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Taxi driver makes illegal turn, causing accident

page3a034PHILIPSBURG--Three persons were injured during an accident near Divi Little Bay Beach Resort around 4:30pm Wednesday after the driver of a taxi with licence plate number 450 made an illegal left turn after exiting the hotel premises.

Reports indicate that the taxi slammed into a Toyota Corolla with licence plate number R2501. The taxi driver and his two passengers had to be transported to St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) in two separate ambulances with varying injuries, some considered serious. The driver of the Toyota Corolla was complaining of pain.
It is illegal to make a left turn after exiting Divi Little Bay Beach Resort. Witnesses said the taxi driver should have known better than to have made the illegal turn that caused the collision.

Bourne-Gumbs outlines plans for current governing period

PHILIPSBURG--Transforming an existing English public primary school into a Dutch one; creating incentives for teachers to obtain "favourable" mortgage rates and expanding public school hours were amongst the plans Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs Minister Rita Bourne-Gumbs outlined to Members of Parliament (MPs) on Wednesday.

The plans cover the current four-year governing period. Bourne-Gumbs said when she took office as Minister the various department heads had already established a plan and parties had to see how to incorporate her ideas and "not take their entire plan and dismiss it."

The ministry's plans include putting in place a "strong" foundation for Dutch as a foreign language for all schools in the country. Bourne-Gumbs said she was cognisant that the language of instruction at public schools is English. She is researching the possibility of changing one of the English public schools into a public school where the language of instruction is Dutch.

A new school will not be constructed. "This will take some planning because we will have to see how to do it and give parents the preference," the Minister said during the meeting of Parliament's Permanent Committee of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs (CECYSA). "We will look at e zoning to create this." She said discussions on this matter have taken place.

The ministry also plans to partner with local financial institutions to assist in creating incentives for teachers for "favourable" loans and mortgage rates. Bourne-Gumbs said "very few" teachers own their homes. She was concerned that teachers, who lay the foundation for the future generation couldn't get a mortgage to own homes.

The Minister would also like to see additional assistant teachers in each school, which she said had been "a dream" during the introduction of Foundation Based Education (FBE). It was previously noted that all classrooms will have an assistant teacher, but Bourne-Gumbs said this is "easier said than done."

Each school currently has one or two assistant teachers. The goal is to furnish all schools with more assistant teachers, increasing numbers up to four or five in each facility so that the rotation and work load can be shared more effectively.

Another plan of the minister is to expand the existing school hours of all public schools as more hours are "necessary." The Minister will seek to implement expanded school hours in all public schools "hopefully in a year or two." Catholic schools have already extended their school hours to focus on extracurricular activities for pupils, she noted.

The Minister also wants students to be provided with hot meals daily, which she said will coincide with the extending of school hours. Princess Juliana International Airport SXM breakfast programme for public schools has been beneficial to many students, she mentioned.

Regarding the one tablet per child project, an initiative of former Education Minister Patricia Lourens-Philip, Bourne-Gumbs said the project is actually one table per every two pupils. Providing one tablet per child is "very costly." Bourne-Gumbs said this initiative will be continued.

The ministry will seek to establish a partnership with "prominent businesses" to adopt a school to "ease the financial strain on government." This does not mean that the subsidy to schools will be decreased, but rather businesses will be able to assist in furnishing the schools that they adopt with the additional materials and tools that they may need. This initiative will be promoted amongst businesses.

The ministry, via its inspection arm, will also seek to monitor the quality of education being delivered through regular and more frequent inspections. The inspection department is faced with the challenge of personnel to execute this goal, but the ministry encourages this. The process has started to reinforce the education inspectorate.

Regarding fostering "a safe and positive learning environment" in schools, the Minister said the ministry is trying to develop a long-term maintenance plan for schools. Authorities are aware of the "serious challenge" with the upkeep of educational institutions, which Bourne-Gumbs said results in a "lack of safety for students."

During her presentation the Minister also touched on several other issues, amongst them was the finalisation of a discipline policy framework and draft guidelines for public schools. The framework is in its final stage and is set to be implemented in the 2015-2016 academic year.

