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Seedling trials start at Intensive Horticulture project. SCS students, Commissioner Wilson visit Gezondheid Farms

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - The Showroom Intensive Horticulture Pilot has completed construction and seedling trials have started.

Jim Garza of Gezondheid Farms, the public private initiative to develop agriculture at Rendez-Vous, aims to have the first round of crop harvested by end of February. “We will be providing a spring salad mix in a 1/2lb biodegradable, twisty wire sealing, breathable paper bag with our local grown labelling. Crop variety trials are being run with romaine, butterhead, arugula, oakleaf, baby kale, mini chive, mizuna mustard, radish microgreen, and other vegetables,” he said.

Gezondheid Farms wants to provide a window of exposure to Saba’s youth to help inspire them to consider science, technology, engineering and mathematical fields of career choices that they have little to no exposure to on the island. “Learning how Mother Nature influences plants is intriguing when you involve electronics and sensors into the learning mix. We are all about energy, frequency, and vibration over the amplitude of time, taught with simplicity while having fun eating what we grow,” said Garza. 

Educate students

The Saba Comprehensive School (SCS) has been looking for a traditional farmer for a while and until now was unable to hire one to support the students’ learning. After a work visit early in 2022, SCS Director Anton Hermans and SCS Pro/Vocational Department Leader Madelyn Johnson were inspired by the advanced technology and the possibility to educate the students about this agricultural approach. “We will be looking into starting a program that can be supported by the advanced technology and concepts used by the Gezondheid Farm,” Director Hermans said.

To make a start, the SCS will start a pilot program with Grade 6 of the primary school as part of sensitizing them for possible activities and classes when they formally continue their education at the High School. “We aim to incorporate these new technologies in our Lower Forms curriculum and after-school clubs to show the students that there are alternatives as an answer to the ever-growing demand for food and make them more mindful about Mother Earth,” said Hermans.

Gezondheid Farms will be assisting the SCS on Tuesdays from 12:30pm – 2pm for 10 weeks, starting in February 2022. Students will receive equipment and supplies for home research growing when entering in the program. Additional seed, fertilizer, and medium supplies can be provided by Gezondheid Farms to the students with 1 hour of light volunteer work at the farm to keep them engaged throughout the year.

Engage youth

Commissioner of Agricultural Affairs Rolando Wilson, an avid supporter of agricultural projects on Saba, set the example for the youth to get engaged in technology available on the island as the community works on improving health and well-being. Wilson paid a visit to Gezondheid Farm last week and received an update on the project. He encouraged students and young people in general to get involved in agriculture. “Tomorrow’s leading agricultural biotechnology scientists, biologists, chemists, electrical, mechanical, computer and software engineers can sprout the seed of knowledge, starting here at home with Saba’s youth. Let’s work together to make that happen,” said Wilson.

Food safety

It is important to inspire Saba’s youth to look at Intensive Horticulture to address tomorrow’s food safety and security issues, said Garza of Gezondheid Farms. By introducing indoor growing technologies inspired by electronics and gaming software networked into computerized growing systems, it seems to gain their interest over dealing with soil, the sun, and pests per conventional outdoor farming methods.

“Tomorrow’s farmers are not just outside laborers. The industry has changed the way we grow crops by opening the door to expose youth to electrical and mechanical engineering, computer software and hardware applications, chemistry in nutrient applications, plant biology related to plant health and disease, nutrition and human health related to vitamin and mineral content, while improving eating habits to lower heart disease, diabetes and obesity in the community,” said Garza.

 

SCS students visit Gezondheid Farms 01

SCS students Noah Matthew (PRO 5), Dalton Barnes (5V) and SCS Pro/Vocational Department Leader Madelyn Johnson visited Gezondheid Farm at Rendez-Vous on Tuesday, January 25. At right Jim Garza of Gezondheid Farms.

Commissioner Wilson transplants seedlings

Commissioner of Agricultural Affairs Rolando Wilson recently paid a visit to Gezondheid Farms where he received an update on the project from Jim Garza and transplanted some seedlings.

