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Rally Ho! CMC V Cruising Rally to Anguilla Highlights Busy Day 2

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - It’s a tale of two separate events, with different vibes and energy, happening concurrently in this fifth edition of the Caribbean Multihull Challenge. In our parallel universes, on one hand, CMC V is what it’s always been: A showcase of competitive racing prowess from a wide variety of slick catamarans and trimarans. This year, CMC V has also introduced and welcomed a whole new fleet of cruising sailors in a dedicated rally where the whole idea is fine sailing, great parties and making new friends.

And the latter was definitely on display today when the dozen yachts representing the CMC Multihull Rally field set sail from Anse Marcel on St. Maartin’s French side for a windy crossing of the Anguilla Channel and on to an anchorage on Anguilla’s Road Bay, where live music and libations awaited at the aptly named Lit Lounge.

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It’s no secret to anyone who has attended any of the world’s best sailboat shows in the last decade that multihulls are easily the fastest growing segment of the sailing sector of the marine industry. For the CMC Rally, a wide range of brands and models are on the water, led by a half-dozen Balance Catamarans, the sleek daggerboard-equipped performance cats produced in South Africa, which has become one of the leading producers of cruising catamarans. France, of course, is the other main player, and the CMC is well represented with French boats from Lagoon, Outremer, Nautitech and Neel Trimarans. Like the sailors themselves, and the three separate island nations they’ll visit over the course of the event, the CMC Rally is an international affair.

Prior to the Rally start, Phil Berman, the force behind Balance cats, talked about what drew so many of his boats to the CMC Rally. “We’re trying to build a community with our Balance family, and this was just the perfect venue to bring our owners together,” he said. “We’ve all become friends and just enjoy hanging out. I’d say three-quarters of our owners never race, but everyone loves to sail and the Caribbean is all about great sailing. We had six boats and could’ve had more, but we have two couples sailing who have boats being built who are sailing with current owners. We did a group photo today of all out boats under sail which was like herding cats, but it made for some great pictures.”

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Race Competitor CMC V: Fujin. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.

Then it was off to Anse Marcel. “The Marina, and the Blue Sail Hôtel and Restaurant welcomed us with open arms,” said CMC director of marketing Steve Burzon. “All the rally boats in the gorgeous Anse Marcel anchorage added to the beauty there. There was a wonderful party Friday night with great music and lots of Amstel Bright beer. All restaurants were open to serve our 60 guests. All clearances in and out of the three countries making up the rally itinerary have been easy thanks to the St. Maarten Yacht Club’s social committee volunteers and the yacht club office.”

Once underway again, there were photo ops galore this morning as well, as CMC’s Burzon set a departure line off Anse Marcel and the fleet set sail across a very sporty, whitecap-flecked, wave-tossed Anguilla Channel. Sailing a deep broad reach just as the sun popped through the cloudy skies, the Balance 482, Catalyst, was the first boat to conduct a perfect spinnaker set and performed what was probably the most impressive departure. Two more Balance 482’s, Rodeless and Zephyr, soon followed suit, and before long the horizon was dotted with colorful sails. Nearly every boat hoisted a reefed main with the exception of the Balance 442 Umoya, which went without a mainsail but instead flew a unique Parasailor winged spinnaker, which was a remarkable sight unto itself. Before too long, the fleet vanished to the west, on to its next collective adventure.

Along with the sailing, the Rally entries are completing an estimated time schedule and a Rally Bingo Card for additional prizes. The latter includes 24 challenges, including Group Picture, Song Sung w/Whole Crew, Sailing Backwards and many others. With the completed challenges making their way back to race headquarters at the St. Maarten Yacht Club, it’s clear that many crews are having a fine time filling out their cards.

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Rally Participant CMC V: Little Wing. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.

Meanwhile, back along the south shore of St. Maarten, the racers got back into action. And there was plenty of it across all four racing divisions. And once again, at the forefront of it all, Greg Slyngstad’s 53-foot Fujin was taking names and kicking butts.

In the second act of what has become the CMC’s Triple Crown of offshore races, Fujin dominated CSA 1 in the Caribbean 60 Mile Multihull Sprint sponsored by FKG Rigging, a circumnavigation of St. Barth’s, in the blistering elapsed time of 4h, 15m, 20s.

The CSA 2 class has become a match-race duel between a pair of superbly sailed trimarans, the classic Newick-designed Tryst, skippered by Arthur Banting, and what is easily the most improved competitor from last year’s regatta, Marcos Sirata’s Corsair 37, Honey Badger. In today’s wildest finish, Honey Badger was leading on elapsed time in the 27-mile around-the-island race but cut the last mark and made for the finish line. The crew soon realized its mistake and turned around to honor the last mark, but in the mean-time Tryst went ahead and crossed the line first, and also saved their time on corrected time to win the class.

