Luis official's statement reveals hiring process for Ga. doctor with suspended medical license

ST. CROIX - Dr. Nedra Dodds initially came to St. Croix in May to explore the possibility of working as an emergency room doctor at Luis Hospital, according to the hospital's interim chief medical officer.

But after someone decided the information Dodds disclosed on her hospital credentialing application would disqualify her from obtaining a Virgin Islands medical license, Dodds instead submitted a proposal for business consultation services in the Luis Hospital Emergency Room.

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Break-in at St. Croix elementary school leads to early dismissal Friday

ST. CROIX - Classes at Alexander Henderson Elementary School were dismissed early Friday after students and staff complained about skin irritation and itchy eyes.

The irritation was the result of an overnight break-in, according to V.I. Education officials, who also revealed that it was the second time the school had been broken into this week.

Education Department spokeswoman Ananta Pancham said the decision to dismiss classes was made just after 9 a.m., but there was a delay because of the unavailability of bus drivers on short notice.

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Pressure to debut new video alongside reggae documentary Sunday on St. Croix

ST. CROIX - On Sunday, Frederiksted will come alive as I Grade Records and History, Culture and Tradition Foundation Inc. bring a collaboration of the release of a music video and reggae documentary filmed on St. Croix.

The two entities are collaborating in bringing forth the premiere of reggae artist Delyno "Pressure" Brown's latest music video "Stand Firm" and the premiere of "Escape to St. Croix."

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Day of Caring focuses on St. John's homeless residents

ST. JOHN - "Project Homeless Connect" traveled to Cruz Bay on Friday to provide a Day of Caring for the island's homeless population.

The daylong event is put on by the Human Services Department, United Way of St. Thomas-St. John and the Inter-Agency Council on Homelessness for the homeless to receive needed assistance and practical support.

Volunteers from a host of non-profit organizations, private businesses and government entities provide clothing, food, health screenings, legal advice, showers and toiletries to residents in need.

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Man stabbed by stranger on Fireburn Hill

ST. THOMAS - Police on St. Thomas are investigating a non-fatal stabbing that happened just after midnight on Friday.

The 46-year-old victim was stabbed at least once in his right lower back and transported to Schneider Hospital by ambulance for treatment.

According to the preliminary police report, the victim told police he was walking up Fireburn Hill when a man approached him, stabbed him in the back and ran away on foot.

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St. Thomas man arrested for illegal gun after fight at Cruz Bay bar

ST. THOMAS - Police on St. John arrested Joseph Robert Jr. of Berg's Home, St. Thomas, on Thursday and charged him with possession of an unlicensed firearm following a physical altercation that occurred at Cap's Place in Cruz Bay, St. John.

Police were alerted to the situation about 11:45 a.m. after residents called in reports to 911 about a fight in progress at the location and said a gun was involved.

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St. Croix man on probation charged with assault

ST. CROIX - A 24-year old man with a violent past and more than three years of probation left on his last sentence, appeared in Magistrate Court on Friday morning, charged in the assault of a woman.

Odarie Massiah was advised of his rights on charges of false imprisonment; third-degree assault; second-degree assault; and destruction of property stemming from reports made to police Wednesday.

According to the police report filed by Officer Moses Francis, a woman told police that she and Massiah were at her apartment when they began to argue.

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Smelly, unsightly seaweed will be gone from V.I. soon

The thick brown seaweed that has cluttered the beaches of the territory and can been seen floating in large clumps out in the ocean will soon dissipate as the winds pick up and the currents shift.

Tyler Smith, associate professor at the University of the Virgin Islands Center for Marine and Environmental Studies, said the massive quantities of the seaweed should start to move out of territorial waters when the winds shift direction, usually around mid-November.

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Fired Luis doctor to have administrative hearing at hospital today

ST. CROIX - Dr. Albert Titus - a surgeon fired from Luis Hospital almost a year ago amid controversy - is scheduled to have an administrative hearing at the hospital starting today as he fights to get his job back.

