St. Thomas Elections Board certifies primary results after board member calls in from vacation

ST. THOMAS - More than two weeks after the territory's primary election, the St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections certified the district's results using an unorthodox approach during an emergency meeting called Tuesday.

The results 17 days after the Aug. 2 revealed that of 17,269 registered voters, 4,233 voted at the polls and 837 voted as absentee voters.

Voter turnout within the district was 29.36 percent.

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ST. CROIX - The developer of Island Crossings Shopping Center announced Tuesday that two new businesses - a Save-A-Lot Grocery Store and a Burger King - are slated to come on board in 2015.

Josh Tate, vice president and managing partner of Caribbean Development Partners LLC, said that he anticipates that once open, the discount grocery store and fast food establishment will bring 30 to 40 full-time jobs to the island.

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Rescue reports two drownings in territory

ST. THOMAS - Two people died in separate drownings Monday afternoon, V.I. Rescue officials confirmed Tuesday.

Few details were released about the individuals by press time.

On St. Thomas, a man drowned Monday near Sapphire Beach about 4:11 p.m.

St. Thomas Rescue crews were dispatched to the location because the man was overweight and emergency responders needed assistance in retrieving the body, St. Thomas Rescue officials said.

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St. Croix candidates draw lots for ballot positions

ST. CROIX - Candidates on St. Croix drew lots Tuesday to decide their positions on the ballot for the General Election in November, while their counterparts in the St. Thomas-St. John District will have to wait until Thursday to do the same.

The lots cast on Tuesday determined placement on the ballot only for the 20 candidates in the St. Croix District senatorial race and the five individuals seeking seats to the St. Croix Board of Elections.

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St. Croix Senate

1. Dwight Nicholson

2. Robert Moorhead

3. Nereida Rivera-O'Reilly

4. Diane Capehart

5. Kevin Romain

6. Arthur Brown Jr.

7. Naomi Joseph

8. Kurt Vialet

9. Arthur Joseph

10. Alicia Hansen

11. Linus Louis Lacane

12. Terrence Nelson

13. Malcolm McGregor

14. Kenneth Gittens

15. Neville James

16. Miguel Quionones Jr.

17. Jamila Russell

18. Ignacio Llanos III

19. Novelle Francis Jr.

20. Sammuel Sanes

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V.I. GDP drops 5.4 percent from 2012 to 2013

ST. THOMAS - The territory's 2013 Gross Domestic Product was released Tuesday, showing an overall drop by 5.4 percent compared with 2012.

The drop is less of a decrease than the year before, when the GDP fell by 13 percent compared with the prior year.

The main source of the decline continues to be HOVENSA's closure in early 2012, according to government officials.

"The petroleum refining is the big driver in the numbers," Bureau of Economic Analysis Acting Director Brian Moyer said Tuesday.

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VIPD: 9-year-old boy missing on St. Thomas

ST. THOMAS - V.I. Police issued a statement late Tuesday asking for the public's assistance in locating a missing 9-year-old boy.

Tenaji Wheatley was staying at a residence in Estate Fortuna when he went missing Tuesday about 11 a.m.

He is 4 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs about 80 pounds and was wearing a lime green shirt, khaki cargo shorts and camouflage slippers, according to police. He has a medium brown complexion and a low afro hairstyle.

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No one hurt in blaze that destroys Smith Bay home

ST. THOMAS - A Smith Bay home was destroyed in a fire Monday afternoon, but no one was injured.

A unit from the V.I. Fire Service's Lima Company responded to a report of a structural fire about 4:30 p.m. Monday in the Smith Bay community.

Ten firefighters arrived on scene initially, at which point the home was completely engulfed in flames, according to Fire Service Assistant Director Daryl George.

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Judge sets bail at $100K for St. Croix man accused of choking woman nearly to death

ST. CROIX - Bail has been set at $100,000 for a 34-year-old man charged with assaulting and choking a woman almost to death Friday.

