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Remediation Works begin at Princess Juliana International Airport- SXM

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - The Princess Juliana International Airport – SXM - is on schedule with its mold remediation works inside the Terminal Building. Materials have been continuously transported into the building for the start of the works since Wednesday August 15, 2018.

According to the SXM Airport Planning, Projects and Systems Control department (PPS), the Texas-based company, BMS CAT International, was contracted to carry out the mold remediation works. The mold was caused as a result of damages related to the 2017 hurricanes. The company will employ some 100 local workers for the clean-up project. It is at present recruiting said labor.

The procedure the company will use is called the Mold Remediation and Surface Removal Decontamination. Given the scope of the work and the possible health risks, there will be some Health and Safety officials onsite to ensure that all employees engaged in the restoration project follow proper safety techniques and practices set forth by SXM Airport and BMS CAT International.

The overall Terminal Reconstruction project consists of three packages. “Package One,” is the first phase of the remediation works. During this process, BMS CAT International will clean all the mold contaminated items on the ground floor of the Terminal Building. It will also clean filters, light fixtures and any item that may have remained in the building after the internal demolition.

“Package One,” of the project will also include the removal of the remaining wall partitions. All salvageable furnishing will be cleaned and sanitized for further use when operations are restored. The scope of the works will also include the installation of HEPA filtered air filtration units and portable humidifiers to dry any remaining wet building materials.

The Managing Board recently announced that the Departure and Arrival Operations will be temporarily transferred to the ground floor of the terminal building in the upcoming months. The airport operations will be carried out from the Baggage Claim up to the B-Gates areas in the Terminal Building. 

Management expects that the remediation process will be completed in approximately six weeks or less.

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MPC Students get extensive tour of Police Headquarters

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Students from the Milton Peters College (MPC) in the first, second, third school year visited Police Headquarters in Philipsburg on Wednesday 15th, Thursday 16th and Friday 17th and were given extensive guided tours of the Police Headquarters by members of the Police Force, according to a press release from the police on Sunday.

“These tours were mainly to give the students a better understanding of what the day to day operations are of the police force is and also how the organization is structured.

“During these tours many questions were asked by the students who were definitely very enthusiastic. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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The PWR Agency Announces its #BeReady Campaign

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) – Despite the severity of the damages experienced by St. Maarten due to Hurricane Irma, the island has displayed admirable resilience with more than 500 new businesses registered since the beginning of 2018, according to the Chamber of Commerce.

This is a key driver in the recovery process of St. Maarten’s economy. St Maarten’s damages from last year’s hurricane season is estimated at USD $2.3 billion according to local officials. 

Thus, the importance of being prepared during hurricane season 2018 can never be understated. Residents and entrepreneurs are reminded to be vigilant during this year’s possible average to above average hurricane season according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization.

As St. Maarten’s first business incubator, Produce Wealth Revolution Agency (aka “The PWR Agency”) is focused on strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem of entrepreneurs and small medium enterprises during this year’s season. Therefore, the PWR Agency is launching its #BeReady Campaign.  

This campaign is designed to bring awareness and inform the business community of affordable ways to protect their valuable information, to bounce back speedily in the event of any disaster, and to remain resilient.

With 89% of St. Maarten’s economy being small medium enterprises (SME’s), it is imperative for St. Maarten’s economic stability and social development that this community have the necessary information and tools to lessen the negative impact of hurricanes this season. 

One of the key ways to be ready, that the PWR Agency encourages, is to ensure that critical documents are safeguarded both physically and digitally. Global statistics indicate that the average cost to replace documents is between $141 and $217 per document. This can be avoided by ensuring that documents are saved in a ‘cloud’ format for example.   

During the #beready campaign, the PWR Agency will utilize both traditional and digital media to regular provide strategies and practical tips that can support the business community with its preparedness and to reduce their risks.

To learn more about The PWR Agency or join the #beready campaign, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or connect with The PWR Agency at www.facebook.com/experiencepwr

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Police would like owners to collect their confiscated scooters and motorcycles

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Police Department (KPSM) is hereby informing the general public about following.

“In connection with the large number of unclaimed scooters and motorcycles which were confiscated by police for traffic violations or for other investigations, the following dates and time have been set for the owners of the vehicles to come forward and claim their scooter or motorcycle.

“These dates are Wednesday August 22nd and Thursday August 23rd, 2018. The times are 11.00 a.m. to 02.00 p.m. Only those persons with valid documents to prove ownership should come and claim their scooter or motorcycle.

“Persons without any valid documents claiming any scooter or motorcycle will not be eligible to receive any of these vehicles.

