JEWELRY BILL TO GO TO PRESIDENT

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A bill to extend the benefits of the watch industry to manufacturers of fine jewelry in the Virgin Islands was passed by the House of Representatives Monday and has been forwarded it to President Bill Clinton for his signature.
The bill, which was introduced by Delegate Donna Christian-Christensen in September 1997, would provide tariff credits against wages paid by VI watch producers and expand it to include the production of jewelry.
The bill, which has Clinton's support, according to Christiansen, could generate well-paying jobs in the currently stagnant economy, create new economic opportunities to attract new investment in the V.I. and provide greater flexibility to the existing watch manufacturers which could help ensure the survival of these manufacturing operations.
"This is a day which I have been looking forward to for a long time because of what passage of this bill will mean for St. Croix and the entire Virgin Islands. With the development of a new industry for the manufacturing of fine jewelry, hundreds of new jobs will be created on the island of St. Croix," Christensen said.

DAILY NEWS REPORTER CLAIMS WRONGFUL DISCHARGE

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Daily News reporter Andy Gross has taken steps to file a wrongful discharge suit against the newspaper after he was fired Monday morning.
Gross, who has covered business and tourism for the Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper since February, said he walked into the Daily News office in Estate Thomas around 9:15 a.m. Monday only to find that all of his personal items had been stripped from his desk.
Gross said that a letter, signed by Acting City Editor Will Jones, stated that he was being terminated due to alleged inaccuracies in his May 31 "Andy's Briefcase" column relating to a reported shake-up at Island Finance.
A correction appeared on page two in Monday's edition of the Daily News.
Gross said he was given the option of signing a letter of resignation to avoid being terminated. "I am definitely not going to sign the letter and I am not going to be intimidated," he said. "J. Lowe Davis (Daily News executive editor) is a manipulative person, both with people and the news," he said.
He added, "She clearly has her own agenda."
When reached by telephone Monday night, Davis declined to comment. "We do not discuss personnel matters and we do not discuss pending litigation," she said.
Attorney Lee Rohn confirmed that she is handling Gross' case. Rohn said she will conduct her "due diligence research" and plans to file the suit within the next two weeks.
In addition to the Gross case, Rohn is handling two high-profile cases involving the Daily News.
Will Jones, who up until recently had been St. Croix bureau chief, filed a discrimination complaint against the paper earlier this year claiming that their hiring and managerial practices were racially biased.
Jones declined to comment on Gross' termination and would not discuss the status of his discrimination complaint.
Penny Feuerzeig, former Daily News executive editor, also has a wrongful discharge suit pending.
Rohn said she is handling a fourth case involving the Daily News but declined to disclose her client's name.

CRUCIAN READS FROM ATLANTA

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Dear Source,
This is what Virgin Islanders away from home needed…a means of keeping abreast of what's happening in the Virgin Islands.
I have e-mailed this site to every Virgin Islander away from home that I know of…even to those that aren't…"me son."
This site "OnePaper.com" will be big…I love it and my friends, too.
Keep up the good work.
Cassius George
—reader from Atlanta,..crucian for life////thanks

