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One-person dead another critically wounded in Shooting at Casa Blanca Night Club

OYSTER POND - On Saturday December 22nd at approximately 6.00 a.m. the Emergency Dispatch received several calls of a shooting which had just taken place in the parking-lot of Casa Blanca Night Club located on the Oyster pond road whereby two persons were seriously wounded.

Immediately several police patrols, Detectives, Forensic investigators and paramedics were sent to the scene to investigate what had taken place.

On the scene the investigating officers encountered the two male victims who were bleeding severely from gunshot wounds to their upper body. Paramedics immediately went to work giving the victims first aid however, one of the male victims stopped reacting to the treatment he was given and died on the scene.

The second victim was transported in critical condition to the Sint Maarten Medical Centre where he was immediately taken to the operating room.

The crime scene was immediately cordoned off by the investigating officers for Detectives to speak to potential witnesses and for the Forensic Department to collect evidence. What exactly took place and who the suspect(s) are that are responsible for this shooting is still unknown. Dr. Mercuur arrived at the scene and pronounced the death of the victim.

The victims have not yet been positively identified. More details in connection with this investigation are not available at this time. As more information into this investigation becomes available the media will be informed. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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The Rotary Club Mid-Isle donates to the Mental Health Foundation

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - In the spirit of Christmas and the Rotary's monthly theme for December: disease, prevention & treatment month, The Rotary Club of Sint Maarten Mid-Isle generously donated a cheque to the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) for the purchase of new facility signs going into to the new year, the MHF announced on Friday.

''The current signs are damaged, contain the old company logo & style, and are not visible to general public. The new signs will be more than a facelift. It will contain the foundation’s new improved logo and is designed to attract attention making it visible and easier to locate,” stated Cyrille Brooks, MHF executive assistant.

President of the Rotary Club of Sint Maarten Mid-isle, Ms. Denise Antrobus stated that when the request was made, she “wanted to learn more and therefore contribute to the organization’s ongoing effort to ongoing effort providing Quality Psychiatric Care on St. Maarten. These signs are a big part of that.”

For more information on the Mental Health Foundation you can call 542-1677 or check out their website at http://mhf-sxm.com. For more information on Rotary Club of Sint Maarten Mid-isle visit their website at https://rotarysxm-mi.org.

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Christmas Message – Deputy Prime Minister/ Minister ECYS Smith

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sports (ECYS) Wycliffe Smith on Friday issued his 2018 Christmas Message as the nation moves into the long X-Mas holiday weekend. The Minister’s message is as follows:

Good Day, Soualuiga and greetings to all.

As Christians at home and abroad celebrate this season, we are thankful to the Almighty God for the good tidings of great joy!

As a people, this year we were able to move progressively into the new Sint Maarten after Hurricane Irma passed by. At this point, many of us are sitting in a comfortable home, surrounded by our loved ones and enjoying a day off from our regular jobs. We are overcoming together and for this good news, we can celebrate even more!

Our homes, stores and streets are lined with beautiful decorations. Yet, the most beautiful decorations remain the smiles on our faces as we greet each other and the warm hugs that we freely give away this time of year.

The gifts are wrapped and waiting under the tree and many have been exchanged. I remind you that "it is better (even more blessed) to give than to receive". You have the power to be the change that our country needs as we rebuild with a new attitude.  So, let your best gift be the gift of Positivity throughout the year.

It is a marvelous sight when we look around and see all the lights! Looking ahead, when these bulbs are powered off, I encourage you to be the light in your corner of the society. Continue to shine. You are the light of the world!

There will be lots of food, prepared with joy and love. As you enjoy this time of feasting, remember those who are less fortunate among us. Maybe you will pack a grocery basket for a family, or contribute to a food drive, or even share a meal box with someone who is not be able to provide for him- or her-self. Whatever way you can, please share with the needy.

We are grateful for the love of friends and family. In this final week of the year, many of us are privileged to be reunited with our loved ones. Wherever in the world you are, Sint Maarteners, we wish you the warmth of home, family and love.

Let there be peace on earth. 

Let the Prince of Peace reign in our hearts.

As we celebrate this season, let us live the way Our Saviour taught us by loving our neighbours as ourselves.

As Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin signs Grant Agreement for Debris and Landfill project

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Friday, December 21, Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin signed the grant agreement with the World Bank for the Emergency Debris Management Project.

This agreement provides US$ 25 million in funding to suppress the fires on the landfill, salvage damaged vessels in the Simpson Bay Lagoon and clear the island of any remaining hurricane debris. The project will also provide financing to improve the management of the landfill and decommission the Irma-dump.

“I’m very pleased to sign this important agreement for the people and visitors of Sint Maarten. The Interim Recovery Committee, the Ministry of VROMI, the Ministry of VSA and the World Bank have worked tirelessly to make the start of this crucial project possible. Now it is time for the next step” – Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin stated.

The Prime Minister was joined for the signing of the grant agreement by the Representative of the Netherlands on Sint Maarten, Mr. Chris Johnson, as well as Minister Emil Lee of VSA and Minister Miklos Giterson of VROMI.

On behalf of the Government of the Netherlands, Chris Johnson applauded the signing of the grant agreement. “Solving the problem of waste has been identified by the Netherlands as one of the priorities in establishing the Trust Fund.

“In recent months, the World Bank and Sint Maarten have been working diligently to prepare a plan to fight the fires and attain proper dumpsite management. This signing is an important milestone which addresses an issue that is of absolute importance to the people of Sint Maarten. The Netherlands is glad to financially support an initiative of this magnitude”, Mr. Johnson stated.

With the signing of the grant agreement, funding becomes available for the different activities of the Emergency Debris Management Project. One of the most crucial activities under this project is the suppression of the smoldering fires in the landfill. These fires and related smoke are a major concern for the people living in the area and the wider community of Sint Maarten and need to be managed as soon as possible.

In preparation of the fire suppression activities, the Government and the World Bank have conducted several environmental studies and tests to determine the best approach to fight the fires on the landfill.

Last week, a team of experts also visited the neighborhood next to the landfill to speak with residents about possible solutions for relocation. Due to the fires on the landfill, there are risks for persons living in the area right next to the landfill, specifically once the fire suppression activities start. The Government is therefore looking into options for closing off part of the neighborhood.

The Government is committed to finding a permanent solution for the landfill and on the longer term, Sint Maarten’s solid waste issues more broadly. Throughout the implementation of the Emergency Debris Management Project, the Government will work with the World Bank on the preparation of a second project for solid waste management and environmental improvement, with an estimated budget of 35 million US dollars.

This project will aim to improve long-term waste management and will implement key elements of the Roadmap for Sustainable Waste Management on Sint Maarten.

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More Private Jets Returning to SXM Airport

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) – More and more private jets are returning to the Princess Juliana International Airport, SXM, according to available figures spanning the peak period for the General Aviation sector. From Friday, December 14th, 2018 to Thursday, January 31st, 2019, a total of 114 aircraft have been approved to park at the airport with seven pending approval.

Boxing Day, December 26th, 2018 will be the busiest day with 21 private jets expected to arrive, while Saturday, January 5th, 2019 will see the largest number of departures with 15 aircraft scheduled to leave on that day.

The aircraft types have increased tremendously in comparison to previous years, with most of the jet-setters flying the latest aircraft.

SXM Airport was ranked second in General Aviation in the Caribbean, behind The Bahamas prior to Hurricane Irma. Aircraft movement in this sector dropped significantly by 1,488 last year from the record 7,939 it had hit in 2016. This was due to Hurricanes Irma and Maria that forced private jets that would normally come to St. Maarten, especially from December to January, to seek other destinations.

“Under the circumstances, St. Kitts and Antigua have been cutting into our market share, but we are coming back stronger,” said COO Michel Hyman.

Plans are afoot for the remodeling and upgrading of the FBO facility which exclusively caters to the high-end travel operations. The existing facility located to the West of the Terminal Building was used temporarily for arriving passengers post-Irma.

The remodeling of the existing FBO will allow the jet-set traveler to move through the processing more efficiently and offers a more spacious area with a passport control, security point and customs. Modifications will also be made to the lounge for the luxury traveler. The new design now calls for a two-story building, as the FBO operators will also be housed on the premises.

