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The Government House Blog
DLCA Reminds Establishments of Good Friday Alcohol Ban
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on April 17, 2014 at 9:00 AM AST

Wayne L. Biggs, Jr., Commissioner of the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs advises all bars, restaurants, and establishments that serve alcohol of their obligation to comply with Title 1, Section 171 of the Virgin Islands Code which prohibits liquor from being served on Good Friday. “Full compliance and cooperation of all establishments that serve alcohol is mandatory,” said Commissioner Biggs.

Pursuant to Title 1, Section 171(b) V.I.C., “distilled liquor and drinks prepared therewith shall not be served in public places of refreshments between the hours of 9:00 o’ clock in the morning and 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon on Good Friday.” Violation of this subsection will result in a fine of not more than $200 or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.

The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs would like to wish everyone a safe and Happy Easter season.

An Easter Message from Governor John P. de Jongh and First Lady Cecile de Jongh
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on April 16, 2014 at 2:00 PM AST

On Easter Sunday, many of us will attend church services and listen to the story of Jesus Christ's last days and his resurrection three days after his crucifixion. This recitation reminds us that the true meaning of Easter is about sacrifice and the promise of new beginnings. We believe that Easter is the season for hope. Like the springtime around us, this oldest of Christian holidays celebrates rebirth and renewal.

Easter is celebrated differently around the world, and Virgin Islanders have their own ways of spending the long Easter holiday break. On St. Croix, for decades, one of our favorite traditions has been camping with family and friends at Cramer's Park. Over the years, thousands of Crucians have gathered annually for memorable days of camping on the beach. This is truly a unique Virgin Islands' custom. Easter egg hunts for children are also a local tradition. Eggs are a symbol of rebirth and have been associated with Easter since the Middle Ages in Europe. We enjoy coloring and decorating eggs, as people have done for centuries. Orthodox Christians dyed their eggs red to represent the blood of Christ, and the Chinese dye eggs when a child is born.

Like Christians, our Jewish friends and neighbors have an exceptional holiday at this time of year. They celebrate Passover and recite the story of their ancestors' exodus from Egypt and liberation from slavery. The eight-day Passover holiday begins on April 14 and concludes on April 22, coinciding with Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday this year. Easter and Passover are holidays of equal gravity, always in the spring.

Oftentimes, the problems of everyday living obscure the simple beauty of our lives. Hope for the future can be limited by our inability to see through life's challenges. As we listen once again to the Easter or Passover story, we understand that anything is possible and that faith helps us carry on. This holiday season we ask each of you to focus on all that is good and right in your lives, and be thankful for the blessings you have received. Open your hearts to those less fortunate and make a conscious effort to help others make their lives better and more meaningful.

As these two special holidays unfold, may we be the first to wish you a Happy Easter or a Happy Passover! May the promise of these holidays fill your hearts with joy!

DSPR advises the General Public that Cramer’s Park Facility is ready for the Annual Easter Camping Activity
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on April 16, 2014 at 11:25 AM AST

Commissioner St. Claire N. Williams of the Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation advises the general public that Cramer’s Park Facility is ready for the Annual Easter Camping activity which has become a traditional event on St. Croix.

Commissioner Williams noted that all minor repairs have been addressed with shower heads in place and that grounds maintenance enhancements have been performed. “In particular, staff did some landscaping of the area around the cabanas and picnic tables that has helped to expose the sand and enhance the area”, Commissioner Williams stated. He further noted that staff has been assigned to the facility to include lifeguards, custodial workers to maintain the restrooms and dispose of trash from the garbage receptacles throughout the weekend. “However, we are requesting the assistance of the public in helping to maintain a clean environment of the facility and to report any unwarranted acts of vandalism that would destroy and damage the property or that would affect the safety and enjoyment of the general public”, Commissioner Williams emphasized.

“The Department is also coordinating with the Virgin Islands Police Department to provide regular security patrol and to help in reducing vehicular traffic congestion”. “Therefore, everyone using Cramer’s Park Facility is asked to observe and follow all posted traffic signs and rules and regulations”. “The management and staff of the Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation wish everyone a safe Easter Season and an enjoyable happy camping”, Commissioner Williams concluded.

Governor de Jongh Meets with Federal Officials to Discuss Recent BTOP 5-Day Progress Visit on viNGN Broadband Network Projects; Federal Agencies Extremeley Pleased with Progress of High Speed Fiber Optic Infrastructure Development As Well As Existing viNGN Operations
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on April 14, 2014 at 5:15 PM AST

Governor John P. deJongh, Jr. met Friday with officials from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who had just completed a five day site visit to the territory in order to review the progress of the Virgin Islands Next Generation Network (viNGN) Broadband Network and Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) Grants.

The federal officials reported that they were extremely pleased with the progress made under the federal broadband grants received by the territory. In particular, officials of the federal agencies commended the progress made by viNGN in the construction of the territory’s 100% fiber optic high speed network, as it nears its official completion deadline of June 30, 2014.

NTIA and NOAA officials toured sites on St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John where they reviewed many of viNGN’s Fiber Access Points (FAPs), including the Super FAPs located on St. Croix and St. Thomas which are now directly connected to the internet, a significant milestone that viNGN team members were congratulated on reaching.

The federal officials also visited numerous Community Anchor Institutions (CAIs) throughout the territory and heard how the connection of those CAIs to viNGN’s broadband network will positively benefit them. viNGN is in the process of finishing the connection of over 300 CAIs to its network, with nearly 200 CAIs already connected to the high speed fiber optic network. Some of these CAIs have already entered into agreements with ISPs who are providing broadband service through viNGN’s network. Others are connected to the viNGN network and are awaiting internet service from their selected ISP or ISPs or to-be-selected ISP or ISPs that have agreements with viNGN and will provide service on the viNGN network.

NTIA and NOAA officials also met with local Virgin Islands agencies to discuss the significance and benefits of the viNGN broadband network for the territory.

  • At a meeting with the Department of Tourism, Asst. Commissioner Chantal Figueroa discussed the importance of providing high speed broadband to visitors in order to compete effectively with other destinations and drive economic development;
  • At the Bureau of Information and Technology (BIT), Director Reuben Molloy spoke about the many important public safety initiatives and the many efforts to improve government effectiveness and to reduce the government’s operating costs that will be enabled by viNGN’s high speed, broadband network;
  • And, at a visit to the Sprauve Elementary School on St. John, Principal Dionne Wells discussed how increased broadband capacity will allow the students to more effectively utilize the schools’ two computer labs, improve the ability of teachers to use technology in the classroom and improve administrative effectiveness.

In addition to the visits to viNGN’s network facilities and governmental agencies, the federal officials also visited many of viNGN’s Public Computer Centers (PCCs) and were pleased to see the activity at these PCCs, as well as hear the many positive stories from users of the sites who have prepared resumes, researched and applied for jobs, prepared business plans, obtained health information, communicated with family and friends, prepared homework assignments, completed training courses, and accomplished other life goals. Users have included many seniors/the elderly, students, veterans and other residents.

At a closeout meeting with the NTIA and NOAA officials Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority (PFA) and viNGN officials thanked their federal partners for the continued cooperation and support for the territory’s BTOP programs which created the opportunity for the Virgin Islands to develop the state-of-the-art fiber optic broadband network, bring high speed internet access throughout the territory, offer free training courses, provide access to computers throughout the territory, support job creation and retention, and contribute to the territory’s economic recovery.

Government of the Virgin Islands Comments on V.I. Supreme Court Decision Regarding Main Street Enhancement Project
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on April 13, 2014 at 6:00 PM AST

In a decision entered on April 11, 2014, the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands has reversed the Superior Court decision denying the preliminary injunction which temporarily prevents the Government of the Virgin Islands from negotiating and executing a contract for the Main Street Enhancement Project.

The Supreme Court remanded the case back to the Superior Court for a hearing to determine whether the unsuccessful bidder, Tip Top Construction, Corporation, is entitled to an award of the contract for the Main Street project.

The government remains committed to a fair and legal selection process of the best contractor for this project and to getting this project started and completed timely. Public Works Commissioner Darryl A. Smalls said Sunday it is vitally important that we resolve this matter through the judicial system as expeditiously as possible. “We are at a critical crossroad in our continued economic development and the timely start of this project will solidify both our position and our market share within the competitive regional tourism industry. All one has to do is look closely at our neighboring islands to observe the significant capital investments taking place at tourist destinations throughout the region.”

Smalls and Property & Procurement Commissioner Lynn Millin Maduro will consult with attorneys of the Department of Justice to determine the government’s next steps following this court decision.

Board of Directors of VI PFA Approves Project Management Contract for Completion of All Work at Turnbull Regional Library; Board Delays Action on Financing of New Paul E. Joseph Stadium on St. Croix
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on April 11, 2014 at 5:15 PM AST

Meeting on St. Thomas today, the board of directors of the Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority chaired by Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. approved a project management contract to Nimal LLC, the company that will oversee the completion of the Turnbull Regional Library on St. Thomas.

“Our approval enables the Department of Public Works to have the oversight that is required so that all is completed at the library facility in the best interest of its users,” de Jongh said Friday.

Commissioner of Public Works Darryl A. Smalls added, “With approval of the project management contract, we can now ensure the completion of the library’s construction consistent with its design specifications. The project management contract will be funded from a $2 million bond issue previously approved by the VIPFA. About $1.4 million of the bond proceeds are slated to complete work at the regional library.

De Jongh said the board of directors also wants to use the additional time to get a better understanding of the progress being made by the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority and its task force on the development of the Mars Hill multi-purpose facility.”

Property and Procurement Commissioner Discounts Assertions by Senator Alicia Hansen Regarding American Post Legion #102; Negotiations Already Underway for New Command Post to be Developed in Estate Slob
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on April 11, 2014 at 4:10 PM AST

Department of Property and Procurement Commissioner Lynn Millin Maduro on Friday said that assertions in the media this week by St. Croix Senator Alicia Hansen that the American Legion Post 102 has been evicted from space it occupied on St. Croix are both misleading and factually incorrect.

“The Department of Property and Procurement cannot evict a person or organization verbally or without a court order. There is no lease agreement between the American Legion Post 102 and the government for the use of space at # 1 Peter’s Rest. The lease the government holds is with the St. Croix Majorettes organization. The lease between the parties was originally signed on September 20, 1994,” Millin Maduro said.

She explained that the St. Croix Majorettes asked the American Legion Post to vacate the space after the overall structural integrity of the building was called into question. “A joint assessment was done by P&P and the Department of Public Works in order to determine the building’s structural integrity. DPW advised me that the building was in need to repairs and should not be occupied until those repairs were completed.” Representatives from both the American Legion Post #102 and the St. Croix Majorettes were also in attendance during the assessment.

Millin Maduro further said that since the DPW assessment was rendered, representatives of the Post have expressed an interest in exploring options of leasing or purchasing undeveloped real estate to construct a new facility. “In fact, this process is progressing well with a parcel of property already identified in Estate Slob. Currently, negotiations are in the preliminary stages for the organization to secure this parcel of real estate.”

Millin Maduro said she remains available to update any elected official at any time on any matter of concern. “Had Senator Hansen contacted me and asked for accurate information about the building housing the St. Croix Majorettes and the American Legion Post #102, she would have been in a better position to update the public. It is unfortunate that instead she opted to take to the press with inaccurate and misleading information.

To listen to Senator Hansen’s assertions one would believe that the government simply evicted the American Legion Post # 102 and have not looked back. This is far from the truth and far from what is realistically taking shape at the present time.”

GOVERNOR DE JONGH EXPRESSES HIS CONDOLENCES TO FAMILY OF THE LATE ATTORNEY JOSEPH S. ARCHIBALD OF THE BVI
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on April 10, 2014 at 12:40 PM AST

Upon learning of the death of prominent BVI attorney Joseph S. Archibald, Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr., stated, "I am deeply saddened by Dr. Archibald's passing. He was a very good friend of my father's. Both men were attorneys, and they shared a love for the law, a passion for seeing justice done, and keen intellectual curiosities. I offer my deepest condolences to Dr. Archibald's wife, V. Inez Archibald, the current Deputy Governor of the Virgin Islands, and their children and extended family members, as well as the citizens of the British Virgin Islands. The region has lost a truly great man, an man of tremendous intellect and champion of the law to achieve equity for his home and our region," added the Governor.

