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Waste to Energy Researchers to visit island in the month of March.

My wife (and research assistant) and I are spending the week of March 6 on St. Martin and she came across some very interesting with regarding the possibility of a waste to energy plant for the island. I am the author of the WTE Guidebook for Latin America and the Caribbean (see Google for WTE Guidebook) and "world authority" on the economic and environmental benefits of WTE; for example, I received the 2016 Phoenix award of the Confederation of European WTE plants.

My wife and I have visited the Bermuda and Martinique WTE plants and many
others around the world. The population of St. Martin-Maarten is too small to provide feedstock to a net electricity producing plant but maybe there can be arrangements made with other islands.

If you think there is any interest on the island in my meeting with officials there and possibly presenting a public lecture on WTE vs LF, I would be glad to do it. Please feel free to forward this letter to other island press and anyone else who may be interested in my proposal.

It is my life's passion to phase out landfilling, especially on islands. According to our estimate, one square meter of land is lost forever to landfilling, for every ten tons of solid wastes landfilled, rather than sent to a WTE.
Regards, NJT
Nickolas J. Themelis, Director.

Players Troupe has not yet been repaid by Mr. Gordon Yee.

As St. Maarten prepares for yet another Carnival,I would like to remind people, not to trust Mr. Yee this Carnival and for sponsors and potential sponsors of his Troupe to understand who he is and BE AWARE, he is very deceitful.

In February 2016, Players Troupe Anguilla contracted Mr. Gordon Yee, originally from Trinidad, but who have for several years lived and worked in St. Maarten, to make and ship carnival costumes to them in Anguilla, by 20th July 2016.

From February to July, Mr. Yee was paid money (in installments agreed upon) to purchase material and for labour of the costumes. the last payment to Mr. Yee was made on 22 July 2016.In total Mr. Yee received US$16,620.00 from Players Troupe.

Mr. Yee failed to deliver the costumes and is not responding favorably to the management of Players Troupe to compensate them for their lost.

Players Troupe is owned and managed by two young ladies, ages 27 and 31. The money that Mr. Yee stole from the troupe was earned by over five years of fundraisers and troupe participant registration fees.

After Mr. Yee failed to deliver the costumes, Players Troupe management incurred IMMEDIATE debt of over US$9,000.00; Public disgrace, and distrust; failed to meet obligations to sponsors and disappointed over two hundred troupe participants.

Players Troupe has signed documentations and electronic conversations as proof of the money transactions.

We would like for Mr. Yee to compensate us IMMEDIATELY, so that Players Troupe would be able to pay its outstanding debts from 2016 and take part in Anguilla Grand Parade of Troupe 2017.

Click here to read Players Troupe Contract

The Minor Flaws we have in our Education Department has a Major Impact on the future of St. Maarten!

I am 25 years old, female, working full time, as a legal secretary, looking to expand my horizons by getting myself a higher education. I would like to draw some attention or shed some light of my experience at the Education Department. I think that if we are to really make a difference in St. Maarten or really have educated locals (as everyone has expressed or drawn attention to the need thereof) it must start with their first point of contact at the Department of Education. What I thought would have been a good idea and also morally rewarding turned out to be the most discouraging and humiliating experience I have ever encountered in my adult life. Study Financing was set in place by the Government to assist people like myself who are working adults, that want a second chance to do better for themselves, that cannot afford to pay for University tuition.

Firstly, there are some fees involved to complete the application, which is very reasonable considering that the Education Department needs to have proof of your residential status for St. Maarten, your physical eligibility and so forth. Now if you are a teenager who has just completed high-school then this is not as much of a concern for you as it is for someone like myself. The time that we now live in every penny counts, due to our low incomes and high expenditures. So when you take a portion of your monthly income to invest in what you think will be rewarding, you hold on to that hope with an expectation that you will get the opportunity that you are rightfully entitled to.

On the day of submitting my application, I came to the office of the Education Department with my documents in hand and ready for a positive encounter with one of their representatives. However to my surprise the first lady’s office that I went to (although she let me in to have a seat) sent me to another representative because she had to go for her lunch break.

