A look back at 2013 in the Virgin Islands


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July

July 1: Merchants at Havensight Mall are granted a six-month rent abatement by the mall's owner, the Government Employees Retirement System. Merchants say 2013's off-season was the worst experienced, and the July 1 to Dec. 31 abatement is a last chance for them to resuscitate their businesses.

July 2: The V.I. Port Authority demolishes two unoccupied housing units at Bournefield on St. Thomas.

July 9: Uller Muller Elementary School student Sakari Clendinen, winner of this year's Virgin Islands winner of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, takes part in the annual "Kids' State Dinner" at the White House, hosted by first lady Michelle Obama.

July 9: The Virgin Islands Joint Board of Elections selects Caroline Fawkes to be the next Elections supervisor.

July 9: Bureau of Correction workers return to work after a one-day sick-out at St. Croix's Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility causes the prison to be put on lockdown due to understaffing.

July 9: Dr. Kendall Griffith resigns as interim chief executive officer at Luis Hospital, stating that he could no longer maintain his medical practice and serve as the hospital's CEO. Peter Abrahams replaces Dr. Griffith as acting CEO.

July 12: Gov. John deJongh Jr. submits the government's proposed agreement with HOVENSA - which lays out responsibilities and governs how the company will attempt to sell its shuttered refinery - to the 30th Legislature for ratification.

July 12: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expands their complaint against WAPA of violation several sections of the Clean Air Act at their Estate Richmond plant. The EPA claims another year's worth of alleged violations and up to another $13.7 million in new fines.

July 15: The Luis Hospital Board reinstates Dr. Kendall Griffith as interim chief executive officer.

July 16: A special legislative session to abolish the Luis Hospital Board is canceled after board members Kye Walker and Imelda Dizon resign, effectively leaving the remaining board member unable to form a quorum.

July 23: Former welterweight boxing champion and V.I. native Emile Griffith dies at age 75. His boxing career spanned more than 16 years, and he was inducted into the Virgin Islands Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.

July 25: Matthew Edwards of St. Croix becomes an Eagle Scout, the highest advancement award the Boy Scouts of America offers. Only 4 percent of all Boy Scouts become Eagle Scouts.

July 25: The V.I. Water and Power Authority signs an agreement with global energy company the Vitol Group that will allow for propane to become WAPA's main fuel source by October 2014, reducing electricity rates by a projected 30 percent.

July 26: Gov. deJongh renominates sitting judge Michael Dunston to the V.I. Superior Court. His pending confirmation would make him the Court's new presiding judge. Gov. deJongh also nominates St. Croix attorney Robert Molloy to replace Presiding Judge Darryl Donahue. He also nominates St. Thomas attorney Denise Francois to replace Judge James Carroll.

July 29: The Virgin Islands Daily News earns three top national awards for journalism excellence form the Associated Press Media Editors organization. Recognition includes awards for public service and The Tom Curley First Amendment Sweepstakes Award.

July 29: Peter Abrahams, Luis Hospital's Vice President of Facilities Management, is terminated, and his position is eliminated in an effort to reduce hospital costs.

July 30: the University of the Virgin Islands signs a solar-power purchasing agreement with Illinois-based New Generation Power, which will allow for the university to generate 3 megawatts of solar energy for its campuses and reduce its energy costs by an estimated of $1 million annually.

August

Aug. 1: The British Virgin Islands hikes the departure tax for ferry and charter boat users. The current rate of $5 person for residents and non residents becomes $10 for residents and $15 for non-residents.

Aug. 1: Ivanna Eudora Kean High School's tilapia farm is featured on First Lady Michelle Obama's blog, letsmove.org, on which she promotes her healthy eating platform for the nation's youth.

Aug. 1: Jean-Paul Nel becomes the new manager of the Marriott's Frenchman's Reef and Morning Star Beach Resort.

Aug. 2: Senators on the V.I. Legislature's Culture, Historic Preservation, Youth and Recreation Committee call for an audit of the Charles Wesley Turnbull Regional Library after construction snags and accusations of misused funds.

Aug. 2: Former V.I. Superior Court Judge Edgar Ross is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and negligent driving in connection with and automobile accident near Jaunita Gardine Elementary School on St. Croix.

Aug. 7: The 30th Legislature confirms Luis Sylvester, Noreen Michael, George Blackhall and Daphne Edwards to the V.I. Housing Authority Board.

Aug. 7: The 30th Legislature votes down an amendment to the operating agreement between the HOVENSA refinery and the government of the Virgin Islands.

Aug. 9: Gov. deJongh formally notifies HOVENSA officials of the 30th Legislature's rejection of the amendment to operating agreement and informs the corporation that the Third Concession Agreement will be reinstated.

Aug. 11: Patrick "Soljah" Farrell, the reigning Boy ah Boy Calypso king and reigning V.I. Calypso Monarch, is crowned the Leeward Islands Calypso Monarch. It is the first time that a calypsonian from the Virgin Islands has captured the title.

Aug. 12: HOVENSA writes to Gov. deJongh and argues that the corporation has no obligation to operate a refinery and plans to end wholesale gasoline sales on St. Croix.

Aug. 12: Venne Williams, vice-president of Ancillary Services, and Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel, vice-president of Marketing and Materials Management, resign their posts at Luis Hospital. While both chose to leave their positions of their own volition, interim CEO Dr. Kendall Griffith indicates that he will not fill either position in an effort to reduce the hospital's executive team.

Aug. 13: WAPA celebrates the opening of a reverse osmosis plants on St. Thomas. The plant is owned and operated by Seven Seas Water Corp., from which WAPA will purchase water at about half the cost of water produced using the old desalination system.

Aug. 15: The V.I. Public Services Commission approves a $1 increase on rates for ferry rides for nonresidents travelling between St. Thomas and St. John.

