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Sol Kicks Off March with an Initiative to Promote Car Care Education

SINT MAARTEN (CAY BAY) - We have entered the month of March. Over the past few years, March has been acknowledged as a month where women are recognized and celebrated worldwide. As we celebrate Women’s Day on March 8th, Sol and its exclusive brand of motor oil lubricants, Mobil have partnered up and created an education campaign specially geared towards women.

The overall perception is that women rely on a male figure to get assistance when it comes to maintaining their cars of the very basic needs (oil change, brakes, certain fluids etc.). In most cases we would have to agree, however the theme this year for International Women’s Day is #choosetochalllenge and with this initiative we are looking to challenge the women in our community to become more involved in the maintenance of their vehicles.

We have kicked off this educational platform with a fun video, where women and our team at Sol have a candid conversation about the maintenance of their car. It was our task to find a woman automotive advisor that would be able to assist with transferring this knowledge to our very specific audience.

It is imperative to get our women involved in understanding that basic vehicle care can be done by them. It also serves as building their confidence when demanding certain treatments from their (most time) male automotive advisors. In addition to this, we are also in the middle of a pandemic, and this also serves as a saving mechanism, when they can conduct a service themselves instead of it being part of their routine services (this is based on everyone’s dealership contract and brand guarantees).

We are looking forward to a year full of activities that will enable us to share with our community this type of knowledge and move away from stigmas; knowledge is power. On behalf of the entire Sol & Mobil Team, we take this opportunity to wish the women on St. Maarten and in the world and amazing Women’s Day.

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CPS administering COVID-19 vaccines to seniors, persons with underlying conditions to avoid spillage

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Due to the fact that an unexpected number of people did not show up for their appointment, and the number of persons 60 years and older that registered for the vaccine is growing slower than expected, more vials with the Covid-19 vaccine were defrosted at the start of this week than can be used for eligible seniors who have registered.

If these vaccines do not get administered this week, they will have to be thrown away as each vial can only be kept for 120 hours after being defrosted. Given the extreme scarcity worldwide, and the value of these vaccines, and their high demand for the vaccine in other priority groups on our island, spillage is to be prevented at all costs.

Therefore, the Vaccination Management Team (VMT) decided to offer these vaccines to seniors and those with underlying health conditions of organizations who, due to their job, are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 due to frequent interpersonal contact.

The selected organizations are the Sint Maarten Police Force, Ambulance and Fire Departments, Funeral homes, Customs Office, and the Inspectorate of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (VSA).

Employees of these organizations have more than regular contact with multiple different groups and communities and are therefore at a higher risk of contracting and spreading the COVID-19 virus.

To avoid situations like this, the Collective Prevention Service (CPS) would like to once more encourage everyone to register for the vaccine, even if it is not yet their turn. This is even more important for those who are 60+, because this is the first priority group that is currently being vaccinated and for which the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is intended. If more people register, the planning of the appointments will become easier and spillage can be prevented.

The VMT would like to encourage everyone to provide a helping hand to those who need help in the registration and vaccination process. If you have a friend, parent, neighbour, or relative that might be struggling, please offer to help with registering, transportation, comfort, or providing information.

Because only together we can reach our goal! St. Maarten - Protected Together

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Sip, Chat & Strategize a Major Success. Kerai Kreative Style brought together dynamic

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - On February 27, 2021, Kerai Kreative Style, an internationally awarded blog hosted its first   Sip, Chat, & Strategize to celebrate its five-year anniversary. This event brought together dynamic women business leaders in the arts, nonprofit, fitness, and food industries. Co-hosted by founder, Kenty Lichtenberg and Ife Badejo of Produce Wealth Revolution (PWR) Agency, this experience gave an opportunity for these women to connect, gain strategies to progress in business and life and get inspired by the ambience of Holland House Beach Hotel including food and drinks.

Due to COVID19, the organizing team ensured that this event had a limited number of persons in attendance and that there was a nurse’s station with nurses to help take temperature and sanitize upon entry. As women checked in, welcome drinks were made available and provided by one of our main sponsors: Webb Banks.

This all women event served as a pre-International Women’s Day (IWD) event as it was postponed earlier due to effects of COVID 19. Member of Parliament, Honorable Ms. Ludmila Duncan who also sits on the parliamentary TEATT committee gave the official opening address. MP Duncan shared the importance of being entrepreneurial as women and the challenges they face in doing so while fulfilling all other commitments including raising families. MP Duncan also tied in this year’s IWD them, “Choose to Challenge” by inviting the women to challenge the status quo in them, in their communities, and also in parliament.

