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Soualiga News Today (4321)

Nature Foundation Expresses Concern Regarding Conservation of Mangroves and Sea Grass Beds

SIMPSON BAY LAGOON, Sint Maarten - The St. Maarten Nature Foundation has expressed via official letter its concern regarding discussions pertaining to the possible building of boat marinas and possible other developments in one of the last remaining mangrove areas in the Simpson Bay Lagoon. The Foundation has expressed its concern based on discussions that areas that were previously zoned as green areas in the Zoning Plan for St. Maarten are now being labeled as areas where development is slated to take place. Of particular concern is that these areas are where the Nature Foundation recently conducted a mangrove reforestation program where some eight thousand juvenile mangroves were planted, a significant and costly undertaking for a conservation management organization and one that has gained wide scale recognition throughout the region.

It is with significant concern that the Nature Foundation is following the developments regarding areas where some of the last remaining relatively healthy mangrove strands are left in the Simpson Bay Lagoon. The area from the Cole Bay side of the Simpson Bay Causeway to Port de Plaisance Marina are some of the last relatively healthy areas of not only mangrove strands but also of seagrass beds that support habitat for conch, lobster, and numerous fish species. Based on a 2012 Nature Foundation Report that area is responsible for the maintaining of acceptable water quality levels in other areas of the Simpson Bay Lagoon. Also based on the 2012 study if that section would be developed the entire eastern section of the Simpson Bay Lagoon from the Causeway to Cole Bay would experience significant environmental collapse with no living, viable ecosystems in place to support life. A significant drop in water quality will also be experienced, turning that section into what is scientifically termed a “dead zone”.

Additionally the mangrove sections, based on the Nature Foundation report on the effects of Climate Change, will play an important role in the rise of seawater levels. If those areas are removed the effects of climate change, including the flooding of some Cole Bay areas, will be realized as mangroves, which fulfill a significant coastal protection function, are essential in protecting communities from the effects of Climate Change.

Many Conservation Organizations and residents have expressed hope that the section in question will be preserved in its current state considering that it, together with areas such as Little Key and Mullet Pond, currently form the ecological backbone of the Simpson Bay Lagoon. There is no question that the development of the area and the destruction of important natural habitat that is associated with that, will have dire consequences for the Simpson Bay Lagoon and St. Maarten in General. The conclusions that are outlined in this letter are based on and supported by Scientific Studies conducted of the area, further highlighting the negative effects that can occur based on scientific fact.

The Nature Foundation urges all stakeholders involved to review the process and come to the mutual conclusion that developing the area will cause ecological collapse in one or multiple sections of the Simpson Bay Lagoon and does not fit within the context of sustainable development, a development where the economy of St. Maarten, the St. Maarten society including the communities of Cole Bay and Simpson Bay, and the Environment in the Simpson Bay Lagoon is sufficiently managed and supported for future sustainable growth.

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B&L Worldwide President Baptiste Meets with COM on Expanding Hub Function in Aviation Sector

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – On Tuesday, May 27th, Craig Baptiste, the President / Chairman of B&L Worldwide attended a meeting with the Council of Ministers. Baptiste was requested to provide elucidation on the project proposals previously received by the Government in writing.

Baptiste has trained at the United States Air Force Academy and Embry Riddel Aeronautical University. He has extensive experience as an airline captain and he has been active in the aviation industry for many years in different capacities. In addition, he has been involved as an entrepreneur in different areas like real estate, food manufacturing and government contracting.

The B&L Worldwide project is currently known as ‘Project Majestic’ and its objective is to increase the hub function of St. Maarten in the aviation industry. The realization of the project would create job opportunities on the island. According to Baptiste the project can be financed by investors and will not require financial assistance from the Government.

The Council of Ministers appreciated Baptiste’s presentation. The course of action, due to the technical level of discussion, is for B&L Worldwide to continue discussions with the necessary stakeholders, among which Princess Juliana International Airport. Depending on the results of these meetings discussions with B&L Worldwide will be continued.

