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Breast Exam & Health Screening scheduled for September 21 Cancelled

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The free breast exam and health screening activity that was scheduled for Saturday, September 21, has been cancelled due to the passing of Hurricane Jerry.

The screenings are hosted by the American University of the Caribbean (AUC) School of Medicine. Other dates for the screening are October 19th, October 26th and November 16th from 8:30am to 3:00pm. The deadline to register is three days before the scheduled event.

To make an appointment, call: 721-545-2298 ext. 404 2242 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The screenings take place at the Vineyard Office Park Building, building #3 in Philipsburg. Those who have not participated in past AUC breast screenings are welcome to participate.

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Winair Public Travel Advisory: Flight Cancellations due to Jerry

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) – Winair’s flight schedule will be affected due to the impending Tropical Storm Jerry. St. Maarten is under a storm watch as TS Jerry is expected to develop further into a hurricane by Thursday and pass north of the region Thursday afternoon through Friday afternoon.

Winair will take precautionary measures. Canceled flights for Thursday afternoon:

WM 441, 442;     SXM-SAB-SXM

WM 541, 542, 3001, 2542;     SXM-EUX-SXM

WM 661, 662, 681, 682:         SXM-SBH-SXM

All other flights will operate as scheduled. However, depending on further weather developments delays may occur.

Friday September 20, 2019 all Winair’s flights are canceled, due to expected tropical force wind and rain.

Winair’s storm policy is in effect; passengers will be accommodated on next available flights without penalties or fees. Please contact our call center at +1 721 545 4237, customer service agents will assist you with your booking changes.

Saturday September 21, 2019 Winair’s Twin Otter fleet should return to St. Maarten and resume operations as soon as possible and as weather conditions permit. Please check our website and Facebook page for updates and changes.

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BTC, SFC, Business community help reopen Cay Bay daycare

SINT MAARTEN (CAY BAY) – A joint initiative of Be The Change Foundation, Terre Plurielle Foundation and Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben has led to the reopening of the Little Goslings daycare and nursery in Cay Bay exactly 2 years after it was decimated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.  

Earlier this summer, Be The Change Foundation received a grant from Terre Plurielle Foundation, the corporate foundation of Bouygues Construction who since 2008 has worked to promote education, employment opportunities, healthcare and support for special needs groups wherever the group is established through financial support and the voluntary involvement of their employees. The project, still ongoing and also funded in part by Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben, is aimed at repairing three daycare centers which were badly damaged by the 2017 hurricanes: Little Goslings in Cay Bay, Discovery Kidz in Dutch Quarter and Lighthouse in Fort Willem.  

Here in St. Maarten, where many children come from single-parent households, and/or households with both parents working full-time (especially in this post-Irma setting), these institutions are especially important for the success and positive development of our communities. According to UNICEF, “children who receive early childhood education achieve more success at school and as adults have higher employment and earnings, better health and lower levels of welfare dependence and crime rates than those who don’t have these early opportunities.” 

However, daycares, play schools and nurseries can often times be considered the ‘left behind’ organizations within the NGO sector since they do not qualify for government subsidy, but are nevertheless government inspected and regulated. Therefore, parental contributions alone make it difficult to cover high utility overheads, teacher salaries, and not to mention, the high construction costs of repairs to their premises.  

Be that as it may, Little Goslings, the first of the 3 daycares sponsored by the joint project has officially reopened, with lots of support from the business community as well. A 19 cu.ft. General Electric refrigerator was donated by SHAMS, a local business providing home appliances, electronics and mattresses that has been serving our island and surrounding islands since 1989. A brand-new full-color aluminum board sign for the daycare was printed and donated by Print & Sign Express located on Cannegieter Street; air conditioning split units were provided and installed by Tony’s Air Conditioning and Brian Boekhoudt; and custom school shirts for new and returning students kindly discounted by T-Shirt Maxx in Cole Bay.  