After the official opening Ife, no stranger to interactive networking and training, kicked off the evening with an icebreaker and a ‘strategize’ session focusing on what the women will start, stop, and continue. This method is a powerful tool to gain clarity on the next steps. This strategy was employed in a group manner and at the end the women collectively agreed on what key points they would stop, start, and continue to grow in 2021. The second strategize session included the women individually writing down their vision for 2021, what they need, and what they will commit to.

The evening also included artistic expressions by two creative entrepreneurs: Shiloh, a rising dance talent on the island and Cristal LeGrand, from LeGrand Expressions with her unique handmade jewelry. Shiloh

(14) donated her talent to this event and regularly raises funds to go to international dance camps by hosting dance courses off-island. Having been inspired by our very own Nicole de Weever and helped by her directly, Shiloh hopes to one day be a professional dancer and teacher.

Cristal LeGrand hosted the jewelry fashion show, showcasing her unique handmade pieces that are mostly cloth based. She rolled out her latest collection while also giving homage to her signature zipper collection, where the jewelry, predominantly necklaces, are made from zippers.

The night ended with a toast to happiness, health, wealth, wisdom, and the best year yet. Music throughout the night was provided by DJ Arsenic. Partners included Prime Distributors, Webb Banks, Holland House, TelEm N.V., Office World, CC1 SXM, Mionetto, Svedka Vodka, Kit Kat, Head & Shoulders Royal Oils, Nestle, Holland House Beach Hotel, Islandpreneur & Be Your Own Brand.

Due to the overwhelming positive feedback from those in attendance, another Sip, Chat, & Strategize will be scheduled. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Emmanuel questions government about “eye-sore” Festival Village and US $4.2 million owed to Sheriff Security

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel has written to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs about the St. Maarten Festival Village and, according to the MP, the “public eyesore” it has become as well as general operation questions surrounding the government foundation that runs the Festival Village, Stichting Overheids Gebouwen (SOG).

“The facility has been sitting in an eye-sore state since Hurricane Irma with no visible repairs having taken place. Very little, if anything, is known about the Festival Village operations or about SOG. Did the board of SOG get an insurance pay out or not? What explanation is there for the state of the facility? Who controls what is happening there? Why has the board never been changed?

“Here we have another government entity that is run like somebody’ personal kingdom. I believe it is essential that we ascertain what is happening at this facility as well as obtain clarity on related matters as they refer to SOG itself,” the MP said.

Two of the issues Emmanuel is seeking clarity on are whether SOG received any insurance funds to repair the village and how is SOG dealing with the US $1.7 million it owes to Sheriff Security. Sheriff Security used to secure the facility for a number of years and currently still has an office on premises. Additionally, the MP said, the government of St. Maarten in total owes the same security company approximately US $4.2 million (including SOG $1.7). “We need answers on these issues and more.”

The MP said. MP Emmanuel also included several questions about TelEm’s role in the festival and with the SOG and why other telecommunications companies are not allowed commercial opportunities in the Village, which could possibly assist in the upkeep of the facility. He also asked about the other government facilities that SOG manages.

“There have been many complaints made publicly by several groups and organizations who wish to make use of the St. Maarten Festival Village. Their complaints have centered on the procedures and manner which the facility is operated by the Stichting Overheids Gebouwen (SOG), a government ZBO. Some of these complaints have reached my person and I have a duty to try and obtain answers in the general interest of the public,” the MP said.

“I continue to be flooded with all sorts of concerns from the general public that it feels requires addressing. My duty as a Member of Parliament is to listen to the people who elected me to this position and simply look into these matters. As MP’s we have the power to ask pertinent questions to the relevant Ministers responsible especially when it involves tax-payers money,” he said.

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Saba closes off first vaccination round, total tally at 1,328

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - The first vaccination round on Saba was closed off on Monday, March 1 with a total tally of 1,328. This figure represents more than 85 percent of the adult population and over 70 percent of the total population.

In a fully COVID-19-free environment, the vast majority of about 1,500 adults on Saba went to the vaccination location at the Eugenius Johnson Center in the Windwardside from Monday, February 22 until Monday, March 1. On February 19, Saba received 1,500 Moderna vaccines, enough to vaccinate the entire adult population.

