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Port St. Maarten calls on local cruise fans/stakeholders to submit comments to CDC before/on Sept. 21 for the restart of cruising

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten is urging local cruising fans and those who benefit from the cruise industry to share their thoughts on cruises restarting and to submit their written comments to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which must be received on or before September 21 deadline for input on how cruise lines should restart cruising.

The current CDC No-Sail Order is up to 30 September. The global cruise industry has voluntarily suspended U.S. cruise operations until at least 31 October 2020.

Port St. Maarten Management said on Sunday: “The cruise sector is an essential part of the St. Maarten economy supporting thousands of jobs in one way or the other directly or indirectly. We call on stakeholders to give their feedback and endorsement as public comments to the CDC before the end of the day on September 21.

“The cruise industry has been evolving during the COVID-19 pandemic from the perspective of providing safer and healthier vacations when cruise vessels start to sail again. The industry is prepared to integrate new health and safety practices on a cruise demonstrating the industry’s commitment to its guests.”

Port St. Maarten is compliant with all COVID-19 regulations related to border protection, public health safety and security. A number of measures have been taken at the initiative of Port Management such as the ‘Sterile Port Protocol’ that includes enhanced sanitization measures which have been in place since mid-March at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facility.

The “Sterile Port Protocol” falls under the scope of the Ordinance Public Health which is part of the International Health Regulations as issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The aforementioned is part of the ports procedures for responding to infectious disease situations. A “Crisis Emergency Service Department” is in place to deal with in the initial phase any infectious disease until medical and public health officials arrive amongst other established protocols to facilitate and ensure the safety of passengers, crew and the local population upon resumption of cruises.

Supporters of cruising can go to the following link and follow the instructions: https://beta.regulations.gov/document/CDC-2020-0087-0001 about how to submit your comments.

The public may submit comments, identified by Docket No. CDC-2020-0087 by any of the following methods listed below. CDC does not accept comments by email.

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Minister Doran announces commencement of car wreck cleanup

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment & Infrastructure (VROMI), the Honorable Egbert J. Doran, announces that an island wide cleanup of the car wrecks will begin on Monday, September 21st

Car wrecks are an eyesore and negatively effects the Country’s environmental well-being. Since taking office, Minister Doran embarked on a project along with the Department of Infrastructure Management to continue with the cleanup of the car wrecks. 

Minister Doran stated that the project is in collaboration with the Community Police Officers and the designated contractors. Some of the abandoned wrecks have been tagged and this will continue throughout the coming days. 

The Minister urges residents to remove their wrecked vehicles from public areas to avoid it being taken away, as all wrecks are being tagged and subsequently removed.

This project should be completed within approximately two weeks.

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Conferences will change and opportunities for the Caribbean

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - “Under the current circumstances, conferences will change. We have seen that a large number of major conferences and conventions had to be cancelled. Disappointment is one thing, at what expense, is another,” says Cdr.Bud Slabbaert, Chairman and Coordinator of the Caribbean Aviation Meetup conference, or CARIBAVIA for short. “There is much talk about a ‘New Normal’. Even the ‘New Normal’ will not be forever. Yet, new conference models may be developed that will stay with us for quite a while, because they make sense, are more flexible and more targeted. The traditional major international events will return, but a lesson will be learned from the advantages that the new model conferences will bring.”

The Caribbean Aviation conference (CARIBAVIA) also had to be cancelled this year, as most other events. But the need for communication in the industry remains and it just asks for another appropriate platform. Worlwide, quick fixes and changes were made by organizing virtual conferences and webinars. It is just not the same.

Currently, it has become clear that the planning of large major events is risky. The planning of participation either as attendee or exhibitor has become just as difficult. It does have an effect on budget preparation and spending, as well as on calendar issues for those attending or presenting. One may say that things have become confusing. Confusion and insecurity are not appreciated in business. However, the industry cannot stop communicating with existing and potential clients. Smaller events have a better chance in that regard. Smaller doesn’t necessarily mean becoming regional. It could be international, yet more targeted. It is very much up to the industry to assist in shaping the smaller events into an effective communication platform for them.

“After our own event had to be cancelled, I have decided to make the beginning of new communication platform in addition,” says Slabbaert. “I consider it a communication platform without limitations. It’s a logical development, not an innovation. It is just doing things differently that make sense. We can now have the presentations in a conference setting, yet the meeting can be recorded and put online. And I don’t mean life streaming. The presentation will be available online as video-on-demand. That means anyone in the world, at any suitable time can watch a conference presentation.”

