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.

Liquidation sale at Richard’s

RichardsgrillBilled as the island’s oldest (and only) steakhouse when it opened, Richard’s Grill on the second floor at the Marketplace has been closed for some time. Inventory from the restaurant, including wine, beer, liquor and restaurant-sized containers of food will go on sale Friday from 10:30am to 3pm.  Odds and ends like cheese boards wooden skewers will also be sold. "A good opportunity to stock up for the holidays," said Barbara Tyne, a spokesperson for the shopping center.  "There will be gifts for all who buy something significant and the goal is to sell it all," she added.

The unthinkable

The Department of Planning and Natural Resources issued a statement saying the water quality at Hart Bay and Chocolate Hole does not meet safety standards.  A report by the St. John Source  quoted commissioner Dean Plaskett’s office saying people should not swim or fish in the bays and parents should keep children away.  The Department said it would monitor the water, but currently there is an "increased health risk to anyone swimming in these areas as a result of an increased concentration of bacteria," the Source said.  The cause of the contamination was not identified.  Water quality testing was initiated after Hurricane Jeanne blew through the territory.  "All persons should be aware that storm water runoff may contain contaminants or pollutants harmful to human health," a DPNR statement said, according to the Virgin Islands Daily News.  A spokesman for the department said it is testing water quality weekly at 43 beaches

Read moreThe unthinkable

Restaurants ready for season

morganlizardFall has arrived and many favorite restaurants have reopened after a summer break. The Fish Trap, La Tapa and Morgan’s Mango are open and serving – Morgan’s celebrated its 12th anniversary over the weekend, according to a column in Virgin Voices.

Coral Bay is expected to get a new restaurant soon. Sweet Plantains, described by Voices as West Indian fusion, is expected to open its doors later this month.

Meanwhile, Voyages de St Jean, also in Coral Bay, has made changes in hopes of boosting its popularity. Instead of fine dining, it’s now being billed as a seaside bistro and wine bar, offering what some might call “classy bar food”, cocktails, and wine. Wednesday is sushi night.

Election Day soon come

Schools will be closed on St. John and across the territory Tuesday as voters go to polling places to elect 15 senators: seven representing St. Thomas-St. John, seven for St. croix, and one At Large. Also up for election are members of the Boards of Education and Election, and the territory’s Delegate to Congress. The weather forecast is for the day to have a high of 85 degrees, with heavy showers and thunderstorms during the afternoon.