Dr. Archibald, QC (Queen's Counsel) was the founder and head of the prominent law firm, J. S. Archibald and Co., based on Tortola. He served as legal counsel to many prestigious clients, including Banco Popular and H. Lavity Stoutt Community College. He also held many prominent positions in the Caribbean, including Chairman of the BVI Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, founding member of the BVI Bar Association, founding president of the OECS Bar Association, Acting Judge of the Supreme Court of the West Indies Associated States and Principal Legal Advisor to the Caribbean Conference of Churches. Among his many affiliations, Dr. Archibald was a patron member of the World Jurist Association. His name is one of 18 outstanding jurists inscribed on the Rule of Law Monument in Austria.

Governor de Jongh recalled the times that Dr. Archibald and his father spent together as "watching two great legal minds at work. He was brilliant and a genuinely kind man. I will miss him." Dr. Archibald passed away on April 3 at his home on Tortola.

V.I. Public Finance Authority Announces Meeting of the Board of Directors
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on April 7, 2014 at 4:30 PM AST

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. will convene a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority on Friday, April 11, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority, No. 32-33 Kongens Gade, St. Thomas, VI.

For more information, please contact Angel E. Dawson, Jr. at the Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority at 714-1635.

Governor de Jongh Pleased by Favorable Action Taken by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee on the Extension of Higher Rum Cover-Over Rate; Pledges His Administration’s Continuing Efforts to Make the Higher Rate Permanent
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on April 3, 2014 at 5:10 PM AST

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. today hailed the action taken by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee to extend the rum cover-over rate for two years without limitations or restrictions. The bill makes the extension retroactive to January 1st of this year.

De Jongh said Thursday that the action by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee is a direct result of his administration’s efforts on this issue. “During our meetings in Washington, we pressed not only for reconsideration of the decision taken by the Department of the Interior that reduced the advance payment of rum cover-over revenues to $10.50 per gallon, rather than the $13.25 extender rate which had been in place up until December 31, 2013, but for Congressional action to make the higher rate permanent. Our hard work on this issue resulted in the reversal of the Department of Interior's original decision and the release of some $30 million dollars to the territory at the $13.25 rate. Following on the heels of that victory, I am pleased by the vote on the legislation in the U.S. Senate Finance Committee which moves us closer to our goal of full Congressional approval of the extender rate at the $13.25 level. The support of Chairman Wyden and his colleagues, most especially Senators Rockefeller, Hatch and Crapo, who have been steadfast supporters of the interests of the Virgin Islands, is much appreciated.”

The Governor pledged the continuing efforts of all in his administration to make all members of the U.S. House and Senate aware of the importance of the rum cover-over revenues to the Government of the Virgin Islands, and the need for the extenders to be approved permanently at the higher rate. Locally, all should be reminded that the 2014 fiscal year budget was passed by the Legislature based on the assumption that the rum cover-over would be at the higher $13.25 rate. The $30 million received in February after the Governor’s meetings in Washington moved the territory $30 million closer to meeting the budgeted revenue assumption, but there remains an expected budget shortfall to $40.5 million which still must be addressed. Governor de Jongh today reiterated that he and his financial team “will continue to meet with the members of the 30th Legislature to determine what must be done to deal with the shortfall. Although I am pleased by the action taken by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, we cannot forget that our financial challenges have not disappeared. Only increasing revenues or enacting austerity measures, or a combination of both, will see us through the remainder of this fiscal year."

Listen to the Governor's remarks here

Governor de Jongh Elated at U.S. House of Representatives Approval of 2014 Coast Guard Reauthorization Act; Hopeful for Passage by the Senate
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on April 2, 2014 at 11:50 AM AST

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. said Tuesday night that the 2014 Coast Guard Reauthorization Act passed the full U.S. House of Representatives this evening bringing the territory one step closer in its efforts to regain the yachting industry’s leadership mantle that was once a vibrant part of the local economy.

The measure now awaits actions of the U.S. Senate. The bill introduced in the House on February 6 provides alternative compliance for U.S. Coast Guard safety regulations for certain U.S. vessels which are now restricted to six passengers while operating in the waters of the U.S. Virgin Islands, whereas foreign vessels do not have the same restrictions.

De Jongh said tonight, “There is no doubt that the initiative brought forward by our Marine Council to Congressman Bill Shuster, the Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, during his November 2013 infrastructure visit to the territory has resulted in this step towards equity for our charter industry and an economic boost for our maritime industries as a whole.” He said this has been a long outstanding issue that has put us at a competitive disadvantage to the rest of region and especially with a niche that we know is attracted to our natural resources and all that we have to offer. “This is the first of a number of actions we will initiate to let this market know that we are open for business and we want their business," he added.

Listen to the Governor's remarks here.

Collaborative Efforts Empower Employers to Diversify their Workforce by Hiring Persons with Disabilities
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on April 2, 2014 at 11:30 AM AST

Back Row (L-R): Commissioner Chris Finch (DHS); Gwendolyn T. Powell ( Work-Able, Inc.); Assistant Commissioner Arah C. Lockhart, (DOL); Dr. Yegin Habtes ( UVI-VIUCEDD- STT); Charles Beady (UVI-VIUCEDD- STX).

Front Row (L-R): Barbara Wheatley ( DOL); Felecia Brownlow (Independent Living Center); Felecia Blyden( DHS-VR); and David Hoff – Keynote Speaker.

In recognition of Disability Awareness Month, public and private-sector human resource professionals, employers, and business owners came together in sessions held over the past two weeks to raise employer awareness and to demonstrate the benefits of hiring people with disabilities. A priority of the DeJongh administration to ensure individuals with disabilities achieve full inclusion into all aspects of society; a collaborative effort by the Department of Labor (DOL), Department of Human Services -Vocational Rehabilitation Services, (DHS-VR), Virgin Islands Association for Independent Living, Work-Able, Inc., and UVI Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (VIUCEDD) was seen as seminars were conducted on St. Thomas on March 20th and on St. Croix on March 27th entitled “Rare-Ability Employment 101- A Guide to Employment Accommodation”.

As representatives from each government agency, community based organizations, private sector employers and businesses listened to guest speakers, Ms. Debra Ruh, a Global Disability Inclusion Strategist and Mr. David Hoff, a Program Director for the Institute Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts; they were provided with ways to tap into hidden human capital and how to make employment a reality for people with disabilities. Ms. Ruh has worked with countries all over the world and has offered to work with the USVI to create employment programs that would bring sponsors to the table. She shared that this effort could drive tourism and hospitality industries, as the USVI could be seen as a tourism marketplace for socially responsible travelers for people with disabilities. Mr. Hoff provided attendees with information and real life examples on how to shift policies and create the working partnerships to ensure the right fit that would allow for each person with a disability the right to work.

Assistant Commissioner of Labor, Arah C. Lockhart lauded the participating stakeholders and advised all attendees that “these informational seminars are intended to create awareness, increase sensitivity and, move momentum forward to improve the bottom line for persons with disabilities”. Director of Personnel, Kenneth Herman, shared with the audience many of the initiatives being pursued by the Government Division of Personnel in an effort to become compliant with the ADA, and more specifically to improve access and opportunities for persons with disabilities to join the government labor force. During the seminar, he was so moved by the testimony of a blind attendee who had completed on-line training offered by VINGN, that he offered the individual employment in an upcoming temporary position with his Division.

Commissioner of Labor, Albert Bryan, closed by stating, "it is imperative that we do all we can to put our citizens with rare ability to work. The demonstrations by some of the participants clearly exhibited the power of accommodation and the real value in this client base". All participants had established a new appreciation the importance of collaborative partnership within the governmental agencies and the prudent business decision of hiring individual with disabilities.

April is 9-1-1 Education Month
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on April 1, 2014 at 5:20 PM AST

This week, VITEMA will begin a month-long “9-1-1 for Kids” campaign to help young students understand when and how to use the universal emergency number and the role operators play in providing efficient emergency response.

Throughout April, VITEMA’s Emergency Communications Centers (ECC) staff will visit classrooms to teach elementary school-age children the basics of using 9-1-1 and about first responders who may arrive at the scene to help. Last year, the “9-1-1 for Kids” program reached more than 200 students between St. Croix and St. Thomas. Students participated in an interactive 45-minute session that featured; an introduction to first responders, games that help students distinguish an emergency from a non-emergency, and a question and answer period.

“The 9-1-1 for Kids” is a national campaign designed to reduce the growing number of non-emergency calls made by young children. Many 9-1-1 centers across the US face the issue of prank-calling or non-emergency calls and the Virgin Islands is no exception,” said Elton Lewis, VITEMA Director. “Through this program, we teach children how to identify real emergencies, about what information should be provided to the operator, and about who will arrive to help them. An added benefit, we hope, is that they understand that non-emergency calls may take critical time away from managing real and even life-threatening emergencies.”

While the campaign targets children, it’s important for the entire community to understand 9-1-1’s vital role, Lewis said.

“Our 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Centers are the only lifelines between the public and first responders when there is an emergency,” Lewis said. “Operators are trained to determine the nature of the emergency, to dispatch Fire, Police, EMS and Rescue to assist the caller and, in life-threatening emergencies, to stay on the call until help arrives.”

According to Lewis, the most important information any one can give a 9-1-1 operator is the location of the emergency. “Even if the call is lost, first responders know where to go. If you don’t know the address, then look for landmarks or other familiar markers,” he said.

In 2009, following a major overhaul of the 9-1-1 system, VITEMA activated new 9-1-1 centers furnished with modernized equipment and staffed with operators trained to meet national standards. Together, the centers field an average of 30,000 calls for assistance per month.

In addition to National 9-1-1 Education Month, from April 13 – 19 emergency operators will celebrate “National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.” Telecommunicators Week honors the thousands of men and women who respond to emergency calls, dispatch emergency professionals and equipment, and render life-saving assistance to the citizens.

VITEMA is also celebrating Telecommunicators Week with various events including an Open House and social activities for operators.

“Emergency operators often go unrecognized for the critical role they play in responding to emergencies,” Lewis said. “I want publicly commend and thank them for the tireless work they do in connecting the public to first responders during times of crisis.”

Groups including the United States Congress and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), a leading public safety association, have also recognized April as National 9-1-1 Education Month, and are encouraging, the 9-1-1 community, and the wireless industry to engage in 9-1-1 awareness and education activities this month.

Virgin Islands Next Generation Network Issues an Updated Public Notice for the Network Build in the Virgin Islands
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on April 1, 2014 at 5:15 PM AST

Public Notice

Virgin Islands Next Generation Network (viNGN) would like the public to be aware that Network Build will commence for the week of March 31, 2014 and April 07, 2014:

St. Thomas
Minor excavation for lateral work to riser poles will occur on the island of St. Thomas on Thursday, April 03, 2014 and is expected to be completed by Saturday, April 12, 2014 at the following locations:

  • Along Route 33 near Plot No. 2A Remainder, Estate Caret Bay
  • Along Skyline Drive (Route 33) near Plot 4A Remainder, Estate St. Joseph & Rosendahl
  • Along Smith Bay Road (Route 38) near Plot No. 19F Remainder
  • Along Red Hook Road (Route 32) near Plots No. 89 and 174, Estate Frydenhoj

Motorists are asked to follow traffic directions for the safety of crews, pedestrians and other drivers.

viNGN is in the process of connecting community anchor institutions with reliable high-speed Internet services, and strengthening external broadband connections that will improve access to online educational, healthcare and government services to residents.

The Virgin Islands Next Generation Network (viNGN) is a wholly owned public corporation which was organized to create the broadband middle mile fiber optic network. viNGN was funded primarily from a grant by the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) as part of a federal program to improve the broadband capacity in the territories.

Transfer Day 2014
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on April 1, 2014 at 12:40 PM AST
Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. spoke of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the transfer of the Virgin Islands from Denmark to the United States in 2017. at Transfer Day ceremonies on St. Croix Monday.