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K1 Britannia brings colorful Christmas cookie decorating to St. Martin’s Home

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - As part of the K1 Britannia Foundation’s Christmas Angels program, the K1 team collaborated with Cookies Goodies and More to provide home baked cookies for the St. Martin’s Home.

The idea behind the activity came from St. Martin’s Home activity coordinator Ms. Marianne Pantophlet who indicated the need for more social activities for the clients at the home. Instead of St. Martin’s home receiving gifts via the Christmas Angels program, this year the foundations agreed to host a creative and social activity with the elderly.

The event took place on Monday, where Christian Richardson and Ihndhira Marlin-Richardson of Cookies Goodies and More, took part in the event and provided over 70 cookies that were generously given for the decorating activity.

K1 staff and volunteers were present to spend the morning with 30 clients of the home, which added festivity and community bonding for persons involved.

There were Christmas angel and tree shaped cookies ready to be decorated, and the elderly and volunteers were provided with colored icing in various colors to bring in the holiday spirit.

The morning started with the volunteers mixing the sugar batter icing, and the day carried into the team assisting the elderly with the glazing of different patterns and colors.

“Decorating cookies at the St. Martin’s home was a nice experience, it was especially great because we had some very young volunteers and the clients of the St. Martin’s Home really enjoyed seeing these little girls help them to make the decorated cookies.

“I found out that it was much harder than it look to decorate those cookies but it was nice to interact and speak with the clients about which colors they prefer and then to see them enjoy their cookies afterwards.” reflected Iris Hakkens, K1 Britannia’s Program Manager who joined in the decorating activity.

“Besides the cookie decorating, chess was played and conversations were had with the clients about their wellbeing. We look forward to hosting more of these activities next over the years.” added K1 Britannia’s Program Manager, Chiaira Bowers.

The White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation provides guidance and assistance for the elderly, disabled and those in the various districts on St. Maarten. The St. Martin’s Home, as well the Sister Basilia Center and District Nursing Home are under the supervision of the foundation.

K1 Britannia’s Annual Christmas Angels program involved clients of the Sister Basilia Center and District Nursing Home, where persons in the community was encouraged to pick an angel and buy a gift for someone from these organizations.

K1 held various distribution parties over the last few days to deliver the gifts to the hundreds of persons who made handmade angels from the Sister Basilia Center, District Nursing Home, Mental Health Foundation, Player Development, UJIMA, post-Irma shelter and the foster children under protective custody.

SMH K1 Decorating ins1

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SXM Airport Kicks Off 75th Anniversary with Return to Terminal Building

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) – Although December 3rd, 2018 was the actual date of the 75th anniversary of the Princess Juliana International Airport, the celebrations were however, deferred to two weeks later to coincide with the official migration of arrival and departure operations back inside the Terminal Building since Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on the island on September 6th, 2017, causing extensive damage to the building.

The ceremony was attended by several dignitaries including Governor Eugene Holiday, himself a former president of the airport, and Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications, Honorable Stuart Johnson, who is also the Shareholder’s Representative of PJIAE N.V., the operating company of the airport.

In his address, Minister Johnson congratulated the Board, Management and Staff of the airport. He referred to the importance of the airport not only to the island’s economy but also as a leading hub in the Caribbean and cited the many awards it had received over the years preceding Hurricane Irma. He added that these were clear indications that it wasn’t impossible to bounce back to the envious position SXM Airport occupied prior to the monstrous storms that inflicted severe damages on it in September 2017.

Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Directors, Mr. Alex Dijkhoffz, also extended congratulatory messages to the Management and staff of the airport while acknowledging the challenges ahead.

In his own remarks, the acting CEO and CFO, Mr. Ravi Daryanani said the “double whammy of Irma and Maria not only destroyed our award-winning airport – named the best in the Caribbean just the year before the storms – but also put a grinding stop to several capital improvement projects that were underway or in an advanced stage of planning.”

“In actual fact,” he continued, “the completion of Package 1 - Temporary Operations of the reconstruction project is what we are celebrating today. It includes the roofing project that is now in its finishing stages. I am proud to say that the new roof over our heads is not only state of the art but has been rebuilt to be able to sustain 185 miles per hour hurricane force winds. It is therefore perhaps the strongest of its kind anywhere in the region.”