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Race Competitor CMC V: Honey Badger. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.

Also today, CSA 3 and the Diam 24 one-design class had repeat winners from day one in their respective classes, with Georges Coutu’s Leopard 50, La Novia, and Pierre Altier’s Cry Baby once again topping their competition.

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BioNews Kids Second Edition published by the DCNA

SINT MAARTEN/BONAIRE - After a successful first edition, the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) has released the second edition of BioNews Kids. BioNews Kids is a free printed and online nature magazine for children of ages 9 to 11 on the six Dutch Caribbean islands. It was designed to increase reading, spark curiosity, and educate kids about the extraordinary nature on the six Dutch Caribbean islands, including its threats.

This in support to the nature education programs of the Protected Area Management Organizations on Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten. Around 17,500 printed copies in Papiamentu, Papiamento, English or Dutch were distributed to children on the Dutch Caribbean islands. An online version of the second edition of BioNews Kids can be found here

Supporting Nature Education and public awareness

The mission of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) is to support the Protected Area Management Organizations (parks) on the six islands of the Dutch Caribbean. One of DCNA’s goals is the promotion of educational outreach and public awareness. Therefore, in 2021 the first edition of BioNews Kids – a branch of BioNews, which is for adults – was created. BioNews is a free monthly digital newsletter that gives updates on the latest nature news with a focus on research and monitoring, events, and overall activities concerning the members of DCNA. 

Multilingual nature magazine for kids

BioNews Kids is a freely available magazine in English, Dutch, Papiamento, and Papiamentu

for youth aged 9 to 11 on Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Maarten. The magazine is made available through the nature education programs at the Protected Area Management Organizations (parks). The aim of BioNews Kids is to promote reading on the islands with a magazine that is applicable to the experiences of the children on these islands with the nature they can find in their own backyards.  

Theme: Terrestrial

The main theme for this second edition of BioNews Kids is the terrestrial environment. Kids can read amongst others about the Caribbean flamingo and the Red-billed tropic bird and meet Barry the Bat. The magazine also includes activities such as coloring pages, puzzles, and a craft activity. Besides these activities, readers can begin grasping environmental words and use the photo ID of terrestrial animals continuously.

Contact your local park organization education officer for a hardcopy of BioNews Kids or click here for the online version of this edition. For questions, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

BioNews (Kids) is generously sponsored by the National Postcode Lottery and created by the DCNA.

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WITU calls the letter of PM unacceptable

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) is calling on the Council of Ministers under the guidance of the Honorable Prime Minister (PM) Silveria Jacobs to reconsider its letter dated, January 27, 2023, titled, “the Temporary National Ordinance Covid-19 cuts in employment conditions for public servants.”

The letter sent to all Public Servants outlines the lifting of the cost-cutting measures that affected the Country due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The letter addressed vacation days, Vacation Pay, Salary increments, Indexing, and overtime.

“This letter sent to all Public Servants is unacceptable especially since no dialogue with unions has been sought,” remarked Stuart Johnson President of the WITU.  

In the opinion of the WITU, there is a number of issues mentioned within the letter that must be still discussed and addressed.

“You simply cannot pretend that the salary increments, indexing, and the outstanding vacation allowance owed to Civil Servants will just vanish,” Johnson said.

He added, “I have called on my colleague unions collectively and through the Windward Islands Chamber of Labor Unions (WICLU) to meet urgently to address this letter sent to Public Servants.”

WITU has had several general membership meetings with its membership, which has been expecting to see a number of concerns being addressed properly by the Government. 

“This letter speaks volumes and it’s a tipping point to the WITU membership which considers it unacceptable in these challenging times,” Johnson concluded. 

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Task Force installed for improving air travel in the Dutch Caribbean Shaping and implementing the shared vision of the DCCA

ARUBA (ORANJESTAD) – On November 7, 2022, the historic milestone of signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Dutch Caribbean islands, the Netherlands, the six airports of the Dutch Caribbean and the Dutch Association of Airports was celebrated.

This MOU formalizes a commitment of this partnership to explore and establish affordable, efficient, and sustainable air connectivity between Curacao, Aruba, St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba and, more specifically, to explore and stimulate the use of emission-free powered flights to operate the aforementioned air connectivity.

DCCA Task Force

As agreed in the MOU, all Chief Executive Officers (CEO’s) of the DCCA (Dutch Cooperation of Caribbean Airports) recently determined the constellation of the Task Force. This Task Force will be tasked with developing a Joint Strategic Plan (JSP) for improving the interisland connectivity.

