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UPDATE - WEATHER WATCH: Hurricane Center Requests Bermuda to monitor Approaching Weather System that Could Become First named storm of the season

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN – The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in an update on Sunday night stated that a low-pressure system is expected to form several hundred miles southwest of Bermuda by Monday and could become a subtropical or tropical cyclone late Monday or Tuesday.

Interests in Bermuda have been requested to monitor the progress of this system.

An Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to investigate the disturbance Monday afternoon, if necessary.

If a low-pressure system develops and continues to develop into a subtropical or tropical cyclone would be named Andrea.

ARCHIVE, SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN – The first named storm of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season could be forming north of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The Bahamas. This system on Sunday has a 40 per cent chance of becoming the first named storm – Andrea – of the season.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) out of Miami, Florida said on Sunday, that an area of disturbed weather has a medium (high, medium, low) chance of developing into a “…short-lived subtropical or tropical cyclone late Monday or Tuesday.”

An area of low pressure is expected to develop by Monday several hundred miles southwest of Bermuda.

The NHC says: “Environmental conditions are expected to become unfavorable for further development by Wednesday. An Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to investigate the disturbance Monday afternoon, if necessary. Interests in Bermuda should monitor the progress of this system.”

A Special Tropical Weather Outlook will be issued on Sunday evening.

SOUALIGA NEWSDAY 2019 ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON WEATHER WATCH

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Nature Foundation Organizes Environmental Pub Quiz Event for May 23

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - Nature Foundation St. Maarten is organizing an environmental event to educate residents and visitors about our environmental issues and the harmful impacts of single-use plastics while incorporating a competition element.

An environmental pub quiz event will be held at Dinghy Dock Bar in Simpson Bay on the 23rd of May starting at 7 pm. St. Maarten is experiencing many environmental issues, which our residents can take a part in the solution, such as solid waste pollution, plastic pollution, hazardous water issues, dying coral reefs, waste collection and many more. Nature Foundation St. Maarten would also like to improve the community’s knowledge of the hazardous effects of single-use plastics on our environment and on ourselves.

The main goal of the event is to educate the local community of St. Maarten in regard to the negative impact of single-use plastics on our environment and other harmful environmental issues on the island.  Nature Foundation would like to invite residents, children, business owners, young professionals and also visitors to take part in this event and have a wonderful time with food and drinks.

Many prizes can be won during this pub quiz event, such as a souliga sky explorer tour or a trip to Saba. Prizes are sponsored by Aquamania, The Scuba Shop, Dive Safaris, Rainforest Adventure, Ocean Explorers, Vision Center, Sea Trek and more. To participate, a $10 donation will be asked, and this will allow you to participate in the pub Quiz and test your knowledge about our environment.

“Teams of 5 or 6 members will be joined together in order to discuss the answers as a group. There will be three rounds of questions, each round consists of ten questions. We are aiming to create a relaxing, fun and social atmosphere for the local community. Furthermore, refreshments and drinks will be sold at the bar. A raffle will be organized as well and over 30 prizes will be given out to the raffle ticket winners and the winning team of the pub quiz competition” explained Latisha Richardson and Chantal Mondelice Nature Foundation interns and organizers of the event.

Initially, this environmental pub quiz event was organized to represent the Reduce and Reuse Project of Nature Foundation St. Maarten. The Reduce and Reuse project is developed in order to reduce single-use plastics on Sint Maarten, as these types of plastics have hazardous impacts on our marine life and the environment. Therefore, educating the local community based on these harmful consequences is a necessity. The questions for the pub quiz event are all based on plastic pollution and other environmental-based topics in St. Maarten and neighbouring islands.

On behalf of the Nature Foundation’s team, your participation and support will be very much appreciated, and they are looking forward to seeing you at this event. Nature Foundation St. Maarten would like to thank the generous sponsors for this event!

Environmental pub quiz update

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Dr. Randall Friday Presents at Rotary Sunset

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In recognition of maternal & child health care month, observed by Rotary clubs worldwide, the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset conducted several projects geared at advocating the importance maternal and child health care.

Throughout the month, the club presented 100 maternity gift baskets to the St. Maarten Medical Center as well as the Louis Constant Fleming Medical Center of St. Martin. At its general meeting held April 15th, Rotary Sunset welcomed invited guest speaker, Dr. Randall Friday, board certified OBGYN (Obstetrician/Gynecologist) and owner of Women’s Health Services.

Dr. Randall Friday received his undergraduate and M.D. degree from Howard University and is a board certified OBGYN (Obstetrician/Gynecologist) having completed his residency at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. He was also the youngest specialist to operate in St. Maarten when he opened his clinic in 2008.

Dr. Friday and members of the club engaged in open discussions concerning the importance of proper health care in pregnant women, the increased instance of birth abnormalities and its correlation to prenatal health care as well as the rising concern of infertility in women and men on the island and treatment options to combat such.

