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MP Buncamper Questions Rental Tribunal. Says current legislation does not provide much

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Friday Parliament's Committee of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment, and Infrastructure (VROMI) had an interactive and informative meeting with the Rental Tribunal pertaining to its proposals for legislative amendments, Member of Parliament (MP) Claudius Buncamper said in a press statement on Monday.

“It became clear to independent member of parliament MP Buncamper that the current legislation does not provide for much to be done or regulated by the Rental Tribunal as the current legislation was originally prepared by and for Curacao where the housing market differs from that of St. Maarten. 

“In a press release MP Buncamper stated that the current legislation dictates that the Rental Tribunal may regulate a maximum allowed rent only for properties valued up to Naf 200.000,-- while not many buildings fall within this category. The Rental Tribunal was asked to explain how it will determine the rental fee that a landlord may demand and how much consideration would be made for the varying costs incurred by landlords based on their investments and maintenance costs.

“According to the MP this raised the question if government should regulate the rental fees that landlords may demand. MP Buncamper warned that although most tenants are likely to welcome this suggestion, it must be taken into account that Sint Maarten has an open market economy where the market regulates its prices based on supply and demand. 

“Presently it appears that most privately owned rental properties and dwellings are intended for middle-high earners. Most of the privately owned properties are owned by person who have had to borrow the funds to do so from a financial institution, and have to cover the monthly payments, insurance and maintenance from their pockets. Because of the demand for housing, the property owner is looking, not only for affordability, but mainly for profitability.

“Should the supply exceed the demand, the prices will automatically drop, as charging less for rent is better than no rent at all.

“During the discussion the Rental Tribunal noted that the bulk of the cases they handle are related to tenants in the lower income bracket. Tenants in the lower income bracket make up a significant part of the population. They are the ones demanding more affordable housing than the market is supplying, the MP’s release stated.

“The Rental Tribunal suggests that the solution to this deficit in affordable housing is probably not in regulating market prices, but rather in regulating the construction and proper maintenance of social housing, while simultaneously increasing the average income of residents by stimulating people and businesses to grow and develop without too much red tape. 

“The composition of representatives holding seats in the Rental Tribunal too needs to be looked into, to ensure that those holding such positions are knowledgeable of the public and private aspect of our community,” the release concluded.

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Flow & Safe Haven Partner on abuse awareness. Telecoms operator supports NGO in encouraging local dialog on domestic violence

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Local telecoms provider Flow has partnered with the Safe Haven Foundation to encourage the local dialog on domestic violence. The Foundation provides support to abuse victims through support, guidance and, if needed, shelter.

The telecoms operator is working with the Foundation in various ways to encourage the dialog on St Maarten on the various forms of domestic abuse. “We join the rest of the world on ‘The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence’, an annual international campaign that runs from November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, until December 10, Human Rights” says Rauf Engels, Interim Country Manager at Flow.

During the 16 days of activism, we’re encouraging our customers to show their support through a sticker that we developed with the Safe Haven Foundation. During the 16 days of activism, we’ll reward 16 customers with $100 Chippie prepaid credit. Our spotters will be on the look-out during the 16 days to award 16 customers displaying the sticker.

In addition, Flow joined Safe Haven on Sunday, December 5th for its Family Fun Fair on the Cyrus Wathey Square in Philipsburg. The partners hosted a fun day of information, fun and games for the whole family and Chippie prepaid credit and a Samsung Galaxy Tab were among the raffle prizes that could be win by attendees. “We were happy to see our community come out and participate.” Says Safe Haven Foundation Director, Vanessa Fraser. “By making domestic abuse a topic we can talk about, and removing the stigma, victims will feel more confident speaking out and leaving an abusive situation. They will be strengthened by the fact that we stand with them in support. We also encourage persons who want to help to visit www.safehavensxm.sx because there are many ways you can help someone out of their bad situation.” Fraser continues.

“We invite everyone to stand with us in support by showing the stickers and by being brave enough to support someone if you suspect may be suffering abuse.” Says Engels. “Flow is part of the Liberty Latin America Group and as a corporate citizen operating not only locally, but also regionally, we stand against violence in all its forms. We recently introduced a policy to protect and support our employees as well. We recognize that gender-based violence is widespread in the region we operate and pledge to do everything in our power to educate, prevent, protect, and support against gender-based violence in our companies and communities.”

