Joint Board of Elections continues to ignore illegal document shredding

ST. CROIX - During the Joint Board of Elections meeting Tuesday, only one board member brought up the issue of the Elections supervisor shredding public records and the topic largely was ignored.

While board members had three minutes each to discuss a candidate challenge issue before the board, Adelbert Bryan took some of his allotted time and changed the topic, asking Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes about the records and required documentation she received from candidates.

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Elections Board backs supervisor's call on complaint

ST. CROIX - The Joint Board of Elections on Tuesday voted to uphold Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes' decision that Basil Ottley Jr. is an eligible candidate for lieutenant governor, after a challenge from another political team.

Gubernatorial candidate Moleto Smith Jr. and his running mate, Hubert Frederick, wrote to Fawkes and the Elections boards earlier this month, questioning whether Ottley - who is running for lieutenant governor on Donna Christensen's ticket - had met the residency requirements to be a candidate.

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Plaskett files FEC complaint against Malone

ST. THOMAS - Delegate to Congress candidate Stacey Plaskett has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission accusing her opponent, Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone, of using inmate labor to put up a campaign tent and other infractions.

Malone and the third candidate for delegate in the Democratic primary, Emmett Hansen II, each filed complaints against Plaskett earlier this month, claiming she used Gov. John deJongh Jr.'s official government website to gather email addresses used for campaigning.

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Prosecution calls victim's cousin to stand in St. Croix murder trial

ST. CROIX - Testimony will continue today in the V.I. Superior Court murder trial of Elijah Ritter, as the prosecution continues to present its case before Presiding Judge Michael Dunston.

Ritter is charged with first-degree murder; first-degree assault; third-degree assault; unauthorized possession of a firearm; carrying a dangerous weapon during the commission of a violent crime; failure to report a firearm brought into the territory; possession of ammunition and first-degree reckless endangerment in connection with the pre-dawn shooting death of Sheldon Phillips July 7, 2013.

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Home Depot employees charged with embezzling

ST. THOMAS - Two Home Depot employees have been accused of swindling more than $11,000 from the store during a three-month period.

V.I. Police arrested Ronald Todman Jr., 43, and Hadya Croft, 27, after their employer accused them of stealing $11,187.57 by fraudulently returning items to the store and pocketing the refund money.

Todman returned everything from boat accessories and power tools to kitchen equipment to the returns register, operated by Croft, who would then refund Todman on a Home Depot credit card, according to the probable cause fact sheet filled out by V.I. Police Officer Monique Hodge.

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DeJongh signs revised borrowing bill

ST. THOMAS - Gov. John deJongh Jr. signed a bill Tuesday that amends a previously approved $50 million borrowing authorization to help the territory's hospitals pay their utility bills, address other needs and help close the current fiscal year's budget deficit.

Last week, deJongh called the Senate into special session to deal with the measure, which was in response to a bill passed by the Senate last month.

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Sen. Nelson again pushes medical pot referendum

Sen. Terrence Nelson once again is pushing for a ballot referendum involving marijuana, this time to get voters' opinions about legalizing medical marijuana in the territory.

The bill will be heard in the Senate Rules and Judiciary Committee at 9 a.m. Thursday on St. Croix.

Two years ago, in the 29th Legislature, Nelson put forth two measures for ballot referendums on marijuana. One was to ask voters whether they would support legalizing medical marijuana, and the other was to ask voters whether they would support legalizing the production of hemp.

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Education releases school calendar

The V.I. Education Department on Tuesday released the 2014-2015 school calendar.

School will resume on Sept. 2, and the final day of classes will be June 19.

Dates in the upcoming school year when there are no classes:

- Oct. 13 - Columbus Day/P.R.-V.I. Friendship Day.

- Oct. 24 - AFT Teach (St. Thomas-St. John only).

- Oct. 27 - AFT Teach (St. Croix only).

- Nov. 3 - Professional development day.

