ST. CROIX - Luis Hospital officials painted another grim picture of the institution's financial status Wednesday at a meeting of the Senate Health, Hospitals, Human Services and Veterans Affairs Committee.
After testifying about shrinking government allotments, growing debt from uncompensated care and measures such as layoffs to deal with the financial imbalance, Dr. Kendall Griffith, Luis Hospital's interim chief executive officer, talked about the strategies the hospital is using to decrease expenses and increase revenue, but he said it will not be enough.
A break in a temporary sewage line in the Golden Rock area Wednesday resulted in flooded streets and the dismissal of an elementary school.
Just after 11 a.m. Wednesday, a temporary above-ground pump-around sewer force main became disconnected and spilled sewage into the Golden Rock Shopping Center's parking lot, near the Pueblo Supermarket, according to V.I. Waste Management Authority spokeswoman Stella Saunders.
ST. THOMAS - Fort Christian made a fitting backdrop for a unique culinary competition Wednesday that celebrated the Caribbean tradition of cooking with coal pots.
Hot coals in an iron stand, atop which sits a pot - traditionally a clay pot - was the traditional way of cooking long before electric or gas stoves came on the scene.
The Coal Pot Cook-off Wednesday afternoon was organized by the St. Thomas Historical Trust as a fundraiser. Seven chefs served up their tasty dishes in small sample cups, and the public voted by tipping their favorites. At the end of the day, the tips were counted and the proceeds split between the chef and the trust.
ST. THOMAS - Following the arrest and suspension of DPNR's Chief Enforcement Officer Roberto Tapia, Gov. John deJongh Jr. approved the promotion of two enforcement officers to administrative positions within the Enforcement Division on Wednesday.
Howard Forbes Sr. of St. Croix will function as acting director of the Division of Environmental Enforcement and will oversee the division's day-to-day operations.
ST. THOMAS - District Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller set restrictive bail conditions Wednesday for two men from Puerto Rico accused of being co-conspirators with DPNR Enforcement Chief Roberto Tapia in a drug trafficking organization.
Stephen Torres and Eddie Lopez-Lopez, who worked as fishermen and were taken off a red boat Saturday that federal agents had under aerial surveillance, will be allowed to return to their homes in Puerto Rico after posting $50,000 in cash or property.
ST. CROIX - In observance of Public Works Week in the territory, the V.I. Public Works Department conducted the rededication of the Harold G. Thompson Conference Room on St. Croix, followed by an open house and heavy equipment display for students.
Assistant Public Works Commissioner Dennis Brow said the demonstration of the heavy equipment was to familiarize students with the different machines, their functions and being safe around them.
ST. CROIX - In a memorandum opinion handed down Tuesday, V.I. Superior Court Presiding Judge Darryl Donohue Sr. denied a motion to dismiss a vehicular homicide case in which the truck involved in the accident disappeared from a V.I. Police impound lot.
Police charged Kenneth Milligan two weeks after the accident on Aug. 15, 2009, that claimed the life of 53-year-old Augusta Alcindor. However, Milligan's Nissan pickup truck disappeared from police custody and has since been repaired and resold, according to testimony in a preliminary hearing last year.
ST. THOMAS - Police are not releasing any details about the identity of a man found shot to death Tuesday night in the driver's seat of a car parked to the side of Tabor and Harmony Road.
It was the second shooting death on St. Thomas in as many days.
V.I. Police spokeswoman Melody Rames said initial reports did not contain the victim's name or age and that she was waiting for further information to be released by detectives of the Major Crime Unit detectives.
ST. CROIX - A court document describing the current conditions of confinement at Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility presents a harrowing portrait of the danger there for staff and prisoners.
The 138-page Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law - submitted by U.S. Justice Department civil rights lawyers and undisputed by the territory - was adopted last week by U.S. District Judge Wilma Lewis, at the same time she adopted a settlement the parties had agreed to that lays out the steps the territory will take to rectify the problems.
ST. CROIX - A federal judge last week signed off on an agreement that settles the legal battle for control of Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility and orders the territory to fix unconstitutional conditions there.
