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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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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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Johnson elated at good news of AA flights return

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Announcements by American Airlines that it will increase its airlifts to St. Maarten starting in November, has sparked high interests in travellers wanting to return to St. Maarten, following its devastation just over a year ago by hurricane Irma. 

American Airlines recently announced the return of its direct flight from Charlotte which will resume service to the destination on November 4th. American Airlines will also re-establish its direct flights from New York and Philadelphia starting on December 19th this year. 

The Honorable Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication TEATT, Stuart Johnson welcomed the good news of the return of the airlifts. He said that the announcement of the impending arrival of the airline's services shows the resilience of St. Maarten. These flights coincide with the reopening of some of the island’s hotels and the addition of rooms for hotels that have already had a partial opening post-Hurricane Irma. 

Johnson said naturally, the return of airlines and hotel rooms to the island "goes hand in hand with our overall recovery plans and is especially significant for St. Maarten's economic revitalisation. This also increases the job opportunities after such a long time of unemployment." 

The minister also emphasised the significance of the increase in airlifts to the destination, as it fits well into his plans for improving the airport’s regional hub function. He said, “The new airlifts from carriers such as American Airlines shows their commitment to St. Maarten and their belief in our country and people’s resilience. It also gives people in the region more ease of access to the USA and elsewhere and shows the importance of our airport as a hub destination for our regional partners.”

The returning flights fit into the scheduled completion of the Main Terminal of the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA), which is set for November this year. He said completing the repairs on the main terminal is essential for the airport to be able to accommodate increased passenger arrival and departures such as those planned flights from American Airlines and the others that will follow. 

American Airlines’ flights will return just under two months after the anniversary of the passing of hurricane Irma that forced many airlines to reduce airlifts. American Airlines said it has a “long-term commitment with St. Maarten and it is great to be able to grow our presence on the island.” 

American Airlines’ Managing Director for the Caribbean Alfred Gonzales said tourism is a “vital industry", and these additions [of flights] are important to the “continued economic recovery and economic development” [of St. Maarten]. 

The release stated that the flights from Charlotte and Philadelphia will operate daily with Airbus A-319 which carries eight first class seats and 122 seats in the main cabin. The New York flight will be operational only on Saturdays with a Boeing 757 which has 16 first class seats and 160 seats in the main cabin. 

The American Airlines flight will leave Charlotte daily at 9:37 a.m. and arrives on St. Maarten at 2:37 p.m. It will then depart the PJIA at 3:22 p.m. and return to Charlotte, getting there at 6:47 p.m. The Philadelphia flight will leave daily at 9:00 a.m. and arrive on St. Maarten at 2:01 p.m. 

It will depart St. Maarten at 3:45 p.m. and return to Philadelphia at 7:05 p.m. The direct flight to New York is scheduled to operate on Saturday’s only, leaving JFK at 7:10 a.m. and arriving in St. Maarten at 12:22 p.m. It will depart St. Maarten at 2:48 p.m. and return to JFK at 6:34 p.m.

 

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The Netherlands is strong, but more people should feel benefits, says king

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands is a strong country, but more people should feel that things are going well, king Willem-Alexander said on on Tuesday, as he outlined the government’s agenda for the next year to MPs and senators.

It is, the king said, 75 years ago that the Netherlands was liberated and the country which has been built up since then is a strong one, thanks to its democratic values, its healthcare, its education and the fact that people have roof over their heads.

‘The government wants to further improve this strong land,’ the king said. ‘The economic values are right and in 2019 the economy will grow for the sixth year in a row.’

‘This is therefore the time to decide what direction we should take,’ the king said. ‘To make choices that afford us room to manoeuvre and give us security, both in the here-and-now and for future generations.

More people should have a tangible sense that things are going well: at home, at work and in their neighbourhood.’ ‘Building a close-knit society is a matter for everyone in our country.

Let us be clear: many things are going well. The Netherlands is a country of volunteers, churches and associations which joins together to celebrate special sporting achievements and national holidays,’ he said.

‘But where things are going less well, the government intends to take action. That can’t be done with a single programme or Act of Parliament, since a close-knit society involves all policy areas and all tiers of government.

The king went on to outline some of the measures the government is planning to make, all of which were already included the coalition agreement, or which have been published since then.

The integration system will be overhauled, and refugees will be encouraged to learn Dutch and work as soon as they arrive. The paternity and maternity leave systems will be expanded, the tax system reformed, and the dividend tax will be scrapped ‘to make the Netherlands more attractive for both large and small firms.’

