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Stop destroying the lives of our young people

September 16, 2016
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PHILIPSBURG—“Destroying the lives of our young people by sending them to prison, in some cases for decades,  over petty crimes while we give a pat on the wrist to those in authority and with financial means who abuse their positions and commit worst crimes must not be allowed to continue.  People who are not from this island but who live in certain areas of the island and occasionally grease the palms of greedy parliamentarians are allowed to go scot free for shameful and wicked acts while our own people are being herded up in their own country for much less. This needs to stop immediately. We can’t keep ignoring the elephant in the room because that elephant keeps growing bigger.”

These sentiments were expressed by leader of the OSPP Lenny Priest, who noted that almost every day there is a different article in the local media about another local young man or woman getting sentenced and transported to prison yet there are persons in society who have been convicted but for whom somehow space cannot be found at the prison.

“I am tired of reading in the media and hearing through the media of all these young people who are sent to jail for five, ten and more years for crimes they committed while reading and hearing in the same media about so called “respectable” persons going free for much worst. Where is the justice for our people in our country? When did being a poor black St. Martener become a crime in St. Maarten? Racism is alive and well in St. Maarten as is class justice and in a Caribbean island, it is worse than a shame that our government officials allow this shameful treatment of our people to continue,” Lenny Priest said in a media statement issued yesterday.

The OSPP leader noted that he is by no means advocating that crime by any person or groups of persons should be tolerated or go unpunished, but highlighted a perceived discrepancy in the way court sentences are meted out to different persons in society.

“If you have a toddler and you fall asleep without providing any food for this child and this child can’t wake you up when he or she is hungry, that toddler will eventually start foraging for herself/himself and find something to eat to ease his hunger. Because he is a toddler that food is likely to come from the garbage or that child breaks stuff and make a mess to make a sandwich. Now in a situation like this who is to blame that child or the parent who didn’t provide for that child? The same principles apply in this scenario with our young men becoming desperate and committing petty crimes because those we have designated as responsible refuse to live up to their responsibility.

“The lives of these young people are being destroyed and we the people of St. Maarten are almost as guilty as those perpetrating this atrocity on our young people because we have allowed the perpetrators free reign instead of demanding a fair shake for our children.  I told the Parliamentarians in March that we the people of St. Maarten were mad as hell and that the people of St. Maarten would not take it anymore. The holiday is over. We are still mad as hell because enough is enough. We will no longer tolerate being treated as second class citizens in our own country. Government is by the people, of the people and for the people and its past time that elected officials grow up and stop playing with our lives,” Priest concluded.

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OSPP advocates home ownership for tenants of emergency housing scheme

July 5, 2016
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OSPP Party Leader Leonard Priest

Sucker Garden-Foga Pond—Residents of the emergency housing scheme in Foga Pond in Sucker Garden may soon become home owners if leader of the One St. Maarten Peoples Party Lenny Priest has his way. The OSPP leader forwarded a letter to Minister Angel Meyers on July 2, 2016 proposing that he instructs the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation to sell the emergency homes in the Foga Pond in Sucker Garden.

“It is twenty one years later since St. Maarten was destroyed by hurricane Luis and those tenants have been paying rent to the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation ever since. The price for those homes should be the same amount that were charged to the tenants for the purchase of the government homes in South Reward in 1994, namely; U.S. $ 10,000.00.  We strongly believe that negotiation should commence also with the private landowners where the other emergency homes are constructed in the Keys in Sucker Garden, Dutch Quarter and Cole Bay to purchase those lands. This would allow the government to sell those homes also to the tenants occupying them now perhaps at a slightly higher price. We know that many tenants are ready and able to purchase these emergency homes on the government as well as on the private land. The same goes for the tenants occupying the duplexes in Belvedere, they want to own these homes,” Lenny Priest stated in a press release. 

He noted that for twenty one years—since hurricane Luis in 1995—“our people have been paying rent” for those emergency homes in two locations in Sucker Garden, Dutch Quarter and Cole Bay. These homes were imported from Venezuela to re-locate people who after hurricane Luis were placed in the infamous container village.  “Prior to that, in 1994 the then government took a decision to sell the government houses that are located in South Reward. Those homes were built in 1975 on government land and some nineteen years later were sold to the tenants occupying them at that moment. Those tenants had to make sure that their rent was up to date and they were charged U.S. $ 10,000.00 to purchase the homes. Today we see many proud St. Maarteners occupying those homes as this has been our way of life from generation to generation,” Priest said.

