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Flights disrupted after air traffic control communication system crashes

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Flights to and from Schiphol and Rotterdam airports were disrupted for a time early on Wednesday afternoon after problems with the air traffic control computer system.

The communication system was down for around 30 minutes, leading to seven flight cancellations. A number of flights were also diverted to other airports, news agency ANP said.

Flights were still subject to delays several hours later in the afternoon and Schiphol said travellers should check with their airline about actual departure times. The Dutch air traffic control department LVNL said it would take some time for flights to get back to normal.

The LVNL is now investigating the cause of the breakdown, which did not affect the backup system. (DutchNews)

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YACHT CLUB PORT DE PLAISANCE READY FOR THE YACHTING SEASON 2018/19

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Yacht Club Port De Plaisance, General Manager, Jesse Peterson, announces that the facility will be fully operational for the upcoming yachting season.

After the devastation of Hurricane Irma, it has been the number one priority of the management team to repair, rebuild and upgrade the marina in order to welcome back their customers.

“I am extremely pleased to announce that with the help of our management team and staff members, Yacht Club Port De Plaisance is making great progress with the rebuilding and refurbishment of the facility and we are on track to be fully ready for the season that is quickly approaching”.

“This has not been an easy task to say the least, but we are well on our way to providing our valued clients with a new and improved facility” remarked Peterson, GM of YCPDP.

“Considering all of the obstacles we have faced after what was arguably one of the most devastating hurricanes on record, our team has continued to stay focused and committed and thus we are poised to come back bigger and better than ever”.

“Obstacles such as having to await on an insurance settlement for nearly (9) months and all of the issues we faced with the submerged wrecks, both in the facility and in the lagoon in general, made this a truly long and argues period for us”.

“If not for the dedication and loyalty of our management and staff, frankly I am not sure I would have had the energy and ability to rebuild and to continue,” remarked Jeff Boyd, Managing Director and CEO of Marine Management and Consulting NV Boyd went on to say: “Although we still have considerable work to complete before season, I am confident that we will be ready to open our doors and welcome our loyal and new clients to our new and improved facility while in St Maarten.

“In short, we got beat down but as St. Maarteners we truly are resilient people and thus we will continue to recover, rebuild and make sure that our position as the Yachting Capital of the Caribbean is maintained and secured”.

“While getting our facility back up and running was our priority, it is important to point out that it certainly isn’t just us rebuilding and making our industry better.

“The Marine sector of St Maarten as a whole, including our neighboring facilities, and marine service providers, are moving forward as well to insure that when the yachts return to St Maarten we are ready to provide the quality services and infrastructure they have grown to expect” remarked Peterson.

Both Mr. Boyd and Mr. Peterson expressed their appreciation to their customers who has been loyal over the years and hoped to welcome them back once again to our beautiful island and invited everyone to visit the Yacht Club website pdpmarina.com and social media pages for further updates.

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Nature Foundation Calls on Businesses to use Biodegradable and Reusable Products

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Sint Maarten Nature Foundation is calling on all businesses, stores, bars, restaurants, tour operators and event organizers to start using biodegradable and reusable products instead of single-use plastics.

Single-use plastic is one of the biggest environmental catastrophes of this generation and a major contributor to the current situation at the Philipsburg landfill. A lot of our single-use plastics end up in our environment and ocean due to littering and poor garbage disposal.

Besides, St Maarten just cannot handle the large amount of single-use plastic waste, our dump is already overfilled. 

“All businesses can contribute to reduce the single-use plastics on our island and reduce the input of these toxic materials to our environment and landfill. Biodegradable disposable products are already available on our island; the more businesses will shift to biodegradable alternatives the lower the prices will go and availability will increase.

“Paper straws, paper or sugar cane plates, bamboo plates, biodegradable cups, paper food containers, paper bags, wooden cutlery and much more are all already available on St Maarten and carried by suppliers such as PDG and Merchants Market.

“Businesses do not have to use single-use plastics, which are impacting and damaging our environment, nature and even us. We are asking all establishments to go green and reduce their single-use plastics, to use reusable products or biodegradable products instead” stated Nature Foundation’s Project Officer Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern. 

At least 9 million tons of plastic enters the world’s oceans each year, a rate that has increased 100 times in the past 40 years. If current trends continue there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. 

Single use plastic bags, plastic straws, cutlery and Styrofoam food containers are some of the most environmentally damaging products on our island. These items do not biodegrade and stay in the ecosystem and oceans forever, causing impacts to the environment, animals and humans.