The administrative hearing is separate from a two-day hearing Titus had in V.I. Superior Court that wrapped up Thursday - a hearing in which he was seeking, among other things, reinstatement at the hospital.

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Luis officials: First draft of systems improvement agreement will be completed in matter of days

ST. CROIX - Luis Hospital officials told senators Thursday that they expect to have an early draft of a proposed systems improvement agreement completed within the next few days.

Developing the document - which must be fully executed and agreed upon by hospital leadership, the board, the Legislature and the governor by Nov. 20 - is the key for now to the hospital being able to maintain certification with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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Elections chairman files appeal of judge's denial to take Hansen off ballot

ST. CROIX - With less than three weeks to go before the Nov. 4 General Election, the flames of the smoldering series of lawsuits to take Sen. Alicia Hansen off the ballot have been rekindled.

St. Croix District Board of Elections Chairman Adelbert Bryan filed a notice of appeal in V.I. Supreme Court asking the court to review the Oct. 10 order in which V.I. Superior Court Judge Douglas Brady denied Bryan's emergency motion for enforcement of judgment and for contempt sanctions against Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes.

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DeJongh vetoes Senate's proposed streetlight surcharge

ST. THOMAS - Gov. John deJongh Jr. took action on the last of the budget bills and several other measures passed at the last Senate session, including a line-item veto of the controversial street lighting tax measure.

The main bill - 30-0463 - signed by the governor includes the Fiscal Year 2015 budget for the central government's departments and agencies. That bill had a number of unrelated amendments tacked on at the legislative session, some of which the governor line-item vetoed Wednesday.

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Marsh-Monsanto sues government over suspension from St. Thomas Elections Board

ST. THOMAS - St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections member Wilma Marsh-Monsanto has filed a lawsuit against the district board, the joint board, the V.I. attorney general and the V.I. government over the district board's decision to suspend her.

On Sept. 29, the district board voted unanimously to suspend her from all board activities until after the Nov. 4 General Election has been certified.

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St. Thomas Elections Board says early voting will begin Monday, despite earlier funding uncertainty

ST. THOMAS - Let the voting begin.

Virgin Islanders can begin casting votes via absentee ballots starting today, according to elections officials at the St. Thomas-St. John District Board meeting Thursday at the V.I. Elections Office on St. Thomas.

Though the V.I. Joint Board of Elections was uncertain last week whether early voting would be possible prior to the Nov. 4 General Election, the St. Thomas-St. John District Board said Thursday that it would be possible.

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St. Croix students miss out on Hunger Banquet due to bureaucratic error

ST. CROIX - While the international observance of World Food Day was on Thursday, the University of the Virgin Islands had to cancel its "Hunger Banquet," which was expected to be used as a tool to give a group of local students a lesson about food disparities.

About a 100 students between ages 10 and 14 were expected to attend the event in the university's Great Hall on St. Croix, but organizer Sarah Dahl-Smith said they realized on Tuesday that they had not gotten back enough responses from the schools that usually participate in the event.

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Judge sentences 2 men to 57 months in deadly immigrant smuggling case

ST. THOMAS - Defense attorneys pushed for minimum sentences for both men convicted of helping smuggle more than two dozen illegal immigrants, eight of whom died when the boat ran aground trying to evade authorities.

District Judge Curtis Gomez on Thursday sentenced Dieuseul Mompremier, 43, also known as "Jomei," and Lamorthe Delva, 46, to 57 months imprisonment after the prosecution and defense argued back and forth about how many immigrants had been on the vessel that was trying to transport them to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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WAPA sends crew to Anguilla to help with storm recovery

The V.I. Water and Power Authority on Thursday sent a 10-man crew to help Anguilla restore power after Tropical Storm Gonzalo, which was developing into a Category 1 hurricane, devastated the island.

Anguilla requested WAPA's assistance in its storm recovery efforts, and David Gumbs, CEO of Anguilla Electric Company Limited, reached out on Wednesday to his counterpart in the U.S. Virgin Islands, WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr.

