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KIDZ AT SEA SXM COASTAL CLEANUP PROJECT COLLECTS TOTAL OF 1071 LBS OF MARINE DEBRIS

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - On Saturday 19 November a trained team of St Maarten SCUBA divers went out for their second underwater cleanup of the year in an aim to reduce the amount of remaining hurricane Irma debris still littering our underwater coastline.

As part of the SXM Coastal CleanUp project, 12 participants received scuba dive training during the summer months to safely search and recover small to medium sized debris that remains underwater from Hurricane Irma. The extensive training was finalized in October with the PADI Divers Against Debris course, after which they were able to apply their skills and start removing the debris.

The participants, along with additional volunteers from the 2021 SXM Coastal CleanUp program, were taken out by boats from dive schools Sxm Divers and Dive Adventures, as well as The Scuba Shop. The debris is then brought to The Scuba Shop where the participants sort, weigh and log the debris before disposal.

The first SXM Coastal CleanUp event of 2022 collected an impressive 613 LBS of debris from the Simpson Bay coastline, that consisted of PVC piping, roofing and other smaller hurricane debris items as well as large amounts of single use plastics and everyday littering. In this second cleanup the team collected 458 LBS of the same kind of debris, in the exact same spot, just a few weeks later.

This past weekend some of the SXM Coastal participants also volunteered in another cleanup held by the AUC medical school, which resulted in another 424 LBS of collected debris from the same location.

“The amount of debris that we keep collecting in a single, hour long dive is (sadly) impressive” said Kim Frye of The Scuba Shop. “Due to the coastal currents the corner of Simpson Bay is a collection point, especially for the lighter plastics that in other places along our coastline float out to sea before we are able to remove them. In addition, everytime we have heavy weather, the sand is moved over the seafloor and more debris is exposed in an area already “cleaned”. The job seems endless, but I hope someday that we come back empty handed from an underwater cleanup event!”

Having tied this project in with data collection programs PADI AWARE Dive Against Debris and the EU In-No-Plastics databases, we have collected data on our findings in the past two cleanups, and can safely say that there is still a lot of roofing and pvc piping left from hurricane Irma on our shores. This poses a huge risk during future storm activity, as pieces may get thrown onto shore or pushed into important marine environments with strong wave activity.

The good news however was that we did see a decrease in the amount of plastic bags we collected, which means that the site is becoming significantly cleaner. Hopefully this shows that our community members and visitors are reducing the amount of single-use plastic that is allowed to enter our environment.

“It is heartwarming to see these young adults engaging in environmental activities”, says Steve Duzanson, who came to visit The Scuba Shop where the debris was brought for sorting, logging and weighing for data collection purposes before disposal. Mr Duzanson, who is head of R4CR and manages all projects that are part of the island’s recovery program, also said: “Each and every project in this programme is so very different to one another, whilst all still with the same aim to build a stronger and more resilient Sint Maarten. This particular project does so by training young adults to become more aware of our island’s environment, and at the same time be prepared for future hurricanes to come. This project is a fantastic contribution to the World Bank Recovery program.”

Kidz at Sea wishes to extend a special thanks to all participating dive companies in the program (Dive Adventures, Ocean Explorers, Sxm Divers and The Scuba Shop), the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation, as well as to the dedicated dive instructors and volunteers who have been a very important part in making this project happen.

For more information on future CleanUps follow @SXMcoastalcleanup and @kidzatsea or contact The Scuba Shop at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

KIDZ TUE2911 FIRST PIX Picture12

The participating dive boats each had a team of divers collecting debris from Simpson Bay where there is still a lot of roofing and other debris from Hurricane Irma. 

 

 

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R4CR invests in governance training for Non-Profit organizations

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Resources for Community Resilience (R4CR) organized workshops on Governance for Non-Profit Organizations. “Because of the huge demand for this workshop we were forced to create two groups to be able to accommodate everyone” stated Jose Sommers, the Training and Capacity Strengthening Manager of R4CR.

The two-day workshops were held on November 21 and November 23 from 6pm to 9pm for group 1 and on November 22 and November 24 from 2pm to 5pm for group 2. The staggering of the workshops’ dates and times gave the 27 participants (who are mostly volunteers) greater flexibility to combine their regular day job and family commitments with attending these very important workshops.