Colleen Cato, the directress of Little Goslings says she is absolutely elated and overjoyed to be open again, exactly 2 years since she thought all was lost due to Irma's wrath. Cato states, "Now that we are open again, we can direct all of our time and energy towards ensuring the children's development and preparing them for a successful transition into Cycle 1."

For more information about Be The Change Foundation and Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben visit their websites or email them at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information on Terre Plurielle visit bouygues-constuction.com.

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BIP SXM presents financials 2018 to the Minister of TEATT

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Bureau for Intellectual Property Sint Maarten (the Bureau), Supervisory Board members and Director met with the Honorable Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunication (Minister of TEATT), Mr. Stuart Johnson to present the Financial Statement 2018.

The 2018 theme for the Financial Statement is ‘Recovery and New beginnings’.
“The devastating (after)effects of hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017 have, as expected, had a major impact on the entire region and on Sint Maarten. The year 2018 thus, was a period of recovery also for the Bureau. Although the road to full recovery is long, together we can all contribute towards Sint Maarten’s growth and this is what the Bureau aims to do. The Bureau looks forward to being more visible in the public by creating more awareness about intellectual property rights which will aid in the further development of the country’s economy.” said the Director. 

In addition to the Financial Statement 2018, ongoing matters of the Bureau and its Supervisory Board were discussed with the Minister of TEATT. The multi-annual budget and policy plan 2020-2024 is scheduled for submission before the end of 2019, which will conclude the Bureau’s financial reporting for this year.

“The Financial Statement 2017 of the Bureau were approved earlier this year and I intend to finalize the review and subsequently approve the Financial Statement 2018 within short. I look forward to the increase in awareness regarding intellectual property rights by the public and more specifically business owners. The small and micro businesses, the creative industries all have valuable rights to be exercised through the use of intellectual property. I encourage the community to visit the Bureau’s website and social media platforms for all information related to IP and the latest in IP news.” said Minister Johnson.

The Bureau registers trademarks and provides information about other areas of Intellectual Property, such as patents and copyright, to the public. More information regarding the Bureau and its services can be found on www.bip.sx and on social media (Facebook and LinkedIn).

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Meyers breaks his silence. Hopes decision will jump-start the fostering of a positive mind-set

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – “As an independent faction, I would like to share with the People of St. Maarten the reasons for the recent shake up that I, Franklin Meyers, caused. It was not an easy decision and one that I pondered seriously for many months,” Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Franklin Meyers said in a press statemen on Wednesday.

“It is for some time now that I constantly caught myself feeling frustrated about how the political process of our beloved Country was unfolding. This frustration was not unique to me. Prior to making the move to declare myself independent it was clear, after having talks with coalition members, that not only the most loyal coalition member, the SMCP, but also other coalition members shared this frustration perhaps for different reasons.

“I have had the honour to serve St. Maarten for a very long time, both before and after 10-10-10. Since entering politics I have had the privilege of enjoying great mentoring by some of the most seasoned professionals, most importantly my political guru Joe Richardson, who I miss dearly at times like this. The frustration that I have felt for months became so dominant in my life, that I found myself disengaged with politics.

“Looking around me how things unfolded, when push came to shove, I found myself in a position having to defend Government policies that, in the beginning, I was reluctant to agree with. However, for the greater good and for the general wellbeing of St.Maarten and its’ People, I put my personal feelings and convictions aside so that St.Maarten could receive the much needed financial aid after the passing of hurricane Irma (which left us totally devastated).

“I am also aware of the frustration of my colleagues in the coalition concerning the directives of the coalition agreement, which had not changed, and as such we preferred to blame Ministers rather than, as a united front, accept responsibility for having been misled. This is one part of what lead to my inevitable withdrawal. I can assure the People of St.Maarten that, had it not been me, it would have been someone else. I could not stand by and see a concerted effort by members of the coalition as well as opposition trying to “pick-off” Ministers, one by one, until the COM would have not represented the coalition, rather it would reflect individual members of Parliament. This would have set a dangerous precedent.

