A look back at 2013 in the Virgin Islands


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October

Oct. 1: The Government Employees Retirement System raises employer and employee contributions. Employer rates will be increased by 3 percent, and employee rates are increased by 1 percent consecutively and cumulatively during the next three fiscal years.

Oct. 1: Federal civil rights lawyers file a motion to give the V.I. Police Department four more years to comply with the federal consent decree. The consent decree is intended to correct problems within the department that prompted the U.S. Justice Department, after a lengthy investigation, to file a lawsuit in 2008 contending that police had a pattern and practice of violating residents' civil rights by using excessive force.

Oct. 3: The Joint Board of Elections names Genevieve Whitaker as the deputy supervisor for the St. Croix District and Nefrediezha Barbel as the deputy supervisor of the St. Thomas-St. John District.

Oct. 4: The Joint Commission re-accredits the laboratory at Luis Hospital.

Oct. 5: Luis Hospital begins its partnership with the V.I. National Guard to alleviate staff shortages with 17 members of the National Guard's military organization to work at the St. Croix hospital for one weekend every month for the foreseeable future.

Oct. 8: Burglars steal computers, radios and other office supplies from the main office at John H. Woodson Junior High School.

Oct. 9: School officials discover about 800 dead fish at the tilapia farm at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School. The fish had been poisoned in their tanks before they could be harvested. The tilapia farm had been featured on First Lady Michelle Obama's blog.

Oct. 11: The V.I. Corrections Bureau pledges to donate 800 tilapia fish to Ivanna Eudora Kean High School for its tilapia farm.

Oct. 15: After a follow-up inspection by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources of Schneider Hospital's medical waste handling, the agency uses its discretion to not issue a notice of noncompliance to the hospital. The department gives the hospital five more days to prove that it has properly stored its waste.

Oct. 17: St. Thomas native Sgt. Lyle Turnbull, 31, dies of a medical emergency in Kuwait while serving with the Army in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Oct. 18: Rhys Hodge is re-elected to serve a third three-year term as chief justice of the V.I. Supreme Court.

Oct. 22: Former Luis Hospital Chief Executive Officer Jeff Nelson is found dead of a gunshot wound at his home in Stillwater, Minn. Nelson resigned as Luis Hospital CEO on Jan. 26 and was the president and CEO at Northwestern Health Sciences University at the time of his death.

Oct. 23: The 30th Legislature passes legislation to move election dates forward to comply with federal mandates and to conform to a consent decree. The dates cover other election deadlines, such as candidate filings, candidates withdrawal dates and the casting of lots. The 29th Legislature already had passed legislation moving the primary election date for 2014 to the first Saturday in August.

Oct. 26: The University of the Virgin Islands Board of Trustees votes to freeze tuition for the next academic year, beginning in fall 2014.

Oct. 26: Lockhart Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Diana Tyson is named St. Thomas-St. John District Teacher of the Year. Ricardo Richards Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Shabre Providence is named St. Croix District Teacher of the Year.

Oct. 28: Gov. John deJongh Jr. nominates Donna Frett-Gregory to be the V.I. Education commissioner.

Oct. 29: The V.I. Tourism Department launches the first of eight video vignettes over social media. Each video features aspects of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Oct. 30: The board of Clear Blue Sky, a nonprofit organization on St. Thomas that helps mentally ill people, votes to close its facilities and cease operations until they can restructure financially.

November

Nov. 4: Ricardo Richards Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Shabre Providence is named 2013 Territorial Teacher of the Year.

Nov. 4: The 30th Legislature ratifies the Fourth Amendment Agreement between HOVENSA and the V.I. government.

Nov. 4: The Crucian Christmas Festival is renamed the Crucian Christmas Carnival.

Nov. 6: Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls takes delivery of two new ferry boats, which, after inspections, will be operated by Varlack Ventures and Transportation Services on the St. Thomas-St. John route.

Nov. 7: Gov. John deJongh Jr. signs legislation ratifying the Fourth Amendment Agreement between the V.I. government and HOVENSA. The agreement will clears the way for HOVENSA to sell the refinery and avoid years of litigation between the government and the refinery.

Nov. 12: The V.I. Superior Court debuts its online case management system.

Nov. 13: An official portrait of Judge Emeritus Verne Hodge is unveiled in V.I. Superior Court. Hodge was the court's presiding judge for 23 years. His portrait becomes the first public portrait of a V.I. Superior Court judge.

Nov. 13: Delta Airlines announces additional flights to St. Thomas from New York City and Atlanta.

Nov. 18: The GERS board rescinds its decision to raise employer and employee contributions. Employer rates would have increased by 3 percent, and employee rates would have increased by 1 percent consecutively and cumulatively during the next three fiscal years.

Nov. 20: The V.I. Water and Power Authority and Seven Seas Water Corporation jointly open the St. Croix Reverse Osmosis Facility at its Estate Richmond plant.

Nov. 20: DPNR issues an order of noncompliance to Luis Hospital because of its failure to follow proper standards and guidelines for storing infectious medical waste and gives the hospital five days to fix the problem.

Nov. 21: An audit of the V.I. Corrections Bureau reveals that an account meant to improve the agency's credibility and improve facilities to comply with a federal consent decree has been used to cover about $2.9 million in questionable expenses, including Christmas parties and management retreats.

