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Reminder to register for the Free Breast and Health Screenings set for Feb.15 & 22. Register today

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Women ages 18+ across the country are being reminded to register by February 12th for the free breast and health screening taking place on Saturday, February 15th and again on February 22nd.

The screenings are taking place with the assistance of the American University of the Caribbean (AUC) School of Medicine. Additional screenings are scheduled March 28th, and April 4th.

The screenings on Saturdays will take place from 8:30am to 3:00pm. The deadline to register is three (3) days before the scheduled event, and the screenings will take place at the Vineyard Office Park Building, building #3 in Philipsburg at the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA). Those who have not participated in past AUC breast screenings are welcome to participate.

To make an appointment, WhatsApp: 1-317-640-1721 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The health screening will be conducted by AUC medical students. They will be checking your height, weight, vision, blood sugar, blood pressure and total cholesterol while the breast exam will be performed by board-certified AUC physician, Dr. Naira Chobanyan.

AUC is conducting these screenings, with support from the Positive Foundation and Ministry VSA, to help the St. Maarten population understand the risk factors associated with breast abnormalities and breast cancers.

During this free screening opportunity, participants will also be educated and informed on: 1. What are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer? 2. What can be done to decrease the risk? 3. How the risk is evaluated 4. How the risk can be calculated.

While there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, it is the hope that through education and results from this research project, women can be empowered by knowledge resulting in earlier detection and treatment.

The Positive Foundation urges women to take measures to “Feel it, Find it, and Fight it” early on when it’s easiest to treat. The results from this research project may provide a basis for screening guidelines for Sint Maarten, which could lead to earlier detection for all of us on Sint Maarten.

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Ministry VSA hires Lista-de Weever as full-time Epidemiologist

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Minister Pamela Gordon Carty (MBA) of the Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA) recently successfully completed the hiring of a long time highly needed full-time epidemiologist for the Ministry VSA.

Eva Lista-de Weever has entered government service as the head of the Department of Collection Preventive Services (CPS) as of 4th February 2020.

This position has been vacant for the past three years. In addition, she will execute the tasks of epidemiologist. Lista-de Weever obtained a master’s degree in Public Health (MPH) in the field of epidemiology and has worked briefly before in Sint Maarten in 2015 and since then in Ontario, Canada.

Epidemiology is a field where trained epidemiologists study patterns of frequency and the causes and effects of diseases in human populations.

Epidemiology provides the scientific footings for evidence-based medicine and allows placement of strategies for improvement in public health.

Epidemiology is often referred to as the cornerstone of modern public health research and practice and it relies on a variety of relevant public health areas, including biology, biostatistics, social sciences, and assessing risk of exposure to a threat.

Epidemiologists study outbreaks of diseases, the causes, locations, and how various communities are affected, utilizing relative information to aid in the prevention of future outbreaks.

Epidemiologists help to keep the public informed of methods to maintain and improve public health.

The timing couldn’t have been better given the current public health issue in China of the 2019– CoV coronavirus. Lista - de Weever her knowledge and skills will be a welcome reinforcement of team VSA.

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10 COMPANIES PARTICIPATE IN ST. MAARTEN VOCATIONAL TRAINING SCHOOL CAREER FAIR 2020

SINT MAARTEN (SOUTH REWARD) - The St. Maarten Vocational Training School (SMVTS) hosted its annual Career Fair on Monday 3rd February.  The theme this year highlighted the celebration of National School Counselor’s week, 3rd -7th February, ‘Helping Build Better Humans: Start Here…Go Anywhere!’.  

The management, counselors, teachers and staff used this event as an avenue to enhance student’s career growth in order for them to recognize their potential and to understand their important roles in our labor market.

Dignitaries and delegates from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports including the Secretary General Mrs. Shermina Powell-Richardson and the Acting Head of Division Public Education Ms. Marcellia Henry were in attendance.  

Ten businesses participated in the event: The Princess Juliana International Airport – Fire Department, Philipsburg Jubilee Library, Telem Group of Companies, Sister Basilia Center, University of St. Martin, WINAIR, St. Maarten Medical Center, St. Maarten Laboratory Services, Collective Prevention Services and Sonesta Maho Beach Resort.

Organization booths displayed information to give the students a better idea of what to expect: Company information (brochures), workplace expectations and etiquette, career opportunities and types of employability skills needed. The organizations conveyed this via demonstration, display, video and/or oral presentation.

The students, teachers and guests stated that it was a well-executed and informative Career Fair. SMVTS took the time to thank all the organizations that took the time out to ensure a fruitful event for the students.