Although the territory celebrated the 97th transfer of the Virgin Islands from Danish to American rule in ceremonies on St. Croix Monday, it was clear from speaker and speaker that all eyes are fixed on the 100th anniversary in 2017 and the preparing and planning that must take shape for that centennial celebration. The theme of the 2014 Transfer Day celebration, “Embracing our Cultural Traditions as a Bridge to the 2017 Centennial”, also suggested that the countdown is on to the big 100.

In remarks on Monday, Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. spoke of the first meeting of the committee on the 100th Transfer Day celebration which also took place Monday. “We’ll begin to plan for the next three years and try to figure out what do we want to say, what do we want to do and, most importantly in my mind, where do we want to go,” deJongh said. “We can’t change history and what history offered us, but we can very much understand what it means for our future.” He said he would like to see getting the University of the Virgin Islands as well as local organizations across the territory involved in the planned. “What would be even greater by 2017 would be to have a Virgin Islands Constitution in place,” de Jongh added, a comment that pleased many in the audience. “That would be an accomplishment for us to show our own self-determination,” he said.

Commenting further on the 2017 centennial Transfer Day celebration, de Jongh said Monday, “If there is anything we can give our children for the next two to three years, it’s the ability to understand their history and have faith in their future. We want our community to understand what 2017 means. It means a forward movement. It means togetherness, and a richness of our culture and an acceptance of all people.”

WAPA Breaks Ground on Propane Facilities
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on April 1, 2014 at 12:00 PM AST
High above Krum Bay, Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr., other elected officials and WAPA's management team membes turn the soil to mark the groundbreaking of the development of propane facilities.

On Thursday, March 27 on St. Thomas, and Friday, March 28 on St. Croix, in ceremonies at Krum Bay and Estate Richmond, the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority broke ground on historic projects, not only for the Virgin Islands, but for the most part, the entire Caribbean region. The ceremonies signaled the start of construction of the Authority’s Propane Facilities.

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. was in attendance at both ceremonies. Speaker after speaker, de Jongh included, spoke of the admirable partnership with WAPA and Vitol. “The beauty of the partnership is that WAPA has not had to utilize any funds for the propane conversion.” In the turnkey master agreement with Vitol Virgin Islands Corporation, Vitol would provide all up-front capital costs to complete the conversion project including infrastructure design, construction, and turbine con-version. The capital costs for the terminals will be amortized over a seven year period with a prepay option in year five, after which WAPA will wholly own the new facilities to be transferred from Vitol for one dollar. In July 2013, the Authority entered into an agreement with Vitol, one of the world’s largest independent physical traders of oil and natural gas products, to supply propane for power generation in the territory.

VITRAN to Suspend Bus Service on Transfer Day
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 28, 2014 at 10:25 AM AST

The Department of Public Works Commissioner Darryl A. Smalls wishes to inform the general public that VITRAN Fixed Route Bus Service will be suspended on all three islands on Monday, March 31, 2014 in observance of Transfer Day.

VITRAN will resume service on Tuesday, April 2, 2014 with regular hours of operation.

The ADA Paratransit Service will operate as normal on all three islands.

Please contact the VITRAN Bus Terminal at (340) 774-5678 with any questions or concerns.

A portion of General Gade in downtown St. Thomas will be closed to vehicular traffic from 6 a.m. on March 29 to 6 p.m. on March 30, 2014.
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 27, 2014 at 4:45 PM AST

The affected roadway begins at the USO building on the waterfront and extends north to 75 Corner along the western side of the Department of Finance building.

The road closure is necessary to facilitate the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority’s burying of electrical lines which serve properties in the area owned by the Virgin Islands Government.

Motorists are asked to take alternate routes when traveling in this area on Saturday and Sunday.

Governor de Jongh Calls 30th Legislature into Special Session Friday to Repeal Existing Legislation Regarding Implementation of Annual School Calendar
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 27, 2014 at 10:30 AM AST

Governor's Transmittal Letter

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. has called the 30th Legislature into Special Session on Friday to repeal two laws pertaining to the school year calendar. De Jongh called the Special Session on Tuesday in a letter to Senate President Shawn Michael Malone accompanied by proposed legislation.

The Governor went to great lengths to explain why the two Acts: Section 11 of Act No. 7369 and Act No. 7484 should be repealed. “The Department of Education has attempted to develop a school calendar that aligns with the dates mandated in the revised law and has the draft document ready for final approval in April of this year. However, the Department has encountered a number of issues, making its implementation impractical, especially for the next school year.”

Prior to de Jongh's call for a Special Session, he and St. Croix Senator Alicia Chucky Hansen were in discussions about the importance of taking whatever steps were necessary to implement a revised school calendar. The Governor was keenly aware of the challenges being faced by the Department of Education specifically as regards funding and had warned of such challenges when he vetoed the original legislation. De Jongh and Hansen's conversation turned to the need to repeal both existing Acts. Senator Hansen said she was prepared to introduce legislation towards that end, however, both feared that process would take considerable time for the legislation to be vetted through the committee process. As such, de Jongh opted to fast track the legislation by calling the 30th Legislature into Special Session on Friday, a move that Hansen wholeheartedly supports.

Additionally, the Governor said, the Special Session was called to give consideration to the repeal of the two Acts following testimony by Education Commissioner Donna Frett-Gregory and her staff on March 3 in which the challenges were articulated at a legislative hearing.

De Jongh explained that Act No. 7369 (Bill No. 29-0334), enacted over his veto by the 29th Legislature, amended the academic school year calendar without either expanding the school year or providing additional instruction time. As articulated in my transmittal of June 19, 2012, vetoing Section 11 of Bill No. 29-0334, “…by simply moving the start and end dates of the academic year, the Legislature has ignored my Administration's drive to expand the school year and provide additional instruction time to our students thereby increasing their academic performance and ultimate marketability. Read More

De Jongh: Repairs to Coral Bay Basketball Court Will Be Undertaken Through Public-Private Partnership
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 26, 2014 at 12:40 PM AST

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. has executed an agreement between the Department of Sports, Recreation and Parks and Moravian Church Virgin Islands Conference for repair of the Coral Bay basketball court through funding provided by the Rotary Club of St. John. Next to Guy Benjamin School, the basketball court is located on Parcel 10 in Estate Emmaus, property owned by the Moravian Church and currently leased to T-Rex St. John, LLC. Through the agreement, the Department of Sports, Recreation and Parks will undertake the repairs, estimated to cost approximately $50,000, upon receipt of the Rotary Club of St. John funds.

"This is a win-win situation for the entire community," de Jongh said, adding, "Working with the generous members of Rotary Club of St. John and the community-minded leaders of the Moravian Church, we have developed a partnership to repair a neglected recreational facility for our children. Although the court is on private property, once the repairs are completed, it will be open to the public and remain that way until a new public basketball facility is constructed and operational. I want to express my thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this agreement possible."

The refurbishment of the court will involve resurfacing and repairs to the bleachers, goals and baskets, and will be supervised by the staff of the Department of Sports, Recreation and Parks. The public-private partnership, which also involved the Coral Bay Community Council, is similar to the one that spearheaded the successful Pine Peace Basketball Court renovation project completed in October of 2013. "Over the last three or four years, we have been able to refurbish close to 40 recreational facilities across the Territory," explained Governor de Jongh, "providing needed after-school and weekend outlets for high energy young people."

"One of the foundations of my administration has been the improvement of life for our children, who are the future of the Virgin Islands. From early learning programs to meaningful recreational outlets and healthy lifestyle choices, I have been committed to making a difference for our boys and girls. Only through strong programs dedicated to the health and happiness of our children, starting during their first few years, will we see a different and better outcome intellectually, physically and morally," added the Governor.

Stepped Up Air Quality Testing in and around Central High School Campus Narrows Source of Noxious Odor to Sewer System; Elevated Readings of Hydrogen Sulfide and Propane Fuel Noted
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 24, 2014 at 5:30 PM AST

A sewer system near the campus of St. Croix Central High School is likely the cause of a noxious odor that has seen students, faculty and staff falling ill. That’s the preliminary finding of a technical team of environmentalists from the United States Environmental Protection Agency who worked alongside a number of officials from various Virgin Islands government agencies over the last two days as the investigation continued into the origin of an on again, off again noxious odor which has impacted school operations of Central High School. The V.I. government agencies include: Planning and Natural Resources, Public Works, VITEMA, Education, the OSHA Division of the Department of Labor and the 23rd Civil Support Team of the VI National Guard.

The most recent incident last week Tuesday saw more than 35 students and at least one adult were treated at the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital for exposure to the unknown odor. As a result of the incident and the ongoing testing, classes have been cancelled at Central High since March 18 and the school remains closed.

This nagging odor has been affecting Central High for several weeks and our efforts have been unrelenting to determine its source. Today, students were dismissed at CHS at about 1 pm after the odor permeated several areas of the campus. It is unfortunate that the presence of the odor and the early dismissal escalated into sheer pandemonium, actions that are not necessary in times of emergency but understandable given the unknown. Some students were transported by ambulance and others were taken by private vehicles to the hospital for treatment of symptoms including: nausea, shortness of breath and a burning sensation in the chest. According to Health Commissioner Darice Plaskett and Dr. Kendall Griffith CEO at the JFL Hospital, the students responded favorably when oxygen was administered. I wish all the students and anyone else affected a complete recovery as the government works to get the bottom of the source of this odor and determine whether there are long term effects from exposure.

EPA on scene coordinator Jeff Garrison reported two primary observations from the day’s testing. Environmentalists found an abandoned sewer system consisting of two man holes on the campus of Central High School. “But at a manhole site in proximity to the school but not on the campus, we found elevated readings which could be working their way up to the school. We have additional staff and more equipment arriving on island and we will continue the site investigations.”

On site investigations on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week on the school campus included inspections of the underground infrastructure, including both sewer lines and manholes. On Sunday and again today, the federal and local government agencies were augmented by the Civil Support Team of the Virgin Islands National Guard which installed several air monitors across the school campus. The investigation was also supported by local contractors and DPW employees with institutional knowledge of the school campus and surrounding areas.

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. said Monday that based on the information provided to him by DPNR Commissioner Alicia Barnes it is clear that “through a process of elimination we can make some technical assumptions about a potential source of the odor, but further site testing will give us confirmation. The outcome of the testing and the development of a corrective action plan will determine how we proceed with resuming classes for students at Central High, whether at the campus or at another location.” Those options are under review by the Department of Education and as decisions are made appropriate announcements will be made publicly, de Jongh said, adding, “I know the students are concerned about being out of school and we are making every effort to minimize the effect of the school closing on the students especially the seniors that are graduating in the summer.”

De Jongh also noted the cooperation of HOVENSA and DIAGEO in agreeing to suspending operations for a 48-hour period beginning at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday as part of the overall investigation and air monitoring.

Health Commissioner Darice Plaskett encouraged residents to be cautious and to avoid unnecessary exposure to the pungent odor. If you smell a foul odor, the following precautionary measures are recommended to help reduce exposure and effects of the odor:

  • Try to keep indoor air as clean as possible by keeping windows and doors closed when odor is strong outside.
  • Air conditioners that re-circulate air within the home can help filter the air and reduce exposure to the odor. Avoid using air conditioning units that only draw in air from the outside or that do not have a re-circulating option. Residents should check the filters on their air conditioners and replace them regularly.
  • Avoid unnecessary outdoor activity in the area to limit your exposure to odor. This is especially important for sensitive individuals and individuals with compromised immune systems, respiratory disease, the elderly and children.

Plaskett urged residents who are experiencing symptoms that may be related to exposure to an odor, including nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing to seek medical care. For medical emergencies, call 911 or go immediately to the emergency room.

Department of Labor in Search of Employers and Organizations to Provide Work Experience and Career Exploration Activities for Youth
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 21, 2014 at 4:50 PM AST

Commissioner of Labor Albert Bryan, Jr., wishes to invite Employers, Not For-Profit Organizations, and Training Service Providers to participate in this year’s Summer Youth Work Experience and Training Program through the VI Department of Labor.

