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Steve Simon’s New Year’s Eve party

EppsSteve Simon, the Great Cruz Bay entrepreneur behind the Jazz in the Moonlight concerts, is planning a year-end gala.  You can "dance to the sweet Jazz sounds of the Caribbean’s hottest Jazz band ‘Steve Simon and the Jazz Islanders’," he announced. "And then sit back and enjoy the amazing ‘Diva of all Divas’, Ms. Maryel Epps, as she brings her R&B inspired Jazz show to St. John (Listen to a sample of Maryel Epps.)" Doors open at 8:30 p.m., tickets are $35. Simon said he’ll be offering, "great music, dancing and an amazing show with free party favors and a free champagne toast at midnight followed by a spectacular Fireworks Show." E-mail him at [email protected].

Electricity charge rejected

A rate hike included in bills from the Water and Power Authority has been canceled.  The Public Services Commission said a charge for increased fuel costs could not be justified, according to a report by the Virgin Islands Daily News.  A consultant with the Commission, Jim Madan, called the hike "an enormous increase."  He said material supporting it included a "substantial amount of computational errors."  WAPA has the authority to raise rates when it expects fuel costs to rise.  But, the executive director of the agency, Alberto Bruno-Vega, conceded he expects oil prices will be dropping.  The PSC said it will review WAPA’s calculations at its meeting in January.  The agency estimated that the average residential and commercial bill would increase $6 and $15.

Quake felt on St. John

QuakeAn earthquake measured at 4.5 on the Richter Scale by the Puerto Rico Seismic Network shook the islands Saturday.  Termed a "felt event", the Network’s report said "this moderate earthquake was felt in all of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands."  Its  center was about 27 miles north of Tortola, 14 miles beneath the surface of the earth.  Posters at USVI-On-Line said the quake lasted about 20 seconds, while resident Dennis Demar told the St. John Source he thought it was more like 40 seconds.  "Eric" reported feeling earth move at Mongoose Junction, but just a bit, "a slight vibration," he said.  In Coral Bay, resident Brad Felmly said, "We felt it strongly.  It sounded like a freight train coming through. It shook and rattled everything but there is no apparent damage." 

Real Estate update, 12/13/04

The inventory of homes for sale on the island’s Multiple Listing Service increased six percent in the past week, ending with 54 available properties. Three homes were added.  The new residences include a $999,000 3-bedroom/2-bath at St. Quaco & Zimmerman, a 5-bedroom/4-bath with pool house overlooking Contant was re-priced lower by $200,000 at $1.199 million, a Concordia home featuring 3-bedrooms/2-baths and a pool and a $4.2 million 5-bedroom/5.5 bath property with pool at Sans Souci
In the other market segments land offerings decreased by 1 to 147, one condo came off the list bringing the number available now to 6, one timeshare was added to make the total available 94, and there was no change in the number of commercial or business listings.

Real estate update: 12/7/04

A $4.2 million, 5-bedroom/5.5 bath with pool and hot tub at San Souci moved off the Multiple Listing Service this week, but has not been sold.  The property was listed, didn’t move, and so it’s been taken off the market, according to Diana Beam at RE/MAX Island Paradise Realty. "They usually get renewed and placed back on the market," she said in a comment to NewsofStJohn.com.

On another side of the properties balance sheet, two came onto the market, boosting the public listings to 51, up two since last week. This is another high water mark for inventory. Newly-offered are a 3-bedroom/2-bath with pool property at Fish Bay for $1.2 million, and .6 of an acre at Chocolate Hole, offered for $1.75 million – the MLS had no details on the building.

Otherwise, as the inventory of homes swells in advance of the winter season,  land listings dropped by one to 148, while all was unchanged among condominiums (7), timeshares (93) and businesses (9).

New island Web site

StjohnrescueFrom time to time, I come across new sites for St. John community groups and businesses.  The most recent is StJohnrescue.org, highlighting St. John Rescue, the volunteer group which reopens to emergencies on island.  John Bowman, the group’s Chief, said there were two EMS calls during October and that, year to date, St. John Rescue has responded to 50 calls.  Bowman said the organization is still trying to raise funds for a permanent home and a new rescue vehicle for Coral Bay. The nonprofit group has monthly meetings, open to the public, at the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center, the first Thursday of each month.

Got a Web site you want people to know about?  E-mail [email protected].

Hurricane guru: Risk for ’05

ProfwmgrayColorado State University’s Prof. William Gray expects 2005 to be calmer than 2004.  "We believe that 2005 will continue the trend of enhanced major hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin," Gray said in a news release, however the number of major storms will be less than in 2004.  The director of CSU’s Tropical Meteorology Project expects 11 named storms will occur between June 1 and Nov 30, with six of them becoming hurricanes.  This year, there were 15 named storms and 9 became hurricanes.  "We foresee an above-average probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall is anticipated," Gray said in a statement. " We do not, however, expect anything close to the U.S. landfalling hurricane activity of 2004."  However, he said there is an "above-average" major hurricane landfall risk in the Caribbean.

Cruise ships calling

CruiseWindstar and Seabourn cruise lines will be making stops off Cruz bay
this month as the winter season begins.  While, coincidentally,
Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is in port in St. Thomas this weekend, the multi-masted
yacht Wind Spirit will be off St.
John.  The ship will also, during season, call on Jost
Van Dyke, Tortola and Virgin Gorda. Cruise-only rates begin at $1,695
per person based on double occupancy.  Seabourn, whose cruises can cost
$2,300, is including St. John on its 14-day itineraries departing
from Fort Lauderdale. 

Annual Friends meeting to hear Delegate

NpssignDelegate Donna M. Christensen will be the featured speaker at next month’s Friends of the Park annual meeting.  "She has been a supporter of national parks on a national level," said Joe Kessler, president of the group, as he announced details of the event scheduled for 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 23.  The annual State of the Park address by superintendent Art Frederick is also on the agenda. 

Hurricanes dent tourism

"The geography of the American people is so poor," said Beverly Nicholson, president of the V.I. Hotel association, said as she reported a drop in the number of cruise ship visitors to the islands in September.  The number of people arriving by air, however, rose. News of storms affecting other islands led many people to assume the VIs had also been damaged, the St. John Source reported.  However, she added, territory-wide, September hotel occupancy averaged 38.8 percent over last year’s 29.5 percent.

Looking ahead for Christmas tourism, the industry is very optimistic.  Nearly all hotels on St. Thomas and St. John are booked solid, the report said, including even smaller properties such as Estate Zootenval on the smaller island.