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Public Finance Authority OKs $13M loan to WICO for second phase of cruise ship dock renovations

ST. THOMAS - The increasing heft of cruise ships is pushing the West Indian Company to pump millions of dollars into dock renovations.

After cruise ship companies expressed concerns about certain components of its dock to WICO, the V.I. Public Finance Authority approved a resolution at its monthly meeting Wednesday for WICO to borrow $13 million for the second phase of a series of improvements.

The first phase included a $7 million extension of WICO's dock by 150 feet, which now is complete, according to WICO president and CEO Joseph Boschulte.

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Fired doctor fights to be reinstated at Luis

ST. CROIX - Supporters of Dr. Albert Titus crowded into a courtroom Wednesday as Titus - terminated from Luis Hospital in November 2013 after a patient developed problems following surgery he performed on her - fought to get reinstated at the hospital.

Titus' attorney, Yohana Manning, contends his client was denied due process rights and was wrongfully discharged. Titus is suing the hospital, the territorial hospital board, Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kendall Griffith and medical staff president Dr. Raymond Cintron.

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Housing Authority OKs five-year, annual plans

ST. THOMAS - In a special meeting Wednesday, the V.I. Housing Authority board approved the agency's five-year and annual plans.

The plans are a Housing and Urban Development requirement, and the deadline to submit them to the federal government was Wednesday, according to Housing Authority Executive Director Robert Graham.

The last five-year plan covered 2010 to 2014.

The plan reviews the goals set out in the last plan and reports how well those goals were met. The document lists the 2013 high performer designation for the territory's Housing Choice Voucher program, and the success in creating a Housing Choice Voucher waiting list for the Louis E. Brown Phase II development.

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Economic Development Authority plans small business workshop on St. Croix

ST. CROIX - Residents with business ideas or who have hopes of seeing their small business venture grow, are invited to a free workshop hosted by The V.I. Economic Development Authority and the Small Business Camp this weekend.

Semele George, EDA spokeswoman, said The Small Business Camp Weekend training program is designed for entrepreneurs, executives, non-profit leaders and anyone who has a business idea that they want to develop.

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Sunshine Foundation offers low-cost spay/neuter clinic today on St. Croix in honor of National Feral Cat Day

ST. CROIX - The Sunshine Foundation once again is working with Sugar Mill Veterinary Hospital in observance of today as National Feral Cat Day and is seeking assistance from the community to help them end cat overpopulation one cat at a time.

Dr. Stacia Jung said the foundation is offering $5 spay and neuter clinics today, and they have a few spots left for appointments.

Feral cats are cats that are not socialized with people and are difficult to tame. They seek out reliable food sources, often congregating around dumpsters, hotels, restaurants and residential garbage cans.

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2 students, monitor hurt in fight at Educational Complex

ST. CROIX - V.I. Police and Education Department officials have launched parallel investigations into a fight at St. Croix Educational Complex on Wednesday that resulted in the injuries of two students and a school monitor.

Education Department spokeswoman Ananta Pancham said Wednesday afternoon that school officials and police were notified of the disturbance on the school's campus.

According to the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency's web blotter, which keeps a running list of calls made to 911 dispatchers, someone called at noon to report a disturbance and assault in the Castle Burke area, where the school is.

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PFA clears funding for St. Croix stadium, V.I. Next Generation Network

ST. THOMAS - At its monthly meeting Wednesday, the V.I. Public Finance Authority approved the refunding of the $260 million 2003 Gross Receipts Taxes bond series, which will finance a portion of the costs and design of Paul E. Joseph Stadium on St. Croix and will help to expand the V.I. Next Generation Network.

The Public Finance Authority has high hopes for a lower interest rate - which currently is set at about 5.25 percent - for the outstanding $237.5 million, according to Finance Commissioner Angel Dawson Jr.

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The history of Cruz Bay I and Red Hook I - 85-foot aluminum catamarans, each capable of carrying more than 200 passengers and costing about $3.25 million - that the territory bought to enhance service on the Red Hook-to-Cruz Bay ferry route:

- April 2013 - Gov. John deJongh Jr. signs a contract for two ferries to be built by Louisiana company Midship Marine Inc. and costing $7.6 million in federal funds. Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls says the ferries will arrive by the end of the year.

