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Attempted robbery at casino leaves one suspect dead and two employees injured

PHILIPSBURG - On Wednesday June 6th at approximately 12.15 a.m. police patrols, detectives and paramedics were sent to Jump-Up casino located on the Emmaplein to investigate an attempted armed robbery where shots had been fired and persons being injured.

On the scene the investigating officers learnt that four armed men dressed in black clothing had stormed into the casino threatening everyone including the employees to handover the money.

While attempting to rob the establishment shots were fired by the robbers. An off duty police officer who at the time of the incident was inside the casino returned fire hitting one of the robbers.

The other robbers noticing what had happened fled the scene leaving the injured robber behind.

As a result in the exchange of gunfire two employees of the casino had also been shot. Both employees were treated on the scene by paramedics and then transported to the Sint Maarten Medical Center for further treatment.

The robber that was injured was also treated on the scene by paramedics however he did not survive and was pronounced dead on the scene. The identity of this robber has not yet been established.

The area was immediately cordoned-off police. Detectives were on the scene interviewing numerous witnesses to the incident while the Forensic investigators collected evidence.

More details to this investigating are not available at this time. As more details become available the media will be informed. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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NV GEBE repairing Guana Bay Water Tanks

SINT MAARTEN (GUANA BAY) - NV GEBE announced via a press release on Tuesday that the repairs to the Guana Bay Water Tanks will be finalized by June 14, 2018.

The Guana Bay Tank received some damages during Hurricane Irma and distribution of water to Dutch Quarter, Oyster Pond, Belvedere and parts of Sucker Garden was minimally interrupted, however, for the tank to be in full operation, the tank required some repairs. 

After the completion of the repairs the water will then be tested by the NV GEBE Water Quality Control.

Once the tank is fully repaired the temporary Reverse Osmosis Plant (RO) that was constructed outside the Festival Village with a holding tank in Madame Estate will then be discontinued as per June 14

Persons are asked to take note of this, if you have any questions please feel free to contact our Customer Care Department at 1 721 546 1100 or 546 1160.

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Business Organization SHTA launches Vision Sint Maarten 2025

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Sint Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) held its Annual General Meeting on May 28th; the focus of the meeting was Vision and Recovery, with distinguished speakers Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin and Dr. Hans Leijtens, Director-General of the Dutch Windward Islands Recovery Program.

The SHTA Board presented its vision for what we could attain for Sint Maarten if we work together toward a common goal of Quality of Life for all. The Vision including advice for recovery spending and policy.

The Honorable Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin and Dr. Hans Leijtens were asked to speak to the SHTA Members on the recovery process and how the Dutch Trust Fund will likely be utilized.

The movie portraying the association’s hopes for Sint Maarten’s future, as well as suggestions to the Recovery Committee, is now downloadable for the public.

SHTA’s vision towards 2025 was created over the past year by means of a membership enquiry and workshops. It presents the association’s goal of reaching quality of life for all Sint Maarten residents, and to do so by providing good governance, creating a healthy and beautiful island as well as a thriving and sustainable economy. All things the country lacks at the moment, as indicated in the Scenario Declining Present.

As priority action points the SHTA advised to the island’s leadership to make difficult and tough choices, to provide leadership through these challenging times ahead and to strengthen environmental laws with enforcement, most urgently those involving the dump and waste management.

Further urgent requests include a provision for tax relief, Fiscal Policy reform and fixing the airport—without which the entire economy will grind to a halt so this must be tackled ASAP.

The Vision’s premiere served as a prelude to the speeches of Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin and Drs. Hans Leijtens. During her address to the Business Community, the Prime Minister added further messages of positive notes for the future. “The ultimate purpose of the recovery process is to restore hope for the future – a future that builds on the past, but that recognizes that more needs to be done now, together, to build back our island better."

In his speech following the Prime Minister’s, Director-General Leijtens implied that given the support from Holland provided to the recovery trust fund, tools for realizing many visions are in place. What dreams are to be realized, is the responsibility of the country. “What happens next, is in the hands of Sint Maarten now”.

