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Lien on Laveist’s salary for non-payment of bills

PHILIPSBURG--A lien was placed Tuesday on the parliament salary of National Alliance (NA) Parliamentarian Louie Laviest for non-payment of more than US $50,000 to Rolling Systems for shutters, doors and windows that were installed in his house in 2005 when he was serving as a commissioner.

Rolling Systems Attorney Cor Merx, when contacted about the case, confirmed that the court had granted the lien. He also confirmed that no payment had been made since the lien was placed. Merx declined to go further into the matter, saying it was in the hands of the court.

When contacted by this newspaper, Laveist said his legal troubles in recent years were well known and he had a choice between paying his legal fees and Rolling Systems. He also said that he would be resolving the payment issue with the company and had hopes that all would be resolved by month end.

From information gathered by this newspaper, Laveist ordered hurricane shutters, doors and windows from Rolling System at a cost totalling US $38,687, but never made any payment, despite payment arrangements with the company.

After sending several payment reminders to Laveist, Rolling System, in a letter dated May 22, 2007, informed him that the company had "no other alternative" than to demand full payment plus the interest fee of 19 per cent that went into effect on May 1. At that time, the new balance owed by Laveist was US $46,037.53 that had to be paid within three working days of the date of the letter.

Since May 2007, the monthly interest fee has been charged to Laveist's account.

Also in May 2007, the company informed Laveist that it would take legal action against him for non-payment if the account wasn't settled.

At the time of the May letter, Laveist's legal troubles had not yet started. It was in October 2008 that Laveist was confronted with criminal charges.

Govt to explore options to dismiss Winair board

AIRPORT--Government reportedly will be exploring legal options to dismiss the board of Windward Islands Airways International Winair after the current board members apparently have declined government's request for their resignation.

The board members were asked to resign and "clear the way" for government to implement a new management structure to save the airline which is near bankruptcy.

Voluntary resignation by the board members would have bypassed the intervention of the Corporate Governance Council (CGC). Government would have needed only to seek the advice of the CGC when new board members were to be appointed.

With the current board members declining to resign before their terms are up, government will now have to take the legally stipulated actions to dismiss the board. The first course of action will be to seek the CGC's advice on the dismissals. Government will have to motivate it seeking to dismiss the board members before their terms are up.

To guide government's new plan and structure of Winair, a change management team will be put in place to work in collaboration with a new managing body. Current Winair Managing Director Edwin Hodge has been asked to stay on as Chief Operations Officer. However, the intention is to appoint a Chief Executive Officer with extensive airline experience to serve alongside Hodge, as well as a Chief Financial Officer.

Both Michael Ferrier and Prime Minister (PM) Sarah Wescot-Williams, who also is Winair shareholder representative, had stated that the board members had agreed to resign voluntarily. This now appears not to be the case.

It is understood that board members are questioning why the PM and Ferrier asked them to resign before their terms are up. Government has not given any explanation as to the reasons for its request to the board members to resign.

Ferrier is at the head of a fact-finding team that was appointed by the PM to get a hold of the precarious situation at Winair. This team also includes financial and aviation expert Robert Gibbs, formerly of the Excel Aviation Group that was interested in purchasing Winair, veteran former airline executive with American Airlines Michael Cleaver, and attorney Jeroen Veen.

The report compiled by this team and echoed by the Dutch aviation expert who was dispatched to St. Maarten in October 2010 to study Winair concluded that for Winair to regain operational profitability, the airline must, as a start, go back to its core task of servicing minimal destinations Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Barths, before expanding to new destinations.

Minister Arrindell outlines her vision for quality education

Page10A204PHILIPSBURG--Education Minister Rhoda Arrindell said her vision for quality education is that in the short-term her Ministry would implement compulsory education and eradicate school drop-out.

"To achieve this will require that we improve teacher performance and professionalism, a goal which I am happy to report, is shared by the Windward Islands Teachers Union(WITU)," Arrindell noted when delivering the 24th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture hosted by Conscious Lyrics Foundation and held in the Philipsburg Cultural and Community Saturday night.

Her topic was 'The Right to Quality Education.'

She said she had already established a regular monthly meeting with the union to enlist its collaboration and ensure that all remain on the same page in matters related to teachers and to education in general.

Moreover the Minister said her vision calls for the need to improve the overall learning environment, from making a better and more effective use of the physical assets available, such as schools, gyms, etc., to ensuring that no child learns with a hungry stomach at school.

She said her tour of several schools last month served as an eye-opener to those physical needs and the concerns expressed by those schools will be addressed effectively.

In addition, her vision she said requires establishing Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with providers of higher education so that there is continuity for students, as well as promoting studying in the region.

"I have already initiated efforts in this direction with institutions of higher learning in the Caribbean, which efforts will be expanded upon shortly in order for them to yield the desired results", the Minister said.

She said the mid-term goals her Ministry has set include among others, the systematic use of information and communication technology (ICT) in all schools. "This will ensure that all students will have access to computers and the Internet and that they are used systematically throughout the school curriculum. In this 21st century, all St. Maarten students must be computer literate and Internet–savvy," she stressed.

Furthermore, she said she intends to institute Physical Education instruction in all schools. "It is my view that the image of the nerd as physically weak must be confined to the TV screens where it belongs and not be allowed to sink root in our consciousness."