 

 

 

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SHRC delivers its report with recommendations to Statia

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - The Statia Heritage Research Commission (SHRC) has submitted its final report to the Public Entity St. Eustatius on January 13th, 2022. This report includes concise recommendations for revisions in government practice and the implementation of international standards for heritage research of ancestral burials on Statia (and the BES islands). 

The SHRC recommendations include the priority role of the Community Voice in heritage research, the appropriate policies for handling of artifact collections, mitigation processes, and the respect of human remains. The advice also includes recommendations for practical administrative revisions of systemic issues such as, heritage research responsibilities, and research implementation with thorough community engagement.

SHRC conducted a series of stakeholder interviews, documents review, and organized local Statian community inquires to gather opinions on this sensitive issue. The results of these inquiries are also included in the report.

Communication

The report will first be presented to the next Central Committee of the Island Council, on Thursday, January 27th, 2022.

The presentation to the Central Committee of the Island Council will be done by Dr. Jay Haviser, as a chair of the SHRC, with assistance from Ms. Xiomara Balentina, Mr. Ismael Berkel, Mr. Paul Spanner and Mr. Raimie Richardson as Statian members of the SHRC. On the same day a Press Release with the most important findings will be published, including the full report provided to all stakeholders.

Townhall sessions in smaller settings will be organized for the public to ask questions and hear the results of this investigation. Due to the current covid-19 situation on Statia a special protocol will be put in place to accommodate the presentation of the report to stakeholders and also for the hosting of Town Hall Meetings. The schedule for these informative meetings will be shared soon.

Installed

SHRC was officially installed on Friday, September 17th, 2021. The assignment of the commission consisted mainly of two key points. One was to evaluate the Golden Rock burial ground and to make recommendations on how to continue with this specific project.

And secondly, SHRC would provide community and experts opinions on cultural heritage research practices on Statia including recommendations for changes as required by international standards.

SHRC was initiated in July 2021 and started preparations in response to the public criticisms of current heritage research practices and the recent Golden Rock Burial Ground excavation of enslaved Africans.

With the formal decree designated last on September 17th, SHRC consist of 15 members, including 5 Statian Community leaders and 10 Caribbean professionals from six countries.

The chair of the SHRC, Dr. Jay Haviser, was selected primarily due to his position as President of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology (IACA), and his decades of experience in the Netherlands Caribbean.

All the SHRC members have significant professional experience and community leadership roles, both on Statia and in the Caribbean.

Significant Recommendations

The relevance of this SHRC report has been to directly approach the systemic factors that surround issues of heritage research for the Golden Rock case and for the broader role of Heritage for Statia, from a perspective of respect for Statia’s culture and ancestors.

However, the significance of this report reaches beyond the island of Statia, with potential regional applications, via IACA, for many other small island communities in the Caribbean, including the BES-Islands. Once presented to the Statia Central Committee, the community, and all stakeholders, this report will provide a foundation on which a dynamic new plan of action for implementation can begin. (Statia GIS)

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No additional fees being charged by WIB for interbank transfers. System glitch being investigated

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Windward Islands Bank (WIB) hereby informs its customers that it is investigating a glitch in its transfer system, which is causing additional charges/fees when processing transactions, WIB said on Monday afternoon in a media statement.

“This glitch was identified as clients began processing transactions on CBCS’ new payment platform.

“The Bank assures its customers and the general public that no additional charges/fees are being included by WIB for interbank transfers.

“The Bank is working assiduously to correct this glitch and will ensure all corrections are made to any accounts affected.

“Clients who may have been affected can contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 546-2942.”

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MP Arrindell presents amendment for reallocation of funds towards Road Repairs

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In a follow up with concerns posed to the Minister Vromi concerning deplorable roads, independent Member of Parliament (MP) Akeem Arrindell comes good on his word and in Friday’s Budget meeting brought forward an Amendment for the first time since being in office in regard to allocating additional funds for repairs/resurfacing the roads of St. Maarten, the MP said in a press statement on Monday.

