St. John Tourism office closed for renovations
The Department of Tourism's St. John Administrative Office in Cruz Bay is closed this week for renovations. The office will reopen Aug. 3, according to a Tourism statement.
In the interim, calls may be directed to the St. Thomas office, 774-8784.
- From staff reports
Stabbing victim, 42, refuses to aid police inquiry
ST. CROIX - A 42-year-old man with a stab wound to his stomach was picked up at the Corner Pocket Nightclub and taken to the Luis Hospital emergency room during the weekend.
Investigators had limited information about the stabbing because the victim refused to give information to officers, according to a statement released by the V.I. Police Department.
Autopsy ordered in death of Estate Richmond infant
No foul play has been found in the death of a 2-month-old infant who died over the weekend at the John F. Kennedy housing community in Estate Richmond on St. Croix.
According to police, the mother discovered the infant was not breathing and called the 911 Emergency Call Center at 6:34 a.m. Saturday.
Responding V.I. Police Department personnel and emergency medical technicians found no signs of life.
ST. THOMAS - The government of the Virgin Islands continues to ignore a variety of public record requests filed by The Daily News.
While most of the requests have been submitted in the last two months, a request filed with Luis Hospital last October seeking salary and contract information for some hospital employees has also been ignored.
These are the requests that have been sought under V.I. Open Records Act (3 V.I.C. § 881), which says almost all government records are to be made available for public review:
Gov. Kenneth Mapp has reappointed attorney Henry Smock to the University of the Virgin Islands board of trustees.
He has also nominated Oran Bowry, Andrew Farkas, Steven Lilly to the UVI board; Avery Challenger, to the V.I. Taxicab Commission; Bhagwandeen Persad to the Virgin Islands Port Authority board for the district of St. Thomas; and Joe Hollins and Harith Wickrema to the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority board.
ST. THOMAS - A month after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered that the U.S. Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage, an executive order enabling benefits and rights for same-sex couples in the Virgin Islands is expected to finally be counter-signed today.
The Mapp administration has been unable to formally issue the order on marriage equality because Gov. Kenneth Mapp and Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter have not been in the territory at the same time.
The University of the Virgin Islands has tapped three longtime employees to take on new roles in top positions at the university. Mitchell Neaves has been appointed UVI vice president for institutional advancement, Verna Rivers has been appointed to serve as dean of students on the St. Thomas campus and Sandra Romano has been appointed dean for the College of Science and Mathematics.
- Torchlight Procession
- Opening of Road Town Village
- Village entertainment
- Local Calypso Show
- Miss BVI Promo Segment, 7 p.m. at HLSCC
- Cultural Night in Festival Village
- Cultural Food Fair
- International Music Mix
- BMSA Car Show
- International Soca Explosion
- Beach Bash and Boat Races, East End-Long Look
- Freedom March, 3 p.m.
TORTOLA - British Virgin Islands residents will converge on Lower Water Front Drive tonight for a torchlight procession from central Road Town to start the 61st BVI August Festival activities and the opening of the Patsy Lake Festiville.
Activities, which include events in the East End-Long Look Community and the Carrot Bay Cultural Fiesta, end on Aug. 9.
This year's festival theme is: "It's an Emancipation Celebration of Reflection to be seen; VI Cultural Festival 2015," and the slogan is "A Tropical Blend of Beautiful Colors to be Seen; VI Festival 2015."
ST. THOMAS - Improving client services is at the top of the Schneider Regional Medical Center governing board's list of priorities, and vast progress is expected in coming months.
Before the end of the year, the hospital hopes to have its emergency room Fast Track treatment system back online.
"Fast Track has been on hold due to staffing," said Schneider Chief Operating Nurse Darice Plaskett during Wednesday night's board meeting.
Cruise ship to call on St. Croix on Sunday
Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas is expected to call on Frederiksted on Sunday.
The ship is capable of bringing 3,114 passengers and 1,180 crew members to St. Croix. Many businesses that would normally be closed on Sunday will be open for the ship call.