‘We aim to reward genuine business activity and to only welcome those companies that contribute to our economy. Action will therefore be taken to combat tax avoidance mechanisms such as shell companies,’ the king continued.

In terms of Europe, the king said 2019 will be an ‘intense year’ with the appointment of a new European Commission and ‘an unpredictable Brexit’. ‘The Dutch government will continue promoting a positive agenda for a better EU which concentrates on the essentials and sticks to its agreements,’ he said.

‘Together we need to deepen the single market and strengthen the single currency. Together we must stand up for the rule of law.’

‘Membership of the EU makes our country stronger in a world where power relationships are shifting, and old alliances can no longer be taken for granted,’ the king said.

‘It is in the Netherlands’ interest that Europe continue standing up collectively for global free trade and against the threat of import tariffs and other trade barriers.’ The cabinet also recognises that with just 76 seats, that it cannot rely on broad majority support.

‘But in the Netherlands, we have a long tradition of working together, step by step, to make our strong country even stronger,’ the king said. ‘The government wants to continue that tradition, together with you and with everyone in our country. (DutchNews)

On 18 September 2018, the King delivered the Speech from the Throne.

Members of the States General,

During the forthcoming parliamentary year we will start commemorating the 75th anniversary of liberation. In the autumn of 1944, occupying forces were driven out of large parts of the southern Netherlands. The rest of the country north of the great rivers had to endure a long winter of famine before the national anthem – the Wilhelmus – rang out once more.

Such moments of commemoration bring home to us how strong the country built up in the intervening period has become. Strong in terms of prosperity, enterprise and socioeconomic security. Strong by virtue of the democratic values anchored in our state and the rule of law: equality, tolerance, freedom and legal certainty. And strong because we have healthcare, education and a roof over our heads. Post-war history is a chronicle of progress and improvement. Despite periods of decline, the overall trend is upward and forward.

The government aims to make this strong country of ours even stronger. The necessary economic conditions are in place. In 2019 the economy is set to grow for the sixth successive year. Next year national income is expected to increase by 2.6% and the surplus on the central government budget will be 1%. This will reduce the national debt and ensure the Netherlands is better prepared for future economic shocks. Unemployment is due to fall to a historic low of 3.5%.

This is therefore the time to decide what direction we should take. To make choices that afford us room to manoeuvre and give us security, both in the here-and-now and for future generations. More people should have a tangible sense that things are going well: at home, at work and in their neighbourhood. And more people should feel that politicians are there for everyone. People ask: can we and our children continue to count on good healthcare, an affordable home, a job, a good education, a safe neighbourhood, a clean living environment and a good pension? And they ask a question that can’t be answered with a calculator: in the Netherlands, do we live sufficiently with each other and not too much alongside each other? We can’t simply assume that our country will continue to improve. It requires continuous maintenance and innovation. Confidence in the future is a work in progress.

Building a close-knit society is a matter for everyone in our country. Let us be clear: many things are going well. The Netherlands is a country of volunteers, churches and associations which joins together to celebrate special sporting achievements and national holidays. But where things are going less well, the government intends to take action. That can’t be done with a single programme or Act of Parliament, since a close-knit society involves all policy areas and all tiers of government.

The government will launch initiatives to combat loneliness among the elderly and give vulnerable groups a firmer footing in society. We should not simply resign ourselves to the fact that more than half of people over 75 say they feel lonely. Nor should we accept that people with problem debts, people with mental health issues and a growing number of young homeless people end up living on the margins of society. Central government will seek to forge broad coalitions with provinces, municipalities and local bodies to lift people out of isolation and give them a fresh chance.

The government is also investing in historical awareness and cultural diversity. Heritage and culture show us where we came from and hold up a mirror to us in the present, so they are of great significance to our country’s future. During this government’s term in office, an additional €325 million will be earmarked for heritage. The budget for culture will be increased by an amount rising to €80 million a year from 2020. This will provide more scope for new artistic talent and will enable all children to visit a museum during their time at school.

Of course, building a close-knit society also involves integration. In the government’s proposals for a new civic integration system, asylum permit holders are expected to find work immediately and acquire a good command of Dutch as soon as possible. After all, work and language are the fastest route to full participation in society.

With a view to promoting a strong society, it is encouraging that people will have more to spend next year. Both the broad swathe of people on modal earnings and groups such as the elderly and benefit recipients stand to gain. Wages in our country are rising. People are getting back into work, rising up the career ladder, or working longer hours. And the modernisation of our tax system will make it pay more to work. Tax on consumption will be raised slightly, providing scope to cut taxation on labour. On balance, households will be better off in the next few years.