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Parlatino MPs discuss Energy Matters, Mining Safety, Migrant Rights and Parlatino Integration with the Caribbean

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Members of Parliament and support staff from the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino) had two-days of very successful committee meetings.

Energy was one of the main issues discussed.  The Committee for Energy & Mines discussed a draft framework law concerning Electrical Energy which will be finalized for discussion in the next Committee meeting that will be held in Panama from July 24-25.

The decision taken in the committee is to send this draft law to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).  The Parliament of Sint Maarten is to also receive a copy and is expected to give its opinion and input on the draft law.  Work will also be carried out in drafting a law on Sustainable Energy.

The Chile delegate Issa Kort did a presentation about Mining Safety and it was decided that a draft framework law will be prepared.

Nuclear energy was discussed as well as a draft law on the use of renewable energy.

In the Committee of Political Affairs, Municipal and Integration meeting, it was agreed to create a document that promotes the unity of Latin America and the Caribbean.  It will be recommended to the Board of Directors of Parlatino, that the concept of integration be present in all topics of Parlatino.

The committee for Economic Affairs, Social Debt and Regional Development discussed the issue of migration.  The committee agreed to propose to the Parlatino Board of Directors about promoting a meeting with the Congress of the United States and the European Parliament, to exchange views on the rights of migrants.

It was also decided to promote a meeting with the United Nations Human Rights Committee with respect to making an integral analysis of the problems related to the human rights of migrants.

The Cuban delegate proposed to strive for a greater expansion of Parlatino toward the countries of the Caribbean.

The Parlatino Members of Parliament and support staff attended three committees meetings that took place last week at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino.

Parlatino, is a regional, permanent and unicameral organization, comprising the National Latin American Parliaments elected democratically upon popular vote, whose countries have subscribed to the institutional treaty of November 16, 1987, in Lima, Peru.

Some of the purposes of Parlatino are to encourage the economic and social development of the Latin American community and endeavour for it to achieve the full economic, political, social and cultural integration of its nations.

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Minister Lake reminds Simpson Bay residents and stakeholders to review draft development plan as June 3 deadline approaches

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (Ministry of VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake says that the draft Simpson Bay Development Plan that includes the SXM Airport, Beacon Hill and Simpson Bay Lagoon, official review will conclude on June 3.

Minister Lake is calling on residents and stakeholders to make use of the opportunity to submit their views before the aforementioned deadline.  The public review started May 5.

The development plan is available at the Ministry VROMI (Tamarindesteeg #16, Philipsburg, Pondfill) and at the Public Service Center, Simpson Bay Fish Market.

The draft development plan is also available online through the Government website www.sintmaartengov.org; select Government; select Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure; scroll down to Zoning/Development Plans, and select About Zoning/Development Plans; go to the interactive map and select Simpson Bay. 

“The public review is the legal formal part of the zoning plan process.  The plan will guide the future spatial development of the Simpson Bay area where it relates to land use and building regulations.

“This is the opportunity for residents and stakeholders of the Simpson Bay area and adjacent communities to address their concerns in writing to the Minister VROMI.  I fully believe in transparency and openness, and community engagement. This is my back to basics approach, from the ground up. 

“The deadline is approaching.  Tuesday, June 3 is the last day to submit in writing your views via this formal process,” Hon. Minister Maurice Lake said on Thursday. 

Residents and stakeholders can submit objections with respect to the draft development plan Simpson Bay to the Minister of VROMI, Government Administration Building, P.O. Box 943, Clem Labega Square, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten.

At the end of the public review, the objections will be sent to the Council of Ministers and Parliament for handling and approval of the law.

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UP Party Board Extends Deepest Condolences to Leader MP Theo Heyliger and Family on Tragic Loss

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The United People's Party (UP) family board extends its deepest condolences to the Leader of the UP Party Hon. Member of Parliament Theo Heyliger and family, as well as to Debby Zwanikken and family with respect to the passing of their son.

