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Soualiga Newsday Top Stories (3560)

Minister Lake surprises Mighty Dow with Suckergarden land for Pan School

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (Ministry of VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake, on Wednesday evening during the Ebony Steel Orchestra Pan Recital at Port de Plaisance, surprised Isidore York in the presence of parents and steel pan youth players, documents for the allocation of government land in the district of Suckergarden for a Steel Pan School.

Isidore York, better known as the Mighty Dow from Dow’s Musical Foundation, submitted twice an application for domain land.  The first application was in 2006 and the second one in 2009.

The domain land is 1450 square meters and is near the Lion’s Club Community Center in Suckergarden.

The Mighty Dow indicated at the pan recital that he has over 750 youngsters learning the steel pan.

“It was a great honor for me to be able to once again help a local dedicated person such as Isidore York to make his dream, and the dreams of the country’s youth come true.  The Mighty Dow has dedicated his life to educating the younger generation about the steel pan which is part of our heritage and culture.

“We have a responsibility to pass on from one generation to the next our heritage, and I am very pleased that Suckergarden will be the home for our Steel Pan School.  We have to support the future of Sint Maarten, the youth,” Minister Hon. Maurice Lake said on Thursday.

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Registration Drive continues for the Meet, Eat and Greet Program at the St. Maarten Festival Village

POND ISLAND, Sint Maarten - The Management of Stichting Overheidsgebouwen (SOG) and Strictly Business Educational Foundation (SBEF) are appealing to interested persons to register and settle payments for the upcoming weekend program scheduled to kick off on July 4th 2014 at the St. Maarten Festival Village.

Therefore in order to accommodate all persons who have shown interest in this small business entrepreneurship program SOG & SBEF have decided to extend the registration drive until Monday June 30th 2014.

The office hours will remain open on Friday June 27 and Monday June 30th until 6:30PM in order to accommodate those persons whom are unable to come in and register or make payments during the regular office hours.

Persons interested in taking part in this program are requested to come to the office to register and those persons whom have already registered are requested to come in and make their respective payments.

The weekend program is scheduled to begin on Friday July 4th and will continue every weekend thereafter.

Additional information can be obtained by calling SOG office at 5430507 or SBEF at 5537580.

 

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Prime Minister Wescot-Williams Joins in World Cup Fever Supporting the Netherlands

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams joined the community in showing support for the Dutch National Team currently playing in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The Prime Minister attended the Netherlands versus Chile match at Holland House and joined in in cheering the squad to a two nil victory. (Cabinet of the Prime Minister)

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Final draft of MAF Action Plan to be presented in July; Poverty Alleviation and Environmental Sustainability Identified as key focus areas

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – In February 2014, the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and the Department of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BAK) organized a MAF (Millennium Acceleration Framework) workshop.

The goal of the workshop is to create an action plan to address two major concerns facing Sint Maarten today which are the issues of poverty and environmental degradation.

A report undertaken in 2011 under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) programme identified poverty and the environment as two pressing concerns requiring immediate action in the country.

In finding realistic solutions to best tackle poverty and the environment, a workshop made up of representatives from the public, private sector and civil society met and identified four key areas that will have the highest impact value in addressing both poverty and environmental concerns within the country. The four key areas are: Neighborhood/District Improvement (Target Group: People living in low income neighbourhoods); Provision of Programs for youth in the community (Target Group: Unemployed Youth); Alleviation of the Socio Economic burden of the elderly (Target group: Low income seniors); and Conservation of Nature.

These key areas are significant for they represent a united and coordination action by all sectors working together to tackle the pressing issues of poverty within the country and the way the environment should be protected.

Currently, an expert group is working on the budget and activities of the MAF action plan. This will also be part of the National Development plan.

‘We are almost there, with the aforementioned MAF action-plan’, Loekie Morales, Program Manager for MDG’s at BAK stated.

Furthermore, out of the action plan two pilot projects of each $60.000,00 in Poverty Alleviation and Environmental Sustainability will be selected for execution in 2014.

The final draft action-plan will be presented on July 23, where relevant stakeholders will be invited to complete the MAF plan and to kick off the executional phase.

This process ties in to the overall National Development Plan (NDP) Project whereby the Public and Private Sector and Civil Society are joining forces to determine the future direction of Sint Maarten. 

For more information you can contact Drs. L. Morales,This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., telephone:+1721-5420897or 5271223.