The favourable economic situation provides an opportunity to strengthen and modernise our country’s socioeconomic structure. The legislative proposal on a balanced labour market is intended to reduce the risk to employers in offering workers a permanent contract. The government will also tackle false self-employment. Self-employed persons without employees who make a conscious choice to become entrepreneurs will not have barriers put in their way. Because a modern labour market must take account of personal circumstances, leave for partners on the birth of their child will be increased from two days to a maximum of six weeks. Too many people with a work disability are still left on the sidelines. The government will launch a broad offensive to boost their chances of finding regular employment. Work must pay for this group too.

The current pension system is increasingly failing to live up to people’s collective expectations. Rising life expectancy, changes in the labour market and ongoing low interest rates have exposed vulnerabilities. The government aims to work with representatives of employers and employees on a pension system that eliminates these vulnerabilities while retaining strong elements such as collective implementation and risk sharing.

The Netherlands has long enjoyed a good business climate and must keep it that way. This is another reason why, in the years ahead, we will continue to invest in education, innovation, science and an attractive living environment. The government has set aside an extra €2 billion to make up lost ground in the area of infrastructure during its term in office. This will involve tackling congestion bottlenecks, enhancing road safety and strengthening public transport. Using tax measures, we will make our country more attractive to businesses both large and small. Corporation tax will be reduced and dividend tax will be abolished. We aim to reward genuine business activity and to only welcome those companies that contribute to our economy. Action will therefore be taken to combat tax avoidance mechanisms such as shell companies.

The favourable economy also provides scope for investing in the public services and professionals that make up the foundations of a strong country. In doing so we will be mindful of the needs of both nurses and their patients. We will make improvements for both teachers and pupils. We will appoint more police officers and enhance safety on the streets. We will recognise the great importance of the work done by our military personnel at home and abroad. And acknowledge the value of our farmers, market gardeners and fishers who produce our food in what can be difficult circumstances.

The government will put forward targeted measures to establish stronger links between agriculture and nature. In addition, a fund will be created for young farmers who wish to take over their parents’ business.

Extra funding was already made available in the 2017 budget for care for the elderly, so that they can count on being given sufficient time and attention and good quality care, in their own home or in a nursing home. That trend will continue. During this government’s term in office, the extra amount for care for the elderly will rise to some €3 billion a year. Our children and grandchildren too are entitled to good and accessible healthcare. We have to work on this now, as the number of old people is growing while the development of medical techniques and medicines continues to advance. As things stand, more than 25 cents of every euro of public expenditure goes on healthcare. New agreements have therefore been made with hospitals, family doctors, district nurses and mental health services on quality and controlled growth in costs.

In order to be better able to satisfy the great demand for workers in technical fields, pre-vocational secondary education (VMBO) schools with an engineering and technology focus will be given extra money. The government will also invest heavily in early years education, so that the youngest children at risk of educational disadvantage receive more attention. In order to tackle the severe shortage of teachers, funds have been made available to pay higher salaries in primary education, ease the pressure of work and halve tuition fees in the first two years of teacher training. In the years ahead the teacher shortage will continue to demand action from and cooperation between all education stakeholders.

Combating large-scale organised crime requires more attention. The Netherlands is a democracy governed by the rule of law, where criminals don’t get to call the shots. So we will not sit back idly in the face of urban decay, tit-for-tat killings and the drug crime that is now reaching industrial proportions in some parts of our country. More than 1,100 extra police officers will be appointed, the majority of whom will be patrolling our neighbourhoods. The blending of the underworld with legitimate businesses and institutions is a growing problem that undermines society. We will combat this with a special new fund. Extra funding will also be made available for cybersecurity, in order to protect our country’s digital infrastructure.

Both within and beyond our borders, our military personnel perform the vital task of keeping the Netherlands safe. After years of spending cuts, the new policy of higher defence spending will be stepped up in 2019 and beyond. The extra spending will rise to €1.5 billion a year by the end of the government’s term in office. As a result the defence budget will be increased by 17%. This necessary investment will enable the armed forces to better fulfil their constitutional task of defending the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The overheated housing market has become a major problem. In the large cities, especially, affordable housing is scarce and it is difficult, if not impossible, to obtain a starter home. There is great demand for rental properties costing €700 to €1,000 per month. The government is joining forces with municipalities, housing associations and building firms, with the common aim of better utilising the existing housing stock, preventing excesses in the rental market and reversing the house-building shortfall. Our ambition is to build an average of 75,000 new homes a year. Obviously these problems cannot be solved overnight, but it is essential that we turn the tide.

