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Nature Foundation Receives New Educational Materials for the Save St. Maarten Corals Project

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Nature Foundation. St. Maarten recently received a coral polyp model and created a poster about the state of St. Maarten’s Coral Reefs as new educational materials for presentations in coordination with the ‘Save St. Maarten Corals Project’. Both the coral polyp model and the poster will be used to help educate the public of the importance of coral reefs surrounding the island and what threats they are facing.

The coral polyp model was 3D printed by Dean Legg of Virtual Concepts International, located in Cole Bay. This model shows an individual coral polyp which can be opened to see its cross section. The model took over fifty hours to print and was sponsored both by Virtual Concepts International and the Dutch Caribbean National Alliance (DCNA). With this, the Nature Foundation can easily show students how thousands of these tiny animals make up a coral polyp, how they eat and digest their food, and why they need to be protected.

“The coral polyp model is a great addition to the education materials for the Nature Foundation and we are so thankful that Virtual Concepts was able to print this here on-island for us,” said Educational Outreach Officer Leslie Hickerson, “Many students on the island have not been introduced to coral reefs which are incredibly important to St. Maarten. Being able to handle the model and see in detail how coral polyps live and survive is a unique opportunity for St. Maarten’s students.”

The posters created by the Foundation and sponsored by the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine highlights the Marine Protected Area in St. Maarten and those threats that affect our coral reefs including; climate change, hurricanes, coral disease, waste water contamination, toxic sunscreen use, and pollution.

The new materials were used in an Introduction to Corals Class with the Nature Foundation Junior Rangers, who recently completed their PADI Junior Open Water Diving Certification with Ocean Explorers Dive Center. The Junior Rangers who were selected over the summer will be given several courses about our natural environment and what they can do to protect it. The scuba diving certification was made possible by contributions from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and Ocean Explorers Dive Center on St. Maarten.

“The students were able to learn about the corals they had seen first-hand on their certification dives with our polyp model. The combination of the certification course and the Introduction to Corals Class was very effective in helping the students to understand these unique animals,” said Hickerson, “We are so excited to use these materials in more presentations both in person and online with local students!”

If your school or organization would like a presentation about St. Maarten’s Coral Reefs, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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New Contactless Bankomatiko Smart Card is here!

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - It is with great pleasure that WIB announces the launch of its new Bankomatiko Contactless Smart Card, which can be used worldwide. the Windward Islands Bank (WIB) said in a press release on Monday.

The WIB Bankomatiko contactless smart card  allows you to make contactless  payments (tap) just by tapping your card at a payment terminal. The cummunlative limit amount for consecutive contactless payment  is Naf 100.  The payment  terminal will request  for a chip & Pin as soon  as this cumulative limit has been reached. The card will then be re-enabled for contactless payments.  

To make contactless payments:

1: Your Bankomatiko card should have the contactless service option. You will see a green sign on the right hand side  of your card.

2: You should be registred for Online Banking.

3: You should have an e-mail address to receive notifications after each payment.

4: The payment terminal should have the contactless sign on it and also accept Maestro.

Clients without the contactless symbol should contact your prefered branch to request a new card. 

Contactless payments are growing around the world as it is an easy, fast and safe way to pay.

Contactless payments with your Bankomatiko card is an inovative solution that WIB is offering its clients. For more information please visit our website page link: www.wib-bank.net/personal/bank-cards/debit-card.  

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MHF appoints Pelswijk as Interim Director as of October 1

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - The Board of the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) is pleased to inform the general public, its patients, stakeholders and financiers of care that Dr. Kitty Pelswijk psychiatrist at the Mental Health Foundation has been appointed as Interim Director of the Foundation effective October 1, 2020, the President of the Board of the Mental Health Foundation Dr. Felix Holiday announced on Friday in a statement.

“The Board of the Mental Health Foundation, will supervise and guide the interim director in the execution of tasks and duties assigned to the Interim Director which include the establishment of the strategic goals as well as policies of the Foundation.