The Annual General Meeting serves as a moment for the new Board to officially be elected to SHTA’s 13 member General Board, to provide an update of the association’s activities over the past year, as well as to invite informative keynote speakers for the private sector.

The meeting is traditionally followed by a social event, this time taking place at Simpson Bay Beach Resort’s Pool Terrace. Next to the keynote speakers and SHTA membership, SHTA invited some of its strategic partners and distinguished guests; Minister Cornelius de Weever (TEATT) and Director May-Ling Chun of the St. Maarten Tourist Board were amongst the guests attending.

As of today, the SHTA Vision for Sint Maarten 2025 is publicly available and can be downloaded from SHTA.com/Vision-2025.

shta fpg

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Additional day of Serious Fun added to 39th St Maarten Heineken Regatta

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Four days of world-class racing and four nights of top-notch entertainment during the 39th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is now the agenda for February 28 – March 3, 2019!

Regatta organizers have decided to add an extra day to this world-renowned event, responding to its competitor’s requests to enjoy more racing on the crystal-clear waters surrounding the beautiful island of St Maarten.

Planning and preparations are well underway for the 39th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. With the new Notice of Race published, the Event is now accepting entries. The famous and largest annual warm water regatta continues to innovate and improve responding to feedback from competitors, stakeholders and visitors.

“The 38th edition saw a number of big changes, mainly due to circumstances after Hurricane Irma, but it also presented us with a number of fabulous opportunities: the Regatta Village, hosting all concerts in one location and adding a fundraising aspect contributed greatly to the success of this year’s event. And this was only the beginning!

“We have our 40th anniversary coming up in 2020, and we are planning to present many innovative ideas during the 39th edition. The first change being 4 days of serious racing in the St Maarten Heineken Regatta, making every day count towards the overall result, and we are looking forward to having competitors and visitors return to St Maarten to share in the excitement!”, states General Manager of the Sint Maarten Yacht Club, Michele Korteweg.

The usual pre-event on Thursday has been changing to an official first day of racing in the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, allowing Race Management to offer a variety of courses during the 4 days of the event, accommodating some of world’s most seasoned sailors sailing Maxis, Monohullsand Performance Multhulls to holiday-makers on chartered Bareboats and live-aboard families cruising the Caribbean.

The Notice of Race can be downloaded from the official entry, results and noticeboard: https://heinekenregatta.com/notice-of-race/

Online registration is quick and easy to use and can be accessed via the regatta website https://heinekenregatta.com/registration/

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WIB Online Banking: New Version of Personal Banking Service is Almost Here

PHILIPSBURG – The Windward Islands Bank (WIB) new version of its Personal Online Banking Service is almost here.

The new service will offer some special key features and benefits for WIB customers, including more self-service options, higher transaction limits, enhanced transaction security, online activity reporting and much more.

WIB is committed to your satisfaction and making your online banking experience a positive one.

Need to knowSoualiga 1

Kenyo Soualiga

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Sint Maarten heritage inscribed in UNESCO Register

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - May 29, 2018 marks the anniversary of a historic event that took place 170 years ago. On Monday, May 29th, 1848, the day after slavery was abolished in the French territories, 26 slaves residing on the Diamond Estate Plantation took the brave decision and made a dash for freedom across the border to the French Side. 

This important aspect of Sint Maarten’s documentary heritage was inscribed in UNESCO Memory of the World Programme international register in October 30, 2017.  The inscription entitled: Route/Root to Freedom: A case study of how the enslaved Africans gained their freedom on the dual national island of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin outlines how the enslaved from the Diamond Estate walked/ran to freedom along a track across the international border between the two nations, Holland and France.  

The nomination consists of correspondences between the Dutch Commander, dated May 31, 1848, informing him of the escape, and the response from the French commander dated June 20, 1848, which was published in the book “Abolition de L’esclavage a la Guadeloupe. Quatre moise de Gouvernement, Dans cette Colonie by Adolphe Ambroise Alexandre Gatine.

The response from the French commander stated that all enslaved persons who set foot on French soil whether via vessels, coasters, or other means will be considered free persons.

