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Soualiga Newsday Latest News (2355)

PM Reaffirms Commitment to Collaborate with region at Caribbean Week in New York

NEW YORK, SINT MAARTEN - St. Maarten Prime Minister the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams’ attendance at Caribbean Week meetings and events in New York last week was a resounding highlight for other attendees, ministers and directors of tourism from other nations and journalists from across the North American region.  Her presence and her statements reaffirmed St. Maarten’s commitment to collaborating with the other nations of the Caribbean region on tourism and social issues.

The Prime Minister highlighted the region’s common goals as it relates to tourism and its potential to be a driver for regional cooperation: “Tourism is a strong thread of the blanket that stretches across the Caribbean and tourism is becoming more and more of a social development tool,” the Prime Minister told reporters at a special briefing.

The PM also attended special sessions, ministerial meetings, awards ceremonies for travel writers and the annual Media Marketplace in which more than 130 journalists from around the world gathered to meet with Caribbean tourism officials and hoteliers. 

Caribbean Week in New York is an annual weeklong series of meetings and events, both public and private, in which the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) conducts its business discussing internal regional issues as well as promoting the region to the public in the Caribbean’s number one source market.

During the special media briefing called “View from the Top” and arranged by CTO for Prime Minister Wescot-Williams, The PM was able to meet with a select group of reporters to talk about St. Maarten’s tourism outlook as well as reaffirm her strong belief in collaboration with other Caribbean nations.

Attending the special “View from the Top” were reporters and editors from Travel + Leisure magazine, Bloomberg News, Travel Weekly, Caribbean Journal, Travel Agent Magazine, TravAlliance publications, The Washington Diplomat and Caribbean Media Corp.

“We should look at tourism as a tool for social development in St. Maarten and across the Caribbean.  Economic issues have forced us to look at ways and means of getting together and we are working collaboratively with our other Caribbean nations to mitigate the effects of climate change as well as social issues of unemployment, crime and health,” stated Wescot-Williams during the press conference. The PM, in answering a series of questions from a variety of the reporters present, stated that:  “If we in St. Maarten want to remain on the cutting edge in the global tourism arena we have to invest in our infrastructure.

“We also need to be more than a seasonal destination and expand on our green initiatives. We need to look at the reasons for the seasonality and make St. Maarten a year-round destination by finding new source markets.”

Prime Minister Wescot-Williams also noted that St. Maarten has approved a new energy policy to incorporate green initiatives.

The Prime Minister went on to say: “We need to continuously explore what the cruise passengers are looking for when they visit St. Maarten on their brief stops and explore how we can entice them to come back as stayover visitors.

“Air lift remains an issue for St. Maarten and the entire Caribbean and is always a topic on the agenda for all the islands.”

Wescot-Williams concluded by stating that the larger percentage of Caribbean countries depend on tourism and “we need to be able to show our people how tourism can help with unemployment and assist with other areas of social development.  We need to show our residents the link between tourism and a better economic and social life. Tourism cannot be seen as a silo, but must be seen as one of the main economic drivers for most of the Caribbean nations.”

Over the several days in New York, Prime Minister Wescot-Williams participated in several other interviews with reporters and local television and online networks. (From the Cabinet of the Prime Minister)


Super Hero Children at St. Martin Book Fair on Saturday

GREAT BAY/MARIGOT, St. Martin - All Children, ages four to 12, are invited to “In The Children’s Room” at the 12th annual St. Martin Book Fair, Saturday, June 7, from 9 AM to 1 PM, University of St. Martin, Room 101, said Jacqueline Sample, president of House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP).

Entrance to all workshops of the three-day book fair is free for everyone.     

Nzinga Lake is the coordinator of this year’s Children’s Room. “I’m asking parents and guardians who would like their child or children to be in the Children’s Room to bring their boys and girls dressed as the child’s favorite super hero,” said Lake.

