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The Dreaded Manchineel Tree

Optimized-Manchineel Tree

Ever notice the sign when heading out Waterlemon or Annaberg that screams:

Warning!

Manchineel Tree

The leaves, bark and fruits of these trees contain a caustic sap which may be injurious if touched. Columbus described the small, green fruits as “death apples.” The trees are common along the Caribbean shores. Avoid contact with any part of this tree!

Well after passing this sign countless times, we wanted to know more about it. So we did a little research and this is what we found:

The botanical name for this tree is Hippomane mancinella. Hippomane is actually derived from two Greek words: Hippo for horse and mane, which is a derivative of the word mania. The way the story goes is that a Greek philosopher gave the name Hippomane to a plant after realizing that horses became crazy after eating it. The word Manchineel, on the other hand, was derived from the Spanish word manzanilla, which means little apples. (The manchineel tree bears small fruits that resemble small apples.) So in a roundabout way, Hippomane mancinella is an easier way to say little apples that make horses go crazy. And that my friends, is how the manchineel tree got its name. (Ok, we kind of embellished that last part.)

But seriously, the manchineel tree is not something you want to mess around with. The manchineel tree produces a form of sap that can ooze out of its bark, branches, leaves and fruit. This sap is especially dangerous as it can cause serious, burn-like blisters when it touches the skin. Ingesting any part of the tree, including its fruit, can cause serious inflammation. Every single bit of this tree is poisonous. If you touch or ingest any part of it, the results could be fatal.

The manchineel tree is native to the Caribbean, Mexico, Central American and parts of southern Florida. It typically grows along the coastline and among mangroves. When mature, the manchineel tree can grow up to 50 feet high.

Bottom line: Stay as far away from this tree as possible.

Old Cannons Found on Cruz Bay Beach

Cannons
Photo by St. John Source

 

For those of you who aren’t on our Facebook page, we wanted to share a very cool story with you written by the folks at St. John Source. Apparently three old cannons were found on Cruz Bay Beach. The St. John Source does a great job reporting on the find and also gives some history as to where they may have come from.

Click here to read their full story.

Grande Bay Developer Avoids New Trial for Monetary Damages in Lawsuit

Grande Bay image
David Band, the real estate developer embroiled in a five-year legal battle over the construction of Grande Bay, will not have to face a new trial in a lawsuit that accuses him of defrauding his partner by not properly overseeing the project.

A Sarasota, Florida Circuit Court Judge ruled this week that Harold Libby is not entitled to a second trial to determine whether Band owes him money for the botched construction project that went grossly over budget before completion. A jury decided back in 2011 that Band did not defraud Libby and that Libby knew the “riskiness” of the Grande Bay project.

According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Band said the judge’s decision “reaffirms that he was just a partner who also lost money in the deal — not a legal representative for Libby, who said he considered Band his personal attorney.”

“The jury found I have no responsibility whatsoever,” Band said earlier this week. “In fact, I never represented him. I had no responsibility or liability to him. They put practically everything but the kitchen sink in this complaint, and it’s totally false. It’s very discouraging to me.”

Libby sued Band in 2008, claiming that Band’s actions caused Libby to lose more than $1 million on the Grande Bay project. They’ve been battling it out in court ever since. This week’s decision ended their five-year battle.

It’s important to note that Band was the defendant in this lawsuit, not Bay Isles, LLLP, which is Grande Bay’s actual developer/development group. And while Band continues to have a financial interest in Bay Isles, he is not involved with Grande Bay’s day-to-day operations or its current direction and development.

Click here to view the case history on the Sarasota Clerk of Circuit Court website.

Click here to read the Herald-Tribune’s full article on the decision.

