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TelCell N.V. supports the Nature Foundation Junior Ranger Program with a free cell phone prize

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Nature Foundation Junior Rangers were able to participate in an awareness project throughout the month of November creating outreach about the new Eco-Bracelet, during which they introduced the importance of nature and the bracelet to their friends and family. The Ranger that was able to spread the most awareness about the need to protect St. Maarten’s environment won a Samsung A21S cell phone donated by TelCell NV. 

The 2020-2021 Nature Foundation Junior Rangers are the first to participate in a full year program. Each month the Rangers meet for an activity and classroom session that focuses on an aspect of conservation or St. Maarten’s natural environment. The rangers that were chosen to participate applied over the summer by submitting essays about why it is important to protect the island’s ecosystem. 

“The Nature Foundation Junior Ranger Program is an important part of our Outreach and Education programs at the foundation. Educating the next generation is one of the most important aspects of conservation work as these students will truly understand the importance of our natural environment and why it must be protected. Giving students an incentive like a free phone to get them comfortable with outreach and awareness was amazing and we greatly appreciate the support of TelCell,” said Educational Outreach Officer Leslie Hickerson. 

A notable achievement for the program was the inclusion of the PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification through funding provided by the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Caribisch Gebied and Ocean Explorers Dive Center. In the fall the students earned their certification over several courses and shallow open water dives with the Ocean Explorers crew. Throughout their training the students learned about the importance of coral reefs and the current state of our underwater ecosystem and experienced its beauty first-hand. 

Other events have included a tour of the mangroves and interactive discussion about their importance, a virtual quiz night between the Dutch Caribbean Islands, a course about the impacts of single-use plastics and accompanying beach clean-up, and many more. 

The inclusion of the Eco-Bracelet promotion gave the Rangers a chance to give back to the program that has given them many opportunities, and the chance to win the generously donated cell phone from TelCell. Ranger Stefanie Frederiks was most successful in her outreach, involving over 40 of her friends and family. 

“I am very happy to be part of the Junior Ranger program because I have learned so much already and now, I also have my PADI scuba diving certification. I am happy that there are companies like Telem that support these programs and I would like to thank all the people that donated for the Eco-Bracelets. Wear your bracelet and let everyone know that you are an Eco-Warrior! Together we can take care of our island and treat it really well like a golden nugget,” said Stéfanie Frederiks, “I also want to thank Ms. Leslie for her helping the Junior Rangers and for teaching us so much about coral reefs and thank you to the Nature Foundation for this great opportunity.”

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Nine new Coast Guard officers for the Coast Guard

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - After successfully completing their two-year training, yesterday nine new Coast Guard officers received their police diploma and their Coast Guard certificate from the Deputy Director of the Coast Guard, Eugene Middelhof and the Caribbean team chief of the Dutch Police Academy, Rob Appelhof, the Coast Guard announced in a statement on Thursday.

The new officers received their diploma and certificate during a ceremony at Naval Base Parera. The ceremony was held for a small group due to the COVID-19 measures, consisting of a number of family members and a select group of colleagues from the Coast Guard.

The new Coast Guard officers will carry out the Coast Guard duties at the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard substations in Sint Maarten, Aruba and Curaçao together with their colleagues. The youngsters started with the ‘Opleiding Caribische Politie en Kustwacht’ (OCPK) in March 2018.

The OCPK was the previous training of the new ‘Basis Opleiding Kustwacht’ (BOK). The OCPK students together with their fellow students from the Dutch Caribbean Police Force (KPCN), have endured many physical, mental and theoretical challenges during the training.

After completing the police training at the KPCN, the youngsters followed a two-month nautical module for the Coast Guard. The nautical module teaches them to navigate, seaman skills and boarding on vessels.

During yesterday’s ceremony, the Caribbean team chief of the Dutch Police Academy, Rob Appelhof, said in his speech that he is very proud to see nine Coast Guard officers follow and successfully finish the Police Academy training.

“In spite of the sometimes difficult circumstances and doubts, we have seen you all grow physically and mentally. Congratulations with your diploma”. After Mr. Appelhof’s speech, the Deputy Director of the Coast Guard, Eugene Middelhof addressed the new Coast Guards: “Today is a special day for the Coast Guard, nine new officers will be working for the organization. Two new Coast Guard officers will be working at the substation in Sint Maarten, four at the Aruba substation and three officers in Curaçao.