The marketing graduate of St. Thomas University is well known for her creative and successful children and teen pageants; and fashion-oriented calendars showcasing aspiring models. Lake is also president of St. Maarten Small Properties Association and a Chamber of Commerce board member, said Sample.

Lake will be assisted by Riegnald Bakari Arrindell, costumed as Marvel Comics’ Black Panther. Arrindell is a St. Peters community organizer of children’s matinees and other family-oriented activities.

Over the years, the Children’s Room has including storytelling, games, and songs. Storytelling may be in various languages and popular storyteller Papa Umpo and other artists have been known to appear as “surprise” guest performers, said Sample.

The hair workshop also returns to book fair Saturday at USM, from 11 AM to 12:30 noon, said its coordinator Rochelle Ward (Faizah). “Partners in Crime: Going Natural & Staying Natural” is the name of the workshop that addresses “challenges and joys of caring for or returning to the natural beauty and vibrant health of your own hair. Workshop leader Dr. Erica Reid (Ewurama) will listen to your concerns, offer solutions, discuss, and demonstrate hair care techniques and products,” said Ward. Dr. Reid, is a hair products developer and author from Beautiful Earth Natural Salon & Spa in Jamaica.

Among the 13 workshops on Saturday is the media workshop, conducted by Ece Temelkuran. The award-winning journalist, media rights activist, and author from Turkey recently delivered the Freedom Lecture in Amsterdam. Temelkuran will discuss her real and frightening life experiences with “Crime&Punishment,” media resistance to intimidation from her country’s prime minister and military; the murder not long ago of one journalist and the jailing of two others in an attempt to silence the media, said book fair coordinator Shujah Reiph.

“Recognizing mental illnesses at home and in relationships” could never be a one-stop talk but a good workshop can provide expert, helpful ideas with Dr. Balin A. Durr, M.D. The child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist from Chicago will conduct the mental health workshop at USM on Saturday morning. She is also a poet and author. Dr. Durr uses a holistic/collaborative approach to mind-body wellness that incorporates nutrition and traditional and alternative medicine. Currently, she provides psychiatric care in Illinois via tele-psychiatry (seeing patients via camera and television), said Reiph.

“Writing French’ in St. Martin, Caribbean” is another Saturday workshop. It takes place at the Chamber of Commerce Building, Spring Concordia, Marigot, between 9 AM – 10:30 AM. Nicole Cage, educator, poet, author from Martinique will lead the workshop that looks at how “in multilingual St. Martin, where the traditional or historical nation language in English, writing poetry, drama, fiction (short stories, novels), and essays in French could be a daunting challenge,” said Sample. This workshop could be considered an immersion exercise where Cage “will help guide you with unique examples and tips toward achieving your goal of confidently writing creative material in French.” The workshop language is French. Cage is versed in English, Kwéyòl, and Spanish.

After bringing their kids to the Children’s Room mothers and fathers can have time for themselves at the “eBook for Better Parenting” workshop. Rodney Davis, a St. Martin social worker and parenting educator, will conduct the Saturday session at USM. He will look at how young and older parents can use new communication and media technologies for better parenting. This workshop draws on parenting expertise, lifecoach practices, and social research to connect parents, and parents-to-be, with effective uses of the new media in their daily parenting, said Davis.

Conscious Lyrics Foundation and HNP are the organizers of the 12th edition of the St. Martin Book Fair, in collaboration with St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, University of St. Martin, LCF Foundation, and St. Martin Tourist Office. The SXM Airport and SOS Radio are sponsors of the St. Martin Book Fair 2014. For more Book Fair activities, see The theme of the 2014festival is “Crime&Punishment.” 


Civil registry department staff undergoes training

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Head of the Civil Registry Department Leona Marlin-Romeo, said on Wednesday that the Front Office and The Back Office is undergoing two separate studies that are job related, namely the BOBZ (Basic Administration Studies on the Civil Registry) and MLOBZ (In-depth Studies on the Civil Registry).

