Stop the madness at the airport

Here's a brainstorm:  there should be a taxi service that takes people from the St. Thomas airport to the Red Hook ferry dock … and nowhere else.  

No group riding. No stops at Bluebeard's Castle, or Bolongo Bay or Secret Harbor.  Nope, just a simple Point-A-to-Point-B trip, which would go a long way to reducing the frustration and 'taxi rage' from which some people suffer when they reach Red Hook.

This simple, genius-level, oh-so-obvious idea was offered this week at a Tourism Department workshop. The session had a moderateor who was characterized as a "change engine consultant."  He heads up a New Jersey firm working on a $100,000 contract from Tourism to advise the VI's.

People involved in the Territory's tourism industry participated in the first meeting, Monday.  Video conferencing let folks from all three islands participate.

Other ideas from St. Johnians on the call, as reported by the Virgin islands Daily News, included improving the traffic flow in Cruz Bay (i.e. eliminate the chaos at the ferry dock) and developing the prime waterfront, particularly across from Nature's Nook.

Island magazine cuts back


The St. John Sun Times is reducing its publishing schedule to every other month.  

The publisher of the island's best source for the word on about what's new, island deals, or where the music and best food are says the change is not seasonal. 

"It's a business decision I should have made long ago," said Ella Anderson, owner. "But I love publishing and editing so much I delayed."

It's been five years since she took on the Sun Times. "Five years of beautiful covers, zany photo shoots, editing marathons and sweaty all nighters," she wrote in the March/April issue.  Any business owner knows what she's talking about. The pressure is always on.

Anderson has developed a loyal cadre of locals who write/edit/photograph/report.  Sometimes their collective purpose seems to be to build community spirit and unity rather than to make a profit.

The St. John Sun Times is a must have/must read for every resident and visitor.

"I know our locals will miss the extra issues.  We don't get much to read that's free around here!," Anderson added.

Until the May/June issue, Anderson says look to the Sun Times' Web site or Facebook pages for news of the island.

Re-elected, Barshinger wants electricity cost cut

Barshinger Like all incumbents in the VI Senate, Craig Barshinger held on to his seat  in Tuesday's voting.  The  At Large Senator garnered nearly 60% of the ballots in a three-person race.

The St. Johnian said he will focus his attention on reducing residents' cost of electricity from Water and Power Authority to 20 cents a kilowatt hour from the current 35 cents.  He said he will also encourage WAPA to use clean and renewable energy sources.
Barshinger defeated two other candidates.  Lorelei Monsanto, an opponent of proposed property tax changes, came in second in Tuesday's balloting with 23%.  The St. Johnian told the Virgin Islands Daily News, "Since the people have voted, they must like what they already have in place."  In extremely good nature, she added, "And since they like it, I love it."

The third candidate was Allecia Wells of St. Thomas.

  • The full VI Daily News story is here.

Coral Bay builders face shutdown

For years, Coral Bay locals have worried they were at risk because Centerline Road is the only way into or out of the east end of the island.  Now, their fear has become real.

Last week's torrential rains, dumping more than a foot of water, have undercut Centerline near Bordeaux Mountain. That means the foundation of the roadway is washing away making it dangerous for heavy vehicles.

As a result, according to Sloop Jones, "No more concrete trucks … water trucks … (or) anything else that is heavy.  Our road is collapsing."

The ban on heavy vehicles came Monday from Daryl Smalls, the commissioner of public works.  He was 'shocked', the St. John Source said, to learn that five concrete trucks used the road Monday morning.

He ordered no trucks or heavy equipment, other than that of his department, should use the road east of the Bordeaux overlook until he decides it's safe, the Source reported. 

Smalls' "on the spot edict" threatens to halt construction on some residential and commercial projects in Coral Bay, East End, Bordeaux, and out toward Salt Pond by choking off supplies and building materials.

The Commissioner was described as 'stunned' by the damage the rains caused to roads, the Source said.

