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Nature Foundation Requests Urgent Action on the Management of Nation’s Beaches after Illegally Constructed Toilets Found on Mullet Bay Beach

SINT MAARTEN (MULLET BAY) - The Sint Maarten Nature Foundation has expressed significant concern regarding the way beaches and beach access have been managed recently. Reason for the latest call for decision makers to take the management of the Nation’s Beaches seriously was the discovery of an illegally built toilet on Mullet Bay Beach.

“We were beyond surprised when we saw that someone built a toilet on the beach at Mullet Bay. The toilet included a wooden structure, an actual toilet and a plumbing system that channels excrement into foliage right on the beach. We are very surprised that the necessary departments have not responded to this.

“Especially considering that a complaint has been made by both beachgoers and operators of the beach bar on Mullet Bay. We have sent the information to the VROMI Inspection department and hope that the structure can be removed immediately,” commented Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets.

The Foundation has previously also had to respond several times to issues affecting beaches on the island ranging from illegal beach construction, heavy equipment and other vehicles driving and parking on the beaches, structures such as fences being built, significant amount of trash being left on beaches, and beach access being restricted.

"Over the past few months we have constantly been faced with having to respond to issues occurring on the beaches. We would like to remind both the public and decision makers that beaches are our most important natural resource and all must be done to protect and sustainably develop this resource. Unsustainable activities such as beach construction, driving on beaches and littering on beaches not only has significant environmental effects but also affects the economy and the image of Sint Maarten as we are trying to rebuild, " continued Bervoets.

Bervoets continued by stating that the protection, conservation and proper management of beaches should be established in law, "The Nature Foundation would like to call on Parliament to come with concrete legislation on how beaches should be managed and protected in terms of their ecological and economic importance. There is, or was, a Beach Policy in place but for all intents and purposes this policy is non-functioning or not being taken into consideration. Poor trash pick-up, parking and driving on beaches, and beach construction are fundamental issues hampering the sustainable use of one of our greatest natural assets and is hampering our recovery post hurricane Irma," concluded Bervoets.

The Nature Foundation is calling for a structured management plan of the country's beaches, protecting and managing the resource sustainable to increase and support the recovery of Sint Maarten.

 MB1 TOILET FPG

 MB4 PIPING

 

 

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Universities must be more strict about who they let in: report

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Universities are too much alike in the Netherlands and too many students fail at the first hurdle, independent government science and technology advisory body AWTI has said in a report on how to make higher education future proof.

The report, which is to be handed over to education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven on Wedsneday, contains a number of recommendations and calls for stricter admission criteria for students.

‘It is important that young people choose a course that is suited to them but that is not always the case,’ chair of the research committee Uri Rosenthal said. Drop-out rates are high.

‘A quarter and sometimes up to a third of the students is taking up studies that are not for them, Rosenthal said. There is also a mismatch between the courses on offer and the labour market which has resulted in a lack of people trained in science and technology, the committee found.

Student organisations said in a reaction that a stricter selection of bachelor students will make higher education less accessible and that selection tests are ‘random and not based on science’.

Small university departments and studies to which a fixed number of students are are already selecting students and since 2014 this has been the case for master students as well.

Financing

ATWI member Sjoukje Heimovaa said there is too little to distinguish Dutch universities from each other due to the way they are financed. ‘They are rewarded if their student numbers grow and if they chase as many financial sources for research as possible.

This has resulted in institutions that are becoming more and more alike. They also don’t work together enough,’ Heimovaa said. That lack of scientific focus is a threat to Dutch research, the report said.

Universities are not concentrating enough on developing their own particular fields of expertise which means top scientific talents do not stay here but go abroad to continue their studies at specialised universities.

Universities are also failing to take up the scientific challenges put to them by developments in society, something the ATWI said should become an important factor in financing.

(DutchNews)

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Parliament invites the public to nominate persons for Annual President of Parliament Award

PHILIPSBURG – Parliament invites the public to send in nominations for the Annual President of Parliament Award.  

The application documents are on the Parliament’s website.  Persons have until August 12, 2019 to submit their nominations. 

The website address is: www.sxmparliament.org and can be found under the documents section of the site.  Select the link and you will be able to download the application form. 

The purpose of the award is to honour young persons on Sint Maarten that are a great example to the youth and who have contributed positively to the community and the country. 

Nominations can be submitted by any citizen of Sint Maarten who believes that the individual that he/she is nominating meets the criteria. 

The eligibility criteria are: the candidate must have the Dutch nationality and/or has been legally residing in Sint Maarten for 10-years or more consecutively, and has been registered in the Civil Registry for that period of time; must be between the ages of 15-24 years; has made a worthwhile contribution to the development of the community and the country; these contributions/achievements must have taken place within the last three years; contributions/achievements must have been made while the individual was acting as a private citizen, not as an appointed or elected government official; and must have demonstrated capacity for leadership and ability to motivate. 

An award committee will be established each year consisting of three members of Parliament.  Members of the committee will review the nomination documents prior to the selection meeting and select three nominees. 

