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SMCP REMAINS COMMITTED TO A COALITION WITH UD DESPITE COURT VERDICT REGARDING MP BROWNBILL

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Sint Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) has taken note via the media that the Court in First Instance has sentenced Member of Parliament (MP), Chanel Brownbill, SMCP Leader MP Wycliffe Smith said in a press statement on Thursday.

“MP Brownbill is a member of the United Democrats (UD) with which SMCP entered a coalition agreement earlier this month. Matters such as these were discussed with the UD prior to forming the coalition and so the UD will be dealing with this matter from their end. Moreover, SMCP is of the opinion that the law must take its course.

“As far as the coalition between the UD and the SMCP is concerned, SMCP sees no reason to rescind the agreement which was signed in the interest of moving St. Maarten forward in the wake of a devastating hurricane.

“SMCP is all about offering St. Maarten a lasting and stable government which the people of this country deserve. We all agree that St. Maarten definitely cannot afford another fall of government at this point in time.

“The UD-SMCP coalition is currently busy developing and writing the governing program for the next four years. Besides the manifestos of both parties, the National Recovery and Resilience Plan as well as other pertinent documents will serve as a basis to prepare the program.

“Key aspects of this document will be the physical, social and economic reconstruction of St Maarten. The coalition is aiming at delivering a governing program which will be practical, workable, and measurable and that will also set priorities, for the next four years,” MP Wycliffe Smith, Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party, said on Thursday.

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Nature Foundation Launches Reduce and Reuse Project Aiming to Reduce Single-Use Plastic Consumption

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Nature Foundation organized a beach cleanup at Mullet Bay Beach on the 18th of April in order to kick off their new project to encourage residents and visitors to ‘Reduce and Reuse’ their plastic output.

About 15 volunteers removed 294 pounds of trash from the beach, using the Trash Tracker method developed by Ocean Cleanup Organization 4Oceans by weighing all the collected trash and using reusable bags and gloves.

Waste collected during the cleanup has been documented and will be used as research information to encourage local restaurants, residents and visitors to go plastic-free.

St Maarten has major waste problems due to poor waste management, frequent toxic landfill fires, no waste separation and no recycling. The ineffective disposal of waste causes grave concerns regarding public health, air pollution, and water and soil contamination.

Research has also shown that St Maarten has the highest municipal solid waste of the Caribbean at 9.7 kg per capita per day, compared to Curacao’s waste generation of 0.44 kg. Littering and the use of single use plastics is widely accepted on the island, causing garbage to lay around and plastic trash to end up in our oceans, impacting and affecting our environment, corals, fish, birds and wildlife.

As a nonprofit and non-governmental organization focused on protecting nature and environment on St Maarten, the Nature Foundation wants to make steps to reduce single use plastics and littering, and promote biodegradable and reusable products to address the waste problem.

The ‘Reduce & Reuse St Maarten’ project is designed to teach and encourage residents, children and establishments to reduce their waste output and clean-up the environment.

The use of Styrofoam, plastic cups and cutlery, plastic straws and single use plastic bags is very common and is handed out without discouragement or a fee: this project will try to change that and stimulate a switch to biodegradable and reusable products.

The new project will be also pushing for the plastic bag ban, something the Nature Foundation has been requesting for a long period. The need of more garbage bins around the island, beaches and during events will be addressed as well, at the moment the shortage of bins provides excuses to litter and leave your trash behind.

There is a renewed momentum on the island concerning not using single use plastics anymore. Various establishments are going plastic free, including many restaurants and bars including Buccaneer Beach Bar, The Dinghy Dock and Karakter Beach Bar. We even now have one of the largest hotels, Divi Little Bay, going completely straw free when they reopen.

All of these developments are awesome and we support and encourage them and more businesses to recognize how dangerous plastics are to our health and environment. Hopefully through this new project we can give the necessary support and feedback to make single plastics a thing of the past on the island,” according to the Nature Foundation.

St. Maarten is a beautiful island that attracts millions of visitors from all over the world. The Nature Foundation wants to keep it that way, your help in cleaning up and reducing your plastic waste will go a long way in ensuring the preservation of the beauty we are all so proud of!

