Fired legal counsel for Luis sues hospital, CEO

ST. CROIX - Luis Hospital's former legal counsel - fired abruptly by Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kendall Griffith on July 15 - is now suing the hospital, alleging that she was terminated in retaliation for being a whistleblower.

Royette Russell, who had represented the hospital since June 2008, filed the lawsuit against Luis Hospital and Griffith, in his professional and personal capacities, in federal court on Wednesday.

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Waste Management director says agency faces $8M budget deficit

ST. THOMAS - V.I. Waste Management Authority Executive Director May Adams Cornwall told the board Thursday that the agency is facing an $8 million budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2015.

The deficit was at $11.7 million, but Cornwall said the authority received $3.7 million from the Finance Department on Thursday. That amount will address the $4 million budget deficit from FY 2014, which was carried over into the current fiscal year. The accounting department is going through the outstanding payables for FY 2014 and will see how much is left over to put toward the current deficit, she said.

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Senate Energy Committee meets today to discuss proposals including net-metering service charge, privatization of WAPA

ST. THOMAS - The Senate Energy and Environmental Protection Committee will meet today on St. John to consider a wide range of energy proposals, from a net-metering service charge to looking at the modernization and privatization of the V.I. Water and Power Authority.

The committee also will take up legislation to ban plastic bags in the territory and hear concerns about the environmental impact of marinas on the island of St. John.

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V.I. residents march in solidarity with victims of domestic violence

Events to recognize "Take Back the Night," a nationwide effort to protest sexual and domestic violence against women, took place Thursday evening on all three islands.

On St. Thomas, a march started from Emancipation Garden and wound its way through downtown Charlotte Amalie before returning to Emancipation Garden for a candlelight vigil at the gazebo.

A similar march took place on St. Croix, starting at the Frederiksted Fish Market, winding down Strand Street and ending at the Clock Tower, where a ceremony took place.

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WAPA approves $265K for stateside training for line crew

ST. CROIX - The V.I. Water and Power Authority's Board of Directors met in its monthly meeting Thursday and approved close to $265,000 to have about half of its line crew complete Live Line Certification training programs.

Clinton Hedrington, transmission and distribution director, said 26 line crew members from across the territory have been selected to travel outside of the territory to complete training with Technical Electrical Consulting and Training, Inc.. The training is needed to certify the personnel in the execution of energized power line work on WAPA's transmission and distribution system, according to Hedrington.

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Port Authority closes on $48.6M in bonds

ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Port Authority closed on $48.6 million in bond financing Thursday that will fund capital projects across the territory.

"This is a significant advancement for the Port Authority. It is critical for us to maintain and upgrade our port infrastructure which facilitates travel, business and commerce for the entire territory," Port Authority Executive Director Carlton Dowe said in a prepared statement.

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The day after the St. Croix Board of Elections voted to adopt a policy banning photographers from taking pictures inside polling places while voting was taking place, a Daily News photographer was denied access to the Elections office in Sunny Isle.

Photographer Rob Jones, who was wearing a press pass given to the media for the August primary election, was met outside the Elections office about 11 a.m. Thursday by St. Croix board Chairman Adelbert Bryan.

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Elections will not count early ballots until after General Election

ST. CROIX - Residents across the territory who participate in early voting will continue to just feed their ballots into the machines, but they will not be scanned until after the General Election on Nov. 4.

After fielding complaints and concerns from residents in both districts after early voting began Tuesday, Elections Systems officials said Wednesday they were considering changing the way they will handle the processing of the early voting ballots. They considered holding a public viewing of the scanning of all the ballots cast on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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St. Croix man robbed outside his home

ST. CROIX - Criminal Investigation detectives are investigating the armed robbery of a man outside his home in Queens Quarters on Thursday morning.

St. Croix Police Chief James Parris said the man called police from his home at 9:21 a.m. and reported that he had been robbed.

The victim told police that he walked out of his home and was accosted by two gunmen, who robbed him of an undisclosed amount of cash and then left in his vehicle.