“There are some MP’s whose intentions are good, emphasis on some, but because of a lack of political mentoring, in which I was lucky to have received from some of the most seasoned politicians who had governed before me, decisions were made without taking the larger political ramifications into consideration. Because of these actions we were faced with a lack of cohesion, communication and common goal.

“Let us be reminded that Article 56 of our Constitution, states that members of the Parliament shall make the following oath (declaration and promise) to the Governor before accepting their appointments: "I swear (declare) that I have neither given nor promised anything, nor shall I give or promise anything, howsoever described and under any pretext, to anyone whomsoever, either directly or indirectly, in connection with my election as a member of the Parliament. I swear (promise) that I shall not accept any promise or gift, from anyone at all, either directly or indirectly, in order to do or refrain from doing anything in the course of this appointment. I swear (promise) allegiance to the King and the Constitution of the Kingdom, that I shall always help to uphold the Constitution of Sint Maarten and that I shall champion the interests of Sint Maarten to the best of my ability. So help me Almighty God (And I hereby make this declaration and promise)!" This is a serious commitment one which I take to heart.

“This is the environment in which I found myself when coming to my decision.

“In addition to this I have to confess that hurricane Dorian triggered something in me. Everyone knows that while I can be passionate, I am not easily moved but now two years after Irma, as I witnessed the devastation that our brothers and sisters in the Bahamas had to suffer, this hit home. Dorian slammed them for hours, families left homeless, and countless unaccounted for. This was frightening. Frightening, in the realisation that this could have been us, AGAIN, and that we are nowhere ready to deal with such a calamity. I asked myself, if this would have been us, would we be able to stand up and muster, once again, the resilience that I am so proud we are able to show time and time again. I reflected on the current political environment and I got even more concerned. The current political environment cannot handle another blow like Irma. I considered the stage we are in with the reconstruction and the need to speed that up, and realised that we would be no better off than the Bahamas should we get struck again.

“I also looked at the potential impact of some of geo-political trends on our economy and our stability as a Country and concluded we are not addressing them to mitigate any impact. Let me share a few of these considerations with you:

  • The threat of being blacklisted if we do not comply with OECD and CFATF guidelines and the impact de-risking will have on our tourism product, our ability as a country to be a trading hub, let alone be a trading partner with the rest of the world. While we are promoting US pre -clearance for hub connectivity throughout the World, on the one hand, we are cutting off ourselves from the rest of the World due to us not taking a decision to comply with the guidelines set forth by the CFATF.
  • The impact of migration from Venezuela on our socio-economic construct;
  • Brexit and the yet unknown impact for our brothers and sisters in Anguilla;
  • The much-needed intensification of relationships with our brothers and sisters on the Northern Part of our island to achieve synergy;

“These are just some current geo-political challenges we are not looking at. We should be thinking about them and get a good understanding so that we can protect the interests of St.Maarten and mitigate the impact. Instead we go about picking petty local fights for selfish or grandstanding reasons, blaming everybody else and not taking our own responsibility where we can, whilst the World moves on and potentially leaves us behind. The St.Maarten I once knew, and still believe exists, was always at the leading edge of new frontiers and we were not afraid to boldly explore those possibilities so that the general population could have a better life.   We voice great ambitions for our Country, but as we are handling things now, we are falling short of that very goal in which we want to achieve for the People.

“I found myself in a setting where the language used in political debate is divisive, unconstructive, negative, demeaning, and where defamation of character was the new order of the day. There was no regard or respect for the truth in the highest body of Government, leadership was not being acknowledged, let alone respected, and too many people wanting to go in their own direction. This is played out in Parliament by grandstanding individuals with a great feeling of self-importance but lacking self-reflection and thinking through the consequences of their actions. The norm no longer seemed to be the pursuit of the interest of the Country and the People we represent. This manifested into a rudderless coalition, with a total absence of cohesion and unity within, worst of all, blatant sabotage for all the wrong reasons.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This is a quote which is attributed to Albert Einstein and is applicable to the rationale for what I did and when I did it. For months, over and over again, together with some others in the coalition members, I attempted to charter and pursue a cohesive and unified course, and over and over again we found ourselves startled by badly-timed, and unconstructive surprise actions.

