PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - At the first General Board meeting of the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry for this year January 27, 2016, elections for among the directors for the position of President, Vice-President and Treasurer was held.

The outcome of the election was as followed.

Messrs: Peggy Ann Brandon        President,

Anastacio Baker                           Vice President

Louis Bute                                    Treasurer respectively.

All candidates were unanimously elected.

In further acknowledgement, there was two President awards given.

The Board Member of the year award 2015, selected by the President Ms. Peggy Ann Brandon, was presented to Mr. Anastacio Baker in recognition of the Board member who participated in, contributed towards and executed the Chamber of Commerce and Industry board undertakings with undeterred, consistent, continuous dedication and personally ensuring the success of such undertakings all throughout the year 2015.

Most Supportive Board Member to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry 2015 was awarded to Mrs. Pamela Illis-Friday. Mrs. Illis –Friday was presented with this award for passionately supporting the Board, Management and staff of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and also for contributing to the development of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2015.

Board of Director 2016:

Peggy Ann Brandon, Anastacio Baker, Louis Bute, Ajay Rawtani,

Keith Franca, Nzinga Lake, Stanley Lint, Sidhart Bijlani and

Pamela Illis –Friday.

The Operation Manager of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry took the opportunity to wish them every success in their future endeavors.

Supportive Boardmember 2015Boardmember of the year 2015

GRAND CASE, St. MartinThe Salt Reaper – selected poems from the flats by Lasana M. Sekou is a poetry-music CD from which each spoken word track unfolds like a morsel for the listener.

As the poet’s voice and the negotiating music by Angelo Rombley travel into each poem or enter the listener, the whole palette of the listener’s senses becomes tantalized.

The Salt Reaper poems vary from stingingly salty and succulently sweet, to scorchingly sour and bitingly bitter. The sounds, riffs, and beats manage to add a fresh dimension to reveal The Salt Reaper’s flesh and inner core.

Each time the spoken word-sound hurls through speakers, air, or headphones there’s a sense of a developing Salt Reaper persona that we can also see, smell, touch, and feel.

St. Martin, Land of Salt, Soualiga, looms large in this recording, competing with personal, regional, and world affairs. I’m more intrigued by how Sekou and Rombley tell and sound off the St. Martin story to the “nation self” and therefore to the world.

Having any idea of the island’s history leaves the listener with questions, even before a whole poem or the whole CD is done playing. Is the purpose of the reaper to procure his saline harvest or to act as the vocal Grim Reaper who retrieves the spirits of a myriad of dead and untold stories (and voices them)? What else to make of the lines in “Salt Reaping II”? “we keep hearing how/it was sweet but hard/ah say, we keep hearing how it was sweet but hard/maybe so/it was like loving.”

In his storytelling and free verse style, Sekou is known for using vocal varieties, intonations, and vernacular, and this audio production brings his poetry alive in ways that we can only imagine when reading his books.

The Salt Reaper poems on disc display vivid images and characters that, on an ordinary day could be found proudly populating the pavements of the ever-expanding palatable paradise of St. Martin with its African, English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Amerindian, and Asian influences.

The Salt Reaper melodically—because I think Sekou sings the words as Rombley spins the beats—takes the listener from the crevices of “New World” inception to the craters of the island’s future, riding waves of musical genres, styles, instruments, and sounds. You’ll find this collaboration at its peak in “Cradle of The Nation,” which reggae scholar and critic Carolyn Cooper has called a “magisterial” poem.

In the track “Freedom,” Sekou personifies Freedom with the raw opening, “Freedom is my bitch to keep.” He is protective and possessive of her like a champion rooster guarding a prized hen—“jealous of her like sickness.” He desirously guards Freedom because he sucked salt and diligently labored to have all of her. His ambition drives him and his desired beloved draws him—“daring me always to be man.”

Freedom, whether individual liberties or political independence, is a constant of Sekou’s poetry, short stories, and essays. His ability to invent and re-invent the duality or multiplicity of that theme keeps him bound to certain traditions of manhood or liberation and yet current, even shockingly new, each time he is read or heard by older or younger generations.

The poem “Freedom” is not all about personal desire. With the music enticing us to do God knows what, the poet also states that Freedom is scorned by “some ah we” but “… you know what?/I want all of our children to look/just like her.”

Rombley’s musical renderings surround each pillar of brackish poetry like stakes, heightening the poetic effectiveness. The music is scoped from contemporary jazz and revengeful rock, to seducing salsa and futuristic metal. Anyone, regardless of origin, could relate to the musical influences, from Caribbean steel pan to Asian chimes.

Sound effects of wind, rain, and trickling water are incorporated in the opening of a few tracks, blending timeless elements of earth with timeless topics such as romance, geography, revolution, hatred, drugs, history, poverty, war, culture, migration, emigration, slavery, religion, colonization, sex, and freedom.

The Salt Reaper seasons the listener with a local and global flavor. Revisiting this CD, seven years since it first appeared is not so much a review but a re-discovery. It is a collection of poetry that is definitely a preservative and a vital stimulant that should be added to your pantry, as this collection is for cooking!

The Salt Reaper is available at Van Dorp, Arnia’s, iTunes,,, and other bookstores. (The Salt Reaper is also available in book form.)

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Member of Parliament the Honorable Frans Richardson Tuesday announced that GEBE has discontinued their program of assistance to the seniors within the St. Maarten community.

He told our news room that he is disappointed with this development and is calling for a serious structural program to be put in place.

More from the MP can now be heard via PodCast.

ORANJESTAD, St. Eustatius - Minister in charge of Kingdom Affairs and Inter Relation, Ronald Plasterk paid a working visit to the island of St. Eustatius on Monday.

During his visit to the island the Minister met with among others, the Executive as well as members of the Island Council, at which time, a wide range of issues were discussed, including the financial situation of the island.

Speaking to our news department, leader of government on St. Eustatius and Councilman of the PLP, Clyde van Putten noted that the visit of the Minister marked a new chapter in the relationship between the government of Statia and The Hague.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Minister with the responsibility for Education, the Honorable Silveria Jacobs addressed several issues pertaining to employment for students returning to the island upon completion of the studies.

The Minister was at the time, speaking at a press conference on Monday, at which time, she provided some information pertaining to study financing.

According to her, they have heard the cry of the people that labor permits are being given and the students of St. Maarten are being left out.

“We are really trying to make the labour market and the educational preparation fit so that these jobs that are available are made possible for students wanting to return home,” the Minister told journalists on Monday.

More now via PodCast.

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