Department of Health Updates Residents On Legionella Bacteria Found in Both Districts

Feb. 7, 2022

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — During the Government House weekly briefing on Monday, the Virgin Islands Department of Health gave an update on cases of Legionella bacteria and advised residents how they can avoid illness caused by the bacteria, which can cause severe pneumonia.

Deputy Commissioner of Health Reuben Molloy said there was one instance of Legionella bacteria on St. Croix and one on St. Thomas. Legionella can cause flu-like symptoms that can develop into severe pneumonia, called Legionnaire’s Disease, if a Legionella illness is not diagnosed and treated quickly, but cases typically are isolated, he said

Symptoms can include cough, muscle aches, shortness of breath, headache and fever.

Legionella is typically found in warm water environments, such as cisterns, hot tubs or commercial air conditioning systems that are cooled by water, and it is contracted by inhaling water vapor with Legionella bacteria in it and is not contracted by ingesting water.

It is not an airborne illness and can not be passed between individuals. Deputy Director Molloy said residents and businesses can avoid the bacteria by having their cisterns, hot tubs and air conditioning systems routinely cleaned.

Bill-signing ceremony

Governor Albert Bryan Jr. is scheduled to sign the historic legislation that allows the Government of the Virgin Islands (GVI) to refinance its Rum Cover-Over Matching Fund Bonds and use the savings from the more favorable terms to stabilize the Government Employees’ Retirement System (GERS) and immediately return it to solvency for at least 30 years.

The Governor will sign the bill at 9:30 a.m. at the newly refurbished Government House on St. Thomas, and it can watched live online at the Government House page at facebook.com/GovernmentHouseUSVI or on Channel 27 for Viya subscribers.

The legislation was a collaborative effort between the Governor’s Executive Team, the 34th Legislature, the GERS board and the GERS actuary, Segal and Company, and the Senate passed it unanimously 14-0. The Governor’s Executive Team already has begun the work that will allow the Bryan-Roach Administration to secure the bonds and make them available to investors on the bond market.

$250 Vaccine Incentive for Children

The VI Youth $250 Gift Card Giveaway begins on February 14 and runs through Friday, March 18. Any child residing in the US Virgin Islands between the ages of 5 and 17 who receives the second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines between by March 18, will receive a $250 gift card at the time you receive your second dose.

Children who receive only the first dose by that deadline are not eligible.

“We also want to thank those parents who trusted the science and did not hesitate to get their children vaccinated as soon as the COVID-19 vaccines became available for their young ones,” Government House Communications Director Richard Motta Jr. said. “Those children who have already been fully vaccinated before today will also receive a $250 Visa gift card.”

Travel restrictions

Director Motta reminded residents that the USVI has reverted back to its pre-Omicron protocols for travelers arriving into the Territory, and they must present a negative test result received with 5 days of arrival or have proof of being fully vaccinated in the USVI.

 

Watch:Department of Health Updates Residents On Legionella Bacteria Found in Both Districts

Governor Bryan Issues Proclamation Designating International Day for the World’s Indigenous People in the Virgin Islands

August 5, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. has issued a proclamation designating August 9, 2021, in the Territory as International Day for the World’s Indigenous People, which is an occasion for Virgin Islanders of Indigenous Amerindian Caribbean Descent to reaffirm their patriotic ties to the original people of the Caribbean and the United States, their cultural ties with indigenous people, and their traditions and heritage with their kith and kin throughout the Caribbean, Americas and the world.

The United Nations created the annual commemorative day as UN Resolution 49/214 in 1994 and strengthened the resolution in 2007 with the creation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People social contract. The theme for this year’s international celebration is “Leaving No One Behind: Indigenous Peoples and the call for a new social contract.”

“All citizens of the diverse ethnic and cultural communities in the Territory are invited to acknowledge and celebrate the vital individual, community and institutional contributions of Indigenous Caribbean Amerindians and all Indigenous people of the world to the economic, political, cultural, scientific, educational, spiritual and religious life of the Territory,” Governor Bryan said.

“Indigenous Amerindian people of the Caribbean have contributed to the national tradition of every aspect of our society, from agriculture and science to business and the arts,” the Governor said. “As the international community celebrates and commemorates the UN’s International Day for the World’s Indigenous People, we recognize the need to honor their history, culture and essential roles within the American and Virgin Islands heritage narratives.”

