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Sisters Donate Land to Create a Cultural Center

Estate Zootenvaal Donation
Marva Samuel Applewhite and Gloria Samuel, front, pose with UVI Vice President for Institutional Advancement Dionne Jackson and UVI President David Hall. (Image courtesy of UVI)

Two well-known St. Johnians recently donated several acres of land to the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI). The land will someday be the home of a new cultural center.

Marva Samuel Applewhite and Gloria Samuel bequeathed four acres of land in Estate Zootenvaal, located near Coral Bay. Marva and Gloria are the daughters of James Alphonso “Harry” Samuel, who owned Estate Zootenvaal. This is the sisters’ second land donation to the University. They previously donated two acres of adjoining land back in 2002.

According to a UVI release, initial plans call to build a cultural center on the land with the intention of preserving the island’s rich history.

“Education has been the number one priority for our family,” Applewhite said in a release.  “We decided to give back to the people of the Virgin Islands, the Caribbean and the world.”

Marva and Gloria are both retired teachers. Their father was a mason who built the original pier in Cruz Bay and the Benjamin Franklin School, now the Guy Benjamin Elementary School.

UVI President David Hall thanked the women for their substantial gift – the land has an appraised value of about $740,000 – and noted that “ordinary people can make extraordinary contributions.”

“There are common people who are not millionaires or billionaires, people who love and care about education and just give from their hearts,” Dr. Hall said.


Wow.

ACC

About a month or so back, I was chatting with Ryan Moore, the shelter manager at the Animal Care Center. We were talking about the shelter’s needs and what we could do here at News of St. John to help.

During that conversation, Ryan mentioned to me that the shelter’s dogs – currently there are 16 dogs living at the ACC – do not have beds to sleep on. They do have blankets and toys, but Ryan said the dogs needed a particular style of bed because oftentimes they preferred to chew up the typical plush dog beds rather than sleep on them. That stuck with me and I promised to help.

Well life got in the way, so it took a bit longer to help than I had hoped. But on Tuesday afternoon, I finally found the right type of dog bed online and from a retailer that actually ships to the island. I emailed Ryan to make sure I found the correct type and asked how many he needed. Ryan responded quickly and said that there were 12 kennels but that they would happily accept whatever we were able to provide.

I ordered three beds and had them shipped over. I then put out a simple request on our Facebook page. Your response was overwhelming.

Within 30 minutes, I received a dozen emails from people wanting to help. I am happy to report that all of the dogs at the ACC will be sleeping a bit more comfortably soon as they wait for their forever homes.

I would like to thank publicly the people who purchased beds. (I hope you all do not mind me listing your names here, but I am very appreciative of all of you.) They are:

  • Linda Walker
  • Kim Punke
  • Kathy Gordon
  • Terry Wilkinson Jordan
  • Tammy Donnelly
  • Christine Atchley
  • Sara Kay Ridenour
  • Brian Neste

The ACC relies on donations to keep the animals happy and healthy. Below are items on their Wish List for those of you would who like to contribute:

  • Vacuum bags (Eureka MM)
  • Frontline flea repellent (dogs and cats)
  • Tough and durable dog and cat toys
  • Dog and cat treats
  • Litter pans (size medium to extra large)
  • Disposable gloves
  • Dog harnesses (size small to extra large)
  • Dog tick collars (size small to extra large)
  • Airline pet carriers
  • Gift certificates to Canines, Cats and Critters/St. Johnimals/Kmart
  • Dog poop bags

If you would like to purchase any of the above-listed items, you can send them to:

Animal Care Center
PMB 571
5000 Estate Enighed
St. John, VI 00830

(Note: Walmart.com is one online retailer that ships to the island.)

If you would like to learn more about the ACC, their needs and the animals available for adoption, please click here to visit their website.


New Observation Pier to Be Built at Small Pond

Map of Small Pond

A new observation pier will soon be built at Small Pond giving visitors a better vantage point for viewing the wildlife and marine sanctuary.