Savan Resource Fair to be held today
Community Action Now will host a Community Resource Fair
ST. THOMAS - An armed unit with the Royal Virgin Island Police Force tracked down a U.S. Virgin Islander wanted for murder in Virginia and took him into custody early Thursday on Tortola.
J'Wa Charlery, who was added to the U.S. Marshals Service's 15 Most Wanted List in early July, was found in a remote area on the island at 6 a.m. Thursday.
"He was in a tent out there in the bush," U.S. Marshals Service Supervisory Inspector Kevin Connolly said Friday. "They got him with two loaded pistols and a wad of cash, without incident."
ST. THOMAS - Island residents are reporting computer technical support phone scams, and that the cybercriminals are preying on children.
A St. Thomas resident said this week his niece almost fell victim to a man claiming he was with Microsoft before family members intervened and stopped the flow of personal information that included a request for the computer's registration number.
"Cybercriminals don't just send fraudulent email messages and set up fake websites," says Microsoft in its advice to avoid computer tech-support phone scams. "They might also call you on the telephone and claim to be from Microsoft. They might offer to help solve your computer problems or sell you a software license."
ST. THOMAS - Accreditation and a letter of good standing are paving the way for change at Schneider Regional Medical Center.
The hospital's renewed accreditation from The Joint Commission is valid for the next three years, hospital CEO Bernard Wheatley said Wednesday during the hospital's governing board meeting.
At times in the past, Schneider Hospital has struggled with accreditation. St. Croix's Luis Hospital is under the direct supervision of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and is facing possible decertification.
ST. THOMAS - Nashville, meet mocko jumbie.
Yisrael Peterson, a popular St. Thomas mocko jumbie performer, has taken his athletic and high-altitude act onto a world stage in an appearance with the high-flying country act Little Big Town at the Country Music Awards Music Festival, which will be broadcast nationally on ABC on Aug. 4.
The show, recorded June 13 before an audience of more than 65,000 screaming fans at LP Field, home of the NFL's Tennessee Titans, was an eye-opener for Peterson, who usually dances for tourists and residents every Wednesday night at Iggies Beach Bar and Grill at Bolongo Bay Beach Resort.
TORONTO - Never mind the finish.
Just getting to the starting block was a victory for Eddie Lovett.
The U.S. Virgin Islands hurdler woke up and checked Facebook on race day Friday morning only to find out his younger sister had been shot and killed overnight in South Florida.
A few hours later, Lovett was crouched down at the starting line at Toronto's York University, racing to pay tribute to DelShonna Billy, who was 22 and had two children.
ST. CROIX - Reconstruction of the Paul E. Joseph Stadium in Frederiksted remains at a standstill after Gov. Kenneth Mapp put a freeze on demolition work in February following concerns with the contract.
The remains of the partially demolished stadium and Terrence Martin Ball Field are an eyesore in the west end town.
Gov. John deJongh Jr., signed a contract with General Engineering Corp. in 2014 for the reconstruction of Paul E. Joseph Stadium. The $20 million design-build contract called for the demolition of the current structure and design and construction of a new stadium, sports complex, Little League field and Carnival Village.
ST. THOMAS - Thousands of books are now available free of cost to V.I. youth.
St. Thomas and St. John Rotary Club members and Virgin Islands Education Department representatives celebrated the arrival of more than 60,000 books Thursday afternoon at the St. Thomas Curriculum Center Warehouse in Tutu, hoping the donation from Better World Books will inspire students and families to read.
"This is an amazing opportunity," said Virgin Islands Education Department Deputy Superintendent Michael Harrigan as pallets of the slightly used books were unloaded. "This is a shot in the arm. This gives us more opportunities to get books into the hands of children."
Kenneth A. Jackson Sr.
Kenneth A. Jackson Sr., 73, passed away on July 11, 2015, at his residence on St. Thomas.