Mr. Alfonso Blijden, archive specialist, Department of Records & Information Management and Marcellia Henry, Secretary General UNESCO, would like to thank Ms. Daniella Jeffry, Ms. Elsje Bosch, Ms. Elizabeth Watson, Ms. Victoria O’Flaherty for their assistance in preparing, translating, editing and making the nomination ready for submission to UNESCO.

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NA MP Doran visits districts. Primary focus is on hurricane readiness

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – National Alliance (NA) Member of Parliament (MP) Egbert Jurendy Doran, in a press statement on Sunday said he recently re-visited various districts on Sint Maarten in order to see for himself, what exactly the status was, that people of this country find themselves in, as far as storm readiness is concerned.

MP Doran said that although he is seeing and hearing about it every day, he decided to take time to tour various communities again, in order to assess for himself, how prepared Sint Maarten is for the 2018 hurricane season which has already started.

“How ready are the government and the people of this country, for the hurricane season that is already upon us?” asked MP Doran

“It is extremely heartbreaking to see the situation that our people still find themselves in, no less than nine months after the hurricanes of September 2017,” stated MP Doran.

“Stories told to the MP by members of the community, showed desperation and a Nation longing for the much-promised assistance. Apart from the fact that they were still roofless, they also specifically questioned the Member of Parliament about the hurricane shelters that the State Secretary Knops guaranteed reporters and the people of the Netherlands, that there was a sufficient amount of, on Sint Maarten. (See story on webpage https://caribischnetwerk.ntr.nl/2018/04/14/nederland-garandeert-voldoende-schuilplekken-voor-orkaanseizoen/)

“This is a subject that was already brought to the attention of Member of Parliament Doran by the people, and despite the fact that he brought this subject forward to the Minister of VSA, during the Budget debate meetings, to this date, the people of this Country have not received a proper response as to why the State Secretary would make such a public announcement, if there were no shelters available.

“It is high time for the Government of Sint Maarten to tell the people how many storm shelters are available at this point, and what assessments were made, or are being made in relation to how many people are still displaced or roof-less, versus the amount of shelters that are in store.

“Many “storm shelters” are still destroyed by the previous hurricanes in 2017 and the needs of the people as it relates to shelter availability, has increased significantly since last year,” MP Doran said in his Sunday statement.

“What studies has the government implemented to assess the needs, security and availability of storm shelters, for the people of Sint Maarten?”

Member of Parliament MP Doran stated that many of the dilapidated areas that he toured, were still never visited by any officials, and he therefore wonders if there was an actual correct thorough assessment done by government officials, as to the number of homes which are actually unfit to reside in at this moment, much less during a storm?”

“Despite the fact that the rebuilding process is slowly ongoing, June 1st met many persons still displaced, many businesses still closed, a noticeable lack of skilled workers in the construction sector, tourism figures still low, the announcement that the Princess Julianna International Airport (PJIA) is going to take over a year to be rebuilt, schools still running in segmented time intervals due to the lack of capacity, jobs still scarce, the law enforcement sector unable to operate without assistance, lawyers on strike since May 18, 2018, due to non- payment of fees due to them from government, employees in the retail sector taking their former employers to courts in order to settle labor disputes, and not to mention the wreckage, consisting of countless marine vehicles left submerged and abandoned, still in the Simpson Bay Lagoon,” MP Doran added in his press statement.

Member of Parliament Doran went on to say that although he understands that these circumstances were created by an act of nature, putting the pieces back together, still requires those in charge to do so to the best of their abilities, in or to avoid an even worst disaster during this hurricane season.

“During the tour, one of the most talked about subjects, was the landfill fires. This was described by most as the worst hazard to date.  The landfill fires that have created a national health crisis island wide with fumes that are deemed toxic.

“This is in direct desecration of the constitution Article 21. 1 which reads, the government shall take steps to promote public health”, the Member of Parliament stated.

“The recovery funds, promised by the Dutch government, which have not been released, and the ominous way of their entire procedure, are a hindrance in the recovery process, as it seems that this is the one and only way to get the country back up and running.

“These truths do not paint the best situation of our preparedness for the upcoming 2018 hurricane season, and it serves as an indication of where we are today, thus also showing how much work still needs to be done in the public and private sector.