“To claim any of these scooters or motorcycles on other dates that are mentioned will not be possible. The scooters of motorcycles that are not claimed would then be disposed of in an appropriate manner.”

Please visit the Sint Maarten Police Force Facebook page to view the pictures of the scooters and motorcycles in question.

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Residents of Two Communities Starting to Experience Adverse Health Effects from Sargassum Seaweed

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The St. Maarten Nature Foundation is warning that residents of coastal communities are starting to experience adverse health effects due to gasses released by decomposing Sargassum seaweed.

In particular residents of Guana Bay and Point Blanche have requested the Nature Foundation to look into the matter: “We have been coordinating our monitoring efforts with local stakeholders and our partners in the region on how best to approach the issue.

“We know a lot has been said of using the Sargassum as fertilizer but at this point there is no feasible option without Government support to tackle the issue. We need to find a way to coordinate the removal of the seaweed with heavy loaders which causes serious risks to nesting sea turtles and hatchlings while the grass itself can be a hazard to the animals,”

“We are advising as much as we can residents in especially Guana Bay and Point Blanche to keep windows and doors closed as much as possible. But unfortunately based on weather predictions and aerial surveys there is a significant amount of the seaweed still headed in our general vicinity,” commented Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets. 

When the Sargassum lands and starts to decompose hydrogen sulfide gas is released. The gas is colorless, toxic and highly flammable gas and spreads an unpleasant odor much like the smell of rotten eggs.

“Inhaling the gas in small doses can trigger irritation of the eyes and the respiratory system, especially among people who are sensitive to it. The groups at risk are people with respiratory problems, asthma patients, elderly people, babies and pregnant women. Certain animals, especially dogs, are also sensitive to the inhalation of hydrogen sulphide,” continued Bervoets.

Sargassum first plagued the Caribbean and St. Maarten in 2011 and 2012, with the Foundation having to warn swimmers to avoid swimming in Guana Bay in August and September due to the large amount of Sargassum Weed and many beach front residences and hotels having to continuously clean washed up Sargassum. 

The Nature Foundation will continue to monitor the situation and will issue updates as information becomes available.

Sargasso 2 Guana Bay

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Le Grand Solutions Presents: 8 Acres of Diamond

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - After the passing of hurricane Irma, we lost more than 70% of our accommodation on the island. However, there was still a demand for this destination.

This demand now creates new opportunity. What alternatives can we supply to keep our tourism product alive and at the same time creating a revenue for many that may have lost their jobs after this natural disaster.

When thinking of a short-term home rental, most people may envision a vacation home near a tourist attraction. But, the newest ‘sharing economy’ trend is multifamily housing owners listing their units on short-term rental sites. Why aren’t all owners using this opportunity to generate revenue from vacant units?

Or seniors, who may have additional rooms available because their kids have moved out? Even unemployed persons looking for a new career opportunity can used this new trend to become, property managers, or launch support companies who provide key services like cleaning, photography and marketing.   

On August 20th & 21st, Le Grand Solutions (LGS) launches, “Acres of Diamonds”, a monthly conference series dedicated to presenting holistic approaches to creating wealth from unearth treasures in our people, our homes, our communities and our surroundings.

Our first excavation begins within our homes, and its value when utilized in a business concept called, “Home Sharing.” Home Sharing is exactly what the name suggests, turning your available property, which can be from; a couch, tent, apartment, or tree house to a palace, according to Airbnb, into a short-term rental.

Once someone can sleep with a roof over their heads, you’re in business. Then we will explore the treasures in our people, our communities and our surroundings to highlight their significance in this industry and how you can capitalize on them.

LGS Acres of Diamonds: Home Sharing Edition will focus on the key elements for success in this industry including, startup requirements, government regulations, best practices, up selling, trends, targeted marketing and all other relevant information.

Whether you are a property owner or not, working full time, self-employed or unemployed, Home Sharing can be a viable solution for you to create an additional source of income, with little to no prior experience.

The investment of $150 dollars per person will grant you access to this 2 days conference and will leave you with ideas and options to diversify your streams of income.

The conference will take place at the Simpson Bay Marina Resorts, our social media pages can certainly guide you through any additional information. Our team is also available to make tickets drop offs. For further information feel free to call us on +1721 586 5855 and visit our Social Media Pages:

https://www.facebook.com/8AcresOfDiamonds/

https://www.instagram.com/lgsacresofdiamonds/

This initiative would not have been possible without the assistance of our sponsors, whom have joined Le Grand Solution’s long-term vision to explore feasible industries for our people to get involved in and providing tools that can help strengthen our economy.