VIDOL is seeking the following:

  • Employers and Agencies who are interested in providing a six (6) week work experience and job training activities for youth ages 16-24
  • Service Providers and Organizations interested in providing life skills and career exploration activities for youths, ages 14-15 (Programs should run for no more than four weeks. Mini-grants of up to $4,500 are available for qualified providers).

Interested employers and organizations can obtain a “Request for Summer Youth Work Experience Program Participation” and “Summer Youth Workshop Application” by contacting our offices on St. Thomas at 340-776-3700 x2080 or 340-773-1994 x2145 on St. Croix, or by visiting www.vidol.gov (under the forms tab). Applications can also be picked up at our St. Thomas and St. Croix location. Deadline to apply is May 16th.

DPNR Commissioner Provides Update on Ongoing Investigation of Areas around Central High Campus and on Hovensa Refinery Visit as Efforts Continue to Identify Source of Foul Odor
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 21, 2014 at 11:10 AM AST

Department of Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Alicia V. Barnes said Thursday that a second day of field investigations continued on the campus of Central High School today as officials work towards eyeing the source of a foul odor that has wreaked havoc on school operations since the beginning of the year. The most recent incident on Tuesday sent over 35 students and one adult to the Juan F. Luis Hospital from the ill-effects of inhaling the unidentified odor. Since Tuesday, there have been intermittent reports from residents in a few communities across St. Croix of the presence of the foul odor. Classes at Central High have been cancelled through at least next Monday.

Barnes said today that the site investigations on the campus have included inspection of lines and manholes to determine if the school’s sewage system was contributing to the presence of the foul odor. At the same time, a team of officials from DPNR and other agencies made an unannounced visit to HOVENSA, where tank cleaning operations have been underway for some time. “HOVENSA has the appropriate permits to carry out this work.”

Barnes also said today that assistance has been requested from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in terms of air quality monitoring. “We are seeking additional resources to conduct further air monitoring and site investigations.” She said, that a team of EPA officials with additional equipment should arrive on island by the weekend and begin the air quality monitoring by the first part of next week. The testing may also expand to residential areas on either side of the CHS campus. Until the air testing begins, there will be a focus on the underground infrastructure of Central High to determine if there are any pipelines that are a contributing factor to this odor. And at the same time, officials will be reviewing weather conditions to determine wind patterns, changes to the prevailing winds and atmospheric conditions.

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. was joined by Barnes, Education Commissioner Donna Frett-Gregory, VITEMA Director Elton Lewis, officials of the WMA, EPA and OSHA and other government officials at a meeting on St. Croix this afternoon for an update on the ongoing effort. “Our goal is to get to the bottom of what is causing this odor and addressing it. I am extremely concerned about the effect that this odor has on the students, faculty and staff at Central High and residents of the surrounding communities. I can assure everyone that until we have a better idea of what this odor is and what is causing it, we will not reopen Central High School—if that means the school remaining closed beyond Monday, we will make that decision.”

De Jongh also said that Education Commissioner Gregory and her team are working tirelessly to identify options to resume classroom operations for the CHS students while the investigation is underway. Once finalized, those decisions will be made public as well. “I thank the community for its patience as we work on many levels to address this health concern on St. Croix,” de Jongh said today.

Bureau of Corrections Director: Steady Progress Being Made in Improving Conditions at Golden Grove Correctional Facility
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 21, 2014 at 11:00 AM AST

Despite today’s publication of a three month old report on conditions of the Bureau of Corrections facilities in the territory, BOC Director Julius Wilson said today there has been progress made since the December 2013 site visit by the parties’ mutually selected Monitor, whose report on the most recent site-visit held between March 4-7, 2014 will be filed no later than April 21, 2014.

“While the monitor only released his report on the December 2013 visit on Monday, the monitor has acknowledged significant progress in our effort to improve conditions at the Golden Grove Correctional Facility,” Wilson said. Improved conditions noted earlier this month include: an entry gate lock made more operable; searches upon entry to the prison more appropriate; gates into the yard locked; persons have been held accountable for not locking gates; log books are now being used with proper entries being made. Cells and housing units are a bit cleaner; inmates are now being made responsible for maintaining their own cells; showers and kitchen facilities have been cleaned with new fixture added and kitchen tools locked and secured. Upon the conclusion of his visit the monitor met with the BOC and noted these improvements, while acknowledging that continued improvement is needed and the right efforts are being exhibited.

“I called this meeting as a next step in the strategy to gain first-hand information from the mariners and our marine enforcement officers. Once again, our Marine Council was energetic with their discussion as to how to generate revenue within the maritime industries that will assist with the improvement and maintenance of our harbors and shoreline facilities,” de Jongh said. The Marine Economic Development Council was established in Executive Order 448-2009 as a strategy to revitalize a segment of our business sector which once brought upwards of $100 million dollars annually into the Virgin Islands economy.

Wilson said that the next monitor’s report will be filed toward the end of this month and should reflect these advances. “The Territory and USDOJ have reached a settlement agreement, which was entered as an order of the District Court of the Virgin Islands, that gives the Territory the initial discretion to determine how best to put Golden Grove on the right path to improving conditions at the facility in light of the limitations faced.” He said it must be noted though that the improvements to the institution cannot and will not be an overnight change but “is a complicated and complex process whereby all aspects of the Golden Grove prison are undergoing change.”

Virgin Islands Next Generation Network (viNGN) would like the public to be aware that Network Build will commence for the week of March 24, 2014:
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 20, 2014 at 4:00 PM AST

Public Notice

Virgin Islands Next Generation Network (viNGN) would like the public to be aware that Network Build will commence for the week of March 24, 2014:

St. Thomas
On Saturday, March 22nd, viNGN contractor will continue install aerial fiber and hardware on Kongens Gade near Public Finance Authority/Government House/ Lieutenant Governor’s Office. The road will be closed from about 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. This road will only be open to emergency vehicles. As a result, motorist should use alternate routes and parking for your daily activities. Motorists are asked to obey flag men that will be stationed near the entrance of Norre Gade.

Also, minor road work for fiber installation will occur along Sugar Estate Road (Route 38) from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. near the exit of 10th street and the entrance to the Lockhart Shopping Center on Wednesday, March 26, 2014.

In both cases, the traffic lanes will be reduced but traffic will be allowed to flow in both directions.

Motorists are asked to follow traffic directions for the safety of crews, pedestrians and other drivers.

viNGN is in the process of connecting community anchor institutions with reliable high-speed Internet services, and strengthening external broadband connections that will improve access to online educational, healthcare and government services to residents.

The Virgin Islands Next Generation Network (viNGN) is a wholly owned public corporation which was organized to create the broadband middle mile fiber optic network. viNGN was funded primarily from a grant by the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) as part of a federal program to improve the broadband capacity in the territories.

Government Officials Meet and Develop Plan of Protocol to Address Foul Odors Plaguing Central High School Area
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 20, 2014 at 12:30 PM AST

A number of government officials from local and federal agencies met throughout the day Wednesday to map out a strategy for conducting a thorough inspection of the Central High School campus and adjoining areas to determine the origin of a foul odor. The presence of the odor led to the early dismissal of classes and resulted in more than 30 students and at least one adult being treated at the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital for skin irritation, respiratory difficulties and burning sensations in the chest. Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr., who attended the meeting on St. Croix today with representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Department of Education, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Department of Public Works, VITEMA and Waste Management Authority, said officials intend to work every possible angle to determine the origin of the odor.

The Governor reported, "In the continuing effort to address this situation, DPNR Commissioner Alicia Barnes and VITEMA Director Elton Lewis led today's meeting to develop a plan of protocol to investigate, identify and then eliminate the source of the odor. We will be meeting again tomorrow due to the severity of the situation. Investigative teams have been on site at Central High School, and have been canvassing businesses in the immediate area around the school. The odor is only affecting the Central High School area, as far as we can tell. By employing a systematic approach, we will be able to determine the root cause of the problem."

De Jongh asked the parents of the students at Central High School to bear with the team, while the investigation continues. He added that he had reached out to the presidents of the St. Croix Federation of Teachers and the Parent-Teacher Association to provide updated information on the steps being taken to address the problem. The Governor also expressed his gratitude to Dr. Kendall Griffith and the medical staff at the Juan F. Luis Hospital, who he said deserved "tremendous kudos" for their responsiveness and professionalism in dealing with the number of students with parents who went to the Emergency Room for treatment on Tuesday. "We are determined to solve this problem quickly so that Central High School can re-open and a level of stability can be re-established for educators, students and their families," he concluded.

The Education Commissioner, Donna Frett-Gregory, commentted on the issue and can be listened to here.

Governor de Jongh on Central High Odor
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 19, 2014 at 5:10 PM AST

A number of government officials from both local and federal agencies met throughout the day today to map out a strategy by which a thorough inspection of the Central High School campus can be carried out to determine the origin of a foul odor which caused the early dismissal of classes on Tuesday. The presence of the odor resulted in more than 30 students and at least one adult to the Juan F. Luis Hospital for treatment of skin irritation, respiratory difficulties and burning sensation in the chest.

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. who attended the meeting on St. Croix today with representatives of the EPA, DPNR, the Education Department, OSHA, Public Works, VITEMA and Waste Management said officials intend to work every possible angle to determine the origin of the odor. The smell was evident again today at the school campus.

Listen to the audio here.

Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture and Partners Continue to Promote Marketing of local Meat
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 19, 2014 at 4:15 PM AST

The Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture in partnership with Sejah Farm of the Virgin Islands, ‘Good to Chew’ Catering Company and Plaza Extra Supermarket East will be hosting a tasting event at Plaza Extra East on St. Croix from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. on Friday, March 21, 2014. The goal of this tasting event is to promote public awareness regarding the sale of local meat at the Plaza Extra Supermarkets on St. Croix. The activity will feature samples of deliciously cooked, locally raised lamb for tasting by the public and supermarket patrons.

The lamb was raised by Dale and Yvette Browne of Sejah Farm of the Virgin Islands and the lamb carcass was dressed by the abattoir staff at the Department of Agriculture. The meat will be prepared and presented by Executive Chef Anton Doos and his talented students of ‘Good to Chew’ Catering at the St. Croix Educational Complex’s Career and Technical Education Center. The public is invited to visit and sample the free tasty preparations of braised leg of lamb, curry stew shoulders and crown roast of ribs.

Commissioner of Agriculture Louis E. Petersen, Jr. expressed his appreciation to all the partners for their support and contribution toward this worthwhile occasion. “This partnership represents a joint effort to encourage the production and marketing of local agricultural products through our ‘Virgin Fresh’ marketing campaign. I commend the hard work of the Browne Family, the dedication of my staff, the talent and culinary skills of Chef Doos and his students at Good to Chew Catering, and Plaza Extra East’s support for our farmers,” said Commissioner Petersen. “We also appreciate the tremendous public support demonstrated during the month of February at a similar event at Plaza Extra West on St. Croix. Once again the community is invited to join us at this marketing and promotional endeavor,” added the Commissioner.

The Virgin Fresh Marketing Campaign reminds everyone to patronize our farmers throughout the Territory -- Buy Local and Eat Fresh, Always Eat Virgin Fresh!

Virgin Islands Next Generation Network Issues an Updated Public Notice for the Network Build in the Virgin Islands
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 19, 2014 at 2:45 PM AST

Public Notice

Virgin Islands Next Generation Network (viNGN) would like the public to be aware that Network Build continues this week:

St. Thomas
On Saturday, March 22nd, viNGN contractor will continue install aerial fiber and hardware on Kongens Gade near Public Finance Authority/Government House/ Lieutenant Governor’s Office. The road will be closed from about 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. This road will only be open to emergency vehicles. As a result, motorist should use alternate routes and parking for your daily activities. Motorists are asked to obey flag men that will be stationed near the entrance of Norre Gade.

Motorists are asked to follow traffic directions for the safety of crews, pedestrians and other drivers.

viNGN is in the process of connecting community anchor institutions with reliable high-speed Internet services, and strengthening external broadband connections that will improve access to online educational, healthcare and government services to residents.

The Virgin Islands Next Generation Network (viNGN) is a wholly owned public corporation which was organized to create the broadband middle mile fiber optic network. viNGN was funded primarily from a grant by the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) as part of a federal program to improve the broadband capacity in the territories.