“So after long reflection, sleepless nights, seeking inspiration in the teachings of Joe, soul searching and seeking solace from God, I decided this insanity needed to stop. Martin Luther King Jr. once said and I quote “there comes a time that one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, no popular but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right”. That was the decision that I took!

“In the past, when any other Member of Parliament made a decision to withdraw their support from the Government, a replacement Government was already negotiated. My actions had nothing to do with forming another Government or trying to use my position as a power move. Rather, it was to take a stance for what I believe is right. We were heading down the wrong path, with the wrong intentions and as such I could not continue to follow. In the end, I decided I needed a different approach, and as the saying goes, I preferred to walk alone than walk with a crowd, going in the wrong direction, a conviction in which I maintain to this day.

“My decision may have come as a shock to many, but the insanity had to stop! We need to start doing things differently in order to achieve a different result and to bring about the desperately needed direction for this Country. Hopefully my decision will force the realisation of the negative environment we have created for ourselves, and jumpstart the fostering of a positive mind-set, and a can-do mentality, to contribute to the much-needed continuity of governance, cohesion and unity.

“There’s a saying “you did nothing to be a shamed of” and my reply to that is, “I’m ashamed because I did nothing”. I am at peace with my conscience, knowing that I did what I had to do, after ample reflection, and did so with integrity and best intentions to make a final attempt, from my side, for the Country to go forward on a more stable basis in the best interest of our sweet St.Maarten land and its’ People because, we deserve that!”

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Chamber calls on Entrepreneurs to Register for the next Grow Your Business Workshop

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) is busy with the organization of its latest product for Chamber registrants, “Grow Your Business with COCI Workshops.,” The next one is set for September 26.

The second workshop is will be given by Attorney Jason Rogers about the Legal System for Businesses. The workshop will take place at the COCI Conference Room from 7.00PM to 8.30PM.

Those interested in attending the workshop must register and pay a registration fee of US$20. Seating is limited and potential attendees need to register as soon as possible. You can register via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 721-542-3590 for further information.

Each workshop will deal with one specific topic and the topics identified are: Tax affairs, Customer service, Human resources, Marketing, Financial planning, and Overcoming challenges to success.

The new workshop product series is being organized in connection with COCI’s 40th anniversary marking the Chambers establishment this year 40-years ago.

The other workshops planned are October 24 Tax System for Businesses, Quincy Lont; November 21 Human Resources, Adelena Chandler-Schaap; December 12 Online Marketing, Member of Parliament Rolando Brison; and January 20 Customer Service, Glen Yeung.

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Port St. Maarten Crane Operators continues to boost their Skillsets

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Two members of the St. Maarten Harbour Crane Company have already passed the first phase of ships gear vessel operations training. They will continue to work on building more hours together with all other members of the team and also participate in a simulator training prior to full completion of the course which is expected to be completed within the next coming months.

In Port St. Maarten’s ongoing mission to improve the port’s operations excellence platform, management decided to also certify all crane operators to work the ships gear in case of auxiliary or activation of emergency measure protocols.

The aforementioned is key especially after a major hurricane as what was experienced after the passing of Hurricane Irma back in September 2017. For example, both mobile Gottwald Cargo Cranes had to go through major and rigorous compliance checks prior to being placed back into operational rotation post-Irma. A port has to have a human resource inventory of certified ships gear operators that can during such an emergency operate cargo vessels without any unnecessary delays.

“The key is to always anticipate and be proactive in ensuring we maintain a high level of operational excellence. This has always been the mantra of Port St. Maarten.

“By having our crane operators fully versed and certified in all aspects of vessel operations may it be mobile crane or vessel ships gear, this can only continue to validate our key role as one of the major hubs within the northeastern Caribbean.