Here you are at the beginning of a new chapter in your lives as a Coast Guard officer. You shall make the team at the Coast Guard substations stronger, but do not forget to also learn from your fellow Coast Guard colleagues. Congratulations and good luck ”.

The youngsters have been looking forward to this day for two years. After working hard and being away from their homes for a long time, it’s time to celebrate their achievement! The new Coast Guard officers will start in January 2021, at the substations in Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten where they will be deployed at sea together with their team members.

The Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard wishes all the new officer’s good luck. Follow the Coast Guard's Facebook and Instagram for more information about the next Coast Guard officer training 'Basis Opleiding Kustwacht' in 2021.

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COVID-19 Relief Group is still raising funds

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - “The launch was on Sunday, but the drive still continues”. This is now the slogan of the COVID-19 Relief Group (see attached photo of the organizers) who held its first fundraising radio/telethon last Sunday at the University of St Martin. At the end of the day, 98 persons had donated a total of 4,476 US dollars and 4.359 guilders. The Group had expected to raise more funds so as to be able to assist more people who are in need. Seeing the limited amount of money that was raised, the Group has decided to continue the drive and has begun to knock on the doors of companies and businesses.

Besides, because of the limited amount of funds raised thus far, the COVID-19 Relief Group has decided to only assist persons with food and medication at this time. Persons will need to complete a form which they can obtain via the churches that fall under the following umbrella church organizations: the St. Maarten Council of Churches, the Seventh Day Adventist Church and the St. Martin United Ministerial Foundation.

Prior to the radio/telethon on Sunday, the COVID-19 Relief Group registered some 50 phone calls, which shows that the need for financial aid in our community is great. As a community we must have compassion for our brothers and sisters in need and do what we can to help.

The COVID-19 Relief group would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the 98 persons who donated to this worthy cause and to the 24 volunteers who came out on Sunday to assist with driving, serving and with the counting and reporting of the funds as they came in. A special thank you also goes out to PJD2, Radio St Martin, TV Carib, the University of St Martin, TELEM, UTS, Xerox, KFC, and Domino Pizza for their support.

Since the fundraising effort still continues, people who were unable to donate last Sunday can still do so by giving their donation to one of the three clergy men: Father Adam, Pastor Cuvalay or Apostle Wilson. Donations can also be directly deposited on or transferred to the Republic Bank to the account of the St. Martin United Ministerial Foundation. The US dollar account is number 1001567 and the NA guilder account 1001568. For more information you can also contact Julian Rollocks at +5-999-523-0181 or Wycliffe Smith at 1-721-580-9474.

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Lay-by project officially completed. Minister of VROMI Doran visits site

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment & Infrastructure (VROMI), Honorable Egbert J. Doran and the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunication, Honorable Ludmila de Weever hereby informs the general public of the completion of the “Lay-By” project at W.G. Buncamper Road opposite the Vineyard Building in Philipsburg.

The project was initiated to address the limited embarking and disembarking terminals for safe transport of tourists for tour busses between the cruise ship terminal and Walter J.A. Nisbeth Road. Numerous agencies expressed their concerns, which fostered the collaborative effort between both ministries.

With the construction of the lay-by, it will alleviate traffic congestion by avoiding road blocks and allows enhanced management of the tour busses by their representing agencies. The lay-by is solely intended for use by the tour busses and prohibits parking or standing of any other vehicular activity.

The project commenced in June 2020. The execution of the works was carried out by the Department of Infrastructure Management in collaboration with the contractual contractor, Windward Roads. The project has been delayed awaiting the necessary signage.

On Monday, December 14th, 2020, Minister Doran along with his support staff, the Head of the Department of Infrastructure Management and representatives of Windward Roads visited the completed site on W.G. Buncamper Road.

A safe procedure for tourists aboard tour busses to disembark at the head of our capital and explore Philipsburg and the surrounding area is realized with the completion of this project. “I commend the efforts of the staff members and the contracting company for their diligence in ensuring the full completion of the project as the area can safely accommodate our tourists moving forward.”, stated Minister Doran.