Governor and First Lady Congratulate Mario Picayo on the Continued Success with Caribbean Children's Book Project
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 19, 2014 at 11:20 AM AST

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr., and First Lady Cecile de Jongh extended their congratulations to Mario Picayo for the recognition he has received in pushing reading and literacy in the Caribbean. Several of the Caribbean children's books, which are published by his independent publishing house Little Bell Caribbean, will be added to the Aruban school system's multi-lingual curriculum. That announcement was recently made by the Aruban Minister of Education Michelle Hooyboer-Winklaar and Alice van Rommondt, Special Projects Director for the Ministry of Education.

Little Bell Caribbean's endeavor, known as The Children's Book Project, has been expanding throughout the region. Mr. Picayo cited the origins of the project as an initiative started in 2008 by the Office of the Governor, which places thousands of books written and illustrated by local writers and artists in the hands of children without charge. According to Picayo, "The success of the Governor’s program in the U.S. Virgin Islands encouraged us to suggest it to other Caribbean nations," because it promotes the value of art and literacy in early childhood education. Besides the U.S. Virgin Islands and Aruba, special Caribbean editions have been introduced in Dominica and Grenada.

The Governor added his praise for Mr. Picayo and The Children's Book Project. "One of the key goals of my administration has been the development of programs to assist the Territory's children and their families, like the formation of the Children and Families Council. These books have been an important aspect for our children's reading program, and they have been well received by the children, their parents and the Territory's educators. I am very pleased to know that our initiative was helped stimulate literacy programs in other areas of the region."

The First Lady explained, "The U.S. Special Virgin Islands Editions of these books have all been given as gifts to our children, especially at Christmas. They are written and illustrated by local authors, photographers and artists, underscoring the importance of literacy and education in nurturing home-grown talent. I am proud to serve as the spokesperson for the Territory’s Big Read project as well as participate in the annual “Dr. Seuss Read Across America” campaign; both are national efforts that raise awareness on the importance of reading. Reading is the cornerstone of a sound education and a successful future, something we want for all Virgin Islands' children."

“What Mario and his company have been doing is providing an investment for us to make in our children of which we will provide tremendous returns to our communities in the opportunities that will open up for young people,” Governor de Jongh concluded.

Governor de Jongh Signs Bill Into Law to Correct Erroneous Withholding of Benefit Payments by GERS
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 19, 2014 at 10:55 AM AST

Late Monday afternoon, Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. signed a measure into law that seeks to correct erroneous withholdings by the Government Employees Retirement System. The legislation, Bill 30-0318 -- now Act 7585, was prime sponsored by Senator Alicia “Chucky” Hansen.

In signing the bill into law, de Jongh said it is altogether fitting and proper that the erroneous withholding by the Government Employees Retirement System should be rectified promptly and by the payment of a reasonable amount of interest on the monies withheld. “However, to be equitable, and given its annual deficit, the GERS should pay no more than the regular rate of interest the law requires to be applied to other refunds, neither less than two (2) percent nor more than four (4) percent,” he said.

"As the prime sponsor, I applaud Senator Hansen for her commitment and dedication in seeking the administration’s support for its passage. It is this type of dedication and commitment that will be required to address both pension reform and the current unfunded liability that puts the system’s solvency at risk,” de Jongh said.

The Governor also said on Monday that he has been advised by officials of the retirement system that to achieve the ninety-day turnaround for processing the refunds as set forth in Section 3 of the bill, significant overtime costs will be incurred. “To avoid this unnecessary expense, more time should be provided to the System. I encourage the Thirtieth Legislature to consider making the requisite changes in this measure at the earliest available opportunity as you also consider my submission of the pension reform legislation,” he wrote in a transmittal letter to Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone.

De Jongh thanked the members of the 30th Legislature for their vigilance and concern over the pension system and he looks forward to continuing working with the senators to address the sustainability of the GERS for years to come.

Read the Governor's action on the bill here.

Read the full bill here.

Statement by the Governor on Central School
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 18, 2014 at 5:10 PM AST

Once again today, a foul odor from an unknown source affected school operations at Central High School causing the early dismissal of classes and more significantly, the odor forced more than 30 students to seek medical attention at the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital this afternoon.

Despite a week of air quality testing by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources we have not been able to determine what the odor is and what is its origin. We have ruled out that the odor is being caused by work at the HOVENSA refinery where personnel have been scrubbing the huge storage tanks for several weeks now. We have confirmed that the odor is only being reported from time to time on the campus of Central High School and that there are no reports of this odor being reported from surrounding neighborhoods or businesses. And the odor is not constant it is intermittent which makes it even more difficult to pinpoint its origin.

This nagging odor has been affecting Central High for several weeks and our efforts have been unrelenting to determine its source. Today, students were dismissed at CHS at about 1 pm after the odor permeated several areas of the campus. It is unfortunate that the presence of the odor and the early dismissal escalated into sheer pandemonium, actions that are not necessary in times of emergency but understandable given the unknown. Some students were transported by ambulance and others were taken by private vehicles to the hospital for treatment of symptoms including: nausea, shortness of breath and a burning sensation in the chest. According to Health Commissioner Darice Plaskett and Dr. Kendall Griffith CEO at the JFL Hospital, the students responded favorably when oxygen was administered. I wish all the students and anyone else affected a complete recovery as the government works to get the bottom of the source of this odor and determine whether there are long term effects from exposure.

The Commissioner of Education Donna Frett-Gregory has determined that it is in the best interest of everyone that classes at Central High School be called off until next week Monday. This will allow the investigatory team to access the campus and begin to narrow down possible sources of the odor. I have directed that Commissioner Alicia Barnes coordinate an investigation with the Waste Management Authority, Fire Services, Public Works, and the OSHA division of the Department of Labor. The investigation will seek to exclude any potential source for the odor.

Over the last several days, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources has completed air quality testing which rendered no tangible results in terms of identifying what the odor is and where it is originating from. DPNR did say that the testing showed no significant pollutants in the air that would represent a health risk.

VITEMA will continue to act as a coordinating entity for all agencies that are now deployed to identify the source of the odor.

Governor de Jongh and Marine Council Members Strategize on Mooring and Anchoring Procedures
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 18, 2014 at 11:40 AM AST

Governor de Jongh speaks during a recent meeting of the Marine Council at Government House, St. Thomas.

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. met recently with members of the V.I. Marine Economic Development Council and the Director of Enforcement at the Department of Planning and Natural Resources to discuss the agency’s renewed effort at ensuring the safe, orderly, and ecologically sound regulation for mooring and anchoring in the bays throughout the Virgin Islands.

“I called this meeting as a next step in the strategy to gain first-hand information from the mariners and our marine enforcement officers. Once again, our Marine Council was energetic with their discussion as to how to generate revenue within the maritime industries that will assist with the improvement and maintenance of our harbors and shoreline facilities,” de Jongh said. The Marine Economic Development Council was established in Executive Order 448-2009 as a strategy to revitalize a segment of our business sector which once brought upwards of $100 million dollars annually into the Virgin Islands economy.

In response to council member Bill Canfield’s inquiry on the safety of mooring equipment, the council and DPNR jointly agreed to develop a strategy to standardize certain ground tackle which would encourage local marine chandleries to stock as regularly available items.

Howard Forbes, Director of DPNR Enforcement and Council member, described the ongoing assessment of mooring fields and anchorages throughout the territory to determine the level of need to increase mooring and anchoring permits. “It is DPNR’s intent to provide within the next few months an opportunity for residents who have been waiting for permits to obtain them, an opportunity that has been closed to mariners for several years,” Forbes stated.

Council member Tony Hendricks offered recommendations for improved anchoring practices which would benefit both the Harbor Pilots as well as boat owners, while St. Croix member Rich Defide outlined recommendations to clarify existing Rules and Regulations for mooring and anchoring.

As the need for repairing recreational dive moorings on St. Croix has reached a crisis stage, Council member Michele Pugh lead the group charged with developing a public/private approach to identify funding and advance a plan for installation and regular maintenance for these recreational dive moorings.

Marine council members also strategized on identification and disposal of abandoned vessels, increased fees, identification of services including marine sanitation device pump out and trash collection and repairs to the recreational moorings at Christmas Cove, Great St. James.

Governor De Jongh Praises Police and Law Enforcement Officers on the Capture of Six Suspects Following Armed Robbery Incident on Main Street Saturday
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 18, 2014 at 10:30 AM AST

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. on Monday expressed the gratitude and appreciation of the community to officers of the Virgin Islands Police Department who through dedicated police work coupled with an efficient and coordinated response arrested six of seven suspects in a daring daylight robbery in downtown Charlotte Amalie. De Jongh also praised the other law enforcement officers who while off duty jumped into action to aid police in capturing the six suspects of which two are minors.

“The swift response by police officers coupled with good information from the concerned citizens led to the arrest, recovery of evidence including some of the stolen loot. The owners of Imperial Jewelers have also conveyed to me their deep appreciation for the effort of the law enforcement community on Saturday,” de Jongh said.

De Jongh praised the leadership of Police Commissioner Rodney F. Querrard, Sr. and Police Chief Darren Foy for leading a successful operation. “We saw a cadre of officers who performed admirably. Clearly their performance is linked to the ongoing in service training they receive. While we do not have the manpower strength to place a uniformed officer on every street corner, it should be reassuring to the public that when called upon, our officers demonstrate their proficiency and professionalism.”

The Governor also heaped praise on the community members who provided invaluable tips and information to officers directly, to emergency 911 dispatchers about the path of flight of the suspects and where they sought cover to evade authorities. “The response of the public in assisting law enforcement fight crime has been heartening. With the community’s engagement has come measurable success in our efforts against crime—success that I hope will continue into the future,” de Jongh said.

Corrections Chief Provides Summary of Recent Golden Grove Visit by Independent Monitor, Medical Experts, USDOJ and Motion for More Specific Relief
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 17, 2014 at 10:45 AM AST

Director of the Virgin Islands Bureau of Corrections (BOC), Julius C. Wilson, this weekend issued a summary of the recent visit to the Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility by monitors of the US Department of Justice (USDOJ) from March 4-7, 2014.

Wilson said, “During the recent visit, monitors toured the facility, reviewed and assessed various operational practices. These assessments included: current prison staffing levels, sanitation, security, inmate complaints, quality of life for offenders, quality of medical and mental health services, as well as the day to day operations.”

Following the comprehensive evaluation the monitors provided the BOC with a preliminary summary of their perspectives and findings in which they asserted that they were pleasantly pleased with many of the improvements seen. Specifically they saw an improvement in the areas of:

  • Sanitation – overall cleanliness of the facility which underwent a thorough cleaning, scrubbing, power washing and painting;
  • Safety and Security – additional perimeter lighting; all doors have been appropriately secured; arrival and distribution of staff safety equipment (particularly stab vests); and arrival and distribution of radios to staff;
  • Logbook information more relative and detailed; and,
  • Updated maintenance plans

Wilson added that the monitor’s report will be filed toward the end of this month. “The Territory and USDOJ have reached a settlement agreement, which was entered as an order of the District Court of the Virgin Islands, that gives the Territory the initial discretion to determine how best to put Golden Grove on the right path to improving conditions at the facility in light of the limitations faced. On March 3rd, one day before the monitoring team arrived for their third site visit to assess compliance with the settlement agreement, USDOJ filed a motion for more specific relief in the District Court. The motion is based on past observations and conditions at the prison. BOC will have an opportunity to refute that motion in its reply, and at a hearing in April, at which time BOC will demonstrate that conditions at the prison have improved considerably over the past few months.

GOVERNOR JOHN P. DE JONGH, JR. LEADS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT MISSION TO NEW YORK CITY
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 14, 2014 at 5:30 PM AST

U.S. Virgin Islands (March 14, 2014) – To promote the benefits of establishing and growing businesses in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (VIEDA) spearheaded a two-day mission to New York City this week.

Governor John de Jongh, Jr., together with top officials from the VIEDA, met with companies in targeted industries; site selection consultants, tax advisors and capital/wealth management firms; and influential business media.