The course material for the workshops was developed in-house by Jose Sommers and Rolf Hunink and provided 6 hours of interactive training on Governance for non-profit organizations. The subjects covered important issues such as: what is (good) governance, checks and balances, board composition, the role of the board, board member archetypes, recruiting board members, staffing, working with volunteers, organizational strategy and collaboration.

After the official opening and formal introductions, the participants were treated to a fictitious case study in which two concerned citizens (Tim and Mary) want to tackle the growing problem of people with debt on the island. Sommers said, “The case stood as a model for how many non-profit organizations start; mostly with one or more socially conscious persons driven to solve a problem they have experienced or identified in the community. Through interactive assignments, exercises and some basic theory the participants discussed the many governance issues that arise when running a non-profit foundation”.

The final subject during the workshops was reserved for collaboration. Although not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about governance, the R4CR workshop designers found collaboration between the various non-profit organizations on the island a very important topic because it allows foundations to share resources (human, operational, financial) and achieve synergies that could make the collaborating organizations much more efficient and stronger.

“We see some organizations collaborating on an operational level, but we think that there is still a large untapped potential in that area. To stimulate collaboration, R4CR allocates a higher maximum budget ($120K) for collaborative projects compared to an individual organization submission($90K). To date we have not had any collaborative submissions yet but we do expect to receive the first one during round 5 financing which closes on December 7” concluded Sommers.

The R4CR program includes a grant scheme as funding mechanism for community and social rehabilitation initiatives on Sint Maarten and focuses on improving the capacity of local non-profit organizations in reconstruction and resilience activities post hurricane Irma.

R4CR is financed by the Government of the Netherlands via the Sint Maarten Trust Fund which is administered by the World Bank, monitored by the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) and executed by VNGI. Project activities by registered local non-profit organizations can cover subject areas such as neighborhood initiatives, sports/recreation, nature/environment, culture, poverty relief, day care centers/after school programs, youth employment, skills development, psycho-social support/health/well-being and gender-based violence.

For more information about the R4CR program or an overview of all current projects please visit www.r4cr.org or the Facebook page (R4CRSXM).

R4CR group discussion1 TUE2911

 

 

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MP Sarah Wescot-Williams says Body Searches “sad and unacceptable”

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams was appalled by not only the two incidents as described in recent publications regarding so-called search tactics used by the police in Philipsburg against two citizens, but also by the reaction of the police top.

“I cringed at reading how our officer(s) misused their power and humiliated the persons involved.

Especially for the woman and the circumstance in which she found herself, it must have been a most terrifying and humiliating experience.”

“As a woman, mother, grandmother, I can’t but condemn in the strongest possible way that any of our citizens, unless posing a serious and life-threatening danger, be subjected to this type of bodily violation. This cannot be swept under the rug with a simple ‘we are sorry’ or ‘it is in the hands of the judiciary’.” commented MP Wescot-Williams.

“Anywhere else in the world this type of action would have been condemned at the highest level, stated the MP. “Less serious infractions would have caused immediate suspensions, if not resignations.”

Sad is also the fact, considering that we are in the month of November. A month in which strides against gender violence are celebrated and testimonies are given by many as to the long road still ahead in combatting this scourge, the MP stated.

The Minister of Justice herself needs to urgently handle this head on. “I have channeled the following questions to the Minister of Justice via Parliament”, the MP commented during a committee meeting of parliament on Tuesday morning.

  • Have the aforementioned incidents been reported to you?

If so, when, and how?

  • What are the conclusions and recommendations made, if any?
  • Do you consider these recommendations, if made, adequate?
  • Are you conducting your own investigation?

If so, how?

  • Would you be willing to offer your own heartfelt apologies and report on the steps to be taken? If not, why not?

The MP concluded by stating that she hopes the Minister of Justice will address this matter even before the questions reach her.

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Residents and businesses next to the landfill in the process of being relocated

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - With the full support and commitment of the Government of Sint Maarten, the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) has begun the process of resettling the community in the area next to the landfill on Pond Island. This activity, which is part of the Sint Maarten Trust Fund’s Debris Management Project (EDMP), will help pave the way for better management of the country’s solid waste.  