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UPDATE: Robbery victim in stable condition. Police continues search for two culprits

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Police are still searching for two suspects who robbed a man of his gold necklace on the Van Romondt Steeg in Philipsburg last night December 15th, 2020 around 07.15 pm, the KPSM said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

During the robbery, the victim with the initials V.M. was severely ill-treated by one of the suspects with a knife. The victim suffered severe lacerations to his chest and face. The victim was later rushed to the Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) in a critical condition.

A search was carried out in the Philipsburg area by the patrols. Officers were not able to locate the two suspects. Later in the evening, the police received information from the SMMC that the victim was operated on by the doctor and is now in stable condition.

The Detective Department investigating this case and are asking anyone who may have any information regarding the armed robbery to contact the Sint Maarten Police Force at +1 721 542 22 22 ext. 204 or 205.

Persons can also use the anonymous tip-line by dialing 9300 or send a message to our Facebook page (Police Force of Sint Maarten - Korps Politie Sint Maarten).

The Police Force is asking the community of Sint Maarten and businesses to remain vigilant during this period of the year. (KPSM)

ARCHIVED - SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The police are currently investigating a stabbing incident that took place on Tuesday evening around 7.30pm in Philipsburg. A man while walking along the Van Romont Steeg, was attacked by two unknown men.

During the robbery, the victim was stabbed several times. The victim was treated at the scene by paramedics and was thereafter taken to the Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) in critical condition, the police said in a statement on Tuesday night. (KPSM)

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Prime Minister Jacobs receives support from the majority in Parliament

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Today, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs updated the Parliament of St. Maarten on the outcome of the negotiations with the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) surrounding the third tranche of liquidity support to gain the level of support needed to be able to proceed. Over the past six weeks, St. Maarten’s negotiation team has been in discussions with BZK in order to come to agreements on the third tranche of liquidity support. These negotiations mainly included agreements on the structural reform packages where there were possibilities for improving the administrative branch and the country as a whole. St. Maarten’s concerns were thoroughly addressed and discussed and as such, the negotiations have come to an end for the 3rd tranche of liquidity support.

Prime Minister Jacobs stated, “As a country, we are between a rock and a hard place... weighing our strive for autonomy against the immediate needs of the people of St. Maarten. Large countries around the world are faced with financial challenges, but our situation is one that is exacerbated by the challenges we recently faced in 2017 and the subsequent slow recovery and improvement in our effectiveness and efficiency as a government. My personal feelings aside, I must put the needs of the country as my highest priority.”

The proposed Kingdom Law establishes the existence and authority of The Caribbean Entity for Reform and Development (COHO); a Dutch administrative body with independent tasks and powers that will work out the structural reforms, and also assist with expertise and the implementation thereof. One of the tasks of the COHO is to support and supervise the development and implementation of projects and measures by government bodies and public companies of the countries. These projects and measures are outlined in country packages.

The government of St. Maarten received further clarity as to the limits of the authority of the COHO which will be there solely to assist the ministries with execution and monitor the progress made. The authority of the COHO is limited by the agreements established in the package of structural reforms concluded between St. Maarten and the Netherlands. The authorities of the COHO do not encompass the powers that traditionally and legally belong to the Government or Parliament of Sint Maarten. St. Maarten will take the lead and will be accountable for the execution and completion of the structural reforms.

Once the government of St. Maarten has given its political agreement with the support of its Parliament, NAf 61.5 million will be released to St. Maarten in liquidity support covering 4 months of Sint Maarten Stimulus and Relief Plan (SSRP) for the last part of the year as well as needed budget support. With the political agreement, the Netherlands will refinance the NAf 50 million which matures on December 18, 2020.

St. Maarten was able to agree with the Netherlands on a possible 15 million euros grant depending on the remaining funds of the Trust Fund by mid-2021. A maximum of 15 million euros will be taken out of the Trust Fund and gifted to the Government of Sint Maarten through the COHO for public financial management and tax reform.

In addition to liquidity support, the Netherlands has committed to providing St. Maarten with a structural amount for the implementation of measures included in the national package, aimed at strengthening the rule of law of St. Maarten as a grant. Namely, an amount of up to 2.7 million euros for further support by K-Mar and Customs in strengthening border control. Furthermore, the Netherlands has also agreed to a one-time grant amounting to 30 million euros for the prison system which includes the construction of a new prison and structural improvements.

