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The Philipsburg Jubilee Library Needs a New Home, URGENTLY – Pt. 2

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - It's September 22, 2018. Saturday, 11:00am in Great Bay. There's no space in the parking lot, so I ended up parking at a short distance from the Philipsburg Jubilee Library.

From the outside, it didn't look like it had been damaged much by Hurricane Irma, until I drew closer and began to see the rust and displaced louvres. What used to be the office is battered down as if in anticipation of another storm. Actually, it has become unusable. The staff now use an improvised space in the back. 

I walk into the Library, watching a group of children huddled together in a small area that once served as exhibition hall and meeting place. I kept shaking my head both in disbelief and disgust. 

From Kemet to Timbuktu, libraries have been sacrosanct, venerated. Jean Paul Sartre even said he “saw the library as a temple,” and I’m sure he wasn’t philosophizing.

Where would the world be today in terms of knowledge and civilization had the libraries of Waset (Thebes) and Alexandria survived? Was the fire that gutted the library of Alexandria a natural disaster or pure arson? What would happen to the Philipsburg Jubilee Library if it is not relocated and fast?

I couldn't shake off these thoughts as I watched the students - some of them accompanied by their parents - prepare for what seemed a pending exam or school assignment. 

I was looking at some doctors, engineers, IT specialists, lawyers and architects among that group. And when I looked up, I saw sagging blue tarps held in place by strips of wood and thought to myself that they couldn't even be mistaken for the blue sky on a sunny St. Martin midday by any stretch of the imagination. And libraries are supposed to stretch our imagination. 

American author and screenwriter, Ray Bradbury once remarked: “Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.”

I couldn't take my eyes off the children - the future of this island forced into a dismal present that is not only uncomfortable but that could also pose a serious threat to their physical integrity. I was, however, amazed at how diligently they were making do with this make-shift, cramped space as if they were in a hurricane shelter. 

Parts of the library look like a warehouse that has been looted. The books - the most precious possessions of the library - are stashed away in brown boxes that could have contained milk or sardines. A little drizzle and adios books! This situation is simply untenable, especially 53 long weeks after Irma!

It would be logical to expect that the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, NRRP, which has been touted as our “road map to building back better,” would see the reconstruction of the library as a top priority.

But does it take into account the need for a new public library, built, if I may suggest, far away from the often-billowing smoke from Papa Dump and Baby Dump, which are just a sling-shot away from the present one?

The NRRP, in fact, recognizes that “The education sector was significantly affected by Irma and faces many challenges that need to be addressed urgently.” It further lists among its top six priorities under Education, Culture, Youth and Sports the “repair or reconstruction of physical infrastructure to improved building standards”. It is, however, not clear if this includes the Philipsburg Jubilee Library.

Of course, it all boils down to money. We will need money to build a new library. But how much? I know not. Walter Cronkite might have been thinking of St. Martin when he said: “Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.”

And believe me, Henry Ward Beecher, the American clergyman was right. He said: “A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.” That is what the Philipsburg Jubilee Library should be for all of us.

By Fabian A. Badejo

PT2 PJL 5 INS1

PT2 PJL 11 outside wall keep calm INS 2

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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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IT server upgrade glitch causing slow start to TelEm Group’s Monday opening

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - TelEm Group says an upgrade of IT equipment over the weekend caused some lost network connections that IT staff were busy restoring at the start of the business day Monday.

The upgrades were principally to servers use for internal network operations.

According to Acting Manager, IT, Edgardo Lynch, the scheduled work at the weekend was in TelEm Group’s Data Center located in the department’s Server Room.

“We experienced some unexpected delays and the scheduled work ran into this morning even though our IT technicians were working diligently throughout the weekend and into the early hours of the morning to complete the task,” said Mr. Lynch.

He said customers affected by the glitch would have been those calling TelEm Group’s Helpdesk during the weekend and customers seeking assistance from Customer Service Representatives and Cashiers at the start of the business day Monday.

Personnel within TelEm Group were also affected, since the downed network is also used to drive internal communication systems.

As of 9:30 this morning the internal network systems were systematically being brought back online and Mr. Lynch estimated that within the hour all systems would be back in normal operation. He has meantime apologized to internal staff and also to members of the public for any inconvenience caused.