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SHTA calls for urgent action Pond Island Landfill

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – “Dear His Majesty King Willem Alexander, His Excellency the Governor Eugene Holiday, Council of Ministers, Honorable Members of Parliament, State Secretary of Kingdom Affair Raymond Knops, Head of Dutch Recovery Programme Hans Leijtens, Representative of the Netherlands in St. Maarten Chris Johnson, Head of World Bank Mission to St. Maarten Doekle Wielinga,” is the letter from the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA) addressed to the aforementioned on behalf of its membership and the public seeking urgent action regarding the Pond Island Landfill.

“To anybody familiar with Sint Maarten, it is obvious that just like hurricane Irma, the dump affects all the citizens of the island - regardless where you might reside or work.

Although most probably we will only know the real human cost of inhaling fumes from the dump on a daily basis in the future, we need immediate short term action now while a long term plan hopefully is being conceived.

“For several decades now, many talks have been spent on this topic – whereas the problem only seems to become worse. Time has come to acknowledge that those many years of talking has shown we do not have the capacity to remove the dump ourselves but that we need outside help to solve this problem.

“Therefore, it is by this means that we demand for an immediate short term solution to put a stop to the fires and gases killing our society.

“This undoubtedly is our number one problem and should be handled with such urgency.  We ask from the World Bank and the Kingdom to tap into their human and technical resources and take direct control over our sanitary landfill for the good of our people. We do not have the luxury of long term planning and endless meetings, we need action,” the SHTA on behalf of its members and the residents of St. Maarten, said in its open letter on Thursday.

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NCSU says Up to 18-named storms and an active 2018 Hurricane Season ahead

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN – This week researchers from the North Carolina State University (NCSU) said that the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season will be significantly more active than the overall averages from 1950 to the present.

In a statement issued by NCSU, “The 2018 season should see 14 to 18 tropical storms and hurricanes forming in the Atlantic basin, which includes the entire Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, according to Lian Xie, professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences at NC State. The 1950 to 2017 average for named storms is 11.

“Of those named storms, seven to 11 may grow strong enough to become hurricanes (which is above the average of six), with the possibility of three to five storms becoming major hurricanes.

“This year’s numbers for the Gulf are also above the average of three named storms. Xie’s data indicate the likelihood of five to six named storms forming in the region, with one to two of the storms becoming a hurricane.

“Xie’s methodology evaluates more than 100 years of historical data on Atlantic Ocean hurricane positions and intensity, as well as other variables, including weather patterns and sea-surface temperatures, to predict how many storms will form in each ocean basin.

“NC State collaborators on the research include Joseph Guinness, assistant professor of statistics, and Xia Sun, graduate research assistant in marine, earth and atmospheric sciences.”

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.

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Minister De Weever commends Divi Resorts on discontinuing using straws

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) Cornelius de Weever, says more than eight million tonnes of plastic leaks into the ocean each year – equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic every minute, according to United Nations (UN) Environment.

Minister De Weever commends Divi Resorts for getting rid of plastic straws at all of its Caribbean resorts on Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, St. Croix, and Sint Maarten.

The aforementioned is part of Divi Resorts green initiative to curb pollution by removing straws from all of its properties.

“As our country builds back better and stronger, there are strong reasons for businesses to operate in a more sustainable manner by reducing ones carbon footprint when it comes to environmental stewardship.

“Sint Maarten as a tourist destination has to step up to the plate. I commend Divi Resorts for taking the initiative of doing away with plastic straws. This should also be explored by other hospitality and tourism driven businesses. Let it be an industry driven approach.

“We all have a responsibility towards our environment and if every business were to take measures it will have a much larger impact on society, on the way we do business on a daily basis in the country, and on our country’s carbon footprint.

“We have natural resources that our tourism-dependent economy depends upon. These natural resources are our beaches, the sea, lagoons, ponds, and our terrestrial areas. Our Nature Foundation sounded the alarm after the Easter-holiday weekend about the amount of garbage that was left behind on our beaches.

“We need to do better, and I appeal to the populace and to the business community to start thinking seriously about our environment and start taking measures to lower our carbon footprint and being more environmentally conscious and responsible,” Minister Cornelius de Weever said on Tuesday.

Each year, tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans, wreaking havoc on marine wildlife, fisheries and tourism, and costing at least US$8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems.

Up to 80 per cent of all litter in our oceans is made of plastic.

According to some estimates, UN Environment says at the rate we are dumping items such as plastic bottles, bags, cups after a single use, by 2050 oceans will carry more plastic than fish and an estimated 99 per cent of seabirds will have ingested plastic.