At this moment, St. Maarten has explored all viable options to ensure financial sustainability in spite of the world’s new economic reality. As such, after thorough negotiations, St. Maarten is now ready to accept the conditions and the proposed kingdom law knowing that the needed reforms will be able to be executed for more effective and efficient governing.

The opinion of Parliament was clear with a majority giving support to Prime Minister Jacobs to proceed with the agreements related to the COHO and country packages in the interest of the people of St. Maarten.

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Ambulance Dept. acquires Electrolytic Dry Fog Sterilizing Atomizer Machines

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - Ambulance Department of Ministry Public Health, Social Development & Labor invested and recently acquired two Electrolytic Dry Fog Sterilizing Atomizer Machines in light of its efforts to secure proper decontamination of the complete interior of the ambulances including patient compartment and equipment.

The dry mist sterilization systems allows the machines to diffuse a sterilizer product in the ambulance working space with its wide spectrum disinfection effect. The disinfection effect for example in decreasing the concentration of new corona virus; limiting the outbreak of the virus; avoidance of chemical exposure and disinfectant linked poisoning and making a significant difference to terminal cleaning aboard the ambulances efficiently and effectively.

These important disinfection machines including needed disinfecting products were purchase in Germany and brought directly to the island by Dr. Stefan Lührs, an emergency doctor and his wife Katrin Lührs, an emergency nurse from Munster Germany.

The staff of the Ambulance Department also receive demonstrations and instructions from Dr. Lührs in the proper use and operations of the newly acquired sterilizing atomizer machines during their vacation stay on the island.

The Lührs couple are always eager and willing to assists where needed. They are true loving St. Maarten visitors who loves the island and has been visiting the island annually for many years. We are very thankful for the direct delivery of these important disinfection machines by Dr. Lührs says Ambulance Department Head Cylred Richardson.

These sterilizing atomizer machines were acquired at a very opportune time in light of this deadly Covid-19 pandemic and will aid with efficient, effective disinfecting of the ambulances after transporting of any virus-infected person to prevent cross contamination says minister Panneflek.

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PJIAE progressing with Business Recovery and Terminal Reconstruction

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT ROAD) - The Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company N.V. (PJIAE) is expected to end the year with 35% inbound travelers when compared to last year, in what is still a very volatile tourism environment.

This projection, however, is in line with the company’s COVID-19 Business Recovery plan. Traveler numbers are gradually increasing since July, when the airport reopened for international flights. The management and staff of PJIAE are working hard to continue driving the growth momentum through new commercial endeavors with a strong and important focus on cost and cashflow management and efficiencies.

At the same time, the airport has witnessed the start of its extensive reconstruction project more than a month ago, with over 60 local employees working diligently on the necessary pre-works and progressing swiftly to the next stage of the demolition of the terminal building. This milestone comes after a very difficult period for PJIAE following Hurricane Irma.

Reaching one of its most difficult hours in history last year, the company ran out of cash, which, given the damaged terminal, resulted in visitors traveling, and staff and stakeholders working, in harsh conditions. The road to recovery was paved in 2019 by securing a US$20 Million emergency bridge loan from both the Sint Maarten and Dutch government, to help facilitate the airport’s dire financial needs and obligations.

PJIAE’s crisis was multi-layered with many risks involved and time being its worst enemy. The requested assistance from Royal Schiphol Group (RSG) resulted in a strong cooperative foundation and proactive assistance, and in securing a comprehensive funding package from the World Bank (WB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) for the reconstruction of the terminal building.

In April 2020, less than one year after it ran out of money, PJIAE was able to move forward, having obtained the release of the loans and the insurance proceeds, to start the rebuilding of the terminal building. The loan package of the WB included a liquidity component facility, which proved crucial in supporting PJIAE through a difficult period, by securing the jobs and, by extension, the salaries of PJIAE’s valuable staff, during 2020.

The necessary corporate governance improvements were also implemented, whereby the Supervisory Board and Board of Directors were completed with the addition of new members with the right competencies and experience. The impact of COVID-19 didn’t stop management and staff from continuing the road to recovery, as a comprehensive COVID-19 Prevention and Mitigation Plan was prepared and implemented to guarantee a safety bubble between Sint Maarten and the world, allowing tourist to come back to the island and thus restart the economic recovery.