“It is therefore important to note, and I must mention, that the recent Disaster Preparedness Conference with the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) on Thursday, May 25, 2018 with their goals of developing a National Disaster Operation Plan that will be the template on how to prepare, organize and manage people, resources and infrastructure within an imminent natural disaster such as a hurricane, is earnestly, although late, most welcome and I wish the government the very best with this.

“Plans like these will save lives, homes and businesses, while providing high level assistance to the people. They also provide economic protection, by having the best practice in uniformity and disaster preparedness, thereby preventing loss of stock and protecting buildings and their assets”, MP Doran said.

“As the beginning of the 2018 hurricane season commenced on Friday June 1st 2018, with all these unresolved issues and the deterioration of the infrastructure on the island, we are nowhere close to where we need to be in regards to hurricane readiness and progress made from the relief effort since September 2017.

 “I have listened to the cries of you my people, and as your elected representative, it is my duty, on behalf of you, to continue to call on the government of Sint Maarten, which is the Executive Branch, with the request to look after your best interests, especially during these critical times.

“It is in my opinion, high time for the government of Sint Maarten, to call an open-air general town hall meeting with the people of this country, and speak to them directly, instead of only through articles in newspapers or on radio programs.

“Make an effort to reach the people, the same way that it is done during campaigns and such.

“Look our people in their eyes and tell them that all is being done to assist them. The people deserve this, as they have been through a lot and are desperate to understand what the way forward is, since the storm 9 months ago.

“I am asking the people of this country, not to lose all hope, but to remain steadfast in your belief, that one day, all will be well again. Sint Maarten will rise again. Together we will make this happen, as we all have our various roles to play, as far as the recovery of this country is concerned. May God Bless you the people, and this our beloved country Sint Maarten,” MP Doran said.

CUTLINE: Member of Parliament Egbert Jurendy Doran being shown various roofless houses by a resident during a tour of the districts.

MP Doran and a resident

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PPA Arrindell: Follow up or double down that’s the million dollar question

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Leader of the Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA) Gracita Arrindell in a press release on Sunday stated: “There’s no question that finding a lasting solution for some of the most pressing issues facing our communities today, must remain on the front burner of the agenda of the people of Sint Maarten. It’s important for the people of Sint Maarten to understand that we must hold our government officials accountable for their non-actions in regards to the decisions or reluctance to act and act swiftly in the best interest of the people they represent.

“Some may regard their appointed or elected position as earning an income of 10.000 USD dollars as a side job. The law prescribes that executing the job as a Member of Parliament (MP) is a full time job.  That’s the law, what happened to our moral obligation to work full time once elected into office. Ethically, there should be no question that with thousands still un -or under employed, insufficient social housing and a growing dump which is a toxic health hazard to our children, elderly and other citizens, more effective leadership is required from our elected and appointed officials.”

Arrindell said: “A new Parliament was sworn in on April 2nd 2018.   The new hurricane season is here.  People are understandably nervous and still rattled not only by the last hurricane experiences.  More-so due to the seemingly lack of a clear direction of the priorities to be set by a new government.

“It is absolutely disgusting that to date Sint Maarten has no new government in place. Recovery process while moving is doing so at a slow pace. Too slow for many still homeless, roofless, jobless. One of the narrative’s allegedly sent out from the present  coalition in response to the many questions concerning the delay has been that  Holland takes its time, sometimes nine months or more to form a new government, therefore there’s no haste in having a new government in place.

“While this may be the case in Netherlands and in other countries in Europe or elsewhere in the world, it’s absolutely irresponsible to provide this misplaced response to the citizens of this island. For example, Holland is one of the richest countries in the world, with a well -defined social security and healthcare system.  A well- designed safety net is in place for those who become unemployed.