The interesting thing of the model is that conference and video-on-demand platform go hand in hand. Communication will continue one way or another; conference cancelations or not. It can be done without any subscription or registration. However, it will require sponsorships to realize this. Yet, since the channel is wide open to watch, the sponsors will be exposed to audiences that are larger than the attendees of any major conference. Even if there is no conference going on, other presentations can be recorded and put online at any time. So now there will be a communication platform beyond set dates, beyond any audience size, and beyond geographic borders. Sponsors may get more out of a combined sponsorship.

Regardless of possible new event concepts, the CARIBAVIA conference will return next year June on St.Maarten. From the beginning, five years ago, it was already concepted to be different. Where major conferences have become events with industry palaces built in the exhibition areas with the intention to show off; where male representatives were all dressed up as lookalike penguins. They were held in convention halls or conference hotels that all similar. Rush, pressure and tension. And at what expense? CARIBAVIA has developed a different concept.

“Let’s call it furthering the human effect in an inspiring comfortable environment. If participants feel well, they will communicate much easier, and in a less artificial, and a more friendly natural manner,” continues Commander Bud as many call him. “They will get a better impression of their potential business connection. They will recognize the difference between what is an act, and what is for real.”

Besides an increased informality, the Caribbean offers an environment that the region is famous for. Previous CARIBAVIA welcome dinners were held outdoors under a tropical night sky with a free view over the waters. A series of sessions were held in an open hangar at an airport with a free view of the aviation activities at the location. It was also possible that a participant would ask “Where were you today? I missed you.” And the response was “I participated in a mini-summit on the neighbor-island St.Barth.”

“Creating an event, where participants afterwards say that they want to return next year because they loved it, is high priority to me. There is quite a difference between ‘they loved it’ or ‘they had to’. It means that the investment to participate was worth it for attendees, speakers and sponsors alike. What is wrong with an event that feels like a retreat? I could even arrange for conference sessions at the beach or swimming pool.” concludes Cdr. Bud Slabbaert.

The organizational advantage of a conference like CARIBAVIA being held on an island, is that the local tourism offices, airport and other stakeholders will do their best to support the event and go that extra ‘mile’ to provide a bit of a starry-eyed atmosphere, because it promotes the island or region and is like an invitation for participants to return at some time for a vacation with their families or loved ones. Mind that for these Caribbean islands sometimes 80% of the economy revenue comes from tourism. Win-win opportunities!

About: Cdr. Bud Slabbaert is the Chairman and Coordinator of the Caribbean Aviation Meetup, an annual results and solution oriented conference for stakeholders of ‘airlift’ in the Caribbean. Mr. Slabbaert’s background is accentuated by aviation business development, strategic communication, and journalism.

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Rotary Sunset Supports Online Learning With Tablet Donations

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On September 10th, 2020, members of the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset joined club President, Elisia Lake, and gathered at the Government Administration Building for the presentation of 67 tablet computers to various public schools on the island. Rotary Sunset launched its tablet / computer donation drive in August with hopes to provide the much-needed computer devices to students who were unable to attend online classes.

Supporting basic education and literacy is one of Rotary’s primary areas of focus and Rotary Sunset strongly believes in the right to a sound education for every child. The club has organized numerous projects to promote education and literacy with its annual “Reading Slumber Fun”, “Read A Book A Day” “Free Little Libraries” and “Teachers’ Appreciation” initiatives, among others. Given the challenges faced by many students on the island with logging in to their online classes, the club saw the opportunity to take action in addressing the needs of these students.

“Providing a tablet for a student in need is like igniting a flame of endless opportunities. Although COVID-19 has presented our educational system with numerous challenges, it has also accelerated our educational system to embrace all the benefits of technology through virtual learning. As an educator and avid supporter of education, I am truly honored to be a part of an organization that takes action to create lasting change in our community, who made it possible for over 60 students to attend online classes,” President Elisia Lake stated.