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Minister Geerlings receives director Tax Administration Caribbean Netherlands

SINT MAARTEN/BONAIRE - Minister of Finance Perry Geerlings received Nichalin Martina, Director of Belastingdienst Caribisch Nederland (B/CN) at the Ministry of Finance. The visit was initiated to discuss the challenges and opportunities that exist for St. Maarten as it undergoes the process of revamping its Tax Administration.

Since 10-10-10, B/CN has made substantial progress in upgrading and restructuring its Tax Administration and can therefore be a vital partner in helping the St. Maarten Tax Office with its planned improvements.

A team from B/CN’s Tax Office recently completed a quick scan of the Tax Office on St. Maarten as part of the process to improve its functionality. Amongst the plans for improving the services of the Tax Office on St. Maarten, is making more procedures electronic and reducing the need for clients to visit the Tax Department.

During their meeting, Minister Geerlings and Martina focused on B/CN’s Tax Office model that includes the Customs Department. According to Minister Geerlings the information provided by Drs. Martina further strengthens his position that the Customs Department would be a valuable asset in the improvement of tax collection if it would fall under the administrative responsibility of the Ministry of Finance.

A key point brought forward during the meeting was Martina's report on the benefits of the Customs Department where it pertains to improving the accuracy and efficiency of data collection.

Minister Geerlings reemphasised his vision to provide his ministry and the Tax department with the means to receive an accurate accounting of what comes into the Country and said this is essential if we are to improve the efficiency in our tax collection and producing more accurate budgets.

Both Director Martina of B/CN and Minister Geerlings have agreed that Bonaire and St. Maarten’s Tax Office will broaden their collaboration to include an exchange program for personnel which is geared towards providing them with a unique opportunity to cultivate professional relationships and to further promote the sharing of ideas on enhancing the service level and the knowledge of the Tax Department on St. Maarten.

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MAKING THE WORLD SWEETER FOR CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Honey Sheridan, M.S., BCBA of Sweet ABA is making the world sweeter for children with disabilities.

The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle were pleased to have as their guest speaker Honey Sheridan, the club said in a statement on Friday.

“Honey gave a very informative talk on learning difficulties for children with disabilities and how even when it is on the statutes that all children between certain ages are legally bound to be in school and receiving an education, only one percent of these children actually do so.

“Children with disabilities are not allowed to attend school due to either behavior problems and or not being toilet trained. There needs to be more awareness, so these children can be accepted by society and by the mainstream schools.

“Her experience with children with disabilities ranges from preschool age (2+) to transitional age adults (18-22.) For over 10+ years she taught special education, specially providing ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy in the United States. She has taught at every level of education from elementary, to Junior High, to high school including adult transition students.

“In order for Honey to become a BCBA she needed her master’s degree and complete the BCBA coursework, be supervised by another BCBA, and then sat for a board exam. Just like any medical doctor or a licenses psychologist the BCBA must maintain their license with further education, this ensures that the BCBA is using the most current research.

“She has provided special education teachers, general education teachers, para-professionals and school administration training on Applied Behavior Analysis. Honey Sheridan has collaborated with a range of professionals from social workers, psychologists, speech language pathologists, occupational therapist, physical therapists, and parents to provide a successful curriculum behavior therapy for those that need it.

“Honey Sheridan has created an ABA therapy company called Sweet ABA here on St. Maarten. Children with a range of learning disabilities to behavior problems may receive ABA Therapy to help them with the one to one support they may need.

“Parents may make an appointment by contacting SweetABA.com or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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.

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SSSD ROLLS OUT RETURN TO HAPPINESS TRAINING

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Student Support Services Division (SSSD) of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth & Sport will be having a Return to Happiness facilitators training for persons in our community interested in volunteering.

Return to Happiness is a psychosocial recovery program for children who have experienced natural disasters, conflicts or violence, where children are usually most affected.

In such situations, it is important to create creative opportunities for children to tell their stories, express their fears, concerns, hopes and dreams, through a wide range of activities.

The goal of the Return to Happiness program is to create such opportunities for 5-12-year-old children who have experienced a natural or manmade disaster to process their experiences through a series of guided play activities for the purpose of reducing their post-disaster anxieties and beginning to re-establish their sense of joy, happiness, security, and confidence in adult protection.

The Return to Happiness program began in 1992 and has since then been implemented, by UNICEF and their partners, in many countries including Columbia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Venezuela and Belize.

A Caribbean Return to Happiness version has been developed, which has been implemented in Grenada, St. Lucia, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Anguilla, St. Vincent and St. Maarten.