Governor John P. de Jongh entered into a formal agreement with the Audubon Society of the Virgin Islands last week, which will allow the organization to build a new pier that will extend out over the pond. The Audubon Society plans to begin work as soon as a building permit is in hand.

The area, located near Frank Bay, was designated as a bird sanctuary in March 2000. At that time, Audubon Society members began planting indigenous plants around the pond, as well as a pathway around it. Those plants flourished so much so that residents and visitors are no longer able to view the birds or the pond itself. The observation pier, which will be built off of an existing observation deck, will fix that.

When completed, the wooden walkway and pier will create a new vantage point to view the birds that inhabit the sanctuary while allowing visitors to view the full pond without disturbing any of the wildlife. In addition to the new pier, educational signs will be installed at the sanctuary.

Currently there is a family of seven Great White Egrets and at least one family of baby White Cheeked Pintail ducks among other birds that call the sanctuary home.

Image Courtesy of www.SeeStJohn.com
Great White Egret – Image Courtesy of www.SeeStJohn.com
White Cheeked Pintail Duck
White Cheeked Pintail Duck

From Governor de Jongh:

“The great ornithologist and naturalist John James Audubon said a true conservationist knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children. The native and migratory birds that populate our islands are a part of our children’s inheritance,” the governor said in a release.

“Those birds—the Great Blue Herons, Black-necked Stilts, Spotted Sandpipers and so many other magnificent species—need refuges on these islands for rest and sustenance; the health of their population depends on sanctuaries like Frank Bay that are safe from predatory animals and unspoiled by human development.”

“This, above all else, I consider a gift to our children, who in their backyard will find a world-class outdoor classroom that no amount of technology could replace,” he said.


Swimming with the Maho Bay Turtles

I absolutely love swimming with the turtles over at Maho Bay. For those of you who’ve yet to have the opportunity to do so, there’s usually a small group that munches on the grass a little ways out, usually a few yards before the buoys and near the center of the beach. If you sit on the beach and look carefully, you may catch one poking his, or perhaps her, head up out of the water as they come up for a breath of air.

The turtles are such gentle animals and if you keep your distance, they probably won’t mind if you hang out with them a bit, as long as you admire them from afar.

Now a videographer I am not; however, I thought I’d share this quick one with all of you. It’s of a recent swim I took with one of these precious little guys over in Maho Bay. I hope you enjoy it.


Florida Couple Purchases Gallows Point Gift & Gourmet

New Owners at Gallows
Brian and Mindy Cunningham

Brian and Mindy Cunningham came to St. John for the first time together back in 2003. They had been dating for a while when they embarked on a romantic sunset cruise one evening aboard the Dancing Dolphin, which sailed out of St. Thomas.

The evening was magical. Brian set it up so it was just the two of them along with Jim Trilling, Dancing Dolphin’s owner and captain. Brian brought Mindy’s favorite wine and a playlist of her favorite songs. They sailed out to Buck Island, and Brian asked Mindy to marry him.

That was Mindy’s first introduction to the US Virgin Islands, and one she would certainly not forget.

The two soon married at Turtle Bay Point at Caneel Bay alongside a small group of friends and family including their four daughters. Jim Trilling, who was instrumental in helping create the perfect backdrop for their engagement, officiated the ceremony.

Following their wedding, the couple purchased timeshare weeks over at the Westin. They’ve spent a considerable amount of time on the island over the past 10 years and have since cultivated a great circle of friends. But those few weeks at the Westin never seemed to last long enough – They Cunningham’s wanted to be on the island more, so they started searching for businesses opportunities.

“Since that time, we’ve basically looked for a way to come back more,” Mindy said recently from her Florida home.

About a year ago, the couple started to look seriously for the perfect business opportunity. A few caught their eye over the months including a few restaurant opportunities, but nothing really panned out. That all changed this past June, however, when Gallows Point Gift & Gourmet listed for sale.