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Minister De Weever says appointment of May-Ling to benefit national tourism recovery

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) Cornelius de Weever, says the appointment of May-Ling Chun as Interim Director of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (STB), will benefit the national tourism recovery of the country.

May-Ling is not a newcomer to STB, as she had a stint as director of St. Maarten Tourism Bureau from 2011-2012.

May-Ling holds a Master's Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the John F. Welch School of Business, Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT, and a Bachelor's Degree in Hotel/Restaurant Management and a Minor in Business from New York Institute of Technology, Old Westbury, New York, and a HAVO High school diploma from Peter Stuyvesant College.

“I would like to congratulate May-Ling Chun on her appointment as she is well qualified for the job.  At this stage of our country’s post-Irma development, we need to ensure the tourism and travel industry that we have the best and brightest minds at the forefront in order to move our country forward during these very challenging times.

“May-Ling Chun will be working with seasoned staff at STB in continuing to get the message out that we are open for business. To-date STB staff have been doing a wonderful job, and they are well aware what is at stake and what needs to be done.

“We have to keep our industry partners updated on destination developments ensuring more flights return as more of our accommodations reopen.

“In the end, our country will have a better tourism product.  We are on the right track and moving in the right direction.  It will not be easy as we move into the slow season.  It will be challenging, but we all have to contribute to promoting the destination as we bounce back,” Acting Minister of Tourism Affairs Cornelius de Weever said on Monday.     

May-Ling was Manager of the country’s newest accommodation - Commodore Suites, located in the heart of Simpson Bay, and prior to that, May-Ling was involved in a number of projects related to marketing consulting, sales, product development, public relations, human resources, training, product development, business development, extensive market research.  Chun was also Oyster Bay Beach Resort's Director of Operations from 1999 - 2002.

May-Ling has served as second vice president of the executive Board of St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) from 2009 - 2011 and as a board member from 1999 - 2009.

May-Ling is also a board member on the Charlotte Brookson Academy of the Performance Arts; co-founder of the St. Maarten/St. Martin Annual Regional Tradeshow (SMART) and of the annual SHTA Crystal Pineapple Awards.

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CBA Drama students travelled to Anguilla, witness CSEC Drama practical exams

SINT MAARTEN/ANGUILLA - On Friday April 13th, five students from the Charlotte Brookson Academy (CBA) of the Performance Arts accompanied by their Drama teacher, Miss Melissa Hamm travelled to Anguilla to witness the CSEC Drama practical exam by the students of the Albena Lake Hodge Comprehensive School.

The first-hand experience provided them with an insight to the preparation and delivery process of the examination. After the exam, CBA students were treated to an island tour and local cuisine.

“The first- hand experience was like entering into a new atmosphere, the residents, faculty and students were welcoming and filled with humour. I really enjoyed the students CXC play’, Angelique Helliger, 3rd form CBA student. “We learned new acting techniques and the students are great actors” Yaelle Javois, 3rd form student.

“On behalf of the Charlotte Brookson Academy of the Performance Arts, we would like to thank Drama Teacher, Ms. Trevreen Queeley of the Albena Lake Hodge Comprehensive School and her students for allowing us to opportunity to be present at their theatre arts exams” said Mrs. Claudette Forsythe- Labega.

She also expressed gratitude to school official, Ms. Ruan, Junior Interact Club of Anguilla, CBA Drama Teacher Ms. Hamm, faculty, parents and Suki Supermarket in Quartier d’ Orleans for sponsoring two students’ to travel to Anguilla.

“This opportunity will enable our students to better prepare for their Theatre Arts exams and contribute to their success “said Mrs. Claudette- Forsythe – Labega, Director of CBA.

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Hurricane Pass Application Process Starts April 16

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The application process for the annual Hurricane Passes for the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season which starts June 1 and runs through November 30, commences on Monday, April 16.

There are two types of passes, the Disaster Pass and the Hurricane Pass. No passes will be issued to business owners, only with some exemption categories as noted below.

The pass allows the bearer to access the public road to visit the place of business to assess possible damage to the property. No company passes will be accepted during curfew hours. This can only take place during certain hours that will be stipulated and announced by the Prime Minister in a curfew situation.

Potential applicants have until May 7 to present all relevant information related to the process of requesting a pass.