“Getting out into the marketplace to meet face-to-face to showcase what we have to offer to companies and the firms that advise them is critical to spurring investment and job creation in the Territory. As the media capital of the world, New York City also provided a powerful platform to amplify our message that the U.S. Virgin Islands is open for business.”

A highlight of the mission was a business reception attended by nearly 20 elite site selection and incentive consultants, tax attorneys and advisors, and wealth and investment management firms. In addition to a presentation by Governor de Jongh; Percival Clouden, Chief Executive Officer of the VIEDA and Jennifer Nugent-Hill, Assistant CEO and Chief Operating Officer, gave brief remarks.

Mark Eckard, President of the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce, and Brad Lenhart, Chief Operating Officer of Denali Asset Management, were also on hand to testify to the Territory’s favorable business climate and advantages of the Economic Development Commission (EDC) tax incentive program.

The economic development mission also included a series of one-on-one editorial meetings with high-circulation business media. Governor de Jongh was interviewed by The Street, The New York Times, International Business Times, Barron’s and MarketWatch. The media interviews were designed to deliver the message to a global business audience that the U.S. Virgin Islands offers one of the best business values in the U.S.

“We pushed the strong message that the U.S. Virgin Islands is a tremendous value proposition for businesses that want to achieve growth while improving their bottom line. We underscored that our tax benefits are sanctioned by the U.S. Congress that we operate with the advantages of two airports, deep water sea ports, appropriate shipping routes and airline connections and have one of the fastest broadband networks in the Western hemisphere,” said Mr. Clouden. "It is our belief that upon approval of the recent EDC reform amendments that we submitted to the 30th Legislature we will be in an even more positive position to build the portfolio of companies doing business in the Virgin Islands."

About the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority:

The Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (VIEDA) was created as an umbrella quasi-government instrumentality to integrate and unify the functions of the Government Development Bank, the Economic Development Commission, the Industrial Park Development Corporation, the Small Business Development Agency and the Enterprise Zone Commission. More commonly referred to as the GDB, EDC, IPDC, SBDA and EZ, these five entities are now under one executive board in order to achieve maximum efficiency of operations, while avoiding duplication of services. The entity is charged with the responsibility of developing comprehensive programs for the economic development of the territory.

DOL ANNOUNCES THE START OF THE 2014 SUMMER YOUTH EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING PROGRAM
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 14, 2014 at 5:05 PM AST

Department of Labor Assistant Commissioner, Arah C. Lockhart., is pleased to announce that the department has begun accepting and processing Summer Youth Employment applications for the 2014 Summer Youth Work Experience and Training Program. All “In and Out of School” Youth between the ages of 14 to 25 are invited to register for the approximate Seven-hundred and fifty (750) available slots. Applications are available from and can be submitted electronically through the department’s website at www.vidol.gov (under the forms tab). They can also be picked up at any of the Department of Labor office locations on both islands. St. John residents may pick up registration forms at St. John Administrator’s Office. A Summer Employment Fact Sheet is also available online providing additional information for participants and parents. This summer, special priority will be applied to participants who: a) have not previously received a work experience; b) 11th graders and 12th grade graduates; and c) ‘Out-of-School/Unemployed and Dislocated Youth.

Youths, under age of 18, should be accompanied by a parent/guardian to sign authorization for participation in the program. All applicants should be prepared to provide a) proof of their educational and legal residency status; b) proof of enrollment in college, high school, evidence of a social security card; d) Photo ID; and copy of a resume if available

If you have any questions regarding this information please contact Shenika Sebastien on St. Thomas at (340)-776-3700 ext. 2080 - (scsebastien@vidol.gov) or Kendra Young on St. Croix at (340)-773 - 1994 x 2145 (kyoung@vidol.gov).

TOURISM OFFICES ON ST. THOMAS CLOSED HALF-DAY TODAY; TO RESUME NORMAL OPERATIONS MONDAY
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 14, 2014 at 3:05 PM AST

Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty released the staff at the Department of Tourism offices on St. Thomas today due to the unavailability of potable water to the office building in Estate Contant. The offices were closed just after midday today and are expected to reopen on Monday.

"While this may pose an inconvenience to the public, I am mindful of the difficult position my staff was placed in in having no running water at the building today."

Nicholson-Doty added, "I am hopeful that situation will be remedied over the weekend so we can resume normal operations at the start of the business day on Monday."

VI Department of Agriculture Announces Re-Opening of the Rothschild Francis Market Square.
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 14, 2014 at 12:10 PM AST

Commissioner of Agriculture Louis E. Petersen, Jr., Ph.D. informs all farmers, fishermen, and the general public that effective Saturday, March 15, 2014 market sales will resume at the Sanderilla Thomas Bungalow in the Rothschild Francis Market Square on St. Thomas. The public is hereby notified that farmers’ market sales been discontinued at the Emancipation Garden. The use of the Emancipation Garden location was a short term temporary arrangement.

Commissioner Petersen expressed his appreciation to the farmers, fishermen and the general public for their patience during the past many months while renovation work was in progress at the Rothschild Francis Market Square. The Commissioner also appreciates the support of the Office of the Governor, Department of Public Works, the Virgin Islands Police Department, the State Historic Preservation Office, the Waste Management Authority, and the Office of Senator Myron Jackson for their collective support regarding this project. “Despite the numerous challenges, I am confident that with everyone’s support and cooperation the final outcome of the construction and renovation project will enhance the beauty and promote economic development in downtown St. Thomas,” said Commissioner Petersen.

As always the public is encouraged to patronize the Sanderilla Thomas Bungalow and support our farmers and fishermen. For additional information please call the Department of Agriculture at 774-5182.

DOH Adds New Emergency Medical Response Vehicles to Fleet
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 13, 2014 at 3:30 PM AST

Health Commissioner Darice Plaskett announced Wednesday that the Department of Health Office of Emergency Medical Services, St. Croix District, purchased (3) three new Emergency Medical Services Rapid Response Vehicles.

Plaskett stated that the response vehicles include a Silverado Truck and two Chevrolet Tahoe SUVs. The Chevrolet Silverado Truck can secure up to ten backboards for emergency treatment and features a computer docking station for electronic data patient care reporting and enhanced documentation. The truck will be an instrumental factor in response to Mass Casualty Incidents where it will be used to tow the Emergency Medical Services trailer that stores additional equipment and medical supplies needed to adequately respond to high casualty emergencies. The SUVs will serve as rapid response vehicles to aid Emergency Medical Technicians in their emergency response.

Mr. Sweeney, EMS Territorial Coordinator also noted that similar efforts are in place to purchase the same rapid response vehicles for the St. Thomas/St. John District.

Plaskett further stated that the new emergency vehicles will ensure that EMS continues to meet and exceed national standards of pre-hospital emergency care. These vehicles are classified as Emergency Response Vehicles. Motorists are reminded to “yield right of way” by pulling to the left and coming to a complete stop when these vehicles are responding with lights and sirens. EMS is proud to list these assets as “Drops of Life”.

For more information on these and other EMS Operations, contact the VIEMS Territorial Coordinator at 340) 773-1311, Ext. 3051.

Governor Transmits Legislation to Implement Recommendations of GERS Task Force
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 12, 2014 at 1:40 PM AST

Governor de Jongh has submitted both a letter and draft legislation to Senator Shawn-Michael Malone, President of the 30th Legislature, concerning major reforms to the government’s pension system. The legislation, once implemented, will begin the arduous task of addressing the constantly growing unfunded liability of the system which threatens the retirement savings of thousands of retired V.I. Government employees. “We have received the recommendations of the pension reform task force which I established for the sole purpose of reviewing the challenges facing the system and develop solutions to address the unfunded liability,” he said, adding, we cannot wait to take action to safeguard the system and in so doing, protect the retirement savings for our retirees.” 

In the letter, he discussed the solvency of the Government Employees Retirement System (GERS), which is a "priority that must be addressed now." The Governor reminded the senators that the GERS’ actuary projects that the system will be out of money by 2023, if no significant action is taken to forestall its insolvency. "As such, today I am submitting comprehensive pension reform legislation that is the result of a collaborative effort between my office, the GERS Board of Trustees and the Pension Reform Task Force," stated the governor. 

He continued, "We have collectively drafted this legislation to remove the threat of insolvency, restore a positive trajectory to System funding, and attain a funded percentage of 42% by 2031 and forestall the 2023 risk." The recommended measures, according to projections, will halt the declining percentage of funded GERS liability by 2018, and reverse the trend by 2024. The letter stated that the suggested measures for correcting the pension system insolvency "will not be pleasant for any of the parties involved." The Governor outlined four steps addressed in the legislation to reduce the existing pension debt, estimated to be $1.8 billion in unfunded liability and a continuing annual disbursement that exceeds revenues by about $80 million. Those steps are: 1. asking employers and employees to contribute a larger amount toward pension benefits; 2. reducing benefits already being received, and increasing the age and years of service needed before retiring; 3. limiting the annual cost of living increase; and 4. changing the formula used to calculate benefits. 

The governor reiterated that the reform of GERS "is one of the most significant fiscal challenges facing our Territory today. As difficult as this challenge is, the consequence of inaction is greater. Simply stated, if we fail to act, within a few short years the System will no longer have the capacity to meet its obligations to retirees on an annual basis."

Related audio files:

Part 1 .mp3 (1.5MB)

Part 2 .mp3 (1.7MB)

Part 3 .mp3 (1.9MB)

Part 4 .mp3 1.5MB)

Governor and Other Officials Attend Annual Cruise Shipping Conference 
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 11, 2014 at 11:00 PM AST

Governor de Jongh,, Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty, VI Port Authority Executive Director Carlton Dowe and WICO President Joseph Boschulte are among the government leaders in attendance at the annual Sea Trade Conference in Florida this week. The governor, who traveled to Miami on Monday night hosted a Tuesday morning breakfast meeting with more than a dozen cruise line executives whose ships calls on the ports of St. Croix and St. Thomas. After that meeting and receiving the State of the Global Cruise Industry at the conference, the VI government officials spoke about the interaction with the cruise line executives and the nature of the discussions.

The 30th annual Cruise Shipping Miami conference and exhibition is being held at the Miami Beach Convention Center and runs through Thursday, March 13.

Related audio files:

Part 1 .mp3 (1.5MB)

Part 2 .mp3 (1.7MB)

Part 3 .mp3 (1.9MB)

Part 4 .mp3 1.5MB)

Part 5 .mp3 (1.2MB)

 

Governor de Jongh: DPNR to Continue Monitoring Air Quality In and Around Central High School on St. Croix
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 10, 2014 at 10:45 PM AST

Governor de Jongh said this evening that the Department of Planning and Natural Resources will continue efforts to determine the origin of a foul odor that has impacted operations at St. Croix Central High School. The odor has been on again, off again since January but classes at CHS were interrupted last week Friday and staff and students reported ill again today as the odor was experienced at various times during the school day.

DPNR will conduct further testing as is necessary to determine the nature and source of any potential health risk. The governor said that beginning on Tuesday DPNR will have the ability to draw on the resources of the V.I. National Guard’s Civil Support Team (CST) to assist in the air quality monitoring initiative. DPNR and the CST will install stationary air monitoring devices in strategic locations on the Central High campus and areas nearby.

Two weeks ago, DPNR officials issued a work stoppage order when it was learned that HOVENSA had been cleaning various crude oil processing units and storage tanks which resulted in the release of unpleasant odors. In addition, DPNR will monitor operations at the refinery to ensure that personnel there are only carrying out work it is authorized and permitted to do.

On Friday, an early dismissal was ordered at Central High School by the Department of Education after students, faculty and staff all reported feeling ill as the foul odor filled the air in and around the campus. Twenty-six faculty and staff members signed out and left the campus as a result of the odor and between Friday and today, 43 students reported feeling ill. While classes were held today as scheduled, a number of students and staff again reported feeling ill at a time when the odor was more pungent across the campus.

The governor assured all that all steps are being taken ensure that there is no risk to the health of the students and staff of the school or the residents in the surrounding areas.

Governor Tells St. Croix Rotarians that Budget Shortfall Must be Addressed Sooner Rather Than Later
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 7, 2014 at 3:45 PM AST

Governor de Jongh told St. Croix Rotarians this week that the cost and pain will only increase if the government and the Legislature does not address the $40 million budget deficit confronting the government. "With nine months left in this fiscal year, if we don't address it sooner rather than later, then it will cost us more than $40 million in order to address it in this current fiscal year.”

