October 20, 2004 - #30
Reopening of the airport:
Right on schedule, on Saturday, October 16, the Saint Barth airport was ready for the arrival of planes and passengers. The day before, civil aviation authorities tested the new runway with a series of landings and take-offs, before authorizing the new installations (runway, emergency night lighting, luminous runway markings, and the new access runway). In addition to these exterior improvements, passengers might also notice new airline counters in the departure area.
Telephone and Internet connections interrupted:
RIt was just about 4:30pm on Tuesday, October 12 when two thirds of the island found itself without telephones. The driver of a bulldozer working near the airport had accidentally cut France Telecom’s underground fiber-optic cable as well as the back-up cables. As a consequence, residences and businesses in the neighborhoods of Saint-Jean, Lorient, Camaruche, and the entire windward side of the island, could not use their phones or connect to the Internet. It was also impossible to make credit card transactions via telephone, or even use cell phones in these neighborhoods since the relay in Toiny had been out since the day before. Only the neighborhoods of Gustavia and Lurin were not affected by these outages. Cell phone users had to go into town to use their phones. A team of technicians from France Telecom arrived on Wednesday from Guadeloupe, and some of the phone lines were back up the next day. In the meantime, others were still out of service as late as Monday, October 18, and rang continuously busy.
It was also on Monday, October 18, at around 12:30pm, the under-water fiber-optic cable that connects Guadeloupe to Saint-Barth was cut due to work in Guadeloupe. This time, the island was unable to make long-distance calls from a landline or a cell phone, or connect to the Internet. Only on-island calls or those to the French side of Saint-Martin were possible from a landline. Fortunately, the repairs were made in a few hours after the outage and by the next morning the telephone lines were back to normal.
New playground ready for kids:
Thanks to the tenacity of three mothers, the island finally has a playground for its children. Some of the female city council members had suggested creating playgrounds in the their neighborhoods, but no one had followed through on this simple project for children, something that did not exist on the island. The completion of the sports complex in Saint-Jean called for a playground but there was no set schedule for its installation, due to budget restrictions. The organization, The Mother’s Front, was created in 2001 by three moms who negotiated with the local officials to get a playground opened as fast as possible. They were able to convince the municipality to set up and fence in the area. As for the young mothers, they organized a large fund-raising effort in order to purchase the playground equipment. Delivered in July 2003, these items remained in their cartons until this month, as the work on the project was delayed. At the end of September, the fencing was completed and the concrete was poured so that the equipment could be installed. Benches and non-slip concrete completed the installation. The playground has been open since the beginning of the month, daily from 4:00pm until nightfall and on weekends. It is already a big success!
More to come