BAYWATCH STAR KELLY PACKARD CRUISES IN

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Baywatch star Kelly Packard was in St. Thomas on Wednesday, along with her husband, Darrin Privett, as guests of the Grand Princess cruise ship.
Their trip was part of a promotional tour of Caribbean destinations for TV station KTLA in Los Angeles, the Daily News reported Thursday.
A KTLA film crew did a series of location shots and a live remote from downtown Charlotte Amalie.
Baywatch (if anyone doesn't know) is a popular television series about a group of lifeguards in California. Wednesday's shots included no dramatic sea rescues but lots of water shots, the Daily News reported.

HOTELIERS HOPE AMERICAN SLOWDOWN IS OVER

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V.I. hoteliers, looking forward to a busy Presidents Day holiday weekend, are hoping American Airlines flights are back to normal today after a federal judge in Dallas ordered the pilots back to work Wednesday.
When the judge made his ruling, all three American flights to St. Thomas — two from Miami, one from New York — had been canceled.
It remains to be seen whether the pilots will follow the order to go "back to the cockpits."
People trying to fly in and out of St. Thomas this week had a shaky time, as the pilot slowdown began affecting flights here. Flights to San Juan also were affected, which also hurt V.I. travelers.
Amy Atkinson of Martin Public Relations said at midweek, “It’s tough. We’re in day four and coming up on the three-day Valentine’s Day weekend.”
Atkinson said one of her groups from Girl Magazine had a hard time getting back to Atlanta from St. Thomas in the last few days. She also said a journalist coming down to cover an event at Tillett Gardens is having a hard time getting here.
“This has been in the works for months," she said. "It’ll be a shame if he can’t get here.”
The four American hubs that were most heavily affected by the pilots' slowdown are Dallas-Fort Worth, New York, Chicago and Miami, according to national media reports. Three of the four daily direct flights into St. Thomas originate in New York and Miami.
The slowdown began Friday and resulted in some passengers getting stranded in St. Thomas. But local officials said earlier in the week that it was hard to gauge how it is affecting inbound traffic.
Nick Pourzal, managing director of Marriott's Frenchman's Reef, said Tuesday that the slowdown and cancellations were a real problem that would take its toll in an already fragile season. If it drags on, it could be disastrous, according to Pourzal.
The cancellations were a result of a slowdown by pilots who are concerned about the impact of a merger between American and Reno Air. Pilots for American make $150,000. Reno Air pilots make about half that amount.
The territory is already facing serious economic problems, which many people, including hoteliers, blame on the dearth of airline seats to St. Thomas and St. Croix.
Joe Aubain of the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce said any slowdown could be economically “devastating” to the islands.
Atkinson of Martin Public Relations said it underscored the difficulties of having one airline dominate the market.

THE ISSUE IS SIMPLE: RESOURCES

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If anyone can root out what happened to the $30 million that the Federal Emergency Management Agency gave the V.I. government to repair roofs damaged by recent hurricanes, it’s Steven van Beverhoudt.
But even van Beverhoudt won’t be able to unearth the surfacing reports of improper bonuses, stipends and other payments unless he gets more resources.
Van Beverhoudt, as most people know, heads the V.I. Bureau of Audit and Control, also known as the territorial Inspector General’s Office.
Under Gov. Roy L. Schneider’s administration, that office was stripped of money and resources. This was done under the guise of fiscal belt-tightening, but many people believe it reflected Schneider’s attempt to silence a strong, persistent and credible critic.
It appears that Gov. Charles W. Turnbull won’t take the same kill-the-messenger tack as his predecessor.
Turnbull has already met with van Beverhoudt and wants him to conduct several audits, including one on the roofing program and another on the “midnight raid” by Gov. Schneider and 36 people in his administration that circumvented normal procedures to issue lump-sum payments for unpaid leave.
But van Beverhoudt’s office is short-staffed. He has six vacancies, including a deputy inspector general. He needs one of two things, or maybe both: outside help from an entity like the U.S. Interior Department or a green light from Turnbull to fill at least a few of those vacancies.
We would urge the governor and van Beverhoudt to explore with Interior officials the possibility of technical assistance grants to hire auditors or an inter-governmental loan of federal auditors to help the territorial audit bureau temporarily. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt indicated a willingness to help us regain our footing. This is a small but meaningful place to start.
One other thing: Over the years there has been talk of moving the Audit Bureau from the executive to the legislative branch. Perhaps that should still be explored. But it begs the real issue: resources. Regardless of where the inspector general hangs its administrative hat, it needs sufficient trained staff to carry out its public mandate to see how public money has been spent and to recommend ways to improve.