ENTREPRENEURIAL DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE

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The 1999 Annual Entrepreneurial and Economic Development Conference will be held at the Carambola Hotel on St. Croix on Saturday, June 19, 1999. The conference will run from 9 a.m. through 4 p.m. and will be followed by a networking reception from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Carambola.
Virgin Islands Capital Resources Inc., a community development venture capital fund that operates exclusively in the US Virgin Islands, and the University of the Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center are the conference sponsors.
The conference is one element of a more extensive program designed to promote entrepreneurial orientation and provide entrepreneurial training and venture financing for start-up and expanding businesses.
Michael Fields, chairman and chief executive officer of The Fields Group, a management consulting firm that focuses on emerging companies in the information technology industry, will keynote the conference. Fields was the founder of OpenVision, a leading supplier of systems applications for open client/ server computing environments and raised $70 million in venture and private placement funds to build OpenVision. In 1996, OpenVision successfully completed an Initial Public Offering that raised $44 million. In 1997, OpenVision merged with Veritas Software, a company that designs, develops and markets storage management and high availability software systems. The combined company is now the world's largest open system storage management software company with a market capitalization exceeding $3.0 billion. Fields is a former president of Oracle USA. He serves as a board director for seven privately held technology companies and is the chairman of three. He also serves on the advisory board of the Ford Motor Company, Customer Service Division; Beacon IT, the largest Japanese enterprise software company; and New Vista Capital, a venture capital firm. Fields' wife Sandra Brodhurst Fields is a native of St. Croix. The Fields maintain homes both on St. Croix and in Blackhawk, California.
This year's conference will also feature an opening address by Donna Christensen, V. I. Delegate to Congress and member of the House of Representatives Small Business Committee.
Industry practitioners, off-island lenders and venture capitalists will address the role of entrepreneurial activity on economic growth in the Virgin Islands; opportunities for action, event, heritage and ecological tourism; opportunities for software, information system and computer-based businesses; and business opportunities linked to existing local industries.
Conference registration is possible by calling the office of the University of the Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center on St. Croix a 692-5270. The pre-registration fee is $35.00 for the day-long event.

THE WAPA DEFENSE

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When I heard that even ‘The Force' was done in by WAPA, I decided that a serious defense plan was needed. Life doesn't have to come to a stand still when the power goes out. With a little preparation this, too, can be taken in stride.
Unlike during and after a hurricane, these recent power outages (which we can expect to continue until late fall) don't give any warning. We can't fight it, so we have to learn to live with the idiosyncrasies of the Virgin Islands' power supply. It can happen at any time without warning, so the preparation has to be ongoing.
WATER is crucial. We are spoiled, can't live without it, like to be clean, don't like nasty odors and get thirsty frequently. If you're among the many recently caught in the shower covered with soap, you've probably figured out my first defense without any help.
Fill at least a dozen, gallon jugs with water and distribute them in the bathrooms near the tub, under the kitchen sink, and even store a few extras in a closet or on the patio. This is not drinking water so you need to put a tablespoon of Clorox into each gallon so it doesn't get moldy. This is water to bathe, to flush toilets (pour two into a bucket and pour it in fast) and for washing dishes. Drinking water you already have stored, don't you!
LIGHT is another commodity we've grown accustomed to. Next time you're in K Mart,check out the camping supply area. They have a wide selection of butane lanterns, fancy battery table lamps, one burner butane cooking stoves, the trusty old Coleman stove and a lot of other gadgets to make your WAPA defense easier.
One powerful, battery-operated torch, always kept in the same place, is most important. The matchbox or lighters should be kept next to it. I keep at least one candle in each room all the time. The small jelly-glass candles are the most utilitarian: cheap, easy to light and protected from the wind. Those are lit first and then I can see to go around and light the oil lamps that I now keep in each room. Plaza Extra and Cost U Lesshave medium sized green oil lanterns for about $10. each. Pick up some extra wicks at K Mart.
