Construction Underway at Lind Point for National Park Housing, Offices, and Historical Collections

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The drawing presents details of new housing under construction. (Screenshot)

After nearly four years of planning, construction has begun for projects totaling $27 million on 2.8 acres on Lind Point within Virgin Islands National Park, according to Park Superintendent Nigel Fields.

The funding is one of the largest single investments ever made by the National Park Service to the VINP, Fields said.

In early January, J. Benton Construction, LLC, a Virgin Islands company, began site preparation and demolition of the hurricane-ravaged Biosphere Reserve Center at Lind Point.

Construction Underway at Lind Point for National Park Housing, Offices, and Historical Collections.
(Photo by Amy H. Roberts)

Fields said the park has made provisions to keep the trails open and has designated a new parking area for hikers heading from Lind Point to Honeymoon Beach, Cruz Bay, and Caneel Hill.

Plans call for the construction of a new science and resource management center, employee housing, and a facility to contain the park’s artifacts and archives on the north side of Lind Point. Construction is expected to take between 18 and 24 months, Fields said.

Nigel Fields discusses plans for Lind Point construction at an online meeting. (Screenshot)

The project was originally presented to the public and members of the St. John Committee of Coastal Zone Management at a Zoom meeting in August 2020.

Since the project was approved in 2020, construction costs have escalated, but Fields said, “We’ve been able to maintain the key functions and square footage by re-engineering and cutting some costs.” The new construction will total about 15,000 square feet.

Lind Point is part of a hill overlooking Cruz Bay and the Northshore of St. John, a site that could be very exposed if a hurricane came from the northwest, as Hurricane Irma did. However, Fields said the buildings will be one-story tall and are designed to resist winds of more than 200 mph.

The structural integrity is particularly important for the building containing the park’s archaeology lab, archives, and collection of artifacts. “We have confidence in our ability to maintain them here instead of preserving them off-island,” Fields said.

The ground is being prepared at Lind Point for the construction of several new Park Service buildings. (Photo by Amy H. Roberts)

Many of the park’s artifacts were housed in the old Danish warehouse in Cinnamon Bay until that historic structure was destroyed by Hurricane Irma. (The artifacts were removed prior to the storm.) Once construction is completed, the collection of artifacts will be put on display and open to the public at Lind Point. They are now being stored at the Marketplace in Cruz Bay.

Plans for the development also call for the construction of a building for the Division of Resource Management and a dive locker to store equipment. This facility will serve the park’s dive team and others that come to the park to assist with projects and research.

“Having a dedicated space for them will be incredibly helpful,” said Fields.

The third main component of the development is a complex of new housing units totaling about 6,000 square feet

The drawing presents details of new housing under construction. (Screenshot)

Plans call for the construction of one 3-bedroom unit, one 2-bedroom unit, a multiplex containing six bedrooms that can be divided into units of various sizes.

As the construction of the new buildings continues, J. Benton Construction is also undertaking the repair of ten units of park housing on the south side of Lind Point. Fields said that staff members who lived in those units have moved to temporary quarters on St. Thomas. The repairs to the southside housing units should be completed by April or May, he said.

As bulldozers work their way around the construction site, Fields wants to assure the public that measures have been taken to reduce runoff.

“We’ve given a lot of thought to preventing erosion,” he said.

 

 

Construction Underway at Lind Point for National Park Housing, Offices, and Historical Collections

0
The drawing presents details of new housing under construction. (Screenshot)

After nearly four years of planning, construction has begun for projects totaling $27 million on 2.8 acres on Lind Point within Virgin Islands National Park, according to Park Superintendent Nigel Fields.

The funding is one of the largest single investments ever made by the National Park Service to the VINP, Fields said.

In early January, J. Benton Construction, LLC, a Virgin Islands company, began site preparation and demolition of the hurricane-ravaged Biosphere Reserve Center at Lind Point.

Construction Underway at Lind Point for National Park Housing, Offices, and Historical Collections.
(Photo by Amy H. Roberts)

Fields said the park has made provisions to keep the trails open and has designated a new parking area for hikers heading from Lind Point to Honeymoon Beach, Cruz Bay, and Caneel Hill.