“The launch of our company policy is a meaningful step in the right direction, however partnering with local organizations across the region dedicated to supporting survivors ensures that we achieve maximum impact for support, prevention measures and raising awareness in the communities we serve. There is so much to be done, but we are committed to playing a meaningful role to drive positive change. I urge you to join our pledge, educate yourself on how you can be part of the solution, and seek help if you or a loved one needs it. Be on the lookout for our teams during the 16 days of activism and find out how you can do your part at www.safehavensxm.com,” added Engels 

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Covid-19 Vaccination Pop- UP Location Open this Saturday. Get Vaccinated

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Vaccination Management Team of St. Maarten is inviting all residence who have not yet received their first & second Covid- 19 Vaccination and those who would like to receive the Booster shot to come out this Saturday December 4th, 2021, between the hours of 9am -3pm.

The Pop- up clinic will be held at the Collective Prevention Services, CPS at the Vinyard building office park. All persons are encouraged to come out and take advantage of this weekend clinic and get vaccinated.

Don’t forget to walk with your vaccination card so that the booster shot information can be applied. A valid form of Identification, ID is also required. Persons 18 years and older can get their Booster shot providing you already received series 1&2.

Call CPS at Tel# 914 for more information.

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DCNA is Preparing Dutch Caribbean Conservation Organizations to Withstand External Shocks

BONAIRE (KRANLENDIJK) - The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance’s (DCNA) bi-annual board meeting took place during the recent convention held in Curaçao. Their Excellencies, Governors Holiday and Boekhoudt from Sint Maarten and Aruba, as well as Mr. Jaime Saleh, patron of DCNA, were present as observers for crucial discussions on governance and DCNA’s strategic vision moving forward.

Strategic vision

After 15 years of existence, DCNA has the requisite tools needed to enable its member organizations to withstand looming challenges. While the immediate support to parks due to COVID-19 remains essential, DCNA must also focus on the impact of climate change, which is an existential threat to the lives and livelihoods of Dutch Caribbean Communities.

Director of DCNA, Tadzio Bervoets, says “it is crucial to increase the resiliency of our Protected Area Management Organizations to hold out against the myriad external shocks that are heading our way due to global warming. Another important strategic objective is to advice our local governments more effectively since they remain an important stakeholder.”

Good governance

In order to better serve the Protected Area Management Organizations, DCNA will move from a one-tiered to a two-tiered governance structure. This will allow management to focus on routine managerial tasks, while the board handles long-term decision-making and strategic planning.

During the board meeting, the team dealt with the basic good governance procedures, such as approval of the budget for 2022 and approval of the 2021 Financial Statements. The board meeting also offered an opportunity for the secretariat and the Protected Area Management Organizations to share activities carried out since the last board meeting in April.

The way forward

The board agreed on a strategic plan for the period of 2021-2030 that takes into consideration the common challenges among the nature conservation organizations as well as island-specific needs. Raising awareness of these developments is an import aspect of DCNA’s goals.

“We are in the final stages of hiring a PR and Information Officer who will increase our own capacity to communicate and help the parks to communicate with their respective communities as well”, says Bervoets.

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Saba starts COVID-19 booster campaign Dec. 8 for residents 60+

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - Saba will start its booster COVID-19 vaccination campaign next week Wednesday, December 8 with the vaccination of residents age 60 and older.

The Public Health Department has been contacting persons age 60 and up for an appointment to get their booster vaccination with the Moderna vaccine. The vaccination location will be the ambulance bay at the Saba Cares Clinic in The Bottom. The vaccination campaign is coordinated by the Vaccine Management Team with members of Saba Cares and the Public Health Department.

Saba residents with severely compromised immune system have already received a third dose of the vaccine, deemed necessary because in some persons with a low immune system, two full doses of the vaccine might not be as effective as in persons with a normal immune system.

Public health officials pointed out that it is completely safe for people to receive the vaccine for the third or booster vaccination, regardless of the type of COVID-19 vaccine that they received earlier. There should be at least six months between the last COVID-19 vaccination and the booster. For those persons receiving the regular flu shot, there should be two weeks between the regular flu shot and the COVID-19 booster.

For the booster vaccination, people receive half of the Moderna dose that was given in the first and second shot. Half a dose is sufficient to sustain protection against COVID-19. booster Side-effects may occur after a booster, as this can also be the case after the first and second dose.

Persons under 60 will receive more information about when and where the booster will be given.