The UP family is now in deep mourning, and joins with the entire Sint Maarten community for strength during this time of bereavement.

The over-pouring amount of call and messages of support during this difficult time of sadness is deeply appreciated.

The UP family kindly ask to respect the privacy of the families as they deal with their loss. 

All UP activities have been suspended until further notice.

 

 

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President Arrindell extends condolences to the Heyliger and Zwanikken families

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The President of Parliament Hon. Gracita Arrindell said on Wednesday that she was deeply shocked to learn about the passing of Curtis Heyliger in a tragic accident early Wednesday morning.

Curtis Heyliger is the son of Leader of the United People’s (UP) party and Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Theo Heyliger and Debby Zwanikken.

The President would like to express her condolences to the Heyliger and Zwanniken families

“I was deeply saddened when I heard the news on Wednesday morning.  I have spoken to MP Hon. Theo Heyliger and have expressed our deepest sympathy to him and his family on their loss on behalf of the MPs and the House of Parliament,” President of Parliament Hon. Gracita Arrindell said on Wednesday.

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MLK First Place Winners at Public Education Interscholastic Sports Days

CAY HILL, Sint Maarten - The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Primary School placed first for both the Cycle 1 and Cycle 2 Public Education Interscholastic Sports Day’s. The Cycle 1 Public Education Sports Day was held on Friday, May 23rd, 2014 and the Public Education Cycle 2 Sports Day was held on Tuesday, May 27th, 2014 at the Raoul Sports Complex in Cay Hill. 

Competing schools was the Marie G. Weever Primary School, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Primary School, Oranje Primary School, Ruby Labega Primary School, Leonard Connor Primary School and the Charles Leopold Bell Primary School.

"Congratulations to the teachers, support staff and students of our Cycle 1 and Cycle 2 classes, who undoubtedly placed 1st for the Public Education Interscholastic Sports Days on Friday and today. Seeing first hand our students forging forward amidst farce competition made me even more proud. Job well done as your grit and determination was clearly displayed in the spirit of your sportsmanship," remarked Stuart Johnson School Manager of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Primary School

“Words cannot convey how proud I am daily of the barriers and milestones our school successfully overcomes daily," Johnson concluded. 

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For a Stick o Fire Book Launch at Library June 2

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - Author and Illustrator, Drs. Mulberry Egstorf-Pantophlet, is on St. Maarten to present her 320-page illustrated book For a Stick o’ Fire with over 1500 verses and rhymes.

The public of St. Maarten is invited to attend the book launch at the Philipsburg Jubilee Library, on Monday, June 2, at 7:00 PM. Egstorf-Pantophlet will be doing a reading and book-signing session at the launching ceremony. Copies of her books will be available for a special price.

According to Egstorf-Pantophlet, “The title For a Stick o’ Fire stems from the old St. Maarten saying that folks used when they came for a very brief visit. It relates to a time when a person who wanted to light the fireplace orcoalpot, would go to a neighbor and ask fora stick of fireand hurry back home with it before it extinguished.”

 The illustrated verses and rhymes of For a Stick o’ Fire are alltrue accounts and give readers a perspective of how life used to be in the 1950s and 1960s, in remote and small sections of the Dutch cul-de-sac valley, now known as Marigot Hill, St. Peter’s and South Reward.

“At that time this area was referred to as ‘out in the country’ and formed a world and environment all by itself. Most people could find typical old technologies, skills and activities such as; windmill-power, herding and caring for cattle, vernacular building-style, jollification, baking with fire-untop-fire-underneath-method, ironing with thegoose, boiling the sheets in abath-pan outside, fabricating spatalashes, building coal-keelsand a host of  ingenious items such asthe goblet, the cotta, the coppaand more,” said Egstorf-Pantophlet.