Aug. 16: District Judge Wilma Lewis is named Chief Judge of the District Court of the Virgin Islands, making her the first woman to serve in this position in the territory.

Aug. 16: In an effort to diversify its energy-generating capacity, the V.I. Water and Power Authority breaks ground on its Spanish Town Estate Solar Project on St. Croix. This project will use photovoltaic panels to create voltage or electric current upon exposure to sunlight.

Aug. 19: St. Croix cuisine is featured on the Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods America." In the episode, host Andrew Zimmern tries bull foot soup, pig foot souse, roti, and other Crucian delicacies.

Aug. 20: The Caribbean Kidney Center announces plans to open a new dialysis clinic behind Schneider Hospital.

Aug. 21: The V.I. Port Authority approves a 10-year lease for a new kidney dialysis center in Crown Bay.

Aug. 26: Times-Shamrock Communications announces plans to sell the Virgin Islands Daily News and its affiliated print and online publications.

Aug. 28: Low enrollment for the 2013-2014 school year prompts the V.I. Department of Education to decide that Guy Benjamin Elementary School in Coral Bay, St. John, will be without a kindergarten and first grade class. Those classes will be at Julius Sprauve Elementary School in Cruz Bay.

September

Sept. 3: Assistant attorney general Ernest Bason dies at age 52. Bason had served the V.I. court system for 12 years.

Sept. 4: The V.I. Housing finance Authority informs residents of LBJ housing community of its plans to demolish the apartment buildings within the next six months.

Sept. 4: Former Schneider Regional Medical Center chief executive officer Rodney Miller Sr. is found guilty of one count of causing, aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false and fraudulent income tax return for 2006, by deliberately under-reporting his income.

Sept. 4: Gov. deJongh appoints Harry Daniel to head the V.I. Office of Veterans Affairs.

Sept. 5: Owners of Caneel Bay Resort sever ties with Rosewood Resort Management Company and will manage the resort on its own.

Sept. 6: The NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves hire former Washington Wizards official and Virgin Islander Milt Newton as general manager.

Sept. 9: Former V.I. Property and Procurement Commissioner Marc Biggs, who was convicted for accepting bribes and is on home confinement on his federal prison sentence, begins employment as facilities coordinator at WTJX, the Virgin Islands Public Television System.

Sept. 12: Controversial comments about marital rape made by Sen. Alicia Hansen during a Senate committee hearing on Sept. 10 appear on the websites of Salon.com and Ebony.com. During the hearing, Hansen said she could not understand how a wife could be raped by a husband.

Sept 11: Sisters and retired educators Gloria Samuel and Marva Samuel Applewhite donate four acres of land on St. John to the University of the Virgin Islands.

Sept. 12: Leo Sibilly Sr., a well-known businessman, community leader and the first king of the St. Thomas Carnival, dies at age 87.

Sept. 13: In its final report, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration finds that an Oct. 13, 2012, Piper Aztec aircraft crash was essentially a result of bad judgement by the pilot Kirby Hodge. Hodge's body was never found and is presumed dead. Two other passengers drowned, and one passenger survived.

Sept 14: Walgreens pharmacy officially opens for businessman on St. Thomas.

Sept. 14: Gas Works gas station in Bovoni is heavily damaged after a storage tank at the facility exploded and engulfed the premises' main building. The explosion injured two people but caused no fatalities.

Sept. 16: Police Commissioner Rodney Querrard Sr. appoints V.I. Police Lt. Thomas Hannah as assistant police commissioner.

Sept. 20: At a viewing at Davis Funeral Home for Lyra Elvira Sewer Collazo, who died August 29, family members discover the wrong body is in Ms. Sewer's clothing and casket. The unfortunate mix-up leads to Ms. Sewer being buried in Nevis under another woman's name.

Sept. 23: A section of ceiling falls and pins down fourth-grade teacher Alison Ford at Joseph Gomez Elementary School. She suffers injuries to her legs, but no students are injured.

Sept. 24: Roberto Tapia, former Chief of Enforcement for the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, pleads guilty to racketeering in relation to his role in running a drug ring.

Sept. 27: The St. John Taxi Association is evicted from a parking lot in Cruz Bay after having operated without a business license for more than 10 years.

Sept. 26: The 30th Legislature passes a bill that adds protections for spouses who are victims of marital rape.

Sept. 26: The 30th Legislature passes an amended resolution that would place a referendum on the 2014 General Election ballot, asking voters whether they are in favor of increasing the term of office for local senators from two years to four years.

Sept. 26: The 30th Legislature confirms the renomination of V.I. Superior Court Judge Michael Dunston and the nominations of Denise Francois and Robert Molloy to the Superior Court bench.

Sept. 27: The 30th Legislature passes a vote of "no confidence" in Gov. John deJongh Jr. The vote passes with only half of the senators present voting.

Sept. 27: The 30th Legislature passes legislation making the Queen Conch shell the official sea shell of the Virgin Islands and the Julie Mango the "Fruit of Choice" of the Virgin Islands.

Sept. 30: Asst. Police Commissioner Thomas Hannah, St. Coix Police Chief James Parris, and St. Croix Deputy Police Chief Arthur Hector Sr. are sworn into office.

Sept. 30: The V.I. Police Department and the V.I. Housing Authority sign a memorandum of agreement to move the Mariel C. Newton Command, commonly known as Zone C, from Four Winds Plaza to the Housing Authority offices in Anna's Retreat.

Sept. 30: After an unannounced inspection on Sept. 27, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources issues an order of noncompliance to Schneider Hospital for failure to follow proper standards and guidelines in storing infectious medical waste and gives the hospital 10 days to fix the problem.

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