Saba has a very high vaccination coverage: 1,455 persons age 18 and up, some 90 per cent of the population, are fully vaccinated. Of this number, 380 persons are 60 years and older.

vaccination location at ambulance bay 03

 

 

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Works on road to Black Rocks harbor project

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - Final preparations are being made to construct the last part of road to the new harbor project at Black Rocks. Also, Saban rock walls will be built along part of the road.

Saba Roads & Construction has started to construct the foundation for the rock walls which will be built in the typical Saban style, using local rocks. The walls will not only aid in stabilizing the hillside and prevent rocks from coming onto the road due to erosion, but will also serve a visual purpose.

The rock walls will be constructed along the first 300 meters of the unpaved road. The first 500 meter of the road is now in place. Early next year, the road will be extended another 250 meters to the location of the new harbor.

Because the last part is steep, the area will need to be excavated, compacted and stabilized in order to construct the last part of the road. The entire road will be paved at the end of the harbor project to prevent damage to the road during construction works.

Reforestation

Reforestation along the road to and in the Black Rocks/Giles Quarter area is part of the harbor project. Agriculture expert Jim Garza of Gezondheid Farms, the Agricultural Department and the Coordinator Goat Control, Nature and Agriculture of the Public Entity Saba will draft a proposal for the first phase of reforestation.

Soil samples have been taken by Garza, the results of which will be used to determine what shrubs, grasses and trees will best survive in that area which is marked by extreme circumstances with a dry, nutrient-poor soil and a lot of wind. Earlier this year the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF) carried out a terrestrial ecological survey to determine dominant and rare species in the future harbor area.

Reforestation is important to prevent erosion. The targeted area surrounding the new harbor serves as a start of a broader reforestation project for Saba.

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COMMUNITY SPACES FINALIZED IN CAYHILL AND SUCKERGARDEN

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (MECYS) through the Department of Sport and its executive arm, the National Sports Institute (NSI) collaborated with the St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) and the Netherlands Red Cross (NLRC) in the development of the community spaces at the Raoul Illidge Sport Complex (RISC) and the Melford Hazel Sport complex (MHSC).

The Director of the NSI on behalf of the Minister of ECYS signed a user/care agreement with the community councils of Cayhill and Upper Princess Quarter regarding the community spaces which were developed by the SMDF and NLRC.

On hand to commemorate these events were the Minister of ECYS Drs Rodolphe Samuel, the Director of the NSI, the Department Head of Sports and representatives of the Cayhill Community council and the Upper Princess quarter community council.

The community spaces project first started in January of 2020 to create accessible, open areas where persons could socialize in welcoming environments. Several spaces were identified in consultation with SMDF, NLRC, MECYS and NSI including the outdoor spaces at the MHSC and the RISC which are now being presented to the communities that those facilities are located in.

The Cayhill community council and Dukes Drive Residents Association and Suckergarden community leaders Association were instrumental in the development and planning of the community spaces which reflects the desires of those communities.  

The Department of Sport is excited about the development of the community spaces and will continue to collaborate with the various community stakeholders. The persons within those communities are encouraged to take ownership, by taking care of and discouraging vandalism to the community spaces which have been developed for all.

This collaboration has shown the importance of bringing Government and organizations together to systematically solve existing problems whilst also building collaborative communities. The Minister of ECYS recognized all the hard work of the various stakeholders in coordinating the development of the community spaces and we are all looking forward to seeing the space serve as a vehicle for establishing social cohesion within the community and the stimulation of participation in sport and physical activities.

min ecys sucker

min ecys Picture5

 

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Tangle by Rochelle Ward, a “haunting” new book published in St. Martin – by Lasana M. Sekou

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Tangle by Rochelle Ward (Faizah Tabasamu), a “haunting,” “sensual” poetry book, is now in St. Martin bookstores and online for everywhere, said Jacqueline Sample of House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP).

Tangle is a living organism” with “Haunting poems that vibrate and explode in the eye and heart,” said Belizean author Sean Taegar.

“Ward draws together things that might not want to be drawn together; she tangles history, place, memory and a deeply sensual vision of human experience,” wrote Pace University professor Jane Collins in the book’s introduction.

Ward, who hails from Middle Region, writes about murder in her village with the same layering of calm and turbulence as she writes about her experience in New York City when the Twin Towers exploded.

In her poems, Ward’s joy about her father’s breakfast ritual is captured with the same ease as the strange familiarity of young people’s response in Trinidad to the threat of disaster in the poem “Earthquake.”