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Man killed in daytime shooting as he drove along Queen Mary Highway

ST. CROIX - The territory tallied its 26th homicide Monday afternoon when an Estate Grove Place man was shot to death on Queen Mary Highway in Lower Love.

V.I. Police spokeswoman Melody Rames said initial reports from witnesses indicate the shooting happened about 3:20 p.m., when a man standing outside the Lower Love Service Station opened fire on a multicolored Honda Civic, that was primarily green, as it travelled west on Queen Mary Highway.

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St. Croix murder trial opens today

ST. CROIX - Opening statements are expected to take place today when the V.I. Superior Court murder trial against Elijah Ritter resumes at 9 a.m.

Ritter is charged with first-degree murder; first-degree assault; third-degree assault; unauthorized possession of a firearm; carrying a dangerous weapon during the commission of a violent crime; failure to report a firearm brought into the territory; possession of ammunition and first-degree reckless endangerment in connection with the July 7, 2013, shooting death of Sheldon Phillips.

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Customs agents ID man with outstanding warrant at Rohlsen, arrange for his arrest in Miami

ST. CROIX - A 37-year old man trying to board a flight at Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix was arrested Saturday on an outstanding warrant from Florida.

Imron Stewart Mathurin, 37, who last resided in Georgia, was identified after he presented himself for customs inspection at Rohlsen Airport as he prepared to board a flight that was bound to Miami with Atlanta as his final destination, according to Customs and Border Protection.

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Fight breaks out in St. Croix courtroom after man charged with DUI heckles cop

ST. CROIX - What started out as a routine advice-of-rights hearing Monday for a man charged with drunken driving escalated into a confrontation between the man and law enforcement officials inside the courtroom.

Ireneus Stanislas, 47, of Estate Mount Pleasant appeared before Magistrate Miguel Camacho to be advised of his rights on a single charge of driving under the influence of alcohol after being arrested just before 9 p.m. Sunday.

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Shots fired at police vehicle in Aureo Diaz housing community

ST. CROIX - Police are investigating a shooting incident late Sunday night that resulted in shots being fired at police as they responded to an emergency call.

V.I. Police spokeswoman Melody Rames said Monday that shots were fired in the Aureo Diaz housing community after officers were called to a report of shots being fired about 9:51 p.m. Sunday.

A police vehicle was damaged by gunfire, but no officers or others were injured.

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Report: V.I. Head Start could be neglecting neediest kids

ST. THOMAS - An Inspector General's report has found that the territory's Head Start programs may have neglected the territory's neediest children.

The joint report was written by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' and the Department of the Interior's Offices of Inspectors General. The purpose of the report was to review the V.I. Human Services Department processes for determining Head Start eligibility in the territory.

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Tropical depression should weaken before it hits V.I.

ST. THOMAS - There is little need to worry about a tropical depression that has formed more than 1,200 miles off of the Lesser Antilles islands, according to National Weather Service meteorologists.

The weather service alerted local agencies to the depression, which is expected to diminish in strength by the time it reaches the Virgin Islands late this week.

"It is entering a hostile environment," said Odalys Martinez, a meteorologist with the service in Puerto Rico.

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Trial begins for 4 men charged in armed robbery of Imperial Jewelers

ST. THOMAS - On Monday, Imperial Jewelers staff testified about the March 15 armed robbery that lasted only a minute, at the most two, but left the store short of more than $1 million worth of jewelry.

The incident led to the arrest of four young men, who sat quietly in federal court Monday during their first day of trial before District Judge Curtis Gomez.

Shaquim Fredericks, 19; Warkim Gabriel, 18; Chefton Newton, 25; and Alvin Thomas, 18, were arrested the day of the incident alongside two 17-year-old boys whose identities have not been disclosed because of their ages.

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St. Thomas jurist to oversee St. Croix murder trial starting today

ST. CROIX - Jury selection and trial is scheduled to begin today in the V.I. Superior Court case where 26-year old Elijah Ritter is charged with murder and related charges.