Various Rotarians, Rotaractors and friends such as Temard Butterfield, Montgomery Penn, Akeem Lennard, Karl Isaac, Lakeia Lewis, Jerrell George, Julie Ramchandani, Lorenzo Scotland, the Rotary Club of Randolph Sunrise in Vermont, Corinne Laville, Kenneth Vandermark, David Palmer, Alvin Parker and Arlene Standford from Turks & Caicos, Bahamas, Virgin Gorda, Jamaica, USA and St. Thomas shipped their donated tablet to the island as a contribution towards this initiative. Local contributors such as TamLeo, Digital Gumbs, West Tech Shipping, Rissa Productions, Consider It Solved by Roosburg & Partners, PSB Bank N.V., Kalaboom Events, Mr. Fries & Tingz SXM, SXM Promotionz, Auto Depot, Manek Imports, Tony’s Airconditioning, Tyrone Yates, Shiela Vie, Joanne Marie Lake Corrick, Shaunette Wilson, Jocelyn Levenstone, Deborah Richards, Tracey Thewet, Marie Boasman, Gracias Maccow, Tarnive Pemberton, Erica Woodley, Tameka Lambert, Ayanna Guy, Goslinga Aukje Johanna, Aswayan Cocks, Rotarians Elisia Lake, Roylyka Roache, Louis Wever and Aernout Kraaijeveld also made significant contributions toward the much needed tablets.

The tablets were distributed to the students through the school managers of the Marie Genevieve de Weever, Leonald Connor, Oranje, Prins Willem Alexander, Ruby Labega and Martin Luther King Jr. Primary Schools. The students were selected base on a thorough data analysis conducted by the various Student Care Coordinators. The Honorable Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Drs. Rodolphe Samuel, gave words of encouragement and gratitude, towards the club for carrying out this initiative and vowed that the ministry would do its part to ensure that no child is left behind. During the brief ceremony, schools had the opportunity to win additional tablets, a MAC Book Pro and school supplies. President Elisia encouraged the schools to adopt a loan system, where the tablets can be loaned to each student in need with the understanding that it will be returned to the school at the end of the pandemic in good condition. This would ensure future use for other students that may be in need.

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset would like to extend its heartfelt gratitude to the general population of St. Maarten and to Rotarians across the globe for their kind contributions towards this initiative. There are still 133 students from various public schools who lack an electronic device to be able to attend classes. Persons who are still interested in contributing can do so by making a deposit to the club’s WIB USD Account number- 82173909, WIB NAF Account number-82173806.

For additional information, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit our social media pages; facebook.com/rotarysxmsunset or call +1 721 587-4193 /  +1 721 586-5241 

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K1 Britannia’s DIRECT Receives Support from CIBC FirstCaribbean

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - K1 Britannia’s Disaster Relief and Crisis Team (DIRECT) has been assisting with relief activities during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. Their efforts recently received a boost from CIBC FirstCaribbean with a donation of USD $1,000.00.  

Packaging and delivery of food and hygiene supplies throughout the communities and households impacted by the pandemic over the last months - including the warehousing, loading, unloading, inventorying and packaging and management of all the data of these supplies are the responsibilities of the non-profit organization and its committed volunteers.  

DIRECT has packaged and delivered nearly 5,500 food boxes to the needy on St. Maarten.

The donation will aid in their full-time relief activities, purchasing of additional supplies for distribution and daily operations. 

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Red Cross and Nature Foundation Kick off First Tree Planting Event as part of the Re-greening SXM Project

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - The Red Cross and Nature Foundation St. Maarten hosted their first tree planting event in the M.A.C. primary school John A. Gumbs Campus as part of their Re-greening SXM Project. The project (an initiative of the Red Cross and the Nature Foundation SXM) organized its first tree planting event within this school garden last Saturday, whereby more than 60 trees, shrubs and herbs were planted. Over 60 volunteers came out in support of the project’s mission to restore environmental resilience and aid in the building of the agricultural program within the M.A.C. primary school J.A.G. Campus. Volunteers spent their morning planting trees, painting tires which were recycled, varnishing wood, tire placement, and preparing the area for the building of a greenhouse.

“I have never seen so many volunteers come out to an event before to create such a difference, it was honestly very exciting and heart-warming. I am proud of everyone who came out, without them nothing would be possible. The event was an absolute success which makes me even more excited for our future planting events” said Ernika van Putten, Re-greening SXM Project Leader.”

Volunteers learned how to carry-out proper plant transference along with the importance of trees within our communities. Trees help build our environment’s resilience against disasters, improve soil and air quality, and improves the overall health of the environment. They also learned the importance of having an educational program that can further inform the youth of this importance.

“The event was a great success and we are very thankful for the partnership with the Red Cross to help establish our agricultural project.”  Now we can use the garden as a means of teaching the students about simple plants, the process of planting, the way plants grow, and its importance in our environment. The students actually named the garden prior to its existence, they called it the ‘Eat What You Grow Garden!’” said Jamal Newton, Community School Coordinator.

Each volunteer was required to wear their mask, and practice social distancing in order to comply with current standards. In addition, sanitary precautions were taken, gloves were provided to each volunteer.