POURZAL: SINBAD LOOKS SET FOR ST. THOMAS

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Hotelier Nick Pourzal said Wednesday it looks likely St. Thomas will be the site of Sinbad’s Soul Music Festival over the Memorial Day weekend in May.
The event could bring up to 8,000 people to the island.
Pourzal, managing director of Frenchman's Reef Hotel, said his resort had worked out the details with Sinbad and only awaited the OK from the other major player, the V.I. government, to seal the deal.
The festival includes live musical performances, comedy concerts, music jamborees, beach parties and shopping, and would be an economic shot in the arm for the island.
Barbados has been vying for hosting honors too and is offering a competing package.
The promoters say the festival could mean as much as $40 million for the local economy.
Richard Doumeng, president of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association, said earlier this week that one challenge was to get enough complimentary rooms to house the entertainers and production people involved in the show. Additionally, the island has to be able to accommodate visitors.
St. Thomas and St. John have about 4,000 hotel rooms. One idea under consideration is chartering a ship and anchoring it in the St. Thomas harbor, Doumeng said.
Acting Tourism Commissioner Clement “Cain” Magras said efforts would have to be made to organize taxi drivers, plan beach jams and coordinate with downtown merchants to create a “destination downtown” and keep stores open late. In addition, some legal issues — including insurance — must be addressed.
The event has been held successfully on other islands, including St. Martin, Aruba and Jamaica.
The decision is supposed to be made this week and will be announced on the Tom Joyner Morning Show heard locally on KISS 101.3.

ACKLEY: SWITCH COULD HAVE BEEN 'MORE GRACEFUL'

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Murphy’s law — if it can go wrong, it will — seemed to prevail beginning Sunday and continuing through Tuesday night for internet service provider VIAccess.
The problem began when VIAccess implemented a planned change of service providers to speed up service for its customers.
Gordon Ackley, owner of VIAccess, said when his people made the change, it took 24 hours for information to “circle the globe” so essentially “we dropped into a black hole.”
They came out of the hole Monday and service was restored until 5 p.m. when human error took over, compounding frustration and problems for VIAccess customers.
Ackley said someone at MCI in Miami entered a code which resulted in VIAccess appearing to no longer exist. The human error could have happened any time he said. It just happened to occur in conjunction with the changeover.
“We’ve been solid now for 12 hours,“ Ackley said.
VIAccess delivered 38,000 pieces of mail after the “blackout” Sunday. Almost no mail was lost, according to Ackley. The ISP normally delivers between 25,000 and 30,000 pieces of mail a day.
He explained that during the 24-hour changeover period, mail was either returned to the sender or held in a queue and then delivered.
“I don’t think we lost much,” he said.
As for people who are still experiencing problems, Ackley said they have to manually change their DNS in their browsers to 63.64.76.2 or 63.64.76.3. Or they can call 719-9179 for technical assistance.
The changeover from a service provider in Chicago to the new one in Miami will substantially increase speed for local users because VIAccess has a direct connection with them with no stops in between, Ackley said.
But, he added, the transition “could have been more graceful.”