Governor Bryan Meets with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland

June 28, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. on Thursday met virtually with new Office of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who awarded the Territory $3.4 million and assured the Governor that the Office of Insular Affairs OIA) will work with the Government of the Virgin Islands in its discussions with the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) about Limetree Bay and on streamlining the fiscal processes between the GVI and the U.S. Treasury.

Of the $3,417,256 in discretionary grants awarded by Secretary Haaland, $2,560,260 is distributed through OIA’s Technical Assistance Program (TAP) and $856,996 is awarded through OIA’s Maintenance Assistance Program (MAP).

The TAP funding is for the following projects:

• $630,872 to the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency for its 911 Emergency Communications Center Phone System Upgrade Project • $375,000 to the Department of Finance for its Electronic Payment Process Solution • $350,000 to the Bureau of Information Technology for its Cybersecurity Vulnerability Prevention Project • $122,000 to the V.I. Fire Service for the procurement of two Cascade Units • $10,000 to the Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation to hire a temporary capacity building grant writer

In addition, OIA is also awarding TAP funding to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions for the following projects:

• $495,000 to the University of the Virgin Islands for the UVI Business Innovation Center • $250,000 to UVI for the Capacity Building in the US Virgin Islands to Increase Constitutional Development and Self-Determination Project • $286,310 to the V.I. Centre for Architecture, Crafts and Build Heritage Inc. for its Project Development Conference for Design, Construction and Curriculum Project • $41,079 to Beyond Visions, Inc. for its Capacity Building and Technical Assistance Virtual Workshops Project

MAP funding is being awarded to the GVI for the following projects:

• $267,996 to the V.I. Waste Management Authority for the procurement of mini-excavators and utility pickup trucks • $208,000 to the V.I. Water and Power Authority for the procurement of a zero turn mower and tractor mower and trailer • $206,000 to WAPA for the procurement of a Mack dump truck • $175,000 to the Bureau of Information Technology for its Data Center Maintenance Management Solution Project.

Governor Bryan Statement on Limetree Refinery Announcement To Layoff 271 Workers, Suspend Plans to Restart Refinery Operations

June 22, 2021.

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS— Governor Albert Bryan Jr. issued the following statement concerning Limetree Bay Refining’s announcement to suspend the restart of refinery operations and layoff 271 employees:

“Our administration continues to maintain its position of supporting a restart in refinery operations that fully considers the health and safety of St. Croix residents and the employees within the refinery, and we have worked hard with the refinery, its investors, and the EPA to avoid this outcome.

“Unfortunately, recent events have culminated in the refinery representing that they cannot maintain the current workforce until there is greater certainty regarding the timing of their restart.

“As a former Labor Commissioner during the closure of the HOVENSA Refinery, I witnessed firsthand the anxiety and economic turmoil experienced by the families affected, and I remain hopeful that we can arrive at a quick resolution to the issues standing in the way of the safe restart of the refinery for their sake and for that of the vendors who directly and indirectly benefit from the refinery.

“This announcement is not something our administration wanted or hoped for, but it is certainly something for which we are prepared. Our Department of Labor has already activated its rapid response teams to help affected workers transition to new employment and or connect them with unemployment benefits.”

“We always knew the refinery could not continue to be the sole lynchpin of our private sector industry and are continuing the work to diversify our private sector through investments in the marine industry, a 20-year economic development strategic plan, and the establishment of a catalyst fund to support small businesses through loans, grants, and credit-backing.”

 

Department of Human Services Addresses Confirmed COVID-19 Positive and Closes Knud Hansen Complex

June 17, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS), today confirmed that it is immediately closing the Knud Hansen Complex in St. Thomas as a staff member has tested positive for COVID-19. DHS is currently working with the Virgin Islands Department of Health Division of Epidemiology to enurse contact tracing and staff members have been referred to Pop-Up testing sites. The building will be closed on both Wednesday, June 16 and Thursday, June 17, 2021 in order to activate COVID-19 mitigation protocols.

In an abundance of caution, while DHS cleans the facility and works with the Department of Health on contact tracing, the Knud Hansen facility will remain closed. All other DHS offices will continue their normal operations. Employees that are identified as PUIs by the DOH must produce a COVID19 negative test before returning to work.

