Soualiga Today (2)


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Soualiga News Today (4275)

Nature Foundation Installs Numerous Coral Nurseries

COLE BAY, Sint Maarten - Through the assistance and backing of luxury horlogier Hublot and the Alwani Family of the Little Europe chain of stores the St. Maarten Nature Foundation over the past eighteen months researched, installed and managed coral nurseries at various locations around St. Maarten.  The Coral Nurseries have been installed in order to provide fast coral growth so that new coral fragments can be transplanted both on reefs within the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area and closer to shore.

Due to rapid coastal development and climate change St. Maarten has lost nearly 80% of its near shore coral reefs. Coral reefs are an essential part of the Marine ecosystem as they provide habitat for numerous creatures and are often described as the ‘rainforests of the sea. Coral reefs also form a barrier to rising sea water levels caused by climate change and can act as a very important mitigating factor for the effects of sea level rise.

Additionally, the man of War Shoal Marine Park and the coral reef areas within it are of significant environmental and economic importance as diving in Marine Parks is globally on the rise and generally accepted by the diving tourist as a “must do” vacation activity. An economic valuation study conducted by the Nature Foundation of St. Maarten’s coral reef ecosystem has placed the monetary value at close to US$58 million in contributions to the economy of the country.

With proper management and restoration the area will increase the St. Maarten Tourism Product and local fisheries will also be enhanced through the regeneration of the depleted fish stock surrounding St. Maarten. Research has shown that Marine Protected Areas increase fish populations and fish size of commercial species in nearby fishing grounds.

Through a donation from luxury watchmaker Hublot and the Alwani family the Nature Foundation has been growing and transplanting coral at various locations throughout the island, both inside and outside of the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area. Specific species were chosen that provided a maximum of success in repopulating the country’s near shore environment with coral reefs.


Govt of Sint Maarten never issued a tsunami warning or watch for the country on Friday

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Department of Communication hereby informs that the Government of Sint Maarten and or its related entities responsible, did not issue a tsunami warning or watch on Friday in connection with the 6.0 magnitude earthquake that took place Friday morning (7.02AM) in the vicinity of the islands of Antigua and Guadeloupe.

During the course of Friday, a rumor started on social media that the country was under a tsunami watch/warning.  This rumor created a lot of unnecessary panic among some of the populace.

The United States National Weather Service (NWS)-National Tsunami Warning Center (NTWC) in a public tsunami information statement issued at 7.07AM on Friday stated that: there is no tsunami danger for the area listed above (U.S., Canada, East Coasts, Gulf of Mexico, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands); based on earthquake information and historic tsunami records, the earthquake is not expected to generate a tsunami.

The community is advised to only pay attention to official government communications when issued via its relevant departments.


Minister Richardson congratulates telecom workers on World Telecommunications Day 17 May

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) Hon. Ted Richardson congratulates all telecommunication sector workers on World Telecommunications and Information Society Day (WTISD), which is being internationally observed on 17th May.

The theme for WTISD is “Broadband for Sustainable Development.” Digital development is a transformative tool to fast-track sustainable development.  In order to realize its full potential it is essential to roll-out high speed broadband networks, making it affordable and universally applicable.

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all telecommunication workers as well as all those working in other fields where telecommunications are also being used to reach potential customers.

“The application of ICT is beyond anything anybody could imagine.  Investments have been made and the country has also cooperated with others to facilitate more potential for our people where ICT development is concerned.  It is indeed a day to reflect upon where technology had brought us and what the future may behold,” Minister Hon. Ted Richardson said on Friday.

The purpose of WTISD is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.

17 May marks the anniversary of the signing of the first International Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

World Telecommunication Day has been celebrated annually on 17 May since 1969, marking the founding of ITU and the signing of the aforementioned convention in 1865.  It was instituted by the Plenipotentiary Conference in Malaga-Torremolinos in 1973.

