ST. CROIX - A new report on conditions at Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility says the facility remains "a very dangerous, violent, unhealthy, under-supervised, under-maintained, and deleteriously understaffed correctional environment" - and that the territory has made little progress in improving the situation.
The danger is very real for inmates and for those who work inside the prison, according to Kenneth Ray, the independent monitor hired to assess the territory's progress at implementing court orders aimed at bringing conditions at the prison up to constitutional standards.
ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Waste Management Authority board met Wednesday to approved a number of contracts and amended existing contracts.
The board reported out a number of poll votes, all of which were approved unanimously.
Poll voting is done when action must be taken on a matter prior to the next scheduled board meeting. The board did not meet in the month of March, so several actions were taken via poll vote that month.
ST. CROIX - The road that runs in front of the Peter's Rest Convenience Center was closed to traffic for several hours Wednesday after workers discovered what they thought were live explosives.
Traffic was diverted through the Peter's Rest residential areas located to the east and west of the center operated by V.I. Waste Management Authority.
St. Croix Police Chief James Parris said 911 emergency dispatchers received a call from the center about 4:30 p.m. reporting that some type of explosive was there. He said all of the responsible emergency agencies responded to the call, and after taking all of the necessary precautions they were able to determine that the suspicious item was a box of blasting caps.
At a meeting of the Committee of the Whole on Tuesday night on St. Thomas, senators discussed a number of zoning requests and a bill related to a zoning request that the governor had vetoed after it was passed by the 29th Legislature.
Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone said he put Bill No. 30-0173, proposed by Sen. Clifford Graham, on the agenda in advance of Thursday's legislative session.
"It's a rezoning that was heard in the 29th Legislature regarding the property for GERS," Malone said in a statement issued Wednesday. "It was vetoed by the governor for some technical reasons and it was never re-heard. This bill is an amendment to that rezoning that we thought should be heard or at least discussed by the DPNR to get the testimony on the record so that we can consider this in session on Thursday. We want to have these projects move forward."
ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Legislature failed to inform the community of meetings to be held this week at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall on St. Thomas, but Legislature officials said they do not believe they violated the territory's open meetings law.
The V.I. Code states that: "Each agency shall maintain an up-to-date schedule of the meetings which are to be held by it or any subdivision thereof."
ST. CROIX - In an incident that V.I. Superior Court Judge Douglas Brady described as an awful and senseless tragedy, he handed down a 10-year prison sentence to a 73-year-old man charged in the brutal 2009 machete slashing of his wife and daughter that maimed them both.
A very emotional George Herman stood beside his attorney, Ronald Russell, who asked the judge to show mercy on his client.
"It was a very sad event on Nov. 1, 2009, and he has complete remorse because he never intended to injure his daughter or his wife, who he loved and built a family with for 37 years," Russell said.
ST. THOMAS - V.I. Waste Management Authority Executive Director May Adams Cornwall told the board Wednesday that the agency may be losing about $6 million in special fund allotments.
Cornwall said she is working with the V.I. Finance Department and the Office of Management and Budget on the matter and is hopeful that some sort of resolution can be reached before the end of the year.
The Waste Management Authority already is suffering the same General Fund allotment budget cuts as all other departments - about a 6 percent budget reduction.
ST. THOMAS - A St. Thomas man pleaded guilty Wednesday to carjacking a couple's vehicle in December near the Home Depot off Weymouth Rhymer Highway on St. Thomas.
Orville Williams, 24, appeared before District Judge Curtis Gomez to plead guilty to only carjacking - count one of his indictment.
All other charges were dismissed, including first-degree robbery; first-degree assault; grand larceny; using a dangerous weapon during a crime of violence; unauthorized use of a vehicle; and possession of a stolen vehicle.
ST. CROIX - Jonathan Cohen, owner of JKC Communications, was casually dressed in khaki shorts and a faded orange T-shirt when deputy marshals escorted him before District Magistrate Judge George Cannon on Wednesday afternoon.
Cohen was advised of his rights on federal charges of willful failure to file tax returns, provide information or pay taxes over the course of seven years.
According to the criminal complaint and supporting affidavit filed in District Court by Internal Revenue Bureau special agent Janine Claxton, Cohen failed to file corporate and individual income tax returns between 2004 and 2010 on behalf of himself and his corporations - Radio 95; Clara Communications of the V.I.; and JKC Communications, which is the parent company of Isle 95, Sunny 99.5 FM, Mongoose 104.9FM, AM 970-WSTX and WSTX FM-100 radio stations.
