July 16, 2023 -MARIGOT–President of the Collectivité Louis Mussington used his Bastille Day speech to talk on a number of subjects, ranging from education, construction projects, renovation of churches, a relief road from Galisbay to La Savane and agriculture to the violence in Sandy Ground earlier in the week.
He said a delegation will be going to Canada in September to observe the methods for implementing bilingualism.
“We have the full support of the Minister of Education that every child in the French system in St. Martin must be proficient in English and French,” he said. “This will enable us to formally make a plan of action for all schoolchildren which will lead to a higher level of academic success.”
By the same token he encouraged bilingual teachers to return home to St. Martin to serve the territory. Parents must also understand what a critical role they play in their child’s education, he said, and he urged them to actively decrease the number of hours their children look at their phones, watch TV or play video games.
On projects, he said reconstruction is progressing well at the French Quarter College, while construction of the 900-pupil college in La Savane will start in two months. Dialogue is in progress with landowners over releasing land to construct a relief road from Galisbay via Friars Bay to La Savane, the so-called Galisbay-to-airport back road. He called on the cooperation of all landowners to make this a reality, as it is a high priority project.
With regard to renovation of churches, repairs to the church in Grand Case will start on August 23, while work has already begun on the church on Rue de la Liberté.
On agriculture, the aim of the Collectivité is to increase the number of heads of cattle on the island and to get the slaughterhouse working to its full potential. Some 500,000 euros has been provided in this regard.
Inevitably, the violence in Sandy Ground on Tuesday night triggered by fake news on social media about a Gendarmerie control, was brought up by Mussington, with the correct version of events subsequently explained by Préfet Berton and Gendarmerie Commandant Lieutenant Colonel Maxime Wintzer Wehekind the next day.
Mussington, who was asked by the Gendarmerie and agreed to talk to the young people to try to lower the tension that night, said he had seen a truckful of youths, armed and ready to go looting and burning.
“While we are addressing the issue of reckless joy riding on two wheelers, what happened in Sandy Ground was unacceptable,” he said. “There will be law and order in this country on my watch. I’m calling on the community to say ‘no’ to this violence. There are decent and responsible people living in Sandy Ground. We cannot let a band of outlaws terrorise this country. We will stand firm on this.”
Two other speeches were given by Senator Annick Pétrus and Préfet Vincent Berton.
Before the speeches a minutes’ silence was observed in memory of the late former Mayor Albert Fleming. Later, Benjamin Bell and Natisha Hanson sang “St. Martin is my home.”
The highlight of the official ceremony was the honouring of 14 former Collectivité employees who served more than 40 years and were presented with the Territorial Gold Medal for their service. The service ranged from 41 years to the longest of 49 years for Jacqueline Helissey.
The recipients were Marie Antoinette Bertaux, Sheryl Carty, Gertrude Eliane Wescott, Louisiane Miller Denis, Jacqueline Helissey, Brenda Hyman Ellis, Georgette Rosalie Flanders Benjamin, Anne Marie Weinum Olivacce, Patrick Paines, Alexis Fernand Javois, Daniella Richardson, Saint-Elmo Arnell, Alexis Celéste Carty and Alain Cécil Jermain.
Also honoured with a Gold Medal in the entrepreneurship category was the Hodge family from Soualiga Farms in Colombier.
Earlier, government representatives from both sides of the island, and Anguilla, attended the church service before watching the Bastille Day parade on Rue de La République.
Present from the Dutch side were Governor Amaju Baly, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs, Minister of the Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS) Rodolphe Samuel, and President of Parliament Sidharth “Cookie” Bijlani. Representing Anguilla was Premier Dr. Ellis Webster.
Activities and entertainment in the afternoon and evening culminated with a fireworks display in the Bay of Marigot.