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Bruce Flamon, an independent taxi driver, said he thinks mandating credit card payment availability on taxis as government over reach. (Photo by Barry Leerdam for the V.I. Legislature)

Senate Panel OKs Cab Credit Card Bill Over Driver Opposition

Sen. Janelle Sarauw, chair of the Committee on Rules and Judiciary, said she knew a bill requiring taxi drivers to implement an electronic monetary payment system would be contentious.
EPA regional administrator Peter Lopez, Carmen Perez, director of the Caribbean Environmental Protection Division and Jose Font, EPA deputy director for the region, talk with media. (Susan Ellis photo)

EPA Reaffirms Commitment to V.I.

Environmental Protection Agency officials from New York and Puerto Rico visited the U.S. Virgin Islands last week and met with local officials and members of the media at the FEMA office to confirm the agency’s support in protecting the territory's public water, landfills and air quality.
The lift station generator awaits repair so that it can pump sewage that's fouling the neighborhood.

Overflowing Sewage Plagues Pond Mouth Area of Cruz Bay

At 4 a.m. Thursday morning Sylvia Kudirka, a resident of Pond Mouth in Cruz Bay, was jolted awake by an all-too-familiar noxious odor – the stench of raw sewage. As she has done many times in the past several months, Kudirka went outside to confirm that the source of the smell was a nearby manhole, one of four, which was overflowing with sewage.
DLCA Nominee Richard Evangelista takes the oath before testifying at Thursday’s Senate Rules Committee hearing. (Photo by Barry Leerdam for the V.I. Legislature)

DLCA Nominee Vows Ramped-Up Consumer Protection, Faster Licensing

Richard Evangelista, Gov. Albert Bryan’s nominee to lead the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs, told lawmakers Thursday his appointment signaled a new day for businesses and consumers, pledging a strengthened consumer protection division, a more efficient license application process and year-round compliance monitoring.
Festival royalty, front row, from left: Lemuel Liburd, 2018 Festival Princess A’mrii Jones, and Elizabeth Farrell. Back row, from left: Je’Nique Sylvester, Zakiyah Gregoire, 2018 Festival Queen Chenijah Dawson, Tamyra Bartlette and Lenisha Richards.

2019 St. John Festival Royalty Take the Stage Saturday

Five young women and one young man will participate in the 2019 St. John Festival Royalty Selection Pageant beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday in the lot of the old Lumberyard in Cruz Bay.
Motorists document damage to their vehicles in the St. John Marketplace parking lot on Wednesday. (Judi Shimel photo)

Vandalism Arrest Spotlights STT Jail’s Need for Mental Health Care

The recent mass destruction of car windows in a St. John parking lot provides a painful illustration of a protracted dispute between the American Civil Liberties Union and the USVI government. That dispute cites ongoing deficiencies at the St. Thomas jail.
Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital in March 2018. (Bill Kossler photo)

JFL Reopening Could Be Delayed Until May 2020

Dyma B. Williams, acting chief executive officer of the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital, and her staff told Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. and members of his executive team Wednesday that the projected opening date of the modular replacement for the hurricane-damaged hospital may have to be pushed back to May 2020. Work on the physical structure of the modular hospital to take the place of the facility is progressing, according to a news release from the hospital. But the scheduled opening may be delayed due to the prior hospital administration’s failure to procure the furnishings, fixtures and medical equipment, according to the current hospital administration. The current administration of the hospital has been working since late 2018 to secure those needs JFL has requested Bryan’s assistance in utilizing the territory’s resources to expedite this process. Bryan expressed his support for the hospital's request, the news release said. "We have to move to secure the best healthcare access we can as quickly as we can," Bryan said. "We recognize the importance and value of supporting access to healthcare for all Virgin Islanders. We support ...  Williams in stabilizing the infrastructure of the hospital and completing these projects as soon as possible." Bryan also said his administration is lobbying to address the 100 percent Medicaid funding for the territory, which expires in September. Members of his administration were in Washington D.C. Thursday testifying before Congress for the Medicaid funding. Due to the delays in getting the modular hospital online, JFL staff has executed temporary repairs on the existing hospital to enhance the quality of the patient and employee experience. With the support of the Bryan Administration, JFL intends to utilize Public Finance Authority funds allocated by the Legislature for capital improvements to complete repairs. These include temporary repair or replacement of air handlers damaged in the storm and repairs to the air handler room and the electrical motor control room, which were deferred initially in anticipation of the demolition of the hospital. “The continued collaboration and support of the administration is essential to the success of the hospital during this extended recovery period," Williams said. "We are working diligently to ensure that our current facility meets the healthcare needs of our community, until we transfer to the temporary modular hospital.”
Community members at Tuesday's watershed meeting discuss areas that need remediation.

Meeting Focuses on Watershed Protection

When more than 40 residents of Coral Bay gathered Tuesday night for a meeting hosted by the Coral Bay Community Council, they were given maps of their local area and then asked to break into small groups.

V.I. Delegate on Front Page of New York Times

Delegate Stacey Plaskett's (D-V.I.) photo was front and center Thursday, above the fold of the front page of the New York Times, the paper of record for the United States. While it is common for members of Congress to appear in national newspapers, it is not common for the nonvoting delegate of the U.S. Virgin Islands to be featured so prominently. The photo was of Plaskett at the first House of Representatives hearing on a bill to study reparations for the descendants of Africans enslaved in the United States. The bill was first introduced in 1989 but its first hearing was Wednesday.
Gov. Albert Bryan testifies before the House Energy Committee earlier this year. (Photo supplied by Government House)

V.I. Health Officials to Testify in D.C. on Medicaid

Administration officials from the Department of Human Services will testify Thursday before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in Washington D.C., continuing the administration’s push for congressional action to prevent the U.S. Virgin Islands and other insular territories from falling off the Medicaid "fiscal cliff."

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