It’s That Time Again: Seasonal Closings List

Closed sign

As August winds down, numerous restaurants and bars are planning their annual seasonal closings. We’ve contacted them all and here’s who’s staying open, who’s closing, and who’s still not that sure (in no particular order):

Staying Open:

  • Zero Sushi
  • da Livio’s (Closed Tuesdays)
  • Deli Grotto
  • Beach Bar
  • High Tide
  • i Scream!
  • Sam and Jack’s Deli
  • Tap Room
  • Uncle Joe’s BBQ
  • Woody’s
  • Across the Street Bar 
  • Sun Dog Cafe (Wednesday Night Jam on hiatus until mid-October)
  • Morgan’s Mango
  • Barefoot Cowboy Lounge
  • Castaway’s Tavern

Closing:

  • Quiet Mon Pub: Closing from September 30 through October 4
  • The Fish Trap: Closing August 24; Reopening October 4
  • Banana Deck: Closing September 1; Reopening October 15
  • The Terrace: Closing September 23; Reopening October 15 (Approximately)
  • Lime Inn: Closing August 24; Outdoor bar reopens September 23; Restaurant reopens November 11
  • Motu Bar: Closing this week; Reopening mid-October
  • Ocean Grill: Closing after Labor Day; Reopening September 25
  • Waterfront Bistro: Closed for the month of September
  • Zozo’s Ristorante: Closed now; Reopening November 1 in its new location at Caneel
  • Baked in the Sun: Closing September 14; Reopening September 25
  • Fatty Crab: Closed on Tuesdays only through October 31
  • Margarita Phil’s: Closing August 31; Reopening either October 7 or October 14 (They’re still deciding on that.)
  • Ronnie’s Pizza: Closed now; Reopening September 2
  • Tamarind Inn: Closing for dinner only on September 21; Reopening for dinner on October 5 (Breakfast will continue to be served during this time)
  • Aqua Bistro: Closing September 4: Reopening September 9; Will have limited hours of noon through 7 p.m. through October 1; They will also be closed on Sundays from September 9 through October 1.
  • Vie’s Snack Shack: Closing September 1; Reopening in late October or early November
  • Shipwreck Landing: Closed August 30; Reopening November 4
  • Skinny Legs: Closing September 1; Reopening September 29; They will, however, be open on Sundays throughout September for football. There will be a limited menu. Skinny Legs will open at 1 p.m. on those Sundays and will be open until the end of the second football game.
  • Sweet Plantains: Closed now; Reopening in December
  • Tourist Trap: Closed now; Reopening on September 17
  • Cafe Concordia: Closed for the month of September
  • Chateau Bordeaux: Dinner is closed through October 1; Lunch is still being served
  • T’ree Lizards: Closing September 1; Reopening November 4
  • Cafe Roma: Closed due to the April fire; Reopening in November
  • Rhumb Lines: Closing September 17; Reopening October 9
  • La Tapa: Closing August 25; Reopening November 4
  • Spyglass: Closed for the month of October
  • Asolare: Closed on Sundays beginning September 8; Closing for the first two weeks of October; Reopening October 15
  • Cases By the Sea:

Still Not Sure:

  • Sogo’s: Undecided; Will depend on weather
  • Asolare

Closed Indefinitely:

  • Donkey Diner: Closed and listed for sale
  • Cruz Bay Prime: Closed with no current plans of reopening
  • JJ’s Texas Coast: Closed and sold to new owners; New restaurant opening in October
  • La Plancha del Mar: Closed and sold to new owners; New restaurant opening this fall
  • Sugar Mill at Caneel: Closed; Zozo’s moving into the space this fall

***There are a few restaurants that we were unable to confirm as of yet. Please check back as the list is evolving.***

Ferry and BVI Customs Fees Increased

FerryBoat

Well we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we have two rate increases to tell you about. Fortunately they’re both relatively small.

We reported back in February that the Public Services Commission (PSC) was looking to increase rates after receiving a recommendation to do so from a technical consultant. Well PSC has moved forward with the increase, but it will only affect tourists or “non-residential adults” as they refer to them. Tourists will now have to pay an additional $1 when traveling by passenger ferry between St. John and St. Thomas. Checked bag rates will also increase by $1.50 per bag.

The increase will officially go into effect within 30 days of it being signed off on by the PSC Commissioner. At that time, tourists will start being charged $7 each way for trips between Red Hook and St. John, $13 for trips between Charlotte Amalie and St. John and $4.00 for checked bags.

The British Virgin Islands has also increased its departure tax for visitors who arrive and depart by ferry and charter boat. That tax was raised from $5 per person to $15 for non-residents. (BVI residents were also hit with this increase. Their departure tax was also raised from $5 per person to $10. The BVI is also looking to increase its air departure tax, however that’s still in the discussion phase.)