On February 13, 2016 the OSPP also sent a letter to Minister Meyers requesting that he informs the general public of his government’s policy regarding the sales of those emergency homes and the duplexes in Belvedere. “Unfortunately, to date we have not received a reply to the many questions and concerns we raised about the sales of the emergency homes and the duplexes in Belvedere,” Priest explained, adding “the OSPP wants to assure the general public and in particular the tenants of the emergency homes in the various districts and the tenants of the duplexes in Belvedere that under an OSPP government we will sell you those homes at affordable prices.”  According to the OSPP leader, “Housing is of utmost important to the OSPP and other than selling the emergency homes and the duplexes we will build an additional 100 low income homes within the first two years in office. This is not a promise it is guaranteed. St. Maarten needs a Fresh Start. The OSPP vouches to sell the Emergency Homes, the duplexes in Belvedere and to build some 100 affordable low income homes for our people over the next two years.”

      

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Emergency Drill Scheduled at Airport for the Morning of July 5th

June 30, 2016
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GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM Airport) will commence with an emergency training drill on Tuesday, 5 July between 9.00am and 11.00am.

Various emergency services which will include, Ambulance, Police, Government Fire Department, Airport Fire Department and the Coast Guard, will be taking part in the drill on5 July.

The purpose of this exercise is to assess the level of preparedness and coordination between SXM Airport and the country’s national emergency agencies in response to a simulated aircraft accident.

During the exercise, residents may see clouds of smoke in the vicinity of the airport and they may also note the heavy activity of firefighting units, ambulances, police and other

Emergency services involved in the exercise on the public roads.

Motorists are requested to cooperate and exercise caution. In addition, road closure will be in effect.

A live Emergency Exercise is a standard practice at airports and is sanctioned by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The main purpose is to train agencies to save human lives in the event that an aircraft accident occurs on or in the vicinity of the airport.

Source: 721 News

Photo: Airplane-photos

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MoneyGram in Simpsonbay closes down

June 30, 2016
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St. Maarten News – The Moneygram office in Simpson Bay that is managed by the Postal Services closed yesterday. On April 1 the Moneygram office at the Dr. Claude Wathey cruise facilities was also closed.

The motive for closing these facilities was cited as “economic constraints” which the Postal Services has been experiencing after people began using internet and smart phones.

The management of the Postal Services when questioned about the closure said that there are plans to have another Moneygram office “over the hill” in the near future.

It is expected that the Postal Services in Philipsburg will increase staff to deal with the numerous customers that use its services on a daily basis. The management of the Postal Services assured customers who use the Moneygram services that they will do their best to have it improved with more tellers at their counters.

SOURCE: Today Newspaper

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For the series of burglaries Prosecutor asked 20 years for Felix Floyd Crawford

June 24, 2016
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GREAT BAY – Prosecutor Karola van Nie demanded 20 years of imprisonment yesterday morning against Felix Floyd C. for a series of nine home burglaries, four armed home robberies, attempted manslaughter on a police officer and firearm and ammunition possession. The court will present an interim-ruling on July 13.

The 38-year old defendant was brought under heavy security into the court room. Outside, the Hendrik Straat next to the courthouse was closed off for all traffic and C. was brought in with a belt around his waist and his hands cuffed close to his sides. He remained like that all through the court hearing that lasted until the early afternoon.

The prosecution has charged C. with nine home burglaries, committed between December 31 2010, and October 21, 2015; the targeted homes are located on Okra Drive, Reward Road, Pumpkin Road, Nevis Drive, Okra Road, Date Mussel Road, Blue Bell Drive and Touch Me Not Road.

The burglary at Date Mussel road, committed on October 17, 2011 stands out, because this was the house of former Chief Commissioner Peter de Witte. C. stole the chief commissioner’s service weapon, a Walther P5, ammunition, jewelry and $13,000 in cash.

The armed robberies took place in 2011 and 2015 at the Touch Me Not Road, the Port of Spain Drive, the Celsius Street, the Calabas Drive and the Pointsetta Road. On September 24, 2015, C. robbed two homes on the Pointsetta Road, but there he ran into a police officer. Making his escape, C. fired shots in the direction of the policeman, and that set him up for an attempted manslaughter charge.

Prosecutor Van Nie said that there have been 28 armed home robberies in 2015. She described the defendant as armed and dangerous, but also as persistent and goal-oriented. “He knows what he is doing,” she said.