Ritter is charged with first-degree murder; first-degree assault; third-degree assault; unauthorized possession of a firearm; carrying a dangerous weapon during the commission of a violent crime; failure to report a firearm brought into the territory; possession of ammunition and first-degree reckless endangerment in the July 7, 2013, shooting death of Sheldon Phillips.

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Gov. calls for second special session in 2 weeks

ST. THOMAS - Despite a request from the Legislature to push the date back, Gov. John deJongh Jr. is sticking with his decision to call the Senate into special session Wednesday.

Friday, he sent notification to Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone that he was calling the senators into special session to consider a Coastal Zone Management permit to allow the V.I. Port Authority to conduct dredging operations in Crown Bay off St. Thomas and to amend Act. No. 5089 to allow the Port Authority to authorize a bond issuance without having to get Legislature approval for reissuance of the bonds.

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Griffith: Luis needs millions more to stay afloat next year

ST. CROIX - Luis Hospital's management team appeared before the Senate Finance Committee on Friday and presented its financial forecast for the 2015 fiscal year as the hospital continues to face dire financial hurdles.

The governor has recommended a general fund appropriation of $20.2 million for Fiscal Year 2015 for the hospital - a recommended budget which is at the same level as the Fiscal Year 2014 appropriation and about $15 million less than what hospital officials believe they need to begin digging their way out of their deep hole of fiscal uncertainty.

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Screenwriter who lived on St. Thomas takes home honors at American Black Film Festival

ST. THOMAS - Former Virgin Islander Oliver Ottley III now is a heralded screenwriter after sweeping the 2014 American Black Film Festival awards, but he said that he has only just begun.

"The awards are cool, but this is where the work begins. People love the accolades, but they don't necessarily mean you're going to sell," said Ottley, who started writing screenplays only about three years ago.

Ottley today is best known as the screenwriter and producer of the 2013 film "CRU," which tells the story of four characters whose lives were forever changed after they were involved in a near-fatal car accident as teenagers. When they reunite 18 years later, the friends discover secrets about each other that could change the course of their futures.

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DeJongh calls for special Senate session to OK Crown Bay dredging

ST. THOMAS - Gov. John deJongh Jr. issued a statement Friday night calling for a second special session of the 30th Legislature to convene in as many weeks.

In his letter to Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone, the governor asked the Senate to convene on Wednesday and approve a CZM permit to allow the V.I. Port Authority to conduct dredging operations in Crown Bay on St. Thomas and to amend Act. No. 5089 to allow the Port Authority to authorize a bond issuance without having to get Legislature approval for reissuance of the bonds.

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WAPA files feed-in tariff petition

ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Water and Power Authority has filed a petition for a feed-in tariff rate to comply with the Feed-in Tariff Act that the V.I. Senate passed in May.

It is just one of the steps that the territory is making to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and diversify its means of energy creation, according to Sen. Craig Barshinger, who sponsored the original bill.

The Feed-in Tariff Act allows WAPA customers to sell their independently created renewable energy to WAPA, which in turn is required to purchase the energy at a fair and reasonable price, according to Barshinger's legislation.

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Port Authority creates new position, OKs several leases and contracts

ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Port Authority board approved a number of leases, contracts and change orders and also directed staff to provide a summary of all capital project budget transfers, along with staff summaries, to the board for review and approval.

Board members indicated staff should include the reason for the transfer and the effect it will have on the project from which the funding is being taken.

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V.I. kid chef visits White House for dinner with Michelle Obama

A young Virgin Islander was among 54 children from around the United States and its territories who sat down for a "state dinner" with first lady Michelle Obama on Friday at the White House.

Ahlissa Pierce, 9, represented the territory in the nation's capitol after winning a contest to make healthier yet tasty meals that show the nation's schools can also turn out nutritious food that kids will actually eat.

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ST. CROIX - The St. Croix District Board of Elections was called to order in a special meeting Friday to discuss items that included the Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes' shredding public documents that were a part of candidates nomination packages, but only one board member showed up.