E.A.S.T. SPONSORS WHALE WATCHES

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The annual Environment Association of St. Thomas-St. John whale watches are slated for 8:30 a.m. on two Saturdays; Feb. 20 and March 13. The boat, 77-foot catamaran"Spirit of St. Christopher", will leave from the National Park dock in Redhook.
This year's watches will have an added element. EAST has arranged for an airplane to circle the North side to look for the majestic creatures and notify the boat of their location.
Tickets are $45 for EAST members and $55 for non-members. EAST warns that space is limited and tickets should be purchased well in advance.
For more information call 776-1976 or 777-5012.

POVERTY BREEDS HOPELESSNESS, CAN LIMIT LEARNING

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In last week's column, I noted that the number of children living in poverty in the U. S. Virgin Islands is about 12 percent higher than that of the average in the mainland United States. If we are going to improve the quality of life in the Virgin Islands, then we need to get serious about addressing the poverty of our children.
Why? Because poverty can breed a sense of hopelessness and limit learning.
In terms of poverty creating a pervasive sense of hopelessness, we must understand that children who perceive that there is no hope that they will live to be adults will see no need to prepare for adulthood. For many of our young people, this is their reality.
A part of the growing-up process starts with a simple question: What are you going to be when you grow up? This is repeated throughout a child's life.
These children grow up knowing that there is a future waiting for them. They just know they have to plan to be somebody or something as they grow older. This is expected, even demanded of them.
Can you imagine growing up in a household where due to hopelessness there is no sense of tomorrow, you only live for today? Such a child will evidence no disquiet or concern that he or she has no plans for tomorrow and, sadly, there is usually no one around them that finds this strange.
When I asked my daughter this question from small, she, at different times in her life would respond — When I grow up I am going to be a fireman, a rap star, a doctor, whatever, but she already knows at the age of 13 that she has to be something when she grows up.
There are so many times when I ask this same question of children from economically disadvantaged families and their reply, amazingly even at the high school level, is, I don't know. Many of our children seem to disbelieve that there is a tomorrow waiting for them and, therefore, fail to plan for tomorrow.
Poverty affects intelligence. Why? Because intelligence starts to develop soon after conception and continues throughout the prenatal period. Insufficient and/or inappropriate food eaten by a poor pregnant woman has a lasting impact on the baby's brain, particularly in those areas where thinking and remembrance occur.
As you know, if you cannot learn or remember, your chances of success in the academic world are extremely poor. So too are your chances in the world of work.
If a woman cannot afford the requisite prenatal vitamins, this further endangers the baby. As you also know, if you add drug or alcohol use, you further diminish the baby's chances of a good life and increase the likelihood of serious birth defects such as retardation.
We should all be aware that, according to authors Brown, L. & Pollitt, E., "Children deprived of proper nutrition during the brain's formative years score much lower on tests of vocabulary, reading comprehension, arithmetic, and general knowledge. The more severe the poverty a child faces, the lower his or her nutritional level is likely to be."
Our community needs to reach out and explore the many creative and innovative ways that others are using to grapple with these issues. We are working on a land-use plan; how about our social plan, are we going to do one?
Editor's note: Catherine L. Mills, a former Human Services commissioner, has a master's degree in social work.

CALL FOR CARNIVAL JUDGES

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The V.I. Carnival Committee is putting out a call to any persons interested in serving as a judge for the coming carnival activities.
For additional information, contact Mrs. Anita Arnold at 776-3112.

ALL TROUPE LEADERS TO MEET TODAY

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A mandatory meeting will be held Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 5:45 p.m. at the CAHS cafeteria for all carnival troupe leaders.
The parade sub-committee of the V.I. Carnival Committee encourages those planning to particate in the parade to attend.

DELEGATE SUPPORTS MEDAL FOR ROSA PARKS

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Virgin Islands Congressional Delegate Donna M. Christian-Christensen recently expressed her support for the introduction of new legislation to award a Congressional Gold Medal to Rosa Parks.
The legislation was introduced on Parks' 86th birtday.
Christensen said, “Rosa Parks is truly the mother of the Civil Rights Movement and is very deserving of this medal,”