The 30th Legislature will meet at 10 a.m. in Ottley Legislative Hall on St. Thomas to consider a number of nominations, zoning requests and applications and bills, including a bill to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors; a bill to institute an emergency call box system; a bill relating to pharmacists authority to administer vaccines; and a bill to create the "Feed-In Tariff Act."
Services will be held Friday for Esther "Myrla" Serrano, who died April 19, 2014, at the age of 72.
The first viewing is from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Turnbull's Funeral Home.
The second viewing is at 9 a.m. Friday at Philadelphia Seven-day Adventist Church, with the service at 10 a.m. at the same location.
Burial is at Western Cemetery No. 1.
She was preceded in death by her brother, Spencer Rawlins.
Kenneth Gordon Klein
Kenneth Gordon Klein, 77, passed away after a brief illness on Jan. 5, 2014.
A celebration of Ken's life will be held at 4 p.m. on Sunday at the St. Thomas Yacht Club. Friends, family, acquaintances from the Old Tutu days are all invited to share in the celebration.
Ken was born in New York, attended Lehigh University and the University of Miami. He married Heather McGibbon in Florida before moving to St. Thomas in 1960. Ken became an avid and respected sailor, having learned how to sail from Heather. Ken and Heather were original members of the St. Thomas Yacht Club. Ken's sailing career included a fourth place in the first 1970 Sunfish Worlds held in St. Thomas in 1970, which was organized by Heather Klein and Rudy Thompson. Ken also competed for the V.I. in the 1972 Olympic Games on the Star.
Ellen Guishard April 11, 2014 Monday Turnbull's
Pearl Stevens Gumbs April 18, 2014 May 8 Hurley-Davis
James Ryan Handley March 29, 2014 Pending Hurley-Davis
O. Antonio Hodge April 17, 2014 May 6 Hurley-Davis
Ethlyn Huyghue April 18, 2014 May 10 Hurley-Davis
Kenneth Gordon Klein Jan. 5, 2014 Sunday Hurley-Davis
DeAndre M. Louis April 11, 2014 Saturday Hurley-Davis
M. Mellie Mack McBean April 14, 2014 Pending Hurley-Davis
ST. THOMAS - A Puerto Rico man is facing charges of first-degree rape after police said he crawled into bed with a woman who believed that he was her husband.
Irvin "Papones" Decasio-Flores, 39, was arrested and charged with first-degree rape after V.I. Superior Court Magistrate Henry Carr III approved two warrants allowing authorities to arrest Flores and collect DNA samples from him.
Carr advised Flores of his rights Saturday in V.I. Superior Court and set his bail at $75,000. Flores was arrested April 16, though it is unclear where authorities found him.
ST. THOMAS - Lionel Roberts Stadium was full of boisterous energy and great songs Tuesday night as 13 young calypsonians took to the stage for the 2014 Junior Calypso competition.
Taking her eighth crown, Na'Kaya "Princess KeKe" Esdaille won the Secondary Division with her tribute to the former South African president Nelson Mandela.
Ny'Kel "Prince Short Shirt" Emanuel took his fourth crown Tuesday, but it was his first win competing in the Intermediate Division. He won with his song, "Get Off De Corner."
CFVI accepting applications for grants, scholarships
The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands is currently taking applications for its annual enrichment grants and post-secondary academic scholarships.
The CFVI Enrichment Grant Program is designed to work in partnership with community organizations or individuals that are providing enriching opportunities for children and youth in the Virgin Islands. The grants will support local non-profits, schools, clubs, qualifying organizations and individuals who are making available enriching opportunities for low to moderate income young people. Grant amounts will range from $500-$2,500, and support for multiple students can be included on a single application.
ST. CROIX - The five men arrested in connection with the early Saturday morning shootout outside a midisland nightclub that left one man dead and an off-duty V.I. Police officer and a bystander seriously injured were advised of their rights on Tuesday - even as two of the men still remain hospitalized with gunshot injuries.
Veteran V.I. Police Sgt. Anthony Hector, who was wounded outside the Front Line club after confronting armed men and ordering them to drop their weapons, was airlifted to Jackson Memorial-Ryder Trauma Center in Florida on Monday night.
ST. THOMAS - John Moore was a gentle and kind veterinarian who cared for the island's people and their pets.
He died suddenly Tuesday, at age 62.
"He was fantastic, it was such a shock," Lucky Paws Foundation founder Dellia Holodenschi said. "He's just one of the best. Actually I think he was the best we had on this island."
Moore's wife and business partner Marilyn Moore, who also is a veterinarian, said they were married in 1977, the same year they moved to the Virgin Islands. The federal government hired John Moore to work with the local government, in particular the farmers, she said.