RandyinMd posted to the Virgin islands On-Line Web site that, "Coming across Centerline Road on St. John the large expensive stone retaining wall and driveway near the Reef Bay trail is collapsed and covered with dirt and stones."

St. John Source storm coverage

Progress for new St. John school

A federal official has gone on  record endorsing a plan to a land swap which will make it possible for construction of a St. John school near Centerline Road.

Anthony Baubata, the Interior department's Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas, met with the Governor and agreed to assist in the project.

The proposal involves turning over land on St. Croix to the National Park Service in exchange for a St. John school site, dates back to 2007.

“We’re all moving in a direction where we are recommitted, we’re re-energized to try and make sure the land is available for residents of St. John so we can build a public school there for the children of the community,” Baubata said during a visit to the territory.

St. John animal shelter on life support


Thanks to generous readers of NewsofStJohn.com, and others, the Animal Care Center will not close next week.

Alarms were sounded late last week by ACC board members that the "no kill" shelter would have to close at the end of August because it was broke. The volunteer organization was in dire shape, financially overwhelmed by the expenses of operating, caring for, and housing about 60 dogs, puppies, kittens and cats.

Despite what seem to be fund raisers held quarterly, all of which were described as "successful" a day later, the $13,000 monthly operating budget was not being met.  "Fund raising is not enough.  Know any grant writers who could help us," said the ACC's Jennifer Dale.

You can help now by making a donation through PayPal here.

Skinny_dogsMany readers of this Web site responded to our story published Friday. John Fuller, the ACC's Treasurer, said nearly 100 people contributed $5 to $1,000, totaling nearly $7.400. "We're not out of the woods yet," he said.  One source said the ACC now has enough money to operate to the middle of October, when another fund raiser is planned.

Read moreSt. John animal shelter on life support

Have what it takes to move to St. John?

Several times a month, I get e-mails from people asking advice about moving to the island.  Do you know of any jobs?  How about renting an apartment?  Is the cost of living high? Often, the writers have vacationed on the island more than once and have decided they'd like to make St. John their permanent address.

Schlesingers One couple who have made the switch, successfully, is Bob and Karin Schlesinger.  He's a photographer, specializing in portraits and weddings; she's his right hand gal. 

At first their's was a 10-year-plan to make the move from New England.  Then it became five years, then three, then … they were gone.

"All that planning wasn't necessary," they said. "You can just do it."

The Schlesingers' story has just been featured by Islands magazine as part of a Best Islands to Live On section. It ranks the Virgin islands 5th best.  Each island is highlighted in a story about some new residents who made a move.

Read moreHave what it takes to move to St. John?

Businesses newly for sale

 A quick look at the businesses for sale on the Multiple Listing Service turns up a few new ones (at least to The Inquiring Iguana).

Burst Green Island Breeze
opened about a year ago at the newish-Greenleaf Commons shopping center on the South Shore road across from the Westin resort.

Walter Hobot opened the shop with the intention to sell souvenirs including eco-friendly clothing.  Asking price is $179,000. "Seller is motivated," says the listing.

Breath is a rigged ketch sailboat and a 25-year charter business. "This sailing business has tremendous growth potential or this strong and safe boat with new masts makes the perfect cruising vessel for a buyer who just wants to sail." sailbreath.com. Asking $200K.

Welcome (?) to St. John


No See Um, an island blogger, snapped this ironic photograph at the ferry dock.

"T_e C_o_n J__el __ t_e Ca_b___."

No See Um's blog has lots of other funny and even irreverent items. Read it here..

St. John can do a lot with a little

Steve Black e-mails this additional thought:

"Thanks for the posting and whatever you can do to get the word out is greatly appreciate.  The one thing that I did with my thinking was to look for inexpensive and very doable projects. 

"For instance, can you believe that the traffic pattern roundabout for the customs parking lot and villa greeters will cost only a can of paint and a couple signs, but will decrease traffic through town by about 40%? 

"That the making of sidewalks on both sides of the streets can be done with very little, along with lights in the trees to make the area far less scary. 

"We don't need plans which cost a lot and will never be done, we need to fix this town today."