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SIMARC and Association for Caribbean Historians (ACH) sign MoU for regional heritage education and research cooperation.

simarcmousigning26052019PHILIPSBURG:--- On Friday, May 24, 2019, historian Rosemarijn Hoefte, who is currently Senior Researcher at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast and Caribbean Studied (KITLV) and the President of the Association of Caribbean Historians (ACH), together with Tara Inniss ACH Secretary from the University of the West Indies-Cave Hill, met with SIMARC’s President Ellinger Paul and Director Jay Haviser, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two institutions to stimulate and facilitate cooperation and collaboration in the promotion and development of Caribbean History and Heritage.

Meeting at the new SIMARC office on St. Maarten, the representatives from both organizations agreed to support their mutual interests in the field of heritage education and research. Prof. Hoefte emphasized that “both organizations share an interest in pan-Caribbean history and culture and we value the work of community-based organizations”. The two entities are meeting ahead of the 51st Annual Meeting of the Association of Caribbean Historians at the University of Curaçao from May 26-30, 2019. Paying a courtesy call to long-time colleague, Jay Haviser who is also President of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology (IACA), Prof. Hoefte brought greetings from the over 50 year old professional organization of Caribbean Historians and commended SIMARC on its enduring commitment to protecting and preserving the archaeological heritage of St. Maarten and neighboring islands, in the wake of the 2017 Hurricane Irma which devastated the island and destroyed the SIMARC facility storing a number of important artifacts and papers documenting St. Maarten’s heritage. At the signing, Dr. Haviser emphasized “the importance of Country St. Maarten to be more formally integrated and active with international and regional cooperation programs regarding the preservation of heritage in the Caribbean.”

Lion Claudio Buncamper elected as 2nd Vice District Governor of District 60B.

claudiobuncamper26052019GEORGETOWN/ PHILIPSBURG:--- Lion Claudio Buncamper MJF of the Sint Maarten Lions Club was elected as the incoming 2nd Vice District Governor-elect for District 60B for 2019/2020 at the recently held District 60B Convention in Georgetown, Guyana. His one year term as 2nd Vice District Governor officially starts on July 1st, 2019.
After having held many position in the club such as Board member, Treasurer, Secretary and ultimately Club President, Lion Claudio moved on to holding two key positions on the District level, which are Zone Chairman for 2B and Region 2, Chairman. The Sint Maarten Lions Club under his the leadership as Club President won the prestigious 2013/2014 Lions Club of the District Award for District 60B.
Unselfish humanitarian work was instilled in Lion Claudio from a very young age when in 1983 at the age of 14 along with 15 other young boys and girls became a charter member of the Sint Maarten Leo Club. Many community projects were executed by the Leos in those days and Claudio was very instrumental in particular bringing about the Drug Awareness programs among the youths during the 80s. Marches against drug abuse were organized by the Leo Club and not to forget the information evenings for parents and youths about the danger of drug use along with projects such as painting the homes of several elderly throughout the community.
Lion Claudio hails from a Lions family where his father the late Anthony Buncamper served for many years as the Secretary of the Sint Maarten Lions Club and his late mother Jane Buncamper Harms served as the then St. Maarten Lioness Club President.
At a very young age Claudio not only showed much interest in giving humanitarian service to the community but also during his travels as a young Leo to several Cabinet and Convention meetings with his parents and other Lions of the Sint Maarten Lions Club, he gained much experience not only about the Leo Movement but learned a lot about the service which Lions rendered to their respective communities.
As a young Leo, Claudio served on several District Leo Committees and with the experience gained on District level he was able to guide the St. Maarten Leo Club into executing many worthwhile community projects in particular youth programs. After Claudio returned from his studies in the US he immediately rejoined the Leo Club and continued to serve the Sint Maarten community. In 1999 the Sint Maarten Club was happy to welcome Claudio to the Lions movement.
The Sint Maarten Lions Club is very proud of the fact that today through the Leo movement it has produced many excellent Lions. With his election as 2nd Vice District Governor, Lion Claudio adds to the list of former Leos who have made it to the top not only in the Lions Club but also on District level.
With Lion Claudio presumably being installed in May 2021 as District Governor of District 60B, he will be the fourth (4th) District Governor that the Sint Maarten Lions Club will have produced, something not yet achieved by any Lions Club in Multiple District 60. He will also be the second District Governor produced by the St. Maarten Leo Club as his brother, Past District Governor Claudius Tony “Toontje” Buncamper also came from the Leo Club thus making history as the Sint Maarten Lions Club will then have produced two brothers making it to the top as District Governor.
As part of the Sint Maarten Lions Club 50th Anniversary celebration in 2020/2021, the club will be hosting the Multiple District 60 Convention in May 2021 with over 400 Lion & Leos visiting St. Maarten from across the Caribbean region whereby Lion Claudio will presumably be elected as District Governor for District 60B at the Convention on St. Maarten.
Lion Claudio is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Providence Rhode Islands. In June 1991, he graduated Magda Cum Laude in Hotel Restaurant and Institutional Management. He started to work at Windward Islands Airways as a customer service agent in August 1991. Over the years Lion Claudio worked in various positions at Winair and became Manager of Customer Service Department in 1999. In 2001, Lion Claudio was promoted to Director Customer Services and Marketing & Sales as holds that position up to present. In 2006 Lion Claudio married Mariapina Buncamper-Orias and has two children, Claudine Buncamper and Claudio Buncamper Jr.