“The Interim Director is supported in her role by the management team, consisting of the Administrator, the Human Resource Manager, the Facilities Manager and the Executive Assistant. Mrs. Eileen Healy will continue to support the Foundation with ongoing projects specifically the urgently needed expansion of the facility.

“The Board of the Foundation is extremely grateful that Dr. Pelswijk has accepted the role of Interim Director, whilst Dr. Pelswijk continues to function as psychiatrist at the Mental Health Foundation. The Board of the Foundation remains committed to the core purpose of the Foundation and will continue to uphold the Mission of the Foundation which is: ‘To provide quality psychiatric care and staff satisfaction within agreed budgets.’

“In closing, the Board and Management of the Foundation remain guided in fulfillment of its role by the Vision of the Foundation which is to promote continuity and to provide consistency, prevention, quality psychiatric treatment, cure and wellness to all of our clients.” 

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MHF Addresses Unethical & Negative Publications

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - On behalf of the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), the Management would like to express sympathy to those who may have been emotionally affected by the recent unethical and negative publications about the foundation, MHF said in a statement.

“It is important that Management explains what the process has been on the hiring of any medical professional from any country who also includes medical professionals born in St. Maarten that are NON-BIG registered professionals before they are employed as dictated by the Laws of Sint Maarten issued by the Ministry of Public Health (V.S.A.):

“Step 1 – An application for Diploma evaluation must be submitted to the Ministry of Education, Division of Exam Department. This evaluation is done by this Department of all diplomas submitted by the applicant and is carefully scrutinized by Committee members that form part of the Department before they grant approval. This process takes 8 weeks or longer. Once approval is granted it is issued on a document called Diploma Evaluation Report.

“Step 2 - An application to request permission for a Medical Professional to practice on Sint Maarten called the Establishment of a Medical Professional is submitted to the Ministry of Public Health. In this process the Ministry of Public Health scrutinizes via its medical professional committee members; the approved evaluation report; a declaration of good standing from the Medical Board in the country of origin; if not Dutch then MHF submits the required Employment Permit and Resident permit and Copies of diplomas certified by a notary. This process takes 16 weeks or more.

“Step 3 - After the completion of Step 2 and 3, the Ministry issues a Ministerial Decree granting permission for the Doctor to practice on the island of St. Maarten and the final part of this process is the Oath declaration by the doctor to the Governor of St. Maarten.

“As you will note above we stated that this is the legal process for a NON-BIG registered medical professional to practice in St. Maarten. The Law outlining this can be found in the LU: “LANDSVERORDENING regelende de uitoefening van de geneeskunde”, which can also be found via Google.com: 

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Tot de uitoefening van de geneeskunde in haar volle omvang zijn bevoegd:

  1. zij, die de hoedanigheid van arts op de wijze als bedoeld in de wet van 25 december 1878 (Stbl. 222) of de regeling, welke ter vervanging van deze wet mocht worden gesteld, hebben verkregen;

 

  1. zij, die aan een van de bij landsbesluit, houdende algemene maatregelen, aan te wijzen buitenlandse universiteiten of hogescholen, een graad of diploma als geneeskundige hebben verworven en tot uitoefening van de geneeskunde in haar volle omvang in het betrokken land bevoegd zijn. Zodanige aanwijzing geschiedt niet dan nadat een bij landsbesluit te benoemen commissie, bestaande uit het Hoofd van de Inspectiedienst Volksgezondheid, Sociale Ontwikkeling en Arbeid, hierna te noemen: de Inspecteur-Generaal, als voorzitter en vier leden, die allen de hoedanigheid van arts dienen te bezitten, gehoord is omtrent de vraag of de betrokken opleiding ter verkrijging van de bedoelde graad of diploma gelijkwaardig mag worden geacht te zijn aan die welke in het Academisch Statuut (Stbl. 1921, no. 800) of de regeling welke ter vervanging van dit Besluit mocht worden gesteld, wordt verlangd ter verkrijging van de hoedanigheid van arts.