 

V.I. Fire Service Pays Retro Salary Increases Owed from 2019 Collective Bargaining Agreements

June 17, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. announced that raises and salary increases that were owed to Virgin Islands Fire Service (VIFS) personnel from the 2019 Collective Bargaining Agreement that were delayed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic have been paid to those employees.

VIFS paid out $353,766 in retro payments to 138 members in both districts – $204,447 to 95 members in the St. Thomas-St. John District and $149,318 to 43 members in the St. Croix District. Notices of Personnel Action (NOPAs) were processed effective October 1, 2019, for unionized officers and October 1, 2020, for unionized supervisors, and retroactive wages have been paid for all executed NOPAs.

“I want to thank our dedicated Fire Service personnel for their patience while we worked to fulfill the terms of the collective bargaining agreements,” Fire Service Director Daryl George Sr. said. “I also want to express my gratitude to the staff for their great work and for the excellent level of service they maintain on behalf of the community.”

Governor Bryan also thanked the V.I. Fire Service personnel for their patience and their dedication.

“Since the Bryan-Roach Administration took office, we have been working on stabilizing government, restoring the public’s trust and prioritizing the Territory’s recovery. We’re proud now to be in a position to make good on many long-standing obligations of the Virgin Islands government,” Governor Bryan said. “Our first responders work hard day in and day out and they deserve to be duly compensated. While we are proud to be in this position, we still have work to do and plan to continue fulfilling the other obligations and collective bargaining agreements still pending.”

NOPAs still are pending for 25 individuals and seven retirees promoted after October 1, 2019, and October 1, 2020.

For employees who received an action – such as a promotion, career incentive, certification, transfer within the department, etc. – prior to the implementation of the negotiated increase, there are additional steps that must be completed prior to the effective salary increase.

Governor Bryan Expands Vaccine Incentive Program By Adding a Cash Drawing for School-Based Personnel

June 15, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — During the Government House weekly press briefing on Monday, Government House Communications Director Richard Motta Jr. said that Governor Albert Bryan Jr. has expanded his vaccination incentive lottery program by adding a drawing for school-based personnel in public, private and parochial schools.

In addition to the general vaccination drawing for $100,000 for 10 weeks open to all residents, the Government of the Virgin Islands GVI) will also sponsor a drawing limited to employees who work in the Territory’s Education system and will feature three cash prizes in each district: $25,000 for 1st place; $10,00 for 2nd place and $5,000 for 3rd place.

The special drawing will take place on August 9 and is open to all school-based personnel who have a work station in one of the Territory’s schools – including principals, teachers, guidance counselors, cafeteria workers and school monitors – as well as all school bus drivers.

Director Motta said the additional drawing is in preparation for the 2021-2022 school year to be 100% in-class education.

“We continue to encourage every eligible member of our community to go out and get vaccinated, which is truly our best shot at beating the virus,” Director Motta said. “In order to preserve the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students and to ensure that our school year gets.

Unlike the previously announced weekly general drawing, school personnel who want to participate must register so the Virgin Islands Department of Health can verify eligibility. Registration details will be announced in the upcoming days.

Additionally, as part of this back-to-school effort, the GVI will also be providing additional incentives for minors who get vaccinated prior to the start of the school year and details for that program also will be announced.

“Again, this opportunity for the special drawing is extended to those who have already been vaccinated and all eligible individuals who become fully vaccinated before the drawing date,” Director Motta said.

USVI 2021 Technology Summit

University of the Virgin Islands President David Hall and William Adams of Microsoft provided information about this week’s USVI 2021 Technology Summit, which is a five-day event to help shape the future of technology and access to technology in the Territory.

“As you are aware, Governor Bryan has led the charge to digitize the government and improve the efficiency of government services through the use of technology. We are glad that Microsoft and UVI have partnered with the governor in this endeavor and are happy to host this important 5-day summit,” Director Motta said.

President Hall said UVI will use the former West Bay supermarket on St. Thomas, which UVI has acquired, to create an Innovation Center where UVI students can get firsthand experience using technology. A similar facility also is planned for UVI’s St. Croix campus.

