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Student killed in Saunders car crash

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Police hold person for questioning

SAUNDERS--An eighteen-year-old dancer and soon-to-be-university student died two weeks before her birthday in a car crash in Saunders early Monday.

Police held one person, who was identified only as R.P.J.G., for allegedly driving the car that witnesses said had chased Khimouy Andromeda Antoine through Saunders about 2:00am yesterday.

Antoine crashed her blue Suzuki Swift with licence plate number 408ZBE971 into a light post on Coralita Road and died when the car fell on the driver's side. Firemen had to free her body from the wreckage of the car.

Antoine's death was the only fatality in a weekend when officers responded to eight traffic accidents. Occupants involved in three crashes were unhurt, police said.

One other accident was a hit-and-run, and drivers or passengers were hurt in four other crashes, including the Antoine.

Antoine would have turned 19 on August 12. She graduated from Learning Unlimited (LU) Preparatory School last month and planned to start at Florida A&M University (FAMU) next month.

Antoine had danced with Motiance Dance Company for many years and starred in several productions for the 25-year-old dance school. She later joined the breakaway Dance Theater of St. Maarten, founded this year by former Motiance teacher Susha Hein.

Antoine was supposed to star as "Rosie" in Dance Theater's upcoming summer production of the musical "Fame," scheduled for next week. She also enjoyed Carnival, revelling in parades with Carol Tackling's Bacchanal Productions' Troupe.

Witnesses told police they had seen a "white, small vehicle" with three occupants speeding behind Antoine's Swift. Acting on that tip, police held St. Maarten-born G. and seized a white Hyundai Getz with licence plate number R-829.

Police are still trying to determine whether to rule the crash an accident or to pursue possible criminal charges. "This investigation is still in its early stages and there is much more to be done in this case," police spokesman Inspector Ricardo Henson said in a press statement Monday.

Police offered their condolences to Antoine's family and friends.

UP party and campaign for Sept 17 elections launched

page1b060CYRUS WATHEY SQUARE--United People's (UP) party, headed by "caretaker" commissioner and Island Councilman Theo Heyliger, was launched on Cyrus Wathey Square in the presence of a large gathering on Saturday.

This coincided with the launch of the party's campaign for the September 17 early Island Council elections.

UP president is former commissioner and Island Councilman Franklin Meyers. Former University of St. Martin president, Josianne Fleming-Artsen, is the party's vice president. Other board members are former Progressive People's Alliance (PPA) board member Cleveland Beresford, young entrepreneur Tamara Leonard, Port management graduate Rosina Romeo, businesswoman Joyce Wathey-Yee, and marine/yachting entrepreneur James Roidis.

The board signed party documents on the square with Notary Francis "Gachie" Gijsbertha conducting the proceedings.

Heyliger said of the party: "We are, quite simply, the United People. And we will be like a breath of fresh air in a stuffy, old room. We believe that a government or political party should never lose touch with the needs of ordinary folks. They are the heart and soul of a democracy. The United People will return to the cherished principles that once guided St. Maarten to becoming the best place in which to live, while providing new ideas toward solving the problems of a new century."

The main focus of the launch was the signing of party documents by board members on the square, and the unveiling of the party's logo: UP in lime green and the first letter with an arrowhead pointing upwards. The large banner hung in Barefoot Terrace was covered by orange drapery before it was unveiled.

The orange symbolises the merging of PPA, headed by Gracita Arrindell. The official signing between PPA and UP is expected to take place in the coming days.

One of the party's campaign songs – a cover of Shakira's FIFA World Cup anthem, Waka, Waka, was also played for the crowd.

Heyliger said "UP was built from the ground up to meet the challenges of the 21st century. We have created at once both a modern party with the vision necessary to work in a complex global economy and an organization based on timeless values that keep us in touch with the everyday needs and concerns of the people."

The "green" party's campaign theme is "Let's team UP for St. Maarten." Commenting on the theme, the party leader said the call is for "teaming up for the country we all love so much, because only through unity, only through teamwork can we accomplish what is necessary for St. Maarten. I will be teaming up with some of the island's best and brightest for Country St. Maarten."

Some of those best and brightest who will appear on the UP slate for the September polls include Arrindell, Deputy Police Chief Commissioner Richard Panneflek, former Police Spokesman Inspector Johan "Janchi" Leonard, Sylvia Meyers, Gregory Richardson, and Marshal Solange Apon.

"St. Maarten needs people who know how to provide solutions. We know what is important to all of St. Maarten's people, and with this in mind, the UP party was born," Heyliger said.

UP president, Meyers, told the gathering the party started many months ago. "It is what the people of St. Maarten want and we are going to give the people of St. Maarten what they want."

Meyers welcomed the "former leader" of PPA Gracita Arrindell, PPA members, and supporters who have given UP their support. Arrindell was not present at the launch, but several former PPA candidates, tipped to be on the UP list, were in attendance.