“The reason this process needs to be explained is that it is important to refute the insinuation that Mental Health Foundation is illegally hiring medical professionals. The Government of St. Maarten does not accept anyone as a Medical professional to practice medicine on Sint Maarten, without the completion of the above-mentioned procedures and neither does Mental Health Foundation.

“The unethical and gravely inconsiderate publication has caused emotional stress to employees who consider MHF not only as their employer but as their second family. Public defamation of the character of an individual and their family members is a punishable act and Management intends to conduct a thorough investigation regarding what is considered breach of confidentiality via all available legal procedures.

“We would like to express our sincere appreciation to those employees who have extended their support to the Management Team and especially to Dr. Pelswijk after the publications. We deeply appreciate the many messages and calls received from those in the community who expressed their disgust at the articles and extended their support to all staff and the Management team at MHF.

“We end this notice by reiterating the vision of the foundation: MHF maintains a professional and integral approach, broadly supported by the population and guaranteeing continuity of Mental Health Care.”

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Arrest on Saba for smuggling cocaine and marijuana

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - On Wednesday, September 30th , Customs/Caribbean Netherlands (CN) on Saba once more arrested a suspect for drug smuggling.

During a regular check of a freight shipment, Customs found approximately 147 grams of marijuana and 219 grams of cocaine in and between different foods.

A suspect with the initials J.D.W. was arrested by Customs and transferred with the seized narcotics to KPCN in Saba, for further investigation.

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Police Force donates tablets to six secondary schools

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Sint Maarten Police Force KPSM Community Police Officers (CPOs) collaborated with various companies on the island to be able to collect several tablets that were donated to six secondary schools on the island. 

The initiative was created in lieu of the new virtual direction learning has now taken due to the ongoing pandemic. The Sint Maarten Police Force understands the importance of all children being able to stay connected in order to receive adequate education and we also understand that not everyone is fortunate to be able to purchase the necessary equipment.

We would like to thank Brooks & Associates, Checkmate Security Services, Shirley Roseta Woods, Domino’s Pizza, Aluglass NV, Energy Gas, Platinum Vacation Properties, Simpson Bay Resort, Antoine AKL, Bommel B.V, and the St. Maarten Chinese Foundation for their generous contributions. 

On Wednesday morning, September 30th, the tablets that were donated from the businesses were distributed to the management team of six secondary schools. 

The CPO’s distributed the tablets donated equally among Milton Peters College, St. Maarten Vocational School, Charlotte Brookson Academy, Sundial School, St. Maarten Academy- Academic, and the P.S.V.E. section.

The Sint Maarten Police Force would like to thank all the businesses once again for their role in making these donations possible. (KPSM)  

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Four cases of fish poisoning reported to CPS

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Collective Prevention Service (CPS), a department of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), is advising the public to pay attention to proper food handling procedures when preparing meals as the public health agency has received reports of four cases of fish poisoning during the Epidemiological weeks 36 and 37 (September 5th & 7th)

As with all reportable diseases, CPS surveillance nurses conduct case follow up to identify the possible source (s) of exposure. During the investigation, it came to light that the purchasing, storage, and preparation of the seafood played a major role in the source of food poisoning.

CPS would like to remind persons when purchasing fish, or any type of sea food, that it is important to handle the products safely to reduce the risk of foodborne illness often called food poisoning.

The safe handling tips for buying, preparing, and storing fish are: Buy only buy fish that is refrigerated or displayed on a thick bed of fresh ice (preferably in a case or under some type of cover).

The fish color can be affected by several factors including diet, environment, treatment with a color fixative such as carbon monoxide or other packaging processes. Color alone is not an indicator of freshness.

