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MP Arrindell questions Prime Minister on concerns at PJIA

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On November 22, Member of Parliament (MP) Akeem Arrindell sent a letter to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs, requesting her attention to a number of concerns at PJIA, MP Arrindell said in a press statement on Monday.

“In his letter to the prime minister the MP sought clarity on PJIAE’s alleged intentions to seek addition financing, which contradicts the information the MP received last year, which prohibits PJIAE from seeking finance on the world market, an agreement that was signed off by the World Bank. MP Arrindell also wants to know for which purpose the alleged financing will be used and if the lending has to be guaranteed by Government.

“MP Arrindell asked for an outline of PJIAE’s priorities and questioned if government, as shareholder, plays any role or has any involvement in setting PJIAE’s priorities for the sake of transparency and good governance.

“MP Akeem Arrindell asked the prime minister if PJIAE has taken any of the points of the governing program into account, referring to the US pre-clearance and the new by-pass which allows more airlines to land during the peak hours. The MP mentioned that these are considered vital for the improvement of our economy and enquired if PJIAE has yet made any attempt to work on the plans for US pre-clearance and requested the details of such plans, if any.

“Government’s supervision of PJIAE came into question when the MP inquired into how many local firms, such the St. Maarten Investment Agency and APS, had been approached for financing. The MP wants to know which one(s) was/were chosen, why and who recommended it/them. The MP also questioned the costs of the financing, including brokerage fees, finder’s fees, processing and consulting fees. The MP concluded by emphasizing that “we must ensure that our local institutions, such as APS and others, get first preference when it comes to financing such projects,” the statement from MP Arrindell concludes.

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Family Fun Day at Emilio Wilson Park

SINT MAARTEN (EMILIO WILSON ESTATE) - The St. Maarten Heart and Stroke Foundation did it again. The foundation’s first “Family Fun Day for stroke survivors and caretakers” was well attended. The event was organized in collaboration with The American University (AUC) and the White and Yellow Cross care foundation (WYCCF).

The program was opened with a prayer from Pastor Elijah Singer who also suffered a stroke. He came to pray and stimulate other Stroke Survivors.

The Honorable Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs opened the event with a motivational speech reaching out to the participants and the community. Present was Rudolphe Samuel minister of Education Culture Youth and Sports.

The WYCCF out with their clients and rehabilitation staff and caregivers. The physiotherapy team took the opportunity to speak to the participants and gave essential information where needed. They also held a session on being active with some great Soca Music. Almost all of the patients and supporters participated in this session. Somewhere standing with the help of their crutches or with ap rollator and others were sitting in their wheelchairs and moving as instructed.

Patients played table games such as bingo where a patient also won a pedicure voucher.

Julian Rollocks, who was the motivational Speaker, came and gave his testimony about his experience as a Stroke survivor.

Dr. Marques, Neurologist of the St. Maarten Medical Center gave a presentation on “BE FAST” and explaining that having a stroke is a medical emergency and it is very important to recognize the signs and get to the ER fast. Dr. Marques also explained what treatment can be given when a patient arrives at the ER.

Nurse Vlaun of the St. Maarten Ambulance Department also gave a presentation on what takes place when the emergency calls come in and how to get the victim ready for the ambulance Crew.

We receive vouchers from Kreations Health Store in the Orange Grove, Dinner for 2 at Holland House, TJ's Coal Pot Restaraunt, a Private Donor for a pedicure at Georgina Nail Spa, and Addicted Hair Lounge.

Music was provided courtesy of DJ Shef.

Juices by Carl and Sons

Lovely Soup by Krestive Juices Catering.

This event was Sponsored by AUC American University of Caribbean, Laguna View Medical Practices, Telem N.V. , Nagico, Motorworld and the St. Maarten Medical Center.

A Stroke Patient won a prize for a weekend Stay at Oyster Bay Resorts Courtesy of Ms. Brown of the Oyster Bay Resorts, and a caregiver won a weekend stay at Divi Little Bay Resorts Courtesy of Divi Resorts.

A big thank you to the students of The AUC and St. Dominic Primary School.

Arthur Hunt of Sounds.

SMHSF would like to thank the general public for their support and for bringing their loved ones to this event.

SMHSF would like to encourage the public to be aware of the signs of a stroke and also take good care of their health because prevention is better than the cure.

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Ministry of Justice to install traffic signs in Philipsburg. Towing Policy to be established

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The illegal parking of motorist in the capital of the island has been a long-standing issue. On Wednesday, November 17th, 2021, the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson signed a Ministerial Decree to have traffic signs erected throughout Philipsburg. The placement of these signs is the first phase of the Ministry of Justice’s trajectory to remind motorist of traffic laws and where it is forbidden to park in places such as sidewalks.