The Re-greening team is looking forward to having more successful events like this one and would like to encourage the public to stay tuned for the upcoming tree planting opportunities. The next tree planting event will be held at Seaside Nature Park, Cay Bay, in mid-October, stay connected for date releases. To sign up to volunteer for this project you can email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit naturefoundationsxm.org/preservation/regreening-st-maarten/.

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Border controls lifted on Thursday in Bellevue and Orleans Quarter

SAINT-MARTIN (MARIGOT) - The Prefecture of Saint-Martin and St. Barths and the Public Health Agency ARS responded to the request for an audience from the organizers of the “open the border” march that was held on Wednesday.

According to a press statement from the Prefecture, the ARS has taken stock of the current health problems in Saint-Martin, of the number of cases, the worrying indicators in particular in terms of near-saturated hospital capacity (18 beds occupied out of 23 in the COVID-19 unit and an additional death yesterday (Tuesday) at the Louis Constant Fleming Hospital, and 100% of the occupancy rate in resuscitation unit at the Guadeloupe University Hospital).

The members of the Collectivite did not hear these arguments but pledged to contribute to the establishment of a health education program for the neighbourhoods promoting public health preventative measures (wearing masks, gathering of people, social distancing, etc.).

While the regulation of population flows between the two parts of the island has been shown to significantly reduce the circulation of the virus, the risks of disturbances to the public order in a period of the public health crisis are not acceptable to the population or to law enforcement authorities who have been in high demand for months.

As a result, and as announced at a press conference on Monday, the Prefecture of Guadeloupe is studying the limitation of air-transportation into the Grand Case Airport which is expected to take place in the coming days (decrease in the number of flights and conditioning the purpose of travel for compelling reasons).

In view of the risk of disturbances to the public order, the Prefecture decided to lift border controls. The removal of the containers at Terres Basses (Cupecoy) and Oyster Bay will be carried out tomorrow (Thursday). The health risk remains present on both parts of the island and the Prefecture urges everyone to comply with barrier measures to prevent COVID-19 spread.

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NV GEBE Marks 60th Anniversary Milestone in Power Generation

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – NV GEBE has reached a milestone from GESM to GEBE St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba to finally St. Maarten as the sole shareholder. September 16, 2020 marks 60 years of service to the community, and for the occasion, the Chief Executive Officer Kenrick Chittick, Chief Operations Officer Veronica Jansen-Webster and Chief Financial Officer Iris Arrindell, issued the following statement for the occasion.

“Dear NV GEBE Family, it is with great pride and honor that we have reached such a milestone, from GESM to GEBE St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba to finally St. Maarten as the sole shareholder. September 16, 2020 marks 60 years of our service to the community and we must give THANKS and PRAISE to those that served before us and that are celebrating 60 years with us today. To the first employees who are no longer with us in flesh, and our retirees and former employees who worked within the organization, we say THANK YOU. To the former members of the Supervisory Board of Directors and Shareholder Foundation, we say Thank YOU. To all past Managing Directors, without your leadership in your time at the helm of the company, we could not have made it to 60 years without you. Also, much praise and thanks goes out to the late Mr. Julius Lambert, our longest serving Managing Director. THANK YOU, to the many past and present subcontractors that have worked with us through the years.

“Finally, to all current employees (242) we give our ongoing THANKS! To the current members of the Supervisory Board of Directors, we say THANK YOU. The past three years have been very challenging, but we have pulled through and will continue to pull through. The road of our past employees was not always easy, and the trials were challenging, from pick and shovel to backhoe and hydraulic pole digging. However, despite the different times we have always stayed connected as employees and have always been able to pull through any obstacle together.

“From Back Street, where now houses Angelo Boutique to Cay Bay and from a peak demand of 0.2 MW to now 57 MW, we have progressed from a nightly electricity curfew to a now 24-hour electricity service. Through these years we have endured outages, load shedding and total black outs and are now at a regularly stable and reliable electricity and water grid. From a few water and electricity meters to now over 40.000 meters combined. From bills being handwritten to bills now printed and automated folded, from cables hanging from pole to pole, to the final stage underground cabling.

“Moving from fossil fuel to Liquid Natural Gas, and from bills being hand delivered to bills being emailed. From standing in line paying bills to paying bills online at your convenience, and to chatting with our customer care officer via live and from accounting and plan drafting on software and AutoCAD. The ever moving forward of NV GEBE through the times and challenges have not stopped the growth, with dedicated caring and hardworking employees we have made it to 60 years and are seeking to move beyond with SXM’s finest.”