Tips that can help when deciding to buy Fish should smell fresh and mild, not fishy, sour or ammonia-like; a fish’s eyes should be clean and shiny; whole fish should have firm flesh and red gills with no odor.

Fish can spoil during transport if it is left at warm temperatures for too long before cooking. It is important to store fish properly, put on ice or in the refrigerator or freezer soon after buying it.

If seafood will be used within two-days after purchase, store it in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40F or below. Wrap it tightly in plastic, foil or moisture-proof paper and store it in the freezer.

When preparing fresh or thawed seafood, avoid cross contamination by preventing bacteria from fish spreading to ready to eat foods. To avoid cross contamination, keep fish separate from raw seafood by dividers; wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water after handling any raw food.

Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw foods such as seafood, and the preparation of cooked or ready-to-eat foods.

For added protection, kitchen sanitizers can be used on cutting boards and countertops after use. Or use a solution of one tablespoon of unscented liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. When buying fresh fish always walk with a cooler with cold elements or ice to keep your fish fresh, especially when you don’t know how much time you will be on the road to ensure the food you eat is safe and healthy.

Most seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145F degrees. If you don’t have a food thermometer, there are other ways to determine whether seafood is cooked: fish: the flesh is clear and separates easily with a fork. If you smell sour, rancid or fish odors in raw or cooked seafood do not eat it.

For serving, never leave seafood or other perishable food out of the refrigerator for more than two hours or for more than one hour when temperatures are above 90F degrees.

Bacteria that can cause illness grow quickly at warm temperatures (between 40F and 140F degrees). Some are at greater risk of foodborne illness and are also more likely to have a lengthier illness, undergo hospitalization or even die e.g. persons with weakened immune systems, children older adults or pregnant women.

Symptoms of foodborne illness are vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain; flu like symptoms such as fever, headache, and body ache.

It is imperative to ensure food safety from the purchase to the point of consuming fish and/or any other food, and always practice food safety. Be conscious of what and when you eat, CPS advises.

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CCSU union members and secretariat refuse to meet with Council of Ministers

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Prime Minister Jacobs and the Council of Ministers have made several attempts to meet with the CCSU and particularly the secretariat of the CCSU whose role is to serve as an impartial mediator between Government and the unions.

The Minister of General Affairs as was requested by the CCSU members in their letter of June 1st, 2020, sent a draft Covenant on July 27th, 2020 to solidify the cost cutting measures proposed. Along with the draft Covenant the Minister sent a cover letter requesting to initiate a workgroup on the agreements and further proposals of the CCSU Members, to be discussed on August 7th, 2020.

On July 31st, 2020, the CCSU’s secretariat responded to the Minister asking for clarity on the purpose and content of the recent draft covenant they received. The unions WICSU, PSU and WITU along with associate members NAPB and ABVO responded to the draft covenant, stating they were not in agreement with the way in which the conditions would be applied. They also stated that they would not be able to sign the agreement as requested by the Council of Ministers.

It should be noted that, the draft covenant was sent in order to receive feedback from the members in order for the Council of Ministers and the CCSU to come to a mutual agreement on the proposed cost cutting measures. To date the Minister has sent two requests to the CCSU members for meetings, which the CCSU did not accept.

Meanwhile, on August 31st, 2020 the CCSU filed a complaint with the Ombudsman against the Minister of General Affairs and the Minister of Finance claiming that both ministers have violated the law regarding the handling of the labour rights of the Civil Servants of St. Maarten. Although this complaint was filed on August 31st, the ministers did not receive this notice until Monday, September 7th, 2020, two weeks later.

In order to diffuse the ongoing tension with the unions the Minister of General of Affairs once again requested a meeting with the secretariat of the CCSU on the 11th of September which they again declined until after the hearing of the Ombudsman.

The Minister requested clarity from the Ombudsman on the complaint submitted by the CCSU on Friday, September 11th, 2020. Due to pre-set arrangements, the proposed date of the hearing is now scheduled for October 2nd, 2020. The Minister of General Affairs is awaiting the hearing of the Ombudsman after which, the much-anticipated negotiations with the members will continue.