Gallows Point Gift & Gourmet is a quaint little shop located on the property of Gallows Point Resort. It sells sundries and souvenirs and serves as a excursion and activity booking shop. The previous owners, Shannon and David Pursley, had to leave the island due to medical reasons.

Knowing the shop was the perfect opportunity for them – they both have ample experience consulting for a variety of businesses including cruise and hospitality – Brian and Mindy went ahead and purchased the business. They officially took ownership on August 30.

“We’re now bringing our dreams into reality,” Mindy said.

The Cunninghams are currently in the midst of transitioning to the island. Brian is on-island full time while Mindy is back home in Florida preparing for the move. They plan to have a “very strong presence” at the store, however they also recognize the importance of a proper work/life balance.

The couple plans to maintain the “integrity of the business” so many of the elements that people have grown to love over the years will remain the same. They do, however, plan to expand their coffee bar to include gourmet brews and will also begin selling more locally-made items. But most importantly, they plan to share their love of the island with everyone who walks through their door.

“We really want to welcome people to the island,” Mindy said. “We want them to love St. John the way we love St. John. We are so passionate about St. John and we want to share that passion with them … For us, it’s all about making memories.”

And how can we forget about two others will be along for the journey – Ziggy and Marley, the Cunningham’s two Boston Terriers, will also be making the move to St. John. The couple’s four children (two are high school seniors; two are juniors in college) are also pretty psyched about this new opportunity.

Want to learn more about Brian and Mindy? Click here to read their professional biographies at their website JStrategies.com


Daily STJ Images and Webcams Updated

You asked and we listened. Several of you reached out to News of St. John and asked us to name the location of our Daily STJ images. We’ve updated about 99 percent of them, so go ahead and see if you were able to correctly guess the locations.

Also, we added a few more webcams over the weekend. We plan to add a few more this week, so please check back often.

To see our Daily STJ images with their locations, please click here.

To see our webcams, please click here.

Organization Helps Keep Reusable Goods Out of Landfills

ReSource Depot
Latest ReSource Depot sale sign – Courtesy of IGBA’s Facebook page

So we’re pretty big proponents of preserving the environment and reducing our carbon footprint here at News of St. John, like many of you are I’m sure. That’s why we wanted to share with you what may be a lesser know organization on the island – ReSource Depot.

ReSource Depot is a program of the Island Green Building Association. According to its website, ReSource Depot’s goal “is to provide an environmentally and socially responsible way to keep good, reusable materials out of the landfill, in use, and from being sourced and shipped (to St. John) again.   It also creates affordable building materials for the community, with savings typically 50-80 percent below retail costs.”

The way it works is simple: People from the community, along with hardware stores, donate new or used items that are no longer needed. Those items are then resold at affordable costs to anyone who needs them. Typical items that are available include building materials such as doors, windows, lumber, plumbing and electrical supplies, tools, hardware, decor and more.

ReSource Depot is a non-profit organization; All proceeds are used in support of its mission.

Want to get a better idea of what they have on hand at any given time? Well, ReSource Depot keeps a pretty up-to-date inventory list over on its Facebook page. You can check that out by clicking here.

The ReSource Depot is located at the Storage on Site facility on Gifft Hill Road across from the Transfer Station.  It is open Mondays and Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. until noon and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. until noon. The ReSource Depot accepts most items related to the construction, renovation, decoration, or furnishing of homes and businesses, according to its website. It can, however, refuse any item at any time due to its condition or lack of space at the storage facility. All donations are tax-deductible.

If you would like to make a donation but cannot do so during business hours, you are asked to leave your donation under the covered area between the first two containers on the right side of the location. Please stack all items left neatly and call (340) 643-5313 to make them aware that items have been left.

Interested in helping out at the ReSource Depot? Volunteers are crucial to helping the site run. If you would like to volunteer, please click here to fill out a volunteer form.

Since its inception, ReSource Deport has saved 40,000 pounds of goods from being placed in landfills.