"In the long term, I envisage an educational system in which there will be a steady and seamless stream of students from the time they enter playschool to the time they are ripe for secondary school and ultimately university or any other institution of tertiary learning.

"In concrete terms, this means that all secondary school graduates should be able to possess a minimum level of competence, with a curriculum that has a high academic content, and that includes arts and culture as well as sports as mandatory subjects. This would mean eventually expanding school hours, improving professionalism, and greater parental involvement in the education of their children up to the higher education level," she suggested.

"In the long term, also, I want to see each school having teams in all sports and participating in an annual sports festival. It should not be far-fetched to establish in each school teams that will compete against one another for national titles or institutionalize healthy competition in cultural activities such as Carnival, Emancipation Day, Christmas, etc. among our schools," the Minister noted of her vision.

She said she strongly believed that each school, each educational institution on our island, must be of the best quality it can be, with the best students, the best teachers, the best equipment, and reaping the best results in competitive examinations.

"Quality education in this day and age, cannot and should not be viewed as "elitist" or "expensive." In fact, to paraphrase the quote of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. which I began this lecture with, "Nothing in the entire world is more expensive and elitist than 'sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity' parading itself as expertise," said the Minister.

Noting her quest for quality education she said the question of course is how Government can afford this with the meagre financial resources and limited human resources.

"What I certainly pledge to do is ensure an effective and prudent husbandry of the resources available to us. The "cut, cut, cut," mode in which government finds itself at the moment must translate into greater creativity in making use of what we have and setting priorities that are achievable within our means.

"I believe in the genius of the St. Maarten parent to find the funds needed to grant his or her child the kind of quality education outlined in this vision. I know you believe, as I do, the adage to be true that says: 'If you think education is expensive, try ignorance,'" the Minister said.

In concluding the Minister said, "The time to act is now, when we can no longer blame others for our shortcomings; when our pride and dignity as a people should not allow us to wait on hand-outs to build our own schools and develop our own curricula; when the reality of our goals demand that we do not throw away the wisdom of our most successful educators when they retire, but find ways to use them to our best advantage.

"The time to act is NOW, when our manifest destiny is freedom. And for that freedom to ring loud and clear to all corners of the globe from our hills and mountain tops, we have to embrace a new kind of education that will rest on two pillars: quality - that is excellence - and performance."

Fire-fighters rescue five from hotel roof

page1b204PHILIPSBURG--Five people, including one elderly man, was rescued by fire-fighters using the ladder truck from the roof of Monte Oro Hotel, formerly Pitusa Hotel, on A. Th. Illidge Road after they fled there to escape smoke caused by an in-room fire on Sunday afternoon.

No one was injured in the fire. The damage appears to have been confined to the interior of the building.

The five were among 24 hotel guests, residents and personnel who were evacuated from the building by fire-fighters and police. After the hotel was cleared of the smoke and the room aired out, personnel and guests were allowed back in.

Fire Officer Silvanico Pauletta told The Daily Herald the cause of the fire that broke out in a room on the second floor of the building was not clear, but the fire Department got the situation under control in a timely manner.

Other fire trucks, aside from the ladder truck, were called to the scene to assist with the emergency. Police diverted motorists who were trying to access the section of Illidge Road on which the hotel is located, but this did not cause any major traffic problems because of the quiet Sunday afternoon.

Winair’s board members have not resigned as yet

AIRPORT--Despite statements by Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and Michael Ferrier that the board members of Winair have agreed to voluntarily resign, the members have not done so thus far and, according to well-placed sources, have no intention to do so either.

Ferrier, who was acting on behalf of the PM who is also shareholder representative of Winair, last week announced that the members of the Supervisory Board of Winair have been asked to tender their resignation in a move that should facilitate the establishment of a change in the management team, a new management and operational structure in an effort to rescue the financially strapped airline.

Ferrier said he met with Dutch Representative Lars Walrave and the board last week Thursday at which time the resignation request was made. Walrave represents the shares of Saba and Statia.

According to Ferrier, the board complied with the request. The current board members are Fernando William, Melissa Doncher and Vernon Jacobs. Winair also has a representative from Saba on its board. That person was not addressed by St. Maarten as "we didn't appoint her," Ferrier said.

It is understood that board members are questioning the reasons that the PM and Ferrier asking them to resign before their terms are up. Government, to date, has also not sought the advice of the Corporate Governance Council on its resignation request to the board members.

Ferrier is at the head of a fact-finding team that was appointed by the Prime Minister to get hold of the precarious situation at Winair. This team also includes financial and aviation expert Robert Gibbs formerly of the Execl Aviation Group that was interested in purchasing Winair; Michael Cleaver, a veteran former airline executive with American Airlines and attorney Jeroen Veen.

The report that was compiled by this team and echoed by the Dutch aviation expert that was dispatched to St. Maarten in October 2010 to study Winair, concluded that in order for Winair to regain operational profitability the airline must, as a start, go back to its core calling of servicing minimal destinations (Saba, Statia, St. Barths) before expanding to new destinations.

Additionally, Ferrier said the report outlined that Winair must find ways to increase income structurally, decrease expenditures structurally, re-examine the type of aircraft it utilises and how many aircraft it has in service and what the airline realistically requires in terms of human resources.

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