Nov. 25: The Caribbean Kidney Center-St. Thomas, the first private hemodialysis clinic on the island, opens.

Nov. 27: The Charles Wesley Turnbull Library opens its children and young adult sections.

Nov. 29: Career civil servant Leslie Millin Sr., dies at age 70. Millin was the son of former Lt. Gov. Henry Millin and the grandson of the territory's first female senator, Lucinda Millin.

Nov. 29: Luis Hospital employees are paid two days late after the hospital fails to make payroll and the V.I. government releases its December monthly allotment several days early.

Nov. 29: Luis Hospital Interim Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kendall Griffith announces an 8 percent salary cut across the board for all hospital employees, to begin Dec. 12. Griffith also dismisses 15 employees, including the hospital's chief financial officer, Deepak Bansal.

December

Dec. 2: Federal regulators from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services conduct a full inspection of Luis Hospital.

Dec. 2: The Marriott's Frenchman's Reef and Morning Star Beach Resort's parent company, Diamond Rock Hospitality, donates $100,000 to the University of the Virgin Islands' hotel and tourism management program.

Dec. 3: Dale LeFebvre, founder and chairman of Oson VI, LLC, presents the University of the Virgin Islands with a $350,000 endowment for two university programs.

Dec. 3: Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility's independent monitor Kenneth Ray's first report submitted to the District Court finds little improvement and massive deficiencies at the prison. Ray writes that Golden Grove "remains a dangerous and violent environment and is inadequately staffed, equipped, funded, maintained and operated to provide and consistently sustain environmental and operational conditions of inmate care and confinement that meet constitutional requirements."

Dec. 4: The Trust for Public Lands officially transfers the final 74-acre parcel of Maho Bay on St. John to the V.I. National Park. The park now owns Maho Bay beach and the surrounding hillside, a total of 225 acres.

Dec. 4: The V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency releases tsunami maps to help residents and visitors to the islands understand where the danger zones are and where safe ground can be found if a tsunami is on its way.

Dec. 5: DPNR issues an amended notice of compliance status to Schneider Hospital, citing that the institution is now in compliance with all government regulations for disposing of medical waste.

Dec. 6: Banco Popular opens a service center in Cruz Bay, St. John. While not a new branch, the center enables customers to deposit and withdraw cash.

Dec. 6: The new government-owned passenger ferries for the St. Thomas to St. John route are dedicated. The ferry Cruz Bay is to be operated by Transportation Services, while the ferry Red Hook is to be operated by Varlack Ventures.

Dec. 9: Longtime Luis Hospital board member Wallace Phaire resigns, leaving the hospital with only two members on the nine-seat board. Phaire's departure also leaves Luis Hospital with only one certifying officer, and most of the hospital's checks have to be signed by two certifying officers.

Dec. 15: Zillah Ambrose, 8, of Claude O. Markoe Elementary School, is crowned Crucian Christmas Carnival Princess. Jayla Newton, 7, of Ricardo Richards Elementary School, is crowned Crucian Christmas Carnival Duchess.

Dec. 15: Jahnaya Christopher, 11, of Eulalie Rivera Elementary School wins the Intermediate Class division of the Crucian Christmas Carnival's Jr. Calypso Competition. Noel Tirado, 9, of Pearl B. Larsen Elementary School wins the Pee Wee II Class division, and Cayla Joseph, 6, of the Church of God School, wins the Pee Wee Class division of the competition.

Dec. 12: Seaborne Airlines launches a new flight route from Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic.

Dec. 16: Cape Air resumes daily flights between Tortola and St. Thomas.

Dec. 16: In a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, V.I. Police Sgt. Angelo Hill pleads guilty to drug conspiracy in the high-profile indictment that also implicated Roberto Tapia, former director of Enforcement for the Department of Planning and Natural Resources.

Dec. 18: Luis Hospital confirms that a patient at the hospital has H1N1 influenza, more commonly known as "swine flu."

Dec. 18: The Louis E. Brown Senior Villas in Estate Paradise opens on St. Croix.

Dec. 18: Seaborne Airlines announces that it will move its headquarters from St. Croix to Puerto Rico. The move means the loss of 88 jobs on St. Croix, but routes to and from the Virgin Islands will not be affected, according to the airline.

Dec. 22: Astia LeBron is crowned Miss St. Croix 2013-2014.

Dec. 27: Vice-president Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, vacation on St. Croix until New Year's Day.

Dec. 30: Financial audits for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 discussed at a V.I. Water and Power Authority board meeting reveal that the utility suffered a net loss in its electrical system of $9.9 million in 2013 and that the amount the V.I. government owes to the utility for electricity has increased to a total of $25,458,791. An audit of the water system reveals that the utility earned a profit during the same time period.

Dec. 31: St. Thomas veterinarian Dr. Andrew "Doc" Williamson retires after 50 years in business.

Dec. 31: The tax extender that keeps rum revenues flowing to the territory expires. The rum cover-over rebates a $13.50 excise tax imposed on every proof gallon of Virgin-Islands produced rum sold in the United States. As of Jan. 1, that rate reverts back to $10.50 per proof gallon.

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