Chairman Adelbert Bryan was the only board member in attendance at the meeting, resulting in the lack of a quorum so no action could be take on any of the issues at hand.

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Superior Court presiding judge implores Senate to OK $31M FY 2015 appropriation from General Fund

ST. THOMAS - While the V.I. Superior Court has tried to ease the employees' workload and reduce its cost of operation by transitioning to an electronic filing system, the court instead has been forced to abandon its effort, which already cost it $1.25 million, after the contractor said it no longer makes the judicial software.

That only added to the grim picture V.I. Superior Court Presiding Judge Michael Dunston painted Thursday for the Senate Finance Committee during the court's budget hearing.

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Gunmen rob racino at Randall James Racetrack

ST. CROIX - Police are investigating the mid-morning armed robbery Thursday of thousands of dollars from the racino at Randall "Doc" James Racetrack on St. Croix.

According to the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management police blotter, which keeps a running log of calls made to emergency 911, emergency dispatchers received a call at 9:22 a.m. Thursday, reporting a robbery in progress at the establishment.

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GERS discusses Havensight management contract with WICO behind closed doors

ST. THOMAS - The Government Employees' Retirement System board approved a number of actions Thursday.

In the part of the meeting closed to the public, the board discussed the still-unsigned management contract with the West Indian Co. for the management of the Havensight Mall; however, no votes were taken on the matter.

The board took the following actions:

- Approved a $63,000 change order for Northshore Partners to remove water heaters and install outside closets, and rescreen porches on certain buildings at Carambola on St. Croix.

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Fawkes wants unmonitored voting machine in Elections office, just for Elections personnel

ST. THOMAS - In one of the last St. Thomas-St. John District board meetings before the primary election, board members discussed a range of housekeeping matters and heard updates from the Elections supervisor.

No mention was made of Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes' illegal decision to shred the criminal arrest records of candidates, which were turned in as part of the candidates' nomination packets.

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N.Y. jury finds 3 St. Croix men guilty of conspiracy to possess cocaine

ST. CROIX - A District Court jury in the Southern District of New York deliberated for less than three hours on Thursday before returning guilty verdicts against three St. Croix natives charged last spring in a drug conspiracy case.

The jury found businessman Gary Thomas, of William's Delight; and Kirk Tang Yuk and Felix Parilla, who both live in Florida but are from St. Croix and still have ties to the island, guilty of conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute it in the trial that began July 7 before District Judge Alison Nathan.

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Event showcases locally grown produce, locally made products

ST. CROIX - Farmers and vendors across the territory are preparing to put their local products on sale as the Agriculture Department hosts its Virgin Fresh Value Added Vendorama during the next two weekends.

Project coordinator Audrey Browne said the event is in partnership with farmers and processors on St. Thomas and St. Croix and will feature products that have been made using fresh, locally grown produce.

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Charges dropped after teacher accused of striking child completes pre-trial program

ST. CROIX - An elementary school teacher arrested on assault charges after reports that she hit a student has completed a pre-trial intervention program at the V.I. Superior Court and avoided a trial and possible conviction.

Merancienne Randolph, a sixth-grade teacher at Alexander Henderson Elementary School, was arrested in April 2013 and charged with simple assault and battery and disturbance of the peace after reports were made to police that actions she took to discipline a child were excessive.

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Senate amends borrowing plan to allow deJongh more flexibility with $50M loan

ST. THOMAS - In special session Wednesday, senators approved part of the governor's proposal to amend a bill borrowing $50 million to help the territory's hospitals pay their utility bills, address other needs and help close the current fiscal year's budget deficit.

A second measure - to amend the previous authorization for the design-build contract for Paul E. Joseph Stadium on St. Croix - was split off of the governor's proposal by senators Wednesday and will be sent to committee for further deliberation.

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Traffic around Fort Christiansvaern in Christiansted was rerouted for a few hours Wednesday morning while work crews took down a mahogany tree at the edge of the National Historic Site's property, directly south of the 1830 Customs House.

