No drinking on Good Friday in the VIs

"On Good Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Virgin Islands is supposed to be dry," said police department spokesman Thomas Hannah.  "For seven hours, we want everyone to refrain from drinking alcohol," he said,  the Virgin islands Daily News reported. 

Good Friday is the only day alcohol sales are restricted by the V.I. Code, whether it’s in restaurants, bars, or across the store counter.  Hannah said the territory’s law has no authority over individuals drinking.

The Easter holiday extends through Monday on the island.  All local government agencies and schools will be closed, as will be the telephone and cable company offices.  Most retailers will be open during the weekend and Monday.

St. Johnian to World Series of Poker

Pokerplayer_1Andre Castonguay of St. John has won a seat at this years; World series of Poker tournament. Playing in a competition at St. Croix’s Divi Carina Bay Casino, he came out on top against 100 players, to win a ticket to the Las Vegas contest. Some of the contestants had traveled from Massachusetts for a shot at winning a seat which, usually, would cost $10,000 to get. Castonguay also won $1,000 in cash. The casino will hold another satellite the first weekend in April.

Gas prices going up

Gasoline prices have jumped as much as 40 cents a gallon this week on St. Thomas, after the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs lifted its lid on how much profit stations could make  Regular gas at O’Connor’s in Cruz Bay was going for $2.40 a gallon, with premium at $2.44.  At E&C in Estate Enighed, prices were $2.209 for regular and $2.25 for premium, the St. John Source reported.  The cap on profits was canceled last week after a District Court judge considered a challenge by Texaco and Esso Virgin Islands Inc. to the order which said profits at the pump could go no higher than 30 cents a gallon at wholesale and 35 cents at retail, the report added.

Reefs good, fish gone

EarleSylvia Earle, an oceanographer and "explorer in residence" at the National Geographic Society, dove off Lameshur Bay recently and surfaced with a good news/bad news report. 

The reefs look OK, but, "Nobody’s home.  I didn’t even seen a barracuda," she said, according to a report in the St. John Source

Earle was on island on  behalf of the Ocean Conservancy’s publication of "The State of the Coral Reefs in the U.S. Virgin Islands."  When she dove off St. John nearly 35 years ago, Earle said she saw seven species of grouper.  "Today, I saw none of those big guys."  The staghorn and elkhorn coral are also gone, but she said the brain coral is alright.  This time she saw three lobsters; in 1970 she would expect to see 20.

The problems are not only St. John’s,  she explained.  Around the world, 90 percent of the "big fish" have disappeared.  She urged protection for spawning areas and a reduction in the number of fish allowed to be caught.  Now that people are paying attention, she said, "Weve got a chance."

Car rental rates going higher

April will bring a new tax on car and truck rentals.  The $2 a day levy will be collected by rental agencies and is supposed to be sent to the Internal Revenue Bureau within 30 days of the end of the month, according to a report in the St. John Source. One business owner said, "Of course it will be passed on to the consumer."

A visitor from Connecticut was unconcerned, however.  "What’s $2 a day for paradise," said Laura Lerman. Her husband, Kenneth, said everything else is so expensive that $2 more a day wouldn’t make a difference.

Of greater concern to all St. John residents and visitors is a new tax which will increase  cost of items businesses bring to the island by container from St. Thomas.  A container less than 40 feet long will be subject to a $50 tax, over 40 feet means a tax of $100.  The owner of St. John Hardware, Tommy Bertolino, said the new tax is just another straw.  He estimated that the cost of bringing a container across Pillsbury Sound in the past year has increased $225, due to expenses related to Homeland Security procedures at ports and on the containers.  St. John Hardware beings in a container a week, he told the Source.

Funny money on island

The owner of Ronnie’s Pizzeria at Boulon Center says he got taken in by some bad dough. 

Ronnie Klingsberg said a counterfeit $20 bill, in his business’s deposit bag, was spotted by FirstBank.  A spokesman for the Police Department, Thomas Hannah, told the St. John Source, "It (phony bills) happens periodically." The bank caught the bill, but Klingsberg didn’t. On second look, he said, "When you looked close, it looks like graph paper."