Plans call for the construction of a new science and resource management center, employee housing, and a facility to contain the park’s artifacts and archives on the north side of Lind Point. Construction is expected to take between 18 and 24 months, Fields said.

Nigel Fields discusses plans for Lind Point construction at an online meeting. (Screenshot)

The project was originally presented to the public and members of the St. John Committee of Coastal Zone Management at a Zoom meeting in August 2020.

Since the project was approved in 2020, construction costs have escalated, but Fields said, “We’ve been able to maintain the key functions and square footage by re-engineering and cutting some costs.” The new construction will total about 15,000 square feet.

Lind Point is part of a hill overlooking Cruz Bay and the Northshore of St. John, a site that could be very exposed if a hurricane came from the northwest, as Hurricane Irma did. However, Fields said the buildings will be one-story tall and are designed to resist winds of more than 200 mph.

The structural integrity is particularly important for the building containing the park’s archaeology lab, archives, and collection of artifacts. “We have confidence in our ability to maintain them here instead of preserving them off-island,” Fields said.

The ground is being prepared at Lind Point for the construction of several new Park Service buildings. (Photo by Amy H. Roberts)

Many of the park’s artifacts were housed in the old Danish warehouse in Cinnamon Bay until that historic structure was destroyed by Hurricane Irma. (The artifacts were removed prior to the storm.) Once construction is completed, the collection of artifacts will be put on display and open to the public at Lind Point. They are now being stored at the Marketplace in Cruz Bay.

Plans for the development also call for the construction of a building for the Division of Resource Management and a dive locker to store equipment. This facility will serve the park’s dive team and others that come to the park to assist with projects and research.

“Having a dedicated space for them will be incredibly helpful,” said Fields.

The third main component of the development is a complex of new housing units totaling about 6,000 square feet

The drawing presents details of new housing under construction. (Screenshot)

Plans call for the construction of one 3-bedroom unit, one 2-bedroom unit, a multiplex containing six bedrooms that can be divided into units of various sizes.

As the construction of the new buildings continues, J. Benton Construction is also undertaking the repair of ten units of park housing on the south side of Lind Point. Fields said that staff members who lived in those units have moved to temporary quarters on St. Thomas. The repairs to the southside housing units should be completed by April or May, he said.

As bulldozers work their way around the construction site, Fields wants to assure the public that measures have been taken to reduce runoff.

“We’ve given a lot of thought to preventing erosion,” he said.

 

 

John Jackson Denied Bid for Review of Bail Conditions

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John A. Jackson (VIPD photo)
John A. Jackson (VIPD photo)

John Jackson, the onetime Olympic boxer awaiting trial on rape and child pornography charges at a detention facility in Puerto Rico, has been denied a review of his bail conditions and the return of property seized during his arrest.

Jackson filed the motions “pro se,” or representing himself, and on Thursday, District Court Chief Judge Robert Molloy denied both without prejudice and ordered that they be stricken from the record.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a motion on Jan. 6 objecting to Jackson’s pro se efforts, arguing that any matters he wants to raise in court should be filed by his attorney. It further asked the judge to “order the defendant to cease and desist filing pro se motions while he is represented by counsel.”

“The pro se motions filed by the defendant are nonsensical and meritless,” the government wrote in its motion.

Molloy agreed, writing in his order that while criminal defendants have a constitutional right to self-representation, they do not have a right to proceed simultaneously with counsel and pro se.

Jackson, held without bail since Feb. 28, 2019, at the Metropolitan Detention Center Guaynabo in Puerto Rico, was set to stand trial in July but on the day jury selection was to begin, submitted a letter to the court saying he was not satisfied with his counsel from the Federal Public Defender’s Office.

The trial, delayed numerous times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was continued once again while he sought to hire private counsel and in August retained attorney Yohana M. Manning.

“Jackson has not provided any explanation as to why he filed the motions pro se. Moreover, Jackson has not specifically requested to proceed with a ‘hybrid’ representation. Accordingly, the court is without any information to properly consider the merits of allowing Jackson to proceed with representing himself while also having retained counsel,” Molloy wrote.

Federal authorities filed a formal complaint against Jackson in February 2019, accusing him of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl, and later added charges related to alleged assaults against two other minors, known as Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3. He faces charges of production of child pornography, rape, and transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sex acts.