The Task Force will include aviation experts and professionals with at its core Mrs. Marieke Smit (Royal Schiphol Group) as Program Manager, Mrs. Suzy Kartokromo (St. Maarten Airport) as assistant Program Manager, Mrs. Jo-Anne Meaux-Arends (Aruba Airport) and Mrs. Peggy Croes (Curacao Airport), both for business development, Mrs. Christine Driessen (Bonaire Airport) for airport infrastructure/charging stations and standards, and Mr.Vishal Oedjaghir (St Eustatius Airport/Saba Airport) as PSO expert.

As such all islands of the Dutch Kingdom are duly represented and will be working on reaching the end goal of the MOU signed back in November of 2022.

Task Force deliverables

Before the end of 2023, this Task Force will deliver a Joint Strategic Plan with, besides a clear indication how to reach the end goal of a more affordable, efficient and sustainable interisland connectivity network with a concrete timeline and milestones, the following deliverables: 1. The feasibility and establishment of an interisland innovation center for sustainable aviation, to stimulate and facilitate the use of zero emission powered flights for air connectivity between these islands; 2. Possibilities, means and measures to achieve a smooth, seamless and efficient flow of passengers on interisland flights at the airports of the CAS and BES islands, including easing the entry/exit requirements by use of biometrics and digital identification technological advancements or otherwise; 3. Recommendations on necessary changes of laws, regulations and policy pertaining to the end goal; 4. Recommendations on how to make interisland travel more affordable for the public.

The progress of the Task Force will be overseen by a Progress Committee, which will consist of the Kingdom Countries Aviation Steering Group (‘Regiegroep Luchtvaart voor de Koninkrijkslanden’) and the CEO’s of the DCCA airports.

The Dutch Civil Airports Association (‘Nederlandse Vereniging van Luchthavens’) will also appoint a representative in the Progress Committee. Joost Meijs, CEO of Aruba Airport Authority N.V. and chairman of the DCCA: “It is great to see that collectively we have been able to define a strong Task Force with aviation professionals from the Caribbean and international world. I am convinced that together and with the support of all islands and countries of the Dutch Kingdom we will improve the interisland connectivity in all aspects”.

About the DCCA

The Dutch Caribbean Cooperation of Airports (DCCA) is a cooperation between all six Caribbean Airports within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

DCCA’s objective is to improve the general quality of each individual airport by facilitating mutual assistance and efficient exchange of information, transfer of knowledge and sharing of expertise with the goal of achieving economies of scale.

DCCA aims to present future focused alternative air transportation options to improve interisland connectivity between the Dutch Caribbean Islands.

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NOC members and other stakeholders to attend Protocol Session in Connection with Royal Family Visit

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The National Organizing Committee (NOC) continues to prepare for the visit of the Royal Family next week Monday and Tuesday.

On Thursday the NOC as well as other stakeholders who will be covering the royal visit, will attend a protocol work session given by Kenneth de Haseth at the Government Administration Building.

Attendees will be receiving a crash course in Protocol. Those in attendance will be drivers, security detail, catering staff, photo and videographers, press, the protocol team, tour delegates and other persons.

Kenneth de Haseth has more than 40-years’ experience in protocol and worked as Chief of Protocol for Curacao from 1997-2021.

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Registration starts for the “Connect and Inspire” Conference as of Wednesday

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Registration for NPOwer’s 2023 ‘Connect and Inspire’ conference is officially open via its interactive online platform https://npower2023conference.sched.com/. Non-profit Organisations (NPOs), private and public stakeholders and persons, with the aim to strengthen their skillsets as it relates to the effective functioning of NPOs are now able to sign up.

Foresee Foundation Founder/Director and NPOwer conference team member Jose Sommers said, “As of Wednesday, February 1st participants can sign up and exploring the program and sign up for either one, two or three days of keynotes, presentations and workshops with more than 35 presenters that NPOwer designed based on the well-established needs of the NPO sector.”

She said, Npower’s 2023 capacity building conference from February 23 to 25 will serve to keep delegates engaged with interactive, thought-provoking and specially crafted workshops and learning experiences. The 3-day conference will serve all who are interested in the work done by the non-profit sector offering them a very diverse program catering to all needs including the private and public sector.

The first day, Thursday February 23rd is scheduled for regional non-profits with the aim of meeting each other in St. Maarten and sharing good practises learning from each other. An eye-opening multifaceted stakeholder symposium will be held on Friday, February 24th connecting Public, Private and the NPO sector to go in-depth on topics such as creating social cohesion within our small island state, shared economies, stakeholder engagement and the role of volunteerism and social corporate responsibility plays in building resilient communities by collaborating, communicating and thinking jointly more creatively and critically.