You should be concerned about the FOOD in the freezer. When the food thaws partially and then refreezes a few times it is not good. Now is the time to clean out the freezer. Make a pot of soup, a stew, anything that uses up the supply. Then don't keep more than a week's supply of food in the freezer until after the hurricane season. You also might want to put a couple of those gallons of water in the freezer so that when the power goes off the freezer maintains a more even temperature. (Don't fill more than three quarters full or they will break and leak as they thaw.)
Get out the gas cooking stove and keep it handy, have the little cooler accessible for perishables, stock up on paper plates and cups, buy your batteries, butane tanks, candles and lamp oil now. The island seems to be short on lamp oil but True Value at Time Plaza across from Fort Mylner assures me that they have plenty at $2.19 a bottle. Torch oil can also be used for lamps but it's smokier.
COMPUTERS are a big concern to many of us. During this period of WAPA repairs it is suggested that we should turn our computers off when we are not using them so that they don't shut down incorrectly when the power goes off. I do hate that chiding I get when Windows ‘has not been properly shut down," as if it was all my fault!
Surge protectors are valuable to protect equipment from electric spikes when there are thunder and lightening storms or when a power pole breaks but not of much import during these outages.
Clarence, at The Computer Place at Nisky Center, tells me that it is brown outs we should be concerned about. He recommends an UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) which they sell, of course, for $149. This gives you 5-8 minutes of power to shut down your programs after the main power source goes out. It also maintains the full power needed by your hard drive at all times.
As usual it's your ATTITUDE which will make or break you during these mini-crises. When you have to sit around a dark hot office waiting for the power to come on or go home and come back later it can be most irritating. Try taking the work outside or using the time for lunch and errands and come back in two hours.
Some persons are happy with romantic candlelight, reasons not to cook, time to sit back, and enjoy the night sky and take a deep relaxing breath. Others feel they have been robbed of time to do all the things they planned and they get downright testy. I waver between these moods depending on just how many times it happens in a week.
To overcome my frustration at not being able to use the computer, the stove, the vacuum, etc., I now have posted a list of things that I can do without power – things I don't regularly find time for. A long walk with the dog, replanting plants, cleaning out the car, reading a good book, taking a swim, writing letters or visiting an elderly neighbor don't require power and can certainly make the day complete.
SUGGESTIONS for the SEASON:
The sun at this time of year is brutal. Move your plants to more shaded areas and remember to water each evening so they have time to absorb it before they get hot again.
Mosquito time is upon us. Check for items sitting around outside your house that collect water and empty them. Try some of those donuts you can pick up at Sea Chest to keep standing water from becoming a breeding ground. Do not use them in drinking water storage. A good spray of your own body every morning with Cutters Backwoods with Deet should deter the bites.
For screen repair, Louis at The VI Mobile Screen Shop (715-3288) will pick them up, repair them with nylon screen and reinstall them.
Cistern water is particularly dirty with these first rains of the season. Your cistern could use some extra treatment, maybe a good cleaning before it fills up again, certainly a new filter. Plug the overflows and seal spaces around the down spouts to keep out mosquitoes, frogs and lizards. E.D. Plumbing 774-1150 can help you take care of it.
Unless you prefer to live dangerously it might be beneficial to your health to have your water tested at Caribbean Safe Water Lab 776-5222. You can take a sample to them and you get the results in 24 hours.
Toilet bowls get brown and hard to clean with the Sahara dust we collect. I find that a good scrub of the inside of the storage tank and an occasional addition of a splash of Clorox into that tank makes the job easier.
WAPA water needs to be boiled before using it for drinking or cooking or brushing teeth according to a recent notice from WAPA. You might want to check your favorite restaurants to see if they are serving bottled or WAPA water when you ask for ‘regular water'. I was surprised to find one of our most expensive restaurants serving WAPA tap water. They said they were unaware of the warnings. I wonder if that effects the food they prepare?
If you are planning to buy a generator this season, start shopping now. They are in very short supply.
K Mart has the big Rubbermaid containers on sale now – stock early.
Unlike Heloise, we don't have all the solutions, so we'd welcome your suggestions about hurricane preparation for the next column.