"What the people of PPA showed is that they put country above self. They put all our political differences aside and come together [with UP] for the unity of St. Maarten because of the road we are heading now. We need all hands on deck.

"The people have been asking for us to stop the political bickering, stop the political fighting, and put all hands on deck and, for once in our lives, fight for the people of St. Maarten," the UP president said.

Meyers urged the other political parties not to "take the UP lightly because we are here to work for the people of St. Maarten. Our main focus is the people of St. Maarten, putting people first."

The date and place chosen for the launch were of significance.

July 24 is the birth anniversary of the late Dr. Claude Wathey, Heyliger's grandfather who is considered by many as the "father of St. Maarten." He was also the co-founder of the Democratic Party of which Heyliger was a member until June 2009.

Meyers shared with the gathering an excerpt from an interview with Dr. Wathey, printed in Know Your Political History by Edgar and Julian Lynch to show "how history repeats itself."

Wathey said in the interview that one of his most difficult periods in politics was his early days when the more experienced in the political arena looked at him as a boy. "...All of them [said], how can we have a boy in the government. So I had little respect from those people for what I was doing."

Meyers drew a comparison with UP leader Heyliger who is considered young by some veteran politicians. Like Wathey, who had to go out to show the people what he was capable of, Heyliger had done the same and had overcome hurdles like his grandfather, he said.

Wathey remained part of the Central Government as a member of DP for many years "along with the help of the PPA [of Aruba] and myself and the one [DP] from Bonaire" he pointed out in the interview.

Meyers said a lot of things will be said about the new UP party and its candidates, some of whom are newcomers and others veteran politicians. "Given the opportunity, a lot of young people can do a lot of good things for this sweet St. Maarten land that we call home."

Cyrus Wathey Square was named after the father of Wathey and great grandfather of Heyliger.

UP candidate Johan Leonard made a fiery speech to the gathering about what UP stands for and what it will deliver to the island. People have the right to be frustrated and angry because of the difficulties being faced, he said, adding that UP is "deeply concerned" about the state the island is in. "St. Maarten is hungry for new ideas, for a new kind of politics, for a new party."

Some 400 people reportedly signed up to become UP members before and after the official ceremony on the square. Party officials said the party's membership drive started in earnest early last week and will continue in the coming days.

Some 600 T-shirts with the UP logo were also given out at the launch.

The official part of the launch commenced with the St. Maarten Song and an invocation by Eulalie Meyers, mother of UP president. After the ceremony, District Band entertained the gathering on the square well into the night.

Oil exploration on Saba Bank closer

PHILIPSBURG--Exploration for crude oil on the Saba Bank, the largest submarine atoll (coral island) in the Atlantic Ocean, has moved a step forward with the board of Saba Bank Petroleum Resource N.V. taking the decision to allow Emerald Petroleum, a small oil drilling company, to begin the search.

About one-third of the Saba Bank lies within Saba territorial waters, 12-nautical-mile (22 km) zone, while the remaining two thirds fall within the limits of the Economic Fisheries Zone (EFZ) of the Netherlands Antilles.

The Saba Bank company, headed by parliamentarian William Johnson, met on St. Maarten Saturday. Ahead of the meeting, Johnson told the press the decision of the board would be a positive one so the work can start.

The decision of the board has to be followed up by the shareholders of the Saba Bank – the Central Government and the Lt. Governors of Saba, St. Maarten, and St. Eustatius. The three islands have equal shares in the company, which was started in 1975.

Johnson said the Saba Bank company had asked several other large oil exploration companies to consider exploring the bank, but these have not shown interest in the job. With oil price continuing to increase, and new sources of oil being sought, the Saba Bank is seen as ripe for exploration.

St. Maarten is represented on Saba Bank Petroleum Resources N.V. board by former finance minister Frank Mingo and former Island Councilman, Commissioner Edgar Lynch.

Saba is represented by Johnson and Island Councilman Rolando Wilson. St. Eustatius' interests are overseen by Commissioner Roy Hooker. The Central Government of Netherlands Antilles is also represented on the board.

Commenting on another company owned by the three islands - utilities company GEBE - Johnson said if there continues to be squabbling about how to move forward with the company in the new constitutional status, St. Maarten can trade its share in the Saba Bank for those of GEBE on Saba.

He said it does not matter if St. Maarten or Saba becomes independent in the future, the people of the island will remain together.

According to Wikipedia, Saba Bank's north-eastern side lies about 4.3 kilometres (km) southwest of Saba. It is raised about 1000 metres above the general depths of the surrounding sea floor. With a length of 60 to 65 km and a width of 30 to 40 km, the atoll's total surface area is approximately 2200 square km, as measured from 11-200 metre depth, 1600 square km of which is shallower than 50 metres.

