GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Collective Preventive Services (CPS), a government department under the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, to take measures to prevent mosquito’s from breeding due to several days of rainfall.

CPS is also calling on the community as well as visitors to wear light colored clothing at dusk; long sleeve shirts and pants; and use mosquito repellent to prevent being bitten by a mosquito that could possibly be carrying dengue, zika or chikungunya.

Dengue fever, zika and chikungunya are transmitted by the female vector Aedes Aegypti mosquito. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito is distinguished by its markings. The body of the mosquito has alternate black and white horizontal stripes. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito lays her eggs in clear (clean) stagnant water. Within eight days the mosquito can complete its life cycle from egg, to larvae to pupae and to adult mosquito.

Persons are also requested to keep their homes, yards, neighborhoods and work environment free from potential mosquito breeding sites.

Actively destroy or dispose of tin cans, old tires, buckets, unused plastic swimming pools or other containers that collect and hold water. Do not allow water to accumulate in the saucers of flowerpots, cemetery urns/vase or in pet dishes for more than two days.  Throw out the water and turn them over every time it collects water.

Check around construction sites or do-it-yourself improvements to ensure that proper backfilling and grading is realized to prevent drainage problems which can be a source for standing water.  Empty all construction containers such as blue tanks, buckets, paint cans etc.

Mosquitoes can be kept out of the home by keeping windows, doors and porches tightly screened (16-18 mesh). Those insects that do get into structures can be eliminated with a fly swatter or an aerosol space spray containing synergized pyrethrum.

Screen off cistern outlets, cover and screen septic tanks properly.

The aforementioned measures should also be taken in and around the workplace, social gatherings and living quarters to eliminate mosquito breeding sources.

An increase in the mosquito population puts residents and visitors at risk. For information about dengue fever, zika and chikungunya prevention measures, you can call CPS 542-2078 or 542-3003 or the emergency number 550-2255 to report mosquito breeding sites.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - This Friday April 22 the Philipsburg Jubilee Library will be hosting the soft launch of Foresee Foundation’s newest project “DigiWorkz”.

At the end of 2013, Foresee Foundation started with the DigiKidz program followed by the DigiKidz Medialab and most recently the Caribbean Technology & Education Conference in November 2015.

After some months of preparation the foundation is ready to share its newest educational innovative initiative focusing on the exciting world of logical thinking, inventing, constructing, creating a curiosity for learning.

There is a worldwide movement in education that believes that in this age and time children and teenagers need to acquire 21st century skills which will give them room to explore and develop skills in a highly technological and rapidly changing world.

With the launch of DigiWorkz Foresee Foundation in collaboration with schools, volunteers and the National Library, students, educators and the wider community will be introduced to the exciting world of 3D printing, coding/programming, making apps, virtual reality. Kids being as young as 5 year old can already start with simple coding principles. Building on basic knowledge and skills, this will be further developed and explored by all age groups.

The DigiWorkz program will educate and enable students, educators, parents and all interested to

unleash their creativity by making and inventing automated and interactive machines and devices using the latest technologies.

At the launch different devices will be demonstrated like a 3D printer, the Little Bits kits, a self-made scribbling robot powered by a milk shaker, holograms and ideas and demonstrations of many more projects that allow participants to discover their talents.

The DigiWorkz program is sponsored by UNESCO and Windsong International Foundation and educates teachers and volunteers on how to incorporate this way of critical and creative ‘tinkering’ in St. Maarten’s educational programs.

The DigiWorkz launch will start this upcoming Friday at 6:00 pm sharp at the Philipsburg Jubilee DigiKidz Medialab located at the library. Interested persons are invited to come and get acquainted with the newest gadgets. One or two school-aged children accompanied by adults can join the presentation, which will end at 8:00 pm.

WILLEMSTAD, Curacao - Dutch passport holders, including those who reside on the islands of Curacao, Sint Maarten, Aruba, Saba, St. Eustatius, and Bonaire, continue to be ELIGIBLE to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) by first applying for Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). ESTA is accessible online at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov.

As of April 1, 2016, travelers must have an e-passport to use the VWP. An e-Passport is an enhanced secure passport with an embedded electronic chip. Travelers can readily identify an

e-Passport, because it has a unique international symbol ( ) on the cover. Passports issued by the Kingdom of the Netherlands bear this symbol.

The VWP allows visitors with passports from participating countries to travel to the U.S. for business or pleasure for 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. There is a $14 fee to obtain the travel authorization. Travel authorizations are generally valid for two (2) years OR until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

Be sure to check the expiration date of your ESTA travel authorization before finalizing your travel plans. We recommend that ESTA applications be submitted no less than 72 hours prior to travel. For additional information also available in English, Dutch, and Spanish, please visit http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/esta.

