Wagapalooza pictures, puppies and people

Waga_1 A barking good time was had at the Winston Wells ball field Saturday night at the Animal Care Center's annual Wagapalooza.

The island-wide 'talent' and 'dress up' show for cats and dogs brought out hundreds of people and their pets.

Bob Schlesinger of Tropical Focus Photography was on hand for the fun. See more of Bob's work at http://www.stjohnweddingphotographer.com/.

A fan of big dogs, the Inquiring Iguana was taken with the big fellow on the pretty girl's lap.  Scheslinger reports the dog is 'Hoss,' competing in the Best Lap Dog competition.
Waga_3 Bobi Stallbaumer's
big boy held the title in the 2008 and 2009 shows, but lost this weekend to this fella.

There's a photo album with lots of Schlesinger's Wagapalzooa pictures here.

How the ‘Housewives’ found St. John

DinnerSt. John's Ingrid Ott-Zucker is the person who got Bravo TV's Real Housewives of New York" show to the island. 

The Virgin Islands Daily News reports that the island resident and media producer, approached the Bravo people, found locations for them to film, and pitched them to do the show in the VIs.

The second of the two St. John segments is set to air tonight, Thursday.  The Daily News says the island is featured as well as the villa where the girls enjoyed their "vacay."  The episodes were produced in late-November last year.

  • Ott-Zucker's Facebook page is here.
  • Ott-Zucker's company Web site: Ottworks
  • The Daily News story is here.
  • Video preview of tonight's episode is here.

VI Smoke-Free Act signed

Governor John deJongh Jr. signed the Virgin islands Smoke-Free Act this week but sent it back to the Senate for some tweaking.  He said some of the definitions in the law need fine tuning to be more specific.  Specifically there are exceptions for some 'private clubs' and 'enclosed areas' which should be clarified.

"Under the new law smoking would be completely prohibited from restaurants and bars as well as public venues including parks, beaches, playgrounds, retail stores and public transportation waiting areas," according to an analysis by the AARP. (Read its statement here)

The Virgin Islands Daily News said the Governor thought that making a violation of the smoking ban a misdemeanor 'criminalizes smokers.'  He urged the Senate to soften the penalty.

Read the Daily News' report of the No Smoking bill signing here

‘No Smoking’ coming to St. John

NosmokeThe Governor is expected to sign a bill prohibiting smoking in bars, restaurants, picnic areas and Virgin Islands beaches which are public parks. 

Health concerns about the effect of second hand smoke are behind the legislation which is heartily endorsed by St. John's At Large Senator Craig Barshinger.

During a hearing on the Virgin Islands Smoke-Free Act, the Senate's Heath Committee heard testimony that while smokers nationwide account for 20 percent of the population, but in the VI's the number is six percent.

"Smokers think differently from nonsmokers," Barshinger said during the hearing, the Virgin Islands Daily News reported.  "They think they're doing just something like listening to an iPod … but actually they're polluting the air."

During the hearing, the question of enforcement came up.  One thought is to have the Health Department handle it while it was also suggested that business owners could be the 'smoke police' and caution their customers to snuff it. 

So, Deputy Health Commissioner Lynette George, predictably suggested that the Department could hire enforcement officers.  Like a dog reacts to the word 'squirrel', the government’s ears perk up at the mere whisper of the word 'jobs.'

The St. John Tradewinds reported several island restaurant owners endorsed the Smoke-Free bill, not worrying it would hurt business.  But, obviously, the idea of them being smoke monitors has its own conflicts.

Governor critical of St. John Senator

Gov. John deJongh singled out Craig Barshinger, the VI Senate's At Large Senator, for his failure to support the Governor's bill to allow the Territory to borrow as much as $250 million.

After a narrow vote to approving the borrowing, the Governor made a statement saying "The names of those who cast no votes should also be remembered.  (They) should be called upon to say what they would vote for, because from them we received no proposals, no suggestions and no offered amendments.