The Legislature did not provide a calendar of meetings this week.
ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Senate's Homeland Security, Justice and Public Safety Committee moved forward two bills Tuesday pertaining to crime and held a third that would affect the requirements for purchasing firearms locally.
Of the two crimes bills that advanced, the first, Bill 30-0025, is an act sponsored by Sen. Diane Capehart that would amend the V.I. Code to create a new category of crime termed home invasion.
ST. CROIX - More than six months after the fatal shooting of Jose Edgardo Rivera Berrios on the balcony of his apartment in Christiansted, police detectives arrested a retired V.I. Police sergeant, saying that his actions when he fatally shot the man were unjustified.
Retired Police Sgt. Ronald Hatcher, who also is a former director at the V.I. Police Department's Training Academy, surrendered to police accompanied by his attorney just before sunrise Tuesday.
ST. THOMAS - Coast Guard inspectors have begun to conduct some drills on the Cruz Bay I, a necessary step in getting the vessel - one of two new government-owned ferries - ready to begin taking passengers between St. Thomas and St. John.
The Cruz Bay I, along with the Red Hook I, have been sitting idle since they were delivered to the territory in November.
The boats were built in Louisiana and received their U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection prior to arriving on St. Thomas. However, before they can begin operating in the territory, they must pass a "new to zone" inspection.
Because of incorrect information provided by the V.I. Education Department, an article on Page 5 of The Daily News on Friday about Easter holiday closings had incorrect information about school closings. All public schools resume classes today and for the rest of the week, and schools will be closed for spring break from April 28 to May 2, with the exception of Central High School students on St. C
ST. CROIX - Police have identified the man who was fatally wounded early Saturday morning outside a mid-island nightclub, and the off-duty V.I. Police officer shot in the back during a shootout following the murder continues to recover.
V.I. Police spokeswoman Melody Rames said Monday that the man who was murdered in front of several witnesses outside Front Line Club shortly after 3 a.m. Saturday has been identified as 32-year-old Matthew Vernege Jr.
ST. THOMAS - A tower of water blasted so high into the sky after a main water line broke on Emerald Hill near Smith Bay on Monday that some witnesses thought that the water was a plume of smoke.
Neither V.I. Water and Power Authority officials nor work crews at the scene knew what caused the break.
WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. said Monday that crews were investigating the incident.
Crews turned the line off after witnesses in the neighborhood reported a geyser of water shooting about 30 or 40 feet into the air. The water was spewing out of a 3-foot-wide hole located on the side of the road about halfway up Emerald Hill.
ST. THOMAS - In a meeting during the Easter holiday weekend, the University of the Virgin Islands board gave the green light to develop a plan for a medical school in the territory.
A major gift made by New Generation Power Chairman Chirinjeev Kathuria will support the development plan.
Although the university issued a statement about the board's decision, UVI spokeswoman Nanyamka Farrelly would not provide specifics of the agreement or how much New Generation Power is donating.
ST. THOMAS - To share their love of nature, photography and the national parks, Don and Shelly Hafner are visiting all 59 parks in 59 weeks.
Last week, the couple visited the Virgin Islands National Park, and wrote about it on their blog, www.59nationalparks.com.
"We really love it there," Don Hafner told The Daily News.
It was a whirlwind trip, just two days, but they managed to pack in an island tour, a visit to the Annaberg Plantation ruins, and a lot of snorkeling at Trunk Bay.
ST. CROIX - For the second time in as many weeks, government officials have been called to remove an unauthorized flag posted on one of the poles on the lookout along the Christiansted Bypass.
The bright yellow flag with a coiled rattlesnake and the words "Don't tread on me" is a replica of a historic 1775 flag, known as the Gadsden flag.
It symbolizes independence and frequently is used by people participating in anti-tax tea parties or who want to send a message to government about infringing on the rights of citizens. To those displaying the Gadsden flag, it symbolizes their commitment to the freedoms and values upon which the country was founded.
ST. CROIX - As quietly as they had popped up on shorelines across the island in the last week, camping tents began disappearing Monday morning as the Easter season and holiday weekend drew to a close and families prepared to return to their homes, work places, schools and normal lives.
Tired from a week of late nights of storytelling, cooking and socializing, campers broke down their tents and tables, folded up chairs and bedding, packed up food and furniture and drove away - one after another - from their campsites Monday with hopes to return again next year to build on the memories.
