UNITED WAY FLEA MARKET IS SATURDAY

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United Way will hold its annual flea market Saturday, Jan. 30, in Emancipation Garden from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.
This is a painless way to help United Way reach its goal of $490,000 for the 1998-99 campaign.
At this point United Way is far short. To date only $378,691 — or 80 percent of the goal — has been raised.
Saturday's flea market is one way to help. Consider donating items or stop and purchase something.
Live music, food, a large selection of household goods, books, clothing, jewelry and lots more will be offered.
United Way helps support 16 human service agencies in St. Thomas and St. John, including the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Civil Air Patrol, American Red Cross, Shaky Acres and Victim Advocates.
For information, contact Thyra Hammond at 774-3185.

SEAPLANE'S 35TH ANNIVERSARY REUNION SET

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Former Antilles Airboats employees are invited to attend the seaplane's 35th anniversary celebration Wednesday, Feb. 3, at the Comanche Hotel in Christiansted, St. Croix.
The event starts at 5 p.m. and goes until 8. Planners say it should be a fun occasion, with a chance to share good times past.
The last reunion was celebrated at the same location five years ago.
For information contact Liz Wilson in St. Croix at 773-8692 or Molly Morris in St. Thomas at 774-0894.
Information on Comanche room rates will be available.

ACKLEY APPLIES TO PROVIDE LOCAL PHONE SERVICE

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Local entrepreneur Gordon Ackley has applied to the V.I. Telephone Corp. for the right to compete to provide alternative local phone service to V.I. residents and businesses.
If Ackley gets a green light, the competition for local phone customers could drive down prices and improve service.
Citing the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996, Ackley asked Vitelco for five things:
—- The right to resell telephone services.
—- Number portability.
—- Access to Vitelco’s poles and conduits.
—- The right to co-locate equipment.
—- Reciprocal compensation.
Under the Telecom Act, local phone carriers are required to lease their equipment and networks to competitors at wholesale prices.
Ackley met Jan. 12 with Michaele Breton, vice president of marketing for Vitelco, and Emiel Michiels, manager of budget and results, to begin negotiations, which Ackley said could be lengthy.
This is not the first time a company has applied to Vitelco for local exchange carrier status, known as LEC.
In the mid-1990s Windkeeper Inc. attempted to enter the local telephone service market as an LEC.
According to Andrew Rutnik, then chairman of the Public Services Commission, Windkeeper approached the PSC to intervene in the negotiations with Vitelco, which had “dragged on.”
Rutnik said the PSC was about to force arbitration when Windkeeper withdrew its request.
At the time Windkeeper applied for local exchange carrier rights, Vitelco had recently shown a gross revenue of $53 million for fiscal 1995, according to local economist Dr. Richard Moore.
As a local exchange carrier under the Telecom Act, an LEC can provide local telephone service to customers. The changeover to a new local carrier should be “seamless,” according to Ackley.
Part of the agreement between an LEC and an incumbent local exchange carrier — in this case Vitelco — provides for “number portability,” which means customers of the incumbent LEC who want to change to a new local carrier can keep their old phone number.
According to Ackley, the incumbent LEC –Vitelco —- and a would-be LEC —- Ackley Communications —- have nine months to negotiate the terms of the agreement. If they do not reach an agreement by then, the matter is referred to the PSC for arbitration. The PSC has three months to act.
Thereafter, if the interconnection agreement has not been approved, the matter is turned over to the Federal Communications Commission.
The terms of the Telecom Act requiring incumbent local carriers to provide access to LECs are intended to open up competition in the area of local telephone service and to give LECs time to put their own equipment and infrastructure in place.
Vitelco spokesperson Katrina White-Comissiong would say only that the issue was in negotiation and she was not in a position to comment further now.

WHY ALL THE FOUR-WHEEL-DRIVE VEHICLES?

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If there’s one thing teen-agers and twentysomethings know something about, it’s cars -– how much they cost, which ones are hot, that kind of thing.
So it was interesting to hear so many young Virgin Islanders who were home for the holidays this year scoff at the high cost of so many government vehicles.
Why, we were asked more than once, do so many V.I. government officials drive expensive -– and probably fully loaded — four-wheel-drive vehicles?
When we started looking around, we realized the questioners were right.
Why, indeed, does the director of the Office of Management and Budget need a costly four-wheel-drive vehicle? Or the Finance commissioner? Or the heads of other agencies whose work doesn’t require them to drive up and down unpaved, treacherous roads? Granted, a few of them may need vehicles like that in the 48 hours or so after a hurricane, but is it worth spending that much money on the off-chance that a bad storm will strike us?
These are the kinds of symbols that say something about a government’s commitment to belt-tightening.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull has said he intends to cut the cost of the government vehicle fleet and curb vehicle abuse. To that we say hooray.
But as part of that exercise, we hope he’ll take a close look at who’s driving what and analyze the cost and use of the government fleet.
It’s time to determine whether it’s really essential for each official or department to have a particular government vehicle, how much could be saved by downgrading to dependable but less-costly models, and whether we should institute a mileage-reimbursement system instead of maintaining a government fleet that we can’t afford.