For the continued development and success of the Career Guidance Program, local businesses and individual professionals are needed to: speak to classes or student groups, host a tour of their workplace, host students for job training or mentor a student.  

To volunteer, please contact Career Counselor, Ms. Ashayna Nisbett at tel: +1-721-548-4894 or via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can also keep up with the events at the school via their Facebook page: SMVTS.

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SMDF and the Red Cross Partner for local communities

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Community development and support continue post Irma with new collaboration between St Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) and the Red Cross. As efforts to build back better across St Maarten continue, SMDF and the Red Cross have partnered together to help build contribute towards stronger community life for all.

Over the course of the year SMDF and the Red Cross will work with community minded residents, community councils and businesses to create outdoor social spaces for people to freely use. Speaking about the main idea of the project, SMDF Managing Director Makhicia Brooks spoke of the value of communities and making personal connections. “Outside of individual households, communities are often the first line of contact amongst residents and SMDF and Red Cross both see how these connections can be deepened by creating communal spaces,” said Brooks.

The partnering organizations shared more of how community relationships can be assets during times of emergencies. “Good and trusting community relations play an important role in a society’s resilience to disaster and general wellbeing. Community spaces that are easy to access and free to use help to promote wellbeing and social relations,” said a joint statement.

“Examples of outdoor, community designed and managed, social spaces exist all over the world and have proven benefits to residents. We see how these spaces would be just as beneficial to St Maarten. With the help of residents, councils, and businesses, we want to stimulate and support the initial creation of these spaces. Once created we will then hand them over to local committees to manage and take full advantage of in the future”, said Kevin Davies, of the Netherlands Red Cross.

To encourage long term use of the spaces, public access and minimize potential future costs the paces will be outdoor, multipurpose and durable. Community residents will be asked to share their visions for the spaces including they might like to see in the spaces, how they would like to use them in the future, and whether they would like to be involved in the long term.

To kick off this project, a general community meeting will be held at the University of St Maarten on Thursday February 13thwhere SMDF and Red Cross will present the project goals and answer questions or expressions of interest. Persons interested in contributing to this project or interested in getting more information can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 543-7711.

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Reminder to Register for Tuesdays Townhall Meeting about the Cruise Industry & Opportunities

SINT MAARTEN (PORT ST. MAARTEN) – Preparations are well underway for Port St. Maarten’s Townhall meeting for Tuesday, February 4 from 6.00pm to 7.30pm at the Homeporting Terminal in Point Blanche at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facilities, which is a collaborative effort with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA).

Entrepreneurs, business owners, managers and the public are invited to attend the townhall meeting. To register, use the following link which will take you to the Port St. Maarten Web Portal: http://201.220.14.28/sxm/MainMenu.aspx?SpecialEvent=1

The townhall meeting is about knowledge sharing in order to stimulate greater awareness about the cruise industry.

Cruise sector experts will be present to share their views about the industry as well as other related information that would be beneficial to persons in the tourism-cruise-hospitality sector or to those who would like to enter the local cruise business.

Those in attendance will gain first-hand insight from cruise experts on the current state of the industry, developments and destination trends.

The FCCA is a not-for-profit trade organisation composed of 19 Member Lines operating over 100 vessels in Floridian, the Caribbean and Latin American waters.

Created in 1972, the FCCA’s mandate is to provide a forum for discussion on tourism development, ports, safety, security, and other cruise industry issue and to develop bilateral relationships with destinations’ private and public sectors. By fostering an understanding of the cruise industry and its operating practices, the FCCA works with governments, ports and private sector representatives to maximise cruise passenger, crew and cruise line spending, as well as enhance the destination experience and increase the number of cruise passengers returning as stay-over visitors.

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Police Looking for Three Suspects in Tuesday morning Jewelry Store Armed Robbery

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Police Patrols were directed, by the central dispatch, to a jewelry store in the Philipsburg vicinity, during the morning hours on Tuesday 28th 2020, for an armed robbery that had just taken place, police announced on Tuesday afternoon.

According to the information gathered from the patrols on the scene, three masked men, slim in posture and armed with weapons, entered the establishment and began destroying the glass jewelry cases to access the jewels.

The masked men then fled the store, on foot, in the direction of Back Street after gathering an undisclosed amount of jewelry.

The Special Unit Robbery (SUR) is requesting any information from persons who may have seen or recognize the suspects connected to this investigation to share this information with the investigating Detectives.