The Last day, Saturday February 25th is of particular interest as interested participants can select from over 30 workshops with 5 rounds of 6 parallel workshops, pertinent to building yourself and your organisation allowing for lots of choices in choosing workshops based on needs and interests. Topics vary from governance, to grant writing, grant opportunities, Tech based skills to interest-based topics such as social-emotional well-being, nature, culture, youth and environment, to just name a few.

This conference is free for two representatives from Sint Maarten organisations registered on NPOwersxm.com. Persons or organizations not directly affiliated to NPOwer are asked to contribute US$ 50 per person per day or register as of today to become an NPOwer member saving registration fees.

Regional participants, non-NPO related persons/organizations and any other NPOwer affiliated organization with more than two persons will pay the small US$ 50 per day fee to cover the costs of the conference.

NPOwer is more than excited to invite organizations in Saint Martin (French side, Saba, St. Eustatius, Anguilla and St. Barths to join, connect and become part of a regional network sharing ideas and learning from each other. Participants will take from each other innovative ideas, best practices, techniques for navigating challenges and the fact that there are still a lot of good passionate people doing interesting things for the betterment of their community and will potentially make a world of difference for many.

NPOwer welcomes all non-profits and interested persons to register. NPOwer, noted for the slogan “where NPOs connect” is located at Illidge Road #60, Unit 1.1 in the shared offices of R4CR and Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben. For more information go to contact the NPOwer team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or +1 721 581 5050. More information on the content of the program, workshops and other offers can also be followed on NPOwer's Facebook page @NPOwersxm.

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Rotary Club Sint Maarten-Mid Isle to Bring Back Rotary Table Tennis Tournament

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Rotary Club of Sint Maarten-Mid Isle will be bringing back their Rotary Table Tennis Tournament on Saturday February 25th, 2023, at the L.B. Scott Sports Auditorium.

The opening ceremonies will start at 5:00pm, and games will continue till approximately 11:00pm.

This year, besides the Under-18 category, Rotary-Mid Isle is inviting 18+ year olds to participate. This will include some past champs and participants of the previous tournaments a while back.

Registrations are free, please contact Mr. Glenton Pantophlet at +1 (721) 553-3886. An event T-shirt will be provided, along with snacks and drinks. 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place Trophies will be awarded to Youth Under-18 Category, and Adults 18+ Categories. Both categories include male and female participants for now. In the future, as the sport grows again, the males and females will be performing in separate categories.

A special invitation is extended to all sports fanatics, parents and families of the players, sponsors and supporters to come and enjoy an evening filled with the best of what St. Maarten has to offer in table tennis.

The St. Maarten Table Tennis Federation is planning other tournaments in the future, and Rotary Mid Isle has their full support.

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Sint Maarten Invasive Species Management program receives international exposure

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - During recent weeks the invasive species project has received attention on Sint Maarten and on an international level. The project involves management of the green vervet monkey, a species which is not native to the island, and which has established a growing invasive population on the island after intentional or unintentional release into nature. 

This project was born from the fact that government had received large numbers of inquiries from the public in recent years with demands to do something about the monkeys entering communities, residential areas, and schools, individually or in groups, causing public concerns. Funding from the Ministries of VROMI and TEATT were earmarked to address the problem, which formulated into the invasive species project. The Nature Foundation was tasked with the execution of the project and, as the agency responsible for the health of the island’s environment, recognizes the need for the management of monkeys on the island. 

The project has been initiated and spans a period of 3 years. Several methods of management have been proposed by the foundation, some of which are sterilization and culling by euthanasia. The goal of the Invasive Species Project is to manage the population of the green vervet monkey in order to limit the effects on biodiversity and native species and recognizes that complete eradication may not be possible. Complete eradication may not be viable in part due to the terrain and nature of the island, and as such other measures are being explored to deal with the invasive population. 

The importance of managing invasive species has been recognized globally through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Specifically Target 15.8 of the SDGs states that by 2020, countries should “… introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species”. The recent historic Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, agreed at the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity further supports the management of invasive species, with its article 6 further putting forward the goal to “…eradicate or control invasive alien species especially in priority sites, such as islands”. These global SDGs and the specific mention to invasive species show that programs like this are essential to protecting the health of native ecosystems. Similar projects occur in several countries and islands throughout the world including, Aruba, Bonaire, Saba, the Cayman Islands, and thousands more. 