“The focus of the Tech Summit is to benefit from the insight, power and years of experience of the leading technology company in the nation, Microsoft, and to use that resource as a way to improve governmental processes,” President Hall said. “Throughout the week, we will be hearing from the leaders of various agencies about the challenges that they face and how, through technology, those challenges can be addressed.”

Governor Bryan Hosts Royal Caribbean Group for the Fourth USVI Community Business Forum

June 10, 2021.

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — The Office of the Governor and Royal Caribbean Group will host the fourth session of the USVI Community Business Forum series which will take a closer look at the cruise giant’s expected return to the territory this summer.

The USVI Community Business Forum IV is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., on Wednesday June 16, 2021. The session will be held virtually via Zoom and can also be viewed Live on Facebook.com/GovernmentHouseUSVI.

To get the Zoom link, visit www.vi.gov/cbf/ or for more information call 340-774-0001. Virgin Islands business owners, entrepreneurs and anyone interested in starting a business directly or indirectly related to the tourism or hospitality industry are encouraged to attend and participate.

This month’s forum will feature Jayne Halcomb, Royal Caribbean Group’s Director of Business and Destination Development – Caribbean and the Americas and Elisa Shen, Associate Vice President of Onboard Revenue & Hotel Operations for Royal Caribbean International, along with VI Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion and the Office of the Governor’s Territorial ADA Coordinator, Julien Henley.

“We are truly excited about part four of the Community Business Forum,” said David Bornn, Chief Legal Counsel to Governor Albert Bryan Jr., who is facilitating the organization of the event. “Royal Caribbean Group has participated in two of our previous events, and this time we anticipate much more detailed information about their expected return to the US Virgin Islands – both St. Thomas and St. Croix – this summer.

“The Bryan-Roach Administration has been undertaking these Forums to ensure that our local businesses are ready for the return of cruise guests and to also have general business development information to help them reset and rebuild after COVID-19 Pandemic,” he said.

The Center for Disease Control recently lifted its No-Sail Order which was imposed in March of 2020. The cruise lines have had to meet certain stringent criteria to resume sailing and to prevent any future outbreaks on the ships. The CBF series is an initiative of the Office of the Governor, the VI Economic Development Authority and the VI Department of Tourism, in partnership with Royal Caribbean, to provide business owners with the tools and resources they need to adapt, innovate, and embrace technology to rebuild the VI economy.

“It has been more than a year since our last cruise ship call, and that has certainly taken a toll on our tourism industry,” Governor Bryan said. “We are happy to see Royal Caribbean return after such a prolonged absence, but we also have to be ready to receive cruise passengers while maintaining our health guidelines. I’m urging business owners, especially those who work closely with our guests such as taxi drivers and tour operators, to be a part of this conversation.”

The CBF series was launched in December 2020 and focuses on overall economic and workforce development in the USVI. All of the information presented in the forums are available at www.vi.gov/cbf.

Governor Bryan Issues Statement in Response to President Biden's Support for Parity in U.S. Territories

.June 9, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. on Wednesday issued a statement in response to President Biden saying U.S. Territories should be on equal footing with states regarding federal programs.

President Biden said the U.S. Justice Department’s defense of continued discrimination against residents of U.S. Territories in federal programs is inconsistent with his Administration’s policies and values, and he called on Congress to amend the existing laws.

“As I’ve said before, there can be no second-class citizens in the United States of America. My administration will work with members of Congress to make these legislative fixes a reality,” President Biden said.

Governor Bryan on Wednesday praised the Biden Administration’s firm commitment toward achieving parity between the U.S. Territories and states in all federal programs.

“I commend and thank President Biden for his acknowledgement that all the U.S. Territories are not treated at the same level as the states when it comes to federal assistance,” Governor Bryan said. “The President’s call for Congress to move legislation to achieve parity for the territories supports our long-standing lobbying efforts in Washington toward this same goal.

“Achieving parity in federal programs that are critical to the U.S. Virgin Islands is of paramount importance, and President Biden’s acknowledgment that there is an imbalance between the states and territories brings the promise of achieving that equality and is much welcomed,” the Governor said.

President Biden’s statement comes after a review that was ordered in September under President Trump of United States v. Vaello Madero, a 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that the denial of SSI benefits to residents of Puerto Rico is unconstitutional.

The court granted review, and the Justice Department filed a brief Monday before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Congress has the power to deny otherwise eligible U.S. citizens in the territories access to Supplemental Security Income benefits based solely on where they happen to live,” the Justice Department brief said.

