The Planning and Natural Resources Department has told owners of about four dozen boats in Johnson Bay they must move out. The government says the Bay is not a legitimate mooring area, despite its being used as such for more than 10 years. Some boaters say they, in fact, do have mooring permits issued by DPNR. “How you can have a mistake going on for 10 years is amazing,” said Morgan MacDonald, a naval architect who has moored his boat in Johnson Bay for almost two years. The department expects to set a final date for boaters to leave after one more meeting with owners of the crafts, set for Monday, Sept. 20, in the Emmaus Moravian Church fellowship hall. MacDonald has headed up boaters’ efforts to form the Coral Bay Association for Marine Planning but says, “DPNR has refused to engage in any discussion with the boaters.”
The Coral Bay Community Council convened a meeting to hear the four candidates for the VI’s At Large senate seat, but only one attended: St. John resident, and frequent candidate, Craig Barshinger. Coral Bay resident Kathy Damon was one of about 50 people who attended the session at the John’s Folly Learning Center, telling the St John Source, “That’s very rude. If they can’t keep their promises.” The other candidates pleaded conflicting events on St. Croix, and one said he had a family emergency. Barshinger said protecting Coral Harbor from silt runoff is a critical issue for the island. He suggested the federal government should assist in the costs of paving roads around the Harbor. Both candidates for the VI’s delegate to Congress attended the forum. Incumbent Donna Christensen defended her backing of a bill to require Congress to name a Chief Financial Officer for the islands. Her opponent, Basil Ottley Jr., opposed the idea, saying, “We don’t know the kind of person we’re going to get.”
A trade group representing participants in the government’s Economic Development Commission has met with Department of the Interior officials in Washington to clarify rules for EDC beneficiaries. Since an official of the IRS warned companies they had to meet a residency requirement to qualify for generous tax benefits for EDC companies, some firms have considered closing. “That’s an important loss of revenue to the territory,” said Benjamin Rivera Jr., executive director of the USVI Economic Alliance. He told the St. John Source, attorneys for some EDC companies have recommended they halt operations for fear the currently-unstated residency requirements may eventually be a problem. Richards said EDC companies contribute as much as $75 million a year to the territory, in addition to donations to local charities of another $25 million. The Alliance official said, “We were very well received and believe that Interior heard our message. (We now) will state our case to the Treasury Department.”
The parade, scheduled for 11:00, started at noon, and stretched for all of 15 minutes. Led by the Carolina Corral, it also included, in order, the Virgin Islands Police and Fire Departments, Miss St John (Tonya Powell) and St. John Jr. Miss 2004; St. John Prince and Princess 2004; the Middle Age Majorettes; the Rising Stars Pan Band; the Animal Care Center of St. John; and St. John Rescue. A good time was had by all! This was followed by a food fair and “tramp” at the Coral Bay ball field, and a flashlight walk after dark. (Courtesy Brad Felmly, Starlit Escape.)
St. John’s Craig Barshinger has signed up to make another run at the At-Large seat in the VI Senate. He’s been trying in each election since 1996, collecting 40 percent of the vote in 2002, but still losing to incumbent Sen. Almando Liburd. Barshinger is one of 51 people who filed to compete for the 15 seats which are up for election on Nov. 2. All 15 incumbents are running for reelection and have presented their petitions. A primary election will be held Sept. 11. Thirty candidates are running for 7 seats from St. Croix, 16 on St. Thomas for 7 spots, and five people will contest the At Large seat. VI delegate to Congress Donna Christensen is running for her fifth term but has opposition from three candidates.
A Mayor-Council form of managing St. John has been part of discussions being held by an Island Council Committee formed with the encouragement of Gov. Charles Turnbull. The Committee sponsored by the St. John Community Foundation met at Fish Trap restaurant to proceed with work on a proposal for the Governor. Craig Barshinger suggested locals could vote for members of an island council, despite concern voiced by one woman who worried people from St. Thomas and St. Croix would also participate in the balloting and overwhelm St. John citizens’ interests, the St. John Source reported. Carol DeSenne, executive director of the Foundation, said the committee plans town meetings and will distribute brochures to involve more people in the discussion and planning.