The 70-year-old tree's root system infiltrated a storm drain and sewage system, was damaging the roadway and sidewalk and had been allowing water into the foundation of the Customs House. Because of how the branches of the tree expanded, the tree also posed a threat to utility lines and buildings in the area in times of high winds or storms, according to David Goldstein, director of interpretation and education for the National Park Service.

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The Virgin Islands National Park on St. John has received a $5,000 grant from the National Park Foundation that will be used to enhance education about Virgin Islands culture.

The project funded at Virgin Islands National Park is titled "Passing the Torch" and is intended to be continuation of the once-a-year folk life festival, during which St. John's history and culture is celebrated.

The money from the grant will be used to pay local culture bearers to instruct students on St. John in traditional crafts. The students then will become ambassadors of culture and demonstrate their skills at park sites.

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New York drug trial against 3 St. Croix men goes to jury

ST. CROIX - Jurors are expected to begin deliberations today in the District Court of the Southern District of New York in the case against three St. Croix natives who were charged in a drug conspiracy case last spring.

The case against businessman Gary Thomas, of William's Delight; and Kirk Tang Yuk and Felix Parilla, who both live in Florida but are from St. Croix and still have ties to the island, began July 7 before District Judge Alison Nathan.

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DPNR commissioner tenders her resignation

ST. CROIX - Government House has confirmed that Gov. John deJongh Jr. accepted the resignation of Department of Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Alicia Barnes, which she tendered earlier this week.

Government House Spokesman Jean Greaux Jr. said Wednesday that Barnes submitted her resignation letter dated Tuesday and that the governor received and accepted it the same day.

Barnes' resignation is effective at the end of this month, giving the administration two weeks two put things in place as she makes her departure, Greaux said.

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Public Works submits comprehensive proposal for waterfront renovations, street widening to CZM

ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Public Works Department on Tuesday night asked the St. Thomas Coastal Zone Management Committee to approve a modified permit that will allow the department to continue efforts to launch a makeover of the island's Veterans Drive waterfront.

The committee approved the department's permit for the first phase of the renovation two years ago, when the application addressed solely the area from Long Bay Road to the V.I. Police Department headquarters.

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New commander takes helm at Coast Guard Sector San Juan

A new commander took over Coast Guard Sector San Juan - which oversees Coast Guard personnel for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico - during a change-of-command ceremony Tuesday at the Coast Guard base in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Rear Adm. Jake Korn, Commander of the Coast Guard's Seventh District, presided over the ceremony in which Capt. Robert Warren assumed command of Sector San Juan, replacing Capt. Drew Pearson, who retired from the Coast Guard after completing 30 years of service.

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St. Croix camp helps hearing-impaired children experience summer

ST. CROIX - The tranquil sounds of waves rolling up against the sand, the buzzing of a busy bumble bee or the sounds of roosters crowing in the morning calling the sun to rise, are sounds that 19-year-old John James has never been able to enjoy.

To help bring those experiences to James and other hearing-impaired youth, Deaf Camp St. Croix was created.

James is one of four vibrant young people who are a part of the summer camp based in Little Fountain that is in its first year this week.

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V.I. government chooses company to develop Water Island hotel

ST. THOMAS - The V.I. government has chosen a newly established company to manage Water Island's first hotel resort in almost three decades.

The Water Island Development Company is expected to turn more than 40 acres into a top rate hotel resort that will be in the same location as the Sugarbird Hotel, known formerly as the Water Island Hotel and Beach Club.

Hurricane Hugo destroyed the 55-year-old resort in 1989. The new hotel resort will include beachfront property on Honeymoon Beach and Flamingo Bay.

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ST. THOMAS - Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls defended his department's Fiscal Year 2015 budget before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday and detailed a number of finished, ongoing and pending projects for the territory.

The governor's recommendation for the department is a $19.2 million General Fund budget. In addition to local funding, the department anticipates getting $17.1 million from federal sources.

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Public Works projects scheduled to begin by the end of 2014 include:

- Brookman Road, phase 2.