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. addressed St. Croix Mid-Isle Rotary Club on March 6, 2014. During a question and answer round, the Governor field a question from a club member.

While he spoke of the challenges such as the government’s structural deficit, he brought a wave of encouraging news to the Mid-Isle club members. “Employment and tax revenues have stabilized and we are seeing signs of growth in the aftermath of the closure of the refinery, layoffs and reduced cruise ship traffic. These events have taken their toll but we are seeing a glimmer of hope,” he said. The Governor used the address to provide an overview of the state of the Virgin Islands economy and the plans, goals and objectives of his administration for the remainder of this year. 

Listen to the governor's remarks .mp3 (1.1MB)  Part 2 .mp3 (1.3MB)

Part 3 .mp3 (1MB)  Part 4 .mp3 (973KB)

Addressing growing concerns over the budget shortfall the governor said his administration spent two days in meetings with the Senate to look at capital projects, and whether any help for the budget could be found there. The members of the financial team he said have also met with the Legislature and provided the latest revenue and expenditure numbers. “They have looked at each and every project that we have – federally funded, locally funded, bond funded. Can we move monies from those projects to be able to help the budget? I think they feel comfortable knowing the answer to that is no," he said.

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Two VI Officials in Washington to Assist with Counternarcotics Strategy
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 6, 2014 at 2:30 PM AST

Attorney General Vincent Frazer and Assistant Police Commissioner Thomas Hannah are in Washington, D.C., attending the first Caribbean Border Counternarcotics Strategy Meeting, at the request of Governor 
de Jongh. The meeting was called by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, under the Office of the President, to develop and publish an administrative plan to substantially reduce narcotics flow and violence in the American Caribbean. The development of the strategy was mandated by Congress and signed into law by the President on January 17, 2014, and must be written within 180 days from enactment. The Caribbean Border Counternarcotics Strategy will be similar to the existing, regional Northern Border and Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategies.

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Meeting with 30th Legislature to Discuss Government Fiscal Woes Called Off at the Request of the Senate President
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 5, 2014 at 7:00 PM AST

Governor de Jongh confirmed on this afternoon that a meeting with members of the 30th Legislature scheduled for today has been cancelled at the request of Senate President Shawn Michael Malone.
“I am disappointed by this last minute cancellation but there is nothing I can do but agree. The solutions require a constructive dialogue by the senators and myself with the support of our teams, and if they are not ready to take meaningful action in addressing the fiscal challenges we face including the government’s structural deficit, I have no choice, but we must understand what each delay means,” he said.

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Ash Wednesday
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 5, 2014 at 4:00 PM AST

This afternoon, Governor de Jongh released the following statement on the observance of Ash Wednesday:

Cecile and I join fellow Christians across the Virgin Islands in marking the annual observance of Ash Wednesday. Today is the beginning of the forty-day Lenten Season.

Lent is not only a season of reflection but a time to seek repentance and renewal. I urge my fellow Christians to use the opportunity of this holy period to recommit to the values of loving and serving each other all while deepening our faith as we prepare for the celebration of Easter in April.

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. receives ashes at Ash Wednesday services at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral Wednesday afternoon. Both Governor and First Lady Cecile de Jongh attended the midday service.
Governor de Jongh and 49 Other Chief Executives Oppose Cuts to National Guard
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on March 2, 2014 at 2:30 PM AST

In a letter addressed to the President of the United States, Governor de Jongh and 49 other governors of states, territories and commonwealths expressed their strong opposition to "the potential cuts to the Army National Guard advocated by the U.S. Army's fiscal 2015 budget request. For more than a decade, our National Guard has demonstrated it is a cost-effective operational force that is critical to our national security at home and abroad. "The letter was sent by the National Governors Association on February 28. 

The letter stated, "Governors are extremely proud of the role that the National Guard plays in protecting this nation and its citizens. The modern National Guard is a highly experienced and capable combat force and an essential state partner in responding to domestic disasters and emergencies." The governors stated that they understood the necessity of reorganizing, restructuring and modernizing the military to meet "new threats and economic realities." However, they felt that the cuts suggested a strategic strength similar to the period prior to 9/11, which would squander "the investment and value of the Guard and discredits its accomplishments at home and as an active combat force." 

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Photo Blog: DPW Officials Meet with Bus Manufacturer
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on February 26, 2014 at 4:45 PM AST

Public Works Commissioner Darryl A. Smalls along with Stephen Monsanto, VITRAN Operations Manager/Territorial Coordinator and Pepsy Wilkins, Territorial Chief of Maintenance recently attended pre-construction meetings at El Dorado National-California, the company selected to provide 10 new medium buses for VITRAN.

DPW Commissioner Darryl Smalls leads discussions with other department officials and representatives of El Dorado National-California about new medium buses under construction for use in the Virgin Islands.

Representatives from El-Dorado met with the DPW staff to finalize the selection of the key components that will make up the 26-seat buses which will each accommodate two wheel chairs.

The two-day visit at the assembly plant located in Ontario, California also included discussions on warranty, engine, seats , colors, wheel chair lifts and other technical details of the buses.

Based on the present production schedule, these buses will be delivered to the territory by August, 2014.

Governor de Jongh Details Critical Issues for Territory Ahead of Meeting of the Interagency Group on Insular Affairs
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on February 26, 2014 at 9:45 AM AST

Governor de Jongh submitted a detailed memorandum of critical issues of concern to the Virgin Islands to Lorraine Faeth, acting Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas, in advance of yesterday's 2014 Senior Plenary meeting of the Interagency Group on Insular Areas (IGIA) and territorial governors.

The meeting was attended by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and David Agnew, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, who also co-chairs the IGIA, as well as other senior-level officials of the federal government and representatives from American Samoa, the Northern Marianas, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. The IGIA was established in 1999 to provide a mechanism for improved communication and coordination between the federal government and its territories.

"I was unable to attend this year's IGIA session as I had to return to the territory on Tuesday, but at the same time, I wanted to ensure that our concerns were properly highlighted at the meeting and taken into consideration throughout the year,” the governor said.  He added, “I had an opportunity to discuss a majority of these areas with acting Assistant Secretary Faeth and Director Nik Pula at our meeting on the rum cover-over last Friday and used that opportunity to provide an even more comprehensive perspective as to their impact on our residents."

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Coalition of Territorial and Commonwealth Governors Requests NGA Support
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on February 24, 2014 at 1:30 PM AST

Governor de Jongh  has been joined by the governors of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in formally asking for the National Governors Association's full support in dealings with the federal government. 

A letter was signed by the five governors was jointly addressed to Mary Fallin, chair of the National Governors Association (NGA) and governor of Oklahoma, and to John Hickenlooper, vice chair of the association and governor of Colorado. The letter states, "As governors of the territories and commonwealths of the United States, we respectfully request that the NGA Permanent Policy: Principles for State-Federal Relations be revised to include language that references the unique challenges and obstacles facing territories and commonwealths, therefore reinforcing the full support of NGA for these ongoing efforts." 

As way of clarification, the letter stated, "As you know, executive and legislative policymaking often exclude the territories and commonwealths outright, a trend that we are eager to join together and reverse." The letter also includes reference to the equality the governors find at the NGA, where "territorial and commonwealth inclusion and visibility is in line with that of every other U.S. governor. Yet the current NGA Policy Positions do not make any mention of the special circumstances the governors of the territories and commonwealths encounter in working with the federal government." 

The governors thanked Chair Fallin and Vice Chair Hickenlooper for consideration of the request and for their "commitment to work with the governors of the territories and commonwealths as we endeavor to maintain the autonomy of our leadership through our relationship with the federal government." The letter was signed by Lolo Matalasi Moliga, governor of American Samoa; Eloy Inos, governor of the Northern Mariana Islands; Eddie Baza Calvo, governor of Guam; Alejandro Javier Garcia Padilla, governor of Puerto Rico; and Governor de Jongh.

Photo Blog: Governor de Jongh in Washington for National Governor's Association Winter Meeting
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on February 23, 2014 at 10:01 AM AST

Governor de Jongh is joining his fellow governors from across the nation this weekend as they convened in Washington, D.C., for the 2014 National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting.

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. participates in the opening session of the NGA Winter Meeting in Washington D.C. on February 22, 2014.

The meeting provides governors an opportunity to discuss issues affecting states, share innovative solutions and look for ways to strengthen the state-federal partnership. The meeting also will include sessions with the President, members of his cabinet, business leaders and other experts, as well as several governors-only meetings.

Listen to the governor's comments .mp3 (1.4MB)  Part 2 .mp3 (1.3MB)

On Friday, the governor met with officials of the Department of Interior on issues critical to the Virgin Islands. Similar meetings are scheduled with Obama Administration officials and Congressional leaders on Monday before he returns to the Virgin Islands by mid- week.

U.S. Courts of Appeals Hands the Virgin Islands a Major Win for EDC Program
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on February 22, 2014 at 5:45 PM AST

In a stinging rebuke to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit this week reversed the U.S. Tax Court in a consolidated set of tax cases involving V.I. taxpayers and ordered the Tax Court to admit the Government of the Virgin Islands as a party in the proceedings “as of right” in order to be able to defend the Territory’s interests in its Economic Development Commission (EDC) program.

The V.I. Government had sought to intervene in the cases of Huff v. Commissioner, Cooper v. Commissioner and McGrogan v. Commissioner, just as it had sought to intervene in a number of other tax cases involving V.I. taxpayers who had participated in the EDC program. The IRS had issued tax deficiency notices in all of these cases, alleging that the taxpayers either were not V.I. residents or had underpaid their taxes to the V.I., or both, and thus should have filed their tax returns with the IRS instead of the Virgin Islands Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). The V.I. Government, in order to protect its taxing authority, has consistently taken the position that taxpayers who have duly filed and reported their income to the (BIR) are subject to a three year statute of limitations and that the IRS notices in the Tax Court cases are thus time-barred.

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Governor Meets with Department of Interior Officials; Presses for and Receives Reconsideration on Advance Payment of Rum Cover Over Revenues
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on February 21, 2014 at 7:00 PM AST

Earlier today, Governor de Jongh met with officials of the Department of the Interior to once again press for a reconsideration of a decision with regard to the advance payment of rum cover over revenues at the $13.25 extender rate.

Today’s meeting followed a series of previous conversations the governor has had with federal government officials on this critical issue. “We met this afternoon with Acting Secretary Lorraine Faeth and Interior Insular Affairs Director Nick Pula and once again made our case for the release of the advance payment at the $13.25 extender rate. In the past several months, my Administration had written to officials at Interior explaining the financial hardship that their initial decision represented at a time when the government could least afford a reduction in the advance payment on rum revenues,” the governor said. At the conclusion of the meeting, he said, the department’s decision to release the advance payment on rum revenues will result in a little over $60 million dollars being deposited into the treasury of the Virgin Islands government.”

In recent months, the governor has lobbied both Interior officials and Congressional leaders for a reconsideration of the decision. “As I learned of Interior’s decision, I contacted both Delegate Donna Christensen and Senate President Shawn Michael Malone to not only advise them of the favorable progress on this issue but to thank both of them for their efforts in lobbying the Department of the Interior.”

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Governor Responds to Senator Barshinger Regarding WAPA Past-Due Balances; Denounces Assertions Made By At-Large Senator
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on February 19, 2013 at 5:30 PM AST

Governor de Jongh has responded to Senator Craig Barshinger's e-mail dated February 6, which concerned the financial performance of the V.I. Water and Power Authority (WAPA) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, and the amount owed by the Government of the Virgin Islands for electricity. 

In a letter to the at-large senator, the governor analyzed the amounts due WAPA as of the June 30th dated as follows: $3.5 million owed by executive branch departments and agencies; $9.7 million owed by the two hospitals; $9.3 million owed for street lights; and $2.9 owed by semi-autonomous and independent entities like the Legislature and Courts. He stated, "We do not by any means minimize the need for the Authority to be paid what it is owed for the service provided, but your misrepresentation of what is owed by the executive branch is unfounded." He added, "Not one single day goes by that I am not mindful of the realities of our community and difficulties being experienced by our residents; and therefore, I am even more acutely aware of the need to ensure that our only provider of utility services remains financially viable."