It is unfortunate that the Council of Ministers was informed yesterday, September 29th, 2020 by convocation of a public meeting of parliament to be held on September 30th, 2020, with the WICLU & CCSU unions prior to the hearing of the Ombudsman. The Government remain open to discussions with the CCSU and the WICLU respectively, with the main focus of both parties coming to an amicable agreement on the proposed cost cutting measures.

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Rotary Sunset Launches Little Free Library

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - On Saturday 26th September 2020, the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset launched its fourth Little Free Library on the island at the Allen C. Halley Community Center in Simpson Bay in the presence of the center’s Director, Brigitte Halley, as well as members and guests of the club.

The concept of the Little Free Library was initially introduced in 2009 by Rotarian Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin and the idea quickly spread throughout thousands of communities in the United States, with the goal of creating awareness on the importance of literacy.

This newly installed Little Free Library is not new to the island of St. Martin, as Rotary Sunset introduced the first Little Free Library on the Marigot Waterfront in December of 2018 and throughout the years have installed Little Free Libraries at the Raoul Illidge Sports Complex in Cay Hill, the University of St. Martin and now it’s fourth at the Simpson Bay Allen C. Halley Community Center. The objective of the little free library is mainly to encourage more reading and to promote literacy throughout our communities.

“Rotary advocates basic education and literacy and with an initiative such as this, it is very beneficial to promote reading, especially in the communities. It is the club’s hope that the community of Simpson Bay appreciates this gesture and will utilize the box effectively. Anyone in the nearby communities of Cole Bay, Cay Bay, Pelican and even as far as the Mullet Bay area can stop to take a book and leave a book. Multilingual books and various gestures can be found and are accepted in the Little Free Library . Heartfelt gratitude is extended to Mr. Martin Canzius of Canzius Designs N.V. for constructing the Little Free Library and Mr. Larry Yankey for affixing the signs,” President of the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset, Elisia Lake stated.

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset would like to encourage the general public to visit any of the four little libraries on the island, as we continue to promote the importance of reading. The club has partnered with Rotary and Rotaract clubs in neighboring islands such as Virgin Gorda and Turks and Caicos and installed 2 Little Free Libraries. A Little Free Library is also in the process of being installed in Anguilla of which Rotary Sunset is ecstatic about. Community members are urged to donate books they are no longer using, to either of the club’s little libraries or any member of the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset. For persons interested in sponsoring a Little Free Library, please feel free to contact the club via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +1 721 587 4193

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Beyond Kultura Translates Sequel into English for Windward Island Kids

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Beyond Kultura Events Foundation has taken an important first step toward publication of a new Caribbean-based reader for English speakers: the translation into English of a 210-page sequel to Zonnesproetjes-Tropisch Nestje (Freckle Bunch/Tropical Shelter) Written by local author Loekie Morales, the English sequel is written for readers age seven and up.

While the Dutch version was sponsored by Morales and BKE, the English translation and proofreading costs were sponsored by Prins Bernhard Cultural Fund Caribbean. Its aim is to encourage English speakers to read Caribbean-based stories to enhance their reading skills.

PBCF supported the translation of Zonnesproetjes to Freckle Bunch by Barbara van de Woude and the translation of Tropisch Nestje to Tropical Shelter by Riet-Sint Straatman. In addition, the Fund supported the proofreading of both books by native English speaker Marianne Tefft.

For the writing of the special two-in-one sequel of 40 short stories, Morales recalls her childhood in Curaçao, where she was raised in a family with lots of children. After the death of her young mother, Morales and her siblings were sent to local boarding homes, where their lives changed substantially.

With completion of the sequel’s translation, BKE is seeking funds from local entities to support the printing of Freckle Bunch/Tropical Shelter for Windward Islands kids.

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