Persons interested in volunteering as a facilitator for the Return to Happiness program, should contact the Student Support Services Division at 543-1235 for an application package. All applicants will undergo an interview/selection process given the nature of the program.

Applications are available and the deadline for submission is September 28, 2018.  The training is scheduled for October 9 and 10 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Participants will be required to attend all training sessions.

The Student Support Services Division (SSSD) provides psychological services, counseling services, social work services, speech language pathology services, educational diagnostic services, career services, Crisis services and parent education services.

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Minister Johnson visits St. Maarten House says “strengthening TEATT’s NL link is vital

SINT MAARTEN/THE HAGUE (The Netherlands) - Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication the Honourable Stuart Johnson discussed a number of topics such as the US-Preclearance and incentives for large and small businesses during his visit to the St. Maarten House in The Netherlands this week. 

“I felt it imperative to meet with Minister Wuite and Deputy Minister Somersall to discuss a number of concerns and also to find ways in which the Ministry of TEATT could be further supported in The Netherlands by the Honourable Minister Plenipotentiary Jorien Wuite and her Deputy Minister Michael Somersall and members of their cabinet,” Minister Johnson said. 

Minister Johnson also took the opportunity to present Minister Plenipotentiary Wuite and Deputy Minister Somersall with the priorities of the TEATT Ministry highlighted out of the governing program. 

While in The Netherlands, Minister Johnson will be making a special presentation to various stakeholders and media outlets. He said, “It’s time we get St. Maarten back on track, and I remain fully committed to ensuring our country regains its maximum potential.”

He will use the opportunity to promote St. Maarten’s 50th Anniversary of Carnival which will be celebrated in 2019 and will be looking at securing additional airlifts from KLM for that period and for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, from The Netherlands to St. Maarten.

Johnson gave a progress report on developments in St. Maarten and highlighted areas in which he envisages close collaboration with the St. Maarten House would be instrumental in ensuring some projects are finalised. 

Minister Johnson outlined the general scope of the plans for the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) and explained that the formalising of US Pre-Clearance will require the approval of the legislative branch on St. Maarten and that of the Dutch Government as well. 

The Air Service Development Agreement and the work being done in conjunction with PJIAE on an incentive program geared at returning direct service to St. Maarten.

Government incentives for large and small properties as a means of improving the speed of their recovery and the work being done to determine the profile of the Dutch Visitor while at the same time attracting niche segments of the International visitor market were also discussed. 

The St.Maarten Tourism Bureau (STB) and the St.Maarten House have also committed to closer ties and further strengthening of its working relationship. 

"The St.Maarten House plays an important role in showcasing our country in the Kingdom. Promotional materials and the overall visibility reflective of our island needs to be found there and through STB this will be immediately improved on," Minister Johnson said. 

During his visit to The Netherlands Minister Johnson also met with Mr Carlvin Brooks, Chairman of the Board of the Unleashed Potential Group, (UPG) who is a financial lawyer by profession. Brooks gave some insights on the developments within the foundation and its goals.

The UPG has as its primary objective the revitalisation of St. Maarten’s economy and the improvement of the social welfare of its citizens as well as promoting the return of young St. Maarten professionals to the island after studying and gaining professional experience abroad. 

The Minister encouraged Brooks to also look at opportunities in St. Maarten that currently require his expertise. Minister Johnson Commended Brooks on his service as a member of the foundation and as a role model for St. Maarten students in Holland.

CUTLINE: Minister Stuart Johnson, Minister Plenipotentiary Wuite and Deputy Minister Somersall 

sxm house minteatt

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TelEm Group upgrading Helpdesk, fewer lost calls already reported

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Customers calling TelEm Group’s main number and especially the company’s 611 Helpdesk can expect fewer unanswered calls - thanks to an upgrade of PBX and other monitoring equipment.

The upgrades were carried out in August with the help of equipment provider Mitel and following complaints from customers that they were calling the TelEm Group main office and Helpdesk lines with their calls going unanswered.

“We investigated the complaints and tried to troubleshoot and fix whatever the problem was, and eventually called in the vendor from overseas to provide solutions,” said TelEm Group Chief Executive Officer,” Mr. Kendall Dupersoy.

He said following an analysis by the vendor, it turned out that due to no fault of its own, the Helpdesk service was not receiving customer calls because they were terminating “somewhere in the cloud”. According to technicians looking into the problem, other calls were also going to an unknown number and not ringing at the Helpdesk.