The 21-page settlement - which the territory and the U.S. Justice Department already had agreed to and signed last August - sets out myriad steps the territory must take to overhaul operations at the prison to resolve the constitutional violations.
ST. CROIX - By all descriptions, Olga George is an island girl, free-spirited and full of energy, and tonight, she will begin her pitch to wow the judges as a competitor on the FOX network's "MasterChef."
Award-winning chef Gordon Ramsay, restaurateur Joe Bastianich and acclaimed chef Graham Elliot are returning for the fourth season of the culinary hit "MasterChef" with a two-hour season premiere tonight at 8.
ST. CROIX - Residents should expect to be walking with their umbrellas this week as tropical waves roll through the territory during the next few days.
Heavy gray rain clouds rolled into the territory overnight Monday and into Tuesday morning, and scattered showers continued throughout the day. As the heavy rainfall continued, the National Weather Service in San Juan issued an urban and small stream flood advisory for St. Croix, but the advisory expired Tuesday afternoon.
ST. THOMAS - A bill to pay the tuition of any V.I. high school graduate who wants to attend the University of the Virgin Islands was held in committee Tuesday until a secure funding source can be identified.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Tregenza Roach, would create the Virgin Islands Fund for Higher Education. Administered by the V.I. Education Department, the fund would provide a four-year tuition scholarship for students that meet certain criteria.
ST. THOMAS - Tickets are on sale for V.I. Montessori School and Peter Gruber International Academy's annual "Arts for Change" show, which takes place June 1.
Students from grades 7-12 have been working all year to create artwork that focuses on promoting a positive change in the world.
"The purpose of the show is to try to bring the community together through the arts, and to focus on important causes that these kids care about," said the school's arts coordinator Diandra Jones. "The kids pick their own problem and create an art project to draw awareness to that problem. And they were pretty passionate about it."
ST. THOMAS - Police are investigating the shooting death of an 18-year-old man who was shot while he was washing his car in Estate Tutu on Monday night.
Vasheo Donastorg was outside his house when residents on Lime Street in Estate Tutu heard a number of shots fired, according to a statement issued Tuesday by the V.I. Police Department.
Police were alerted of a shooting about 9:50 p.m. and arrived with EMTs, who transported the victim to the hospital by ambulance, police said.
ST. THOMAS - Roberto Tapia, the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources enforcement chief arrested Friday on charges of drug trafficking, remained in custody Tuesday afternoon after District Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller set his bail at $250,000 and ordered that he be confined to the house he shares with his mother in Estate Fortuna.
As of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Tapia had not posted bail, according to the District Court clerk's office.
ST. THOMAS - Members of the Senate Finance Committee passed a bill Tuesday to divert the Marine Terminal Tax from the General Fund to the V.I. Port Authority to finance a number of critical projects.
Some senators were concerned about taking money from the general treasury, but others believe that it is a wise investment in the territory's tourism product.
"Our Caribbean neighbors, regardless of economic status, continue to invest in their ports. We as a territory cannot fall behind in the scheme of things," Port Authority legal counsel Don Mills said Tuesday.
ST. THOMAS - Baptist pastor the Rev. Bentley Thomas was given the green light Monday by the Senate Rules and Judiciary Committee to serve on the V.I. Parole Board.
If confirmed by the full Senate, this will be Thomas' first time serving on the board.
The Parole Board is responsible for conducting review hearings for inmates who have been serving sentences imposed in federal and local courts.
Senators asked Thomas few questions Monday, but the primary concern was his current work with prisoners.
ST. THOMAS - The nomination for Rodney Querrard Sr. to serve as V.I. Police commissioner sailed through the Senate Rules and Judiciary Committee on Monday.
His nomination must now go before the full Senate for the final step in the confirmation process.
Querrard has a long history in the V.I. Police Department.
He was called out of retirement in January by Gov. John deJongh Jr. to serve as assistant commissioner and acting commissioner when the last commissioner, Henry White Jr., resigned.
ST. THOMAS - A murder suspect in a four-year-old cold case who was extradited to the Virgin Islands made his initial court appearance in the territory on Monday, and a second suspect has been served with a warrant in Oakdale, La.