Now as representative goes through my documents she starts to huff and puff. What I could gather was that she thought I was too old to apply or she was just having a bad day and I ended up being the person that got the bad end of the stick. So I asked her if she was having a bad day and she simply replied no. I remained quiet as I always like to be polite especially to our Civil Servants, I don’t think that they are always treated with kindness so I overlooked her attitude and still made an effort to be as polite and kind as I could be. As she continues to go through my application, she stumbles across my declaration of my attendance at Milton Peter’s College, she then giggles (as if my application is some sort of joke or that my hopes to further myself is funny) and asks me “is this all you have? A TKL Diploma?” I respond “Yes Mam” she then replies “Are you even admissible to the University?”. I respond “Yes I am, the University that I have applied to, does not require any prior education, it’s quite a good program actually, you just enroll yourself and if you do well, you get your degree like anyone else will”. She then proceeds to tell me “well here at study financing you need at least a HAVO Diploma”. I say to her “Ok, how would I go about getting one of those”. She says “I will refer you to a counselour”. I ask “how would I get that in reality, is there a program at the University here?, is there a night class?, is it online?, I would like to know because I really want to get a degree”. She then tells me “You can go back to MPC”. I told her “but I am 25 and work full time” She again giggles and says “Like I said, I will refer you to a counselour”. I said “Ok, no problem, where are they located, I would be interested in speaking to one of them”. She replies “you can find that on our website”. So I asked her if my application would most likely be denied. She smiled and answered “I cannot answer that”. After this exchange I realized that I was not going to get anywhere or any of the help I anticipated.

Now not only is her door wide open that multiple members of the department is walking through during our conversation, but there are also a number of high school students sitting right outside of her door waiting in line to see her. This was very embarrassing for me to be under minded and treated as an invalid in front of such young people by a person that should have at the very least been professional, helpful and polite. I mean we are speaking of a representative that should be encouraging our people to further themselves in the realm of education. And as if it couldn’t get any worse, she then went to a colleague of hers to have a laugh at my application to say “she thinks she can get into university with THIS”. They had their laugh and she came back to complete my intake. Now I would like to add that I am a legal secretary, who is quite intelligent and serious about my education and would not let an opportunity like this go to waste. She treated me as if I was some drop out with no hope or chance at furthering myself. I never saw the need to tell her that I am already in the legal field because it should not be a factor that I already have a job with some background knowledge on the study I wish to pursue, which is the study of law.

Upon the end of our encounter she then wrote on my application “Applicant has already been informed that they may not be admissible to the University”. But I already told her that I was. I asked her for her name, she said it was Lisa, I asked Lisa who? She smiled and said just Lisa!

I believe that if the cut off point for study financing is at the age of 26, then we should be more accommodating to those who are above 18, do not live with their parents, that have to work to generate income, so that we too can have a chance to be more than what we currently are. We too deserve a chance at education and if we are expected to have a minimum education level, then it should be clear to us before we invest in declaration forms, health certificates and our valuable time of which we do not get enough of to ourselves in the vast world of St. Maarten we live in.

I would like to also add that this may have happened to many young adults like myself, who were not focused in their teenage years and realized “before” it was too late that they should do something about their education and were probably so discouraged, under minded and treated with such disrespect that they just gave up and now probably will only ever amount to admire and look at others that come to the island that were given opportunities to be educated in their countries and get decent jobs with decent salaries. Yet we always say St. Maarteners are lazy, and we do not want to be educated. I strongly believe that people like Lisa are the reasons why we do not even bother to try. Because it seems that if you are not a HAVO or VWO graduate you just get casted into a pit where you are regarded as worthless and not given a second glance whether you have potential or not!
Name withheld upon Author's Request.

Citizenship is not nationalism.