SMART 2019 promoting tourism recovery, ends with fireworks.

PHILIPSBURG:--- As the last foreign dignitaries and business delegates have left the island, the organizers officially closed Saint Martin / Sint Maarten Annual Regional Tradeshow (SMART). It is estimated that in total 450 visitors took part over the three consecutive days of trade activities, sumptuous dinners, and festivities, with delegations attending from destinations ranging from China to Montserrat.

The official ending was marked by a spectacular farewell party at KKO (Kakao) Beach in Orient Bay last Thursday, featuring amongst others, rum, cigar and champagne bars and a large variety of high-end hors d'oeuvres. For the first time in its 17-year history, SMART featured a farewell firework display as part of the closing ceremony.

Earlier, co-organizing officials Valerie Damaseau (Vice President of the Collectivite of Saint Martin) and Stuart Johnson (Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication of Sint Maarten) thanked all officials present in a farewell speech. The officials underlined the importance of SMART for the economic future of the island.

The organizers are elated about the large and diverse turnout, as well as grateful for the appraisal of changes to the traditional SMART formula. To make the tourism event as relevant as possible to the economy at large, the number of “vendor” spots (non-tourism related companies) was increased from 10 to 30. Receiving extra press coverage was the inclusion this year of a “green room” concept for initiatives that would make the island more self-sustainable.

On Wednesday, 95 visitors were voluntarily "kitchen-napped" to an undisclosed location to enjoy the island's large culinary offerings. Their unknown destination turned out to be the Orient Bay square, where all restaurants cooperated in providing SMART groups their best four course meals available. An arts and craft market and musical band welcomed visitors on arrival, thereafter Dutch and French side officials led by French side Vice President Valerie Damaseau took over host-manship by heading the tables.

The organizers hailed SMART 2019 as an example of what can be achieved if both sides of the island, private and public sector, stand as one. By doing their part many companies, most notably Sonesta Maho Beach Resort Casino & Spa, Mount Gay Rum, Maduro Travel, Xaro, Winair, Air Antilles, Showme Caribbean, KKO beach, SST, Rainforest Adventure Park, Scoobidoo, Donut Dreams, 12 Meter Regatta and all of Orient Bay square's restaurants have provided tremendous support to this initiative with limited means. In addition, the organizers were extended unwavering binational governmental support. The sum of all this collaboration resulted in a hugely successful “business card” event showing the island is ready to cater to its visitors again like never before.

Most of all, the event organizers extend their thanks to the visitors coming from as far away as Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. Just as important, were the large number of Caribbean destinations who came to SMART with one or more delegates. SMART hopes all 31 nations subscribing will return for its 2020 edition. In view of the fact that
SMART 2019 was oversubscribed for the capacity available at the Sonesta convention center and many had to be turned away, the partners recommend companies interested in SMART 2020 to preregister as of today via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This way, participants will be kept updated as to when early bird registering starts later this year.

Minister Plenipotentiary Cabinet Staff takes part in Media Workshop.

jwuiteworkshop25052019PHILIPSBURG (DCOMM):--- The Minister Plenipotentiary and her staff took part in a media workshop at the Cabinet on Wednesday, May 22nd by media and communication strategists and trainer(s) firm Pennock/Birza.