One interesting topic sparked the interest of the audience when Dr. Friday outlined the concern of a declining trend in deliveries on both sides of the island and some of the underlying reasons.

Dr. Friday is currently the only gynecologist to offer 3D and 4D ultrasounds at his clinic, and was also the first to perform gynecological laparoscopic surgeries on the island. Dr. Friday has been assisting and caring for women’s health for several years and the club saw it befitting to honor him as a guest speaker. The Club would like to extend its heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Randall Friday for an informative and engaging presentation.

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Mental Health Foundation: Thank you to all our nursing staff

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - In honor of Nurses week and Nurses Day, which was on May 12, Interim Director Ms. Eileen Healy took some time out to personally thank all nurses at the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), according to a foundation press statement.

“The teams tallying of 15 nurses all received a small gesture in the form of a gift card from and a personal thank you. “Nursing is a powerful representation of the high standards the Mental Health Foundation stands for – our clients look up to our nurses and holds them to the highest possible standards.

“It is no secret that the foundation’s reputation will be judged by its nurse – in admissions, the clinic, in crisis situations and in people’s homes. We’re very proud of our nurses and today, on International Nurses’ Day, we want to thank them,” stated Ms. Healy.

M.H.F. aims to improve the quality of individuals and families by compassionately serving mental health, addiction, education and community support needs on St. Maarten and surrounding islands.

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Education Op-Ed Chief of Mission Margaret D. Hawthorne

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO – The U.S. Consulate on Curacao issued the following oped by the Chief of Mission Magaret D. Hawthrone.  “I want to congratulate all students in the Dutch Caribbean who have received offers of admission from one of the over 4,700 accredited institutions of higher learning in the United States.

“Graduates of U.S. universities have gone on to become leaders and innovators in many fields around the world, and you should be proud of the invitation to join this special and select group of young people whose lives will be changed forever by the dynamism, openness, and quality of campuses across the United States.

“Offers of admission are the product of much careful thought and hard work, both by the students who apply and by American colleges and universities that conduct a rigorous review of these applications. We recognize the energy and creativity you poured into essays about your dreams and ideas, the hard work it took to prepare for English language and other examinations, and the commitments you fulfilled to community service and extra-curricular interests.

“Over one million international students are now in U.S. higher education institutions, maintaining the United States’ long-standing position as the world’s top host nation for international students. This is a testament to the unmatched quality of American higher education in the eyes of international students and their families.

“International students strengthen ties between the United States and countries around the world, developing the relationships between people and communities that are necessary to solve global challenges. We value inclusion, and actively support students from diverse backgrounds on our campuses.

“Colleges and universities across the United States value international students for the unique and diverse perspectives you provide both in and out of the classroom. American universities and communities benefit from the knowledge and talents of international students, which helps prepare all of us for shared, successful futures in an interconnected world.

“U.S. colleges and universities take pride in providing safe, welcoming environments for all their students, and I want to stress how welcome you are in the United States. Many U.S. universities have sent messages of welcome to students around the world through the #YouAreWelcomeHere Campaign (https://www.youarewelcomehereusa.org).

“I join them in welcoming you to the United States, where our colleges and universities offer valuable educational opportunities to help you meet your life and career goals. Consular officials at the United State Consulate General Curacao and at American embassies and consulates around the world continue to work diligently to process student visa requests, and information about the visa process is available at https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en.html or at https://cw.usconsulate.gov.

“EducationUSA advisers worldwide stand ready to answer questions about studying in the United States. You can find an advising center at https://educationusa.state.gov/find-advisingcenter. For those still considering study in the United States, EducationUSA advisers can provide valuable resources to help inform your decision.

“With over 4,700 accredited institutions in all 50 U.S. states, there’s an American college or university that’s right for everyone. There are study options at many price points, including community colleges and “2 plus 2” models that combine study at a community college and a four-year institution to earn a bachelor’s degree.

“American colleges and universities welcome you, as do the American people and communities throughout our country. As the U.S. Consul General to the Dutch Caribbean, I personally congratulate and encourage those of you who have received offers of admission to accept this life-changing opportunity and join your peers in experiencing the unique value of an American higher education.”

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NIA Organizes Gymnastics Spring Invitational Showcasing Gymnasts Incredible Talent

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Saturday May 11th the National Institute of Arts-NIA hosted their Gymnastics Spring Invitational. In this friendly meet, the gymnasts from NIA competed with the gymnasts of Glub de Gym from the French side, NIA said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Before the competition the gymnasts received a generous donation from the Rotary Club in the form of water bottles. The gymnasts were also honored by a visit from the Honorable Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Wycliffe Smith and the Head of Sports Department, Jonelle Richardson. The Minister opened the competition wishing all competitors the best of luck.