The road to recovery is still a long one, given the volatile global travel and tourism market. Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company N.V. is therefore, not out of the woods yet. “PJIAE was and is still faced with a complicated and big task.

The Managing Board and Supervisory Board commented: “PJIAE was and still is faced with a complicated and big task, we are proud of all the efforts from the staff and the entire team over the last period, as well as to see that a large team of local workers started with the demolition and pre-works for the reconstruction of the terminal. However, it is crucial in these times to create and guarantee stability for people and stakeholders to do its best work for the airport and the country. The focus is now to continue in full force the reconstruction and the implementation of the strategic goals and direction. Together with stringent cost management and focus, PJIAE, its workers and stakeholders are set to come out of this stronger than ever”.

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K1's 7th Christmas Angels Program ends in two days. Hundreds of angels still to be chosen

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - K1’s 7th Annual Christmas Angels Program started last Thursday Dec 3rd and will end this Friday, December 11th.

Since 2014, K1 Britannia Foundation has brought the Christmas spirit to vulnerable groups on the island such as foster children, clients of the Sister Basilia Center, boys at UJIMA, at-risk and vulnerable youth and more. Due to COVID, over 1,000 children have been added to the program to assist those families. Each person has made a handmade angel with love.

K1 and its volunteers have been and will be at the Government Building in Philipsburg until Friday December 11th from 9:00am to 6:00pm. You can stop by to choose one of the handmade angels, buy a gift for the child it represents, return with the gift and get to keep the little angel as a gift from that child.

Over the past 5 days, over 350 persons has come out and picked over 500 beautiful Christmas Angels. Christmas Angels Program Manager Chiaira Bowers added “During this COVID year, it has been wonderful to see so many people come out to choose their angels and enjoying being able to give back in this special way. We are grateful for everyone’s participation, even when they too have been negatively affected due to COVID.”

Individuals, families, companies, social and sports groups are encouraged to come out and participate. So far, companies such as Intermar Shipping, TELEM Group, Arrindell Aviation by Signature and more have come on board to donate gifts for children on the list. Social and sports clubs like Caribbean Eagles and R.I.S.C. Takers have also made it a habit to come and pick angels with their members.

Nevertheless, we aren't done yet! We have hundreds of more angels to be picked. Come out and give the gift of love to someone that needs it by choosing their angel and buying a gift for them. K1 volunteers are ready to welcome and guide you at the Christmas trees.

As all beneficiaries of the project are vulnerable in some way, the foundation looks forward to your support to help to make sure everyone enjoys food, drinks, entertainment and receives at least one gift for Christmas.This is only possible by the support of individuals, organizations and companies participating to make it a success.

For more information about the program and how you as a company or organization can be a part of it, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., call +1(721) 553-8186/ +1(721) 553-4727 or send a message to the foundation on Facebook or Instagram @K1SXM.

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Daniel: Discussion with union ongoing. Info meetings for GEBE employees coming soon

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Interim Manager of GEBE Dr. Sharine Daniel on Monday said discussions about the proposed new CLA with employee union SMCU are ongoing and that preparations are underway to host several informative meetings with GEBE personnel in order to give them an update on the status of the new proposed CLA and the proposed social plan.

Daniel explained that negotiations with the union started since pre-hurricane Irma and has been ongoing ever since. She added that due to the pandemic crisis period, NV GEBE has encountered its challenges just like all other companies where its revenues have been affected in a negative way.

“As a result in order to guarantee the continuity and financial health of the company, the Supervisory Board and myself is currently reviewing the proposed CLA. I informed the SMCU accordingly a few weeks ago and assured them that the required legal and financial reviews are being performed without any further delays. These legal and financial reviews are required to ensure that NV GEBE can comply with any cost-increasing proposals despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its business,” Dr. Daniel said.

Dr. Daniel also noted that currently NV GEBE (Management & Staff) is in harmony and it is “my intention that it remains that way by being not only objective and fair but also transparent with open communication to NV GEBE employees. The ongoing discussions regarding the CLA with SMCU is an internal matter, but employees can rest assure that this matter has my full attention as I have the best interest of the company and the employees at heart,” Dr. Daniel concluded.

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