In the rambling and sometimes incoherent motion appealing for a review of his bail conditions, Jackson wrote that one of his alleged victims, whom he identifies by her initials, was known to present herself as over the age of 18 and was arrested in 2021 for working underage at a bar on Brookman Road on St. Thomas.

“Since defendant Jackson been detained circumstances have change as to the alleged name victim directly as in claims to defendant Jackson’s averment in claim pleading his innocent of any knowledge of the name victim [initials] age,” reads one sentence.

“Also she have been assumed known to coworker at the bar area to be an adult partying out at late nights and having many other multiple adult romantic relationship with adult Taxi driver, and there is school mates attending the same school in the year of the alleged charge incident, willingly to testify as to [initials] known misconduct posing as an young lady over the age of 18 years old and a college student, this consider to newly evidence,” Jackson wrote in his pro se motion.

And despite the trial being delayed when he requested new counsel, Jackson wrote at the end of his motion that his indictment should be dismissed because “over 34 months has now elapsed as to 180 days requirement under Speedy Trial Act has been violated as at a matter of statutes under 18 U.S.C. 3161 Speedy Trial Act.”

In his motion concerning property seized when police executed a search warrant at his St. Thomas home, Jackson requested the return of bed sheets, pillows, and his cell phone, claiming authorities had no right to take them or to search his phone.

“Defendant Jackson further avers the search warrant issued as to electronic devices and items seized exist no evidence attributing to any criminal elements as to the charge indictment also in light as to matter of law opening and search the device defendant Jackson cell phone without obtaining a search warrant with permission to go into the electronic device the cell phone on the day of his arrest where he was taken from the public street at his sons school by excessive arm federal agents drove to his residence under gunpoint by excessive force place in the middle of his residence in front his family and a search beyond the court-issued search warrant amounts to be in violations of the 4th, 8th and 14th Amendment U.S. Constitution,” reads the motion, which goes on to cite case law.

“Wherefore Defendant John Jackson, prayers this motion is granted and or a hearing is ordered as to the claims raise under violation of 4th Amendment U.S. Constitution,” the motion concluded.

Jackson, who represented the U.S. Virgin Islands in boxing at the 2012 Beijing Olympics and had a promising professional career, is currently set to stand trial on Feb. 14 in District Court on St. Thomas.

IFB022OAGC22(C)

DEPARTMENT OF PROPERTY AND PROCUREMENT
Government of the Virgin Islands

Invitation for Bid No:  IFB022OAGC22(C)

Pursuant to Title 31, Chapter 23, Section 236 of the Virgin Islands Code, the Government of the Virgin Islands Department of Property  and Procurement on behalf of the Office of the Adjutant General is requesting bids from qualified Contractors to furnish all labor, tools, equipment, machinery and supplies necessary for Repair/Replace Walkway, Roadway, and Exterior Lights at the Bethlehem Military Compound, St. Croix, USVI

Bids will be received by the Department of Property and Procurement, Division of Procurement at:

Electronic Submission ebids_proposals@dpp.vi.gov

COST PER SET:   $100.00 NON-REFUNDABLE

Pre-Bid Conference: Thursday, January 27, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. Atlantic Standard Time via Microsoft Teams.

The bids will be received by way of electronic submission no later than Tuesday, February 8, 2022  at 10:00 a.m. Atlantic Standard Time, and publicly open thereafter on Tuesday, February 8, 2022 at 3:00 p.m. Atlantic Standard Time.

Documents may be obtained from the Department of Property & Procurement at the above address or at http://dpp.vi.gov. For information please contact Mr. Boyd A. McFarlane at (340) 773-1561 ext. 4420, boyd.mcfarlane@dpp.vi.gov or Ms. Lisa M. Alejandro at (340) 774-0828 ext. 4315, lisa.alejandro@dpp.vi.gov.

Anthony D. Thomas
Commissioner 

Mexican Man on St. Thomas Faces Deportation For Third Time

Cyril E. King Airport (Source file photo)

A man was under home arrest in the Virgin Islands Friday after federal prosecutors charged him with being in the U.S. illegally — the fifth time he’s been apprehended in the United States and potentially his third deportation, officials said.

