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Six party lists up for endorsement today

POND ISLAND--The six political parties hoping to contest the August 29 Parliamentary Elections must have their candidate lists endorsed by eligible voters today, Monday, or be denied the opportunity to vie for the fifteen parliamentary seats.

The lists will be available at the Civil Registry on Pond Island from 9:00am to 4:00pm. Lists can be endorsed only today during the given time based on the Electoral Law.

A voter can endorse only one party's list as stipulated in the Electoral Law. Voters must present a valid form of identification: ID card, Dutch passport or driver's licence.

Each list needs signatures of at least 138 eligible voters to make it onto the ballot of the country's upcoming first Parliamentary Elections. The number of signatures was determined by the Central Voting Bureau based on one per cent of the votes cast in the September 2010 early Island Council Elections.

The Central Voting Bureau has set up 14 booths at the Civil Registry to facilitate the list-endorsement procedure.

In a press release issued late last night, National Alliance leader William Marlin said he "wants to remind all supporters to be at the Census Office no later than 8:30am and remember to walk with a valid ID."

The parties that receive endorsement of their lists today will move to the next steps in the electoral process: the numbering of their lists and the awarding of the party colours by the Central Voting Bureau. The colours will be awarded based on what was requested by the parties.

The six political parties hoping to be in the elections, in order of submission of their lists to the bureau at the Government Administration Building on Nomination Day, Friday, are United People's (UP) party, One St. Maarten People's Party (OSPP), Social Reform Party (SRP), United St. Maarten (US) party, Democratic Party (DP) and National Alliance (NA). The six lists total 90 candidates for the 15 parliamentary seats.

OSPP led by former commissioner Lenny Priest, SRP led by businessman Jacinto Mock and US party headed by independent Member of Parliament (MP) Frans Richardson are hoping to contest an election for the first time.

MP Theo Heyliger's UP, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams' DP and MP William Marlin's NA contested the elections in 2010.

NA and UP issued press statements on Sunday calling on supporters to go to the Civil Registry as early as 8:30pm to queue up to sign their lists.

In party press statement issued early afternoon, UP leader Heyliger said: "We are looking at winning the August 29 election outright with 8+1=9 seats. The past four years of experience of coalition government have destabilised our democracy. The so-called Mexican standoff was the worst political experience ever displayed, bringing shame on our country."

In a press statement issued late last night, NA leader Marlin said an NA "victory" on August 29 would be "St. Maarten's best hope for political progress." He added that NA was "committed to a broad policy agenda" to ease the burden on low-income households, boost spending power, improve standard of living and enhance the St. Maarten experience for residents and visitors.

DP had full-page newspaper ads urging its supports to go to the Civil Registry to endorse its list.

Police detain three Romanian skimmers

PHILIPSBURG--Police have detained three men from Romania suspected of skimming automatic teller machines (ATMs) at several locations on the island.

The three suspects I.B.V., R.A.M. and C.M. were detained in the parking lot of Clem Labega Square in front of the Government Administration Building on Saturday.

A large sum of cash was found in their possession during the arrest. Two laptops, a large number of blank cards and a card programmer also were found during a search of their hotel room. These were confiscated for further investigation.

Police spokesperson Inspector Ricardo Henson said authorities had received a tip that included descriptions of the suspects and the colour and brand of vehicle they had been driving. The police identified the suspects as they exited their vehicle.

The suspects remain in custody for questioning.

Guest houses to receive funding for renovations

MARIGOT--The Territorial Council last Thursday voted unanimously to grant funding to French side guest houses to renovate their rooms in one of the agenda points the Council deliberated on.

The Collectivité had already agreed to classify guest houses in the Tourism Master Plan a few months ago to bring accommodation up to a required standard. Now guest houses can qualify for funding to bring their rooms up to standard.

This is first done by way of an audit, where each guest house is advised on what it has to do to meet the classification it aspires to. For example, a five-star guest house will receive 5,000 euros per room and a four-star guest house 4,000 euro per room.

There are ten guest houses on the French side. A property having more than ten rooms is no longer classified as a guest house. The funding will be provided by the Collectivité.

It was also voted to modify the Tourism Code deliberation of February 27 with regard to guest house classification.

President Aline Hanson opened the session by congratulating students, who passed their Baccalaureate, and also their teachers and parents. Students will be honoured for their academic achievements at the Collectivité's annual Soirée de Laureats on July 25.

She noted that as of July 15, an inventory of tombs will be carried out in the Marigot cemetery, due to a number of tombs that have been abandoned, and more space is needed.

"From 9:00am to 11:00am Monday and Friday, two agents of the Collectivité will be in the cemetery and the public can meet them there and show them the grave stones that apply to them," she said.

On the waterfront project, she disclosed meetings will be held with the Economic, Social and Cultural Council from July 15-18 to ascertain its opinion on the waterfront project plans.