We would like to thank the COSME program for being the main sponsor of this launch and for their continued support in the development of SMEs in St. Maarten.

ACRES OF DIAMONDS

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Chinese funds to go for Reintegration Program Shelter

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Chinese Consul-General, Mr. Zhang Weixin on behalf of the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Willemstad, donated 105,000 USD to the Government of Sint Maarten which was earmarked for temporary housing.

As we are now in a different phase of recovery, this money was utilized with the Consulate-General’s approval for start-up and monthly costs associated with the Hurricane Irma Reintegration Program Shelter, which is located in Sucker Garden.

To this Minister Lee, expressed “I would like to thank Consul-General Weixin for supporting the reallocation of their donation to assist some of the neediest in our community.

Their contribution helps our people to live in a safe, decent, nurturing and supportive environment, where they can recover and restructure their lives and to reintegrate back into our community.”

The Hurricane Irma Reintegration Program Shelter (HIRPS) aims to help homeless people reintegrate themselves back into society after being displaced as a result of the devastation suffered by Hurricane Irma in 2017.

The Consul-General with his staff toured the facility with the head of Department of Foreign Relations, Mrs. Khalilah Peters and the Manager of the facility, the Dr. J Foundation during a visit to the island, after which he expressed his “satisfaction with the project and wished the island a smooth reconstruction and a better future.”

On March 30, 2018, a total of forty-three (43) persons were transferred to Hurricane Irma Re-Integrated Program Shelter (HIRPS) in Sucker Garden. Since then Twenty (20) persons have rotated out of the shelter and several others have been admitted.

Several of the persons that have rotated out have found permanent lodging or their roofs have been repaired, either through insurances, various repair programs or own savings.

As the various roof repair programs continue several persons whose roofs are being repaired are expected to rotate into the HIRPS for temporary housing.

There are three (3) Social Workers (SW) active at the shelter, whose tasks include; counseling, assisting with resumes and job coaching, assisting with find apartments for rent, assisting the seniors in addition to several other tasks. 

The shelter is monitored by security 24 hours a day to enforce the rules and regulations of the shelter and ensure the safety of the residents and premises at all times.

In order to assess eligibility for admittance to the HIRPS, please contact Dr. Judith Arndell at 721-520-4747 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or the Social Workers at the Department of Social Services at the Government Building 721-542-5694.

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Remembering Hurricane Irma: Reflection on September 6

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports (ECYS) Wycliffe Smith, has called upon the nation to observe two minutes of reflection at 9.06am on September 6 which marks one-year to the day of the passing of Hurricane Irma, one of the most destructive hurricanes in the Atlantic basin.

Minister Smith would like the population to reflect on where they had been prior to Irma and to give thanks to God for life and strength.

The explanation given for 9.06am; Minister Smith said the nine represents the ninth month in the calendar, and six represents the sixth day of the month which is when Irma struck the country.

SOUALIGA NEWSDAY BRIEF

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Tourism Minister tours damaged properties with SMSPA President

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Tourism Minister Stuart Johnson recently met with Nzinga Lake President of the St. Maarten Small Properties Association SMSPA for an update on the challenges and progress being made with small hotels.

Johnson toured three small hotels, LAMA Guest house, Joshua Rose Guest House and Kary's Guest House, as part of his commitment to working with the hotels on St. Maarten as they repair their properties post Irma. He spoke to the hotel operators who explained some of the challenges they face with repairs.

The hotel industry on St. Maarten suffered a massive blow when the most powerful hurricane on record, hurricane Irma, blew in for a short spell, destroying many properties in her path.

Since then several of the larger resorts have already started repairs, and some have reopened their doors to guests, despite not being fully operational.  But very worrisome is the challenges faced by small properties, some of whom still await insurance settlements, so they can repair their businesses, many of which have been in families for generations.

Minister Johnson quickly reached out to some of the small hotel operators who have been struggling and promised to get support from the government to assist in their recovery.

Considering that many of the hotels are ten or 14 rooms, their limited financial resources will make it difficult for a full recovery on time, which has a long-term negative impact on their ability to provide service.

The Minister stated that the small hotels were significant not just for the economy but because of the role they play in expanding and solidifying the regional hub function of Princess Juliana International Airport.

To support these smaller properties, the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication TEATT will be working closely with the SMSPA to raise the profile of the small hotels in recognition of the significant role they play in attracting regional visitors to the destination.