CHILDREN'S ASTHMA AWARENESS BOOKLET AVAILABLE

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Asthma is one of the leading health problems among Virgin Islands children and a major cause of death. It behooves all Virgin Islanders to learn as much as possible concerning this sometimes fatal problem.
The National Asthma Education Program, National Institute of Health has produced an "Asthma Awareness Curriculum for the Elementary Classroom." This spiral-bound booklet contains two 30-minute lessons for children in grades K-3 and 4-6. The lessons teach students what asthma is all about, helping them understand and accept this most debilitating condition. Furthermore, it explains, when appropriate, how to assist their friends with asthma.
The 58-page booklet contains math, art, and language activities; reproducible games and puzzles; art for flash cards; complete with pre and post tests to help teachers gauge their students' progress.
One may purchase printed copies of this publication from the National Heart Lung Blood Institute Information Center specifying Order Number 2894. The Internet address is http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/nhlbi/lung/asthma/prof/school/contents.htm Or one can write for more information to:
National Asthma Education Program Information Center
P.O. Box 30105
Bethesda, Maryland 20824-0105
301-592-8573

HEAD TAX TO BE RECONSIDERED

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Senate sponsors of the $2.50 ocean passenger head tax have agreed to hold off on the tax while they try to hammer out a better plan in a joint task force. The plan could include funding of capital projects and infrastructure improvements.
In a meeting Thursday, hosted by the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, senators, chamber members, cruise line officials and a representative from the governor's office spent several hours discussing how to develop programs that could benefit both the cruise industry and the territory.
Chamber President John deJongh said the main concerns of the people at the table were maintaining St. Thomas as a premier port, increasing cruise ship traffic to St. Croix and "ensuring we have an infrastructure in place to handle the traffic."
In May, Main Street merchants closed their doors and led a group of employees on a march to the Legislature to protest the rise in the head tax from $7.50 to $10 that was under consideration as part of the Financial Accountability Act.
Finance Committee Chairwoman Lorraine Berry agreed at that time to ask the committee members to postpone further discussion of the head tax until they could meet with cruise line representatives.
The cruise industry is strongly against any hike in the tax. Michele Paige, director of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association, who was at Thursday's meeting, said in February when the proposal was introduced by Sen. Roosevelt David, that she was shocked and extremely concerned about the proposal.
The Finance Committee meets Tuesday to break the massive bill into three parts and add amendments.
Senate President Vargrave Richards, one of seven senators who attended the meeting at the chamber, said, "The primary interest of the sponsors of the proposal is not just the dollars generated by the proposed head tax, but a stronger relationship with the cruise lines that leads to increased traffic at key times of the year, more creative programs to market our islands, and specifically a commitment to bring into reality increased cruise visits to St. Croix."
A release from the chamber said the joint plan will include:
—- A long-term operating agreement from the cruise industry to the Virgin Islands.
—- Increased ship calls for St. Croix and St. Thomas year round.
—- Mutually agreed-upon capital investments in enhancing our tourist product and infrastructure.
—- An ongoing funding of scholarships for Virgin Islanders.
—- The sale and promotion of Cruzan Rum aboard all ships visiting the Virgin Islands.
DeJongh said, "I am confident that the economic benefits realized as a result of the actions of the task force will far exceed any expected revenue from the proposed increase in head tax."
He said the cruise ship representatives have made a commitment to work with the territory.
The task force will include cruise line representatives, members of the Turnbull administration, representatives of the V.I. Port Authority and West Indian Co. Ltd., and members of the local chambers of commerce. They will come up with a plan in the next 90 days.
Other senators attending the meeting were Gregory Bennerson, Berry, David, George Goodwin, David Jones and Allie-Allison Petrus.
James O'Bryan represented the governor.
The following member of the cruise industry attended:
— Matthew Sams, vice president of Caribbean relations for Holland America Line.
— Stephen A. Nielsen, vice president, Caribbean Affairs and Operations, Princess Cruises.
— John Fox, vice president, Government Relations, Royal Caribbean International.
— Michael Ronan, director, Shore Excursion Programs and Destination Development, Royal Caribbean International.
— Gordon Buck, manager, Port Operations, Carnival Cruise Lines.
— Paige, president of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association.
Representing the chamber at the conclave were:
— deJongh, the chamber's new president.
— Joe Aubain, executive director.
— Filippo Cassinelli and Edric Jones of A.H. Riise.
— Bill Dowling and Louis de Lyrot of Cardow Jewelers.
— Bill Canfield of Little Switzerland.
— Bob Cockayne of Shell Seekers.
— Howard DeWolfe of St. Peter Mountain Greathouse and Mountain Top.

