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  Yves Bourel has been living in St. Barts for more than 10 years. He is an experienced journalist and has been the editor-in-chief for local newspapers. Currently, he is one of the radio announcers at Radio St. Barth for whom he covers political news and is presenting the local news every 2 weeks for St. Barths Online!
  February 3, 2002 - Issue # 30
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   Firemen go on strike
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   To protest charges of involuntary battery brought against one of their colleagues, local firemen, supported by family members and friends, took to the streets with picket signs. On January 28, Patrick Blanchard, a 24-year old professional firefighter, was summoned to appear before the public prosecutor to face charges that date back to one year ago. Last February, Blanchard was one of the firemen dispatched by the fire station in response to an early-morning 911 call. A house had caught on fire in the Lurin neighborhood, in a small housing development located on a hill. Blanchard, driving the station's old water-carrying fire trucks to the site of the blaze, lost control of the vehicle. In fact, the truck, unable to support the additional weight of the potable cistern water it was carrying up the hill, overturned. It ran into a neighborhood resident, and then careened into a neighboring home. That house caught on fire and was partially damaged, and the victim that was hit was disabled for three months. Approximately one hundred people gathered in front of the tiny courthouse, voicing criticism, anger and indignation at the fact that the case was even being brought to trial.For legal reasons, the case will not be judged in St. Barth, but in St. Martin or Guadeloupe.
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   More public parking, please
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   If you've ever tried navigating the narrow streets of St. Barth during the Christmas holidays, you may know that traffic has become a problem. Aside from the fact that there are more cars and motorists sharing the roads, there is also a critical lack of parking. When the island's population swells to three times its normal size during the height of the season, traffic in Gustavia and St. Jean can come to a grinding halt, too often and too long for the taste of locals and visitors alike. Though no real solutions have been found, the problem keeps coming up at municipal council meetings, though it has been flagged as low priority, overshadowed by the island's huge political push for independence from Guadeloupe. One of the most frequently submitted suggestions is to impose import quotas on the island's car dealers and car rental companies to limit the number of vehicles on the road. The other is to turn rue du General de Gaulle into a pedestrian street only, a seductive idea indeed if only adequate parking could be found to house the pedestrians’ cars. In similar fashion, one St. Jean solution that has been envisioned is to convert the main St. Jean road from the airport to the other end of the bay into a one-way street in order to alleviate the traffic congestion that occurred over the Christmas holidays. The second one-way road, situated behind the saltwater pond, would run parallel to the St. Jean main road.
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   The State council stops Nordleing Magras
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   Regional councilman, Nordleing Magras, who filed a civil party law suit against the island's mayor, Bruno Magras, for cheating the community out of import tax revenue, recently learned that the state council threw out the case stating that the councilman had not supplied sufficient proof of his allegations against the mayor, a longtime political rival.
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  More to come,

  Yves Bourel


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