The visit to her grandmother’s house in Nevis is not disentangled from her defense of the Great Salt Pond as a daughter of “Soualigua.” Then there’s Ward’s society of hair grooming among women and the telling of the kingship stride of ordinary men, all take on mint meaning in Tangle.

The 132-page debut collection includes seven sections, entitled Spitfire, Birthstrings, Hills, Kings, Heirloom, Faces, and IG Snapshots. Ward’s poetry generally encompasses womanhood, Caribbean nostalgia and culture, and the urgency to preserve and engage in nature. 

Tangle is available at Arnia’s bookstore, from the poet in person, and at Amazon, and SPDbooks https://bit.ly/3HwS4jW, said Sample.

Ward holds an MSc in Management Studies from The University of the West Indies. The English and Literature teacher at St. Maarten Academy high school has recited her poetry at demonstrations, slams, concerts, and literary festivals in Anguilla, Dominica, St. Martin, Nevis, Montserrat, and the USA.

Rochelle Ward (Faizah Tabasamu) is the curator at the saltfish & Lace blog. She is a recipient of the Catapult Lockdown Virtual Salon grant. Ward’s poetry also appears in the anthology Where I See the Sun – Contemporary Poetry in St. Martin (2013).

Tangle Book

Tangle by Rochelle Ward (Faizah Tabasamu), new book from House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP). Cover design by Sundiata Lake.

 

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Sinclair Carty Cute Cake Competition dubbed a tremendous success. Young cake makers hold their ground

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Under the watchful eye of Sinclair Carty, judges announced the winners of the Sinclair Cute Cake Competition. The event was held on Saturday at the John Larmonie Center in Philipsburg and attracted persons from both sides of the island.

Participating cake makers also came from districts across the island to showcase their ware and creativity. Complementing the beautiful cakes and other delicatessens, were also homemade juices and punches.

Judging the event were Shujah Reiph; Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams and Jalanie Fleming.

Two categories of cakes were judged, as well as the famous black cake.

The resulting winners were in category A, Elizabeth de Weever and young Joshua Carty, respectively first and second place.

In category B, the winners were Ronald Estephane and Khenya Metura, respectively first and second place.

In the much-anticipated black cake competition, Ronald again emerged the winner with Deborah Timothy close on his heels.

Carty: “It was lovely to see the young persons who participated so confidently competing in a warm and embracing atmosphere. I thank all the participants and my sponsors and of course the general public that came out. Look out for more tantalizing pictures on social media.”

BAKE another winner

Young Joshua shows his prizes.

BAKE fish cake

A sample of the cakes on display.

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Three COVID-19 recoveries on Friday. No New Positive Cases. 20 Active Cases

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - As of November 26th, there were no positive cases recorded. Three (3) persons have recovered, bringing the total active cases to twenty (20). The total number of confirmed cases remains at four thousand five hundred seventy-three (4573).

The Collective Prevention Services (CPS) are monitoring twenty (20) people in home isolation. Zero (0) patients are hospitalized at the St. Maarten Medical Center. The total number of deaths due to COVID-19 remains at seventy-five (75).

The number of people recovered since the first case surfaced on St. Maarten has increased to four thousand four hundred seventy eight  (4478). Eleven (11) people remain in quarantine based on contact tracing investigations carried out by CPS.

The total number of persons tested is 68,695.

As the numbers continue to fluctuate, CPS will continue to actively execute its contact tracing measures.

Minister Ottley urges the public to wear your mask, reduce social contacts, and sanitize or wash your hands frequently.

ARCHIVED - SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - As of November 25th, there were three (3) persons who tested positive for COVID-19; however, three (3) persons have recovered; bringing the total active cases to twenty-three (23). The total number of confirmed cases is four thousand five hundred seventy-three (4573).

The Collective Prevention Services (CPS) are monitoring twenty-three (23) people in home isolation. Zero (0) patients are hospitalized at the St. Maarten Medical Center. The total number of deaths due to COVID-19 remains at seventy-five (75).

The number of people recovered since the first case surfaced on St. Maarten has increased to four thousand four hundred seventy five   (4475). Fifteen (15) people remain in quarantine based on contact tracing investigations carried out by CPS.

The total number of persons tested is 68,695.

As the numbers continue to fluctuate, CPS will continue to actively execute its contact tracing measures.

For your safety and the safety of your loved ones, wear your mask, reduce social contacts, and sanitize or wash your hands frequently.

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