ST. EUSTATIUS–Even though he was appointed Commissioner in May, Derrick Simmons Jr. and new Island Secretary Koert A. Kerkhoff were both officially introduced to the public of St. Eustatius during a press conference on Wednesday.
Simmons has been working in the civil service for more than 23 years. He said his first months in office have been “very challenging.”
He said that one of the stumbling blocks was not having support staff in place when he took over from Reginald Zaandam, who abruptly submitted his resignation as Commissioner to Acting Island Governor Julian Woodley on May 10. Zaandam resigned on May 18. Simmons said working without staff was “like walking without arms.”
In the Executive Council, Simmons in responsible for Education, Airport, Constitutional Affairs, Sports, Government Buildings, Tourism, Water and Energy among other duties.
The water shortage the island has been facing was of great concern to him, “but the recent rainfall has improved the situation,” he said.
Another challenge he faced was that he had to “hold the fort” as Commissioner Astrid McKenzie-Tatem was off island during the July recess.
The Commissioner of Education mentioned the current renovation of Bethel Methodist School and said he was looking forward to the renovation of the Gwendoline van Putten School.
Simmons said that construction of the new tower at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Airport will start soon. “The current building is an eyesore and it is a high priority on the Government’s list of things to get it done. It is Government’s wish to see that Statia would get a new Airport building,” said Simmons.
Commissioner Astrid McKenzie-Tatem said that a meeting on the Land Registry, or Cadastre, held between the Dutch Government and the Island Governments of Bonaire, Statia and Saba, which was held on July 12, did not go in favour of the islands.
The Dutch Government wants to establish one central Registry for the Caribbean Netherlands, but the islands are against such centralised institution. A follow-up meeting was scheduled for Thursday, McKenzie-Tatem said.
Six million euros are to be allotted to the Road Project, McKenzie noted. A priority list of roads that are in need of repair will be drafted, she said.
New Island Secretary Koert A. Kerkhoff just completed his first week on his new job. “I am very happy to be back in Statia. I am not really new to Statia, and Statia is not new to me. In this first week I met the staff. Unfortunately, not everyone due to the vacation time. I had some time to observe the workings, but not too much as there was no time planned, really, to get acquaintance. It was like jumping into the deep end from day one and I like that,” Kerkhoff said.
He said it was good to meet people and he appreciated the encouragement and the warm welcome he received.
“That helps a lot as I left a job I liked and a family I love dearly to give my best for all of Statia.” he said. “We have to work together to increase the efficiency of the civil service, to increase the trust in and within the civil service, and to raise the standard,” Kerkhoff said.
“The civil service is a service to the entire population of Statia and we should give and accept that service with confidence, a willingness to serve to the best of our abilities, and if possible with a smile. In short, it is good to be home,” Kerkhoff concluded.
Source: Daily Herald
New Commissioner, Island Secretary introduced during press conference