The same is true of climate policy. Just as we must not saddle future generations with an unsustainable national debt, nor must we hand down an environmental debt. The reality is that climate policy affects every aspect of how we live and work. At the same time, ambitious climate policy presents opportunities for the Netherlands’ innovative capacity. This summer, representatives of industry, the energy, logistics and agricultural sectors, and environmental organisations presented a proposal for the main elements of a Dutch climate agreement. In elaborating this agreement, the guiding principle will be that the transition to cleaner energy sources and production methods must be achievable and affordable for everyone in our country. We can only make this enormous change if we do so together. Parliament’s initiative with regard to the Climate Act shows that this is possible.

The urgency of the energy transition has only grown since the decision was made to completely phase out the extraction of natural gas in Groningen as soon as possible. By making this decision the government has sought to address the interests of those in the region affected by earthquakes. Naturally, this will not solve all the problems at a stroke. The government will therefore also take further concrete steps to compensate the damage caused and strengthen the regional economy.

There are many goals that central government, provinces, municipalities and water authorities can only achieve by working together. The energy transition, the safety of our streets, ensuring thriving and liveable rural areas, not to mention tackling domestic violence and child abuse: all these areas require cooperative governance. The role of the subnational authorities will become larger and more central. The rise in the municipalities and provinces funds will help them continue performing all their tasks effectively.

Members of the States General, post-war history has shown that it is not possible to build a strong Netherlands without looking beyond our own borders. Rooting our nation in the structures of the international order lays the basis for longstanding prosperity and security. Taking this principle as our guide, the Netherlands is an active member of NATO, the UN, the EU and bodies such as the World Trade Organization.

The multilateral world order built after the Second World War is under pressure. The threats to the international legal order and global free trade are legion, both in the countries surrounding Europe and further afield. The Netherlands has a direct interest in contributing to a stable international environment. The Dutch military personnel who are working in the most difficult conditions to fulfil this aim have our unconditional support.

Until the end of this year, the Kingdom of the Netherlands is a member of the United Nations Security Council. In this capacity we are pressing for the modernisation of the UN organisation and its missions, and for more attention to be paid to conflict prevention. Dutch development cooperation policy employs a tried-and-tested combination of aid and trade instruments. Extra funding and attention will be devoted to refugee aid, reception in the region, education in developing countries and support for countries’ efforts to achieve their climate objectives.

Our closest partners are those in the European Union, with whom we work to ensure security, stability and prosperity for all the people of the member states. Membership of the EU makes our country stronger in a world where power relations are shifting and old alliances can no longer be taken for granted. It is in the Netherlands’ interest that Europe continue standing up collectively for global free trade and against the threat of import tariffs and other trade barriers.

For the European Union, 2019 will be a busy year, with the appointment of a new European Commission and a Brexit outcome that is still uncertain. The Dutch government will continue promoting a positive agenda for a better EU which concentrates on the essentials and sticks to its agreements. Together we need to deepen the single market and strengthen the single currency. Together we must stand up for the rule of law. And only together can we effectively deal with the migration issue and the turmoil on Europe’s external borders.

In the Caribbean part of the Kingdom, the reconstruction of St Maarten, St Eustatius and Saba is a high priority after two devastating earthquakes in 2017. In the next few years, over €600 million will be made available for this purpose. The Netherlands is working with the governments of Curaçao and Aruba on concrete improvements. For example, we are trying to interest more Dutch companies in investing in Curaçao, and we are supporting improvements to youth services in Aruba. The joint coastguard service has a crucial role in managing migration flows and in law enforcement. On Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba, the government is taking specific measures to tackle poverty. In these Caribbean parts of the Netherlands, employers’ social security contributions will be reduced by 5%, which in turn will allow the minimum wage and benefits to be raised by 5%. In addition, €30 million will be made available for poverty reduction, infrastructure and economic development. In this way we will continue working to shape a Kingdom in which we all stand by one another.

Members of the States General,

One hundred years ago the Netherlands held its first elections following the introduction of universal male suffrage and the system of proportional representation. Traditional political alliances began to lose ground, and the fault lines between societal pillars became sharper than ever. On both the left and the right, new, often small parliamentary parties emerged. The confessional government of Charles Ruijs de Beerenbrouck, which took office in September 1918 towards the end of the First World War, won precisely half the seats in the House of Representatives. Nevertheless, it managed to push through essential improvements, such as the eight-hour working day and women’s right to vote. Next year, therefore, we will be celebrating the centenary of universal suffrage in the Netherlands.