William Thelusma of Sion Hill appeared Tuesday before V.I. Superior Court Judge Robert Molloy, this time for a hearing on a motion seeking release on bail and setting conditions in the case in which he is charged with second-degree assault; simple assault; attempted murder; and possession of a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence.

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UVI students move in

Move-in day for freshman and first-time dorm residents at the University of the Virgin Islands on St. Thomas and St. Croix was a hot one Monday, but everything flowed smoothly as the students settled into their new homes.

Student Housing supervisor Sean Georges said UVI changed things up a bit on the St. Thomas campus this year, allowing students to check in directly at their residence halls. The new system means less lugging of suitcases from the student housing office across campus to their dorm rooms, he said.

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St. Thomas Elections Board violates V.I. Code, fails to certify results of primary on Sunday

ST. THOMAS - The St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections failed to meet the legal deadline for certifying its primary election Sunday, putting it in violation of the V.I. Code.

Unofficially, the certification has been put off until Monday, despite the potential consequences.

Any person deemed responsible for the delay of the election returns is subject to a $500 maximum fine or a year of imprisonment, or both.

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St. Thomas voter files complaint against Elections for holding primaries despite Tropical Storm Bertha

ST. THOMAS - A voter has filed a 16-page complaint against V.I. Election authorities because they did not halt the primary elections during Tropical Storm Bertha on Aug. 2.

Alan Haynes Sr., of St. Thomas, filed a complaint in federal court on Monday against the V.I. Joint Board of Elections, both district boards, V.I. Election System Supervisor Caroline Fawkes and the V.I. government.

The complaint falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court because it "raises a federal question due to disenfranchisement of a large number of registered voters," the complaint states, though it lists a number of other misgivings aside from officials' failure to reschedule the election.

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St. Croix teen hurt in shooting Saturday

Police on St. Croix are investigating an incident Saturday in which a 19-year-old man was shot in his arm in the Paradise Mills Housing community.

The incident occurred just before 8:30 p.m. in front of Building 2.

Police said the victim may have been involved in an altercation with others prior to the shooting.

The victim was taken to Luis Hospital by ambulance.

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4 hurt in 3 separate shootings this weekend on St. Thomas

ST. THOMAS - Police on St. Thomas are investigating three separate non-fatal shootings involving four victims that took place during the weekend.

On Saturday, two men, ages 26 and 37, were hanging out on a porch about 8:30 a.m. in Sugar Estate when a man wearing dark clothing with a bandana over his face began firing shots at them, the victims told police.

As they ran into the house, one victim was shot in his left foot and the other victim was shot in his right leg, they said.

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St. Croix man charged with attempted murder after woman says he choked her, left her for dead

ST. CROIX - A 34-year-old man remains jailed on attempted murdered and related charges after police said he choked a woman almost to death during the weekend.

William Thelusma, of Estate Sion Hill appeared before V.I. Superior Court Judge Robert Molloy on Monday morning and was advised of his rights on charges of second-degree assault; simple assault; attempted murder; and possession of a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence.

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Artists unveil mural on King Street

ST. CROIX - After weeks of hard work and long hours putting their artistic skills to the test, a group of artists were able to show off their work as the Frederiksted Mural Project was put on display Monday.

The project - which includes images of quadrille dancers, steel pan players, historic architecture, drummers and brightly-colored mocko jumbies towering over motorists and pedestrians on King Street in Frederiksted - was unveiled during a reception in the Pier 69 Courtyard on Sunday afternoon.

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Deadline to certify elections passes with silence from boards

ST. THOMAS - Elections officials could not be reached on Sunday, their deadline date to certify the primary elections in both the St. Thomas-St. John and St. Croix election districts.

The results, which initially were to be certified Aug. 12, still had not been released late Sunday night.

The district boards, which are responsible for the certifications, could be held responsible and fined up to $500, according to the V.I. Code.

