16 selected for Transfer Day Centennial Commission

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ST. THOMAS - The group responsible for planning the 100th anniversary of the territory's transfer from Denmark to the United States has been appointed and conducted its first meeting.

In 2010, the Senate passed legislation to establish the Centennial Commission, a temporary body tasked with making plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the transfer.

In January, the law was amended to specify the number of people from each island who would sit on the commission.

Gov. John DeJongh Jr. appointed 14 people, and Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone appointed two senators.

The senators selected were Myron Jackson and Sammuel Sanes.

DeJongh's picks from St. Croix are: Sonia Jacobs Dow; Al Franklin; Gerville Larsen; Hans Lawaetz; Eugene Petersen; and Pamela Richards Samuel.

The St. Thomas appointees are Cecile deJongh; Lois Hassell-Habtes; Marilyn Krigger; Ronald Lockhart; Clement Magras; and Roy Watlington.

The two appointees from St. John are Pat Harley and Robert O'Connor, with a third to be appointed in the near future, according to Government House.

The commission itself elected Samuel as the chairwoman and Larsen as the vice chairman.

According to the law, the commission also will include the presidents of two Virgin Islands organizations that foster the ongoing relationship between the Virgin Islands and Denmark.

"I selected individuals who are active in the community and have held leadership positions in various organizations ranging from cultural commissions to academia. I wanted to ensure that the Centennial Commission represents the strength and diversity of the community and that the commission members appreciate not only that the future of the Virgin Islands grows out of our cultural and social ties to Denmark and the United States, but that the future we build together is one which we can all embrace and understand," deJongh said in a written statement.

The legislation that created the commission also established a separate fund to pay for the Transfer Day anniversary celebrations, which begin on or before Aug. 4, 2016, and end on Dec. 31, 2017.

The legislation says the V.I. Tourism commissioner is responsible for establishing policies to use the money.

"The Transfer Day Centennial is an opportunity to showcase the Virgin Islands on a grand scale and help others appreciate the contributions of Virgin Islands to the nation since we became U.S. citizens," the governor said. "I also envision that our Centennial celebrations will include an open dialogue on the struggles that our ancestors overcame to ensure the liberties we enjoy today. Also part of these celebrations must be an exploration of our cultural inheritance from Denmark, the United States and Africa."

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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