During the selection meeting, the President of Parliament selects the recipient of the award based on the recommendations of the award committee. 

The award will be presented yearly to the recipient during the reception ceremony at the Opening of the Parliamentary Year. 

Nominations for the Annual President of Parliament may be submitted to The Parliament of Sint Maarten, attention, Annual President of Parliament Award Committee, Wilhelminastraat 1, Philipsburg or via e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Neurology services provided at SMMC’s multi-purpose clinic

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - Neurologist, Dr. Roberto Rico, recently joined the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) as a specialist providing Neurology services to patients on a bi-weekly basis at SMMC’s new multi-purpose clinic.

Before coming to SMMC, Dr. Rico worked for over 35 years as a Neurologist at the St. Elizabeth Hospital in Curacao. There, he often consulted and treated several patients from St. Maarten during his many years in service.

As a general Neurologist, Dr. Rico can diagnose and treat disorders of the central nervous system such as seizure, stroke, traumatic brain injury, neuromuscular disorders, epilepsy, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and migraine headaches. He is specialized in Neurophysiology, which centers around investigating the function of the nervous system to diagnose and monitor neurological disorders.

Within his capacity he currently diagnoses and, if necessary, prepares patients for further treatment. This removes the need for persons to travel abroad for consultation services and also aids in preparing patients with the proper information in the event that they do have to travel elsewhere to further their treatment.

Dr. Rico states: “Neurology is a fairly new department within SMMC with the potential for exponential growth. Within the near future, the Neurology clinic will further develop to where we can treat a range of disorders within the hospital thus reducing the need for patients traveling abroad for such treatment. I am delighted with the progress made thus far within the hospital and I am happy to be a part of that growth process”.

The Neurology clinic has seen a steady increase in patient appointments since its recent inception. Dr. Rico states: “I have seen numerous patients so far with stress related issues. Stress within one’s environment plays a major role in the health of the body. With such stress related experiences, you get an influx of patients with tension headaches, backaches and neck aches.”

We are happy to welcome Dr. Rico to our growing specialty care at SMMC,” said Dr. Felix Holiday, SMMC’s Medical Director. “With Dr. Rico’s arrival at SMMC, the community’s accessibility to neurological services will increase thus reinforcing the hospital’s ongoing commitment to providing quality care to close to home”. 

Patients who wish to see the Neurologist can make an appointment at the Outpatient department at Tel: +(1-721) 543-1111 ext. 1300 or 1378. Appointments can be made from Mondays - Fridays between 8:00 am – 4:30 pm. SZV patients are requested to obtain a referral letter from their family doctor.

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The Dutch Kingdom stands strong against child abuse

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Kingdom Taskforce Children’s Rights can look back to a successful conference titled “Ready. Set. Protect.”. During this conference all four countries and three public entities of the Dutch Kingdom, have been able to interact, plan and agree on important matters that will lead to tangible results when it comes to child protection.

There were several insightful keynote speeches and hands-on workshops. The professionals of all six islands in the Caribbean part of the Dutch Kingdom who attended the conference were impressed. Whereas there is undoubtedly more to be accomplished, all the islands are working diligently to build a strong child protection network. The opportunity to further strengthen collaboration between the islands and the Netherlands was a key take-away, considering that collaboration has proven to be a catalyst to achieve lasting results.

Curaçao and Sint Maarten will collaborate to prepare and introduce their respective reporting codes, the so-called “meldcode” in Dutch. Aruba is executing a social crisis plan, which focuses on prevention among others. Bonaire has been implementing safety nets, to ensure that children have the option to attend extracurricular activities after school. This concept is proven to be quite effective. Saba has introduced the HighScope method, in an effort to improve early childhood education. Sint Eustatius is preparing for the launch of a child line and is also setting up a reporting center for child abuse and domestic violence. These are just a few examples of the initiatives that the islands are undertaking to offer our children a brighter future.

It is a common misconception to think that children are only abused when they are hit, yelled at or sexually harassed. The truth is that the most common form of abuse is neglect, both physical and emotional, which often times goes unnoticed because it is abuse in its passive form. This is the reason why the Taskforce emphasizes prevention. Prevention is one of the focal areas of the MoU, which the countries and public entities in the Dutch Kingdom signed as part of last year’s commemoration of the International Children’s Day in November.

The Kingdom Taskforce Children’s Rights was established during the 2014 Kingdom conference in Aruba, to promote collaboration and capacity building on children’s rights within the Kingdom, among other assignments. “Ready. Set. Protect., was the fourth Taskforce conference in a row.

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Some 40% of cleaners can’t read and write properly, survey finds

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Up to 40% of people working in the cleaning sector in the Netherlands cannot read the label on cleaning products or tick off items on a ‘to do’ list, a study by the literacy foundation Lezen en Schrijven has found.

At least one third of the people working in construction, manufacturing, farming and in food preparation have similar problems, which lead to them being less productive and more prone to making mistakes, the foundation said.

