Nov. 3, 2006 It's early November and the anticipation is in the air. This Saturday night the V.I. Hotel and Tourism Association will present the fifth annual Tommy Star awards, highlighting the best and brightest the tourism industry has to offer.
This year the evening of dinner, dancing and cocktails, at Marriott's Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort, will have an Oscar theme, complete with a red carpet to enhance dramatic entrances.
"The pride of the nominees and the impending excitement of the gala are in itself, gratifying," said association president Beverly Nicholson Doty in a release. "Fund-raising events such as this allow us to award student scholarships and subsidize other educational programs. This year, we presented Bernell Lanclos and Latish Ramsey with $2,500 each for their continuing studies."
A special Mark of Excellence Award for lifetime achievement will this year be presented to Cornelius Matthias, 80, for his 50 years of service at Caneel Bay Resort on St. John. He has worked in maintenance, landscaping and as a boat captain on the Caneel Bay ferry.
His is the only award made public before the gala event, which features the people who are the backbone of the tourism industry hotel employees, retail sales clerks, waitresses, bartenders, airline and taxi employees, and others in tourism-related businesses. The contestants are nominated by their managers and are judged by a human resources team.
Nine of the nominees will come away with Tommy Star awards. They include: Samuel Harry Ralph of Hook, Line and Sinker restaurant, Elizabeth McCoy of the Old Stone Farmhouse restaurant, Diane Allick of Cape Air, Patricia Williams of American Airlines-American Eagle, Marva Sylvester of Seaborne Airlines, Janell Charlton of Host U Services, Joseph Francis of West Indian Co., Nicole George Petersen of V.I. Ground Handlers Inc., Ophelia Bannis of First Express and Derek Gabriel of Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone's office.
Also up for special recognition this year are three elementary school students Nicole Berry of Joseph Sibilly School, Nadira Blondell of Leonard Dober School and Cleve Wayatt of J. Antonio Jarvis School winners in an essay contest offered in the "Tommy Goes to School" newsletter.
Commentators will include faces well known to the industry, including Chantal Richards, formerly with the Tourism Department, and Randall Doty of the former Renaissance Beach Resort. Richard Counts of the V.I. Caribbean Lottery office will be master of ceremonies.
The awards raise money for the association's Education and Training Scholarship Fund, which provides financial aid to UVI students who are pursuing careers in the tourism field.
Tickets are $100 each and include dinner and dancing. They are available by calling the association office at 774-6835.
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