized digitally transformed ecosystem.

A pivotal aspect of this event is the Annual General Meeting which will allow members to focus on the statutory obligations and chart the course of the Association for the 2019/20 financial year. The Mini Expo will showcase emerging technologies from global suppliers while the GSMA led workshop will center on ‘Unlocking Rural Mobile Coverage’.

35 years is a major milestone for CANTO and what better way to celebrate this prestigious event with GTT at the helm in an emerging country such as Guyana. With the recent development in the oil and gas sector, Guyana’s economy is expected to burgeon in the future. The transition to a digital economy is inevitable and GTT and CANTO will be part of that transformational change.

The event was officially launched at the Guyana Marriott- Georgetown on the 17th of September 2018.

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Seatrade Cruise Med 2018 attendance a Success. Much interests in Homeporting

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten representatives recently returned from attending Seatrade Cruise Med 2018, the world’s largest cruise industry event focused on the Mediterranean and adjoining seas. 

The St. Maarten delegation included Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Stuart Johnson and representatives of his Cabinet, and the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.

The event brought together over 2600 industry professionals; 160+ exhibiting companies; 60 countries represented; and 30+ cruise line brands. 

Seatrade Cruise Med 2018 took place from September 19-20 at the FIL Lisbon Exhibition and Congress Centre in Lisbon, Portugal and was an integral element of Portugal Shipping Week.

The theme for the cruise conference and exhibition was, “Sustaining the future of cruise across the Mediterranean and adjoining seas.”

Seatrade Cruise Med 2018 brought together a mix of ports and destinations, tourism authorities, ground handlers, tour operators, port agents, cruise associations, technical equipment and hotel suppliers showcasing their services and products to the cruise industry and related sectors.

The Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) was also present representing the mutual interests of the cruise industry and destinations/stakeholders in the Caribbean and Latin America. The trade associations mission was to further connect the regions to Europe. Port St. Maarten was part of the FCCA Pavilion at the conference. 

“Attending this very important cruise conference was one of my first official visits to meet with cruise industry stakeholders, movers and shakers.  I was honored to further promote destination St. Maarten and witness first-hand Port St. Maarten’s awareness and track record among the cruise executives.

“I commend Port St. Maarten Management, staff and the Management and Staff at the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau for their hard work in promoting the destination and bringing us back to the forefront post hurricane Irma and Maria. Those entities along with local stakeholders and cruise partners have worked diligently over the past 12-months and much has been achieved. However, I will be diligently working to address some pending concerns and formulate a new approach in tourism.  

“I was very pleased to learn about industry trends and developments.  I fully intend on making sure our country reaps any opportunity possible within the coming months. It’s time to make sure our country even exceeds its old potential,” Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Stuart Johnson said on Tuesday. 

“The conference and exhibition featured a full networking programme and it was a success for the port.  It was essential for us as a gateway port and destination to be present and meet with European cruise line executives.  Many of the European executives have shown interests in the destination.

“There was a lot of attention for homeporting.  Additional cruise lines have shown interests due to St. Maarten’s strategic location in the north eastern Caribbean, the established airlinks to North, Latin America, and Europe, the diversity experience offered to cruise passengers, such as shopping, cuisine, tours and much more, continues to catch the eye of the industry.

“The port is diligently working with stakeholders to offer packages to passengers of homeporting lines.  Between 20 and 30 per cent of homeporting passengers take a pre- or post-cruise vacation.  Normally, passengers have two to three days before they board the vessel for a cruise, and upon their return they also have the same number of days before they depart the island to return to their country. 

“We would like to offer them a luxury vacation package.  This will be very beneficial for the destination as it will further add to economic activity throughout the local economy,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Tuesday. 

Rainforest Adventures received an award for being the most innovative shore excursion, and Port St. Maarten would like to use this opportunity to congratulate them on this achievement especially seeing what the country went through after the September 2017 hurricanes, the local excursion was still able to capture this award which once again demonstrates the resilience of St. Maarten as a cruise destination.