It is only with the help of the community that together we can solve many of these cases. The detectives can be contacted via phone at 542-2222 ext 203 204 205, the anonymous tip line # 9300 or persons with information can also send a private message via our Facebook Page- Police Force of Sint Maarten - Korps Politie Sint Maarten or website https://www.policesxm.sx/ 24/7. (KPSM)

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UPDATE: Another major 6.1 quake hits and Four aftershocks rocks Cayman Islands area. Fire & Public Works responding to incidents

CARIBBEAN/CAYMAN ISLANDS – Within the past minutes another major 6.1 earthquake has rocked the Cayman Islands area.  There have also been now four aftershocks after the 7.7 magnitude quake from earlier this afternoon.

ARCHIVE - There has been three aftershocks after the 7.7 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday afternoon. The aftershocks range from 4.5 to 4.9 magnitude.

According to information coming from the Government of the Cayman Islands, a preliminary damage assessment of the islands is being carried out.

The Fire Dept. and Public Works Dept. are responding to a number of incidents; structural damage has occurred on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac; several sinkholes have been observed in different areas; no confirmed reports of injuries; Cayman Airways has suspended all non-essential services for Tuesday; two shelters have been opened, the Red Cross Shelter on Huldah Avenue as a precaution, and the Aston Rutty Civic Centre is open on Cayman Brac.

ARCHIVE - The NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has discontinued its tsunami threat warning adding that the tsunami threat from this earthquake has passed.  They pointed out that minor sea level fluctuations of up to one foot above and below the normal tide may continue over the next few hours in some locations.

Based on information provided earlier below, and to add to that, no tsunami was observed on the gauge at Port Royal, Jamaica or at Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, and based on these, the tsunami threat has passed.  

ARCHIVE - According to NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Center: tsunami waves have been observed in the capital city of Cayman Islands, Georgetown of 0.4 feet.  

News coming out of the Cayman Islands says that people ran out of homes, office buildings into the streets; telephone service seems to be down; sewage system along the road network in different areas have issues; Cayman Hazard Disaster Management Organization has requested people near the beaches to move inland and to higher ground.  Belize, Honduras and Mexico have now been included in the tsunami threat warning by the NWS.

The U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, has issued a “Tsunami Threat Message” stating that based on preliminary earthquake parameters, hazardous tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 300 km of the earthquake epicenter along the coasts of Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Cuba.

A 7.7 magnitude earthquake occurred around 3.00pm at a depth of six miles between Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Cuba.

Soualiga Newsday (www.soualiganewsday.com) will keep you informed as more official information becomes available.

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First meeting between Carnival Foundation and Police in preps for Carnival 2020

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) and members of Sint Maarten Police Force held their first preparation meeting for the upcoming carnival season.

During the meeting that was held at the Philipsburg police station, the participants took a look back at what went well in 2019 and what could be improved on for Carnival 2020.

The members of the SCDF indicated in principle what their plans are for Carnival 2020.

Members of the SCDF were quizzed by the members of the police force about any new activities or events that may have an impact on the operational part of the police during Carnival 51.

Both parties went over details for the upcoming Carnival season and to ensure that all are on the same page in terms of regulations and safety procedures. (KPSM)

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Saba Bank has the deepest and largest marine sinkholes in the world

SINT MAARTEN/BONAIRE - From 5 to 20 December 2019, the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) and Wageningen Marine Research organized an expedition to the Saba Bank, close to the Dutch island of Saba in the Caribbean region. Experts on board the research vessel Pelagia gathered data to acquire more knowledge about the sinkholes and the hundreds of recently discovered strange calcareous algae turrets.

Saba Bank has the deepest and largest marine sinkholes in the world

In 2018, during the NICO research expedition at the Luymes Bank and part of the Saba Bank, the current expedition leaders Fleur van Duyl (NIOZ) and Erik Meesters (Wageningen Marine Research) discovered more than 20 enormous holes ranging from 10 to 375 metres in depth and with diameters varying between 70 to 1100 metres. The floor of the Saba Bank consists of a limestone deposition one to two kilometres thick. When the bank lay above water during the ice ages and the sea level was 120 m lower than it is now, flowing freshwater dissolved the limestone and created large holes. This first led to the formation of caves, which subsequently collapsed. These sinkholes that developed on land were subsequently submerged after the last ice age (20,000 years ago), when the sea level rose again.