Both courses are being given by Albert Schut and Ger Lutter two experts from Sensor Bestuur of the Netherlands. 

They are preparing the staff for the exams that were developed and will be given by the NVVB (The Netherlands Organization of Civil Registries).  These exams were custom made according to the laws of Sint Maarten, but are on the same level of that of what is taken in the Netherlands. 

Once successfully taken the staff of the Civil Registry Department will have a diploma that has value, this differs significantly from a certificate of attendance.  Having the staff take part in these studies has been one of the goals of the management of the department. 

The former Netherlands Antilles and as an extension Sint Maarten has always been at a disadvantage because the necessary tools for the staff of the Civil Registry were non-existent. 

The Civil Registry of Sint Maarten was faced with staff that lacked in-depth knowledge on the work/tasks and responsibilities of the Civil Registry and the qualifications to execute the tasks involved. 

This was quite a major disadvantage when comparing to the colleagues in the Netherlands who have the opportunities to take job related courses that will give them a diploma instead of a certificate.  

The Management of the Civil Registry department is proud to finally have this available and this was made possible through the funding of USONA. 


TelEm Group joins PM in support of youth soccer program for country schools

POND ISLAND, Sint Maarten – TelEm Group’s involvement in youth sports has been praised by youth soccer sports organizers and Prime Minister Mrs. Sarah Wescott-Williams.

Speaking at the recent ending of the finals of this year’s Interscholastic Soccer Tournament, at the Johan Cruijff Center in Belvedere, the Prime Minister stressed on the positive benefits of sports in the community and the encouragement that is due to those who make it happen.

The Prime Minister was especially pleased to see the large number of parents and supporters who turned out for the games each week and at the finals and she thanked the many sponsors, including TelEm Group, for supporting the work of the event organizers, the St. Maarten Soccer Education Foundation (SMSEF).

 SMSEF member, Mr. David Forsythe, said the youth soccer program for schools is continuing to grow with exciting new plans for the future.

“There is still a lot to be done and a lot of financial support is required if we are do all that we possibly can for the schools and their school soccer programs,” said Mr. Forsythe.

He said the past year has seen a number of donations of equipment and sports gear from overseas organizations and group who have remained in contact with the Foundation.

‘We are most grateful to these sponsors, but most of all to our local corporate sponsors such as TelCell without whom we could not be as ambitious as we are,” said the SMSEF executive officer.

TelEm Group Chief Commercial officer (CCO) Mr. Brian Mingo agreed with the Prime Minister 100 per cent when she urged the young soccer stars to continue practicing so that they can one day be part of a future international St. Maarten soccer team.

“We saw some great talent on the field over the several months of the tournament. Thanks to the work of the St. Maarten Soccer Education Foundation that raw talent is being exposed in a very positive way, and we very much like being a part of that as a corporate sponsor,” said Mr. Mingo.


Regional health agencies urge vaccination against measles and rubella if travelling to 2014 FIFA World Cup

PAHO/WHO, Sint Maarten – During the launching of the 12th annual Vaccination Week in the Americas, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) urged people to protect themselves against measles, rubella and other vaccine-preventable diseases, in view of the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil and the need to protect achievements in disease elimination in the Americas.

Intensified international travel and population movement associated with mass events such as the World Cup increase the risk of imported cases of measles, rubella and other vaccine-preventable diseases. For this reason, PAHO/WHO is calling on travellers to make sure they are up to date on their vaccines and, if not, to get vaccinated against measles and rubella at least two weeks before traveling.

The theme of this year’s initiative was, “Vaccination: Your best shot!”, is a call to action for people to protect themselves against vaccine-preventable diseases in the lead-up to the FIFA World Cup, which is expected to attract some 600,000 visitors from around the world. Of the 32 countries with teams participating in the World Cup, 19 reported measles cases in 2013.