The governor also pointed out that the senator had completely ignored the positive aspects of WAPA's audit. He stated, "The most significant aspect of WAPA's audit is that it was issued on time, for the first time in seven years, which bodes well for the Authority as it undertakes new energy saving ventures that will require the establishment of fresh relationships with vendors, suppliers, and financing partners, as it maintains its contact with current bondholders and rating agencies." 

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Governor de Jongh: Virgin Islands Mariners One Step Closer to Equity Regarding Six Passenger Limit
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on February 17, 2014 at 11:00 PM AST

A bill aimed at providing long-sought after relief to the Virgin Islands marine industry was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on February 6, 2014 as was announced today at the V.I Marine Economic Development Council meeting held via teleconference from Government House in both island districts.

If passed, the amendment in House Bill No. 4005 would provide alternative compliance for U.S. Coast Guard safety regulations for certain U.S. vessels which are now restricted to six passengers while operating in the waters of the U.S. Virgin Islands, whereas foreign vessels do not have the same restrictions.

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. chairs a meeting of the VI Marine Economic Development Council held at Government House in both island districts on February 17, 2014.

Earlier today, the governor said, “I am extremely pleased that the initiative brought forward by our Marine Council to Congressman Bill Shuster, the Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, during his November infrastructure visit to the territory has resulted so quickly in this step towards equity for our charter industry and an economic boost for our maritime industries as a whole.” He said this has been a long outstanding issue that has put us at a competitive disadvantage to the rest of region and especially with a niche that we know is attracted to our natural resources and all that we have to offer. “This is the first of a number of actions we will initiate to let this market know that we are for business and we want your business," he added.. The Council prepared a white paper for submission to Congress outlining the need for relief from the six passenger limit and how it fit into economic revitalization efforts.

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Photo Blog: Governor Addresses St. Croix Chamber of Commerce
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on February 14, 2014 at 9:31 AM AST

On Thursday, Governor de Jongh addressed the annual meeting of the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce to present an overview of the territory’s economic health, items that must still be addressed and advances that have been made since he assumed office in January 2007. The governor, as he did two weeks ago in the annual State of the Territory Address, spoke of the foundation that has been laid by his administration for economic growth particularly on St. Croix. 

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. addresses the annual meeting of the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce on February 13, 2014.

The governor also addressed the $70 million dollar operating deficit which he said cannot be ignored. He spoke to the St. Croix business community on the day that some members of the administration’s financial team were meeting with members of the Senate. Although budget cuts and revenue-increasing measures are going to be needed, government employment has been reduced from around 7,000 employees to roughly 5,000, which the governor said was enough. Aside from fixing the budget deficit, the government has a serious problem with its employee retirement system. The administration created a task force, which offered recommendations, which now await action by the Legislature.

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Photo Blog: First Lady Launches Chess in the Parks Initiative
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on February 12, 2014 at 12:30 PM AST

Ed Note: Cross-posted from the First Lady's Blog

On Tuesday, First Lady Cecile de Jongh launched the first of three events this week to mark the installation of chess tables in public spaces across the territory. The installation of the tables at Roosevelt Park on St. Thomas; Frank Powell Park on St. John and at three locations on St. Croix are part of the Chess in the Parks Initiative.

First Lady Cecile de Jongh with members of the Virgin Islands Chess Federation and My Brothers Workshop at St. Thomas' Roosevelt Park on February 11, 2014.

Fourteen of the tables which were designed and constructed by My Brothers Workshop are four-sided wooden structures with benches for both competitors and observers. First Lady de Jongh worked with the Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation to place the tables across the public spaces on all three islands.

On St. Thomas, there are two tables at the Alvin Mc Bean Recreation Complex in Annas Retreat, one in Emancipation Garden, and one in Lindbergh Bay Park in addition to those in Roosevelt Park. A similar dedication ceremony for St. John is scheduled for today at the Frank E. Powell Park in Cruz Bay and on St. Croix on Thursday at Altona Lagoon in Christiansted, and proceeding from there to the Vincent Mason Coral Resort pool in Frederiksted. In addition to the tables created by My Brothers Workshop, on St. Croix four granite tables donated by Amrey/Gemini are to be installed at Limpritch Park in Christiansted before the end of the month.

Governor de Jongh Joins Community in Mourning the Death of Victor Ebbsen
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on February 7, 2014 at 2:15 PM AST

Upon learning of the passing of Victor L. Ebbesen, Sr., former Personnel Director and avid tennis player, Governor de Jongh expressed his condolences to the entire Ebbesen family. "Victor Ebbesen was a family friend, a classmate of my father's, and an admired and respected public servant. He had a long and illustrious career with the Government of the Virgin Islands, holding the posts of Director of the Division of Personnel from 1959 to 1967 and then heading Maternal and Child Health. Cecile and I extend our sympathies to Mr. Ebbesen's children, his sisters and brother, and all other members of the extended family circle at this very difficult time," he said. 

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Governor, Attorney General and Top Police Department Brass Comment on Verdict Reached in Murder of Police Corporal Wendell "Lazee" Williams
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on February 6, 2014 at 7:30 PM AST

The leadership of the top law enforcement agencies in the Virgin Islands said this evening they are satisfied with the verdict announced by a twelve-person jury at the Superior Court on St. Croix today in the murder trial of former Virgin Islands Police Corporal Wendell “Lazee” Williams. The jury handed up a guilty verdict against two of the three defendants which remained after the judge dismissed charges against two other defendants earlier this week.

Attorney General Vincent Frazer said the Department of Justice would have been thrilled to get a conviction on all three defendants, however, the impartial jury reviewed and weighed the evidence and rendered its decision. “We honor the findings of the jury and we believe that justice has been served by this verdict. There is no doubt that the responsible persons have been held accountable for the death of Corporal Williams,” Frazer said Thursday afternoon. The attorney general praised the hard work and dedication of the lone prosecutor in the high-profile case, Assistant Attorney General Kip Roberson and the members of the St. Croix staff of the Department of Justice and the Virgin Islands Police Department. He also extended his appreciation to the jurors and alternates for their service during the trial. “They listened to the more than week long testimony, carefully analyzed the evidence, deliberated and presented a verdict which ensured that justice was served.”

Governor de Jongh also reacted with satisfaction to the verdict reached by the jury panel on St. Croix. “This case has lingered since 2001 when Corporal Williams vanished after completing a tour of duty with the VIPD. Tonight, his family and friends can finally begin to experience closure now that a verdict has been reached. Ultimately, they have carried the heaviest burden during this ordeal and our prayers remain with them.” Additionally, he said, the people of the Virgin Islands have witnessed the strength of the Virgin Islands justice system. “It took eleven years to crack the case and two years to bring the case to trial but we are confident that justice has prevailed.” 

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Congress Passes New Farm Bill; Extends Food Stamp Program for the Virgin Islands and Increases Aid to Local Farmers
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on February 6, 2014 at 11:45 AM AST

On Tuesday, Congress passed and sent to the President a five-year $956 billion farm bill which extends the Virgin Islands food stamp program and increases the Territory’s share of a specialty crops program that benefits local farmers, Government House announced tonight.

The bill includes a number of hard-fought changes to the nation’s agricultural programs including cuts in subsidies to the nation’s farmers by some $16 billion, but the $750 million Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as the food stamp program) was extended without major changes, after Congressional negotiators rejected massive cuts that were included in an earlier House-passed bill. The negotiators included one change in the law that 16 States had used to increase food stamps benefits for their residents beyond the amounts they otherwise would have qualified for, but Government House said the change would not affect the Virgin Islands.

The bill also extends the Specialty Crops Block Grant program and ensures that the Territory will receive a minimum of $1.25 million in funding over the next five years to assist local farmers in the production of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and other horticultural products - a 35 percent increase over the current program which expired last year. The De Jongh Administration successfully lobbied to have the Virgin Islands included in the Special Crops Block Grant program in the 2008 Farm Bill. 

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Governor Congratulates Honorees at Annual Keys and Sword Award Benefit
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on February 3, 2014 at 11:15 AM AST

Governor de Jongh has congratulated this year’s recipients of the Fifth Annual Keys and Swords Award, Athneil C. “Addie” Ottley and Jean Dragin. He noted that the two honorees have been instrumental in raising funds for the maintenance and repair of the Sts. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Cathedral, one of the finest structures in the Virgin Islands. “It is only fitting that they be recognized with the Keys and Sword Award.”

The governor noted that Jean Dragin’s devotion to the Catholic Church in the Virgin Islands is legendary. Originally from Guadeloupe, he moved to the territory in 1968 following a visit three years earlier with his aunt. He founded the company of Jean Dragin Enterprises, a firm specializing in engineering, construction and maintenance services, which has become very well-respected in the community. Mr. Dragin never hesitated in using his God-given talents in building in service to the Catholic churches of the Virgin Islands. “He has been a stalwart and skilled member of the Cathedral Restoration Committee. Mr. Dragin is known as a hard-working, dedicated and dependable man, and is someone whose goodness and generosity literally shines through his eyes,” he said.

Addie Ottley was born, raised, and educated in the Virgin Islands and has worked here nearly all of his life. A graduate of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School, he has made a name for himself as a broadcaster, on-air personality and invaluable member of our community. “Today he is the owner and manager of WSTA Radio, where he hosts The Morning Show. He is also the host of Face to Face on WTJX Public Television. Mr. Ottley's devotion to the Virgin Islands is acknowledged widely. He is a three-term Senator having won a seat in the elections of 1970, 1972 and 1978; he was appointed Lieutenant Governor in the administration of the late Governor Melvin H. Evans; served as the Executive Assistant to the Commissioner of Commerce in 1981; and served two terms as president of the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce. He is also a life-long member of the congregation of Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral, and an active member and fundraiser for the Cathedral Restoration Committee,” the governor noted. 

The governor commended the members of the Keys and Sword Award Benefit Committee for selecting both Mr. Dragin and Mr. Ottley for this prestigious honor. “The restoration of this building, both historic and spiritual, is of paramount importance to all Virgin Islanders.”

Governor Forwards Two CZM Permits to 30th Legislature for Consideration
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on February 3, 2014 at 10:45 AM AST

Late last week, Governor de Jongh signed Coastal Zone Management Permits CZT-06-12 (FL) DOPETRI, Inc., and CZT-15-12 (FL) Tropical Shipping and Construction Company, Ltd., and forwarded both to Senator Shawn-Michael Malone, President of the 30th Legislature, for the legislative body's review and approval. 

The first permit will allow DOPETRI, Inc., the "continued use and occupancy of Parcel No. 44 Estate Sub Base," while the second permit "is required for the continued use and occupancy of the paved parking" for Tropical Shipping's employees at No. 6 Crown Bay on St. Thomas. In December, the Governor forwarded the lease agreements between the Department of Property and Procurement, on behalf of the government, and both parties to the 30th Legislature. 

The scope of the DOPETRI permit covers a land area of 11,993.71 square feet and brings an "existing two-story building with an area of 4,176 square feet into compliance," according to the permit. The company received its original permit and lease in 1992 with a annual rental fee of $9,167.04. Under the new 20-year permit and lease, the stated rental fee is $12,000 per year for the first five years, $22,188.55 for each year of the second five-year period, and then an annual rental fee adjusted by the Consumer Price Index for each of the next 10 years. According to the CZM permit, the company's gross receipts and estimates for improvements to the property were used to establish the new rental fee.

The Tropical Shipping permit and lease covers 15,162.77 square feet of "filled submerged land described as parcel No. 6 Estate Crown Bay Fill," according to permit CZT-15-12. Following the effective approval of the documents, the permit and lease will run for five years with an option for two additional terms of five years each. The rental fee is $30,325.54 per year, payable in monthly installment payments of $2,527.13. Starting with the second term, or sixth year, the rental fee will be adjusted by the Consumer Price Index annually. The CZM used recent appraisals of industrial property on the Waterfront to help determine the fair rental value of this property. 

 

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