Every moment in time is unique. But perhaps this one parallel with the present is worth drawing. The government realises that in putting its coalition agreement into practice, it cannot rely on comfortable majorities. But in the Netherlands we have a long tradition of working together, step by step, to make our strong country even stronger. The government wants to continue that tradition, together with you and with everyone in our country.

In our democratic system, you bear a special responsibility in this regard, as members of the States General. In discharging your duties, you may feel supported in the knowledge that many are wishing you wisdom and join me in praying for strength and God’s blessing upon you.

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St. Maarten Entrepreneur to Represent Island in Washington

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Startup founder, Charity Cantave-Sam, is the St. Maarten representative of the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI). The annual U.S. funded fellowship was launched in 2016 by former president, Barack Obama, to foster global ties between the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

Cantave is the founder of Phenomenal Girls Society which is an organization that provides empowerment and leadership development for girls between the ages of 6-13.

She is also the founder of the Johnny Caker, an initiative which she launched months after hurricane Irma.

Each year young leaders and entrepreneurs are selected after going through a rigorous application process and take part in a 5-week intensive fellowship where they are connected with leaders in their field throughout the US from whom they can learn and gain new skills.

Cantave was selected among 2000 plus applicants. The dates of the fellowship are September 19 to October 24. The fellowship also provides opportunities for networking, venture capital, mentorship, and crowdfunding.

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New Project to Focus on Hiking, Trails

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - This month Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) Foundation is initiating a new project which aims to make exploring nature easier on St. Maarten by improving hiking trails and maps.

Although much work has taken place to clear trails since Irma struck a year ago, some trails have yet to be cleared. EPIC staff and volunteers will remove fallen and overgrown brush and, working in cooperation with property owners, develop signs which help direct and inform hikers.

In addition, maps of hikes will be printed as brochures and a free online app will offer downloadable trail maps.

Project Coordinator Cadula Jones is familiar with the various trails and their unique aspects, having been a leading member of a local hiking group for many years. She noted “Hiking is one of the best ways to enjoy the beauty of the nature of St. Maarten.

The natural landscape of St. Maarten offers hiking trails that vary from green hillside trails with beautiful flora and fauna and spectacular views from the peaks of the hills, to coastal trails with pearl white sandy beaches and/or rocky beaches.

I am looking forward to sharing the hiking experience with both locals and tourists as hiking is a perfect way of spending quality time with friends and family. One of my life mottos is: Hike More Worry Less.”

Development of a hiking trail system and maps is just one aspect of ecotourism, a growing global industry that could be greatly expanded in St. Maarten to diversify the tourism product.

To introduce the many trails of St. Maarten, free, guided hikes will be offered every two weeks through January, giving the public many opportunities to explore diverse natural areas. Hikes will range from easy to challenging.

The first hike will take place this Sunday, September the 23rd, meeting at the Carrefour parking lot in Cole Bay at 6:15 a.m. and hiking to St. Peters. The route is described as intermediate in difficulty.

Hikers should bring a water bottle (preferably reusable) and sunscreen and wear long pants and sneakers or hiking boots. For more information phone EPIC at (721) 545-3009 or contact Project Coordinator Cadula Jones at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Beyond Kultura’s Hurricane Poem Competition

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Beyond Kultura Events Foundation (BKE) is promoting storytelling, story writing and reading amongst the Youth, BKE said in a press release on Sunday.

The Foundation has planned to publish a Hurricane story book in 2019. As part of this project, BKE calls on all students of primary and high schools of Sint Maarten, Saba and Statia to put their hurricane expressions on paper.

“This can be done as a poem or in the form of an expression in writing on a 1 pager A4.

The deadline for submission is 15th of November coming.

“Schools are being asked to request their students to write a poem/expression of their experiences with the passing of hurricane Irma and send it not later than said date to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with reference to ‘Hurricane poem’ and mentioning of the name-surname, age, school name, email address and phone number of the author.

“The poem should have a title and relate to the experience the author has with Hurricanes, especially hurricane Irma.

“Morales, president of BKE says: ‘We hope schools’ managers can help with broadcasting this message in their schools and to stimulate the students to participate. The 5 best poems will be selected by our Writing Experts Team and will be published with consent of the winners and their parents.’”

For more information about the participation you may feel free to call or write the Beyond Kultura Events Foundation at 527-1223.

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