“The Department of Justice has a long-standing practice of defending the constitutionality of federal statutes, regardless of policy preferences. This practice is critical to the Department’s mission of preserving the rule of law,” President Biden said.

Governor Bryan Asks Florida Governor DeSantis to Reconsider Law Blocking Cruise Ships from Requiring Proof of Vaccination

June 7, 2021 .

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr.sent a letter on Monday to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis asking him to reconsider legislation that bans cruise ships embarking from Florida ports from requiring proof of vaccination, an action that Governor Bryan said contradicts the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines and would stifle the restart of the cruise industry.

Also on Monday, Governor Bryan sent a separate letter to CARICOM Chairman and Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves asking for support from the Caribbean Region in finding the path forward to restarting the cruise industry in as safe a way as possible.

“I respect your commitment to health and civil liberties and write to ask you to reconsider the measure in the Florida legislation standing in the way of cruises sailing from the state with vaccine requirements,” Governor Bryan wrote in his letter to Governor DeSantis. “Florida, the United States Virgin Islands and the Caribbean region—our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”

In his letter to Governor DeSantis, Governor Bryan also noted that Florida is the nucleus and biggest embarkation point for cruises in the United States and that Florida is home to the headquarters and key infrastructure of major cruise lines.

“If nothing else, grant an exemption to cruise lines that have destinations in the Caribbean. This will be a big win for the people of the Caribbean and the Caribbean expatriates that live in your state,” Governor Bryan wrote. “It is my hope that you will reconsider and move in the same direction. I am committed to working with you to find an agreeable path forward.”

In his letter to Chairman Gonsalves, Governor Bryan asked that CARICOM support his initiative to restart the cruise industry vital to island economies.

The Governor also noted that most of the Caribbean islands have had issues with ensuring that visitors are duly vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus because of difficulties obtaining the vaccine.

“St. Thomas, one of the most popular ports of call for cruises in the Caribbean, is in the direct line of fire, alongside the other port-of-call destinations,” Governor Bryan wrote regarding the Florida law banning proof of vaccination. “The COVID-19 pandemic has hammered the world. The cruise lines want to operate out of Florida, and they want to do so safely.”

 

Police Investigating Fatal Pedestrian Auto Accident

June 7, 2021.

ST. THOMAS, USVI – On June 6, at around 10 p.m., officers responded to a report of an apparent hit-and-run of a pedestrian on Brookman Road.

The investigation revealed the pedestrian was walking across Brookman Road heading east, when a maroon Acura MDX traveling north on the road struck the pedestrian. The driver of the vehicle did not stop after the collision, as required by law. The pedestrian was transported to the Roy Lester Schneider Regional Medical Center via ambulance for treatment, but succumbed to his injuries a short time later. The pedestrian was identified by next of kin as 37-year-old Royson Jn Baptiste.

Officers are actively searching for the driver of the maroon Acura MDX. If you have any information that can assist officers in locating the vehicle, please call 911 or the VIPD at (340) 774-2211. Remember, if you see something, say something.

Watch:Governor Bryan Announces Agreement with VIGL to Begin Reconstruction of Randall “Doc” James Horse Track

Governor Bryan Announces Agreement with VIGL to Begin Reconstruction of Randall “Doc” James Horse Track

June 2, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. signed an agreement on Wednesday, June 2, between the Government of the Virgin Islands (GVI) and VIGL Operations, LLC that will allow reconstruction of the Randall “Doc” James Racetrack on St. Croix to begin immediately while negotiations between the GVI and Southland Gaming continue over the operation of the Clinton E. Phipps Racetrack on St. Thomas.

The Governor said the agreement for the Doc James Racetrack has been separated from the original agreement to manage both tracks so work on the St. Croix facility can begin as quickly as possible; however, both tracks will operate separately under a unified horse racing system and a territorial racing commission.

“What we did was, we bifurcated the agreement, which the agreement allows the Governor of the Virgin Islands to do, splitting the same arrangements into two pieces,” Governor Bryan said. “So we can move forward with VIGL on the St. Croix track with all of the requirements that were set there before.”

The agreement also sets out an outline of specific permits that are needed to activate the contract, the Governor said. VIGL already has a number of those permits in place, according to VIGL CEO Lance Griffith.

