Coral Bay school teachers protest

Teachers held classes in the cafeteria of the Guy Benjamin school two days this week to protest the transfer of the school’s only special education teacher to St. Thomas.  The teacher had been assigned to work with about six students needing special attention.  The job action was to complain about what they said was a lack of communication from the district superintendent, according to a report in the Virgin Islands Daily News. They tried to contact William Frett, but he did not reply.  Efforts by the newspaper to reach the superintendent were also unsuccessful, nor did Benjamin’s principal, Margaret Bowers, offer a comment.   

Professor completes Parks parade

CoralreefAlan Hogenauer, an associate professor and director of the Center for Travel and Tourism at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, has completed a 50-year-adventure by snorkeling at the Virgin Islands Coral Reef Monument near St. John.  "I learned that getting there is more than half the fun," he told the Virgin Islands Daily News.  He is believed to be the first person to have visited each of the National Park service’s 388 units  Hogenauer teaches travel and tourism at Marymount,  and likes to make lists.  His other goals include traveling to every national forest, and presidential birthplace and graveyard.

United Way spruces up Sprauve

UnitedwayA "Day of Caring" brought about 60 people, some from St. Thomas, to clean up the Julius E. Sprauve School, the St. John Source reported.  Juanita Young, president of the United Way, sanded a picket fence at the school’s entrance and said, "This brings the community as whole to a particular project."  This was the first activity on St. John organized by the charitable group, the story said. Caneel Bay resort contributed workers as well as equipment including a backhoe.  Volunteers painted the concrete fence around the Winston Wells ball field and helped prepare an area across from the school where it is hoped playground equipment can be installed.

Barshinger finally wins

BarshingerSt. John’s Craig Barshinger was elected Senator At Large. The community activist and perennial candidate narrowly defeated the incumbent, Almando Liburd.  After counting provisional and absentee ballots late last week, Barshinger led by 319 votes in unofficial results released by the Board of Elections over the weekend, according to the Virgin Islands Daily News.  Analysts said voters on St. Croix were instrumental in giving the Senator-elect his victory.

It was his fifth campaign effort in 10 years. Previous efforts, he told the St. John Source, were "necessary in learning how to get things done; how to build up a network of friendships, (and) people with shared goals." Barshinger, who’s actively involved in the St. John Community Foundation’s project to develop a recommendation for local government, said finally winning the Senate seat is not a big deal. "I suppose when it sinks in, I’ll be more ebullient," he commented, "but to me it’s just a position on a board, an important position."

In other contests, Donna M. Christensen easily won reelection as the territory’s Delegate to Congress.

Governor campaigns for EDC in DC

CharlesturnbullThe territory’s Democratic Governor said he had a successful series of meetings in Washington last week, discussing new regulations affecting the territory’s Economic Development CommissionCharles Turnbull met with former house majority leader Dick Armey and Reagen communications director Michael Deaver, before conferring with Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton and other executive branch staffers.  "I am heartened by the response we received regarding the need to develop a fair and reasonable rules for the EDC program which has contributed so greatly to our economy and our fiscal future," the Governor said in a news release, according to the St. John Source. Legislation recently signed by Pres. Bush establishes standards for meeting residency and income-source standards for EDC-chartered companies to qualify for substantial tax exemptions.

Jazz in the Moonlight

MoonlightThe fourth annual season of Jazz in the Moonlight concerts, produced by Steve Simon, kicks off Saturday at the Westin Resort. Trumpeter Eddie Russell and his band will be the featured performers.  Russell is a native Crucian and is known in the business as "the heart and soul of Caribbean Jazz."  St. Thomians can also easily attend the show by taking a special ferry from Red Hook direct to the Westin.  There’s more information on the Web site at jazzinthemoonlight.com.

Rotary fund raiser

St. John Rotary’s annual "Flavors" benefit was scheduled for last weekend at the Westin Resort.  A $100 ticket, payable at the door most likely, gave attendees the chance to rub shoulders with politicians, business people, a few vacationers, and lots of other nice people – as well as the chance to nibble at offerings from almost 20 of the island’s finest and most creative restaurants.  Rotary supports a number of good works including the Pan Dragons, the Virgin Islands Environmental Resource Station, and Kids and the Sea .  Music was provided by Cool Session Brass.

All clear on the beach

The Planning and Natural Resources Department says the waters of St. John are again safe for swimming.  New bacteria tests have found it’s OK to splash around in Hart Bay and Chocloate Hole, according to the St. John Source.  Runoff from the hills following Hurricane Jeanne was blamed for the bays’ pollution.

Real estate update

The real estate market continues to observe island time: a little gets done here, a little gets done there, but not much overall.  The latest Multiple Listing Service shows 43 residential properties, the same as two weeks ago. A $1.565 2-bedroom/2-bath with pool at Saunders Gut came off the MLS, while a $795,000 2-bedroom/1.5 bath, no pool property at St. Quaco and Zimmerman was added.

The Commercial Listings gained a property. Adding more focus on the growing commercial development of Coral Bay, the site of the old Pickles Deli, near the triangle turn, is being offered at $2.45 million.  "Use of the name not incl," according to the MLS.

In other categories, the inventory of land increased by five lots to 143. Condominium offerings, up 1 to 8, timeshares increased 10 to 93, and commercial/business properties now total 9.

Pressure on to ease threat to EDC

V.I. Republican Party leaders were reported on their way to Washington to consult with Bush administration officials on changes to the Economic Development Commission program.  New residency and source-of-income restrictions included in federal legislation threaten the $100 million dollars in revenue the territory receives from EDC companies, according to the Virgin Islands Daily News.  The rules go into effect next year.  The CEO of Bridge Capital, and a former U.S. attorney, told the paper the administration wants to be assured EDC tax breaks are given only to true Virgin Islands businesses, and that it is not costing the federal treasury money.  David Nissman said one strategy would be for the local government to prepare a local statute incorporating those kind of rules for the program.