He is survived by his son, Kenneth L. Jackson Jr.; daughters, Darlene Jackson, Yvette Jackson; grandchildren, Melquan Bland, Demalia Jackson, Nataley Bland, Bryan K. L. Jackson, Yanique Payne; great-grandchildren, Deriaun Bland, Serenity Dyer; sister, Sonia Archer; sister-in-law, Emma Jackson; brother, Louis Jackson Jr.; daughter-in-law, Kimberly C. Lonesome-Jackson; nieces, Cheryl Fleming, Ianthe Boggan, Lorraine Fleming-Parrish, Collette Fleming, Deneen Jackson, Selene Jackson, Laurie Fleming, Willisa Pinney; nephews, Lambert Fleming, Kenneth "Rootsie" Mahoney, Clarence Mahoney, Dennis Mahoney, Wayne "Teba" Mahoney, Kelvin Rogers; special friends, Confesora "Maritza" Cabrera, Marver Browne, Gloria Sebastian, Emeleo Jeppesen and family, Marjorie Vanterpool and family, Leo Vanterpool and family, Warren Bell and family, Jose Kean and family, Cynthia Romney and family; and many other relatives, family, and friends too numerous to mention.
Joseph Bruney July 15, 2015 Saturday Hurley
Antonio P. Deleon July 16, 2015 Saturday Turnbull's
George Fahie July 29, 2015 Thursday Hurley
Derek Fuertes May 29, 2015 Saturday
Inez Brathwaite Hyman July 13, 2015 Today Hurley
Kenneth A. Jackson Sr. July 11, 2015 Saturday Hurley
Halvor E. Malone July 3, 2015 July 31 Turnbull's
Lucien B. Romney April 11, 2015 Today
Irene Wilkinson July 20, 2015 Wednesday Hurley
Services will be held Saturday at the Iglesias Cristiana el Oasis in Contant at 10 a.m. for Derek Fuertes, who passed away on May 29, 2015, in Puerto Rico after battling cancer.
He is survived by parents, Mike and Tani Fuertes; brothers, Michael, Hiram and David Fuertes; nephew, Xavier Fuertes; niece, Brianna Fuertes; uncles, Ishmael Ortiz & Ramon Fuertes; aunts, Lolita Fuertes, Anadelia Vidal, Lydia A. Ortiz, Luz M. Ortiz, Carmen A. Ortiz & Irene Gonzalez; and other relatives and friends too many to list.
ST. THOMAS - The Senate Finance Committee on Thursday tabled a bill that would let the government borrow now against proceeds expected from 2015 property tax revenue.
The committee voted to hold bill 31-0148, which would authorize the government to issue revenue anticipation notes to immediately borrow money expected from the 2015 real property tax.
Without the loans, the government might not balance the budget.
ST. THOMAS - The Senate Finance Committee heard Finance Commissioner nominee Valdamier Collens describe a stressed department that must provide all government financial services with an 8 percent budget reduction for fiscal year 2016; morale at five to six, on a scale of one to 10; and a "perilous liquidity position" when it comes to day-to-day government operations.
Nonetheless, Collens said his staff is dedicated to doing their jobs and finding solutions to the challenges facing the money side of government.
ST. THOMAS - It's been a long time since a truck knocked down Rothschild Francis "Market" Square's Sanderilla Thomas Bungalow, but the aftermath is still affecting the community.
The Agriculture Commissioner nominee Carlos Robles and his team hosted a town hall meeting Thursday evening in the Christchurch Methodist Bicentennial Hall to gather feedback on the possible removal of the fence that came along with the square's restoration roughly a decade ago.
ST. CROIX - On the one island in the Virgin Islands most connected to agriculture, dry weather conditions that have prevailed across the territory with very little relief in sight, are having a big impact.
Dale Brown, owner of Sejah Farms just off Midland Road on St. Croix, said farmers are getting hit hard with the dry conditions and livestock farmers are getting hit the hardest. Scorched fields have left grazing animals with nothing to eat, forcing livestock farmers to purchase water, hay or animal feed from the V.I. Agriculture Department.