Minister Richardson stated, “In the development of the decree, the Ministry opted to include recommendations that came in a report from the Ombudsman on November 30, 2020, regarding an investigation into the towing policy of the St. Maarten Police Force (KPSM).” Recommendations also received in the report of the Ombudsman included a Philipsburg parking policy plan, a comprehensive towing policy with checks and balances, the establishment of a parking permit policy, and the amendment of the Road Traffic Ordinance.

The traffic signs to be erected will serve as instruments in combatting parking nuisance in the Frontstreet and the Boardwalk areas. The signs will provide more clarity on the parking rules to the public and will improve enforcement activities. Experts from KPSM and the Ministry of VROMI had an essential advisory role in identifying where additional traffic signs should be placed.

Placement of the signs is one of the steps taken by a joint working group that was put in place by the Ministry of Justice in order to address the long-lasting parking problems in Philipsburg. The working group consists of representatives of the Ministries of Justice, VROMI, and TEATT. Combined efforts such as improved enforcement modalities by the Ministry of Justice, infrastructure developments by the Ministry of VROMI, and the implementation of a parking permit policy by the Ministry of TEATT must lead to improved public road safety.

As the successful enforcement of parking violations requires more modalities than imposing fines, the Ministry of Justice will soon initiate a public tender to contract a reliable towing company. According to the law, vehicles can be towed if they are hindering traffic or when they are left on the public road for more than 48 hours in a non-drivable state. As demonstrated by negative experiences in the past, the outsourcing of towing activities should be done properly and carefully. The Honorable Minister of Justice will ensure transparency by pursuing a public tender procedure and by publishing a towing policy. Such a towing policy will provide the necessary clarity about procedures and fees to the public.    

“In addressing this issue, the Ministry of Justice will also establishment a phone number or online form where the public will be encouraged to alert KPSM of grave parking violations in a bid to improve enforcement. The Ministry of Justice also intends to amend the law to introduce the legal possibility of applying wheel clamps. As such, government will continue to implement measures that contribute to realizing a safe and attractive city center for residents, business owners as well as tourists,” concluded Minister Richardson.

The Ombudsman received a letter from the Honorable Minister of Justice in which an extensive update on the parking and towing policy were provided on Friday, November 19.

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Minister Doran encourages homeownership to the SBoD of SMHDF

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The honorable Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment, and Infrastructure Management (Ministry of VROMI), Egbert Doran, has inquired on the potential opportunity for homeownership on a case-by-case basis for Belvedere residents in recent discussions.

A letter was addressed to the chairman of the Supervisory Board of Directors (SBoD) of the Sint Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF), following his town hall meeting with residents held on November 2nd, 2021, at the Belvedere Community Center. 

The Minister noted that documents including sales information invitations, appraisals for duplex homes and draft purchasing contracts dating back as far as 2004 suggests there were previous considerations by SMHDF to enable homeownership.

However, these efforts were never materialized. The minister expressed his interest in exploring feasible measures, including the appropriate criteria and considerable factors that need to be taken into consideration to materialize homeownership and permit residents to execute the necessary repairs and improve their living conditions. 

The chairman of the board at SMHDF has since acknowledged the Minister’s request and a meeting has been scheduled for this coming Friday amongst the SBoD.

Minister Doran has always championed homeownership which empowers individuals in being able to improve their quality of life. There will be further discussions and the Minister looks forward to a positive collaboration with SMHDF.

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Tourism Leaders, Minister Lawrence and Vice President Damaseau work together to maintain excellence in tourism quality

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunications (Minister of TEATT) Hon. Roger Lawrence met with Vice President of Tourism of Saint-Martin Hon. Valerie Damaseau to discuss the isolated events on the northern side. The two parties are very pleased that progress has been made on the Northern side of the island with respect to ensuring a steady product offering and reaching a level of normalcy as it pertains to business especially within the tourism sector.

Communication is essential when there are concerns that need to be resolved. We are happy that dialogue continues at different levels and these discussions will in the end drive change and result in resolutions to the various challenges being faced.

“The projections for this tourism season are high, which is extremely positive for both sides of the island. The uniqueness of each side adds more to the overall destination experience and visitors will open a window and discover two different vibes that can only be found here. A positive and safe experience is important for the success of both the French and Dutch side, by continuing to work together we will ensure this upcoming season will be a success for all,” Minister Hon. Roger Lawrence said on Tuesday.