“All gymnasts showed incredible talent. Boys and girls competed this day in various age categories and on different events. NIA was able to conquer a total of 6 medals. Alanna Flood, Jill-Ann Kartijoatmo and Amisha Lake showed a solid overall performance on all events and took home the gold in their respective categories. Venicia Tobias and Aaron Peters were able to attain a silver medal in their categories, while Jordan Fredericks recovered bronze!

“It was an exciting afternoon”, said NIA’s Director Arlene Halley Newhouse, “filled with a great display of athleticism and sportsmanship”. NIA would like to thank the Honorable Minister Wycliffe Smith, Head of Sports Department Jonelle Richardson, Parents and Friends from NIA and Club de Gym for coming out and supporting the gymnasts. NIA would also like to thank the Rotary Club for their donation and the volunteer team of St. Dominic High School and NIA support team for making this Gymnastics Spring Invitational a success!”

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NA MP Irion Motion to encourage home ownership Carried 9-4

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - During Wednesday’s Parliamentary meeting with the Minister of Finance Perry Geerlings, National Alliance (NA) Member of Parliament (MP) Ardwell Irion tabled a motion aimed at making it easier for citizens to purchase their own homes.

During the deliberation, Member of Parliament Irion highlighted the high and rising cost that is associated with purchasing a home, which makes it extremely difficult or even unattainable for many. Irion also mentioned in the motion that in order to own a home, the buyer is liable for a minimum of 8% of the purchase price in order to transfer the home, this is aside from mortgage interest, life and comprehensive home insurance. This is in MP Irion’s opinion obviously too high for first-time homebuyers.

Since this is the case, MP Irion saw it fit to seek a solution through the legislative branch, which would combat this issue.

Amongst other things, the motion urges the Minister of Finance to include in the amendment that only residents of Country St. Maarten and personal home purchases qualify for the exemption on transfer tax for first time homeowners. Registered businesses or foundations as such as N.V’s, B.V’s or Foundations of the sorts, are not included.

Noticeably emphasized in the motion, is the fact that Government puts an emphasis on affordable housing in the 2018-2022 governing program and that every political party has raised this issue of rising cost for purchasing homes in their Manifestos during the last Parliamentary election. Since it was a shared interest and key area for improvement recognized by all parties and the current government, MP Irion hoped that all Members of Parliament present, would support this much needed amendment that would ultimately assist in the people of St. Maarten being able to achieve maximum growth.

However, five Members of Parliament of the coalition did not support the motion. Nevertheless, MP Irion is grateful that the other members of the coalition shared his vision and supported the motion which was successfully passed. Irion looks forward to the Members of Parliament’s continued support across political lines in the future, in the benefit of the people of St. Maarten.

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Rotary Sunset Donates Maternity Gift Baskets to LCF Hospital

SAINT MARTIN (CONCORDIA, MARIGOT) — In recognition of Maternal & Child Health month, the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset donated 50 maternity gift baskets Louis Constant Fleming Medical Center for new mothers and babies. Each basket contained essentials such as pampers, wipes, pacifiers, bibs, blankets, breast pads, sanitary napkins, baby oils and cream.

Maternal and child health month is recognized by Rotary clubs worldwide during the month of April. Rotary makes high quality health care available to vulnerable mothers and children throughout the world so they can live longer and grow stronger. Rotary clubs around the world help to expand access to quality care so mothers and children everywhere can have the same opportunities for a healthy future. An estimated 5.9 million children under the age of five die each year because of malnutrition, inadequate health care and poor sanitation, all of which can be prevented – rotary.org

Members of the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset gathered at the Louis Constant Fleming Medical Center to present the baskets to representatives of the Maternity Active Association. Twenty new mothers and their babies who were recently discharged from the hospital were also present to receive the maternity baskets. “We are extremely thankful to the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset for this generous donation and for initiating this project at the hospital. It is indeed challenging at times for new mothers to provide the basic needs for their children because often times these items are a bit costly. I am sure the new mothers will greatly appreciate this donation and we are happy to see the good things you are doing in the community.”-- Marie-Line Darasse, Activities Coordinator of Maternity Active Association

“As a service organization, we understand that some individuals in our community face many challenges when welcoming a new born baby, especially when it comes to providing the basic needs of the child. Our goal is to ensure that mothers are able to provide the basic necessities for their new born babies and we are extremely grateful to be able to provide some assistance to mothers and their new born babies, which is one of Rotary’s key areas of focus.” – President Jaida Nisbett

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset would like to extend its heartfelt gratitude to the Management and Staff of the Louis Constant Fleming Medical Center and members of the Maternity Active Association for the opportunity to partner on this initiative and for their cooperation and assistance in the execution of the project. The club would also like to thank its Rotary Foundation Chair, Michelette Boasman, for arranging a special discount with Martijn Trading who provided the products and the members of the club who assembled the 50 maternity baskets.