In November 2005, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) called upon the United Nations General Assembly to declare 17 May as World Information Society Day, and to focus on the importance of ICT and the wide range of issues related to the information Society raised by WSIS.  The General Assembly adopted the resolution in March 2006 stipulating that World Information Society Day shall be celebrated every year on 17 May.  


Minister Lake to address Beacon Hill Street Flooding

BEACON HILL, Sint Maarten – Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (Ministry of VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake is busy visiting the different residential districts throughout the country with respect to infrastructural issues.  This week the Minister was informed about street flooding in Beacon Hill due to the heavy rainfall experienced earlier in the week.  Minister Lake has his ministry already looking into the matter with respect to possible solutions.



UPDATE: Earthquake: 6.0 magnitude occurs near Antigua Friday morning

SINT MAARTEN-ANTIGUA - UPDATE: Four additional earthquakes described as after shocks have occured near the 6.0 quake of 7.02AM on Friday morning.  The after shocks measured 4.6, 4.7, 4.8 and 5.0 on the richter scale.  There is currently no tsunami watch or warning issued for the islands of the North Eastern Caribbean including the island of Sint Maarten. None of the official disaster management organizations of the North Eastern Caribbean islands have indicated such and a story on social media can be labelled as a rumour.      

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.0 on the richter scale occured early Friday morning (7.02AM) as residents around the North Eastern Caribbean were preparing to head off to work and take their children to school. Reports of any damages have not been received at this point in time.

The earthquake was reported at a depth of 23 miles at coordinates 17.1 North and 60.2 West according to the United States Geographical Survey (USGS).

The earthquake occured 96 miles East of Antigua & Barbuda; and 70 miles Northeast of Grande Anse, Guadeloupe.

A tsunami alert was issued by the National Tsunami Warning Center stating that there was no tsunami danger for Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands or British Virgin Islands.  Based on earthquake information historic tsunami records, the earthquake is not expected to generate a tsunami, the statement said based on an evaluation that was carried out. 


Library's DigiKidz Media Lab Attracts over 200 Students

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - Philipsburg Jubilee Library’s (PJL) recently launched Digikidz Media lab has provided workshops in digital multimedia to over 287 elementary school students, since it began in April.

The Media lab was officially opened on April 17, 2014 before invited guests including Jorien Wuite, Secretary General for the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs, Forsee representatives and school officials.

Students from the Seventh Day Adventist School, Helmich Snijders Christian Hillside School, Asha Stevens Hillside Christian School, MAC Browlia F. Maillard Campus, St. Dominic, Sister Regina, Ruby Labega, St. Joseph and Leonard Connor School have taken courses in Movietrader, Internet Safety, creating animation movies, and making short film reports.

“We are very happy that we finally have our own medialab. Since the start of the first workshops, we have already noticed how excited children are about our new Media Lab. We hope to attract more adults to our afternoon workshops as well. Getting familiar with digital media is of the utmost importance for all citizens of our island,” stated Library Director, Monique Alberts.

This week, Design specialist, Niels Hoebers, conducted Media Lab workshops on creating animation movies and short film reports.  Hoebers also conducted classes for Curacao’s Media Lab.

“The kids at my workshops are having a lot of fun making their own animated films. They are stimulated to create little stories by manipulating various simple materials like toys, paper and fabric. Students take a picture of the material in small steps by moving them a little bit each time. Pictures eventually come to life by replaying them successively and more quickly. They learn to be creative and have fun. This technique trains individuals to use their creative mind through hands on work and computer skills. The workshop is a great mix of digital and analogue work. One kid said “best fieldtrip ever". When I hear children say things like that, I know the DigiKidz Media Lab works,” stated Hoebers.

The medialab project is an initiative from Foundation Kultuurkameleon.  The Digikidz project was made possible through funding from the Windsong Foundation and the Kultura fund.  Digikidz is a project from the Foresee foundation.