BVI Customs Building

You’re Invited To: Crash This Wedding

Motu No One Getting Married

Ever wanted to put on your fanciest dress or suit and crash a perfect stranger’s wedding? Well now’s your chance!

Motu Bar is cordially inviting all of you to its “No One is Getting Married Wedding Reception” this Saturday and they’re urging wedding crashers to show. The event will be Motu’s last of the season, so it’s sure to be a good one.

The wedding party will feature all of the elements of a classic wedding, but with a Motu spin of course. There will be a garter throw, bouquet toss and an unforgettable toast.

There’ll be a cash bar and hors d’oeuvres are included.

So dress to the nines and be there at 9 p.m. this Saturday at Motu.

Just Play! Looking for a T-Shirt Sponsor

Just Play 2013

Dean Doeling, founder of the annual Just Play! event, has asked us to spread the word about a sponsorship need for this October’s event. And because we believe in this event so much, we were happy to oblige.

Here’s what Dean had to say:

“Hey USFSC’ers!

As you know, we are coming up short for Just Play! cash donations but thanks to some of you wonderful people for stepping up, as the donations are trickling in.

I would like to propose the following to any person or business, on island or not:

We need to still purchase T- shirts for the Just Play event. The next $1,000 donation will allow us to purchase those tees. And as a thank you, we will have your logo printed on the sleeve!

What a great way to promote your business, get a tax write off and help us reach our fundraising goal!

All donations go through the St. John Community Foundation.

Email me here if you would like to participate.”

Looking for more information on the event? Click here to visit its website.

It’s That Time Again: Tax Season

USVI Government Seal

We have some good news and some bad news. Let’s get the bad part over with first:

Property taxes for 2012 are due.

Now how about the good news:

If you pay by August 30, you’ll get a five percent discount – Every little bit helps.

Lt. Governor Gregory R. Francis recently extended the discount period in hopes that more property owners will take advantage of the opportunity to save some cash. He first implemented the early payment discount back in 2008. He did so “in consideration of the economic challenges faced by many throughout the territory,” according to a release.

The Lieutenant Governor’s office also wants us to remind you that you can pay your bill even if you haven’t received it yet. (Island time?) Payments can be made at the Tax Collector’s Office, which is located in the Islandia Building.

The Lieutenant Governor also announced that he is waiving penalty and interest fees for property tax years 2008 through 2011. Payments must be made by November 7 in order to take advantage of this savings.

Save Money at Your Favorite St. John Spots

MyViDeals

Residents and visitors will soon be able to save a little cash at their favorite restaurants, shops and more when a new website launches later this year.

MyViDeals is a newly formed social buying website that is very much like Groupon and LivingSocial. The main difference, however, is that it will feature local deals within both the US and British Virgin Islands, as well as Puerto Rico. MyViDeals is the brainchild of Prince and Rose Adams. The Adams have owned Sweet Plantains in Coral Bay for the past nine years.

“As small business owners, we are very familiar with the challenging seasonal fluctuations in the Caribbean,” Prince Adams said. “The economy of the Caribbean, especially on our Islands, is predominantly driven by tourism, namely tourists from North American and Europe respectively. Our islands’ tourist trade corresponds directly to seasonal fluctuations related to the threat of hurricanes and mainland holidays, whereas the majority of our trade is concentrated during the few winter months. Business owners have just a few peak months of strong sales.

“We understand the important impact that tourist-based businesses have on the local economy. MyViDeals’ concept is to provide Virgin Islands residents and visitors alike with the best shopping experience while at the same time maximizing exposure for local businesses.”

MyViDeals will deliver exclusive members-only opportunities spanning from eating out, shopping, beauty, wellness, home, travel and leisure. They will also offer flash deals – exclusive, but limited quantity deals that will only be available for a short period of time.

MyViDeals is slated to launch this November, just in time for high season. Even though the service has yet to formally launch, it’s not too early to sign up. Please click here to send an email to MyViDeals to sign up. You can also “like” them on Facebook here or sign up through their Facebook site here.