“There were a number of speakers from across the industry who provided a look at the State of the Industry.  Speakers also addressed meeting future demand, best practices to mitigate cruising’s carbon footprint and opportunities in new destinations.

“We are able to get information about global cruise industry shipbuilding trends which continues to be impressive.  Current construction of new vessels is valued at more than US$57 billion delivering 100 newbuilds between now and 2027.

“Seatrade Cruise Med presented a platform to discuss various issues that impact the cruise sector, whether they are challenges or opportunities.  The information gathered goes towards our strategic planning as a cruise port over the mid-to-long-term.

“We were able to inform them about preparations for US-pre-clearance and the cruise industry executives that we spoke with found this to be a big plus for the destination. Interests was also shown in our Port Community System as well as Information Technology developments for vacation destinations,” Port St. Maarten Management added.

Seatrade Cruise Med 2018 was hosted by the Port of Lisbon Authority and supported by MedCruise (The Association of Mediterranean Cruise Ports).

Principal regional sponsors included: Republica Portuguesa-Mar; Lisboa Camara Municipal; Turismo de Portugal; Turismo de Lisboa; Lisbon Cruise Port.  Sponsors included: Gibraltar Tourist Board and Intercruises Shoreside & Port Services.  Supporters included: Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the FCCA. 

Seatrade Cruise Med is held biennially. During the conference the General Assembly of MedCruise took place.  MedCruise represents over 20 per cent of the global cruise traffic with more than 100 members in the Black Sea, Red Sea, Adriatic, West and East Med and Near Atlantic.

In 2017 MedCruise handled 25.9 million passenger movements with 28 million forecast for 2018.

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Persons with Respiratory Challenges should take precautionary measures from Saharan dust

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Sahara dust that has been plaguing the North eastern Caribbean including St. Maarten on an annual basis and becomes more prevalent during the summer months affecting persons with allergies and respiratory problems. 

The dust from the Sahara Desert in Africa causes sneezing, nasal congestion, respiratory problems, eye itching and other allergy symptoms. 

The dust in the Caribbean region is common around this time of year and according to weather experts, coincides with hurricane season.  

Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department from the Sint Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, as a preventive measure and in preparation for the next time Sahara dust impacts the country, advises persons who suffer from emphysema, asthma and other lung disorders, and are feeling ill, to consult their family physician.

Other measures that can be taken is to keep doors and windows closed and do not go outside if the Sahara dust is prevalent in the sky which can be visibly seen from a haze over the horizon.

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Jewelry store robbed on Saturday

PHILIPSBURG - The Special Unit Robbery is presently investigating an armed robbery which took place on Saturday September 22nd at approximately 11.15 a.m. at BE DAZZELED jewelry store located on Front Street, police said in a statement on Monday.

According to reports two unknown men robbed the store with their face covered and used a canister containing Pepper spay and sprayed the employee standing closest to the door with it in her face.

One of the suspects then jumped the display-counter and took several trays of jewelry, several boxes of diamonds including several gold necklaces. After committing this act the suspects fled on foot towards Back Street.

A police bike patrol was immediately sent to the scene to investigate what was taking place. On their arrival the suspects had already left the area. On the way to the scene the patrol however encountered several pieces of jewelry on the street leading from the jewelry store.

These items were all confiscated for further investigation. The investigation is ongoing, and the investigating team is asking anyone who has information in connection with this case to get in contact with the Police Department by calling 54-22222 ext. 213/214, the anonymous police tip line #9300 or the emergency number 911. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Road Paving/Patching Project progressing

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – VROMI (Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure) Minister Miklos Giterson was updated on the progress of the ongoing road paving/patching project by his Department of Infrastructure Management on Friday, September 21st.  

The project, which started the first week of September, is focused on the repaving and re-patching of a number of roads in the different districts, beginning with the main roads and then moving on to the secondary roads.  

The Ministry has purchased 2000 metric tons of asphalt to carry out the works.  Thus far the Sucker Garden and Pondfill roads have been worked on and crews are currently on the L.B. Scott Road.   