During the press conference at Government House in Christiansted, Governor Bryan said St. Croix residents should expect to see construction activity at the track in the next 60 days, and Mr. Griffith gave a broad timeline of 18-24 months for the St. Croix track to be completed.

“I’d like to thank the Governor and his staff for all the hard work that’s gone into this amendment and what it means to allow us to continue the path forward in horse racing and also the development of St. Croix,” Mr. Griffith said. “We look forward to moving forward expeditiously and we look forward to really starting an industry in the U.S. Virgin Islands.”

“The reality of today’s supply chain is totally different than what it was 12 months ago, so we’re trying to get a good understanding of that,” Mr. Griffith said. “Along with all the projects the Governor has going on in the Virgin Islands right now with all the large construction companies, they’re pretty busy.”

Governor Bryan said in order to complete the construction, the GVI will need the cooperation of the horse owners, who will have to vacate the track for a set amount of time to make room for repairs to the barns, construction material that will be coming in to the site and heavy construction equipment.

Under the terms of the new agreement, VIGL would have oversight of all track operations, as well as exclusive administration of live racing, pari-mutuel betting, simulcast wagering and other electronic wagering at the Doc James track.

Governor Bryan also clarified a public misconception about a lease agreement for the horse racing facilities in each district.

“There was never a lease. There was a use agreement signed by the Government of the Virgin Islands and VIGL in order to allow them to have control of the track. In order for them to start construction, that will have to happen once again,” the Governor said. “Until we have an effectuated lease from property and procurement that will not be finalized. That’s a part of the major agreement, and we need to get some of these permits in place in order for it to be done.”

Regarding the Clinton E. Phipps Racetrack on St. Thomas, Governor Bryan said the GVI is very close to a signing a non-binding agreement with Southland Gaming about management of that facility. The GVI and Southland Gaming are involved in a pending lawsuit regarding having slot machines and video lottery terminals, also known as a “racino,” at the St. Thomas track.

Portions of the non-binding agreement also would have to be ratified by the Legislature, Governor Bryan pointed out.

Although both tracks would operate under individual agreements with the GVI, they be governed by a unified horse racing system under a singly territorial horse racing commission.

“We won’t have competing race days, we’ll have purses that look alike and we’ll have enough races on the Territory,” Governor Bryan said. “Of course, Mr. Jason Williams who is the manager of that will be controlling all that and making sure that we have seamless horse racing and one racing system. One racing commission.”

Governor Bryan also thanked VIGL for the company’s persistence and commitment to redeveloping the horse racing industry in the Territory.

“I really want to emphasize to the public how much of a commitment that this company and this gentleman has to the Virgin Islands and the racing community,” the Governor said. “All of the stuff that was done before was done without a contract essentially, in good faith. They expanded the track; they got the sand in in order to re- lay the track. So thank you. We look forward to having horse racing on the Virgin Islands in the near future.”

 

Government House Urges Residents to Prepare for Hurricane Season

June 1, 2021.

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — During the Government House weekly press briefing on Monday, Government House Communications Director Richard Motta Jr. urged residents to visit the VITEMA website and begin assembling hurricane kits for the upcoming 2021 storm season.

“On behalf of Governor Bryan and Lt. Governor Roach, I am encouraging all Virgin Islands to have a Hurricane Preparedness Supply kit that includes batteries, first aid supplies, non-perishable foods, water and copies of your important documentation,” Director Motta said. “Make sure you build a kit, make a plan and sign up for our VITEMA Alerts to get the most up-to-date information. For suggestions on what you should have in your hurricane preparedness kit and helpful tips on how to make your home hurricane-ready, visit vitema.vi.gov.”

Residents also can sign up for AlertsVI and access a 2021 Hurricane Tracking Map at the same website.

Territorial Epidemiologist Dr. Esther Ellis also advised residents that the Department of Health is seeing new positive cases of COVID-19 related to parties and other gatherings, and she reminded the public that approval is required to hold special events outside of what is allowed through the Executive Orders.

Event organizers and promoters wanting to hold an event outside of the scope of Governor Bryan’s Executive Orders need approval from the Department of Health, Division of Environmental Health.