Travelers should print out the ESTA application response in order to maintain a record of their ESTA application number. The U.S. Consulate General in Curacao also strongly recommends that travelers carry a copy of the approved ESTA with them when traveling to the U.S.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – On Monday April 18th 2016, a letter was sent to the President of Parliament from Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Leona Marlin Romeo concerning Visa requirements for persons from the former Netherlands Antilles entering the USA. 

Several concerned citizens contacted the Member of Parliament about the issue and it was therefore brought to the attention of the responsible minister on April 14th 2016.

On the US Homeland Security website https://www.dhs.gov/visa-waiver-program-requirements  it states that, “The citizens of the new countries of Curacao, Bonaire, St Eustatius, Saba and St Maarten (the former Netherlands Antilles) are not eligible to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program if they are applying for admission with passports from these countries.”

“Whether this is an error or an oversight by the Homeland Security, clarification is still needed as citizens from Sint Maarten frequent American territory regularly, notwithstanding that the information came from the official website of the US Government,” the MP pointed out.

The Member of Parliament also took note of articles written on possible requirements for US citizens wanting to visit Europe. If approved, this would indeed affect Sint Maarten.  The Member of Parliament is requesting that the Minister of General Affairs answer the following questions:

1.       Since the issue visa issue was brought to the Minister’s attention in a meeting on April 4th 2016 has contact been made with the US Embassy in Curacao to bring clarity to the matter on visas for the former Netherlands Antilles citizens?

2.       Will the Minister inform the general public of the findings?

3.       Should the European Union decide to place a visa requirement on US citizens what are the repercussions for Sint Maarten as a tourist dependent destination.

4.       Will the Minister responsible for Foreign Affairs address these issues with the Kingdom?

The Member of Parliament Leona Marlin- Romeo noted that matters concerning foreign affairs fall under the responsibility of the Minister of General Affairs and therefore the Member of Parliament finds it pertinent that clarity be given to the public on matters that directly affect them.

GRAND CASE, St. Martin—Island residents and visitors are invited to get in touch with the wild side of “Only on St. Martin” this Sunday at the third annual Endemic Animal Festival. The free wildlife discovery event, created by the Les Fruits de Mer association, celebrates the animals that are found only on this island or only in this region. The 2016 Festival will be held from 9am to noon on April 24th at the St. Maarten Zoo in Madame Estate.

 
The event offers a full array of fun designed for kids, families, and people of all ages, including an endemic wildlife walk with a native animal checklist, free native animal activity books, and a variety of wildlife-themed art activities. 
 
Festival-goers can get an up-close look at St. Martin’s native wildlife at the Endemic Animal Discovery Station, where experts will be on hand to talk about the live endemic animals on display and answer questions. A Bird Observation Station staffed by a professional birding guide will be set up on the Great Salt Pond next to the Zoo, where attendees can learn to use a variety of birdwatching scopes and binoculars to spot native birds and other wetland wildlife. At the Art Station’s craft workshop, children will enjoy creating their own endemic animal crowns to become kings and queens of the Festival.
 
Admission to the zoo will be free for all ages during the event, and guests are invited to see what’s new, including a ten-panel installation of signage telling the story of St. Martin’s native animals. “The story of our native animals, particularly those that can only be seen on St. Martin, is one the most fascinating things we can share about our natural heritage,” explains Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama. “It encompasses some of the most important concepts in biology, but it is also very specific to this one tiny island where people and nature are living together.”
 
While this year’s festival is the third Endemic Animal Festival on St. Martin, it is the first to be held at the St. Maarten Zoo. With new native animal signage and a variety of new native plants and trees, the zoo is developing its potential as a botanical garden and a space to observe native animals. This Sunday will also feature the launch of the completely renovated petting zoo, and a sneak preview of the new Monkey Bar, which will offer a special mini-menu of savory panini, barbecue, salads, snacks, and drinks at the Festival.
 
“Don’t forget to bring your camera,” reminds Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “In addition to all the free, fun Festival activities, we'll also be announcing the theme for this year’s Heritage Photo Contest. You can even start working on your entries at the event!”
 
The third annual Endemic Animal Festival takes place from 9am-noon on Sunday, April 24th at the St. Maarten Zoo on Arch Road in Madame Estate. The event is open to the public and completely free, thanks to the generous support of the 2016 sponsors: Buccaneer Beach Bar, Calmos Cafe, Delta Petroleum, Hotel L’Esplanade, Lagoonies Bistro and Bar, Loterie Farm and Tri-Sport. For more information, visit: http://www.lesfruitsdemer.com or find Les Fruits de Mer on Facebook.
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