Luis Enrique De Jesus Colin Ochoa, a 25-year-old Mexican citizen, was arrested at Cyril E. King Airport as he tried to board a Tuesday afternoon flight to Charlotte, North Carolina. United States Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert’s office alleged he was in the United States illegally.

Agents at the Customs and Border Protection checkpoint noted Ochoa’s Mexican passport did contain a U.S. visa. Agents at a secondary inspection point conducted a records check and found Ochoa had no valid visa on file and had no pending application for a visa to enter or remain in the United States. They also discovered Ochoa has been apprehended at least four previous times and had been deported after federal Orders of Removal on May 16, 2018, and Jan. 4, 2019, prosecutors said.

Federal judge Ruth Miller ordered Ochoa to secure 10 percent of a $25,000 bond and released him to home incarceration — although the District Attorney’s Office was not able to say where in the territory that was.

Crucian Sentenced to 13.6 years for Violent Robbery

Gretchen C. F. Shappert, United States Attorney for the USVI (File photo)
Gretchen C. F. Shappert, United States Attorney for the USVI (File photo)

A federal judge has sentenced a St. Croix man to more than 13-and-a-half years in prison for his role in a home-invasion robbery in which he terrorized a couple for $200 and some electronics, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert announced Friday.

Chriss Cepeda was 21 when police say he and two other men broke into a couple’s home in Estate Rust Op on St. Croix’s north shore early Sept. 10, 2017. They beat and threatened to kill the man and woman and then kidnapped them at gunpoint in their Toyota Tacoma. Cepeda and accomplices made off with the truck, $200 in cash, two iPhones, and an iPad.

On Thursday, District Court Judge Wilma A. Lewis sentenced Cepeda, now 25, to seven years for the use of a firearm during a violent crime and 80 months — six-and-a-half years — for carjacking. Cepeda must also pay a $1,000 fine, a $200 administrative fee and submit to three years of supervised release after prison. Lewis also ordered him to pay monetary restitution to his victims.

He had faced a potential total of 87 years for his crimes, which initially also included home invasion, burglary, and assault. Cepeda pleaded guilty on Nov. 20, 2020, and was originally scheduled to be sentenced on March 24, 2021.

The case was investigated by V.I.P.D. and the F.B.I. and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel H. Huston.

Virgin Islands Lottery Returns to Normal Working Hours

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Executive Director Raymond J. Williams advises the public that effective Monday, Jan. 24, all Virgin Islands Lottery Offices will resume normal Sales Office hours from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and all other operations from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily Monday through Friday.

Beach Advisory for January 17-21

Buccaneer Beach on St. Croix (Source file photo)

The Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) announces that the Beach Water Quality Monitoring Program, which evaluates weekly water quality at popular swimming beaches throughout the territory by sampling for enterococci bacteria and turbidity, which is a measure of water clarity, advises the public of the following:

DPNR performed water quality analysis at 28 designated beaches throughout the territory during the week of Jan. 17 – Jan. 21, 2022. The following beaches meet water quality standards and are considered safe for swimming and fishing:

St. Croix

Stony Ground

Pelican Cove (Comorant)

Buccaneer

Dorsch Beach

Princess (Condo Row)

Shoy’s

Frederiksted Public Beach

Protestant Cay

Chenay Bay

Rainbow Beach

New Fort (Fort Louise Augusta)

Cramer’s Park

Cane Bay

Ha’ penny Beach

St. Thomas

Lindbergh Bay

Sapphire Beach

Lindqvist Beach

Brewers Bay

Vessup Bay

Coki Point

Magens Bay

Secret Harbor

Bluebeard’s Beach

Frenchman’s Bay

Hull Bay

Bolongo Bay

Water Island

Honeymoon Beach

The following beach does not meet water quality standards because it exceeds the established enterococci bacteria threshold and therefore is not considered safe for swimming or fishing:

Water Bay on St. Thomas.

Please note: Samples were not collected on St. John as well as the following beaches:

Gentle Winds and Grapetree Bay on St. Croix

Morningstar and Limetree Bay on St. Thomas

Therefore, the water quality at these beaches is unknown.

