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.
J.U.B. King and Associates of St. Thomas has been awarded a $205,900 contract to install more attractive security fencing at the ferry docks at Red Hook and Cruz Bay. The firm will do similar work at the Crown Bay cargo and passenger docks as part of security precautions required by Homeland Security. The fencing in Cruz Bay, replacing standard cyclone fence, will be made of slim, silver 6-foot high vertical bars, with horizontal bars in a darker trim, the Virgin Islands Daily News reported. The work is expected to be completed before the end of the year.
Dozens of islanders filled a meeting room at the Legislature Building in Cruz Bay to complain about problems with the police department recently. Commissioner Elton Lewis attended and said the department is on a crusade to polish its image by teaching officers how to treat residents and visitors, according to a report in the St. John Source. Lewis said officers will get “customer-centric training” in hopes of improving relations with the community. “It’s 20 percent technology, but we need the human touch,” he said.
A daylight home-invasion robbery and an armed robbery of tourists at Concordia has gotten the attention of St. John administrator Julien Harley. “We musty have a sense of urgency” about getting a police presence on the east end of the island, he told the Virgin Islands Daily News. He said the assaults threaten the way of life on St. John, “and we can’t have that.” Senator At Large Almando Liburd said he will lend his effort to helping the police commissioner receive $250,000 already appropriated by the Senate for a police facility in Coral Bay. “It’s definitely needed,” he said.
The big news is that Morgan’s Mango MAY have been sold. We’re trying to find out. But the home of fantastic Argentine and Cuban-inspired food, offered for sale almost two years, has been removed from the Multiple Listing Service. Morgan’s was priced at $1.4 million.
The number of houses offered for sale by the Multiple Listing Service continues to shrink, falling to 34 by the weekend. Bargain hunters apparently moved quickly, snapping up a $450,000 listing at Glucksberg a week after it appeared on the MLS. Also leaving the list was a 3-bedroom/3-bath three-year-old Carolina residence, listed at $1.2 million. Added to the list this week, also in Carolina, a $1.55 million 4-bedroom/5-bath with pool property.
There’s an update to last week’s report on the listing of Dr. Cool Inc., the island air conditioning installation and maintenance specialist. The price, originally listed at $225,000, has been raised to $250,000. The owner of the business e-mailed News of St. John and said he does not plan to leave the island.
The inventory of land for sale increased by 3 to 118 parcels. Condo listings, steady at 8. Timeshare unit listings up 2 to 99.
“What’s the point?” seemed to be the consensus about the security fencing installed at the Cruz Bay ferry dock. At a town meeting hosted, Iris Kern, a resident, said, “The gates are farcical. Seven feet over (down the beach), you can land a boat.” She made it clear that the Homeland Security-financed fencing didn’t make her feel more secure, the St. John Source reported.. While Alfredo Alejo, another resident, pointed out anyone can drive onto the barges to come across from St. Thomas. Del. Donna Christensen, who sponsored the meeting, agreed when Alejo said, “You can get a lot more stuff in the trunk of a car than a knapsack.” St. John Administrator Julien Harley also attended the session at the Legislature Building. He said the Port Authority is working on a longer-term security plan that may make dock security more reasonable and effective.
Art Frederick, in his first year as superintendent of the Virgin Islands National Park, is hoping to produce a plan for managing the Park through the year 2019. However, residents who attended a meeting about the Comprehensive Plan were more interested in complaining about there being only one road into Coral Bay, locals being passed over for top jobs in Park management, and a shortage of parking at the north shore beaches. About three dozen people attended the hearing at the John’s Folly Learning Institute, the St. John Source reported. It was one of three such planning meetings, on each island, Supt. Frederick is conducting. He invited additional comments about what the Park should consider in its preparation for the future, saying the public comment period is open until mid-August. There’s more information about the process on the Internet at http://www.nps.gov/sero/planning/viis_gmp/viis_info.htm