“To request to hold an event, party, or function, a ‘Special Events Request Form’ must be submitted to inspections.deh@doh.vi.gov at least 14 days before the event,” Dr. Ellis said. “The form is available through email and at the Department of Health offices on St. Thomas and St. Croix. The form can also be found online at doh.vi.gov/programs/environmental-health.”

In addition to the “Special Events Request Form,” all promotional materials must be shared with the Department of Environmental Health at inspections.deh@doh.vi.gov before public distribution.

Between May 21 and May 27, there were 121 new positives for the week: 101 on St. Thomas; 14 on St. Croix; and 6 on St. John. The majority of these were among persons assistance ranging in age from 18 to 49 who are unvaccinated, are students or minors, worked in accommodation and food services; or public administration, healthcare or social.

 

Governor Bryan Meets with New FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell

May 31, 2021.

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. met at Government House in Christiansted on Friday with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell, who was sworn-in in April by Congress following President Biden’s nomination to the position.

The Governor congratulated Administrator Criswell on her new position and told her he is looking forward to working with the Biden Administration on the U.S. Virgin Islands’ continued recovery from the 2017 hurricanes.

During Friday morning’s meeting, Governor Bryan and Administrator Criswell discussed the status of the reconstruction of Paul E. Joseph Stadium.

Paul E. Joseph Stadium still is undergoing FEMA’s engineering review, and the administrator said she is aware of the importance of the project and the critical role the stadium plays in the future economy of St. Croix.

Governor Bryan also thanked the administrator for freeing up more than $400 million for the STEP Program to pay vendors and contractors for recovery work they did.

Other topics Governor Bryan and Administrator Criswell discussed include the waiver of the Territory’s 10% match for federal funds; the various concerns regarding the Territory’s hospitals; the status of school reconstruction; and upgrading and the wastewater and drinking water systems in the Territory.

Governor Bryan and Administrator Criswell also discussed the Territory’s preparedness efforts for the 2021 hurricane season and strategic plans for operating shelters in the COVID environment.

Office of Disaster Recovery Director Adrienne Williams-Octalien, VITEMA Director Daryl Jaschen, Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion and FEMA Acting Recovery Director for the Virgin Islands John Covell also attended Friday’s meeting.

Administrator Criswell is a former commissioner of the New York City Emergency Management department who was confirmed by Congress to head FEMA as the 12th administrator on April 22, 2021, and she was sworn- in April 26.

 

Governor Bryan Submits First Ever 2-Year Executive Budget, Revenues Projected to Increase for Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023

May 31, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. has submitted to the 34th Legislature the first ever two- year Executive Budget and said revenue projections continue to increase during the next two years, providing a very impressive outlook for Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023.

Also included in the balanced budgets for both years are a number of highlights:

• Wage increases for government employees of 4% in FY 2022 and 3% in FY 2023 • $110M over both fiscal years for tax refunds • $38 million for repayment of the 8% salary cut • Funding for over 1,200 vacant government positions in FY 2022 • Up to $10 million in FY 2023 for unfunded obligations as deemed by the GERS judgement • $2 million for ongoing payments to medical providers for Worker’s Compensation • Over $15 million to be placed in the Rainy-Day Fund across both years

The Office of Management and Budget proposes a General Fund budget of $963,020,472 and Total Budget of $1,485,472,985 for FY 2022 and a General Fund budget of $976,372,193 and Total Budget of $1,513,302,379 for FY 2023.

Regarding the FY 2022 budget, it has increased an average of 20% over FY 2021, and a number of departments, including the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Corrections, the Motor Vehicles Bureau, Department of Human Services, and the Department of Agriculture have received increases over 30% from FY 2021. Schneider Regional Medical Center, Juan F. Luis Hospital and the Waste Management Authority also received increased budgets of 7% or higher than FY 2021.

Governor Bryan noted that this time last year the Territory was faced with many uncertainties relative to the economic instability brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While there has been some impact to our main economic driver, tourism, I am happy to present a budget that is undeniably increased and able to serve the needs of the people of the Virgin Islands,” Governor Bryan said. “In the midst of the pandemic, my administration has been agile and resourceful as we made real-time changes to our operations including the utilization of technology and remote work while maintaining our services to the community.