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Owner says collision with ferry caused up to $100K in damage to his sailboat

ST. THOMAS - The owner of the New Horizons sailboat, which was involved in a collision with the Capitol Venture passenger ferry Wednesday night near Red Hook, said official reports about the accident contradict information he has received from his employees and some of the guests aboard the sailboat for a sunset cruise.

Tim Krygsveld, who was off-island Thursday night tending to a personal matter, told The Daily News that two of his guests were taken by ambulance to the hospital and that the damage to his boat will cost between $60,000 and $100,000 to repair.

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Area of Fort Christiansvaern closed while crews restore cannon

A team of local contractors on Wednesday began working on the cannon carriages at St. Croix's Fort Christiansvaern, restoring the mountings for the guns that used to guard Christiansted Harbor.

Four of the fort's 18-pounder cannons will get new carriages, and the National Park site will be getting a fifth 18-pounder, two 6-pounders and an 8-pounder.

The carriages being replaced have deteriorated since the 1980s because of continued exposure to the salt air, tropical sun and hurricanes.

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Passenger ferry, charter boat collide Wednesday off St. Thomas

ST. THOMAS - The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the collision of a passenger ferry and a commercial charter out on a sunset cruise that happened Wednesday evening off the east end of St. Thomas.

The collision between the Capitol Ventures ferry, which makes the Red Hook-to-Cruz Bay run for franchisee Varlack Ventures, and the New Horizons charter sailing vessel happened about 7:30 p.m. The New Horizons boards at the Sapphire Beach Resort Marina at 5 p.m., according to the boat's website.

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Elections considers processing early ballots right away after public complaints about early voting procedure

ST. CROIX - After fielding complaints and concerns from residents in both districts as early voting began this week, Elections Systems officials said Wednesday they are considering changing the way they will handle the processing of the early voting ballots.

Early voting began Tuesday, and voters immediately began to express frustration with a process they did not think was fair to them and that did not protect their vote.

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St. Croix Elections Board wants to rescind policy banning members who are seeking re-election from buildings where people are voting

ST. CROIX - When the Joint Board of Elections meets again next week, the St. Croix board members are expected to ask the body to rescind a newly adopted policy that St. Croix Chairman Adelbert Bryan said at a district board meeting Wednesday would handicap the board.

The policy voted on at the joint board meeting earlier this month prohibits any board member who is seeking re-election from being in the same building where voting is taking place.

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Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging Ottley's residency

ST. THOMAS - Chief District Judge Curtis Gomez dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging the residency qualifications of lieutenant governor candidate Basil Ottley Jr.

Gomez also denied a motion - filed at 8:29 a.m. Wednesday - to add four candidates as plaintiffs in the case alongside Alan Haynes Sr., who filed the original complaint as a voter in the territory.

The candidates seeking to join the case were Soraya Diase-Coffelt, John Canegata, Kenneth Mapp and Osbert Potter.

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Armed men rob Peter's Rest bank

ST. CROIX - Criminal Investigation detectives are seeking assistance from the community to help them locate the persons responsible for robbing the Bank of St. Croix in Peter's Rest during mid-morning hours Tuesday.

V.I. Police spokeswoman Melody Rames said emergency dispatchers were notified at 9:49 a.m. Tuesday, and when officers responded minutes later, they learned that two masked men - one of whom was brandishing a firearm - entered the bank and robbed tellers of an undisclosed amount of cash before they fled in a light blue vehicle.

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'Take Back the Night' silent marches, events planned Thursday across V.I.

ST. CROIX - Residents across the territory will be pausing with millions across the nation on Thursday to take a stand against domestic violence in their communities.

"Take Back the Night" ceremonies will take place in Frederiksted on St. Croix; Cruz Bay on St. John; and Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas on Thursday with silent marches beginning just before sunset.

On St. Thomas, The Family Resource Center is asking residents to gather at Emancipation Garden at 5:30 p.m. for a march and candlelight vigil. The march will leave from Emancipation Garden, proceed up Government Hill, down Hospital Gade, down the waterfront past the V.I. Legislature and finally loop back around and end at the Emancipation Garden bandstand, where the candlelight vigil will then take place.