The community’s resettlement is a major step in reforming Sint Maarten’s system of solid waste management. Since 2019, several commissioned studies have demonstrated the risks to the community living and working in the immediate vicinity to the landfill. These include exposure to air, soil, and water pollution, and the risk of the landfill’s slopes collapsing. To mitigate these risks, a buffer zone on the land next to the landfill is being developed, free of homes and businesses. 

On behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten, former Sint Maarten lieutenant governor Mr. Franklyn Richards has been appointed as High-Level Focal Point for the resettlement process. In this role, Mr. Richards is supporting the resettlement process by identifying bottlenecks and proposing alternative solutions where possible.  

“I thank the Government of Sint Maarten for selecting me as the High-Level Focal Point,” said Mr. Richards. “In this capacity I will do my utmost to assist the NRPB in executing the Government’s vision to improve the quality of life of our residents; in particular those who reside in close proximity of the disposal site, which is undoubtedly unhealthy and unsafe.” 

The forthcoming relocation of residents and businesses in the area will be guided by a comprehensive Resettlement Action Plan (RAP). The NRPB, in close collaboration with the Government of Sint Maarten, developed the RAP through a series of surveys and consultations with the affected community. The World Bank’s environmental and social safeguard regulations provided the guiding values of the RAP, recognizing the human rights and safety of those being asked to leave their homes and adapt their livelihoods. 

The community will be relocated out of the area next to the landfill in phases. Eligible residents and businesses will be compensated based on their affected assets. For this, a valuation methodology was developed according to the World Bank’s policies on involuntary resettlement.

It is expected that the resettlement activities will take between 12 and 18 months to complete, with a scheduled end in the first quarter of 2024. The RAP can be viewed and downloaded in its entirety at www.nrpbsxm.org/resettlement.  

Within the next five (5) years, EDMP will oversee the construction of waste processing facilities near the landfill, which will identify and sort incoming waste from the country’s neighborhoods and allow for adequate disposal methods to take place, in line with regional and international standards.  
 
To ensure the sustainability of EDMP’s US $85 million investment into the solid waste sector, the Government of Sint Maarten is simultaneously implementing the project Moving to Integrated Solid Waste Management on Sint Maarten (ISWM-SXM), with the support of the NRPB and the International Cooperation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG International). Under ISWM-SXM, the project team will support the Government’s efforts to establish Solid Waste Authority that will oversee the entire solid waste management sector. The waste processing facilities built under EDMP are expected to be transferred to the Solid Waste Authority.  

“These two projects, EDMP and ISWM-SXM, are working together to achieve more sustainable means of disposing of the waste generated in our homes, offices, and places of recreation. With the dedication and hard work of the Government of Sint Maarten, the World Bank, NRPB, and VNG International, I’m confident that we will achieve a great success that future generations will be proud of,” said NRPB Director Claret Connor.  

The Sint Maarten Trust Fund is financed by the Government of the Netherlands, managed by the World Bank, and implemented by the NRPB on behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten. 

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A view of the Resettlement Area of Impact (in foreground) taken from the main landfill on Pond Island.

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Ritz-Carlton Yacht Evrima makes Inaugural Call to Port St. Maarten

PORT ST. MAARTEN – The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection company superyacht Evrima made its inaugural call on Sunday to Port St. Maarten where Captain Duncan and crew were greeted and welcomed by the Acting Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (TEATT) Hon. Omar Ottley, and port management with the traditional exchange of plaques and pleasantries.

The debut of the Evrima, the first of three custom-built yachts, marks a significant moment for the Ritz-Carlton iconic hospitality brand as it makes its foray into the luxury yachting space. Port St. Maarten is proud to be a part of this debut.

This is the first ever next generation of superyacht of the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection brand, and Luxury Caribbean Cruises from Port St. Maarten to Barbados with unique opportunities for pre and post vacation days on the Friendly Island. 295 passengers embarked on Sunday for their cruise.

Superyacht Evrima measuring 190-meters features 149 suites, all with private terraces that can accommodate up to 298 passengers. The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s commitment to sustainable practices implies that the superyachts will be designed with advanced environmental features and technologies to minimize ecological impact.