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New property valuations to appear on forthcoming bills

ST. THOMAS - After 14 years of legal battles, legislative fights and delays, V.I. property owners will soon be getting their 2013 property tax bills - the first bills issued using the new property valuations and the new tax structure.

Of course, new is a relative term.

The court-ordered mass revaluation of all property in the territory was done in 2006, although it was updated this year. The law establishing the new tax structure to go along with the new property values was passed in 2008.

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HOVENSA adds penny to wholesale price of fuel

ST. CROIX - The wholesale price of gasoline in the territory inched upward today as HOVENSA adjusted its rack rates.

The change will raise the rack rates - the price of fuel purchased wholesale at the HOVENSA truck-loading station on St. Croix - for gasoline and diesel fuel by 1 cent per gallon.

Under today's adjustments, independent gas station operators in the territory now are paying $3.53 per gallon for regular gasoline, $3.73 per gallon for premium gasoline, and $3.45 per gallon for diesel fuel when they buy their fuel wholesale at HOVENSA. Those prices include the 14-cents-per-gallon tax that HOVENSA collects for the government.

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Obama: Citizenship not a fundamental right for Virgin Islanders

ST. THOMAS - In a legal brief filed last week, the Obama administration took the position that citizenship is not a fundamental right of people born in unincorporated U.S. territories.

The federal government maintains that Congress has the legislative discretion to grant privileges to those born in the territories as they see fit.

The brief was filed in response to a lawsuit about citizenship rights for unincorporated territories that is pending before a federal appeals court.

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Judge suppresses key evidence in 2012 St. Croix murder case

ST. CROIX - Chief District Judge Wilma Lewis has issued an order granting in part a motion seeking to suppress key evidence in the federal murder case against Elvin Wrensford and Craig Muller, charged in the 2012 shooting death of Gilbert Hendricks Jr. in La Grande Princesse.

Wrensford filed a motion in November asking the court to exclude all incriminating evidence collected in the matter.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alphonso Andrews submitted written opposition to the motion, which has since prompted two separate hearings - in January and June.

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Justice finishes compliance check of all V.I. sex offenders

ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Justice Department successfully completed its third "Operation Island Sweep" to keep track of the registered sex offenders in the territory.

In a joint operation with the U.S. Marshals Service and with the assistance of the V.I. Police Department, a territorywide compliance check of all sex offenders residing, attending school and working within the territory was conducted between July 28 and Aug. 11.

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Elections officials won't say whether final primary results will be released Sunday, despite deadline

ST. THOMAS - Official results from the primary election likely will not be released before Sunday, according to Elections officials.

At this point, officials cannot even confirm definitively that the results will be released Sunday, which is the deadline according to the V.I. Code for both district boards to certify their results.

While the majority of ballots have been counted, both the St. Thomas-St. John District and the St. Croix District have about 300 estimated write-in ballots to go through, according to St. Croix District Deputy Supervisor Genevieve Whitaker.

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Bureau of Economic Research seeks input on new economic plan

ST. THOMAS - The V.I. government is starting to draft the next five-year economic plan for the territory and is seeking public input as part of the process.

Starting Monday, the V.I. Bureau of Economic Research and its contractor, SYGMAPCS, will host public meetings across the territory to hear from residents about the current economy and what should be included in the plan.

Last week, Government House announced it awarded a $117,000 competitively bid contract to former Bureau of Economic Research Director Lauritz Mills to draft the next Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy plan for the territory.

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V.I. Supreme Court overturns conviction of man charged with concealing a crime

ST. CROIX - Last spring, a V.I. Superior Court jury took just over an hour before they convicted Shevron Percival of concealing knowledge of a felony for refusing to provide investigators with information about a 2011 murder in Lorraine Village.

However, the V.I. Supreme Court issued an opinion Wednesday reversing the conviction, saying there was not enough evidence to warrant the conviction in the case. Prosecutors had charged that Percival was present on Aug. 11, 2011, when 19-year-old Christopher Rice was shot multiple times in Lorraine Village housing community.