Dear Sint Maartener, We are addressing you as a Sint Maartener and not as a St. Martiner. Here is the reason: as a Sint Maartener you have a commitment to, and for the most part inhabit and live your life on, the Southern side of the island. This is the part of our lovely rock that is tied to the Kingdom of the Netherlands – the Northern side is constitutionally the French republic in the Caribbean. If we had hailed you as St. Martiners, we would be appealing to your sense of belonging to both sides of the island. Being a St. Martiner does not logically exclude you also considering yourself a Sint Maartener. To us these identities need not be mutually exclusive, as during St. Martin day persons from the Dutch and the French side recognize their commonality without eliminating their specificities.
In 2014 the University of St. Martin produced a book entitled “Notes on the Making of Nation within the Kingdom: Conceptual Clarity on Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Culture as it relates to Sint Maarten.” It would serve as the handbook for the UN trained volunteers that would go into various districts of Sint Maarten to initiate and encourage conversations that would create inclusive senses of national belonging. “Notes on the Making of Nation within the Kingdom” was commissioned by the honourable Member of Parliament, Mrs. Sarah Wescott-Williams, via the Department of Internal Affairs and Kingdom Relation (BAK). The MP at the time held the position of Prime Minister and wrote the preface for the book.
A revisiting of that book is in order. More so in these times in which talk of leaving the Kingdom of the Netherlands is presented as the magic potion that will remedy all social and governmental ills. For the record: we are not arguing against political independence. That is not our business. Rather, we are inviting you to truly consider the political status Sint Maarten gained on the 10th of October 2010 (10-10-10). We find this paramount as the intellectual vocation is encouraged persons of all walks of life to receive accurate and balanced information before making decisions. We trust that you will appreciate this contribution as complementing the information you are being fed on the option of political independence. What we present is not our endorsement, but one that we take you should also be keenly aware of. Here is the spirit of that book:
The Kingdom of the Netherlands can be understood as a federation of states that are bound together by a shared citizenship. Sint Maarteners are Dutch citizens as are Curacao, Arubans, Sabans, Statians, Bonaireans, and persons living in the Netherlands. Citizenship, which is a legal status, is not to be confused with national belonging. Sint Maarteners can consider themselves a nation that is separate and different from say those people who live on Curacao or the Netherlands.
In this endeavor, Sint Maarteners ought to cultivate their specific national symbols that encourage solidarity among those who live on the Southern side of the island, or they may go further and choose to actually promote a cross-border national identity as St. Martiners. Under the current constitutional arrangements, this is possible: St Martiners can see themselves as a nation while maintaining their Dutch or French citizenship.
What we are trying to convey to you is that national identities are in fact cultural identities. These types of identities need not respect constitutional boundaries. On this island, we witness say individuals with Dominican roots who consider themselves part of the Dominican nation even though they carry a Dutch passport. Many of them celebrate the national holiday of the Dominican Republic. In addition, since you can have a sense of belonging to more than one nation, some of these individuals also actively take part in the St. Martin day celebration. There is no need to frown on this state of affairs. Every state that ushers citizenship rights is populated by a privileged nation, and several other groups who might consider themselves separate nations.
The change in political status on October 10, 2010, was about political elites belonging to the privileged nation on Sint Maarten in symbolic terms (economics is another matter) gaining the rights to govern Dutch citizens on the island as Ministers and parliamentarians. The citizens chose them during elections granting them the mandate to do so.
These citizens do however share their citizenship with persons who live in the Netherlands and five other Caribbean islands. What this means is that their fundamental right to live a decent life, and be governed democratically, has to be protected and safeguarded by the entire Kingdom. When Dutch citizens living in the Netherlands aren’t treated fairly by the political governors in that part of the Kingdom, Sint Maarten political leaders should speak up and demand that measures be taken. The same is expected the other way around as Sint Maarteners who carry the Dutch passport are legally Dutch citizens. The contestations between the political elites on both sides of the Atlantic when such happens are a healthy part of the constitutional arrangement.
There is, of course, a democratic deficit in the Kingdom as those political elites stationed in The Hague have more political power and manage a larger economy and population than those on the islands. Work needs to be done to create more balance in this political arrangement. The ideal way this should be done is a decolonial politics understood as the continuous re-education of colonially infected minds and democratization of institutional practices. This entails that all political elites within the Kingdom need to govern well and project a sense of being a guarantor of citizenship rights that is not confused with national sentiment and chauvinism.
The question you need to ask yourself is do you believe that this can be done within the current political set up, or do you think that shattering the trans-Atlantic bond will create a situation whereby decency and justice reign on the island?

Dr. Francio Guadeloupe, President of the University of St. Martin (USM)
Drs. Erwin Wolthuis, Division Head of the USM’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program
Ms. Wendie Brown (MA), Division Head of the USM’s Business Program.
Mr. Pedro de Weever (BA), Lecturer and Chief Editor of USM’s Commentaries Journal.
Ir. Delano Richardson, Lecturer at the USM
Mrs. Oldine Bryson-Pantophlet (BA).
Mrs. Sharine Duncan-Allamby (MPA).

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