Plastic releases harmful chemicals when it breaks down into smaller pieces that are ingested by marine life and eventually humans. 

“Several businesses already switched to biodegradable alternatives instead of single-use plastics, such as Dinghy Dock Bar, Buccaneers Beach Bar and Coconut Reef Tours. We very welcome these initiatives and hope many more businesses will follow.

“Any business, store, bar, restaurant or tour operator who would like to receive more information about the possibilities to switch to biodegradable and reusable alternatives for single-use plastics can contact the Nature Foundation” continued Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern Nature Foundation’s Project Officer. 

All around the world eco-tourism is in the rise and plastic free movements are getting more popular as the tremendous impacts of single-use plastics are inescapable. To keep St Maarten a popular destination for the future and to protect our natural beauty, the change to a more eco-friendly destination need to be made including the use of biodegradable and reusable products.

Through the Reduce & Reuse St Maarten’ project, the Nature Foundation is fighting plastic pollution and is teaching and encouraging residents, children and businesses to reduce their plastic waste output and clean-up the environment.

CUTLINE: Single-use plastics views in our natural environments are ordinary instead of being the exception.

2 single use plastics in mangroves

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Ombudsman commences Open House Project “The Best School Ombudsman”

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Bureau of the Ombudsman has embarked on a project geared towards the Academic High schools on St. Maarten.

The project entitled “The Best School Ombudsman”, seeks to involve high school students in the pre-exam/exam classes in the role of the Ombudsman and to bring greater awareness of the function as well as the institution of the Ombudsman.

The students will have consultation sessions (weekly) at their respective schools which is only open to students, teachers and parents of each respective (participating) school.

While the students will be able to take concerns, the actual complaints will be referred to Bureau Ombudsman. The Bureau will have feedback sessions once a week with the students between 15 August - 15 October 2018.

Participating High Schools:

  1. Milton Peters College HAVO/VWO
  2. Dominic High School
  3. The Methodist Agogic Center Comprehensive Secondary Education (MAC-CSE)
  4. Maarten Academy (Academic)

The students, selected by their respective schools, have gone through several training sessions during May – June 2018 to prepare them for their role. The Bureau is pleased with the cooperation and enthusiasm of the schools and chosen students. The students will assume their role as Ombudsman from 15 August - 15 October 2018 at their respective schools. The culmination of the project will be on 26 October 2018 with presentations given by the students during the Ombudsman annual Open House.

The students will be judged on:

  • Participation in the project
  • Quality of presentation and presentation skills
  • Understanding of the role of the Ombudsman

One school will emerge as the best School Ombudsman; however all students will receive tokens of appreciation.

The Bureau Ombudsman wishes all participating students and schools much success as they carry out their role as School Ombudsmen, and thanks the Management of the schools for their cooperation.

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K1 Britannia Receives Alarm System from ADT Security Systems

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - ADT recently donated a Burglar Alarm, Fire Alarm, and Video Access Control system to the K1 Britannia Foundation.  

“We are impressed with the great work K1 and her volunteers do for the island’s youth, and we admire K1 for stepping up to the plate right after hurricane Irma by coordinating and organizing relief aid together with the Dutch Marines and Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard.

“Since K1 solely relies on volunteers, donations, and funding grants we decided to help them out with their security need.” explains Ilja Botha, ADT St Maarten Sales Consultant. 

K1 Britannia’s co-founder Priya Thirumur is grateful for the donation, since the Burglar and Fire Alarm not only protect K1’s office and her staff, but also ensure that the office now meets the requirements for contents insurance.

On the video access control system Priya Thirumur comments: “It’s great we’re now able to see and talk to whoever is at the door and give them access without having to go downstairs first, or leave the door open all the time!”.

To get in touch with and support K1 Britannia Foundation, visit  www.k1britanniafoundation.org, www.facebook.com/k1sxm or call 553-8186.

To learn more about ADT Security Systems and how they can protect your family, employees and assets visit https://facebook.com/adtsxm or call 520-3728.

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USP MP Brison: TEATT committee calls seven meetings about economy

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The chairman for the Committee for Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunication Member of Parliament (MP) Rolando Brison, Faction Leader of United St. Maarten Party (USP), has called seven meetings on a range of critical topics.

“The ministry of TEATT is the arm of government charged with ensuring our economy and its related support structures continue to function to the benefit of our country and its citizens. Similarly, the Committee of TEATT of Parliament is charged with conducting investigations into matters related to this ministry.