During the annual carnival celebration or just for shopping or an extended weekend of partying, the smaller hotels have consistently been the mainstay for the visitors from the neighbouring islands.

Johnson hopes to be able through the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau STB to be able to tailor special promotional programs to promote the distinct individual features of the small hotels on the island as a means of helping them develop their clientele and generate year-round heads in beds.

While working with hotels on their rebuilding, Johnson said that a critical focus is ensuring that we are already putting the necessary action plans in place for destination marketing.

This should also consider our real identity and what we offer which must include the smaller properties. The ultimate goal is maximizing visitor arrivals once the hotels are reopened.

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APS to present investment strategy towards reconstruction of economy

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Algemeen Pensioenfonds Sint Maarten (APS), the General Pension Fund of Sint Maarten has been invited to Parliament to present on Tuesday August 14th.

APS’ current local loans, investments and upcoming projects have a value of 369 million guilders. In the presentation to Parliament, APS will highlight the impact of Irma on the Fund, the fast tracking of projects and the “harsh realities” of the complexities of the Sint Maarten capital market and how APS addresses these with its strategic investment policy and project management procedures.

Managing Director of APS, Nadya Croes-van Putten will be presenting APS’ financial position, investment policy, strategy, and overview of the project portfolio of the Pension Fund.

APS makes local and international investments as a means to secure its funds for current and future pension payments to its 4400+ participants. Last month, Minister of Finance Perry Geerlings was given an introduction presentation by APS. The presentation in Parliament on Tuesday will provide Parliament with further insight into the Pension Fund and the various project management phases that an investment undergoes.

“It is important for our Government to be informed on the role of APS and the impact the Pension Fund can make towards the development of the country within the coming years. We aim to secure the pensions of our participants, and in doing so, contribute to an improved and sustainable economic status for Sint Maarten.

“The type of investments we are making will positively affect the current and future generations of this country. The returns will remain in Sint Maarten, unlike many overseas investments; Sint Maarten can be less dependent on foreign debt. We are clear in our strategy and vision, and it is important for our Government to be fully informed and engaged.” - Nadya Croes-van Putten, Managing director of APS

APS internal figures show as per June 2018, the total APS pension asset of 692 million guilders consists of 369 million guilders in the local investment portfolio and 248 million guilders in the international portfolio. In the presentation to Parliament APS will further highlight the growth and the development of the local investments, including new projects. Hurricane Irma had a minimal impact on the Fund and its investments.

According to APS’ upcoming presentation, two of the “harsh realities” of Sint Maarten’s capital market are; 1. There is enough money to invest, but not enough projects to invest in, 2. When you do find a project to invest in, it is either too big or too risky for one investor alone.

These “realities” have resulted in the country being reliant on foreign investors, who are in the lead when it comes to the country’s economy. “Unfortunately, a bulk of the returns do not remain in the country, revenues flowing back out of the country.”

APS has embarked on several large local real-estate development projects, own projects and receive financing requests for projects. APS takes pride in the assessment and due diligence procedures that are meticulously carried out in order to ensure that risks are managed effectively, without losing sight of the main investment goals of the Pension Fund.

“Our main goal is to achieve a good return on investments with an acceptable amount of risk. Not every “good” project fits the risk appetite of a pension fund.” Post-Irma several projects have been fast-tracked, however, the strict the project management procedures remain.

APS has to ensure that; adequate value in the function and the cost is guaranteed – contractors are asked to apply value engineering to their proposals to reduce costs and time, conditions exist for an efficient and timely building process, the project is financially solid to avoid unnecessary cost-overruns, and that the risks are properly identified and mitigated. “We take the necessary time to ensure that sound investments are made.”

Ongoing real-estate development projects include the Mary’s Fancy Plantation monument, this project was delayed due to the passing of hurricane Irma. “This project is a national heritage site and once completed, will include a restaurant and luxury boutique hotel. The next phase is the preparation of the demolition plan while preserving the monument.

The next real-estate project is the Oryx Hills residences in Cay Hill. Oryx Hill consists of 62 residential units, creating affordable housing options, for which 300 persons have expressed interest. The groundbreaking event for the construction will take place on Tuesday, August 14th in the afternoon at 4pm. Construction is expected to be completed by summer 2019.

More investment projects of APS include private investments totaling 40 million guilders. APS also has a financing commitment of 32 million guilders with the SMMC in the New Hospital. Included in its investment portfolio of 2018, APS has established the first Sint Maarten Investment Bank, which will be launched January 1st, 2019. For 2019, APS aims to commence with two new large projects of its own; 1. APS office building, 2. A public parking facility.

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