Vice President of Tourism of Saint-Martin Hon. Valerie Damaseau in a statement on Tuesday stated: “On behalf of the Government of St. Martin I am pleased to report that, following the demonstrations by a section of the public, all is well. The State has assured us that all public roads in Marigot where the demonstration occurred have been reopened and business as usual has resumed.

We acknowledge the concerns expressed by the demonstrators and we recognize that the right of the public to peacefully voice objection to any decision by the government, is a fundamental tenet of a good democracy.

“We wish to assure our residents and guests, stakeholders and anyone conducting business with or within St. Martin, that the demonstration has ended, and you should feel free to go about your normal activities. Let us always be mindful and keep the COVID precaution practices top of mind.”

Directors of the Tourists Offices from both sides of the island Aida Weinum (St. Martin) and May Ling Chun (Sint Maarten) said on Tuesday: “The best and most memorable experiences for the guests is when they are able to experience our destination freely as one island and so therefore, we are pleased that the situation has been resolved and tourist can enjoy our Friendly Island.”

Minister of TEATT Hon Roger Lawrence

Minister of TEATT Hon. Roger Lawrence (Sint Maarten)

Vice President of Tourism Valerie Damaseau

Vice President of Tourism Valerie Damaseau (Saint-Martin)

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Boyfriend bites Girlfriend on the Lip. Son Punches Mother. Police Arrest both domestic abusers

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Police made two arrests over the weekend in connection with domestic violence.

On Friday, October 16, 2021, around 5:00 p.m. officers arrested the man with the initials T.J.J. for seriously injuring his girlfriend after an altercation. This incident took place in the Dutch Quarter neighborhood.

During the altercation, the victim received a bite on her lower lip by the suspect. She was subsequently taken to the Sint Maarten Medical Center for further treatment.  

Following his arrest, the suspect was transported to the Philipsburg police station, where he is being held for questioning.

In the subsequent arrest, patrol officers were dispatched to the Arbutus Road in Saunders on Saturday, November 13, 2021, around 10:55 a.m. for a case of ill-treatment.

During the preliminary investigation it was determined that the young man with initials S.D. had punched his mother several times after she questioned him about the theft of cash from her purse. This suspect was arrested and brought to the police station where he was detained pending further investigation.

The continued number of reports of domestic and family violence is of great concern to the Sint Maarten Police Force.

Community awareness must be raised to drastically stop this abuse. This behavior should no longer be considered a "private" matter. It is recognized by all sectors that abuse towards a person in a relationship is considered "criminal" behavior and is punishable by law.

Individuals who choose to engage in abuse will be held accountable for their actions, it is only a matter of time. Instead of engaging in this illegal act, choose to walk away from the situation.

Do the right thing, put an end to domestic violence.

(KPSM)

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Minister Richardson applauds 17 Immigration Officers on training course completion

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Friday, November 12, 2021, a certificate ceremony was held as the department of Immigration Border and Protection Services (IBPS) attained another milestone whereby 11 officers successfully completed their course of PLM Praktijk Leermeester (Coaching, training, and mentorship) and 6 officers completed their course of PO Praktijk Opleider (Teach courses and prepare officers to do so as well). 

The PLM/PO courses began on November 8, and were possible with the assistance of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (KMAR). These are two of the many courses included in the ongoing education curriculum between the Ministry of Justice and KMAR. The courses are tailormade and designed to strengthen border control which stems from the mutual agreement on strengthening border control.  

During their training in the Netherlands, KMAR operates based on the ideology of "train the trainer," as such, this principle was adapted so that officers of the department of IBPS become skilled and equipped on how to train their colleagues.   

Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson stated, "One of the primary goals of the department of IBPS is to increase the overall knowledge of each officer so that they may carry out their task efficiently. As such, the community can take pride knowing that 17 of our immigration officers remain committed and dedicated to moving St. Maarten forward in the safest manner possible."

With the enforcement of immigration laws under high implementation the department of IBPS intends to continue to train its personnel to the highest possible level. These training ensure that immigration officers remain prepared to protect our borders at all times.

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Rotary Sunset Distributes 400 Hot Meals to Vulnerable Citizens

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Members and prospective members of the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset prepared and distributed 400 hot meals to underprivileged persons in various communities on the island through its fourth annual Reach 1 Feed 1 initiative.

Reach 1 Feed 1 (R1F1), carried out annually on the last Sunday in October, is a program organized by the club to assist underprivileged families that are faced with various economic challenges especially during these unprecedented times, by providing a warm meal and a cold beverage to those in need. The project targeted districts such as Dutch Quarter, Sucker Garden, Philipsburg, Pond Island, Cay Hill, Cay Bay, St. James, and Agrément.