“Global Port Training (GPT), a reputable company out of Belgium, will train and certify our operator’s in ship’s gear equipment. This is one of the key elements of Port St. Maarten Training Outpost activities.

“We continue to see the added value of this company, and we are on the verge of finalizing a full fledge local training outpost center here at Port St. Maarten as a joint venture with GPT. We continue to see the benefit of ensuring our local work pool receive the best that can be offered and ensuring that every member of the Port operations team is fully trained as per international standards,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Tuesday.

Besides investments in infrastructure and equipment and information technology, training of human resources at Port St. Maarten is at the top of the agenda for pilot boat operations and crane operators. The Port continues to invest in young local talent by inviting them to join the Port family, and continuous investment in existing personnel to optimize efficiency within the organization.

Port St. Maarten will be establishing a human resources training outpost. The training outpost will lead to the certification of persons working in the logistics field such as heavy equipment operators, stevedoring activities, and other port-container related operations.

The training Outpost Facility will be a key component to Port St. Maarten’s operational excellence platform ensuring quality and certified port operations across the board via establishing various audit models for continued improvement and success of Port St. Maarten cargo division and will also be used as a catalyst to use St. Maarten as a centralized training hub on a regional and international level.

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MHF presents First Happiness Event Edition on October 10

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) is proud to present the first edition of the Happiness Event! On Thursday, October 10th from 4.30 PM to 8 PM you're welcome at the Cultural Center in town to join us for an evening filled with performances, sharing of information, food and drinks, games and entertainment and much more all of this focused on supporting your happiness, a media statement from the MHF said on Tuesday.

“The event is hosted by non-other than Elektra Voltage & DJ Pauly and has a free raffle to win amazing prices every hour!

“We collaborated with different organizations to bring some happiness to the people of Sint Maarten, all in their own way. The focus will be on:

  1. Mental Happiness
  2. Physical Happiness
  3. Social Happiness
  4. Lifestyle Happiness

“Today in this article, we will focus together with input from the Association of Psychologists and Allied Professionals St. Maarten on the part of Mental Happiness. What are we talking about exactly?

“If asked what someone's goal in life is, many people answer with "being HAPPY"! But what is that then, happiness? Enjoying life? When good things happen to you? When you smile all the time? When you feel oh so gooood? Yes, all of that are good examples of being happy, but let us try to get a better idea of what exactly makes you feel happy, and perhaps even more important: how to invest in your happiness!

“In general, you could say that happiness is a state of pleasure, contentment and general satisfaction with one's current situation. That means that it is not a long-lasting feature or personality trait, but more a changeable state that can vary per moment and intensity. So in that sense: you cannot always be happy all the time. Good to remind yourself of every now and then! On the other hand, it is different from feeling joy or ecstasy, which are more intense feelings that often do not last very long. Lastly, an important aspect is that happiness can be felt and shown. 

“To understand this feeling, we should take a closer look inside our brain. Without becoming too technical hopefully: we have certain chemicals in the brain that are called neurotransmitters. And these neurotransmitters influence the way we feel. Four of those are responsible for our happiness (Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin and Endorphins). Simply said: if these chemicals are released in your brain, you'll get a happy feeling! Here some insight in them:

Dopamine gives a boost of pleasure when we accomplished something. This often works as a motivator to do that activity again. It is often described as a 'kick'. However, when Dopamine is low, this can also mean that you are more likely to doubt yourself and procrastinate. 

Serotonin makes you feel significant or important. And when this is low, you can feel lonely and depressed. It also helps regulate mood and social behaviour, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire. Scientific research shows a relation between serotonin and depression. 

Oxytocin creates the desire for intimacy and trust what helps to builds healthy relationships and feeling connected. This neurotransmitter is so powerful that animals will reject their offspring when the release of oxytocin is blocked, what will leave them with fewer changes to survive! You might have heard of it as the 'cuddle' hormone. Physical touch can help boost this hormone.

Endorphin reduces pain, and increases the release of our first neurotransmitter Dopamine, which in turn gives a pleasurable feeling!