A well-known marine sinkhole is the “Great Blue Hole” off the coast of Belize in the Caribbean Sea. This hole is visible from space because it lies close to the surface and it looks like a sort of dark eye in a light blue sea. China claims the deepest described sinkhole, the “Dragon Hole” in the South China Sea, with a depth of 308 metres. However, the floor of the deepest sinkhole on the Saba Bank is certainly 375 metres deep and is therefore deeper and larger than the “Dragon Hole”. So far, no other area has been found with so many sinkholes - more than 20 - at such a short distance from each other.

Knowledge about the Saba Bank still far from complete

From a scientific perspective, little is known about the ecological functioning of the Saba Bank. And there are even many blanks on the map. “During the NICO expedition in 2018, we discovered a unique and spectacular biological community in one of the sinkholes on the Saba Bank at a depth of about 110 metres”, says expedition leader Fleur van Duyl from NIOZ. “On the seafloor we found hundreds of calciferous algae turrets with diameters of 40 to 60 cm. These pink-purple turrets consist of layers of crustose calcareous algae and reminded us of the Chinese terracotta army.”

According to Erik Meesters, expedition leader of Wageningen Marine Research, these calcareous algae probably grow very slowly at that depth because there is very little light. “They might be able to tell us more about the history of the Saba Bank and the conditions under which the sinkholes were formed.” What made this year’s expedition so special for Meesters is that they did not know what they would find; “Most of the sinkholes on the Saba Bank have not yet been visited by anybody and that makes it particularly exciting.”

First findings

The researchers extensively explored all 21 sinkholes on the Saba Bank. The aim was to find out more about the nature of the calcareous algae turrets and the environmental factors that influence their growth. How does the exchange of water between the sinkholes and the flowing water above work, and which biological communities and nutrients such as bacteria are present? The collected data is taken back to the Universities where it will be analyzed. This will provide insights into why these turrets occur at some sinkholes but not others.

The research vessel dropped a wide range of measurement equipment and cameras to a depth of many tens of metres. These were used to collect various data about the water column, and took samples of water and seafloor life, including an effort to bring several turrets to the surface. The researchers also placed anchors with measurement equipment in the sinkholes which allowed seven days of monitoring during the expedition. All collected data is now being analyzed and the researchers are eager to find out more about the secrets of the sinkholes.

Sinkhole seems to seep gas

The Saba Bank revealed a surprise. Via the Saba Conservation Foundation, the researchers got coordinates of a purported hotspring (found by fishermen) in one of the sinkholes. At ca 280m depth a plume was detected with the multibeam, maybe a methane seep? The CTD profiles showed an amazing steep gradient in among others oxygen in the sinkhole.

Saba Bank

The Saba Bank, several kilometres to the south of the island of Saba, covers more than 2400 km2 and is therefore the largest protected nature area in the Netherlands. The bank,lies completely underwater and is important from both a biological and economic perspective. The submarine mountain rises from the seafloor at a depth of 1000 metres to on average 30 to 40 metres below the sea surface. Large parts of the edges of the bank consist of extensive, healthy coral reefs. This region in the Caribbean Netherlands is also part of the shark and sea mammal nature reserve Yarari designated by the Dutch state. The importance of the biodiversity of the Caribbean Netherlands is internationally recognised by a designation of the Saba Bank as an Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Area (EBSA) under the Biodiversity Treaty.

saba Matthew Humphreys NIOZ

Researchers watching live footage from the bottom of the first Saba Bank sinkholes. Credit: Matthew Humphreys (NIOZ)- copyrights reserved

saba NIOZ 2

Images from the bottom at 100m depth with the CCA pillars, still standing. Credit: NIOZ - copyrights reserved

saba NIOZ

The edge of a sinkhole in the plateau at app. 85m (right). Credit: NIOZ - copyrights reserved

 

 

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Police announces Carnival 2020 Vehicle Inspection Schedule

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In an effort to inform the general public in a timely manner please see below for the Carnival 2020 Vehicle Inspection information of the Sint Maarten Police Force.

Please be advised that this is mandatory for all vehicles wishing to take part in Carnival 2020. Pay keen attention to the dates listed below as late applications will not be accepted.

Vehicle inspection dates: Saturdays, Feb.22, 29, Mar. 28, April 11.  Vehicle inspections will be done between 12.00pm and 5.00pm on the Ring Road across from Bluepoint.

Documents needed for vehicle inspections are as follows:

- A copy of the valid insurance document for the vehicle;

- Copy: valid inspection document;

- Copy: valid road tax document;

- Copy: valid drivers license for the driver for (Heavy Equipment CAtegory C+E - two drivers needed), Busses Category D, For all other vehicles Category B.

Vehicles with tinted front windows will not be inspected. Tint must be removed before the vehicle can be inspected.

(KPSM)

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