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Ennia issue may be resolved possibly in Wednesday meeting

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Ambassador Hushang Ansary and attorney Richard Gibson are accusing former Interim President of the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten (CBCS) Jose Jardim of acting in bad faith and laid critical accusations against him in the ongoing Ennia saga.

In a leaked document from a trusted and well-informed source, Gibson and Ansary have directed a letter to Jardim in response to the latter’s request for a zoom meeting to possibly resolve the Ennia issue on Wednesday, September 16.

If the intention towards a resolution are serious the letter reads, then Gibson and Ansary are both interested. However, “it is hard for us to understand your real reasons for private meetings and zoom calls at the same time as you take action against certain US-shareholders and certain management members in connection with legitimate expenditures dating back as far as 11 years ago, against which extraordinary profits by the very same US-shareholders for the privately owned entity. Nothing to do with an agreement between this entity and Ennia Leven which made it possible for Ennia Leven to meet its obligations to its policy holders on a timely basis at all times.”

Additionally, Ansary and Gibson reminded Jardim that he continues to repeat publicly the same false accusation claiming that US shareholders of Ennia had moved a total of US 400 million from the company to bank accounts of their own.

“This was categorically denied by us at the meeting (on February 1, 2020 in Florida with Jardim) but we added that for this amount to be transferred out of Ennia bank accounts it would be necessary for two Managing Directors of Ennia with signature authority to have sent wire transfer instructions,” the letter to Jardim reads.

Ansary and Gibson further reminded Jardim that they asked him to present documentation to substantiate his claims and that he, Jardim, made the commitment to deliver such evidence to Gibson within one week from that date of February 1. Jardim has since never produced this evidence despite an additional one week being granted to do such. “In the many months that have passed, Richard has received nothing from you and no explanation. Very surprisingly, you (Jardim) once again repeated this accusation to the media in Curacao shortly after the zoom call you requested on August 21, 2020.”

Jardim is being told in the letter from Gibson and Ansary that he (Jardim) is on record during the emergency rule proceedings and subsequently the media for having said that Ennia was “financially sound” and that the restructuring would take about 6 months and received the court’s approval of your budget in the amount of Naf 500,000.

“Today, over two years later, millions of dollars have been squandered from the hard earned money made by shareholders in the United States, not a penny of which should have been wasted because of the fact that the restructuring has already been verbally agreed upon with you before you moved unexpectedly to take all the companies, regulated and privately owned by US citizens, without even a courtesy notice to US shareholders to be present at the court,” the letter reads.

“In addition, many millions of dollars of financial asset value appear to have been lost under your supervision over and above which we must regretfully include in the loss of market share at Ennia, purely as a result of rumor mongering and negative allegations.”

Ansary and Gibson re-iterated that the Ennia Group of companies during its entire existence has never been as strong financially as it was when the emergency rule was declared at Jardim’s request. “What is the definition of an emergency and how did that exist when you imposed the law and with what has the emergency now been placed by under your supervision in the last two years? For the record, if the highly negative conditions following your imposition of the emergency rule continue at this pace, the downfall will inevitably accelerate beyond control and the negative outcome will be far reaching. The day of reckoning will then arrive: what was taken delivery of and what will be there to be returned to the shareholders.”

Gibson and Ansary chided Jardim as being disingenuous and acting in bad faith. “Those who show interest in private meetings between parties for the purpose of resolving their differences are assumed to be generally motivated by a strong desire to achieve positive results outside the formal and rigid environment of a court of law. If this is what is intended by the private meetings you have initiated and we have welcomed in principle, everything that you have been doing is the exact opposite of what is intended as the critical objectives of private meetings. How can what has happened so far between us be encouraging in the context of that objective.”

Nevertheless, Ansary and Gibson concluded their letter by stating that they are still interested in participating in a Zoom call on Wednesday if there are serious intentions on Jardim’s part to resolve the issue to mutual satisfaction. (Submitted)

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Confiscated goods donated to three churches by KPSM

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) in collaboration with the Customs Department collectively came together on September 10th, 2020 to donate various nonperishable items to three prominent churches on the island.

These items donated were amongst some of those that had been seized during several different investigations carried out by the Customs Department throughout the year thus far.

The items, which included nonperishable foods and children’s toys, were distributed evenly between the Seven-Day Adventist Church, Heavens Touch International Ministries, and the Good News Baptist Church, to be shared among the communities where they are needed. These churches were among those chosen based on their strong community outreach ties.

The members of the KPSM and Customs would like to thank the Prosecutor’s office for their role in making it possible for the food and toys to be donated to the community of Sint Maarten. (KPSM)

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