The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection will expand its fleet with two additional vessels in 2024 (Ilma) and 2025 (Luminara). The new vessels will be constructed by the shipyard, Chantiers de l’ Atlantique in Sant-Nazaire, France, with an option for additional vessels in the future.

The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection combines the luxury lifestyle of The Ritz-Carlton® and the casual freedom of a yachting vacation, with voyages on three custom-built superyachts. As with The Ritz-Carlton® on land, each yacht will feature personalized service, elevated dining, and luxury amenities, including a signature Ritz-Carlton Spa and dedicated space for Ritz Kids. Stopping at both intimate and signature ports of call, most voyages will range from seven to 10 nights with no two journeys alike. The yachts are also available for private charter.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. currently operates more than 100 hotels in 34 countries and territories. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marriott International, Inc.

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TelEm Group CEO thanks police for dedicated work in the SXM community

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – TelEm Group CEO, Mr. Kendall Dupersoy, was full of praise for the St. Maarten police force and the work they do in the community, during a sponsored lunch at the police station in Philipsburg Monday. The lunch was organized by the Mental Health Awareness foundation to mark November as Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month and International Men’s Day which fell on the following day, November 19, 2022.

While the event focused on mental health awareness of male police officers, Mr. Dupersoy did not miss on the opportunity to recognize female officers also gather in support of their male colleagues.

“Anything we can do to support our hard working men and women in the police force to thank them for their hard work they do and the dedication they show each day to the communities they serve, we will do, “ assured Mr. Dupersoy, before inviting everyone to partake in a lunch sponsored by TelEm Group.

Event organizer and founder of the non-profit organization, Men’s Mental Health Awareness, Mr. Ahmad R.M. Gumbs, thanked the men of the KPSM for their love, dedication, hard work and sacrifices each time they put their lives on the line for the citizens of St. Maarten. He said Monday’s event is the first of many to come with the organization hoping to treat other entities and establishments for many years to come to remind the community of the important role everyone plays when it comes to mental health awareness and development of the St. Maarten community.

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Grisha praises Estika for her Strength and Courage

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Estika Halley has received accolades from MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten for her incredible fortitude and bravery she has shown after surviving the vicious attack on her life. Halley suffered many stab wounds and had her neck cut earlier this year.

"Estika is a stunning example for all women, demonstrating that no force is stronger than a woman who is determined to survive. As she led a march to the courthouse for the hearing, her bravery was evident. Estika deserves special recognition for her bravery and strength as we recognize the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, said MP Heyliger-Marten.

Additionally, MP Heyliger-Marten urged the general public to buy T-shirts to support Estika's cause. Proceeds will be used to cover Estika's legal expenses. Persons willing to support can send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

I urge everyone to support Estika by purchasing one of these powerful tees, adorned with a powerful message: "She is the voice for those who were silenced," MP Heyliger-Marten concluded.

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Prime Organizes The 4th Annual Thanksgiving Drive

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) – Once again Prime Distributors Team was on the road, this Thanksgiving Day for their fourth annual Thanksgiving Food Drive. Although every year we are faced with different challenges, we try our outmost to continue with this drive.

We have seen the growing need throughout the years that our community needs more of with types of initiatives and we are very happy that we have been able to do so for the last 4 years.

Prime Distributors is one of the largest distributors on the island and we understand the importance of corporate responsibility, therefore we assist wherever we see the possibility of doing so. We would not be able to do this without our partners, our sister company CC1 St. Maarten and suppliers (Nestle, Nabisco, Kraft, Maggi, Hunts, Kellogg’s, E.J. Gallo, P&G, SMJ, Perrier etc.) and for that, on this day we too, are grateful.

We are also thankful to our dedicated team, that ensures that this happens from collection of items to final distribution, without their team effort we would not be able to execute this project. This year we were able to increase our bags to 175 and were distributed in the following neighborhoods: Cay Bay & Dutch Quarter with the aim that this quantity will continue to grow as the years go by. These packages were filled with various consumer products like milk, non-perishable items etc. that they could immediately use.

Holidays are meant for families / communities to come together and create memories and what better way to do this than by sharing with those that are going through trying times. Today’s economy is challenging and we know that although we cannot give a helping hand to everyone, it is our goal to contribute in any possible way.

We would like to encourage the rest of our business community to contribute any way that they can. Our business community has been a key factor during these trying times in helping us maintain a functional economy.