‘People still think that for some jobs it does not matter whether or not you have these basic skills,’ director Geke van Velzen told the AD on Tuesday. ‘But being able to read, write and do sums at work and elsewhere are important to function in society.’  

Even ‘simple’ jobs are becoming more complicated because demands are changing and digitisation is increasing, Van Velzen said. Some 1.8 million people in the Netherlands have problems with reading, writing and arithmetic – or 16% of the working population.

Van Velzen said she hoped the survey results would encourage the government and employers to do more to tackle poor standards of literacy.

Ministers

In May, the cabinet said it had set aside €425m over the coming five years to boost literacy, numeracy and computer skills among people who have difficulty functioning in society.

In total, the money will be used to target 2.5 million adults and children ‘with and without an immigrant background’, the education ministry said. The money is being spent on adult education classes and special subsidies for employers who sign a ‘language agreement’ pledging to work to combat illiteracy.

By 2024, at least 1,000 companies should have signed up for the agreement, and the target is to provide help to 30,000 people via the corporate scheme.

(DutchNews)

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Fire Department in the process of removing old siren warning system

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Fire Department & Disaster Management are currently in the process of removing the old siren warning system that was established many years ago in different flood-prone communities.

The removal process entails the remnants of the siren warning system and poles that they were attached too.

The Fire Department & Disaster Management have presented a project proposal to the Trust Fund that is managed by the World Bank for a new resilient community siren warning system. Discussions are still taking place with respect to which option is best suited for the country.

The first siren warning system was installed 13-years ago (2006) in response to a cloud burst event in 2005 which resulted in flashfloods in the Cul de Sac Basin that led to two people losing their lives due to this natural phenomenon.

The first phase of the system of seven warning sirens was installed in flood prone areas: Dutch Quarter, Cul de Sac Basin, Cole Bay, Madame Estate and Philipsburg.

It was the intention to install a country-wide siren warning system, but after an assessment of the first phase, the evaluation revealed that the system was susceptible to corrosion and lightning strikes.

The quality of the alert sounds was also not up to par due to the topography and trade winds, and therefore it was decided not to continue with this type of system, and to look into alternatives. The warning sirens that were still operational were maintained for as long it was feasible.

Alternatives to the existing old system have been found, and these come at a large costs and funding is being sought from the post-Irma Trust Fund.

The project proposal includes a cell broadcast system and the replacement of the warning sirens. In the meantime, the Fire Department & Disaster Management Office will be launching within short a disaster app that the public can install on their cellphones where they will be able to view and read the latest official information and weather reports from official Government sources such as the Department of Communication (DCOMM) and the Meteorological Department of Sint Maarten (MDS).

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Voluntary Korps Sint Maarten Board meets with Prime Minister Romeo Marlin

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – On Friday June 7th, the Voluntary Korps Sint Maarten (VKS) Board met with Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin at her office in the Government Administration Building. Discussions during the meeting focused on cooperation between the Voluntary Korps Sint Maarten (VKS) and the Voluntary Korps Curacao (VKC), the VKS role in assisting with security at the Pointe Blanche Prison and training for VKS Soldiers by the Dutch Military.

Going forward both parties agreed to look into the possibility of increasing the frequency of meetings to a scheduled quarterly meeting. The VKS plays an important role with regards to the safety and security capacity of Sint Maarten as a country. This became quite evident following the passing of Hurricane Irma as the VKS soldiers assisted the Justice apparatus by playing a pivotal role in keeping public order.

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Apply for your Hurricane Pass. June 21 Deadline approaching

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The application process for the annual Hurricane Passes for the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season commenced on Friday, May 24 and the deadline for application processing is June 21, therefore, this serves as a reminder to those who have not yet applied for the pass to commence with the process.

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.

Potential applicants have until June 21 to present all relevant information related to the process of requesting a pass.

Disaster Passes are issued to crucial disaster relief organizations and are valid for three years. 

The following categories qualify for a Hurricane Pass which is valid for two-years: Essential 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 Hurricane Pass is valid for the 2019 and 2020 hurricane seasons and will remain the property of the Government of Sint Maarten.

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 have to be attached:

-         copy business license fee paid (or receipt) for 2018/19;

-         proof of 2019 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 Simpson Bay 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, by June 21, 2019, with all necessary documents attached.

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

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Victim of Maho armed robbery dies. Police seeks community assistance to apprehend culprit (s)

SINT MAARTEN (MAHO) - Detectives of KPSM (Sint Maarten Police Force) investigating the shooting death of the Canadian man who was shot during an armed robbery which took place on Wednesday June 5th at approximately 11.00 p.m. in the vicinity of Maho beach has died, an official police report said on Sunday.

This information came from family members of the victim. The victim identified with initials S.V. was vacationing on Sint Maarten with his daughter when the incident happened. 

No suspect or suspects in this case has been arrested and detectives continue to ask the community for information to assist in the investigation and mainly those persons who were in the immediate area when it happened.

Call: +1-721-556-7498 to share any information. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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