“It is after all Parliament’s job to hold the Ministers accountable, and the TEATT committee will do its part to ensure the Minister of TEATT fulfills his tasks in the best interest of the country.

“While we have seen some information being disseminated by Minister Stuart Johnson mainly consisting of rudimentary plans, wishes and observations, the Minister’s presence at these meetings will be a more ideal venue to not just read “what” the minister plans or hopes to do, but HOW specifically the Minister will ensure the many urgent items related to our economy are going to be addressed,” MP Brison stated in his statement on Thursday.

In the first committee meeting of TEATT held last month, several MP’s lauded the initiative to have an exploratory meeting that helped identify some of the urgent investigations the committee will conduct.

The TEATT Committee, which reports to the Central Committee of parliament, will prepare decision lists for the Central Committee to handle further, and forward these directives to the Ministers.

The St. Maarten Tourism Authority

“In the first TEATT committee meeting, it was expressed by members that the fact that the STA presentation was postponed was very unfortunate. “This request to postpone was by the previous Minister, so we hope the new Minister will ensure that such an urgent item is pushed back any further.

“This country will ultimately fail its marketing effort if the legal and executive structure of the tourism department is not changed to fit competitive realities. Thus, as was agreed by the TEATT committee, we are immediately calling this meeting once again to hear the Minister’s vision of the STA going forward, and to hear from the STA Foundation their concept on what the STA law should can look like so that parliament can initiate that legislative process,” MP Brison’s statement continued.

Civil Aviation

“TEATT committee will conduct a preliminary investigation into what the current status regarding pre-clearance is, what legislative and budgetary needs the department of civil aviation has, and how prepared the country is for the upcoming ICAO and FAA audits that ultimately could make or break aviation in for the island if these audits are failed.

“We need to know that the Minister is fully prepared for these crucial audits, and that he has afforded all the necessary support to the department of civil aviation” stated Brison.

“Recent media reports indicated that the US has not heard any progress regarding Pre-Clearance and thus the program is in jeopardy. “This is very much contrary to the statements by the TEATT Minister during the budget debate that ‘all was still moving forward in terms of pre-clearance’. Someone is not telling the full story here, and the Minister will have his chance to tell the committee and the public what is truly happening.

“Other meetings that are being scheduled include the current status of data collection by government, the promotion of small business development on St. Maarten, the plans for the ministry with regards to Agricultural development, sustainable development goals and environmental protection practices in tourism product development integrated into the policies of TEATT, and the 2019 budget for TEATT,” MP Brison said.

Committee for Country Expenditures

Brison, who is also the Chairman for the Committee of Country Expenditures, called 2 meetings for that committee as well. “There is quite a backlog (over 2 years) of incoming documents addressed to the committee for country expenditures, so a meeting has been called to decide on the handling of these documents.

“In addition, we have invited the general audit chamber to present their 2017 annual report, and to give us an update on their findings related to the tenuous situation that exists regarding the lack of approved financial statements for the country,” said Brison.

“Before meetings are called, research is done, problem definitions are made, and the objective of the committee meeting are made clear. Brison worked through the month of July to do the necessary background research on the topics before sending out the meeting requests immediately after the end of recess.

“The TEATT committee will facilitate the preliminary investigations for parliament and the population and business community can rest assured that the committee is working hard to address the urgent issues of our economy and tourism from both a legislative and executive perspective.

“Most meetings are expected to be open to the public, so that citizens and stakeholders can also be apprised of these matters.

In order to effectively conduct all these meetings, it was decided by the committee to meet every week, even on the Wednesday’s of so-called “Non-meeting” weeks.

“I was very pleased to read that Minister Johnson would be happy to meet at any time in the national interest of the country; these meetings are clearly of urgent national interest and we require the presence of the Minister to answer the queries of the committee,” said Brison.

The proposed time for meetings will be on Wednesday’s at 11:30AM, giving the minister some time to leave the press briefing and attend parliament, MP Brison concluded in his press statement.

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Small AXE band added to the line-up for the Lighted Parade 2018

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Small Axe band, also known as “the sweetest band in the world”, will be added to the line-up of the Lighted Parade 2018 which will take place on August 18th on streets of Philipsburg. This was announced earlier today by Carnival Event organizer Rio Productions.

Small Axe band is a musical group for St. Kitts and recognized as one of the most popular Soca bands in the Caribbean. Small Axe band recently won the 2017-2018 Road March title with the tune “Puppy Song” and are known for their energetic performances throughout the region.

Rio productions announced that after having a record sale with the first batch of T-shirts, and an additional corporate sponsor that came on board yesterday, they’ve decided to add this extra element to the parade.