All persons should be aware that storm water runoff may also contain contaminants or pollutants harmful to human health and therefore should avoid areas of storm water runoff (i.e., guts, puddles and drainage basins) or any area that appears discolored or has foul odors. DPNR will continue to monitor impacted areas and waters.

For additional information regarding water quality, call the Division of Environmental Protection at 773-1082 on St. Croix or 774-3320 on St. Thomas.

Cruz M. Santana Sr. Dies at 70

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Cruz M. Santana Sr.

Cruz M. Santana Sr., also known as “Cruzito,” of Estate Mon Bijou, died on Jan. 15. He was 70 years old.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Maria Belen Murray; father, Cruz Santana; and stepfather, Victor Murray Sr.

He is survived by his wife, Vilma L. Santana; daughters: Aymee Santana, Shemara “Chomy” Santana and Jessica Santana; son, Cruz M. Santana Jr.; grandchildren: Said Wallace, Aymenys Pizarro, Shadi and Shaheen Rahahleh, Jeida Sosa, Jovany Saldaña, Nashali and Zuriel Santana; and great-grandchildren: Rafael “Shadeen” Batista and Sheldon Francis Jr.

He is also survived by sisters: Omayra Murray, Nora Frachette, Gisela Rodriguez and Marilou Santana; brothers: Victor Murray Jr., Jose Escobar and Ivan Santana; mother-in-law, Leonor Ayala; and and nieces: Tashira, Leesa, Aneliz, Yimarie, Lysha, Nicole, Kimberly, Maria, Daisy, Kathy, Iny, Grisel, Annisa, Lila, Maria, Tatiana, Melina, Melanie and Sheala.

More survivors are nephews: Frankie, Sonny, Gregory, Nick, Kevin, Robert, Victor, Shawaki, Julian, Isaiah, Raheem, Victor, Enrico, Jens, Daemond, Jose, Masai and Jahsamie; aunts: Susana, Celina and Carmela Santana; uncles: Marcos Mojica and Felix Osorio; son-in-law, Jeffrey Saldaña; brothers-in-law: Jaime, Luis Raul, Francisco, Claudio, Carlos, Santos, Joel and Garibaldi Encarnacion; and sisters-in-law: Elizabeth, Josefina, Monica, Felisa, Marisol, Hermeian and Joanne.

Other survivors include special friends: Rosa Puello, Inno, Wilma, Ms. Williams, the Bermudez family, the Benitez family, Betty Vidal, Lisin Drew, the Clarke family, the Acoy family, the Murray family, Sen. Franklin “Frankie” Johnson, the Bureau of Corrections family, the St. Croix District Court family, the Sosa family, the Saldana family, the Figueroa family and the Ledesma family; as well as other relatives and friends too numerous to mention.

Tributes will begin at 10 a.m., followed by a funeral service at 10:30 a.m., Friday, Jan. 28, at Holy Cross Catholic Church. Interment will be at Kingshill Cemetery Veterans Section.

Department of Health Confirms the Ninety-Fifth Death Related to COVID-19

After further investigation and notification of next of kin, it has been confirmed that a 67-year-old male from St. Thomas has died. According to the Virgin Islands Department of Health, this is the territory’s 95th death related to COVID-19.

The DOH continues to work to slow the spread of COVID-19 by encouraging the community to continue practicing social distancing, wearing a mask when in the company of others outside of those in your household, cleaning frequently used areas thoroughly, and washing your hands often with soap and warm water.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine can prevent severe illness and death. To schedule an
appointment, please call (340) 777-8227 or visit covid19usvi.com/vaccines. Walk-ins are also accepted at our Community Vaccination Centers.

Vaccinations are free and available across the territory.

St. Croix’s Community Vaccination Center is located at the Nissan Center on St. Croix, which is in La Grande Princesse, adjacent to the Honda Dealership and The Paint Shop, on the same side of the street as Food Town.

On St. Thomas, the Community Vaccination Center is located at the Community Health Clinic on the 2nd floor at the Schneider Regional Medical Center.

To report a suspected case of COVID-19, please call (340) 712-6299 or (340) 776-1519. If you have a medical emergency, call 911. For more information, visit covid19usvi.com. For COVID- 19 updates, text COVID19USVI to 888777.