The discipline policy will be a guide for all schools. Each institution can have a guideline for its implementation. A behaviour modification pilot programme will also be introduced in the coming academic year. Some restructuring has been done to the public school system to accommodate a pilot programme which includes the establishment of a "Care Centre" for students in need of behaviour modification.

Other plans include supporting of University of St. Martin's accreditation efforts; reviewing and expanding the existing scholarship policies and the construction of a Multi Purpose Centre for the performance arts amongst other initiatives.

MPs posed several questions and made several statements regarding the Minister's presentation. Based on a request from the Minister for time to thoroughly respond to the questions, the meeting was adjourned.

MPs say St. Maarten must stick to protocol

THE HAGUE--St. Maarten must adhere to the Integrity Chamber protocol it signed recently with the Netherlands or face intervention by the Kingdom Government, said Members of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament André Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD party and Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) on Wednesday.

"If St. Maarten doesn't execute the protocol and doesn't cooperate, the General Measure of the Kingdom Government (Algemene Maatregel van Rijksbestuur (AMvRB)) is back on the table," said Bosman in an invited comment.

Van Raak agreed. "Pulling back out of this agreement is unacceptable. The Kingdom is responsible for good governance. It has the right to intervene if countries make a mess of things," he said.

The two Members of Parliament (MPs) said they were "very concerned" about the decision of the St. Maarten Parliament to defer until after the summer the handling of the ordinance to establish an Integrity Chamber for the island and to strengthen the local law enforcement sector.

"We had agreed on a deadline, which is June 30, but St. Maarten chose not to adhere to it. This is part of agreements that we have made in the Kingdom and St. Maarten should stick to that," said Bosman.

He and Van Raak also were not happy to hear that amendments had been proposed to the draft ordinance, something which is not allowed according to the protocol St. Maarten and the Netherlands signed on May 24.

"The protocol is there. Everything becomes loose if the St. Maarten Parliament decides to make changes. That means that the AMvRB which for now has been cancelled will have to be invoked," said Bosman. He said the upcoming summer recess of Parliament, in both St. Maarten and the Netherlands, could "never be an excuse" to defer handling a matter as important as this.

"St. Maarten only has a future if it tackles fraud and corruption by their roots, and integrity in government becomes a fact. I had hoped that the Parliament wanted to get moving on this matter. But again it is clearly a case of postponing and cancelling where possible," Van Raak told The Daily Herald.

According to Van Raak, the fact that there is so much turbulence about the establishing of the Integrity Chamber "unfortunately says a lot" about the members of St. Maarten's Parliament.

"MPs are representatives of the people and I am under the impression that most people are in favour of tackling corruption via the Integrity Chamber. MPs should be there for the people and not for themselves," he said.

Bosman also was critical of the attitude of St. Maarten's Parliament. "I don't understand that they don't comprehend that an Integrity Chamber is a good thing for the island. This has nothing to do with colonialism. It is about upholding integrity in government. That is in their best interest too," he said.

The Integrity Chamber and law enforcement protocol will be discussed at a general debate with Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk next week Thursday. The Minister informed the Second Chamber about the protocol on May 26.

A vast majority in the Second Chamber is in favour of establishing an Integrity Chamber for St. Maarten and having the Kingdom Government (read: the Netherlands) play a big role in the process of tackling integrity issues in St. Maarten's Government.

Other topics on the agenda of next week Thursday's meeting include the imposing of administrative and financial supervision on St. Eustatius, the division of revenues and expenditures of the Caribbean Netherlands, the Multi-Annual Programme Caribbean Netherlands, the agreement with Aruba about financial supervision, children's rights and last week's Kingdom Conference.

Woman stands trial for trying to cut off genitals

PHILIPSBURG--A 31-year-old woman was given a suspended prison sentence with community service, aggression-replacement training and psychological counselling on Wednesday for attempting to cut off her husband's genitals with a razorblade while he was sleeping.