Gary Blalack April 20, 2014 Pending Hurley-Davis
Christopher Scott Blodget March 29, 2014 Pending Hurley-Davis
Angel Paul Charles April 8, 2014 Today Turnbull's
Ellen Guishard April 11, 2014 Pending Turnbull's
Pearl Stevens Gumbs April 18, 2014 Pending Hurley-Davis
James Ryan Handley March 29, 2014 Pending Hurley-Davis
Mayfields Hobson April 10, 2014 Wednesday Hurley-Davis
Osborne Antonio Hodge April 17, 2014 Pending Hurley-Davis
ST. THOMAS - Deja' Nique Navarro turned the Carnival Queen competition upside down, literally.
Not only did the 18-year-old senior at Charlotte Amalie High School sweep the sashes in the pageant, but she also performed some jaw-dropping stunts in the meantime.
Navarro, who was pronounced the 2014 Carnival Queen early Sunday morning after a nearly five-hour pageant, stunned the hundreds of audience members during the her talent section. As part of her talent, which also included singing, she put on an aerial acrobatic show in which she performed body contortions, several of them upside down, while wrapped and hanging in two curtains of fuchsia silk.
ST. CROIX - Police have arrested five men in connection to a shootout outside a mid-island nightclub Saturday morning that left one man dead and a police detective in serious but stable condition.
V.I. Police spokeswoman Melody Rames that Elijah Felix, 18; Eugene Roberts, 26; Derick Liburd, 23; Lester Roberts, 24 and Larry Williams, 29 were all arrested and charged with first-degree assault, illegal firearms possession and related charges in connection to the assaults that were reported just after 3 a.m. Saturday.
ST. CROIX - A quick-spreading brush fire lit up the sky late Saturday and continued Sunday morning on the island's East End.
St. Croix Fire Chief Corey Kent said the blaze started about a quarter mile east of Cramer Park beach where dozens of people were camping this Easter weekend.
Kent said the call reporting the fire came in at 10 p.m., and a team of eight firefighters from the Grove Place, Christiansted and Cotton Valley stations, led by Capt. Henry Joseph, took about four hours to extinguish the blaze
Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge has closed for the 2014 leatherback sea turtle nesting season, but those who want to watch the nests hatch can sign up for the National Park's Turtle Watch program.
The refuge is closed during this season every year to protect the nests and hatchlings of the endangered leatherback sea turtle.
Although the turtles begin nesting in late February and March each year, the first hatchlings typically emerge from their nests during April and will continue to emerge through August.
The wholesale price for regular gasoline went up today, while the wholesale price of premium gasoline dropped as HOVENSA adjusted its rack rates.
The changes will increase the rack rate - the price of fuel purchased wholesale at the HOVENSA truck-loading station on St. Croix - for regular gasoline by 8 cents per gallon. At the same time, the wholesale price of premium gasoline decreased by 8 cents per gallon.
Military personnel across the country are trading in their camouflage, Army greens and Air Force blues on Wednesday for a pair of denim jeans as they ask the community join them in observing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and observe the critical awareness campaign on Wednesday as "Denim Day."
Denim Day was established on the heels of a court case that raised international attention and outrage.
The V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency will host a series of meetings territorywide to present new information on the agency's tsunami preparedness efforts and talk with residents about tsunami readiness.
The first meeting will be on St. John, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 6 at the Julius E. Sprauve School. Topics will include tsunami hazards, tsunami warning, evacuation maps, evacuation routes and signs and assembly points.
ST. THOMAS - AGL Resources is selling Tropical Shipping to Seattle-based shipping company Saltchuk Resources, but the sale is not expected to affect local operations.
"There's no plans to change the service schedules or the structure of the company," Saltchuk spokeswoman Emily Reiter said. "It really should be business as usual."
The sale is expected to go through in the next 90 days.
Reiter said Tropical will continue to be operated by the current management team.
ST. THOMAS - Let the festivities begin.
While the nearly monthlong run of Carnival events and activities began with Sunday's Prince and Princess selection show, the celebration jumps into high gear tonight, when the Carnival Queen Pageant begins nightly events that culminate in the Adults' Parade on May 3 and a spectacular Fireworks by Grucci show that night over St. Thomas Harbor.
While the next 13 days following are expected to be mostly fun and games, government officials are reminding the community that respecting the rules of the road and following the law is important for keeping everyone safe and ensuring a happy Carnival for everyone.
ST. CROIX - The St. Croix chapter of the American Cancer Society is gearing up to put on its 2014 fundraiser and is looking for teams to sign up to make its 13th annual "Relay for Life" a huge success.