“The month of October marks ‘Economic and Community Development’ month for Rotary clubs worldwide and I am happy that we are able to yet again carry out this project for 4 consecutive years. I am deeply touched by the dedication and commitment from the members towards the self-preparation and execution of so many meals in a matter of hours. It is always a pleasure to give back to our community in whatever way we can, and I hope that in doing so we can bring more awareness to the economic hardships that many of our fellow citizens and residents are faced with daily, especially during this ongoing worldwide pandemic,” Rotary Sunset Service Projects Chair Jaida Nisbett stated.

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset would like to thank its partners; the members of the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset, for preparing the meals, the St. Dominic Primary School for allowing us to use their premises to prepare the meals for delivery and Mr. Russell Bell, Mr. Mario and Mr. Ricky of Elle Si Belle Tours for providing the transportation to all the districts visited. The club encourages the community at large to do their part in assisting where possible, which in turn will improve the island’s economy and community.

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset meets every second and fourth Monday of the month at Carl N Sons Unique Inn and Conference Facilities in Colebay at 7:30pm. The club can be contacted via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via the official Facebook page at facebook.com/rotarysxmsunset.

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Sarah on the Vineyard Heights/Over the Bank land, “Let’s see if parliament’s motions have any teeth”

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In the view of Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot, “The coalition might have breathed a sigh of relief, following the contentious meetings of parliament on the long lease land policies of government, but this saga seems far from over. In the case of the Vineyard Heights/Over the Bank land, concerns remain regarding the mounting claims by inheritors.”

It is on this matter, that the public meeting of parliament produced 3 motions directed to the ministry of VROMI.

Motion no. 1 dated October 20th, i.a. called for cessation of all handlings regarding Vine Yard Height/Over the Bank, until a policy is put in place and the infrastructure is done.

“It would be interesting to ascertain whether the minister of VROMI has even entertained this motion or has he thumbed his nose at the parliament? In addition to that question, are 2 related issues that surfaced following the meetings of parliament. If accurate, these issues would be completely opposite to what the minister told the members of parliament.”

The first issue is an overview that surfaced on social media that would suggest a meticulous registration of the first set of applicants for land at Over the Bank. If this is factual, it contradicts what the minister presented to parliament.

And then there is this claim that government is unlawfully owner of the land in question, presumably by heirs to the land.

The minister is sticking to a legal opinion, which according to his statement, dismisses this claim against the government.

The minister of VROMI has some explaining to do and I am therefore using my right as member of parliament to solicit clear and honest answers from the minister.

Questions:

Has the motion to refrain from further action or any part thereof been executed? If so, which part(s) and how? If not, why not?

Recently again the Vineyard Heights/Over the Bank land has been challenged by claimants to the inheritance of the property. In the meeting of parliament, I requested the legal brief that advised the minister that these claims did not affect the government’s actions in connection with the property in question.

Are the Minister and advisor still of the same view? Please share the legal opinion with parliament soonest.

The minister stated in the meetings of parliament that official information regarding the initial recipients of land at Over the Bank was lacking/missing in government’s records. Yet, published documents tell another story. Has the Minister seen the document, circulating on social media? Is this document accurate? Has the Minister verified why this information was not (made) available?

MP Wescot concluded her statement by expressing the hope that the minister would promptly and truthfully respond to these questions.

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Prime Minister Jacobs meets with civil servants on Constitutional Court decision

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs met with the government organization on Friday, November 5, 2021, to render an update on the decision taken by the Constitutional Court concerning the three Temporary National Ordinances to reduce the employment benefits of the civil servants, (semi) public sector workers, and political authorities. The result of the verdict signifies that the legislation will go into effect three weeks after the day after the verdict was rendered.

Prime Minister Jacobs told the organization, “Although Government’s position was confirmed by the court, the only constant in all that has transpired is your dedication and commitment, and I appreciate that so very much. This is a tough time for all, and I sincerely empathize with the organization for the sacrifices they continue to make for the people of St. Maarten. This is not our permanent state as the laws are of a temporary nature, and will be retracted once we are able to handle our financial obligations independently. As strongly emphasized by the Court this government will continue to consider the human dimension when making decisions on the next steps forward.”

The Council of Ministers will be meeting with the Committee for Civil Servants Unions and the respective unions next week November 17, to finalize the steps in which the ordinances will be implemented. Thereafter, an update will be provided to all civil servants in a follow-up meeting with the organization.

During the meeting Prime Minister Jacobs also announced her intention to grant Friday, November 12, as a day off for all civil servants following St. Martin Day which will be celebrated on Thursday, November 11th.

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