Saba currently has the highest coverage within the Kingdom and internationally it has done exceptionally good as well. “We are up there with the highest coverage in the world,” said a proud Dr. Koen Hulshof who heads the Saba Public Health Department. To compare, in Israel, which serves as a worldwide poster child for the high vaccination rate, 54 percent of the population has had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Several factors contributed to Saba’s success rate, explained vaccination coordinator Tedisha Gordon of the Public Health Department. “The structure and the organization of the vaccination program contributed a lot,” said Gordon. “We have a strong, friendly and efficient vaccination team. The process went very smooth.”

Saba started early with providing information to its community about the safety of the vaccine and the vaccination process. More than 30 small and bigger gatherings were held with face-to-face encounters, including townhall meetings, visits to schools, churches, organizations and private companies.

The positive vibe also contributed to so many Sabans deciding to get the Moderna vaccine, with many people eager to get back some sense of normalcy. The social media was used extensively, while the free transportation to and from the vaccination location was also a positive factor.

On Tuesday afternoon, March 2, Saba’s Outbreak Management Team (OMT) informed the Island Council about the results of the first round of the vaccination program and to discuss what the high coverage means for the current measures after May 1 when the island should be partially reopened, depending on the developments of the pandemic.

In the next few weeks, Saba will receive the subsequent batch of the Moderna vaccine from the Netherlands for the second round. The second vaccination round will take place late March.

Looking back at seven days of vaccinating in the first round, Dr. Hulshof said: “The team is tired, but satisfied. It was a lot of work and it is great to see it materialized. It was a positive vibe from the start until the end.”

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Emmanuel questions who or what is keeping Brison from being sworn in

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel on Tuesday issued a public call to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday, to update the general public on what is happening with the swearing in of MP Rolando Brison as Minister. “The legal and required screening process has been initiated, what is the result thereof. It seems like political back-biting is taking precedence over good-governance,” the MP said.

MP Emmanuel said Brison has undergone screening over the past few months and, reportedly, has passed the screening process. “But there remains this campaign of hush over the entire process and nobody knows when the good MP will be sworn in,” MP Emmanuel said.

He added that the issue is a matter of national importance as good governance and the swearing in of members to the executive and legislative branches of government are not trivial matters that should be put on hold and discussed whenever the press “hears something.” What ensues after that is pure rumor mongering about an issue of national interest. So the PM, who apparently is big on transparency and the Governor should let us know what is happening,” the MP said.

MP Emmanuel said MP Brison, the President of Parliament, has been absent from Parliament and reportedly has not been communicating with many people. He questioned if the issue is an inter-party/coalition issue with MP Ottley now choosing to take up the role of Minister after the Prosecutor cleared him of wrong-doing. This was originally planned by the UP party, which would relegate Brison to stay in Parliament.

“What is it? Is the Prime Minister blocking the good MP from being sworn in since ultimately it is her call. The MP as Chairperson of Parliament has had the PM’s back and that of her government plenty times, raising questions about how he is running Parliament. So do they have his now? Did he pass the screening fully? Or is there something on him we don’t know about?”

“Why is the Alliance reportedly so concern about having Brison as part of the Council of Ministers? Are they concerned about undermining or sharing of power? Is the PM listening to the concerns that the Dutch have about the good MP? She has given into everything else the Dutch wants, perhaps this is another? What is going on? Bottom line is, the longer everyone is silent on this, the more the process loses legitimacy and good governance is questioned, even the involvement of the Governor,” the MP said.

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Border Protection/Mobile Unit returns to Immigration and Border Protection Services

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - March 1st, 2021, marks the Border Protection and Mobile Unit's return to the management of Immigration and Border Protection Services (IBP).

The Border Protection & Mobile Unit has been under the management of the KPSM Police Force of Sint Maarten since 2016. However, the structure conflicted with the LIOL and the organizational decree. Given this fact, the Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson announced the departments' re-joining to the IBP in December 2020.

The Minister of Justice hosted a "welcome home ceremony" for the officers and delivered a welcome speech. In her address, the Minister described the move as a historic one for the Ministry of Justice. Further, she described the last few years as challenging for the department regarding implementing authority of the Border Protection and Mobile Unit. According to the minister, the Border Protection and Mobile Control Units were the missing links within the Immigration and Border Protection Services (IBP) Department, consisting of Residence and Admittance, Border Protection and Mobile Control Unit.

"Getting the three divisions under one umbrella will ensure Sint Maarten's border security is up to standards just like other country's borders are being secured. Sint Maarten cannot be any different and therefore, must improve the immigration and border protection services to ensure for a stable and sustainable future," she stated.