Planned for May 17 and 18, the hourslong event that will span over two days will take place on the track at Educational Complex with the theme "Fight to the Finish: All Ah We Ah One."
Relay for Life events on St. John and on St. Thomas are planned for later this year.
ST. CROIX - Almost 60 years ago, before Delores Hansen had even thought about having children, she and a few friends decided to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the routine way of life and relax on the beach for just a few days.
Little did they know at that time, that what was just some good old fun would grow into a annual tradition that has spanned generations.
That tradition continued Thursday, as hundreds of families began flocking to St. Croix's beaches to settle in for the extended Easter weekend.
ST. THOMAS - A handicapped person was left stuck for about 90 minutes when two V.I. Legislature vehicles parked illegally, trapping the person's vehicle in a handicapped parking space on Wednesday.
The person's employer, who said that the individual whose car was blocked uses a wheelchair, took photos of the clean, silver Senate sport utility vehicles - with license plates LEG 3 and LEG 9 - parked outside of the Frenchtown restaurant, Hook, Line and Sinker, on a rainy afternoon.
ST. THOMAS - District Judge Curtis Gomez sentenced Roberto Tapia, former director of enforcement for the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources, to just less than six years in prison on Thursday, while former V.I. Police Sgt. Angelo Hill was sentenced to just less than two years.
Both men were the first of a group of people to be sentenced for participating in a cocaine smuggling enterprise on St. Thomas and St. John.
ST. THOMAS - District Judge Curtis Gomez sentenced a former airport employee to 151 months in prison for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine.
A federal jury found Isa Noel, 25, guilty of the charges in November after four co-conspirators who had taken plea agreements with the U.S. Attorney's Office testified at his trial.
Noel, who was a supervisor and baggage handler with GCG Ground Services at King Airport on St. Thomas, used his position to smuggle cocaine to a co-conspirator in the restroom at the airport.
All bars, restaurants and establishments that serve alcohol must comply with V.I. Code that prohibits distilled liquor and drinks from being served in public places from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.
Violation of the law can result in a fine of up to $200 or imprisonment for up to a year or both, according to the V.I. Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs.
"Full compliance and cooperation of all establishments that serve alcohol is mandatory," DLCA Commissioner Wayne Biggs Jr. said.
ST. THOMAS - Schneider Hospital's laboratory passed a surprise visit from the Joint Commission last month with flying colors.
The commission showed up for the unannounced survey March 11 and spent three full days evaluating the lab's compliance, according to a statement Schneider Hospital issued Thursday.
During the review, the surveyor assessed laboratory standards, reviewed policies and procedures, documentation processes, and process control. The surveyors also reviewed health care-associated conditions, risk reduction and staff education and conducted on-site observations and interviews.
- Public schools are closed today and all of next week.
- Government offices are closed today and Monday.
- V.I. Superior and V.I. Supreme courts are closed today and Monday.
- District Court is closed today and open Monday.
- Post Offices are closed today only.
- Delegate Donna Christensen's offices are closed today and Monday.
- V.I. Water and Power Authority is closed today and Monday.
- Waste Management Authority offices are closed today and Monday. Anguilla Landfill is closed today, and the Bovoni Landfill closes at 2 p.m. today.
ST. THOMAS - Defense attorneys trying to obtain bail and conditions of pre-trial release for their clients - who are facing federal charges in connection with the March armed robbery of the Imperial Jewelry store on Main Street on St. Thomas - were unsuccessful Wednesday in District Court.
After their third detention hearing, this time in front of District Judge Curtis Gomez, Shaquim Fredericks, 19; Warkim Gabriel, 18; Chefton Newton, 25; and Alvin Thomas, 18, were remanded back into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, according to Joycelyn Hewlett, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Applications still available for property tax credits
Applications still are available for Virgin Islands property owners who have not previously applied for property tax credits against their 2013 and 2014 property tax bills.
Property owners of record can apply for the tax credits until May 15, and applications can be found online at www.ltg.gov.vi.
To be eligible for homestead credits, a person must be the property owner of record as of Jan. 1 for the applicable tax year. Property owners may not apply for more than two credits - homestead and any one of the other categories for which they may be eligible.
ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Port Authority board approved two major task orders for improvement projects planned for the Crown Bay area on St. Thomas.
The board approved a $512,200 order that will enable CDR Maguire, Inc., a national civil engineering firm based in Florida, to proceed with the expansion of the Crown Bay pier, an improvement that the Port Authority believes will further accommodate cruise lines using the port. CDR Maguire will work with the Port Authority to design the expansion, which will fill a large gap at the end of the current pier configuration.