A comprehensive six-month study was executed in 2020 on Sint Maarten which included population counts, impact assessments, community surveys, and budget analysis. During this research an estimated 450 green monkeys were surveyed on the Dutch side. In 2022 this method was duplicated to execute a new population survey which found that an estimated 2,000 monkeys can now be found in the same areas. 

This spike in population can be explained in many ways. As the island does not have an exceedingly dry period, like that of the green monkey’s native habitat, the accessibility to food allows breeding to happen throughout the year. The gestation period of this species is just over 5 months, so females can give birth more frequently when food is prevalent. Additionally, there may be fluctuation in population counts due to troops traveling between the Dutch and French border based on access to food sources. 

During both 2020 and 2022 St. Maarten residents were asked to take part in in-person surveys held in several communities throughout the island. This survey found that 93% of residents stated that something must be done to manage the species population. Similar feedback is received by officials on French St. Martin where research is currently being conducted regarding their own management options. 

Action must be taken before the island reaches the same level as neighbouring St. Kitts where green monkey population counts reached over 40,000 in 2020. In addition to devastating any attempt at sustainable agriculture efforts, nonhuman primates can carry many diseases without symptoms which can affect humans. Already in certain communities of St. Maarten monkeys have been found to be territorial and aggressive to homeowners and their pets. 

The primary goal of the agencies involved with this project is to help the island by protecting biodiversity, facilitating sustainability, and creating a future in which nature thrives for the next generation of St. Maarteners. The reactions of the public which include threatening the lives of those executing the project are misplaced and have unfortunately been manipulated by the press. However, this project was not established lightly or carelessly as has been implied. The Government of Sint Maarten have been approached by several entities above willing to offer assistance with alternative solutions. Meetings will be taking place to explore these initiatives and collaborations to come to a sustainable solution taking all expressed concerns into consideration.

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Fire Department, Airport Fire Brigade, French side Fire Dept. & Coast Guard Battle three alarm fire Early Sunday morning

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - At about 05:30 am Sunday morning, January 29, 2023, Central Dispatch received several reports of a widespread fire at one of the businesses in Simpson-Bay.

On scene it was confirmed that the business operation under the name District 721 was totally ingulfed in flames.

In view of the situation on the ground, assistance was received from the Airport Fire and the French Fire Departments.

Firefighters managed to bring the fire under control after several hours. Two adjacent buildings were also badly damaged as a result of the fire no one was hurt during the fire.

As a result, the Welfare road was partially closed for most of the day. An investigation was launched after the fire was extinguished in order to determine the cause of the fire.

FIRE CB rest on fire

FIRE CB rest road side

FIRE REST COLE BAY

 

 

 

 

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Counseling Degree Course Being Offered To Understand the Psychology of Slavery & Liberate Our Minds from the Chains of Colonialism

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - “We who live in today’s world must acknowledge the evils of slavery in the clearest possible terms, and condemn it as a crime against humanity, as a criminal system which caused untold numbers of people untold suffering. Suffering that continues in the lives of people today. And we in the Netherlands must confront our part in that history.” These words are a part of a powerful speech delivered on December 19th, 2022 by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the National Archives in The Hague.

Rutte’s speech created an explosion of varying emotions, discussion, discontent, celebration and speculation throughout the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the world when he apologized “for the past actions of the Dutch State to: enslaved people in the past and everywhere in the world, who suffered as a consequence of [slavery], as well as to their daughters and sons, and to all their descendants, up to the present day,” as stated on the government.nl website.

The ensuing discussion surrounding Prime Minister Rutte’s speech and the controversy it has created underscores the importance of enlightening and educating people of all races and cultures as to the immense repercussions that slavery has had especially on people of African descent. In light of this, the counseling degree course being offered by Grace Hill Bible University, St. Martin Campus explores counseling from an African Indigenous Perspective so that aspiring and current counselors or individuals who desire to expand their knowledge and understanding may have a greater level of appreciation of the damaging ripple effects of slavery and colonialism on people of African descent and how we can reconstruct or “re-member” the African Diaspora through our rich human capital and other natural resources.

This course, taught by Dr. N. Erna Mae Francis Cotton visionary of Victorious Living and the counseling program developer at the GHBU St. Maarten Campus, is designed to help enrollees “understand what it means to counsel from an African Indigenous Perspective; gain greater insight and appreciation for what it means to be of African heritage and to understand the impact of slavery on the psyche of Africans in the Diaspora.

The course, which is delivered virtually, starts on February 6th and runs until June 5th, 2023. It is available to local, regional and international registrants due to its live digital delivery. The registration deadline is February 4th. For more information, contact Dr. N. Erna Mae Francis Cotton at 1-721-524-8731 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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