“Where do we go from here?” he asked.

“The current advertising spot we have starts with the line, ‘As the eagle soars above the storms, so does SXM Airport soar above adversity.’ That is, indeed, true. Eagles seek new frontiers. They also have a long-term vision and commitment. Our airport, your airport, has adopted those characteristics of the eagle. As we mark our 75th anniversary, we invite you to fly with us above the storms.  We are not yet at cruising heights yet, but  we will get there. Princess Juliana International Airport will be back where it belongs – at the very top of the aviation ladder in the Caribbean and beyond,” he concluded.

The Chief Operations Officer, Michel Hyman, also addressed the gathering. After pointing out some of the challenges the airport faced in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, he revealed that “most of the legacy airlines have returned to service the destination with the ramp-up of flights, making the peak tourist season which began just a few days ago to look quite bright.”

According to Hyman, “Long-haul flight frequency in the first quarter of 2019 will be at 81% of what it was in 2017, culminating in March 2019 at 98% of the level it was for the same month in 2017.”

“Other relevant developments with regards to air service include the recent announcement by Air Transat that it will be returning to SXM Airport starting December 22, 2018, that is, in a few days’ time. Air Transat was named the World’s best leisure airline in 2018. The airline will offer a weekly direct flight to Montreal, as well as a weekly direct flight to Toronto, Canada with a capacity of 189 passengers. Similarly, the Divi Divi airlines just last week began flights to and from Curacao. And on December 15, we welcomed back Air Canada,” he said.

Hyman added that “as we begin the celebration of the 75 years of the existence of Princess Juliana International Airport we are poised to scale higher heights, combining our collective experience as one of the oldest commercial airports in the region with our futuristic vision of an airport of the 21st Century.”

“I can assure you that in that mission, we shall never compromise safety, security or excellence,” he concluded.

The event also saw the presentation of a video promo of the “Aviation Legends of the Princess Juliana International Airport,” a series of interviews with those who actively created the history of the airport in the last 75 years. The anniversary celebrations will continue throughout the new year.

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Prime Minister responds to reports of the General Audit Chamber and the World Bank

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On December 14th, the General Audit Chamber of the Netherlands released a focus study on the contribution of the Netherlands to the recovery and reconstruction of Sint Maarten. This report recognizes some of the challenges that the Government of Sint Maarten is experiencing in the recovery process.

“The past months have taught us that the preparation and implementation of Trust Fund projects takes much more time and capacity than Sint Maarten and the Netherlands originally anticipated.

“The implementation of the projects is challenging, not because of a lack of will or commitment of the political leaders and civil servants of Sint Maarten, but because of the extreme constraint of capacity on the island and the complex procedures of the World Bank”, Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin remarked.

Yesterday, the World Bank published its report on the status of the Trust Fund, providing a full overview of all activities that have been executed with the World Bank between April and November of this year.

The World Bank’s report acknowledges the implementation of recovery projects on Sint Maarten is challenging, due to capacity constraints within Government and the limited capacity of the market to respond to the demands for goods, works and services in a flexible and rapid manner.

Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin observed that for some people the report of the Audit Chamber may be a reason to question why the Netherlands has chosen the World Bank to assist Sint Maarten in the recovery process or to blame the Government of Sint Maarten for delaying the recovery of the island.

“As Prime Minister, I do not want to turn our recovery process in a political blame game and I reiterate that the Government of Sint Maarten has and will remain fully committed to the cooperation with the World Bank. While we did not choose the World Bank, we are grateful for their support and ongoing commitment”.

Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin emphasized that “all parties should continue to work together towards solutions, without ignoring the challenges that the Government and our hard-working project teams face on a daily basis. I’m counting on the people of Sint Maarten to protect the recovery process and the cooperation with the World Bank from cheap politics, and I’m counting on the Netherlands and the World Bank to assist the Government of Sint Maarten as much as possible in providing technical expertise in an expedient manner”.

In the past six months, this Government has made significant progress in the cooperation with the World Bank and managed to ensure that more than 250 million dollars is committed to the preparation and implementation of recovery and resilience projects.