“Together with MP Rolando Brison we looked for ideas for re-allocation of funds to ensure monies could be made available. We found ways to make this a reality, which the cost for restoration and beautification of the Marketplace in Philipsburg which was part of budget 2022 will now instead be released by investment from Port St. Maarten.

“This will free up six hundred thousand (600,000) that can now be added to already five million (5,000,000) from Ring Road which now gives Ministry Vromi a total of five million six hundred thousand (5,600,000) to ensure roads such as the Entrance to Cay Bay up to US Laundry are properly repaired and the root cause of these constant repairs are also taken care of.

“Other areas such as Dutch Quarter, Welfare Road, are also to be repaired. These areas have become an eyesore and danger to the general public and visitors alike and repair actions are needed post haste,” MP Akeem Arrindell concluded in his press statement.

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Follow up letter to the Editor: Michael J. Ferrier does NOT have delinquent debt

SINT MAARTEN (COMMENTARY – By Michael J. Ferrier) - Allow me to publicly thank Mr. Russell Simmons for his comments as they relate to me in his op-ed of Jan 20. 

He states that he is not defending me, as I can do so myself. And while I like the message to others in his piece, I need to indeed defend myself against what some might call SXM’s version of ‘THE BIG LIE’.

I have said it once, twice, three, four, five, six and up to SEVEN times already, and I say it now again: I, MICHAEL J. FERRIER do not have any delinquent financial debt to the Government of Sint Maarten, or for that matter to any Government, company, Institution, or person ANYWHERE in the world. 

So, Russell, in your commentary you might have used the word ‘ALLEGED’ after “Mr. Ferrier’s” and before “financial debt….”. And also, I do take offense when it seems you lump me with “those other businesspeople who ALSO owe the Government plenty of money for taxes”. 

For the ninth time: I do not owe delinquent taxes, or fees of any kind including for long lease land. I challenge anybody to prove differently.

Peace!

Michael J. Ferrier

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Louise Rombley passes on at 70, lovingly missed by her family

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - Julia Louise Rombley died on January 13, 2022, at St. Maarten Medical Center. She was 70.

Louise, as she was better known, leaves her children, Angelo Rombley (USA) and Andrew Rombley (St. Martin); daughter-in-law Morgan Rombley; and granddaughter Isabella Rombley.

Louise is survived by 11 of her 13 brothers and sisters, and a host of nieces and nephews; extended family, and friends. 

Born in Charleston, Nevis, on August 30, 1951, Louise was the 12th child of 11 daughters and three sons of the late Reynold and Francis Halbert, both farmers. Louise was related to the Halbert, Rombley, Hodge, Hanley, Thompson, Walwyn, and Webbe families. Her earliest education was at the Charlestown Secondary School.

In 1971, Louise and her younger sister, Iris, moved to the neighboring Caribbean island of St. Martin. She soon found employment at Food Center as a cashier. In 1972, Louise began working at Bank of Nova Scotia and was “an excellent employee as recognized by the numerous employee awards” that she received before retiring in 2000, said Angelo.

Not long after migrating to St. Martin Louise met Cole Bay native and fireman Pedro Rombley “and on September 29, 1973, Mom and Dad got married,” said Angelo. The photography enthusiast was also an active volunteer member of the Methodist Church.

Family, friends, and her Scotiabank family fondly remember that Louise relished cooking for her loved ones. Her “traditional Caribbean cooking and baking; … especially her johnny cake and souse” always made you come back for more, said her children and family friends gathered at the home of the deceased last weekend. Upon hearing of her passing, a weeping granddaughter said to her father, Angelo, “I just wanted see her one more time and cook with Grandma.”

The private family viewing of the deceased will be held at Emerald Funeral Home, Welgelegen Road, Cay Hill, on Friday, January 21, 2022, 8 am – 8:30 am, said Andrew.

The memorial service for Julia Louise Rombley will be held at the Methodist Church, Frontstreet, Philipsburg, on Friday, January 21, 2022. The public viewing at the church, 9 am – 9:45 am, will be followed by the funeral service at 10 am to 11 am. Interment will follow at Great Bay cemetery. Memorial donations may be made in the name of Julia Louise Rombley to Andrew or Angelo Rombley.