Classes are available for schoolchildren and anyone that is interested in learning about the use of modern internet technologies and multimedia. The courses are free to students between 9 to 18 years of age, as well as Teachers. Persons 18 and older pay a contribution of $ 5 at the start of the workshop. Interested persons can call the library at 542-2970 and contact Joy Lambert for more information or register online at

Photo Caption: Workshop Facilitator, Niels Hoebers assisting two students of the Sister Regina School with their Animated Film. (PJL photo)


Minister Lake pleased with outcome of meeting between Simpson Bay Community Council and SXM Airport

SIMPSON BAY VILLAGE, Sint Maarten – Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (Ministry of VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake is pleased with the discussions that took place Wednesday night between the Simpson Bay Community Council and SXM Airport.

Minister Lake initiated the meeting in order for both parties to have a better understanding of each other.  Yvette Halley represented the Simpson Bay Community Council (SBCC) while Regina Labega, was the head of her delegation.

“In my back to basics approach it is very important that all parties understand each other in order to be able to move forward.  With respect to the plans for our national airport and the interests of the people from the Simpson Bay Village and surrounding environs, some clarity had to be brought on matters of concern to the latter party, and the meeting basically brought a lot of clarity. 

“An agreement has been reached where SXM Airport will meet with the SBCC on a quarterly basis.  I applaud the airport’s management on its transparency and openness and willingness to also help the community as part of its social corporate responsibility,” Minister Hon. Maurice Lake said on Thursday.

The SBCC questioned a number of things such as the amount of filling that would take place in the Simpson Bay Lagoon; congestion within the lagoon; the lagoons beauty and nature; further mega yacht developments in the Lagoon; noise pollution concern and new jet engines that will be more silent, were some of the issues discussed.

During the meeting a number of projects, primarily those that would be implemented in the next three to five years in accordance with SXM’s short term strategic plan were highlighted.

Regina LaBega, Managing Director of SXM Airport, was accompanied by her team and was pleased with the outcome of the meeting. “SXM was able to give clarity on a number of developments pertaining to the most immediate plans of the airport as well as listen to some of the concerns of the Simpson Bay community,” LaBega said.

Key projects discussed included the relocation of the fuel farm, construction of a new FBO facility, construction of a bypass, upgrades to SXM’s Rescue and Fire Fighting facility as well as SXM’s construction of a substation for the government fire department which will serve the Simpson Bay and surrounding areas and will be equipped to also house the country’s ambulance.  

In addition to the ongoing developments at the airport, SXM  also discussed ways that it can be of assistance to the Simpson Bay community in keeping with its corporate social responsibility. Upgrades to the community’s current youth center and lighting for the basketball court were among some of the projects discussed. The main highlight of the meeting was SXM reinforcing its commitment to engaging SBCC by announcing it will begin quarterly meetings with the Simpson Bay Community Council to keep members abreast of the various developments, projects and plans being executed as part of SXM’s Capital Improvement Program.

This announcement was very well received by SBCC and the members look forward to further discussions with SXM. “We value the input of the Simpson Bay Community and remain committed to including them and keeping them abreast of our plans,” LaBega concluded.

PHOTO CUTLINE: SBCC Yvette Halley (5th from left), Hon. Minister of VROMI Maurice Lake (4th from left), SXM Airport Managing Director Regina Labega (3rd from left) along with other members of the SBCC and airport management staff.


Natural Hair Workshop Returns to St. Martin Book Fair

GREAT BAY/MARIGOT, St. Martin—Another fun and informative natural hair workshop will take place during the St. Martin Book Fair on June 7, 2014, at 11 AM, at the University of St. Martin, said Rochelle Ward, the workshop organizer. Dr. Veronica Reid, who launched her natural hair and skin products in 2011, and is the author of Chances Are You’re Not Natural, will conduct the hair workshop. The owner of Beautiful Earth Natural Hair Haven in Jamaica is also well known as Ewurama.


“It’s exciting to introduce Dr. Reid to the St. Martin people, especially to our young women aspiring to start their own business, and to be able to say, ‘Here is someone who has turned her passion into a business. See? Now, do’,” said Ward. Dr. Reid obtained her PhD in business and management at the University of Nottingham, England, and had returned to Jamaica with the intention to be a lecturer but decided to start a beauty care business. 