The need for the workshop was emphasized by the ongoing developments directly linked to the rebuilding and repositioning process of Sint Maarten related to the damages to the island after the passing of hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The urgent requirement for clear and concise dissemination of information to the larger public in the Netherlands, in particular pertaining to the improvements and the ongoing headway in the rebuilding process, is extremely necessary to combat the negative narrative repeatedly being publicized in the Dutch media, which mainly focuses on the “dump situation”, politics and the corruption allegations.

Minister Plenipotentiary Jorien Wuite elaborated on the necessity to encourage the change in the reporting manner of matters related to Sint Maarten while bringing to the attention and keeping in mind the relevance of repositioning and rebranding the island.

The need to focus and bring the current changes taking place on the island to light and progress made thus far should be the basis for a more positively formulated narrative, according to a statement from the Cabinet on Friday.

The role of Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary is clearly defined in the Governing program 2018 -2022 and eludes to the task mandated to the Cabinet which is to not only ensure proper representation on a Kingdom level, but to gear its focus on diligently seeking partnerships and working towards the stimulation of economic diversification through constant engagement with third parties interested in investing and partnering with businesses on the island.

“Promotion of, and reporting on, Sint Maarten by highlighting the positive changes on the island can and will, in fact, encourage and assist in bringing these endeavors to fruition.

“As representatives of the island in the Netherlands, but also through steady contacts within the diplomatic community, communicating and informing third parties, including the media of the constant developments taking place on the island will lend to the creation of not only an improved image of the island as it will go a long way to informing the Dutch and international community on the progress.

“This entails the dissemination of accurate, diverse, and positive information in line with the NRBP Bureau and the Government of Sint Maarten.
“The need for such a training by the entire staff consisting of merely nine individuals, cannot be underscored enough. The workshop will be followed by a practical training session in June and the development of a communication strategy and media relations plan which will both be aligned with the Minister Plenipotentiary’s year plan that was recently approved by the Council of Ministers.

“The communication strategy will be drafted in close collaboration with the Department of Communication and the Prime Minister of Sint Maarten.

“As the Minister Plenipotentiary and her cabinet operate in a complex Dutch media world, this first media session is the first step that will allow them to be even better equipped to handle the media in The Netherlands, with the aim of communicating and encouraging a positive and uplifting narrative of the developments taking place on Sint Maarten, and of Sint Maarten as a whole,” the Cabinet press communique concludes.

TelEm Group Simpson Bay Branch moving to new location across the street.

telem25052019Pond Island:--- TelEm Group’s Simpson Bay Branch will be moving from its old location on the Airport Road in Simpson Bay to a swanky new building across the street, this weekend.

All week, workmen have been putting the finishing touches to TelEm Group signage and final building works in preparation for the move of company equipment and staff, this Saturday.

Personnel is planning to have all in place at the new location to be open to the at the start of the business day, Monday upcoming.

One of the convenient features of the new location is that TelEm Group will be sharing the location space with public utilities company GEBE, similar to how both companies shared locations in Simpson Bay and on the Union Road in Cole Bay, many years ago.

 Main street view of the new TelEm Group branch location on the Airport Road in Simpson Bay.

According to TelEm Group lead Customer Service Representative, Mr. Suraj Radas, the new branch location has been fitted out with new furniture, lighting and equipment that will greatly enhance the customer experience at the new location.

“We believe customers will appreciate the extra space and also the convenience of being able to pay two of their bills at the same location,” said Mr. Ramdas.

He says staff are excited about welcoming customers to the new location and also to be working in the same space as their GEBE counterparts.

“It’s a lovely building with better parking for visitors and customers. I expect to see a lot of new customers every day,” said one member of staff who will be moving into the new location.

According to TelEm Group lead Customer Service Representative, Mr. Suraj Radas, the new branch location has been fitted out with new furniture, lighting and equipment that will greatly enhance the customer experience at the new location.

“We believe customers will appreciate the extra space and also the convenience of being able to pay two of their bills at the same location,” said Mr. Ramdas.

He says staff are excited about welcoming customers to the new location and also to be working in the same space as their GEBE counterparts.

“It’s a lovely building with better parking for visitors and customers. I expect to see a lot of new customers every day,” said one member of staff who will be moving into the new location.


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