- Fire station relocation.

- Emergency road repairs, Route 10 Centerline Road on St. John.

- Emergency road repairs, Hull Bay Road.

- Crown Mountain retaining wall.

- Clifton Hill connector road, Route 75, phase 1.

- Rehabilitation of pavement on Route 72, Midland Road and Route 709, St. Croix.

Public Works projects scheduled to begin in 2015 include:

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St. Croix man arrested, charged with assaulting woman and her infant son

ST. CROIX - A 25-year old man remains jailed after being taken into custody Monday night on charges that he assaulted a woman and tried to choke her 11-month-old son.

Robert Clarke of Louis E. Browne housing community appeared in Magistrate Court on Tuesday morning, where Magistrate Jessica Gallivan advised him of his rights on charges of unlawful entry, simple assault and battery and second-degree assault.

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DeJongh misses deadline, voiding recent vetoes

ST. THOMAS - Gov. John deJongh Jr.'s failure to respond within the time period allowed by law has made all of his vetoes of the bills passed by the 30th Legislature at its last session null and void.

Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone issued a statement Tuesday saying he pointed out that the bills were returned to the Legislature two days late, therefore, under the Revised Organic Act, they had already had become law.

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St. Croix

Rubio Finch June 25, 2014 Thursday Turnbull's

St. Thomas

Ellin Adams May 31, 2014 Pending Hurley-Davis

Ann Berry June 24, 2014 Saturday Hurley-Davis

Lucina M. Caines July 8, 2014 Today Turnbull's

Ceculia Danet Pending John Thomas

Gerson Eusebe July 5, 2014 Thursday Turnbull's

Frazielin Gumbs June 30, 2013 Pending Hurley-Davis

Evelyn C. Ledee July 8, 2014 Thursday Hurley-Davis

Stenio Ludes Pending Turnbull's

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Police ID man shot to death in Estate Tutu

ST. THOMAS - V.I. Police identified the territory's most recent murder victim as 19-year-old Sheldon Benjamin Jr.

Police believe Benjamin was driving in the area of Monster Hill in Estate Tutu on St. Thomas about noon Sunday when an unknown number of assailants fired on his vehicle.

Benjamin tried to escape the gunfire by getting out of the vehicle but was shot several times and collapsed in the road, according to V.I. Police spokeswoman Melody Rames.

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Couple arrested, charged with trying to claim thousands in cash prizes with altered scratch tickets at St. Croix casino

ST. CROIX - A Clifton Hill couple was arrested during the weekend and accused of trying to defraud Divi Carina Bay Casino out of $8,000 in prize money by altering scratch-off tickets.

Mathias Matthew, 65, and Fransisca Herman, 50, appeared before Magistrate Jessica Gallivan on Monday morning to be advised of their rights on charges of forgery and grand larceny.

According to the police report filed by V.I. Police Detective Mark Corneiro, just before 5:30 p.m. Friday, he was called by one of the casino managers, who reported that the Matthew and Herman had tried to claim cash prizes with altered tickets at the casino.

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Ex-police cadet pleads not guilty to raping, impregnating teenage girl

ST. CROIX - A former police cadet arrested Friday and accused of impregnating a 16-year-old girl has been released on bail.

Delroy Thomas Jr., 23, of Barren Spot appeared Monday morning before Magistrate Jessica Gallivan, who ruled on a release motion made on his behalf.

He was arrested and charged with second-degree aggravated rape and first-degree unlawful sexual contact in connection with rapes the girl said occurred in March.

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New bill seeks to address workplace bullying, abuse

ST. THOMAS - The Senate Committee on Health, Hospitals, Human Services and Veterans Affairs will consider a bill today that would create a law to address bullying and abuse in the workplace.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Clarence Payne III, who is the committee chairman, creates legal protections and a process similar to how sexual harassment is dealt with in the workplace.

Federal laws prohibiting bullying, sexual harassment and other workplace abuses already exist.

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