The Island Green Building Association is a group of concerned construction industry professionals, residents, and property owners based on St. John with members throughout the region promoting responsible and sustainable development practices. Click here to visit its website.


News of St. John Gets a Few Upgrades

Title

You may notice that the site has a bit of a different look today. That’s because we felt it was time to perform a few upgrades so that all of you are better informed about the daily happenings of St. John.

First, we retired Mr. Frank Barnako’s Inquiring Iguana logo and plan to replace it with a more island-friendly one. In the meantime, we’ve added some simple text to describe the site.

Second, we added a new page titled “Island Information.” This page includes a complete list of useful links and information. You can scroll through the list or simply click on one of the links at the top to be brought that that section.

www.NewsofStJohn.com/IslandInformation
www.NewsofStJohn.com/IslandInformation

Third, everybody loves webcams so we decided to add an entire page dedicate to such. Please click the images on the page to see live pictures of the island 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

www.NewsofStJohn.com/Webcams
www.NewsofStJohn.com/Webcams

Fourth, we added an Events page. This should become your go-to spot for island events. You have a few different ways to view this page. You can choose “Leaderboard” to see the page listed with images as seen below, or you can click the button to view events by day, week, month or in a list. This page is evolving and new events will be added weekly.

www.NewsofStJohn.com/Events
www.NewsofStJohn.com/Events

Lastly, we decided to move all of our Daily STJ images to one page. These images will no longer be posted on our main page, as that space will be dedicated to our daily news stories. Please click the Daily STJ tab above to view all of our images. As one reader Linda mentioned on our Facebook page, it’s like taking a mini trip to the island.

www.NewsofStJohn.com/DailySTJ
www.NewsofStJohn.com/DailySTJ

We hope you like the new changes, and as always, if you have a suggestion on a way we can do better, please contact us by clicking here.


Now Hiring: Jobs in Paradise

Help Wanted

Once local business recently posted a want ad on the web and one thing really struck us as being pretty funny … The poster is asking potential candidates to send a current photograph along with their resume. A photograph??? Any guesses as to where appearance is potentially a factor in the hiring process?

I hate to say it, but it’s one of our favorite spots – The Beach Bar. (Sorry Nikki and crew. You know how much I love having a Bushwacker at the BB, but this was too funny not to share.)

All joking aside, this is a pretty cool opportunity for the right person. Here’s the ad in its entirety:

Doesn’t happen often – The Beach Bar is hiring! Kitchen staff, Bartenders, Bar back. Now’s the time to get onboard. 

If you have what it takes to join the rockstar staff of The Beach Bar, let us know. Min of two years experience in a high volume bar. Please include a resume and current photograph.

Think you have what it takes to work on one of St. John’s most popular spots? If so, you can email them here. Want to see the Beach Bar in action? Check out their live bar webcam here.

Here are a few other jobs listed on the site:

  • The Coral Bay Community Council is looking for qualified people to fill the positions of Solid Waste Management Planner; Water Supply Planner; Wastewater Treatment Planner and Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessor. Click here to learn more about these positions.
  • A “5 Star resort” is looking for line cooks. Candidates must be culinary school graduates with fine dining experience. Learn more about that opportunity here.
  • Drift Away Spa is looking for a licensed esthetician. Here are the details on that one.

Businesses are also looking for bartenders, office assistants and more. Check out the full list here.

Prefer to be your own boss? The Village Cafe (which we wrote about on July 25) just had a drastic price reduction from $78,000 to $50,000. Here’s the ad for that one:

A quaint, sidewalk cafe, bar & grille located at the popular Wharfside Village shopping complex, a high-traffic location just steps away from the ferry dock, in the heart of Cruz Bay. Five year lease with 2 five year options. All equipment is 1 year old. Newly renovated, including plumbing and electric. Easy owner run business is turn-key for immediate purchase.

Click here to learn more about that opportunity.

So many people dream of leaving their regular lives behind for a new one of sun and fun in St. John. Think you could do it?