In the Americas, endemic transmission of measles was interrupted in 2002 and transmission of rubella in 2009. However, measles continues to circulate elsewhere in the world, and some countries in the Americas have reported imported cases.

“Vaccination Week in the Americas has been instrumental in our region’s becoming the first in the world to eliminate measles and rubella,” said PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne. “These viruses continue to circulate in other regions of the world. The risk of reintroduction of these diseases is especially high during mass-attendance events such as the 2014 World Cup. Getting vaccinated against measles and rubella is your best shot to protect yourself, your family and all the people of the Americas.”

The countries of the Americas have been world leaders in the elimination or reduction of vaccine-preventable diseases. The region was the first to eradicate smallpox (in 1971) and to eliminate polio (in 1991). Diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough have been significantly reduced, thanks to vaccination rates that average 93% among children under 1 year.

Vaccination Week in the Americas began in 2003 as part of a regional response to the last endemic outbreak of measles in the Americas, on the border of Venezuela and Colombia in 2002. Since then, the initiative has taken the benefits of vaccines to more than 465 million people of all ages.


COM Meets with Board of Casino Controllers to discuss issues and concerns

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – On Tuesday, May 27th, a Ministerial Meeting took place with the Casino Controllers to discuss their issues and concerns regarding personnel vacancies and the day shift compensation. The Casino Controllers were represented by their selected board, which consists of President Francelise Mauricia-Peterson, Advisor Philip van Delden, Mediator Reinarda Cranston-Cathalina, and Commies Rignaldo Haize and Alfredo de Weever.

At this Ministerial Meeting the Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, who is also the Minister of General Affairs, attended and the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications Thadeus Richardson with his support staff.

The Ministers and their support staff took note of the issues and concerns raised during the meeting. The follow up will be handled by the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications. The Casino Controllers were urged to provide their input and the necessary feedback in order to come to a solution which will be agreeable to all parties concerned.

The Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications expressed that he was pleased to finally meet with the board of the Casino Controllers as the Casino Controllers are an important part of St. Maarten’s economy.



Minister Patricia Lourens-Philip says my thoughts and prayers are with you

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Hon. Patricia Lourens Philip on Thursday extended her condolences to the families of Curtis Heyliger who succumbed to his injuries during a tragic traffic accident early Wednesday morning.

“The thoughts and prayers of my family and I are with the Member of Parliament Hon. Theo Heyliger and family, as well as with Debby Zwanikken and family.  We are thinking of you during this difficult time.

“The Sint Maarten community is here to support you in your grieving process.  Wishing you peace to bring comfort, and courage to face the coming days, and memories to forever hold in your hearts of Curtis Heyliger. 

“May you be comforted by the outpouring of love from love ones surrounding you,” Minister of Education Hon. Patricia Lourens-Philip said on Thursday.


Official Police Report about Fatal Accident on L.B. Scot Road

CUL DE SAC, Sint Maarten - On Wednesday May 28th at approximately 04.10 a.m. the Police Central Dispatch received a call informing them that a very serious accident had taken place on the corner of L.B. Scot road/Isis road in Cul-de-Sac, and that the driver of the car was seriously injured.

Immediately several police patrols, paramedics and Fire Department were directed to the scene. On the scene the investigating officers found a totally destroyed blue Ford Edge with license plate M-6380 in the yard of the house on that crossing with the driver trapped inside of the vehicle. Immediately that section of L.B. Scot road was closed off by police, while Fire Department went to work with the “jaws of life” cutting the vehicle open to reach the victim in order give him the necessary medical treatment.

However, Dr. Mercuur arrived shortly after and pronounced the death of the victim. After the victim was removed from the wreck he was taken to the morgue. The investigation by the Traffic Department thus far shows that the victim was traveling at very high speed coming from the St. Peters area in the direction of the Churchill Round-a-bout.