Farewell, Julia Louise Rombley.

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USP: Ferrier is the kettle and pot having a conversation

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The United St. Maarten Party (USP) on Tuesday reacted to Michael Ferrier’s criticism of the party as “the proverbial kettle having a conversation with the pot, with both knowing each other well.” The party board asked the public to “consider the source of the criticism” and dismissed Ferrier as a condemned crook who for some reason is still seeking to be relevant on the political landscape of St. Maarten.

Ferrier, the board noted, with his history of shady business right up to dodging from paying almost NAf 1.3 million in owed land fees to the government of St. Maarten, should be the last person to be critical. “This money was owed while he was Minister of Finance. Talk about immorality,” the board said.

Lest we forget, the board continued, Ferrier and his Shipyard N.V. were not only condemned by the court to go pay the outstanding money, but he was also condemned by the Parliament of St. Maarten for the same issue, via a motion in August 2019. Parliament also established in the same motion that Ferrier provided information under false pretenses that could be considered forgery.

“The money he and his business partners refused to pay to the coffers of St. Maarten could have gone to schools, the police, infrastructure repair, needed subsidies and the like. Instead, to further enrich themselves, they willfully skirted their legal obligation to pay,” the USP board said.

“This is a person who stood on his high horse as a Minister of Finance and insulted the people of St. Maarten by calling them tax dodgers, while he and his company milked this country. Today, he is trying to rehab his image by trying to disparage the USP and painting a holier-than-thou picture of himself. But the people have not forgotten that he is a condemned, failed, irrelevant former public servant who used his title to hide his shady affairs,” the board concluded.

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New safety protocols in place for Police Detective Department

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Police Force of Sint Maarten KPSM has reimplemented its strict Covid-19 safety protocol to protect its officers and visitors to the police (sub)station(s).

The public, therefore, encourages to email the Detective Department in the event of a simple complaint.

An appointment to file a report can be scheduled with the Detective Department.

If the situation regards an urgent matter that must be reported, you may visit the Philipsburg Police Station to file an official complaint.

The Detectives Department can be reached via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by telephone: (+1 721) 542 2222 ext. 208, 223 or 214. (KPSM)

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Stories in our newspaper of Jan 17, 2022 that make me go ‘Hmmm’…..

  1. Police warn motorcyclists against dangerous behavior! 

When will the WARNINGS stop and the ZERO tolerance of shenanigans on motorbikes kick in?

  1. Judge orders Air Traffic Controllers back to work. 

While the 30 or so ATControllers are part of the 200plus SXM-Airport employees, the Controllers’ job performance, or lack thereof on days like this past January 2nd, can cause accidents and incidents with catastrophic and deadly consequences. Very few other SXM-Airport jobs (if any) carry such a burden. Airport Management might consider carving them out of the rest and deal with their issues separately.

  1. Parliament to examine Brownbill’s credentials. 

REALLY?? How about the ‘Honorable’ replacement showing some integrity by offering to remove himself from consideration for the seat in Parliament that now is vacant, seeing his own experience with the justice system. What is the message here?

  1. USParty questions hospital agreement.

Maybe the USParty would be better served questioning themselves and evaluating their campaign promise of “Integrity and proper representation”.

  1. Buncamper says serious choices to be made; Reset button cannot be pushed again.

While he says that the Reset Button cannot be pushed again (for the country), the lengthy Press-Release on page 4 of the newspaper is either a political ‘magic trick’, or proof that his own personal Reset Button WAS in fact pushed, so “Business as usual” would kick-in. Convicted by our Court of Law, unceremoniously removed from Parliament (while remaining on its payroll as MP # 16), the MP appears to take a page out of an Ex-USA-President’s playbook: Deny, deflect and assign “problems” to others, all the while hoping that posts on Social Media and in the mainstream press, will cause the average citizen to soon forget all transgressions!

Michael J. Ferrier

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