Ibn Anderson, 22, was extradited from Texas on Saturday. He appeared Monday before V.I. Superior Court Judge Adam Christian on charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, first-degree assault, third-degree assault and four counts of unauthorized use of a firearm during a crime of violence.
The Division of Real Property Tax, Office of the Lieutenant Governor, will conduct auctions next month in both districts for properties in delinquent payment status of 10 or more years.
In the St. Thomas-St. John District, the auctions will take place on June 20 and 21 at the Island Flava Restaurant at the Crown Bay Dock.
On St. Croix, the auctions will take place on June 26 and 27 at the Virgin Islands Cardiac Center at Luis Hospital.
ST. THOMAS - Virgin Islanders can participate in a cook-off that highlights Virgin Islands culture Wednesday, when seven local chefs square-off on the Fort Christian lawn for the title of "Best Coal Pot Chef."
Presented by the St. Thomas Historical Trust, the cook-off requires that each chef use a coal pot - a raised iron bowl and a central grid that often requires charcoal - to prepare individual samples of a dish of their own choice for the public to taste.
ST. THOMAS - New information has emerged regarding the drug trafficking arrest of Roberto Tapia, enforcement chief for the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, including that federal agents believe Tapia used his DPNR vessel to pick up cash from Puerto Rico drug smugglers in the open waters off St. Thomas.
The cash may have been used to purchase the 7 kilograms of cocaine agents discovered Tapia was carrying in a backpack after traveling to St. John on Friday evening, according to affidavits filed against Tapia and two co-conspirators.
ST. THOMAS - More than 600 runners and walkers showed up at the Charlotte Amalie waterfront apron for the 10th annual Walk/Run Against Gun Violence race, which aims to raise money for scholarships and educate participants on the effects of gun violence.
"The whole thing was a great success," said Celia Carroll, the executive director of Mothers Against Guns, Inc. "We had great participation from the community. It was good that people came out to stand out against the gun violence in the community."
ST. THOMAS - Federal agents arrested a high-ranking DPNR official at the Red Hook ferry dock on Friday after they said they saw him using a DPNR boat for drug trafficking and found him in possession of 7 kilograms of cocaine.
Roberto Tapia, chief of enforcement for the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, was armed and wearing clothing bearing the DPNR insignia and in possession of a bag containing more than 15 pounds of cocaine, according to a statement issued Saturday by U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe.
ST. CROIX - The wholesale price of regular and premium gasoline in the territory rose today, while the wholesale price of diesel fuel did not change.
Today's adjustments by HOVENSA increased the rack rate - the price of fuel purchased wholesale at the HOVENSA truck-loading station on St. Croix - for regular gasoline by 4 cents per gallon and for premium gasoline by 11 cents per gallon.
Under today's adjustments, independent gas station operators in the territory are paying $3.24 per gallon for regular gasoline, $3.67 per gallon for premium gasoline, and $3.53 per gallon for diesel fuel when they buy their fuel wholesale at HOVENSA. Those prices include the 14-cents-per-gallon tax that the refinery collects for the government.
ST. THOMAS - The resilience of the Little Switzerland building on Main Street, which smoldered for almost 16 hours April 29 and 30 but remains structurally intact, is because of architectural features historically rooted in a series of devastating fires that razed Charlotte Amalie's trade centers in the early 1800s.
Although it was built in 1946, the Little Switzerland building retained steel columns from when it was the Center Theater from 1946 to the early 1970s, and its metal roof is an example of one feature adopted in response to a series of major fires in the early 1800s, said Sean Krigger, acting director of the Virgin Islands State Historic Preservation Office.
A graduating senior at Good Hope School on St. Croix has accepted an offer to enroll at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Jaleel Christopher, 17, signed a letter of acceptance to the academy during a ceremony at Friedensberg Moravian Church in Frederiksted on Sunday.
"When I got the acceptance, it was a great honor for me," Christopher said of receiving an acceptance letter from V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen.
A federal judge has given preliminary approval to a proposed settlement agreement between the American Civil Liberties Union and the V.I. government that requires the territory to fix conditions at the St. Thomas jails so that they meet constitutional standards.