Governor Mapp returns to the territory early
Gov. Kenneth Mapp was back in the territory Wednesday night after canceling a planned trip to the summer meeting of the National Governors Association in West Virginia.
Government House said he returned to the territory for personal reasons.
Mapp left the territory on July 14 to meet with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in Washington, D.C., and tour the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.
ST. THOMAS - Researchers from the University of the Virgin Islands and the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science have discovered that a threatened coral species that lives in deeper waters off the U.S. Virgin Islands is proving more fertile than its shallow-water counterparts.
"These deep reefs offer a glimmer of hope," said Tyler Smith, UVI associate research professor of marine science. "They may be an incredible resource for the U.S. Virgin Islands, and for the entire Caribbean, if they can supply consistent sources of coral larvae."
ST. THOMAS - The Virgin Islands Housing Authority received high grades from its auditor at Wednesday's monthly board meeting.
Auditor Rich Larsen of Fallon & Larsen accounting told the board that "the outlooks of the reports were very, very positive. There were no internal weaknesses. It was a very good outcome."
He said the authority "experienced a strengthening in its financial position," which was admirable given that, in the current economic situation, "it is a very tough time to be in the public housing business."
ST. THOMAS - Uncompensated care costs, reduced appropriations from the central government and underpayment from federal health care programs are plaguing the Schneider Regional Medical Center's budget.
Chief Executive Officer Bernard Wheatley said during Wednesday night's hospital governing board meeting that additional funding is needed to cover the hospital's operating loss, depreciation and uncompensated care, a statement echoing last week's pleas to the Senate Finance Committee for an additional $8.7 million to break even and an extra $2 million to increase its budgetary allotments.
St. Thomas native and six-time world boxing champion Emile Griffith died on this day two years ago. A trailblazer, he was the U.S. Virgin Islands' first sports hero. He set the template. Many others followed in an array of sports. So, on this day, let's honor his legacy, retelling his compelling story - a tale at once inspirational and cautionary.
On March 24, 1962, Benny "The Kid" Paret, the champ, and Emile Griffith, the former champ, nearly came to blows during the weigh in for their nationally televised welterweight title fight at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Griffith won the title from Paret the previous year but relinquished it to him in a controversial rematch several months earlier in Miami, so this wasn't typical pre-fight bluster, the enmity between the two Caribbean-born boxers real.
ST. THOMAS - The Virgin Islands government has left $100,000 worth of energy efficient streetlights sitting in a warehouse in Miami for almost two years, and the manufacturer's representative says they are going to be thrown out if a final payment isn't made.
Jerry Lectora, a manufacturer' representative for Dialight, a New Jersey-based lighting company, said the government got funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2011 to relamp streets on St. Croix and St. Thomas, replacing old high-pressure sodium bulbs and fixtures with new LED fixtures.
The celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of the transfer of the U.S. Virgin Islands from Denmark to the United States just got a big boost with a $500,000 grant from the federal government.
Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia'aina announced the grant Tuesday.
"The next two years leading up to the actual Centennial Celebration presents a host of opportunities to showcase their rich history and heritage as well as the future of the Virgin Islands," said Kia'aina.
ST. CROIX - Rueben Turner is gearing up for a new and improved set of wheels.
When the sun rises Friday morning, ViVid Streaming Studios' Ana Castillo and Neighborhood Pharmacy's Dr. Kisha Christian-Butcher will be in the Sunny Isle Shopping Center parking lot kicking off the online radio station's third Give Back fundraiser.
The fundraiser's proceeds are going toward a new electric wheelchair for Turner, 47, who is afflicted with cerebral palsy, a chronic, congenital disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture.
A midwife who regularly delivers babies in the territory says the Health Department constantly delays the issuance of birth certificates for children born at home, requiring parents to come up with unneeded notarized statements and documents.