With regard to the investor guide "Doing Business in St. Martin" she stressed this was advantageous not only for foreign investors, but also for local companies as well.

Now that the Sip 'N Chat programme is finished for this year, Hanson announced a "Summer Heat" programme will be organised to keep tourists and residents occupied through the summer months.

Eastcair, new aviation and logistics company opens

SIMPSON BAY--Eastcair, an aviation and logistics company, inaugurated its St. Maarten office in Simpson Bay on Saturday, July 12 with an open house to introduce potential customers to its range of services, which include travel and tour, online shopping and the 7th Club, aimed at private, business and governmental travel clients. Attendees included President Aline Hanson and other members of St. Martin's Collectivité.

For its travel and tour product, Eastcair organises all facets of a trip. The company says that it has connections in the airline, cruise and tour operator industries, allowing it to negotiate prices and tailor arrangements. Staff can also go to businesses of governmental clients at a time of their convenience and organise the trip from there.

Through its online store, products from the US and Europe can be delivered to St. Maarten or any Caribbean island for the same price as if the client were in-country, with no limitations on purchase prices. In addition, products can be delivered to the home upon request.

The 7th Club will launch December 1, where the yet-to-be-purchased Eastcair Explorer, a small plane able to accommodate nine passengers, will complement Eastcair Express aircraft based in Miami, Florida. It targets business clients and government officials in particular, but is also open to small customers.

"Most business people go to the US and Europe, but don't travel within the Caribbean due to high costs, so we looked at a business model to alleviate this," said representative Gregory Hodge.

The service is meant to take them there faster, on direct flights, at flexible times and at a price that does not reflect the season. The carrier is not limited to specific airports, and if it is not available due to technical or other reasons, the company will arrange another provider and absorb the price difference.

Membership fees are based on five different tiers representing various flight times from St. Maarten, with each tier representing an hour's flight. Small clients can access tiers 1 and 2 (from US $250), business clients can access tiers 2,3 and 4 (for US $1,500) and government officials who can have more than one person on an account can access the entire range (for US $15,000). These are one-time registration fees, although, in the future, annual fees might be established.

Based on routes established by demand, the company will offer other special deals to members to be communicated by Twitter and email. For example, a plane returning from a requested trip to a faraway destination may offer special prices between destinations on the way back.

Membership is subject to suspension if none of the company's services are used for six months. The business is part of the National Air Transport Association and the National Business Aviation Association.

Police shut down town, catch 2 after jewellery store robbed

page8b046~ Brave tourist hurt ~

PHILIPSBURG--Police shut down Philipsburg on Friday morning and managed to catch two of three (or four) robbers who had just executed a daring mid-morning "smash and grab" at Dazzling Gem jewellery store on Front Street.

Police spokesperson Inspector Ricardo Henson said police had been informed that three armed and masked men dressed in dark clothing had stormed into the store located opposite Pasanggrahan Hotel around 10:45am. One robber had a handgun and the other two each had a hammer.

One robber held the manager and employees at gunpoint while two others "smashed and grabbed" jewellery from the showcases. A male tourist who saw what was going on attacked one of the robbers, but was overpowered by the other two, who struck him on his head with their weapons, injuring him.

After committing their act, the robbers fled the scene. Immediately after receiving this information, several police patrols and off-duty police officers were mobilised and Philipsburg and surrounding areas were completely locked down, causing major traffic back-up.

Henson said all vehicles entering and exiting Philipsburg had been checked. A search by police and detectives to arrest the suspects and locate the vehicle used in the robbery followed, as the robbers did not have the opportunity to escape, Henson said.

He told The Daily Herald in an interview that one of the robbers had driven in front of the police station on a motorcycle at high speed shortly after the robbery. The suspect was chased by police and several warning shots were fired by police in the area of the Government Administration building.

However, the suspect continued fleeing from police, who followed him on foot. The suspect lost control of the motorcycle in the area of the Post Office, fell to the ground and took off on foot after throwing something onto the roof of a building in the area.

The suspect was arrested on the scene by the officers and taken to the Philipsburg police station. During the search on the roof, a bag containing an amount of jewellery was found and confiscated for further investigation. Based on information that came in, a second suspect in this case was arrested at his home in Sucker Garden. Both suspects remain in custody for further investigation.

The silver-coloured Kia Picanto with licence plate number P-6030 that was used in the robbery was located in the Over the Bank area and confiscated for further investigation by the Forensic Department.

The male tourist injured in this case was treated by paramedics on the scene and taken to St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) for further treatment.

Henson said the case was under investigation by the Detective Department.

Police received several calls about the incident around 10:45am and sprang into action. Callers indicated that three or four persons had been involved in the incident. The police thanked the community, in particular those persons who had called the 911 line to give information regarding the case, which Henson said had been "very instrumental" and had led to at least two arrests.

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