With a little more than a month left before the Centennial Transfer Day celebration, the territory’s Centennial Commission has not yet sent out invitations to its centennial week events, which they said Tuesday they had planned but are not yet sure how to execute.
At a meeting on St. Thomas, the commission touted Tuesday its last two events, which brought U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonya Sotomayor and reggae artist Tarrus Riley to the territory. Another concert is planned within the next week for St. Croix, featuring Pressure and Stanley and the 10 Sleepless Knights, and commission members said they hope it is even more well attended.
The concerns, however, focused mostly on Transfer Day and the program that Commission Chair Pamela Richards said looked to be “four hours long” and over budget.
Senate President Myron Jackson said that he had submitted the program more than a month ago to the commission for approval and was sent back a revised program without any explanations on how it was changed, but Richards said that the commission had met with the governor, changed the program, and sent it back to Jackson because it was too long.
Jackson said, however, that the program is still too long and given the movement back and forth between St. Thomas and St. Croix for different delegates and other guests, difficult to execute.
“It’s really too much that we we’re putting in a short period of time and it’s not fair to all parties involved, especially since you want us to do it and do it well,” Jackson said. “We have a problem, Houston.”
The program for the Centennial Transfer Day, according to Jackson, includes a military parade, the Transfer Day ceremony at the Legislature, a luncheon at Catherineberg and a gala at the end of the day, among other things.
“It’s very tight,” he said. “You have individuals up from 6 a.m. on St. Croix to make the event over there, you fly them over to St. Thomas where there’s a lunch, run from there to the reviewing stand, then come from the parade to the Transfer Day site at the Legislature, and leaving after 6 p.m., rush them to a ball at 8 p.m. So I’m trying to figure out at 8 p.m. how to be energized to go to a gala.”
After the back and forth between Jackson and Richards, many members on the St. Thomas side – St. Croix members participated over the phone – said they would not be participating on Transfer Day if the program stays as is.
Another concern, according to commission member Colette Monroe, was that the commission has not yet brought on board an employee, who the board has already approved, to help with logistics such as invitations, which also have not been sent out even though main celebration is a little more than a month away.
In another discussion, Richards said the employee was supposed to be hired under the Tourism Department to work only on Centennial items, but the position hasn’t been approved by the Tourism commissioner, who Richards said she has also not heard from.
“We’re not going to get one invitation out,” Monroe responded. Monroe explained that she had given the staff member “everything I had on my desk” along with a potential list of guests but since the staff member is still not on the books, the funding for the position is still sitting in a fund under the Tourism Department.
“The invitations are awaiting disbursement,” Monroe said. “Government House indicated that they were to be put out over a year ago but the commission has to make a determination on who they want to invite.”
Richards said the commission is not able to send out invitations and that she had also asked member James O’Bryan to begin working with Government House on the invitation listing, which O’Bryan said he had, on Monday. The discussion was then moved offline.
Meanwhile, fireworks planned for the event were “scrapped” because of cost, which totaled close to $90,000 for St. Thomas-St. John and St. Croix.