"You have to provide more information for a birth certificate than to get a home loan," said Sandy Blankenship, a nationally certified professional midwife who has delivered three St. John babies already this year. "They're delaying it. It's just ridiculous."
ST. THOMAS - A town hall meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Bicentennial Hall at Christchurch Methodist to discuss the history and future of the fence around Rothschild Francis Square.
Officials from Public Works, Department of Planning and Natural Resources's State Historic Perseveration Office and other individuals will share the project's background, history and the future plans for the fence.
ST. CROIX - In a press conference Monday, Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter announced the nomination of a longtime employee of the Gwinnett County Georgia Sheriff's Department - one who has roots in the territory - to head the troubled V.I. Corrections Bureau.
Rick Mullgrav is a special projects coordinator on the sheriff's administration team at the Sheriff's Department, a position he has held since August 2014, according to his resume. He has also held multiple positions at the jail there.
ST. THOMAS - Gov. Kenneth Mapp has outlined one of the key issues St. Croix faces in trying to attract more tourists: the expectation of cruise line customers is great, but those expectations are often unsatisfied.
The result? Visitors leave having been underwhelmed by St. Croix.
Mapp's comments came during a meeting of the Public Finance Authority, of which the governor is the chairman. The discussion was about efforts to keep tenants afloat in the Frederiksted Mall, but morphed into a monologue by Mapp about one aspect of what is limiting the number of cruise companies that choose to visit St. Croix.
ST. THOMAS - Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter announced Monday that he will be traveling out of the territory to Canada on Wednesday to attend the Pan American Games.
As Gov. Kenneth Mapp will also be out of the territory, Potter said Finance Department Commissioner nominee Valdamier Collens will be acting governor in their absence.
"On Wednesday, I will be attending as head of the delegation with our athletes that are participating as a part of the Pan American Games in Toronto. We have, I think, 18 athletes that are participating in the Pan American Games events."
ST. THOMAS - Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter will personally take over the payment for the Mahogany Run condo rented for him, and he said he has not stayed a single day in the condo while it has been rented at taxpayer expense.
"This is a matter that has been basically causing a lot of distraction, and I want to make sure we get certain information clearer to the public, because in the midst of the distraction I don't think all of the information surrounding the lieutenant governor's residence has actually been placed out there, and since it was placed out there, it hasn't been received as intended to be," Potter said Monday.
ST. THOMAS - A collective vision is changing Savan.
"The people of Savan have spoken and they want the community cleaned up," said Community Action NOW (CAN) Executive Director Iffat Walker, who grew up in neighborhood that she returns to frequently from Atlanta where the grassroots organization is based.
This weekend, CAN and its partners teamed up with 100 residents to kick off the Savan Clean Up and Restore Project, which aims to reduce waste and improve one of the island's oldest neighborhoods.
Inez Brathwaite Hyman July 13, 2015 Friday Hurley
Kenneth A. Jackson Sr. July 11, 2015 Saturday Hurley
Halvor E. Malone July 3, 2015 July 31 Turnbull's
Kenneth Moolenaar July 4, 2015 Wednesday Turnbull's
Jean R. Norris July 10, 2015 Wednesday Hurley
Paul Roger Questel July 9, 2015 Today Hurley
Lucien B. Romney April 11, 2015 Friday
Ernie Genita Zachariah July 16, 2015 Aug. 1 Hurley
OSHAWA, Ontario - Once again at the Pan Am Games, Clayton Laurent Jr. did the honorable thing, holding the ropes for his opponent as he exited the ring.
But this time, he was showing respect for a fighter he feels he defeated.
Much of the Canadian crowd booed as Rafael Lima of Brazil was announced as the winner Sunday night of a super heavyweight quarterfinals at the Oshawa Sports Centre.
"I'm at a loss for words," said Laurent, who turned 25 on Saturday.
A St. Croix senator has asked for a hearing to explore the findings of an in-depth, independent evaluation of the V.I. Water and Power Authority's management and operations.