“Luckily, we can have some control over these chemicals, at least to a certain extent. For example, endorphins are released through sex eating (good) food, chocolate, or doing cardio exercises (you probably have heard of the runners high?). You can get an oxytocin boost after only hugging someone, and physical activity also has a great positive impact on the release of Dopamine! 

“Okay, I hear you thinking: "So, can I just decide to be happy and will that make the (good) juices flow? Or are some people born with more of these happy-chemicals then others?". Well, both are true. These (physical) activities can indeed create happiness, but there is also a biological aspect to it. You could call that the "individual happiness set point". We are born with a certain set of chemicals (and thus the range of happiness) routed in our DNA. This doesn't mean that we don't have any influence on it but is good to take into account that some people might have to work a bit harder, or might need some help (through support, counselling or medication) to get there. It does not make you weaker; it's just how you are 'wired'!

“It is mentioned by some researchers in the field that the ability to live a happy life is determined for 50 % when you are born (so your DNA), 10 % through the events that you encounter in your life but also for 40% by your own actions and thus under personal control. Good to know! Regularly indulging in small pleasures, getting absorbed in challenging activities, setting and meeting goals, maintaining close social ties, and finding purpose beyond oneself all increase life satisfaction and are things that you can directly invest in and might not be as difficult as you would think! 

“For example, something simple as smiling (even if you don't really feel like it) can make you feel happier. By smiling, you tell your body that you are happy, which in turn will respond with sending out a happy feeling. Additionally, a smile is very contagious! Did you ever notice that for example when somebody gives you a big smile, and you cannot help to smile back? Give it a try today! Another is to train yourself in adapting a positive mindset! Imagine this: you've got a great idea, and all you hear are yes-buts. 'Yes, but that's been tried before, and it didn't work.' 'Yes, but shouldn't we just let it sit for a while?' 'Yes, but what if it doesn't work ...' All those yes-buts make you feel that every attempt will be buried in a swampy morass of objections. Luckily, there's another way: the yes-and attitude. This open-minded perspective emphasizes what CAN be done, and thereby appreciating possibilities. With this attitude, we see past the dragons to the path forward. The result? Creativity and innovation. From this point of view, the more problems we are confronted with, the better! Because you can see it as a challenge and a possibility to grow.

“Luckily, there are far more things you can do to boost your own happiness! If you'd like to know what those are, come to The Happiness Event on October 10th! It starts at 4:30 at the Cultural Center in town, everyone is welcome, and the whole event (including food, drinks and the Raffle ticket) is completely free! We hope to see you there, because who doesn't want to be happy right?”

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The 8th Annual Rotary/Rotaract Spelling Bee Tutorials 2019 Underway

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Three tutorials sessions have been organized to inspire the Spelling Bee Participants competing in the 2019, 8th Annual Rotary-Rotaract Spelling Bee, it was announced on Tuesday.

Due to the success of the previous tutorial sessions hosted by The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle for the Rotary/Rotaract Spelling Bee in 2016 and 2018 it was decided to hold three sessions again this year.

All three tutorial sessions will be held at the University of St. Maarten on Pond Island on Saturday September 21st and 28th, the third session will be held on October 5th.  All sessions will begin at 11am and finish at 1pm.

Volunteer Rotarians and Rotaractors will be helping the participants in pairs and if possible, individually to practice the words.  Of course, the participants will need to continue to practice in school and at home. 

Refreshments will be served as well as pizza.  All Spelling Bee Participants are invited and encouraged to attend the three tutorial sessions.

To date twelve schools, eight from St. Maarten and four from Anguilla with thirty-one participants have registered for the Spelling Bee. The preliminary round kicks off on Sunday October 20th at the Belair Community Center.

The top 10 highest scorers from the preliminary round will head to the semi-final round on Sunday October 27th. The top five highest scorers from the semi-final round will head to the final round on Sunday November 3rd.

Parents, family and friends are all invited to come out and support the participants at the Belair Community Center.