Additionally, the Dutch economy is overheated, while unemployment is at it’s lowest in years.  Lastly, but equally important, Holland did not experience a devastating hurricane a year ago. We did!“ 

Gracita continues: “There are several pressing matters we hope to see addressed in the yet to be submitted reconstruction report for financing through the World Bank. These are:

“Garbage health hazard.  We must make a conscious decision once and for all to STOP POISENING OUR CHILDREN. There’s no one -stop solution to solve this health-hazard. It’s clear that a many facetted approach is required to deal resolutely with the toxic health hazard in Philipsburg. It was brought to my attention that the city of Milan has become a poster child in Europe in regards to garbage disposal.

“It reportedly took this city about 8 years to have a multifaceted garbage disposal solution while at the same time getting rid of 88% of all it’s organic waste.  In a block by block approach this City managed to deal with one of its most difficult issues facing its citizens and visitors. If this city of over 1.3 million citizens can do this, we can find a way to clean up this toxic health hazard in an open and transparent way here in Sint Maarten as well. The new government can reach out to the Mayor of the City of Milan and work towards a multifaceted solution.            

“Additionally, Parliament must finalize this year, the law to ban plastic bags             

at all supermarkets and other business and introduce biodegradable bags in              

which organic waste can be collected.

  1. Financial support for businesses. We must provide incentives to the middle class and small business who are eligible to receive such funds and who are in dire need of financial support to stay in business. Where is the Sint Maarten Marshall Plan?   
  2. Social housing. What is the status of the FOGA and other similar social housing projects? Will the Sint Maarten Housing Foundation receive funding from the Recovery/ reconstruction funds to build homes at already identified locations thereby lessen the critical need for social housing for our many citizens?”

Gracita concludes: “Lastly, but not less important, it is time for the interim or new Government to disclose to the People of Sint Maarten the manner in which the reconstruction funds will be dispersed into which project and for what price tag. It is time for each community to know factually how it is being prepared for this hurricane season.  It’s time for Parliament to hold Government accountable and demand this disclosure sooner rather than later.”

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TelEm Group suspects foul play following Ft. Willem cabinet fire Sunday

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - TelEm Group technicians are viewing as “Highly suspicious” a phone cabinet fire in the Ft. Willem Hill area over the weekend that has left residents and businesses in the area without fixed landlines and internet connections.

The cabinet was completely destroyed by the fire early Sunday morning along with three vehicles parked close by.

Fire Department officers and residents in the area are reportedly pointing to the flaming cabinet as the cause of damage to the three vehicles, however TelEm Group says in the 30 years it has been using these cabinets, none have burst into flames like this.

“These cabinets do not carry the kind of electrical connections and voltage that can cause this kind of damage, so we will be asking the proper authorities to carry out a thorough investigation to determine how the fire started in the first place,” said TelEm Group’s Acting Manager, Outside Plant, Mr. Steve Simmons, Sunday evening.

He said a work crew will assess the extent that underground telecommunication cables leading to the damaged cabinet have been affected by the fire.

Mr. Simmons also said a new cabinet will have to be installed and all connections to homes and properties restored, but first TelEm Group will have to establish ownership of the property where the cabinet is located so that technicians can begin restoration work right away.

TelEm Group estimates it could take up to three weeks to completely restore services to customers and meantime Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Mr. Eldert Louisa, says the company is making it a priority to replace the fire-damaged cabinet, but also wants a thorough investigation into the cause of the cabinet fire.

Mr. Louisa has apologized to TelEm Group customers in the affected areas (Ft. Willem, Belair, Little Bay) for the interruption in services caused by a situation beyond the company’s control.

Mr. Louisa has also apologized to Belair and Little Bay Hotels who also have lost TelEm Group telecommunication services.

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Trio rob visitors in armed robbery at Oyster Pond Villa

OYSTER POND - The Special Unit Robbery is presently investigating an armed robbery which took place on Thursday May 31st in the early morning hours at a villa in Oyster Pond, a police report said on Friday.

According to the reports three men wearing dark clothing and armed with guns forced themselves into the building and while threatening the occupants who were visiting the island.

The three persons with their guns robbed them of their personal belongings and along with a number of items belonging to the villa. No one was injured during this robbery.

The Special Unit Robbery is asking anyone who may have information regarding this robbery to get in contact with the Police Department by calling 54-22222 ext. 213 or 214. They can also contact the Emergency Dispatch by calling 911. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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