Minister Giterson thanks the general public for their continued patience for any minor traffic interruptions caused during this time. The Minister also requests all drivers to exercise caution and increased vigilance for the safety of themselves and the road workers as they drive past these sites. 

Road repairs ins1

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POSITIVE & ELEKTRALYETS FOUNDATION’s: PINK PARADE

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The 9th annual Pink Parade is scheduled for Friday October 5, 2018.  This parade is in recognition of those who have lost their lives to breast cancer, those who have survived it and those who are still engaged in the struggle against it, the Positive Foundation and Elektra said on Monday in a statement. 

“It is important that these individuals know that the thoughts and prayers of the island is with them while they strive to beat this disease.  The Pink Parade is also designed to raise awareness and encourage persons to get checked, as early detection is the best prevention and it may save your life.

“This annual event is organized by the Positive Foundation and Elektra. The foundation’s presidents Shelly Alphonso and Mercedes “Elektra” van der Waals Wyatt are requesting the cooperation of the community, organizations, NGO’S and schools to wear pink on Friday October 5, 2018 and further participate in our 9th annual PINK PARADE

“We welcome the participation of your organization in the PINK PARADE complete with organization banner or flag. The participants can be as creative as they like representing your group, school, organization or business but everybody must wear ONLY PINK! PINK! PINK!

“The parade will start at the University of St. Maarten’s parking lot at 4 PM and proceed along the Walter Nisbeth Road to Frontstreet and back to parking lot. Businesses are required to pay a participation fee, while nonprofit organizations, groups and schools can participate free of charge.”

The Positive Foundation and Elektra have teamed up this year and organized a mirage of breast cancer awareness events throughout the entire month of October.  Last year the foundations had to put everything on hold due the passing and subsequent devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on St. Maarten.

Despite the challenges, the foundation heads, Shelly Alphonso and Mercedes “Elektra” van der Waals Wyatt are determined and committed to continue its breast aware campaign to Feel it, Findit, Fightit, during the month of October 2018.

“As St. Maarten recovers, people shy away from thinking about difficult things.  We want to remind them that timely action can halt things from being truly difficult,” says Positive Foundation President Shelly Alphonso.

“It is our responsibility to be Positive in the fight to save our nation’s women by reminding them to be breast aware and providing them with the opportunities to get checked.

This October, the breast cancer awareness activities includes a balance of education, awareness, fundraising, physical activity and opportunities for women to get a free clinical breast examination.

Activities comprise of a Pink Sunset Sail, Pink Parade, Paint It Pink do it yourself workshop, a celebrity waiter dinner, Gala movie night, Pink Phit & Phabulousa run/walk challenge, bikers for boobs rally, Pandora’s Pink Party, public service announcements on the radio, public and private group information sessions, the distribution of educational literature like shower guides and women’s breast health handbook and 30 opportunities where women can get a free clinical breast examination offered by our resident health care providers.

Shelly Alphonso and Elektra are enormously grateful to the business community, supporters and volunteers for their continued support.  “Despite the aftermath of the storms and severe setbacks, they have embraced our October 2018 Be Breast Aware campaign”, the foundation presidents echoed.

The breast cancer awareness movement launched in 1998 by the Positive Foundation has collaborated with the Elektralyets Foundation for over a decade in the fight to save lives with its early detection messaging.

For more information and registration for the PINK PARADE and other breast cancer awareness events contact: Shelly Alphonso at 580 9658 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Elektra at 523-7418 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  

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Fewer people are victims of crime, but youngsters top the list

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The number of people reporting they were victims of a crime has gone down 25% since 2012, the national statistics office CBS said on Monday.

Some 15% of the population was the victim of a crime last year, according to the latest CBS monitor, which is carried out every two years and based on information from 150,000 people.

The under-25s are still most likely to be victims, with one in five saying they had direct experience of crime in the previous year. Vandalism and theft were the most common crimes, but youngsters were more likely than any other age group to have experience of violent crime.

Youngsters are also most likely to be suspects. In 2012, 336 in every 10,000 young adults was suspected of a crime by the police, but last year that had fallen to 208 per 10,000, the CBS said. (DutchNews)

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