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VIPD unveils new home for K-9 officers at complex on St. Croix

ST. CROIX - Met with a rousing round of applause, K-9 Police Officer Luca was commanded by his partner, V.I. Police Officer Jason Viveros, to pull the ribbon that officially opened the newly built K-9 Complex at the Patrick Sweeney Police Facility in Golden Grove.

Former St. Croix Police Chief Christopher Howell said he had the vision to improve the K-9 compound sometime in 2011 and got the support of Police Commissioner Novelle Francis Jr. to get it done.

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V.I. philanthropist Peter Gruber dies

ST. THOMAS - Peter Gruber, Virgin Islands resident, philanthropist and supporter of the sciences and education, died Saturday.

Gruber leaves a lasting legacy with his Gruber International Prize, which honors ground-breaking work in the fields of cosmology, genetics, neuroscience, justice and women's rights.

Gruber led a fascinating life.

Born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1929, he fled the Nazi regime and escaped to India with his parents and twin brother in 1939 just three months before World War II.

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VIPA: First phase of Crown Bay dredging complete

ST. THOMAS - The first phase of the Crown Bay dredging project was completed Tuesday, but the federal permit for the last piece of the project has not yet been approved.

During a meeting Tuesday of the V.I. Port Authority board, Director of Engineering Dale Gregory told board members that the project is moving forward.

"That project is in process. It's moving pretty well," he said. "We're completing the dredging within the marina. Hopefully it should be completed this afternoon."

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V.I. Public Finance Authority files multimillion-dollar lawsuit against 2 companies

ST. THOMAS - At Tuesday's V.I. Port Authority board meeting, port officials said they expect to close on the agency's bond sale by Thursday.

Chief Financial Officer Valdamier Collens told the board that the bonds went up for sale last week and were very popular, getting priced out in a matter of hours.

The end result was an overall interest cost of 3.84 percent, the lowest ever achieved on any bonds issued by the V.I. government, he said.

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ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Public Finance Authority has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit in federal court, claiming its financial consultants and bond counsel caused the V.I. government to sell tax-exempt bonds that were not legally exempt, resulting in hefty penalties levied on the territory.

The lawsuit names Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney PC, the Public Finance Authority's former bond counsel, and its former financial advisor, Bank of America, as defendants in the civil case.

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Hundreds cast ballots on first day of early voting

ST. THOMAS - The first day of early voting was a busy one, with more than 100 people coming into each district office to cast their ballots.

Some people were upset that their ballots were not scanned by the voting machines, and a few people thought that meant there was a problem with the machines.

However, Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes said they were conducting the early voting in the same manner they have always done the walk-in absentee voting.

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St. Thomas

Richard Samuel Corbett Oct. 8, 2014 Saturday John Thomas

Marselle Edwards Oct. 8, 2014 Friday Hurley-Davis

Alice Lennard Friday Turnbull's

Campbell Rone Malone Oct. 10, 2014 Saturday Hurley-Davis

Marilyn Smith Oct. 8, 2014 Today John Thomas

Glenel Thomas Oct. 11, 2014 Friday Turnbull's

Una Thompson Sept. 22, 2014 Saturday Turnbull's

Marjorie A. White-Stevens Oct. 10, 2014 Saturday Hur

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V.I. voters who want to avoid any lines on Election Day can vote today or any day through the end of the month.

The early voting period begins today and runs through Oct. 31, as per Act 7643 of the V.I. Code.

Polls will be open in both districts and on all three islands from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

Locations for early voting are:

- St. Croix at the Elections office in Sunny Isle, Unit 4 (adjacent to the Social Security Office).

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Soldiers on St. Croix from the V.I. National Guard had a Yellow Ribbon farewell ceremony on Monday in preparation for their deployment for Afghanistan.

A similar ceremony took place for personnel on Saturday on St. Thomas.