The victim lost control of the vehicle, destroying the concrete fence and a wooden structure on the premises and colliding with a pick-up parked in the yard. The impact totally destroyed the Ford Edge and trapping the victim in the vehicle.

As more information regarding this investigation becomes available the media will be informed.

The victim has been identified as Curtis Heyliger and is the son of Theodore Heyliger Leader of the UPP-party. Deepest sympathy from the Police Department goes out to the family and friends of the victim. (Official Police Report from the Sint Maarten Police Force)


Transfer Passengers at SXM Airport up by 21 per cent in First Quarter

SIMPSON BAY, Sint Maarten - Transfer passengers at the Princess Juliana International Airport, SXM increased by 21% in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2013. This was disclosed by SXM at a recent meeting of the Air Service Development Committee (ASDC) made up of representatives of all the hub partners of SXM.

According to a presentation made by SXM at the meeting, St. Barths is the largest connection market out of SXM with 9,600 passengers, followed by Charles De Gualle, Paris, with 4,033 passengers, and BVI with 1,308 passengers. St. Eustatius with 1,176 passengers and Anguilla with 1,111 connecting passengers complete the top five markets.

SXM stated that the idea of a hub is to enhance air travel and give passengers the option of more flights, more frequency, and more services. It added that minimizing the travel time between the destination where the trip originated and the final destination is key to the success of a hub. SXM intends to continue to attract more passengers by working with all airlines to have Interline agreements that would encourage more passengers to use the airport as a hub, he said.

SXM further disclosed that it will be working with SITA, the world’s leading specialist in air transport communications and information technology, to improve the boarding pass scanning system. This will allow for the capturing of transfer passenger demographics and information and provide a more accurate estimate of transfer passenger information.

With over one million Canadians visiting Cuba annually and another 850,000 traveling to the Dominican Republic, SXM said that targeting Canadian carriers to increase passenger connection through its facility will be a priority. For example, if WestJet were to focus transfer passenger movement to the hub islands, this will increase flight frequencies from three to five weekly.


The factors necessary to improve the hub function of SXM were identified as determining the air travel market sizes by origin cities and countries; seeking new long-haul air routes;  entering into Interline agreements with airlines that currently service SXM and group budgeting and joint marketing by the hub partners.


The meeting, hosted by SXM, was the second for the ASDC, which is seeking to foster, and support the promotion and development of new flight routes to and from the Princess Juliana International Airport, SXM with the intention of increasing connectivity of the visitors to their final destination.


Prime Minister emphasizes need to prepare for natural disasters

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams during a recent radio interview stressed the importance for St. Maarten in cooperating with regional organizations to mitigate the effects of Climate Change and natural disasters.

The Prime Minister stated that proper information going out to the public and technical cooperation in regional organizations such as the Association of Caribbean States is crucial in ensuring the effects of calamities are reduced on St. Maarten; “Information and awareness is key and in the absence thereof you could have a situation where, after an earthquake like the one that shook us some ten days ago for example, some panic and confusion is created within the community.

“We know from history that an earthquake can trigger a tsunami. People realize the connection and start to wonder about what is happening and as soon as one person says something it starts to live a life of its own without correct and official information. It is therefore very important that we inform the population regarding what is occurring on a regional and local scale with regards to disaster management.

During the recent Association of Caribbean States meeting in Mexico strong emphasis was placed on a common system for the warning of natural disasters. Sint Maarten does not have the capacity to handle all of these issues and so being a part of an organization such as the ACS strengthens the capacity for St. Maarten and other smaller islands.

“It can do no harm to constantly revisit our disaster management organization and make sure that the lines of communication and the hierarchy are clear on who is supposed to do what and when it should be done. The other issue is that we need to address the effects and mitigate the future effects of Natural Disasters, including those that will be brought on by Climate Change. Particularly due Especially due to our small size we must not ignore this issue and address these effects it will have on our way of life,” commented Prime Minister Wescot-Williams.  (Cabinet of the Prime Minister)

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