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HOVENSA sales process deadline passes as both parties agree to 15-day extension

ST. CROIX - The end of the sales process period for the HOVENSA refinery - the date that is laid out in an agreement between the V.I. government and the owners of the facility - passed quietly on Friday, with no fanfare and no mention of a possible sale of the facility on St. Croix's south shore.

After several Daily News inquiries on Friday, Government House released a vague, ambiguous, two-sentence statement Friday night that raised more questions than it answered.

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Caribbean Genealogy Library class aims to help Virgin Islanders learn more about Jewish ancestors

ST. THOMAS - It may be surprising, but many prominent St. Thomas families - Robles, Lindo, Benjamin, Hoheb, Monsanto, Maduro, Isaac, Sasso, Gabriel - have Jewish ancestors who came to the islands while escaping persecution.

To help people interested in researching their family trees and finding out more about where they came from, the Caribbean Genealogy Library is hosting the free workshop, "Tracing your Jewish Roots," 2 p.m. Sunday.

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Feds visit Bureau of Technology to review grant use

ST. CROIX - Representatives from a federal granting agency were in the territory, reviewing the Bureau of Information Technology's use of grants funds awarded to help the local government plan for participating in a nationwide first responders/public safety broadband network.

According to a Government House statement issued Thursday, three representatives from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology came to the territory Aug. 6 and 7 to review the V.I. government's grant administration and financial management of the FirstNet State and Local Implementation Grant Program funds.

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DeJongh vetoes bill ending pension payments to spouses of deceased governors, calling it an attack on him, his wife

ST. THOMAS - Gov. John deJongh Jr. took action on a number of bills passed by the 30th Legislature, including vetoing a number of bills and approving a ballot referendum on medical marijuana.

The non-binding ballot referendum will poll the voters on Nov. 4 to see how many are in favor of legalizing medical marijuana in the territory.

The question on the ballot will be: "Should the Legislature of the Virgin Islands consider legislation to allow for the cultivation and use of cannabis (commonly known as marijuana) for medical and research purposes?"

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St. Croix Elections Board votes to move forward with casting of lots

ST. CROIX - St. Croix Board of Elections met in a specially called meeting Thursday evening and among other actions taken, the board voted unanimously to ignore plans by the St. Thomas-St. John board to delay the casting of the lots for the General Election.

The St. Thomas-St. John board is awaiting a decision from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on the eligibility of the Coffelt-Canegata gubernatorial team.

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WAPA won't convert to propane until next year

ST. THOMAS - The territory's utility customers will not reap the benefits of the V.I. Water and Power Authority's conversion to propane until next year.

Despite insisting for months that ratepayers would see savings resulting directly from a 30 percent drop in the cost of fuel come November, WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. said that the utility would not begin the conversion to propane until the first quarter of 2015.

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An article on Page 4 of The Daily News on Thursday should have said that attorney Emile Henderson III is filing an appeal on behalf of St. Croix Board of Elections Chairman Adelbert Bryan regarding the dismissal of Bryan's lawsuit challenging the eligibility of Sen. Alicia Hansen to run for public office.

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St. Croix business funds $10,000 reward for tips leading to credit union robbers

ST. CROIX - In light of a number of daylight armed robberies targeting businesses in recent months, one local business has made a $10,000 donation to the V.I. Police Department to be used as a reward for anyone who provides information leading to the arrest of the persons responsible for the assault and robbery at the Mid-Island Credit Union a week ago.

St. Croix Police Chief James Parris said Thursday that the donation from the business, which wants to remain anonymous, hopefully will encourage residents to come forward with the information needed for investigators to find the persons responsible for the violent and callous crimes.

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VIPD launches 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' campaign

ST. CROIX - The V.I. Police Department said Thursday that it will launch its latest in a series of initiatives and driving safety campaigns in hopes of keeping the roads safe in the face of what it said are rising numbers of drunken drivers.