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Public Works: New ferries will be running by month's end

ST. THOMAS - Before the end of the month.

That is the new timeline for when the territory's new ferries, together costing more than $7 million, are expected to be running between St. Thomas and St. John, according to V.I. Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls.

Gov. John deJongh Jr. signed each of the operators' subsidy agreements late Tuesday afternoon, Smalls said, and they now are expected to be signed by the operators, Transportation Services and Varlack Ventures.

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V.I. returns to normal after brush with Hurricane Gonzalo

ST. THOMAS - All was back to normal Tuesday morning after what turned out to be just a brush with Hurricane Gonzalo.

Because the territory was uncertain of what to expect from the Category 1 Hurricane, which ended up bending northeast of the Virgin Islands, several services that were expected to be unavailable were opened Tuesday.

All ports on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John were re-opened at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard based out of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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DeJongh signs budget bills, vetoes marijuana measure

Gov. John deJongh Jr. took action on 47 bills, approving 45 of them, including the Fiscal Year 2015 budget bills, and vetoing two measures, including a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

He also acknowledged a resolution the Senate passed Sept. 25 asking deJongh to pay back almost $500,000 - plus 9.5 percent interest - that was spent on security modifications at his personal residence in Estate Mafolie.

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Man charged with kidnapping woman from store in Barren Spot

ST. CROIX - A 33-year-old man was accompanied by his attorney Tuesday morning when he turned himself in to face kidnapping and assault charges stemming from an incident in June.

Enrique Schuster, of Bonne Esperance appeared before V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks pursuant to an arrest warrant that had been issued charging him with assault and kidnapping. The charges stem from a June 10 incident in which a woman reported to police that Schuster took her against her will from a Barren Spot store and assaulted her and refused to let her out of his vehicle.

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Judge rules St. Croix man charged with murder is not competent to stand trial

ST. CROIX - V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks ruled from the bench on Tuesday that a 29-year-old man with a history of mental illness and an extensive criminal background is not competent to stand trial for murder in the brutal stabbing death of his mother's boyfriend in 2012.

Anthony Lloyd was before the court for a competency hearing connected to the Nov. 25, 2012, case in which he is charged with first-degree murder and weapon possession in the stabbing death of Ainsworth Languedoc at Languedoc's Mon Bijou home.

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St. Croix students will experience real-world food disparities at annual Hunger Banquet

ST. CROIX - As organizations around the world prepare to celebrate World Food Day on Thursday, a group of local students in fifth through eight grades will learn lessons about food disparities as they sit down to a "Hunger Banquet" to take part in the observation.

The Hunger Banquet this year will take place at 9 a.m. at the Great Hall on the University of the Virgin Islands' St. Croix campus.

Clarice Clarke, UVI Cooperative Extension Service spokeswoman, said the unique meal will begin this year's local observation, which is part of an international effort to bring attention to the plight of the hungry and undernourished in the territory and around the world.

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V.I. plays it safe when storm moves in

While they kept an eye on the updates and storm warnings associated with Hurricane Gonzalo, Virgin Islanders for the most part were not very worried ahead of the storm Monday.

Having had years of experience in preparing for hurricanes of varying magnitudes, Caroll Hermon said about noon Monday that he was not very worried about Gonzalo, which at that point still was a tropical storm creeping toward the territory.

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Today's forecast

As Hurricane Gonzalo continued to strengthen overnight, it also bent toward the north during the early morning hours today, bringing much less of a punch than expected to the Virgin Islands and completely avoiding Puerto Rico.

At press time this morning, Gonzalo was a Category 1 hurricane packing 85 mph winds and moving northwest at about 12 mph.

Weather conditions for the next few days are expected to be cloudy with a chance for rain and temperatures in the mid-80s.

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King Airport, seaports closed ahead of storm's arrival

Airlines canceled flights to St. Thomas, cruise ships cancelled calls and the U.S. Coast Guard closed the territory's seaports Monday afternoon as Hurricane Gonzalo churned toward the Virgin Islands.