He is illegally in St. Maarten and he is illiterate. He has six children and he told the court that his children are the most important in his life. That did not stop him to commit armed robberies in homes where small children were present.

Most of the robberies were committed during the day. All homes were on the outskirts of neighborhoods. At all places where C. stole stuff – mostly electronics and cash – he went into the fridge, took a drink and left the bottle on the sink. That is where investigators found his DNA.

The prosecutor considered all charges proven and told the court that the defendant is wanted in Antigua for armed robberies. She announced that the prosecutor’s office will in a later stadium come with a demand to seize assets from the defendant.

Attorney Sjamira Roseburg asked the court to acquit her client of several burglaries for lack of evidence and of the attempted manslaughter. “There was no intention to kill the police officer. The weapon went off accidentally,” she said. “That happens. He had just committed a burglary and he had his hands full while he attempted to get away.”

Roseburg furthermore said that it is impossible to establish what really has been stolen from the homes. “Victims mention anything to the police that they are unable to find,” she said.

Roseburg objected to the way het client was brought into court. “Like a monster. He cannot use his hands to express himself when he speaks; he has been sitting here handcuffed all morning  and he has been described as a man without a conscience. This is not hardened criminal; he is also a human being. He only stole to survive.”

SOURCE: Today Newspaper

PHOTO: 721 News

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MP Christopher Emmanuel calls on Council of Ministers to appointing locals in top positions

June 24, 2016
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PHILIPSBURG:— Member of Parliament Christopher Emmanuel did not mingle with words on Thursday in an interview with SMN News when he called on the Council of Ministers especially the Minister of Finance Richard Gibson Sr to appoint locals to top positions that are yet to be filled.
MP Emmanuel said that the Council of Ministers should appoint the acting head of the Cadaster Office Marcia Peterson as head of the department since she has been carrying out the day to day task of that office. Further to that he said Peterson is fully qualified for the position.
Emmanuel said that Minister Gibson said some weeks ago that locals must be placed in top positions through evolution or revolution, therefore he feels that the Council of Ministers should not only be talking for the sake of talking or to gain mileage instead the Council of Ministers should act, since actions speaks louder than voice and talk is cheap.

Source: smn-news.com

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Bada Bing trial starts today

February 11, 2015

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PHILIPSBURG–The court hearings in the so-called “Orca” or “Bada Bing” case will be kicking off in the Court of First Instance today, Wednesday, at 9:00am. The case involves a number of alleged illegal practices in and concerning Bada Bing nightclub in Simpson Bay.

In the trial, former Member of Parliament Patrick Illidge (49) will be facing charges of accepting bribes from Bada Bing and Lunteren N.V. owner, Jaap van den Heuvel (49) for the total amount of US $150,000 between October 2010 and September 2012.

In exchange for the money, Illidge allegedly was to use his power and influence to favour the Bada Bing owner in ensuring the Ministry of Economic Affairs would grant adapted permits to the nightclub and seek a change in its official registered address.

Illidge allegedly was to promote extended opening hours for Bada Bing and seek the extension of work permits for several female employees. He also was charged with possession of an illegal firearm.

The indictment against Van den Heuvel consists of eight charges, including the alleged bribery of Illidge, money laundering and membership in a criminal organisation involved in forgery, tax evasion, trafficking of women and the employment of women without work permits.

Lunteren N.V. and Manager K.E.v.d.B., (42), were indicted separately. The company also was charged with involvement in money laundering, trafficking of women, tax evasion and violation of the ordinance on the employment of foreign labourers.

Van den Heuvel is at the centre of the Bada Bing corruption case, which surrounds a videotape of Illidge apparently accepting banknotes from Van den Heuvel while the two discussed business permits.

The trial is expected to take two days, with the hearings to be continued tomorrow, Thursday. The verdicts may not be expected until March 5.

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Sewage leak on the French-side contaminating Dutch side

February 11, 2015
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Photo of sewage leak – Photo The Daily Herald  

PHILIPSBURG–A “significant” amount of sewage run-off from a large French side public septic tank has been flowing into Oyster Pond and contaminating waters on the Dutch side at “an alarming rate” since last week, reported Nature Foundation on Tuesday. Up to fifty litres or more per day of raw sewage is estimated to be flowing into Oyster Pond.

The sewage flow was documented by the foundation. Water quality tests were conducted to directly determine the composition of the effluent entering Oyster Pond. “This is an on-going situation that directly effects the environment of the Dutch Side since currents carry the (confirmed) raw sewage directly into St. Maarten’s territory.