The author’s collection of short stories resulted from her need to share and preserve St. Maarten’s cultural and historical stories, which Egstorf-Pantophlet believes, “in the face of progress and modernization, have disappeared or changed beyond recognition.”

The publication of the book has been realized with the support of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Caribsche Gebied.

After the book launch, on June 2, books will be available at the Library and for purchase at theSt. Maarten National Heritage Foundation and Museum on Front street. 

 


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Democratic Party Registers with Electoral Council

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - Democratic Party Leader Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, joined by the President of the DP Board Hasani Ellis and Michael Ferrier, submitted the registration of the Party at the Electoral Council Offices on Back Street. During the brief meeting all of the necessary paperwork was submitted for the request for registration and the confirmation was received  that all necessary forms were in order. The Electoral Committee will now review the articles of incorporation to ensure that these include all the requirements established by law.

Prime Minister Wescot-Williams commented that with the installation of the new young and dynamic Democratic Party board all of the members have been updated on all items related to the upcoming elections; "The DP, whose legal status as an association goes back to 1994, has overhauled its articles of incorporation to reflect the party's new approach and philosophies, as well as the new legal requirements for political parties,  while at the same staying true to some of its core values. This is definitely an example of the Democratic Party ‘Getting it Right’," commented Wescot-Williams.

The PM has also previously stressed that the electoral council is in place and functioning and that numerous considerations need to be taken into account prior to the upcoming elections: “The electoral council is one of the important bodies that has been created by law as part of the entire electoral process. The electoral council, which is chaired by attorney Bert Hoffman, is the body to which political parties submit their request for registration. Over the last couple of weeks on our sister island of Curacao there have also been issues with regards to political parties registering etc. On St. Maarten political parties need to be an association and this is not yet the case on Curacao. A political party on Curacao is suggesting now that political parties need to be an association so in that respect St. Maarten is a step ahead,” commented Prime Minister Wescot-Williams.

After the registration of the Democratic Party at the Electoral Council Office, Democratic Party President Hasani Ellis stated that he considered it an honor to be a part of the democratic process “"As a young president, I consider it an honor to be part of this new process for political parties. It's about transparency and that is something I endorse, as I believe it will encourage more young people to become part of a modern electoral process."

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Teen Times Gearing Up for Prom Night 2014

DAWN BEACH, Sint Maarten - It’s that time of year again when high school seniors, the Class of 2014, are preparing to attend their once in a lifetime Prom Night organized for the 18th year by the team of the youth Publication Teen Times.

Prom Night 2014, under the theme “Love Eternal”, will be held on Sunday, June 29 at the Dawn Best Westin Resort & Spa from 7:00pm until 1:00am. It is a very formal affair exclusively for the senior (exam) students of the Milton Peters College, St. Dominic High, St. Maarten Vocational, Academy PSVE, St. Maarten Academy, Sundial, Learning Unlimited and Caribbean International Academy. 

Prom Night gives these seniors the opportunity to have one last great time with their school mates before they go their separate ways to further their studies or into the work place. According to Teen Times, “it is just one big formal party with some activities in between, organized to being the curtain down on their high schools years in style.” 

This year the décor at Prom Night will carry a distinct Indian atmosphere as Teen Times is going for the Bollywood/traditional Indian look. “Our themes as everyone knows changes every year. It doesn’t mean that students have to dress to match the theme, but we don’t discourage it either,” Teen Times said. 

“What is a Prom? A Prom is one night where students create a lifetime of memories. We provide the venue, the music, the snacks, the ambiance. They simply have to bring the fun and the Prom spirit. That is all. They have to create their own fun. And judging from how Prom has grown over the past 18 years, our students have fully grasped the idea of Prom Night,” Teen Times added. 

Central to Prom Night is the crowning of a Prom King & Queen, a Prom Prince & Princess, Best Couple, Best Dressed girl and boy and much more. Entrance to prom Night 2014 is US $20 per student.

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