The territory's seaports were closed - place on Port Condition Zulu - as of 5 p.m. Monday.

The V.I. Port Authority also made the decision to close King Airport on St. Thomas at 7 p.m. Monday after flights were cancelled.

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Government agencies prep V.I. for Hurricane Gonzalo

ST. THOMAS - Government agencies prepared for the worst into the evening Monday, not sure what to expect as Hurricane Gonzalo inched toward the territory.

However, by the time the storm reached the territory Monday night, it's wallop was not much more than a bluster, as predictions of up to 8 inches of rain and 60 mph winds materialized into sparse rainfall and steady stiff winds with occasional gusts of 30-35 mph.

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BVI residents brace for hit from Hurricane Gonzalo

TORTOLA - Residents in the British Virgin Islands on Monday evening were bracing for a direct hit from Hurricane Gonzalo as it inched slowly toward the territory.

However, by the end of the night, Hurricane Gonzalo packed less punch than many feared.

About 6 p.m. Monday, residents in the East End and Long Look communities were busy getting supplies at Rite Way and Fine Foods supermarkets.

Standing with his girlfriend, Desron Brannigan stood at the back of a double line with more than 40 people in the Mangrove Bakery across from Fine Foods on a busy stretch of the Blackburne Highway, also known as 42nd Street, trying to buy bread.

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Dozens of St. Croix residents march for breast cancer awareness at UVI

ST. CROIX - Dressed in varying shades of pink to symbolize their support for breast cancer awareness, about 100 people took to Palm Drive at the University of the Virgin Islands just after noon Monday for the annual breast cancer awareness march and rally.

Before the march began, UVI professor David Capriola was dressed in cotton candy pink sweat pants, a blue UVI shirt and a hot pink afro wig, as he gave an inspirational speech and observed a moment of silence for the many who have lost their lives to breast cancer, those who are currently battling the disease and the many other survivors who are now cancer-free.

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WAPA OKs storage contract for new steam generator

ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Water and Power Authority board authorized WAPA's executive director to negotiate and enter into a contract that will allow for the storage of the territory's new heat recovery steam generator.

During an emergency meeting called to avoid overage costs, the board approved a contract that would be on a month-to-month basis and cost no more than $584,316, according to WAPA officials.

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Family donates Sorgenfri land to UVI

ST. THOMAS - The University of the Virgin Islands campus on St. Thomas just got a lot bigger.

The school received its largest real estate gift with the donation of 65 acres in Estate Sorgenfri on St. Thomas.

Putting the gift into perspective, UVI President David Hall noted that 65 acres is half the size of the St. Croix campus and one-sixth the size of the St. Thomas campus.

The property at Sorgenfri No. 1 Southside Quarter includes a rolling hillside, two freshwater guts and a quarter-mile of beachfront on Hendricks Bay.

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TS Gonzalo on track to hit V.I. today

A quiet storm season is expected to change tonight as Tropical Storm Gonzalo crosses the Virgin Islands, bringing torrential rains and the possibility of hurricane force winds.

According to Roberto Garcia, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in San Juan, conditions will begin to deteriorate this afternoon with storm conditions lasting through Tuesday afternoon.

On Sunday, Garcia warned that "there is a lot of uncertainty with this one."

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Tsunami workshops to be held on St. Thomas and St. Croix

The V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency, in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Caribbean Tsunami Warning Program, will conduct tsunami workshops for boaters in November.

The first workshop will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 18 at the University of the Virgin Islands Administration and Conference Center on St. Thomas. The second workshop will be from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 19 at the UVI Great Hall on St. Croix.

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HOVENSA holds price of gas again

ST. CROIX - For the sixth straight week, HOVENSA left the wholesale price of gasoline at its truck racks unchanged today.

HOVENSA each week evaluates its rack rates - the price of fuel purchased wholesale at the HOVENSA truck-loading station on St. Croix - and may adjust them.