The "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign will run from today through Labor Day on Sept. 1, according to Barbara Flemming, Highway Safety coordinator.

During a press conference on St. Croix on Thursday, Police Commissioner Rodney Querrard Sr. said law enforcement officers will be out in the community in each district on the look out for drunken drivers to get them off the roads.

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St. Thomas Elections deputy supervisor, board member file police reports against each other

ST. THOMAS - The St. Thomas-St. John deputy supervisor of Elections and one of the district board of elections members filed police reports against each other Wednesday evening.

Deputy Supervisor Nefrediezha Barbel called the V.I. Police Department just before 5 p.m. Wednesday and filed a report against board member Claudette Georges, who filed a report against Barbel in return.

Neither is facing charges at this time.

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Waste Management tells Senate that government refuses to release $6.8M in special funds to them

ST. THOMAS - V.I. Waste Management Authority officials told senators Thursday that the central government is refusing to release $6.8 million in special fund money needed to cover the current fiscal year's operating budget.

Waste Management Authority Executive Director May Adams Cornwall came before the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday to defend her agency's Fiscal Year 2015 budget request of $22.3 million.

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WMA says it is not in breach of contracts with trash haulers

V.I. Waste Management Authority Executive Director May Adams Cornwall said during budget testimony Thursday before the Senate Finance Committee that the agency is not in breach of contract with its waste haulers.

In the last week, some of the territory's waste haulers have spoken out publicly against a move by the Waste Management Authority to reduce their five-year contract. The authority approached all the haulers and asked them to reduce the number of pick-ups so the Waste Management Authority could pay them less.

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V.I.'s hospitals have differing reviews of contractor's aid in boosting revenue

Officials from the territory's financially struggling hospitals on Wednesday presented dramatically different viewpoints on how projects to beef up revenues at their facilities seem to be doing.

Schneider Regional Medical Center officials said they are not yet seeing their goals met - and in fact, cash collections are down - while Luis Hospital officials said they expect to see more patient revenue making its way into their coffers as soon as this month.

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Elections mum on when primaries will be certified

ST. THOMAS - Elections officials said they hope to certify both districts' primary elections before Sunday, though they have not stated that they will be done finalizing ballots by then.

On Wednesday, the St. Croix District still was going through questionable ballots that required verification of the voters, according to St. Croix District Board of Elections Chairman Adelbert Bryan.

In the St. Thomas-St. John District, technicians from ES&S, the company that sold the V.I. Elections System the new voting machines, were working on the "imaging" of the write-in ballots, according to St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr.

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St. Croix lawyer appeals judge's dismissal of lawsuit questioning Sen. Alicia Hansen's eligibility as candidate

ST. CROIX - St. Croix attorney Emile Henderson III has appealed a V.I. Superior Court order that dismisses a challenge to Sen. Alicia Hansen's eligibility to run for office in the General Election.

Henderson's appeal to the V.I. Supreme Court contends that Superior Court Judge Douglas Brady committed multiple errors when he dismissed a suit filed by Adelbert Bryan against Hansen and Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes contesting Hansen's eligibility to seek another term.

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Former U.S. ambassador Terence Todman dies at 88

ST. THOMAS - Terence Todman, a Virgin Islander who served as a U.S. ambassador for more than four decades, died Wednesday at Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas.

He was 88.

Todman was the kind of person who spoke his mind, standing up to teachers in the Charlotte Amalie High School newspaper and later to President Ronald Reagan about Reagan's stance on apartheid in South Africa.

He was a natural leader, with an understated and easy style.

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Public Finance Authority OKs $50M bond borrowing for V.I.'s hospitals

ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Public Finance Authority board on Wednesday approved going to the bond market to borrow $50 million to fund the territory's ailing hospitals and cover a portion of the V.I. government's current budget deficit.

The V.I. Legislature authorized the borrowing at a special session last month.

PFA Executive Director and Finance Commissioner Angel Dawson Jr. said the Public Finance Authority tried to negotiate a long-term deficit financing package with FirstBank, the institution that currently holds a $40 million line of credit for the government.