The objective of this Spelling Bee is to improve literacy and enhance the students’ educational experience. Mid Isle are confident that this year’s Spelling Bee will be successful once again.

The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle meets Tuesday at 7pm at Pineapple Pete in Simpson Bay. For more information please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit their Facebook page Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle.

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USP MP Frans: Govt. infighting, contradictions blocking any development of airport

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Leader of the United St. Maarten (US) party on Monday said that the current UD/SMCP government and its indecisiveness on Princess Juliana International Airport is a “riches of embarrassment” with one Minister contradicting the next while facilitating a developing rift at the airport that is stifling any kind of vital development at PJIA.

Additionally, Richardson said while the Prime Minister and CEO of PJIA Brian Mingo stated that they are not looking at any other financing options for the airport, apparently the same CEO, with the PM’s knowledge has reportedly signed an agreement to source alternative funding.

“There are too many contradictions and twisted stories surrounding funding for the airport,” Richardson said. “And our country is the ultimate loser. Making matters worse, we have reports of the CEO signing off and reversing decisions unilaterally without getting the support or approval of the Chief Operations Officer (COO) both of whom form part of the Managing Board along with the CFO. Many fear that the actions of the CEO is leaving the company at risk for court cases should these decisions be challenged or annulled,” Richardson said, adding that “there is no direction at the airport from Government or the CEO.”

Richardson said that while pre-clearance is one aspect that should come along with a financing option, he does not want the discussion to just focus on that. He said the World Bank/European Bank financing option falls way short of what is needed, has proven to be a political football and allows the Dutch too much control over St. Maarten’s most significant strategic asset.

MP Richardson said what PJIA needs is consolidated funding at favorable conditions to allow, among other things:

-Restructuring or buyout of the balance on existing Bond holders loan to allow more flexibility.

-Additional liquidity support for operations cash flow shortfalls during the reconstruction period.

-Funds to construct a new modern Fire and Rescue facility at airport

-Funds to construct a proper Fixed Based Operations (FBO) facility to maintain and attract more Private jet business and to avoid losing this business to other islands.

-Funds to construct a US Pre-Clearance terminal facility that would allow for significant growth of USA passenger traffic and increase in new airlines landing at PJIA with its associated increase in revenues for the airport and St. Maarten on the whole.

-Release and access to the insurance funds being held by the Bondholders.

-To execute the reconstruction of the airport using its own human resources to manage projects as it has done in the past. Without unnecessarily having the project costs increased due to being forced to the hiring of additional project management firms whilst it already has the capabilities locally and in house.

-Use of its already established in-house procurement processes (that were used in previous expansion projects) thereby avoiding implementation of a new lengthy third party procurement processes which will only increases costs and time for executing the project.

Richardson said the JPF Corporate Financing Option of US $240 million seems like an alternative option, once studied carefully and due diligence conducted, would allow all of the above including the possibility of establishing a dividend policy which benefits the country and by extension the people. The JPF option, Richardson said, offers complete financing package and released insurance proceeds can be placed in a Hurricane Reserve account or reserve.

“It offers a low interest rate despite the current Moody’s non-investment grade rating, a debt service coverage ratio flexibility, which will be initially low and with increases over time in alignment with the company’s recovery and the minimization of potential need for waivers, no prepayment penalties, pre-clearance, financial closure can be completed in two months, thereby allowing for construction to start already by January 2020 and completed by June 2021 and e would be committed to one loan with one institution namely Vidanova Pension Fund and consortium which will be easier to manage,” Richardson said.

MP Richardson stressed that this back and forth playing politics with the airport is making St. Maarten look amateurish to the rest of the world and to people who is thinking of doing business here. “It is obvious that this government is in a state of confusion, mired in distrust and in-fighting. This government is the biggest impediment to progress at the airport and something will have to be done soon to address this issue and finally get our airport on the path back to one of the best in the Caribbean. It will not happen with the current cast of characters in government,” Richardson said.  

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