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COCI Executive Director encourages business community to use “Get COCI Services” at PSC

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Executive Director of the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) Anastacio Baker, is calling on the business community to make use of ‘Get COCI Services’ which are available at the Simpson Bay Public Service Center (PSC) opposite the fish market.

Baker stated: “Aligning with the needs of the business community by expanding our presence, was a necessary undertaking for the Chamber.”

The Chamber also encourages members to maximize the use of the COCI services at the Simpson Bay Public Center location especially in view of the challenges with parking and traffic congestion in route to their main offices in Philipsburg.

The COCI pick up/drop off services being offered at the PSC Simpson Bay are limited to business name verification, first registrations, changes to registrations, declarations, excerpts, and file copies.

For more information with regard to these services (processing times and procedures), persons can contact the Chamber of Commerce & Industry at Tel.: +1(721)542-3595, call Toll free: +1(844)SXM-C0CI or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or the Public Service Center (Simpson Bay) at 721-545-3380.

The commencement of these services at the PSC is a result of a “Customer Satisfaction Survey” conducted by the department back in 2014. The data that was extrapolated from mentioned survey indicated a great demand for Chamber of Commerce services especially for the business communities in the areas of Cole Bay, Simpson Bay, Maho, Cupecoy, and Beacon Hill.

In 2015 the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry signed a service level agreement with the Minister of General Affairs to enable the Public Service Center Department (PSC) to offer pickup and drop off services for businesses, entrepreneurs, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the like requiring Chamber-related services.

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300+ Attend the Sint Maarten World Bank Trust Fund Webinar about Reconstruction Tender Requirements

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Over 300 persons from the business community on Sint Maarten, Curacao, Aruba, and Bonaire attended an interactive webinar on Thursday, May 9. The webinar was the first of a series of information sessions geared towards involving the business community (within the Dutch Kingdom) more closely to activities and contracts connected to the Trust Fund.

The Sint Maarten Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience Trust Fund is financed by the government of the Netherlands for up to 470 million euros (US$553.4 million) and managed by the World Bank. The Sint Maarten government implements the activities financed by the Trust Fund in partnership with the World Bank.

During the first two-hour session, the Sint Maarten National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB), the World Bank and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) provided information about Tenders and Procurement Rules of the World Bank in relation to the Trust Fund. The webinar was hosted by the Chamber(s) of Commerce & Industry (COCI) in close cooperation with the Dutch Representation Offices of the four participating islands.

Benjamin Ortega, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (COCI) in Sint Maarten expressed the importance of working together: “Aligning with the right network of companies - whether local, regional or even internationally will help build back a better and stronger St. Maarten.”

Seen at the information session were representatives of construction companies, engineer bureau’s, building material suppliers, tour companies, environmental and management consultants and others interested in playing a part in the reconstruction of Sint Maarten.

Sonja Velthuizen, Director of the Chamber of Commerce in Aruba reported that the webinar was a success: “There was a lot of interest of the private sector in the tenders of the World Bank.” The webinar was also well received in Curacao: “The webinar exceeded our expectations in terms of attendance, we even had to move to a different, larger location to be able to facilitate all interested parties.” according to the Director of the Chamber of Commerce in Curacao.

The presentations held by the World Bank and RVO focused on ‘working with the World Bank’ including the general tender process and procurement rules. The NRPB focused on specific situations regarding the reconstruction of Sint Maarten; the current and short-term projects that are being carried out connected to the Trust Fund, via the World Bank.

"The private sector is a key partner in building resilience on Sint Maarten. The attendance and level of interest at all locations was impressive. This seminar was a promising step in engaging private businesses and other partners to deliver recovery projects on the ground." says Doekle Wielinga, Senior Liaison Officer for the World Bank in Sint Maarten

The webinar was concluded with a Q&A. There were many questions posed from the participants and those which could not be answered within the webinar session will be answered in writing and addressed at the upcoming ‘live’ sessions. COCI St. Maarten also gave attendees the option to send any additional questions to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Claret Connor, NRPB Director encourages stakeholders to join in on upcoming sessions connected to the Trust Fund: “I feel very content with the participation, quality of information presented by the World Bank and perspective given by RVO. I look forward to the individual island meetings where we can delve into specific points and further clarify on questions posed by the various audiences. This is the first of many of these types of outreaches that can benefit stakeholders, including the business community, NGOs, community organizations and others.”  .

The ‘live’ sessions, exact dates to be announced, will be held during the first week of June. For more information on the Trust Fund, current tenders and the NRPB: www.sintmaartengov.org/government/AZ/NRPB/Pages/default.aspx or www.nrpbsxm.org

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