V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen will keynote this year’s annual meeting of the Friends of Virgin Islands National Park. Annual reports will also be offered by Park Supt. Art Frederick and Friends’ president Joe Kessler.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. at its usual place, T’ree Lizards Restaurant at Cinnamon Bay Campground. On the agenda also is the nomination to the Friends board of directors of St. John residents Earl Thomas and Elsa Angel. They have been actively involved with the Friends’ Advisory Council.
For the next week or so, the V.I. Public Works Department is focused on getting rid of abandoned vehicles and discarded appliances on St. John. Commissioner Wayne Callwood said residents can prepare items for disposal by separating metal debris, and wood and plastic items. The collecting began in Coral Bay and targets different neighborhoods daily.
Sen. Craig Barshinger, a St. John resident and the newly-elected V.I. Senator at Large attended opening sessions of the legislative body and introduced three proposals. They were a bill to combat sexual harassment, a proposal requiring cruise lines to have one of their ships call on St. Croix for every seven which visit St. Thomas or St. John, and a bill to memorialize the young boy who was killed near Sprauve School recently. It would prohibit truck deliveries from some areas during certain times of the day.
The annual V.I. Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count on St. John reported almost 40 percent more birds than during the previous year’s census. Laurel Brannick-Trager, the group’s president, said at least 1,650 birds from 60 species were identified by the 27 counters. In 2003, the count found 1,180 birds of 56 species. One probable reason the count was higher, she told the St. John Source, was the participation of more experienced birders. It has been almost 10 years since a major hurricane (Marilyn in 1995, and that has helped the birds survive and their habitats to be secure. A third of the birds counted, she said, were of the gray king species, but rare birds were also seen including the tricolored heron, the Sora Rail and the yellow rump warbler, Trager told the Source.
Without releasing details, Delegate Donna Christensen said she is is preparing to introduce legislation to the U.S. Congress that could lead to relocation of the island’s Sprauve School. The newly-reelected representative said her bill would authorize an exchange of land to permit moving the school out of the center of Cruz Bay. There have been suggestions that land owned by the V.I. National Park, near Catherineberg, could be part of such a deal.
The Port Authority’s decision to limit cargo operations to St. John from St. Thomas could mean problems for merchants on the small island. While construction gets underway to build new docks and a covered waiting area for the Red Hook ferry, the Authority has decided no container longer than 20 feet can be transported across the sound. Larger, and more economical 40-foot containers will have to come from Crown Bay or perhaps a yet-to-be-determined alternate port. "It will cost a lot more money to ship that way," Alan Johnson, a business man told the St. John Source. "It will put St. John merchants at a disadvantage" because their transportation costs will be higher.
Meanwhile, the Enighed Pond commercial port project is still in limbo. Dale Gregory, the Authority’s director of engineering, said the port should now be finished by June. Meanwhile, efforts continue to figure out how, and where, to dispose of the material dredged from the Pond that is now piled up along the sides. He said the Authority has asked the Army Corp of Engineers for permission to "temporarily" dump the material back into the Pond, the Source reported.