The 26-page agreement would settle a 19-year-old court case over inhumane conditions at the St. Thomas jails by forcing the territory to remedy the situation.
Malcolm Adolph 'Butch' Jackson
Services will be Tuesday for Malcolm A. Jackson, 64, also known as Butch, who died May 7 on St. Thomas. A former police officer and seaman, Malcolm loved the water. He lived on it and died on it, and, at his request, his ashes will be returned to it.
This first service will be held at 9 a.m. at Turnbull's Funeral Home on St. Thomas, after which the body will be sent to Puerto Rico for cremation. A second service and disposition of the ashes is planned for July on St. Croix.
ST. CROIX - A number of convicted murderers and rapists - as well as Alric Simmonds, a high-ranking staff member for Gov. Charles Turnbull who was convicted of embezzling more than $1 million - are scheduled to stand before the V.I. Parole Board next week to be considered for release.
The extensive list of 39 inmates up for parole, plus six inmates facing revocation of their parole, was released last week and comprises people convicted of murder, serious assaults, attempted murder, rape, robbery, gun charges and a few property crimes.
ST. THOMAS - Taking an action rarely seen, the V.I. Bar Association publicly reprimanded a St. Thomas attorney Thursday in the territory's highest court and suspended him from practicing law for six months.
Elmo Adams Jr. faced potential disciplinary action after a Feb. 21 petition from the Bar Association's Ethics and Grievance Committee, according to an April 11 opinion from the V.I. Supreme Court.
ST. CROIX - After postponements because of inclement weather, the death of a member of the quelbe band and other unforeseen circumstances, the 8th Annual Revival of Quadrille in Our Schools will take place at 5 p.m. today at St. Croix Central High School.
Valrica Bryson, the event coordinator, said students from nine schools will display their quadrille skills.
ST. CROIX - A significant brushy area on the island's eastern south shore was set ablaze late Thursday night, leaving behind ashes and about 30 acres of scorched vegetation.
Deputy Fire Chief Kory Kent said the call of a bush fire came in just before midnight Thursday about a blaze in a grassy area between Point Udall and Goat Hill on the island's southern side.
ST. THOMAS - With Schneider Hospital's hemodialysis unit at capacity, the hospital is seeking a partnership with a private entity to take over and expand dialysis services in the St. Thomas-St. John District.
In a Senate hearing Friday before the Health, Hospitals, Human Services and Veterans Affairs Committee, Schneider Chief Executive Officer Bernard Wheatley said he is in talks with DaVita, Inc. to provide hemodialysis services in the district.
ST. THOMAS - Senators questioned V.I. Health Department officials Friday about the problems plaguing the Emergency Medical Services unit, but neither side offered solutions and they all avoided discussing any of the major issues.
The Senate's Health, Hospitals, Human Services and Veterans Affairs Committee convened Friday to hear about Schneider Hospital's dialysis unit, but the discussion would frequently turn to the EMS issues laid out in a series of stories published in The Daily News this week.
ST. THOMAS - The first of three community engagement meetings held by the V.I. Board of Education was sparsely attended Friday evening and only a handful of about 20 attendees were parents of school-age children.
Most of those attending were V.I. Education employees, but the parents and educators who were there had a chance to express many disparate concerns about the educational system to the board.
ST. CROIX - Someone first took note about 10 to 12 years ago of the unusual glow when something moved in the water at night in a man-made inlet at Salt River Bay.
At least, that's the first evidence that National Park Service officials can find of someone documenting the bioluminescence there - a natural phenomenon that is now the subject of an ongoing research project at Salt River involving multiple universities.
ST. CROIX - They're back.
Members of the 403rd Wing of the Air Force Reserve 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron - the Hurricane Hunters - are on St. Croix this week, getting equipment and supplies in place and at the ready for what experts predict will be a busy hurricane season.
"We really like it here," said Col. Roy Deatherage, mission commander and a meteorologist who has been coming to St. Croix with the Hurricane Hunters since 1996, the first season they based some of their missions here.