The Prime Minister of Sint Maarten noted that she is especially proud of the Interim Recovery Committee and the different ministries, who had no previous experience with the World Bank, but managed to prepare World Bank projects at record speed. On this point, the World Bank report notes that “all projects currently under implementation were prepared with utmost urgency, in approximately one half to one third of the average time it takes to prepare a World Bank managed project”.

While everyone on Sint Maarten would like to see things get better right now, Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin reminds all involved that “recovery is a process and Sint Maarten is bound to certain procedures, whether we like it or not. Within those procedures, my Government has and will continue to do everything in its power to accelerate the preparation and implementation of the different World Bank projects”.

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Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset Installs Little Free Library in Marigot

SINT MAARTEN/ST. MARTIN (MARIGOT) – On December 13th, The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset installed its first Little Free Library in on the waterfront in Marigot, with a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony in the presence of Rotary International President, Barry Rassin, along with Past District Governor, Victor Gibbs and members of the club.

The concept of the little free library was first introduced in 2009 by Rotarian Todd Bol from Hudson, Wisconsin, who was inspired by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The idea quickly gained popularity, and today, there are thousands of community libraries across the United States.

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset embraced the concept of the little free library as a means to promote literacy among children and adults, one of the key areas of focus of Rotary International.

The Little Free Library contains both adult and children’s books, which can be taken out and returned when the reader is finished. Members in the community can also donate books to the little library by simply placing their books inside.

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset would like to extend their gratitude to Mr. Michael Walton for contributing his time, materials and labor to construct and install the little library.

“We are very excited about this project, not only to promote literacy but to provide accessibility of books to the Marigot community. It is our goal to install more community libraries throughout the island as we continue to create awareness on the importance of literacy” President Jaida Nisbett stated.

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Victorious Living Thanks Supporters, Volunteers & Contributors

SINT MAARTEN (ST. PETERS) - 2018 though a year of challenge for St. Maarten and the surrounding islands who were ravaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, could be considered the year of recovery, restoration, thanksgiving and transition.

In this spirit of gratitude and appreciation, Victorious Living Foundation (VLF), a non-profit organization designed to empower, enlighten, reconcile and transform the lives of youth, families, couples and communities, acknowledges and thanks all of its volunteers, patrons, supporters, well wishers, contributors and advisors for helping them to impact and transform many lives in 2018.

Dr. N. Erna Mae Francis Cotton, the visionary of Victorious Living in a press release, expressed gratitude to her husband Roy Cotton, Jr., board members, Kathleen Francis, Connie Gumbs Francis and Nelson Els, volunteers, advisors, sponsors, the media, parents and members of VLF’s youth wing, Y2X for their contributions throughout the year. She acknowledged that without the support of so many dedicated persons Victorious Living may not have survived.

Francis-Cotton, a marriage and family therapist and certified success coach expressed pride and joy in the members of VLF’s youth wing, Y2X who host the almost 15-year-old visual radio program, Fresh on tunescarib.com every Saturday from 6-7 p.m.

In a time when some young people are expressing their frustrations through violence, these young people have been growing themselves and developing their social and communication skills every week through the guidance of Roy Cotton, Jr. and Dr. Francis Cotton; for this, they should be commended.

Victorious Living, temporarily located at the Rupert I. Maynard Community Center, since its former location was destroyed by Hurricane Irma, is officially closed from December 19th and will resume its counseling, coaching and training services on January 7th, 2019.

Francis-Cotton noted that 2019 promises to be a significant year for Victorious Living as it plans to unveil some transformational plans to propel the people of St. Maarten and the surrounding islands forward.

Persons interested in pre-ordering their copies of Francis-Cotton’s soon to be released book, Love is Forever… may pre-order their copies at a discounted rate until December 31st, 2018.

Francis Cotton may be reached at www.victoriouslivingfoundation.com, phone: 1-721-524-8731 and via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Members of Fresh with the Y2X Crew at their Christmas party r Roy Cotton jr and Erna Mae Francis Cotton

Members of Fresh with the Y2X Crew at their Christmas party- r- Roy Cotton jr and Erna Mae Francis Cotton.

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