The water quality tests show significant sewage run-off from the public septic tank. Solid faecal matter and bits of used toilet paper were also seen entering the pond by the foundation representative. Although the tank is on the French side, the sewage directly enters Oyster Pond and through current movement spills out into Dawn Beach. This and can affect the bathing beach and coral reefs along the eastern shore of the island.

Downstream an increase in sewage indicator algae has occurred. This type of algae can significantly damage coral reefs. There has also been a rise of the algae within the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area. This may be the result of a large amount of sewage entering from this particular area in Oyster Pond, said the foundation.

The foundation was made aware of the situation by business owners operating in Captain Oliver’s Marina. The business owners in the area told the foundation they have contacted the French side authorities repeatedly about the problem, but it has not been addressed.

Nature Foundation has communicated its findings to authorities from both sides of the island and has urged them to solve the matter “urgently and expeditiously.”

Contacted Tuesday, Louis Fleming, President of Etablissement des Eaux et Assainissement de St. Martin (EEASM), the main entity that manages potable water, sewage and drainage on the French side said to date it had not received any complaints about the problem mentioned. Fleming, however, assured that his director of services would look into the matter today, Wednesday, and report back on his findings.

Réserve Naturelle Director Nicolas Maslach was also informed of the complaint and the Nature Foundation release forwarded to him; however, there was no immediate reaction from Maslach last night.

Neither the Nature Foundation nor the said businesses have mentioned which departments or persons they have addressed the complaint to, only mentioning authorities. The Daily Herald

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In January 2015 there were 18 hit and run cases

February 10, 2015

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PHILIPSBURG — The police will be cracking down on perpetrators of hit-and-run accidents in the country as the number of cases continues to escalate.

A total of 18 cases of hit-and-run were recorded in January alone. Of the 18 cases, nine have been solved and six will be taken to court where the suspects will have to give their accounts of the accidents in front of a judge.

Police spokesperson Inspector Ricardo Henson said in a police press release on Monday that the Police Traffic Department had reported many collisions taking place on the island after which motorists drive away without leaving the necessary information behind.

“In addition to this, it has become quite regular that drivers who are involved in a traffic accident are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or a combination thereof, which causes them to be unable to drive properly,” Henson said. “The Traffic Department is paying a lot of attention to perpetrators and will make sure they are brought to justice.”

He said the Prosecutor’s Office and the Police Force had been in consultation regarding these illegal acts and many agreements had been made.

Also in January, two drivers were arrested after a collision because they had been under the influence of alcohol. These suspects also will be summoned to appear in court, Henson said. – The Daily Herald

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Resort owner for Captain Oliver’s was assaulted and robbed at home

February 10, 2015
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OYSTER POND–Captain Oliver’s Hotel and Marina co-owner Maggi Shurtleff was subjected to a traumatic assault and robbery last Thursday evening when two masked and armed individuals forced their way into her home on the Dutch side of Oyster Pond.

Shurtleff’s hands and feet were tied, a sweater was placed over her head to prevent her from seeing and she was thrown violently to the floor during the incident, which lasted some 35 minutes as her assailants searched for money and valuables.

“It was in the evening when I was about to leave my house to go the restaurant,” she told The Daily Herald. “Opening the locked door that overlooks the garage I found myself face-to-face with two masked men, both carrying handguns. I screamed but they ordered me to keep my mouth shut or they would kill me. They wanted to know where the safe was and I kept telling them I didn’t have a safe.

“They didn’t believe that and kept pointing their weapons at my head and neck. I tried to calm them down by telling them I was willing to cooperate and they could take my jewellery, but they said they wanted money. They forced me to go with them in the house as they searched.

“They took the gold necklace I was wearing and I told them where I hid my jewels and finally they accepted I didn’t have a safe. At one point they tied my ankles together with my shoelaces and assaulted me repeatedly. My phone rang suddenly and they were concerned about that, telling me if anyone came to look for me they would kill me and that person.

“Before they left they said to me, ‘Sorry to have done this to you as you are really a good person. Just don’t be stupid and count to 100 before you move.'”

A traumatised Shurtleff said it had taken her about 15 minutes to undo the ties on her wrists and call for help. She called the Dutch-side police who responded immediately and opened an investigation. Various items relating to the investigation have been sent away to be analysed.

In the meantime, fearing reprisal, she has been offered protection by the police while a security company also is providing protection.

Police spokesman Inspector Ricardo Henson could not be reached last night to obtain confirmation and more information about the incident. – The Daily Herald

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