Earlier, the Governor had characterized opponents of the new loan saying, "A 'no' vote is nothing less than a vote to send our government workers home, curtail government services and close facilities."

The loan will be used to fund the government's operations for the balance of the fiscal year with … no layoffs, no cutbacks, no reduction in paid government holidays, and so on.

Roundabout is looking good!


This what the new traffic roundabout in Cruz Bay looks like.

Nice pictures contributed by Anthony Finta of Virgin Islands On-Line.

The bottom line, the surprising! bottom line, is that the job's going to be done when promised, even ahead of schedule.  St. Thomas-based Island Roads Corporation has overseen the two-year long project.

No local will be surprised to hear that one of the holdups now is Innovative Communications, the telephone company. 

On an island where it's taken a year or more to get residential phone service, Island Roads is waiting for the utility to extend its wires and cables though underground piping.  When that happens, then the contractor can put do a final paving of the roundabout.


Steve Black’s blueprint for Cruz Bay

Plan A longtime passionate St. Johnian wants the new island planner and the Port Authority to seize what he calls a "rare opportunity" to create a better Cruz Bay.  Better for businesses, better for locals, and better for tourists.

Steve Black spelled out his thoughts in a letter to the St. John Tradewinds.  Some of his ideas:

Move the Customs, the Cruise Ship and the Inter-Island depots to Enighed Pond, where the new commercial area's nearly five acres is largely unused except for hourly car barges. The depots are now crammed into the small harbor known as the Creek,
bordered by the street to Caneel and the National Park Service

Develop boardwalks along the Cruz Bay waterfront and Enighed. "This beautifies both areas and opens the door to the benefits of a boating economy," Black wrote.

Also at Enighed, create a vendors village of local crafts people as well as a local fish market.

Like many of Black's ideas, these deserve to be heard, discussed and considered.

!!! You should not consider the Google Map here too seriously.  It shows the Westin Resort in the middle of the Cruz Bay harbor.

Virgin Islands unions to Governor: Fuggetaboutit

No surprise here to read in the Virgin Islands Daily News that the unionized government workers are saying, "No Way!" to the possibility of layoffs, furloughs or wage freezes in the face of a way-underwater Territorial budget. Moreover, the unions said their members expect pay increases next year.

Senators and union leaders,meeting lat week, agreed on little. 

But the president of the police union on St. Croix realizes he's got no leverage in his opposition.  "The possibility of layoffs are built into the union’s collective bargaining agreement," he told the senators. The Virgin Islands Daily News explained, "All that is required is 20 days notice from the governor. I f the government has to lay off workers, the union can do nothing about it."

If Virginia’s for Lovers, Virgin Islands are for Bees

Bees St. John and the Virgin Islands have plenty of sunshine but few outlets for agriculture, says Kathryn Wagner, a photographer on the island.

"An island-wide beekeeping initiative has struck residents as an answer to the lack of locally produced goods," she wrote on her blog.

"Beekeeping and bee farming are agricultural activities that have low impact on the land, and do not require much space to become profitable small businesses. The bees will not only help to support the farmers, but also support the ecosystem of the National Park."

Over the winter, Wagner chronicled a 10-week class in beekeeping, attended by many locals, "who have gone on to begin raising their own hives. My hopes are with the many beekeepers that local honey, candles and beauty products – not to mention a new industry -  will soon become available as a result of a beekeeper's efforts."

Pigs fly

Pigs fly 1Gov "On Tuesday, Governor deJongh convened a meeting of his cabinet to provide an overview of the current fiscal condition of the territory

"The Governor and Director Gottlieb detailed for the cabinet members some potential initiatives that may be implemented to ease the government’s cash crunch including the implementation of an absolute hiring freeze on May 1 and freezing existing salaries of all Executive branch personnel.

“I had a frank discussion with the union leaders about the state of the territory’s financial health as we begin to craft our budget for the new fiscal year.”

  • Details of the Governor's cabinet meeting here