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PFA approves lease for new dive shop at King's Alley Hotel

ST. THOMAS - The space in the front of King's Alley Hotel, which always was intended to be a restaurant, soon will become a dive shop.

The V.I. Public Finance Authority board approved a lease agreement Wednesday with Dive Experience Inc. for the space.

The dive company was the only respondent to a request for proposals issued by the authority.

The five-year lease will have a five-year option to renew and includes a provision for termination of the lease if the hotel is sold.

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Family of woman accused of scalding girl asks that charges be dismissed so she can get mental help

ST. CROIX - Assault charges against a 67-year-old grandmother were dismissed Wednesday in V.I. Superior Court after an agreement between prosecutors and her family that arrangements have been made for the woman to seek psychiatric evaluation and treatment at a Puerto Rico facility.

Gregoria Davis, stood timidly before V.I. Superior Court Judge Douglas Brady for what was scheduled to be her arraignment hearing on charges of second-degree assault and child abuse, both as acts of domestic violence.

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V.I.'s YouthBuild program gets $1M federal grant

ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Housing Authority's YouthBuild program has received a $1.1 million federal grant to keep giving young people a chance to learn new skills.

The grant comes from the U.S. Labor Department, and $1.1 million is the maximum grant award.

The money will fund the YouthBuild program for two years, allowing 35 participants to be enrolled each year.

The program is for young people ages 16-24 who are low-income; may have been in the juvenile justice system; have aged out of the foster care system; have dropped out of high school; or are otherwise deemed to be "at-risk."

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No damage reported after magnitude-4.6 earthquake

ST. THOMAS - Local agencies reported no damage from the magnitude 4.6 earthquake that shook the territory Tuesday night.

Residents on St. Thomas seemed to feel it the most, according to V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Christine Lett, though residents throughout the territory reported feeling and hearing the moderate quake.

"There were no falling objects, no injuries and no reports of damage," Lett said.

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No signs of foul play after body washes ashore in Christiansted

ST. CROIX - Police on St. Croix are investigating the circumstances surrounding the body of a man that washed up near the Water Gut area of Christiansted early Wednesday morning and are seeking assistance from the community to identify the man's next of kin.

St. Croix Police Chief James Parris said Wednesday afternoon that workers on the overnight shift at the Seaborne Terminal in Water Gut notified police just before 1:30 a.m. Wednesday and alerted them to a body floating in the water on the western side of Christiansted Harbor.

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ST. CROIX - Flanked by members of his executive staff, including a prison warden from each district, V.I. Corrections Bureau Director Julius Wilson sat under fire by members of the 30th Legislature for just more than three hours Tuesday as he defended a $28.3 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The Corrections Bureau oversees three facilities, including the Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility on St. Croix, and the Alexander Farrelly Criminal Justice Complex and Alva A. Swan Correctional Annex on St. Thomas. There are also two central office facilities, one in downtown Christiansted and the other in Charlotte Amalie.

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Elections lags, fails to certify primary elections

ST. THOMAS - Despite claims that the territory's primary elections in both districts would be certified Tuesday, they were not.

While both districts continued counting late into Tuesday night, V.I. Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes said that it was unlikely that the final results would be certified until today, or possibly later in the week.

They also were not revealing numbers of all the walk-in, mail-in and provisional ballots at stake, nor were they revealing results, including those of several Senate candidates whose fates hang in the balance.

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Ex-marshal to receive psych evaluation; family refuses to serve as custodians

ST. CROIX - Nicholas Miller will remain jailed at least until he is able to receive a psychological evaluation and treatment for a mental illness that authorities believe is causing violent behavior.

The former V.I. Superior Court deputy marshal and U.S. Marine appeared Tuesday before Superior Court Judge Douglas Brady to be advised of his rights on charges of grand larceny, destruction of property and tampering and causing damage to a vehicle in connection with a car break-in Sunday night.

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