The free book fair workshop is entitled ‘Partners in Crime: Going Natural and Staying Natural’ and promises to surpass last year’s hair workshop, which was a mega hit at the literary festival. “Two hundred (200) plus persons attended the ‘Natural Hair Mixology’ workshop last year and some were turned away,” said Ward, who is a published poet, high school teacher, and blogger. 


“This year I don’t want to turn people away, so I am encouraging future attendees to register online at This time you can reserve your seat and your place will be secured,” said Ward. (The theme for the 12th annual St. Martin Book Fair, June 5 – 7, 2014, is “Crime&Punishment.”) 


The new workshop is organized by Don’t Break the Comb (DBC), the island’s first natural hair group, which was co-founded by Ward and organized last year’s ‘Natural Hair Mixology.’ 


“As you will see, becoming natural is more than just growing out your God-given hair. This new workshop with Ewurama is also for those who are thinking about transitioning, in need of hair care and styling tips or having trouble maintaining their natural hair,” said Ward. 


Dr. Reid has been featured in The Gleaner and has made numerous appearances on television, radio and in the Jamaican press. Conscious Lyrics Foundation and House of Nehesi Publishers are the organizers of the island-wide book festival, in collaboration with St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, University of St. Martin, LCF Foundation, and St. Martin Tourist Office. 


Caption1: Dr. Veronica Reid, also known as Ewurama, author of Chances Are You’re Not Natural and owner of Beautiful Earth Natural Hair Haven in Jamaica.



Miami International Airport and 21 other US Airports Alert Travelers about MERS Infection

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Travellers from Sint Maarten heading to the United States of America will be alerted once they arrive at one of 22 airports – Miami International Airport included – a warning sign about Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a coronavirus.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause a range of illnesses in humans, from the common cold to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.  Viruses in this family also cause a number of animal diseases.  The strain of MERS was first identified in 2012 in Saudi Arabia.  Medical understanding of the virus and the disease it causes is continuing to evolve.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has put 22 airports on alert around the country for the illness.

The United States of America is the first country in the Western Hemisphere to have MERS cases.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has now added the United States to a list of 13 affected countries reporting cases of MERS or evidence of infection since December 2013.  The countries are: Egypt, Greece, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The fifth meeting of the Emergency Committee convened under the International Health Regulations (2005) was held via teleconference on 13 May.  The Members of the Committee indicated that the seriousness of the situation had increased in terms of public health impact, but that there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission.

As a result, the Committee concluded that the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern have not yet been met, and added that its concern about the situation had significantly increased.


Minister Lake inspects Nazareth community infrastructure improvements

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (Ministry of VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake visited Nazareth, Dutch Quarter to inspect the current infrastructure improvements that are currently underway in the neighborhood.

“Work has started on the main road which is in agreement with the residents of the area that we discussed in a previous meeting together as a community.

“GEBE has installed the street lights in the different areas of the community, and one resident told me that the area now looks like Las Vegas.  It is very important that we touch the neighborhoods, by improving the quality of life, by providing basic streets lights that would improve safety and security.

“It’s a back to basics approach.  You have to work from the bottom up. I came to the community and I listened to their concerns, ideas and suggestions.  Government has limited financial resources at this time, but with the little funds available, we are still able to do wonders by meeting the basic needs of the community.

“Taking care of the grassroots is what the back to basics approach is all about in every Sint Maarten neighbourhood.  So far this week I have been visiting the different districts and looking at the simple things that could be repaired which makes a big difference,” Minister Hon. Maurice Lake said on Wednesday.

Besides Nazareth road in Dutch Quarter, work has been carried out on Christopher Maccow and Felix Marlin road.

NV GEBE drafted a plan to install approximately 20 to 25 extra street lights in the area which would complete the first phase of the project.

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