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AUC, Tzu Chi, ACE team up for recycled garden project, 180 plants planted in recycled bottles

CUL DE SAC, Sint Maarten - St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers and American University of the Caribbean (AUC) School of Medicine students planted 180 vegetable and fruit plants in recycled plastic bottles and constructed 10 “risers” from discarded wooden pallets as part of a garden recycling project for All Children’s Education Foundation (ACE) School on Saturday.

A total of 24 AUC students, 18 Tzu Chi volunteers and 16 ACE pupils and teachers volunteered their time for the project, which is aimed at encouraging ACE pupils to combine gardening and recycling to grow and eat their own food. Participants also took the opportunity to clean the ACE school compound during the volunteer effort. 

The intention was to use recyclables to create gardens, while at the same time teaching pupils the value of growing locally. For the volunteer effort, Tzu Chi and AUC volunteers cut out the sides of large plastic oil bottles and sliced water bottles in half and transformed them into plant pots, by punching holes in the bottom and filling them with soil for seeds/seedlings to be planted in them.

The pallets were used to construct plant “risers.” The risers were built with numerous shelves on them, on which the plants in the recycled plastic bottles will be placed to grow. The plant risers are considered space savers when it comes to gardening as they do not take up much space, but can hold many plants. The intention was to also show pupils that even though they may not have a lot of space in their yards, they can still engage in fruitful gardening.

The range of vegetables and fruits planted included tomatoes, hot peppers, sweet peppers, sweet basil, green onions, celery, carrot tops, baby bok choy, okra, potatoes, sweet potato, passion fruits, melon, papaya, lime, grapefruit, mango, avocado and noni.

Some of the plants will eventually have to be transplanted. At the end of the almost five-hour long initiative, the plants and the risers were placed along the perimeters of the ACE school compound and students have assumed the responsibility to ensure that they are properly watered as they witness first-hand the growth of the plants from seeds/seedlings to plant.

Volunteers had been collecting the empty oil containers and water bottles and collecting wooden pallets over the past few months in preparation for the project.

AUC volunteers said they were thankful for the opportunity to assist in such a positive initiative.

Many AUC volunteers also said the experience had been an eye opener for them and they also learnt a lot about gardening and plants through their involvement.

“This was a very fruitful event. It was really fun to be part of such an enthusiastic group of volunteers. At the end of the event I was tired, but very satisfied and happy,” said one Tzu Chi volunteer.

Tzu Chi Commissioner Sandra Cheung thanked all volunteers for sacrificing a portion of their day to help with what she said had been a very fruitful project.

She also thanked all the businesses that supported the project with their donations including Greenfingers and ACE. 

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Workshop on the monitoring of drinking water and sampling techniques conducted by Inspectorate VSA

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - Drinking water is a basic necessity for maintaining life. High quality and safety of drinking water is a must as mandated by the relevant drinking water ordinances. All parties involved in the production, distribution and surveillance of drinking water must synchronize their efforts to guarantee safe drinking water.

It’s in this light that a three day workshop was hosted by the Inspectorate VSA and opened by the Minister VSA, his Excellency Minister Cornelius de Weever, who stressed the importance of good and safe drinking water. The workshop took place from June 11 through 13, 2014 and was attended by SLS personnel, GEBE lab technicians, and a representative from Heavenly Waters, a representative from water management and Services and the inspectors of the Food Safety division.

The workshop consisted of two days theory and one day of practice. The subjects addressed were revision of relevant ordinances, sampling methods, laboratory analysis and reporting, surveillance, corrective actions and risk analysis.

The facilitators were Mr. Gerald Davelaar, BSc, Mr. Raymond Peterson of SLS Lab and Mrs. Ir. D. De Meza- Helena. All are experts in the field of drinking water monitoring. At the end of the workshop all attendants received a certificate of participation.

A working group consisting of all key stakeholders will be established to continue collaboration on the monitoring of the quality of drinking water on Sint Maarten and establish protocols and early warning systems in case of calamities. (Contributed by Inspectorate VSA)

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Sint Maarten Tier 2 Ranking in U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report 2014, But Progress Being Made

WASHINGTON DC/SINT MAARTEN - St. Maarten is a source, transit, and destination for women, children, and men subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor.  There are indications that some foreign migrant women in St. Maarten’s sex trade are subjected to debt bondage. Women and girls from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and other countries in the region are the most vulnerable to sex trafficking. Other nationalities that are vulnerable to sex trafficking include women from Russia and Eastern Europe.