However, with no change in the rate this week, independent gas station operators in the territory are still paying $3.54 per gallon for regular gasoline, $3.74 per gallon for premium gasoline, and $3.46 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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Court staff certified

A number of staff members of the V.I. Supreme Court have earned certifications pertaining to the administration of the court.

The National Center for State Courts' Institute for Court Management awarded the following individuals with their Certified Court Manager designation:

- Regina deChabert Petersen, acting administrative director.

- Attorney Veronica Handy, Clerk of the Court.

- Natalie Thomas-Pickering, Procurement manager.

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Man faces judge in Work and Rest slaying

ST. CROIX - In the last 10 years, since he turned 18, Stedroy Hurst has faced a number of arrests on charges ranging from destruction of property to felony assault. Saturday, he appeared before V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks, this time charged with first-degree murder stemming from the fatal shooting of Malik Davis, 19, Wednesday in Work and Rest.

Hurst, dressed in a red two-piece prison outfit, stood attentive as the judge spoke to him. At one point, however, he grew agitated and began to shake his head in disagreement as Assistant Attorney General Heather Baker spoke about how police suspect he carried out the murder.

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May 19 - St. Croix Board of Elections Chairman Adelbert Bryan files a motion in V.I. Superior Court challenging Sen. Alicia Hansen's eligibility to be on the 2014 General Election ballot citing her 2009 conviction for willful failure to file income taxes as prohibiting her from running under the V.I. Code's moral turpitude clause.

June 4 - Hansen files a motion in Superior Court to dismiss Bryan's motion.

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Judge denies motion to take Hansen off ballot

ST. CROIX - The on-again, off-again political roller coaster surrounding Sen. Alicia Hansen's eligibility to remain on the General Election ballot may be finally over with just more than three weeks remaining before the Nov. 4 voting.

It was well after 5:30 p.m. Friday when V.I. Superior Court Judge Douglas Brady handed down his order, denying St. Croix District Board of Elections Chairman Adelbert Bryan's emergency motion for enforcement of judgement and for contempt sanctions against Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes.

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Joint Board of Elections is prepared but doesn't expect Legislature to fund early voting period

ST. THOMAS - The upcoming territorial General Election may not include the usual two-week period of early voting because the V.I. Legislature has not yet budgeted any monies for the early voting period.

While the V.I. Joint Board of Elections put together a plan in case the Senate provides funding for early voting, the board otherwise is not planning on having an early voting period.

"I don't see how we can," said Joint Board Chairwoman Alecia Wells on Friday after the Joint Board's last scheduled meeting before the Nov. 4 General Election.

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WAPA plans power outage on Main Street on St. Thomas

The V.I. Water and Power Authority has scheduled a power outage from 7 p.m. to midnight Tuesday on Main Street on St. Thomas.

WAPA crews will be doing maintenance on the underground switches and to isolate the area, crews will temporarily interrupt service to Feeder 6B. The interruption will affect the service area between the Alvaro DeLugo Post Office to Market Square and the Waterfront area from Cardow to First Bank.

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St. Croix man pleads not guilty to stealing guns

ST. CROIX - A 22-year old man remains jailed unable to post bail in connection to a traffic stop in February, during which he was found in constructive possession of two firearms that later were determined to have been stolen.

Dumaray Isles Jr., of Estate Upper Love, appeared before Magistrate Miguel Camacho on Friday morning and was advised of his rights on charges of unauthorized possession of a firearm; grand larceny; possession of ammunition; buying or receiving stolen property; possession of stolen property; and failure tor report a firearm brought into the territory.

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Man wanted in connection with Work and Rest murder turns himself in

ST. CROIX - Just more than 12 hours after police announced to the public that they were looking for Stedroy Hurst as a person of interest in the Wednesday shooting death of Malik Davis, Hurst turned himself in without incident.

Major Crime Unit detectives sent out notice to the local media about 4 p.m. Thursday saying they were seeking assistance from the community to locate Hurst as a person of interest they wanted to question, according to V.I. Police spokeswoman Melody Rames.

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