“Since the problem was fixed, I am pleased with reports that customers are having much better success getting through to us and to the Helpdesk. I am encouraging our customers to continue to report these issues to us as they come up so that we can tackle them right away as we have in this case,” said Mr. Dupersoy.

TelEm Group, Manager, Sales, Mrs. Lucrecia Lynch, said the new upgrades are “really smart”, providing the Helpdesk staff with many new features, including one that allows them to register dropped or unanswered calls so that they can call customers back as a follow-up service.

“Customers have been pleasantly surprised that after an abandoned call they still end up receiving a call from one of our Helpdesk representatives,” said Lucrecia.

She said the upgrade also features more advanced call monitoring and registering systems so that Helpdesk staff can instantly have technical access to ongoing records of customer complaints and calls regarding their service.

Lucrecia said the upgrade is continuing with further software upgrades, but from reports received, both Helpdesk staff and customers are pleased with the improvements thus far.

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Inspiring Spelling Bee Participants with Tutorial Session

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Four tutorials sessions have been organized to inspire the Spelling Bee Participants competing in the 2018 Scotiabank Rotary-Rotaract Spelling Bee.

Due to the success of the previous Tutorial sessions hosted by The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle for the Scotiabank Rotary/Rotoract Spelling Bee in 2016 it was decided to hold four sessions this year.

Two tutorial sessions were already held at the University of St. Maarten on Pond Island on Saturday September 8thand 15th. The next two sessions will be held on Saturday 22nd and 29th September at 11am and ending at 1pm, also being held at the University of St. Maarten. 

Volunteers are helping the kids in pairs and sometimes individually to practice. This method really works. Of course, the participants will need to continue to practice in school and at home. 

Refreshments will be served as well as pizza sponsored by Domino’s.  All Spelling Bee Participants are invited and encouraged to attend the remaining two tutorial sessions.   

To date 11 schools have registered for the Spelling Bee from St. Maarten, there will also be participants from Anguilla. The preliminary round kicks off on Sunday October 14th at the Belair Community Center.

The top 15 highest scorers from the preliminary round will head to the semi-final round on Sunday October 21. The top five highest scorers from the semi-final round will head to the final round on Sunday October 28th. Parents, family and friends are all invited to come out and support the participants.

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 our face book page Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle.

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Mike Granger is the new Station Manager at My88.3

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Veteran Journalist and Media/PR Consultant Mike Granger is the new Station Manager of radio station My88.3fm. Granger started his tenure at the station on Wednesday, September 19.

Granger, who is no stranger to radio, said he is looking forward with excitement to expanding on what My88 has established over the past five years. “In terms or presence, you can still call My88 a new option on the radio waves.

“The station enjoys quality sound and a quality format. Now it’s time to expand and build on that with cohesion of great music and great programming,” Granger said.

He explained that the station’s general format will expand to include more popular chart topping music, while not totally deviating from the current adult contemporary format.  Additionally, the station will embark on a recruitment drive for radio talent to “bring life” to the My88 experience.

“People follow people,” Granger said. “Great on-air personalities that fit the mold of what we are trying to create at My88 will be given a fair opportunity to build their own brand within that mold and by extension build the station as the go to choice. So we will be launching a drive to recruit new voices with new radio entertainment ideas,” he said, adding that My88 will seek to present a full schedule of entertainment programming daily, including news.

He further explained that My88 will also be more active in the community, seeking to partner with several community based initiatives. “I believe any radio station must be community minded. 

Those are your listeners, your supporters.  There are initiatives that would benefit from the support of radio as a partner. This will be a very important aspect for us,” Granger said.

He continued: “Radio in the 21st century requires some creativity, but it is still radio and some norms will always we remain. People don’t want to be yelled at, they don’t need to feel like they’re in a club with music interruptions every two minutes.

“They want good content, great music and they want to be informed. Those basic principles do not change when it comes to radio. Also, it’s really a privilege to be on the air in the generation where there’s so many social media platforms that can complement radio.  

“We plan on taking full advantage of all of them in expanding My88. Great music will always be the priority.  There is a way to take our listeners on a quality ride of music if you do it the right way, and they won’t even care or realize the various genres they are experiencing. But they will know they’ve heard great music.” 

My88.3fm can be emailed at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 1-721-5225133. 

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