This information was released on Friday, June 20, 2014 in the annual 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report that the United States Department of State compiles annually about countries around the globe.  Tier 2 ranking is an indication that the country is not meeting the minimum standards of fighting human trafficking, but is striving to do so, and has results that you can point to to show that it’s doing a decent job, but could definitely improve.  Tier 3 ranking is a country that is not responding sufficiently to its trafficking problem, isn’t taking those affirmative steps forward.

The Netherlands is a Tier 1 country.  Tier 1 is a country that’s actually meeting the minimum standards of fighting human trafficking. The report says that the Netherlands is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced prostitution and forced labor. A significant number of underage Dutch residents continued to be subjected to sex trafficking in the country. Identified trafficking victims primarily originated from within the Netherlands and from abroad, including from Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Guinea, Sierra Leone, China, the Philippines, and Vietnam in 2013; victims are also from other countries in Africa, Europe, and South and East Asia. Women and children are primarily subjected to sex trafficking, and men and boys are subjected to various forms of forced labor, including in the maritime sector, agriculture, horticulture, catering, food processing, and cleaning. Some victims were forced to commit crimes, including illegal narcotics trafficking. Domestic workers employed in the Netherlands remain vulnerable to forced labor, including by foreign diplomats posted there. Groups vulnerable to trafficking include unaccompanied children seeking asylum, women with dependent residence status obtained through fraudulent or forced marriages, women recruited in Africa and Eastern Europe, and East Asian women working in massage parlors.

The Government of St. Maarten does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, the report points out; however; it is making significant efforts to do so. The government established a national reporting bureau on human trafficking, conducted an awareness campaign, and launched an ant trafficking hotline in 2013. While the government initiated new trafficking investigations, it did not hold any trafficking offenders accountable during the year. Officials in St. Maarten did not proactively identify trafficking victims nor refer any potential victims for care. The government’s lack of victim identification in St. Maarten—despite a very large vulnerable population of illegal migrants and foreign women in prostitution, including women employed by licensed brothels—significantly hampered the government’s anti-trafficking efforts.

The government sustained anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. St. Maarten’s June 2012 penal code prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons through articles 2:239-245 and prescribes penalties ranging from four to 24 years’ imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and are commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government initiated two sex trafficking investigations against suspected traffickers in 2013, the same number of investigations as in the previous year. It did not launch any new prosecutions or convict any trafficking defendants in 2013; in the previous year, a defendant was convicted for sex trafficking at a regulated brothel.

The government demonstrated notable progress in its ant trafficking prevention efforts during the year. In September

2013, it established a National Reporting Bureau, with a staff of four, as the lead agency on human smuggling and trafficking. This Bureau launched an anti-trafficking hotline and awareness campaign in October of 2013 to inform potential victims and the public about forced labor and sex trafficking. The awareness campaign included a list of common trafficking indicators that was disseminated to media outlets and posted on a government website. The campaign also included public service announcements, brochures, flyers, and posters disseminated in local businesses and other official and public venues.

Observers reported that the government continues to conflate human trafficking with human smuggling as part of its ant trafficking response. In August 2013, the government adopted a national action plan on trafficking; the plan incorporated elements of the government’s anti-trafficking memorandum of understanding with the Government of the Netherlands and contained key recommendations on victim protection from the anti-trafficking community.

The government gave the Director of Immigration and Border Control the role of national anti-trafficking coordinator; the director also chairs the National Reporting Bureau. As part of the larger awareness campaign, the national coordinator conducted outreach with immigrant communities vulnerable to labor trafficking in 2013, providing them with information on how to report potential victims and trafficking crimes. The government reported that foreign women employed in the adult entertainment industry received anti-trafficking brochures and information on the new government hotline. The government did not launch any campaigns explicitly targeted at reducing the demand for forced labor or discouraging potential clients from engaging in the sex trade in St. Maarten.

The government has not identified incidents of foreign child sex tourism in St. Maarten, according to the US report.

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PM Highlights Rising Confidence in St. Maarten Economy at Opening of Breitling Boutique in Philipsburg

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams highlighted St. Maarten moving forward in terms of business and offering high-end products on St. Maarten during the opening of the Breitling Boutique on Friday.

