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St. Thomas Residents Want Less Crime in '08, See 'Turmoil'

Jan. 7, 2008 — As the territory wraps up its holiday celebrations and people head back to work and school, St. Thomas residents say they have a few things they're looking forward to in 2008: less crime, a boom in the economy and more "peace, love and happiness."
The Source has scoured the island over the past week — running from Tutu Park on the East End to Bordeaux on the north — asking residents for their thoughts, wishes and hopes for the new year. In some places, such as last week's annual Kwanzaa celebrations at the Bordeaux market, residents were anxious to talk, stressing the need for good health and more understanding within the community.
"Peace, love and happiness," said St. Thomas resident Winifred Scott at the Kwanzaa event, while perennial Women's Jogger Jammer Joy Boyd and Dora Rampersad lined up for good health.
"If you have good health, you're peaceful — there's no need to be violent," Boyd said.
Added Rampersad, "Most important is good health and lots of love for family and friends. These are the most important things I can wish for."
Valentina Baptiste and Betty Welch also took a minute out of enjoying Jambie's prized pumpkin soup to offer their comments.
"I'd like to see more love and peace," Baptiste said.
Welch agreed, saying, "We have to come together as a community."
At the event, the husband-and-wife team of Elaine and Cordell Jacobs also spoke of the need for more unity within the local community.
"Talk radio brings about so much divisiveness," said Cordell Jacobs, environmental programs manager for the Waste Management Authority. "We need a positive attitude and better environmental awareness, peace and understanding."
Lo'seane Henly, a fourth-grader at Calvary Christian Academy, considered her answer carefully.
"I'd like to see less violence," she said. "And for people to treat the earth better. And for the people who are violent to stop doing it. They should attend afterschool activities to keep them off the streets."
Long-time island photographer Hillary Hodge expressed strong feelings about the crime in the community, saying, "We need our people to come to grips with themselves and the things they do to one another and the fear of God. They need to know that God runs things — as ye reap, so shall ye sow."
Emphasizing what had been expressed earlier, Hodge added, "We need to come together with more love and more caring."
In St. Thomas' downtown shopping district, the need to keep the "guns off the streets" was also on many residents' lips.
"We need to stop the violence, the killing," said Cromwell Cannonier, who has lived on St. Thomas his entire life. "So far, nothing much has happened, but that doesn't mean it's not going to pick up again soon. We need to work hard at getting the guns off the streets, and making things peaceful once again. That's my wish for the new year."
Many vendors downtown talked of the need for "better business." Many said the St. Thomas shopping districts have become too spread out, with tourists spending more time at places like the "undeveloped" Crown Bay Commercial Center. Other people stopped on the streets were reluctant to talk. In fact, when asked what they think the territory looks like going into the new year, most residents commonly responded, "It's really bleak" or "We're in turmoil."
Some elaborated a bit more, discussing issues that have been plaguing the community for months.
"It's the gas prices that are really killing us right now," said St. Thomas resident Charles Thomas. "And WAPA has already risen for the year. We have to do something to get these costs down, and give our residents a chance to make and keep a little more money. Maybe if we didn't give all the high officials such big raises, something would be there for the small man on the streets."
At the Cyril E. King Airport, Carleen Connor offered a more positive perspective.
"It's been a good year for business here," she said. "But I'm afraid that the crime rates are going to start deterring people from visiting the territory. There have been some improvements, but we really have to start making our environment safer — especially for our children."
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