‘Caribbean guilder’ will not be ready by 10-10-10

WILLEMSTAD--Curaçao's General Affairs Commissioner Zita Jesus-Leito (PAR) has confirmed that the Caribbean Guilder, which is to become the currency of the new countries Curaçao and St. Maarten, will not be in circulation until six to nine months from now.

It has been known for some time that the new common currency will not be ready by October 10 when the Netherlands Antilles ceases to exist.

The Caribbean Guilder will be under supervision of the joint Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten. The new bank will have a chairman, who will be chosen by both countries, while the two countries will also appoint the other six members of the Supervisory Board of Directors.

Jesus-Leito and her colleague in charge of finance, Mike Willem, held a conversation on St. Maarten with Commissioner William Marlin last week Thursday. The purpose of this conversation was to conclude further agreements on the interpretation of the joint Central Bank of the two future autonomous countries within the Dutch Kingdom.

According to Jesus-Leito, there is currently agreement on most details regarding an outline for the monetary union and a new Central Bank that requires further interpretation. The parties agreed that the Supervisory Board of Directors will consist of six members to be appointed by the two countries.

According to the commissioner, agreements were made also for a transitional arrangement until the introduction of the new currency. During this period, the new currency will be introduced gradually, whereby the current Antillean guilder will be taken out of circulation.

Jesus-Leito was very pleased with the conversation in St. Maarten. The experts will continue talks on the precise interpretation of the monetary system of the future autonomous countries.

During the presentation of the 2009 annual report on the Antillean economy, Antillean Central Bank president director, Emsley Tromp, said he still hadn't heard anything on the new currency and its denominations. Casually referring to the Central Bank advice in favour of "dollarization" which the political officeholders had not followed, Tromp said it could take 12 to 18 months before the two new countries switch to a new currency.

"First of all, we have to come up with a name for this currency and determine its denominations. From that moment, it will regard matters we have experience with, such as contacting the right authorities so that the banknotes and coins can be manufactured, and bringing this currency in circulation.

"During the transitional period, the Antillean guilder will be used along with this new monetary unit. Decisions need to be taken on this matter, as one has to consider the manufacturer's capacity, and let's not forget there's a shortage of the basic product for coins and banknotes - due to the crisis of 2008."

Claudio Arnell wins emblem competition

Page1B059MARIGOT--Claudio Arnell (19) was declared the winner of the Collectivité's new emblem design competition when the long-awaited results and finalists were announced at a press conference Friday.

Arnell, a first year architectural décor student at École Nationale Supérieur des Arts Appliqués et Métiers dArt (ENSAAMA), Olivier de Serres, in Paris swayed the judges with his Flying Pelican canvas featuring the symbols the island is best known for, such as the Flamboyant and Coralita flowers, the border monument, slavery walls, salt, sea, sunrise, mountains, and shells. These were all headed by a scroll depicting the paper the Treaty of Concordia was written on.

Artist and dance director of Dance Dimensions Academy Gersha Hendrickson was runner-up. Third place went to art director Kevin Baly, fourth place to artist Nancy Alliotte, and fifth place to graphic arts student Iseaha Pantophlet.

The finalists all received a 500-euro prize, while the winner was additionally awarded 2,000 euros. Each finalist gave a short presentation of their submitted work.

"With the sunrise, and the Pelican, the idea was to show new beginnings and the new future of the Collectivité...the Pelican taking off, but keeping a protective eye on the population," explained Arnell of his winning design that took two months to complete using acrylics and water colours. "I also included the yellow butterflies which are common on the island and wanted to recall the texture of the paper the Treaty was written on. I used a tinted grey canvas because that brings out the colours.

"I'm very happy and proud and would like to thank my family and friends who supported me, and to congratulate the other finalists. Everyone adds their personal touch to their work and that's what makes art difficult to judge."

Fifty persons submitted presentations for the competition and participants were required to follow specific rules and guidelines under the theme, "The Future Inspired by Our Heritage." The competition was driven by the need for a fresh emblem to go with the Collectivité's new logos.

A judging panel composed of six men and six women coming from various professional backgrounds had the difficult task of judging the work. Territorial Councillor Guillaume Arnell was Head of the Jury.

"We had to have separate judging sessions of 15 entries at a time in order to reduce the original 50 down to a final 20," said Arnell. "It was a difficult task."

Judging criteria and scoring included written presentation (15 points), artistic merit (15 points), technical aspect (30 points), integration of nature, cultural and historical elements (20 points), and overall presentation (20 points).

President Frantz Gumbs noted he was extremely pleased to see such an abundance of talent and creativity exhibited by the competition. The Territorial Council still has to validate the jury's decision though this is expected to be a mere formality as the Council has already seen the work.

Competition Coordinator Felicia Baly noted the delay in bringing the competition to a conclusion was partly because the designs had to be copyright protected before they could be presented to the public.

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