The Ministry is optimistic about the department's future and is very confident that the new management will improve the department's accomplishments and successes.

Minister Richardson told the officers that their job is not an easy one. She is however confident that the reunited department will show Sint Maarten and the world that the securing of our borders and our beautiful island is a serious one and will be done with the greatest honor. She thanked the officers for their commitment and diligence during the transition while assuring them that all unresolved issues are being addressed and will be resolved.

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Saba, the Netherlands win Elsa Shipping case

SABA (WELLS BAY) - The Saba government is pleased with the verdict of the Rotterdam Court on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. A panel of three judges together formed the maritime chamber of the Rotterdam Court that reviewed the case and concluded to dismiss all claims of Elsa Shipping Limited (Elsa Shipping).

Elsa Shipping took the Public Entity Saba, the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF) and the Netherlands to court for the stranding and total loss of the ship, the MY Elsa on March 22, 2017. According to Elsa Shipping, the Public Entity Saba, the SCF and the Netherlands were both jointly and severally responsible for the main sums of US $ 7,090,925.63, € 8,361.52, and £ 5,971.72 and legal interest.

According to Elsa Shipping, in summary, the Netherlands was liable because they are the responsible and competent authority for the waterways around the islands Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius. Elsa Shipping claimed the Public Entity Saba was responsible because it was the owner of the mooring that broke, and the SCF was responsible because the park ranger that instructed the crew of Elsa Shipping to use the mooring that broke works for the SCF.

According to Elsa Shipping, the risk and responsibility for moorings that break lies with these three entities jointly because the mooring qualified as a permanent fixture that was constructed in the sea, which in Dutch is also called an ‘opstal’. The qualification of the mooring as a permanent fixture would have the legal consequence that the risk and responsibility was indeed for the defendants, should anything go wrong.

Next to that, Elsa Shipping claimed that the Netherlands was separately responsible because it did not ensure that the mooring was not faulty, nor did tit properly maintain the mooring or offer any guidance with detailed instructions upon use of the mooring. According to Elsa Shipping, the SCF was responsible because it was their park ranger that provided uninformed instructions to the Elsa crew to use that mooring.

All three defendants were jointly represented by the solicitor general of the Netherlands (in Dutch: ‘de landsadvocaat’), Mr. Edward Brans of the firm Pels Rijcken, based in The Hague, the Netherlands, who worked closely together with the local legal counsel of the Public Entity Saba Mr. Gerald Simmons – de Jong. The three defendants jointly requested the judges to dismiss the claims.

According to the defendants the cause of the stranding was not the line that broke off the mooring. They argued that the ship stranded because the captain and crew had turned down the volume of the alarm sound that was supposed to warn them in combination with the fact that there was no apparent crewmember designated with watch duty, which was disastrous, particularly when in open sea conditions over 350 meters away from the shore.

The defendants disputed that the mooring qualified as a permanent fixture, because it has the shape of a big metal anchor and can be moved freely. The Public Entity Saba argued that it could not be blamed, because the mooring had just been commissioned two months before and was only up for its first scheduled check-up later on. The SCF argued that the park ranger did nothing wrong because he just called the captain of the Elsa to ensure that he would not anchor outside of the anchor zones and only confirmed the capacity of the mooring as was confirmed by the company that commissioned it.

Regarding the question whether or not the mooring qualifies as a permanent fixture (in Dutch: ‘opstal’), which then would be accompanied by all of its legal consequences regarding risk and responsibility, the judges considered that it was not a permanent fixture. The main considerations for this were that neither the anchor, nor its chain were permanently anchored into the bottom of the sea by either drilling a hole in the sea bed or by installing a concrete foot. This meant that the mooring did not qualify as a permanent fixture as meant in article 6:174 paragraph 4 of the BES Civil Code, but a loose asset (in Dutch: ‘roerende zaak’) as meant in article 6:173 of the BES Civil Code.

The next main question was whether the mooring indeed was defective and if the defendants were aware of the dangers in using this mooring. According to the judges, Elsa Shipping did not provide substantiated proof that the defendants were aware of this. There was no inconclusive proof that the mooring was faulty and that the defendants were to blame for this. The installation report of the mooring confirmed that it could carry ships over 1,100 ton in normal weather and that it was only installed two months before the stranding. The first scheduled maintenance and inspection was scheduled for April 20 or 21, 2017.

The specialist damage report as commissioned by Cunningham Lindsey Dutch Caribbean also confirmed that the installation itself met the requirements that it should meet, but that it was not installed in the right position. The wrong position had caused it to be located too close to rock formations that in turn caused the line to chafe and eventually break. There was no reason for the Public Entity Saba to doubt the installation documents.