The PM highlighted that the confidence in St. Maarten as the country continues to make its mark within the region in terms of business opportunity and a strong and stable economy; “Two persons have said to me during different occasions that there is no other place like St. Maarten and of course I agreed whole heartedly.

“I would like to congratulate all of you and in particularly our local staff in ensuring that the vision of bringing Breitling to St. Maarten will be a successful one and I am sure that that will be the case. Due to St. Maarten constantly seeking ways to reinvent ourselves is one of the main factors why we are here this evening? This is an example of reinventing ourselves; moving forward and seizing opportunities for St. Maarten.

“This is a show of confidence in St. Maarten and I thank you for that confidence. The region should take heed that St. Maarten is on the move, going forward due to the vision of the people of St. Maarten, the Business Community and the Government of St. Maarten. Let us work with Philipsburg and all of the other districts to make sure that we remain at the cutting edge of business within the region,” concluded Prime Minister Wescot-Williams. (From the Cabinet of the Prime Minister)

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NV GEBE Announces Commencement of Senior Citizen Utility Relief Program

PONDFILL, Sint Maarten - NV GEBE announced on Sunday that it has commenced its Senior Citizen Utility Relief Program.    This program aims to give assistance to the senior citizens 62 years and older. Senior Citizens that may be eligible for this program must apply and meet certain criteria’s in order to qualify. 

All applications forms can be picked up at NV GEBE Main Office and the Simpson Bay customer Service branch.  The ongoing registration for this program will officially close on June 30, 2014.  The relief will be given to the Senior citizen until the end of the year after which reapplication and re-assessment will be necessary based on the financial sustainability of the program.  

NV GEBE asks all interested seniors to read the registration form thoroughly and submit the completed form plus the requested documents to the receptionist at the Main Office in Philipsburg. 

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St. Maarten’s vibrant yachting industry to be promoted at Newport Charter Yacht Show

POINT BLANCHE, St. Maarten – Port of St. Maarten –St. Maarten’s vibrant yachting industry, the safe haven of Simpson Bay Lagoon and Great Bay will be promoted at Rhode Island’s Newport Charter Yacht Show,June 23-24.

The Newport Charter Yacht Show is one of only six charter-focused shows in the world.  This is the 32nd annual edition and attracts sailing and motor yachts, ranging in size from 80 feet up to the super yacht length of 150-225+ feet.

St. Maarten’s delegation to the charter show is headed by Tourism and Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications Minister Ted Richardson. The delegation includes representatives of Port St. Maarten.

Port St. Maarten will host the Newport Charter Yacht Show’s USSA/Welcome Reception on Monday, June 23 from 6.00pm to 9.00pm at the charter yacht show to entertain and inform yacht owners, captains, yacht brokers and industry representatives about the benefits of operating their charters out of St. Maarten.  

Port St. Maarten Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Mingo said St. Maarten will be showcased as one of the most pleasant and enjoyable yachting destinations.

“St. Maarten offers the perfect geographically position in the Eastern Caribbean, accessibility to duty free provisioning and frequent international flight links to all corners of the world. Those benefits are aside from the possibilities for repairs and maintenance available in the country,” Mingo said.

The charter yacht show’s schedule covers exhibition of the yachts, competition for its chefs, and seminars covering topics of interest to the industry.

Michelle Otero Valdes, a board certified maritime attorney at Chalos & Co., will present “The Climate on Crewing has Changed; The Maritime Labor Convention 2006 Enters Into Force”on Tuesday. Along with changes to captain and crew certifications for 2014, the seminar will explain the new regulations being implemented to protect marine workers.

OnWednesday, June 25, the American Yacht Charter Association (AYCA) will host its annual educational and informative seminar. Keynote Speaker, Gail Lowney Alofsin, a professor, sales/marketing executive and author will present tips from her just-released motivational bookYour Someday is Now.

For the “Destination” segment,Belle AimeeCaptain Mike French will present an informative multi-media overview of cruising in Fiji and the South Pacific.

AYCA's Legal/Technical Segment will round out the Seminar with a panel of five industry professionals discussing the topic "To Agent or Not to Agent … That is the Question."

Prior to the start of the show, OnSunday, June 22, Heather Kearsley Wolf, the CEO, founder and lead designer of Kearsley Couture, will divulge interior design secrets in her presentation "Understanding, Caring for and Specifying Fine Linens."

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