Sen. Nereida Rivera-O'Reilly said the results of the management audit of WAPA prompted calls and inquiries from her constituents.
The Daily News reported the audit findings a week ago after obtaining a copy of the document.
"The people of this territory rely on our oversight capacity to inquire on matters affecting the Virgin Islands, and WAPA has, and continues, to negatively impact our lives in ways that are unnecessary to reiterate," Rivera-O'Reilly wrote in a letter to Sen. Sammuel Sanes, who chairs the Energy & Environmental Protection Committee. "I hereby request that you call for a hearing concerning the results of the audit at your earliest convenience."
ST. THOMAS - The Senate Finance Committee met unexpectedly last week to consider government's need to borrow against property tax revenue in order to pay basic general fund obligations such as payroll and vendor payments.
The move comes in order to balance the budget before the end of the fiscal year, Committee Chairman Sen. Clifford Graham said.
The fiscal year ends Aug. 31.
The committee heard testimony from Office of Management and Budget Director nominee Nellon Bowry, Bureau of Internal Revenue Director nominee Marvin Pickering, and Tax Assessor Ira Mills.
A casual observer just passing by might not have noticed anything out of the ordinary.
A dark sports utility vehicle, a Chevrolet Captiva with license plate number TEK-482, was parked by the road at Brewers Bay beach early on a Saturday morning, along with other vehicles whose drivers were enjoying a morning dip at the popular beach near the University of the Virgin Islands St. Thomas campus.
But the driver of TEK-482 is a government employee - and the Chevy Captiva bearing that license plate number is a government vehicle, even though its license plate makes it appear to be privately owned.
The New York Times Book Review has selected Virgin Islander Tiphanie Yanique's debut novel, "Land of Love and Drowning," as a noteworthy new paperback.
Yanique recently visited the territory as a keynote speaker at the inaugural Virgin Islands Literary Festival and Book Fair held in March on St. Croix where she joined acclaimed Caribbean writer Jamaica Kincaid.
Written partially as a reaction to Herman Wouk's "Don't Stop the Carnival," "Land of Love and Drowning" is standing strong on its own, having earned widespread critical acclaim and won the 2014 Flaherty-Duncan First Novel Prize and The American Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Award for Considerable Literary Talent.
The Virgin Islands Fire Service is offering an amnesty period for expired Fire Safety Certificates to be brought into compliance.
Virgin Islands law requires that all Fire Safety Certificates be renewed annually. When a licensee does not renew, a percentage of the license fee is charged as a penalty for each month the certificate is not renewed.
The Fire Service is giving certificate holders until Aug. 31 to renew any safety certificates that are not current and will provide a 26 percent reduction on the late penalty fees owed by a delinquent licensee.
Downtown Revitalization Inc. has elected a new board to lead it in the coming year.
The 2015-2016 board is comprised of President Gautam Daswani, Vice President Dr. Orville Kean, Treasurer Darryl Smalls, Secretary Eloi George, Assistant Treasurer Dorothy Ann Maguire, Assistant Secretary Judith Watlington-Edwin and board member Lee Steiner.
According to the group, the goal of the Downtown Revitalization Inc. is to create a shared, coherent vision for the redevelopment and revitalization of Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.
ST. CROIX - Reduced government funds and a decline in financial gifts are threatening the Women's Coalition of St. Croix's long-standing programs and services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, according to Executive Director Clema Lewis.
"Financially, we are not doing well," Lewis told The Daily News. "But I am hoping and praying that we will get some funds that will hold us over for a couple more months."
ST. THOMAS - The Senate Committee on Rules and Judiciary forwarded 11 Cabinet nominees to the full Senate on Friday, but one went forward with an unfavorable recommendation.
The nominees had all been rejected before by the full Senate, most in a dispute between the legislative branch and the executive branch over hefty pay raises promised by Gov. Kenneth Mapp.
Those raises were still a topic Friday, though, in the end, 10 received favorable recommendations.