The 24 soldiers headed overseas are members of the 661st Military Police detachment and will leave the territory for onward training before deploying to Afghanistan on a law enforcement mission.

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Federal judge levies $1M fine against Her Majesty's Credit Union founders

A federal judge has handed down a $1 million civil judgment against the two men accused of defrauding members of the former Her Majesty's Credit Union.

A criminal case against them still is pending in the V.I. Superior Court.

On Oct. 8, U.S. Senior District Judge John Kane, in the district of Colorado, handed down the final judgment against Stanley McDuffie - also known as Stanley Roberson and Stanley Battle - and his company Jilapuhn Inc., doing business as Her Majesty's Credit Union.

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Senate plans to restore $7M to governor's budget

ST. THOMAS - Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone said the 30th Legislature is willing to reconsider a few measures passed at last month's session, including restoring $7 million they cut from the governor's budget.

Malone sent a letter to Gov. John deJongh Jr. on Thursday in response to the governor's statements made in the transmittal letters he sent down earlier that week when he signed the Fiscal Year 2015 budget into law.

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Supreme Court agrees to expedite appeal seeking to remove Sen. Hansen from ballot

ST. CROIX - Chief Justice Rhys Hodge signed an order Monday granting an expedited appeal in the V.I. Supreme Court for the latest motion filed by St. Croix Board of Elections Chairman Adelbert Bryan in his drive to keep Sen. Alicia Hansen off the General Election ballot.

Bryan is seeking a review of V.I. Superior Court Judge Douglas Brady's denial of his motion to have an August V.I. Supreme Court order enforced and to impose sanctions against Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes for placing Hansen's name on the ballot for the General Election, which now is only two weeks away.

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ST. CROIX - Police have arrested two men on rape and related charges after police said a 14-year-old girl said she had sex with the men and it was determined that one of them had impregnated her.

Aswad Petersen, 30, of Estate Whim, and Romig "Georgie" Francis, 33, of William's Delight were arrested just after 6 a.m. Monday and charged with second-degree aggravated rape and second-degree unlawful sexual contact in connection with reports made to police in February.

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Police: Woman was injured in nightclub shooting that left St. Thomas man dead

ST. THOMAS - Police released additional information Monday about the weekend shooting in downtown Charlotte Amalie that left a 22-year-old man dead.

Police said an 18-year-old woman was also shot during the attack, but she survived her injuries.

The shooting took place just after 4 a.m. Sunday morning outside Blitz Night Club on Norre Gade.

Shacoi Benjamin was shot at least once and taken by private vehicle to the hospital.

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Trial begins for man charged in Christiansted murder

ST. CROIX - Attorney Marshal Webster said he intends to prove self-defense in the murder trial of Julian Viera, who is accused of killing a man outside a bar in Christiansted in August 2013.

Viera's trial began Monday in V.I. Superior Court, and he is charged with first-degree murder; first-degree assault; unauthorized possession of a firearm; possession of ammunition; first-degree reckless endangerment; carrying a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence; and failure to report a firearm brought into the territory.

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Coast Guard rescues 2 fishermen off St. Croix

ST. CROIX - Two fishermen are recovering at home after their fishing boat capsized, triggering a rescue mission to save them.

Ricardo Castrodad, U.S. Coast Guard spokesman, said Monday afternoon that a Coast Guard boat crew rescued the two men Monday, after their 21-foot Boston Whaler vessel capsized about seven nautical miles northeast of St. Croix.

The two fishermen have been identified as Juan Reyes Serrano, 49, and Benigo Rodríguez, 27, who both are residents of St. Croix.

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Petric found insane at time he killed family, dog

ST. CROIX - While it has been more than a year since Ivan Petric was sentenced in V.I. Superior Court to three consecutive life sentences plus 69 years in prison, the V.I. Supreme Court has now called his sanity into question in remanding the case back to the Superior Court for reconsideration of the convictions.