Prime Distributors, hope you had a great Thanksgiving Day and we hope that this serves as a reminder that every day we have many things to be thankful for.

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Minister Ottley: 15k visitors on six cruise ships visit signals rebound of tourism

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Nearly fifteen thousand tourists graced the shores of St. Maarten on Wednesday in what Acting Minister of TEATT, Honorable Omar Ottley called a "stunning indication that the Caribbean's number one Cruise travel destination was back in business."

"We had a perfect first day of six cruise ships back at the port, which is a good feeling. It is something we have been working diligently for as we rebound from a difficult two years and seven months of very little economic activity," said Ottley on Wednesday evening.

The Minister said St. Maarten could expect six new port calls from Cruise Ships that have never been to the island, added to the regular port calls. He also confirmed that bookings for cruise travel to the island are now up to around 120 per cent. "This is a good indication of what's in store for this tourism season," said Ottley.

The six cruise ships, Star Pride, AidaLuna, Grandeur of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, and Carnival Magic, were visible from a distance at Port SXM as early as 9 am. Thousands of passengers disembarked in anticipation of seeing the island for the first time or returning for the first time since the global pandemic COVID-19 forced the closure of ports over two years ago.

The streets were filled with visitors on Quads, many in rented cars and off-road vehicles and taxis. Tour Operators were also able to show some of the visitors the island's hidden beauty by both land and sea and bars and restaurants. The shopping districts were filled with happy travelers basking in the joy of their return to the Friendly Island.

Ottley, Acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation & Telecommunication (TEATT), spent some Wednesday afternoon interacting with visitors and local vendors. "I wanted to get first-hand information from the vendors and the visitors about the return of the cruise ships in such grand style. I am pleased to say that the feedback was positive from the vendors and the visitors were more than thrilled to be able to visit our beautiful island and people," said Ottley.

Ottley and a team from the Ministry of TEATT visited the vendors in Philipsburg Market Place and spoke to tourists at Walter Plants on Front Street.

He said during the coming six months, the cruise industry's economic impact on the island is expected to rival that of 2019, pre-pandemic.

Minister Ottley congratulated the people of St. Maarten on the restoration of cruise tourism in such a grand style from the floor of Parliament, where he was answering questions raised by Members of Parliament relating to dismissals at Princess Juliana International Airport PJIA.

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Three MP’s request urgent meeting on status of TELEM

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Members of Parliament (MP) Solange L. Duncan (Faction Duncan), Melissa Gumbs (PFP), and Grisha Heyliger-Marten (Faction Heyliger-Marten) recently sent a request to the second Vice-Chair of Parliament William Marlin for an urgent public meeting on the status of TELEM.

The meeting request includes three main agenda points, which are:

  1. The original SOAB report of 2021 on TELEM
  2. Update on the financial status and overall fiber to the home project.
  3. The state of affairs related to the concerns about the working environment at TELEM as expressed by the Telecommunications Union.

“Since the previous update, over one year ago, there has been little to no update or movement on Telem's fttH project. As we consider the move to more digitization and automation, our country's internet connectivity will remain a critical part of achieving these progressive goals”, MP Gumbs stated in a joint release with MP Heyliger-Marten on Tuesday afternoon.

In the release, MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten expressed deep concern and disappointment over the fact that the SOAB report on TELEM, which the Prime Minister has promised to send to Parliament more than a year ago, still has not been received from the Government. “Why is the Government reluctant to release this report if there is nothing to hide”, Heyliger-Marten stated. “Why are people being kept in the dark? TELEM belongs to the people of Sint Maarten, and the people of Sint Maarten have the right to know what is going on”, according to Heyliger-Marten.

She further stated that it has been almost two years since the employees of TELEM and the unions representing them expressed their initial grievances with the manner in which the company was being managed. “The ongoing situation at TELEM is very worrisome, unacceptable and cannot continue any longer”, according to Heyliger-Marten.

“It is time that the Prime Minister accepts responsibility for TELEM and gives accountability to Parliament about the status of the company and how it is being managed. I therefor hope that this request by my two colleagues and I will be honored, so that the people can be informed about what is seemingly being kept in the dark”, Heyliger-Marten concluded.

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