The woman was charged with infliction of severe injury in the February 26, 2014, incident in the couple's bedroom. The heavily bleeding man was taken to St. Maarten Medical Center for treatment. The cut required several stitches.

The victim assured he had fully recovered from his injuries. "Everything is fine," he told the judge with a smile.

The couple have been in a relationship for 14 years and seem to have a long history of disputes and arguments, mainly caused by jealousy.

The man told the police he had made some "mistakes" during the early stages of their relationship. He had been unfaithful to his wife, but not during the past eight years. Despite this, his wife had lost her trust in him and regularly accused him of having relationships with other women.

That night in February 2014, the victim came home around 1:00am. Instead of the usual argument, his wife did not start a fight that time. Instead, she wanted to have sex with him. After they had intercourse he fell asleep. He woke up again when he felt pain and saw a lot of blood, the victim told the police.

According to the woman, she had seen her man with another woman. He had wanted to have sex with her when he came home, which she declined. He then raped her and she had wanted to hurt him and took his razorblade to cut his penis off. When he woke up he started to scream and she ran away.

The woman and the couple's two younger children had been living at Safe Haven for some time. In the meantime, the couple has reconciled and is reunited again. However, not everything seems to be hunky-dory. "We're still arguing all the time and fighting as well, but not with any weapons," the defendant told the judge.

Experts did not find that the woman had any psychiatric disorders, but recommended psychological counselling.

Prosecutor Tineke Kamps said the couple had been in a "very unhealthy" relationship and deemed severe mistreatment proven. "Suspect did not want to kill her husband, she only wanted to hurt him," the Prosecutor said in calling for six months suspended, with three years' probation, 80 hours of community service and psychological counselling.

Attorney-at-law Geert Hatzmann said his client and her husband had a case of "Anguilla love" in which partners turn each other's lives into a living hell, but at the same time cannot live without each other. The lawyer deemed three months suspended, with aggression-replacement training (ART), a more suitable punishment.

The judge found the "very serious crime" proven and imposed nine months suspended, with three years' probation, 40 hours community services, ART and counselling.

At the end of the trial the couple gave each other a big hug, after which they left the courtroom hand-in-hand.

Wednesday June 24, 2015 Midday PUBLIC WEATHER FORECAST FOR ST. MAARTEN

rb-lDATE ISSUED:  Wednesday June 24, 2015 @ 12:00 Lst (16:00 UTC)

VALID UNTIL:  Thursday midday (12:00 Lst) June 25, 2015 

 

WEATHER:
Today through Thursday midday: Fair to Partly cloudy, hazy and breezy with a passing shower.

Forecast High:   30°C / 86°F          Forecast Low:   25°C / 77°F 

Sunrise Tomorrow: 5:39 A.M        Sunset Tonight:  6:51 P.M

SURFACE WINDS:
Today through Thursday midday: East to southeast with a moderate to fresh breeze of 13 to 21 miles per hour, with higher gusts.

SYNOPSIS:
The Atlantic high pressure ridge will continue to generate brisk winds across the region. Meanwhile, Saharan dust will limit shower activity thus keep the local area hazy and dry.   
Seas conditions will remain moderate during the next few days. However, small craft operators and sea-bathers should exercise caution.

 STATE OF THE SEA: Moderate       WAVES/SWELLS: 5 to 7 feet 

SPECIAL FEATURES: None.

OUTLOOK through Friday midday: Partly cloudy, hazy and breezy with a brief shower possible.

 FORECASTER: LeBlanc

 

The next weather forecast will be issued today at 18:00 Lst (22:00 UTC).

 For further information visit our website: www.meteosxm.com.

 

3-DAY FORECAST

 

 DAY

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

WEATHER

Partly cloudy / Cloudy

Partly Cloudy / Cloudy

Partly / Mostly Cloudy

HIGH TEMP

29oC / 84oF

29oC / 84oF

30oC / 86oF

LOW TEMP

26oC / 79oF

26oC / 79oF

26oC / 79oF

SUNRISE

05:39 AM

05:39 AM

05:39 AM

SUNSET

06:51 PM

06:51 PM

06:51 PM

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