ST. CROIX - The Virgin Islands community is suffering from the effects of trauma on many levels, and it is a problem that is deeply rooted in society throughout generations.
That was the consensus of trauma experts Thursday evening as the Association of Virgin Islands Psychologists, in conjunction with the University of the Virgin Islands' Anti- Violence and Peace Initiative, hosted "From Hurt to Healing: A Community Forum on Violence and Trauma."
ST. CROIX - Bob Bowman has been selected as vice president of operations for Diageo USVI, which runs the Captain Morgan distillery.
Bowman's appointment is effective July 1.
Bowman will replace Dan Kirby, who is retiring at the end of July, according to a statement Diageo released Wednesday.
Bowman currently is the director of operations at the Diageo USVI distillery and oversees day-to-day operations.
Without reform measures, the Government Employees Retirement System will collapse in less than a decade, GERS Administrator Austin Nibbs said.
The task force the governor put together last year to find solutions to the government's ailing pension system has publicly released its final report and recommendations.
The system's unfunded liability - the difference between what is being paid into the system in contributions and the obligation to pay out all retirement benefits - currently stands at about $1.8 billion.
ST. CROIX - Residents are readying to take to the track this weekend in support of the American Cancer Society's 12th annual Relay for Life.
"Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back," an 18-hour event, will take place Saturday and Sunday at St. Croix Educational Complex.
Donna Jones, American Cancer Society spokeswoman, said Relay for Life is the biggest annual fundraiser for the society but can only be a success if the community supports the effort in every way.
ST. CROIX - In observation of their outstanding performance in varying areas and their exceptional service to the community, a number of V.I. Police officers were honored during a ceremony Thursday.
Officers were recognized for their performance during the last six years.
Recognition was given for exceptional service, cross combat, wounded in combat, educational achievement, honorable service, commendation, appreciation, civilian service and morale boosters.
ST. CROIX - As Virgin Islands law enforcement officers and residents paused Wednesday to remember the 15 officers across the territory and the thousands across the nation who have lost their lives in the line of duty, former St. Croix Police Chief Christopher Howell said he is grateful that he is not being counted among them.
Howell fought back tears and spoke in a slow, shaking voice as he described how close to death he knew he was when he was injured by gunfire last August while responding to a robbery on the island's north shore.
ST. THOMAS - In observance of Peace Officers Memorial Day, a national recognition of law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty, about 30 officers from the St. Thomas and St. John districts gave a 21-gun salute Wednesday to the territory's 15 fallen officers and lowered a wreath into St. Thomas Harbor.
The ceremony is part of National Police Week, May 12 to May 19, and gives officers a chance to reflect on those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedom and lives of the rest of the community.
ST. CROIX - Swift police work and spirited assistance from school monitors resulted in two arrests Tuesday and the recovery of a majority of the electronic equipment stolen from St. Croix Central High School last weekend.
Jensen Estepan, 20, of Old Fredensborg, and a 15-year-old boy were taken into custody and charged with possession of stolen property in connection with the break-in that was discovered when school officials reported to work just after 7 a.m. Monday.
ST. THOMAS - Coki Point beach vendors have banded together to keep V.I. Police Officer David Petersen doing exactly what he has been doing for the last six months: ensuring peace on the beach.
In a letter to Petersen's supervisor, Sgt. Kerry Harrigan, 10 vendors said Petersen's diligent and reasonable enforcement has been a balm to the area, once plagued by fights between waiters, barkers and taxi drivers competing aggressively for the attention of tourists.
ST. CROIX - Virgin Islands law enforcement officers and residents will pause today to join millions of people across the nation in honoring officers killed in the line of duty as part of the national observance of the annual Peace Officers Memorial Day activities.
Flags representing the Virgin Islands and the United States are expected to be flown at half-staff, as family members of some of the fallen officers and others gather at respected locations for remembrance and reflection.
ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Public Finance Authority voted Tuesday to execute a $7 million bank loan to purchase new police vehicles for the territory.
The borrowing, backed by Gross Receipts Taxes, was approved by the Senate and the governor last year.
The department had already ordered the first wave of new vehicles in anticipation of the bond, but they had not been fully paid for and were not yet released to the department.