Disaster Passes are issued to the following crucial disaster relief organizations and are valid for three years. The disaster relief organization consists of the following: Emergency Operations Center staff, Emergency Support Services staff, Crucial governmental organizations and entities involved in disaster management such as medical institutions, general practitioners and pharmacies, Red Cross, WIENS, White & Yellow Cross, National Security Service VDSM, Sea Rescue, Shelter Management, Ministers and their drivers.

The following categories qualify for a Hurricane Pass which is valid for two-years: Government personnel without a disaster pass; Essential personnel of crucial companies or organizations: NV GEBE, Seven Seas Water, Telecom and Internet providers, Princess Juliana International Airport, Port St. Maarten, Hotels and Guesthouses, Marinas, Fuel distributors and gas stations, Commercial banks, Medium and large sized supermarkets, Restaurants (those providing food services to emergency services), Importers and Wholesale Companies for perishable goods (Only requests can be submitted for refrigeration and or generator technicians).

The crucial organizations as listed above (disaster & hurricane passes) can request personal passes for their key personnel.

The Office of Disaster Management that falls under the Ministry of General Affairs is handling the application process for the passes on behalf of the Prime Minister.

The Hurricane Pass system is a mechanism to maintain public order during emergency situations. The Prime Minister assesses the damage in conjunction with Emergency Disaster Management entities of the Government after a disaster has occurred and can impose a curfew if the extent of the damage poses a threat to the safety and security of the community.

An application form can be requested by sending an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Emails should include the following: Name of organization; Request for disaster or hurricane pass.

When submitting the application the following documents need to be attached:

-        copy business license fee paid (or receipt) for 2017/18;

-        proof of 2018 registration at the Chamber of Commerce;

-        copy valid Sint Maarten ID-card of applicant;

-        Nafl. 50,- in leges stamps per application (to be obtained at the Receiver’s Office or the Public Service Center), this is a non-refundable handling fee;

-        One (1) passport picture for new applicants.

The application form has to be completed and submitted to the offices of the Fire Department & Disaster Management, to the attention of the secretary located at Jackal Road 5 (Office hours Monday-Friday 9.00AM to 4.00PM), Cay Hill or at the Simpson Bay Public Service Center, (Monday-Friday 8.30AM to 12.00PM and 1.00PM to 3.30PM) Airport Road 6, before May 7, 2018, with all necessary documents attached.

Applicants will be informed by email or telephone when to pick up the pass at the aforementioned addresses.

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Carnival Fascination still makes port call on Saturday

PORT ST. MAARTEN – On Saturday morning, the Captain of the cruise ship Carnival Fascination took the final decision to still call at the port and to disembark passengers after assessing the situation regarding the fire at the landfill.

Port St. Maarten Management informed taxi driver’s and other stakeholders about the situation after keeping them abreast to whether the ship would still make its call after the cruise line was advised Friday evening about the Pond Island landfill fire.

“The decision taken on Friday evening when the landfill fire was raging, was taken to protect the image of the destination. We are pleased that after an early Saturday morning assessment by the Captain of the Carnival Fascination, the shipper decided that it was okay to allow his passengers and crew to spend a lovely day on the ‘Friendly Island.’

“Government and cruise stakeholders are very cognizant of the current state of affairs of the country and will continue to take decisions in the best interests of the nation, based on events that could have a negative impact to the national economy.

“We would like to wish the Carnival Fascination passengers and crew an enjoyable cruise experience while they explore our island today, Saturday,” Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Cornelius de Weever said.

On Friday, tires at the Pond Island Landfill caught fire and the Fire Department as well as the company that manages the landfill worked throughout the day and evening to contain and extinguish the fire.

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WMO retires Irma, Maria, Harvey and Nate hurricane names

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN – Four names from the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season has been permanently retired by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). They are Irma, Maria, Harvey and Nate.

The aforementioned names won’t be used again due to the devastating damage that the hurricanes caused to islands and states.

Hurricane Irma in September 2017 caused catastrophic damages to a number of islands in the North Eastern Caribbean, namely, Barbuda, Sint Maarten, Anguilla, and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.

Hurricane Maria in September 2017 devastated Dominica and Puerto Rico.

The WMO rotates six hurricane name lists every six years. The 2017 name lists will be used again in 2023 and the new names to replace the four retired names are Idalia, Margot, Harold and Nigel.

SOUALIGA NEWSDAY REPORT

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