Petric appeared before then V.I. Superior Court Presiding Judge Darryl Donohue Sr. last August for sentencing after being convicted in 2012 of killing his 75-year-old father, Ivan Petric Sr.; his father's companion, 69-year-old Nancy Kuiper; Ivan Petric's younger brother, Zivko Petric, 31; and the family dog on Nov. 21, 2006. All were shot to death.

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HOVENSA continues to hold prices as gas prices drop across nation

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

Meanwhile, nationwide, gasoline prices continue to drop.

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 rack 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 HOVENSA collects for the government.

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V.I. polls becoming more accessible to all

ST. CROIX - While there are still quite a few problems with polling places across the territory, the Disability Rights Center of the Virgin Islands has found most voting locations rate good to excellent.

The center conducted its accessibility survey during the summer and has now released its findings on the state of polling places across the territory. The report found that the overall assessment for St. Croix was good and for the St. Thomas-St. John District it was excellent.

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Accessibility ratings

St. Croix

Florence Williams Library: A

Elena Christian Junior High School: A

Juanita Gardine Elementary School: A

Alfredo Andrews Elementary School: A

Pearl B. Larsen Elementary School: A

JFK Community Center: B

Lew Muckle Elementary School: A

Charles Emmanuel Elementary School: D

Claude O. Markoe Elementary School A

Alexander Henderson School: B

Eulalie Rivera Elementary School: D

Ricardo Richards Elementary School: B

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V.I.'s Ebola response on order

ST. THOMAS - If an individual with Ebola were to step off an airplane or cruise ship in the Virgin Islands today, the territory's hospitals would be ready only in theory.

While government agencies are beginning to share information and hold discussion on how to react to a case, according to Schneider Hospital infection control coordinator Tameke Browne and Luis Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Justa Encarnacion, the hospitals do not possess basic gear needed to protect health care workers.

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Trial to start today in Christiansted slaying

ST. CROIX - Jury selection is scheduled to begin today in a V.I. Superior Court case where a 22-year-old man is charged with first-degree murder in an August 2013 shooting in Christainsted.

Barring a last-minute plea deal or scheduling change, Julien Viera will go before V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks on charges of first-degree murder; first-degree assault; third-degree assault; unauthorized possession of a firearm; possession of ammunition; first-degree reckless endangerment; carrying a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence; and failure to report a firearm brought into the territory.

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David Hodge

Services will be held Tuesday for David "Red Cap" Hodge, 77, who died Oct. 9, 2014.

The first viewing is today from 5 to 7 p.m. at Turnbull's Funeral Home. The second viewing is at 9 a.m. Tuesday at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, with the service at 10 a.m. at the same location. Interment is at Western Cemetery.

He is survived by his wife, Florizelle Hodge; daughters, Harriet Suozzo and Alda Hodge; stepsons, Hamlet Phillip, Joshua Phillip and Albert Gumbs; 16 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren; uncle, John N. Gumbs; sisters-in-law, Monford Hodge and Celestine Daniel; brothers-in-law, Lemuel, Irvin, Joseph, Veotie and Oliver Phillip and Washington Gumbs; nephews, Fitzroy Francis, Howard Gumbs and Claudius, Ruben, Wayne, Marvin, Claude and James Moore; nieces, Stephanie Moore and Emily Jones; cousins, Olive Lake and family, Drucilla Hodge and family, the Suozzo family, the Richardson family, the Gumbs family, the Roger family; and friends, Alfred Rogers, Carlton Harvey, Joseph Ogarro, Aubrey Ogarro, Gloria Fabian, Irma Brooks, Clarence Brooks, Everette Proctor and Myrtle Phillip.

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ST. CROIX - Despite an economy that has seen better days, a number of residents are opening new businesses. This past week, the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce held ribbon cutting celebrations at two businesses in the heart of Company Street in Christiansted.

Ultra Nutrition and Art @ Top Hat gallery are located side-by-side in the middle of the Company Street block between King Cross and Queen Cross streets and the owners of both establishments said they believe in St. Croix and wanted to do what they could to invest in its future.

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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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