VIPD IS AIDING AND ABETTING BURGLARIES

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Within the past two weeks, I wrote a letter which was printed in the St. Croix Avis, the Independent and the Daily News newspaper concerning the burglary situation here in the territory.
In closing of said letter, I made a plea for Gov. Charles Tumbull to act upon it immediately. Although I do acknowledge that it is very early in his administration to be faced with this type of problem, I considered it an urgent matter enough to bring it to the attention of the governor and the residents of this territory.
My plea to have this matter handled immediately does not require time or expense, all it simply takes is a call to the person in charge of the department or a written order issued to have it done.
Stated in my letter printed in the Independent, St. Croix Avis on 1/14/99 and in the Daily News on 1/19/99, is the fact the V.I. Police Department has only one individual , Cpl. Maureen Richardson, that is qualified to testify as an expert and also perform latent fingerprint examination.
This individual, however, has not been allowed to perform this task as an assignment in many years; therefore cases are not being worked on, resulting into victims being left helpless and the perpetrators running loose to burglarize more homes.
It would appear that since I wrote letters to those who could have done something and they did nothing, they can be considered as indirectly aiding and abetting burglars.
As taxpayers and law-abiding citizens of this territory, you have a right as a victim to have your case investigated properly and to be notified of the results.
To expedite this matter, it seem that the only alternative left is for victims to call on Government House for action in this matter. However, in the meantime whose house will be next? Could it have been avoided?
These are my questions at this time. I believe that I have done my civic duty by advising the people of this territory as to the dilemma we all face with this type of crime.

ACKLEY APPLIES TO PROVIDE LOCAL PHONE SERVICE

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Local entrepreneur Gordon Ackley has applied to the V.I. Telephone Corp. for the right to compete as a local exchange carrier to provide alternative local phone service to V.I. residents and businesses.
If Ackley gets a green light, the competition for local phone customers could drive down prices and improve service.
Citing the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996, Ackley asked Vitelco for five things:
—- The right to resell telephone services.
—- Number portability.
—- Access to Vitelco’s poles and conduits.
—- The right to co-locate equipment.
—- Reciprocal compensation.
Under the Telecom Act, local phone carriers are required to lease their equipment and networks to competitors at wholesale prices.
Ackley met Jan. 12 with Michaele Breton, vice president of marketing for Vitelco, and Emiel Michiels, manager of budget and results, to begin negotiations, which Ackley said could be lengthy.
This is not the first time a company has applied to Vitelco for local exchange carrier status, known as LEC.
In the mid-1990s Windkeeper Inc. attempted to enter the local telephone service market as an LEC.
According to Andrew Rutnik, then chairman of the Public Services Commission, Windkeeper approached the PSC to intervene in the negotiations with Vitelco, which had “dragged on.”
Rutnik said the PSC was about to force arbitration when Windkeeper withdrew its request.
At the time Windkeeper applied for local exchange carrier rights, Vitelco had recently shown a gross revenue of $53 million for fiscal 1995, according to local economist Dr. Richard Moore.
As a local exchange carrier under the Telecom Act, an LEC can provide local telephone service to customers. The changeover to a new local carrier should be “seamless,” according to Ackley.
Part of the agreement between an LEC and an incumbent local exchange carrier — in this case Vitelco — provides for “number portability,” which means customers of the incumbent LEC who want to change to a new local carrier can keep their old phone number.
According to Ackley, the incumbent LEC –Vitelco —- and a would-be LEC —- Ackley Communications —- have nine months to negotiate the terms of the agreement. If they do not reach an agreement by then, the matter is referred to the PSC for arbitration. The PSC has three months to act.
Thereafter, if the interconnection agreement has not been approved, the matter is turned over to the Federal Communications Commission.
The terms of the Telecom Act requiring incumbent local carriers to provide access to LECs are intended to open up competition in the area of local telephone service and to give LECs time to put their own equipment and infrastructure in place.
Vitelco spokesperson Katrina White-Comissiong would say only that the issue was in negotiation and she was not in a position to comment further now.

GOVERNOR PROCLAIMS SCHOOL NURSES WEEK

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Governor Charles W. Turnbull has proclaimed the week of Jan.24-30 as School Nurses Week in celebration of our school nurses who provide high quality patient care to children.

1999 SUMMER FOOD SERVICE

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The Office of Special Nutrition Programs announces that Good Service Management Companies interested in participating in the 1999 Summer Food Service should register with the State Office of Special nutrition by March 15. Call 774-0373 for information.
This program is available to individuals regardless of race, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability.

CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK

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Gov. Charles W. Turnbull has proclaimed the week of Jan.31 through Feb.6, as "Catholic Schools Week' in the Territory in recognition of the efforts and contributions of Catholic Schools in the community.
"I urge the entire community to join the Catholic schools in celebrating education". said the Governor.

LABOR EMPLOYEES CONDUCTED OWN POLL

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Media reports this week about a poll conducted by the Labor Department on candidates for commissioner were the result of employees conducting their own call-in.
When workers heard that two people were being considered for commissioner, they decided to flood the St. Croix office with calls to state their preferences, according to the Daily News.
The two candidates named were Lloyd McAlpin and former Sen. Carol M. Burke.
Government House confirmed that Burke and McAlpin are on a list of names being considered for Labor commissioner.
The Daily News did not report who won the poll.