President of Rio Mrs Brenda Wathey stated: “with Destra as the main feature, we have one of the best international Soca artist on board. With DJ Outkast, DJ King Kembe, King James and King Rumer we have our finest local artist on board.

By now throwing Small Axe band into the mix, we succeeded to add one of the best and most energetic Soca bands in the Caribbean to the parade, and we believe that revelers and spectators have a lot to look forward to”.

The last batch of shirts for the Lighted Parade 2018 recently reached the island are on sale by UTS, Van Dorp Madame Estate, NC Wathey, Nowhere Special and CLT. The package includes LED string lights and full open bar, including a large variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages during the entire parade.

The different selling points are running special promotions on the t-shirts such as free calling credit, and other complimentary items with the purchase.   

Rio Productions expects to be completely sold out by August 15th and announced that no extra shirts will be ordered to comply with all safety standards.

For more information concerning the t-shirt sales, the parade and the 2018 route, participants are encouraged to follow Rio on Facebook or visit the Rio Productions web page for more detailed information: www.rioproductions.sx

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Tourism Sector and Business Community Reminded It Only Takes One, Be Prepared

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Office of Disaster Management (ODM) is advising the country’s tourism sector and business community, to review hurricane season preparatory plans in preparation for the peak period of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season which runs from August 15 through October 15.

The tourism sector, business community and also residents are advised to pay keen attention to weather reports with special focus on the Eastern Atlantic Ocean where tropical weather systems that form off the African Coast (Cape Verde Islands) can become a serious threat to the Eastern Caribbean island chain, Fire Chief/National Disaster Coordinator Clive Richardson said on Tuesday. 

“Our tourism and business infrastructure experienced a catastrophic hurricane last September and our economy is currently in a fragile phase, but due to resilience of the Sint Maarten community and the business sector, the country is making a comeback as we build back better.

“For those businesses that cater to the tourism and hospitality services, a quick recovery and back to business is essential for the Sint Maarten economy, therefore having a hurricane-business turnaround plan in place will facilitate a quick recovery and back to business,” Richardson emphasized.

At this stage of the hurricane season, tourism-oriented businesses including vacation rental management companies that are back in business should have plans already in place.  The prevention of the loss of life of our visitors and staff along with protecting property from damage is the responsibility of every business owner.

The engine of the economy is based on every single business operation on the island.  Each one plays a very important role in the country’s tourism-oriented service economy.

As the ODM annual theme says, “It only takes one!” Now is the time for the business community in its entirety as well as residents to review what preparations they have in place, and don’t wait until a storm is about to hit the country to rush preparations.

The hurricane season runs through November 30.

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Fourth storm of the season Debby forms in Atlantic Ocean

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN – The fourth named storm of season – Debby - has formed in the far north-central Atlantic and poses no threat to land.  Debby has been classified as a Subtropical Storm.

According to Brian McNoldy, Senior Research Associate at University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Debby is the third storm for this season to be subtropical…”Alberto began its life as a subtropical cyclone on May 25th, and the second half of Beryl’s life was subtropical.

“Climatologically, the 4th named storm forms on August 22, so Debby is about two weeks ahead of par.”

McNoldy adds: “Aside from Debby, the Atlantic is quiet.  This time of year, we start looking to Africa for incipient waves/disturbance’s, but the water temperature in the deep tropical Atlantic between Africa and the Lesser Antilles remains cooler than average, which will be a suppressing factor for tropical cyclone activity there for a while.”

At 5.00pm on Tuesday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Debby was located 1925 miles west north-west of the Azores Islands; wind speeds were 40 miles per hour and tropical storm force winds extended outward from the center up to 140 miles to the east of the center; and that the system is expected to be short lived as it moves into cooler waters.

SOUALIGA NEWSDAY WEATHER WATCH

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NEW BOARD MEMBERS OUALICHI SOCCER ASSOCIATION

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The members of the Oualichi Soccer Association have recently elected new members to the board of the Oualichi Soccer Association.

The Association will be represented by Ms. Dagmar Daal (President), Ms Ludmila York-Duncan (Vice-President/Secretary), Mr Christian Grannum (Treasurer), Mr Johishi Romney (General board member) and Mr Joel Wilson (General board member).

The board has committed itself to the continued development of football on Sint Maarten and of its members as athletes.

The Oualichi Soccer Association has a male senior team, a female team and a youth team. For more information, please visit their Facebook page: Oualichi Soccer Association. 

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