The main advisor of the Public Entity Saba in this case Mr. Gerald Simmons – de Jong said that this verdict was another result made possible by a great collaboration between the different departments in The Hague and the Public Entity Saba. “Both the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management showed great trust and understanding towards the local circumstances on Saba and we really worked well together to present the case as best as we could to the panel of judges,” he said.

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White & Yellow Cross and SMMC ready for vaccination

SINT MAARTEN (ST. JOHN’S ESTATE/CAY HILL) - The White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation (WYCCF) and St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) are prepared to begin vaccinating their staff against COVID-19 on Monday, February 22nd.

These rules around the administering of the vaccines are very strict, and thus a well-planned and smooth-running organization is essential. The Pfizer vaccine has to kept at a temperature of -70 degree Celsius, and can only be kept outside this super freezer for a limited amount of time. That, in addition to the still existing coronavirus regulations, make this operation quite a logistical challenge.

Because of this, both organizations started preparing weeks ago. At the WYCCF a special vaccination team was formed, which went over every detail of the plan. Several rooms were freed up and reorganized to streamline the process, and several trainings were organized. Today, all will be in place, staff will be trained and appointment invitations will be sent out. Monday at 10 AM, Quality Nurse Claudette Rijff will be receiving the first dose, which will also be live streamed via the Government of St. Maarten Facebook Page by the Department of Communications.

Bregje Boetekees, Operations Manager at the WYCCF, says she’s proud of her team for setting up a complex and precise operation like this in such a short time span. The commitment and energy that my staff put into this in the last couple of weeks is really fantastic. Where in the beginning many of our staff were still doubtful of taking the vaccine, we notice now, that many did their research and changed their mind. The vaccine is safe, and it is very important for our clients that we make sure we do everything we can to protect them against the Covid-19 virus. I’m definitely looking forward to Monday!

WYCCF and SMMC both fall within the first priority risk group and thus will be among the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines. The first shipment contains the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and is scheduled to arrive on St. Maarten today after weeks of preparations. The regulations regarding the transportation, storage and the administering of the vaccines require logistical precision for effective vaccination with no errors or wastage.

The vaccination administration at WYCC is managed by a multidisciplinary team formed specifically for creation and management of the vaccination plan. The plan entailed making space available to administer the vaccines and organizing training sessions for staff and clients. It also entailed an extensive social media campaign which saw influential members within the community being interviewed about the vaccine.

SMMC’s vaccination administration process was created and is managed by the Hygiene and Infection Control Department, supported by the Outbreak Management Team (OMT), the ER Department and AMI Expeditionary Healthcare. In addition to vaccinating all staff, SMMC is also responsible for the vaccination of two other front-line healthcare organizations; the Ambulance Department and St. Maarten Laboratory Services (SLS).

Nurse Bregje Boetekees, Operations Manager at WYCCF is looking forward to receiving her vaccine and seeing her staff and clients vaccinated and said “I’m proud of my staff for setting up a difficult and precise operation like this in such a limited time. The commitment and energy that my staff put into creating and executing this plan is remarkable. In the beginning, some staff members were doubtful of the vaccine and the safety of it but after having done research using credible sources, many have positively changed their minds and opinion on the vaccine. All in all, the vaccine is safe and it is important for our clients that we do everything possible to protect them from COVID-19.”

OMT Chairman and Medical Director Dr. Felix Holiday will be among the first to receive the vaccine on Monday and said “after weeks of intense preparation, we are ready to administer the vaccine to our staff and our colleagues at the Ambulance Department and SLS. As a hospital, we have seen the effects of this disease first hand. Too many people have been affected and too many lives have been lost so we cannot sit back and do nothing. Vaccination is necessary, not just to protect ourselves but to protect our healthcare system, our way of life and more importantly, our economy. I am proud of our staff and their efforts from the beginning of the pandemic to now. I am happy to be one of the first to receive this life-saving vaccine and encourage everyone to do their part and get vaccinated as well.

While the vaccines are not mandatory, both organizations encourage members of the public to sign up to receive the vaccine to protect themselves against the risks of contracting COVID-19 disease. Persons interested in receiving the vaccine can sign up via https://bit.ly3tOsJLa or using a form that can be collected at CPS at the Vineyard Building, the Division of Labor Affairs public service center in Simpson Bay or at the Government Administration Building.

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