BILL BANNING INCINERATION ON HOLD

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The bill to ban burning of solid waste has been held in committee for further review. Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, chair of the Committee on Planning and Environmental Protection, said after the committee meeting Monday that the bill needed more specific guidelines.
Donastorg said he introduced the bill because of his concern for public health.
In addition to air pollution, Donastorg pointed out the potential for contamination to water supplies in a place where water is collected on roofs. The danger is especially great to "homeowners who live closest to the Bovoni Landfill," he said.
However, some testifiers Monday were concerned that the provisions were too broad and could limit the government's options for solid waste disposal.
For example, several questioned what constituted "agricultural waste," which is exempt under the terms of the bill.
Dean Plaskett, acting commissioner of Planning and Natural Resources, and Harold J. Thompson, acting commissioner of Public Works, questioned what would be done with hospital solid waste.
Plaskett said he was not willing to discount any options for solid waste disposal.
One solution discussed was gasification.
Helen Gjessing, environmentalist and retired biology professor, who testified on behalf of the League of Women Voters, said, "Gasifiers are far superior in many ways. Simply put, they are cheaper and cleaner."
However she also testified that use of gasification is likely to discourage the development of other alternatives such as recycling and reduction, "because the larger the facility, the more cost-efficient it is and the larger the facility, the more trash is required and the more trash that is gasified, the less trash is recycled, reused or reduced."
Gjessing said the most important thing was having a comprehensive solid waste management plan, adding that the planning should be the responsibility of the Planning and Natural Resources Department.

RETAILERS CUTTING BACK HOURS AS SUMMER APPROACHES

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Several downtown businesses are readjusting hours in order to cope with what many say are a decreasing number of shoppers.
Kathy Peterson, president of the Leather Shop Inc., said floundering sales have forced the company to shorten store hours and place its 24 employees on four-day week schedules.
"We have so few people coming in the store that people are working four-day weeks instead of five," she said. "It means real hardship for my employees but we just can't afford it. There are days in this store when we do not gross as much as our pay-roll."
The Leather Shop on the north side of Main Street will maintain its 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday schedule but Coach, Sargasso, Fendi and Tumi – which are under the same south side Main Street umbrella — will open at 10 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays.
"On Saturdays we find that even though there are no cruise ships, there are a lot of local customers that come by," Peterson said.
Peterson said business this year is "miserable" compared to last year. A recent proposal by Sen. Gregory Bennerson to impose an 8 percent sales tax in the territory would virtually kill business, she said.
"Not only are there fewer people around but the people who are here aren't spending money," she said.
Peterson attributed this to a number of factors, particularly that cruises are being sold as all-inclusive vacations.
"I think people are going other places besides St. Thomas and I think that if they are on a cruise, they are offered a lot more to do and a lot more ways to spend money," she said.
Both Peterson and Janelle Zachman, owner and manager of Going Seanile, agree that the changing nature of the cruise ship industry is effecting business locally.
"We are not just a shopping destination anymore, we are a beach destination for cruise ships," Zachman said.
Cruise ship passengers don't come to St. Thomas to linger in the Main Street stores as they used to, she said.
Zachman believes today's passengers come for island tours, snorkeling, scuba diving and a host of other activities -– one of which includes maybe an hour or so of shopping -– before their ships depart.
However, Zachman said she is optimistic because she is "not doing that bad" given the number of hotel tourists who frequent her store.
"I don't think we should have anything to complain about," she said. "We just need to reorganize our business."
Zachman believes that in addition to not being "overinventoried" for the summer, stores need to modify their businesses in order to meet the demands and keep up with the competition stemming from retailers on other islands.
Linda Meyers, a manager at Diamonds International, said their stores will open at 10 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. but will continue to close at 5 p.m. seven days a week.
"We have already made minor adjustments but all of our stores are open every day," Meyers said. "Historically we have made minor adjustments in the summer."
An employee at A.H. Riise Gifts and Liquor said that a memo was circulated stating that the store will close its doors at 3 p.m. on the days there are no ships scheduled throughout the remainder of June. Filippo Cassinelli, Riise vice president, could not be reached for comment.

GOVERNOR HAS ETHICS

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Dear St. Thomas Source,
Just read about the Governor vetoing the Prosser Bill and all I can say is
"YAHOO!!!!" Sounds like maybe he does have some intelligence and degree of ethics.
As to resolving the budgetary problems of the government I would dare suggest peeking at JFK's statement of "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." It is your islands (and soon mine) and I would dare suggest to all of us that we need to put in our share of our responsibility in the affairs of the islands.
Nothing is free and nothing should ever be. If everyone were to pull their share of effort and diligence – then I am confident that the economics of government would be resolved to everyone's benefit.
Arthur Tony DeVangelis, Alaska