“These projections speak to positive investments being made in our economy, and that has stabilized our collections even throughout the pandemic. With continued disaster recovery funding and additional pandemic relief support being made available to the Territory through legislative acts such as the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan, my administration is committed to ‘Building a Better Tomorrow,’ Governor Bryan said. “Capitalizing on these opportunities, we are making investments that will keep us on a long-term path of prosperity and stability.”

Other key initiatives presented in the budget include: • Creation of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention and the Office of Health Information Exchange within the Office of the Governor • Development of the Virgin Islands Territorial Park System through a collaboration with the Office of the Governor and the Department of Planning & Natural Resources • $12 million over 2 years for the expanded Workforce Development Program at the Department of Labor.

The Bryan-Roach Administration also has budgeted to continue reinvesting in the Territory’s infrastructure, street paving and maintenance and is prepared to expend in excess of $1 billion over the next two years inclusive of disaster recovery projects.

The Territory has almost $3 billion currently available in federal grant funds to expend, with additional funds also already obligated but not yet received, and the Bryan-Roach Administration is committed to ensuring that as many projects as possible are started and completed by fiscal year 2023 to continue the strong economic growth.

The Governor said the benefits of presenting the Executive Budget in a biennial budget format for the first time include more time being spent on the management, oversight and implementation of the spending programs. The Administration anticipates making necessary adjustments prior to the start of FY 2023 as projections are updated and additional needs are determined, he said.

“This two-year budget was built utilizing our new budgeting software, OpenGov, and is the result of significant collaboration with departments and agencies and other stakeholders to address their needs and the needs of the Territory,” OMB Director Jenifer O’Neal said. “The result provides a strong blueprint for fiscal years 2022 and 2023 amid ever changing demands brought to the forefront by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

 

St. Croix District Announces Plans for Merger of Arthur Richards K-8 School with Eulalie R. Rivera and John H. Woodson Jr. High for SY 2021-2022

May 26, 2021

ST. CROIX, USVI – In virtual meetings held for parents of Arthur A. Richards K-8 School and Claude O. Markoe Elementary School on May 25, St. Croix District Superintendent Carlos McGregor announced that Arthur A. Richards will merge with Eulalie R. Rivera K-8 and John H. Woodson Jr. High schools for the 2021-2022 school year.

The decision to merge Arthur Richards into the two schools, McGregor said, was due to the ongoing, long-standing air-quality issues at the Arthur Richards modular campus, which was constructed following the 2017 storms. The Department of Education’s Operations Division has been working closely with the original contractors hired to build the modular campus and other local agencies to resolve the issues.

McGregor explained that the merger would not amount to the schools following a double-session schedule, which is defined as one school attending classes in the morning and the other school attending classes in the afternoon. Rather, the merger will afford all students to attend a full day of classes on the same campus, at the same time.

“It is clear that the occupancy of the Arthur Richards modular campus by our students, faculty and staff is potentially detrimental to their health,” McGregor said. “This plan will allow students and employees to settle into a healthy and safe school environment, while we continue to rectify the situation at the current campus. Furthermore, the merger represents our commitment to ensuring the social, emotional, and academic well-being of the Arthur Richards family, and we ask for your understanding and support during this necessary transition.”

District officials have also met with teachers, school administrators and union leaders to discuss the changes.

AT-A-GLANCE: SCHOOL CHANGES ANNOUNCED FOR 2021-2022 SCHOOL YEAR

Arthur A. Richards K-8 School - Arthur A. Richards K-8 School will not be in operation for the 2021-2022 school year; the school will fully merge with Eulalie R. Rivera and John H. Woodson Jr. High schools

Arthur Richards’ students entering Kindergarten through 6th grades in school year 2021-2022, will now attend Eulalie R. Rivera K-8 School; these students will be required to wear the Eulalie R. Rivera uniform.

Arthur Richards’ students entering 7th and 8th grades in school year 2021-2022, will now attend John. H. Woodson Jr. High School; these students will be required to wear the John H. Woodson Jr. High uniform.

Arthur Richards’ teachers, administrative staff, and other employees will be dispersed to Eulalie Rivera and Woodson campuses, as well as other schools throughout the district Funding has been secured from FEMA to rebuild the new Arthur A. Richards K-8 School on the grounds of the old Evelyn M. Williams Elementary School; the projected completion timeline is August 2024.

Claude O. Markoe Elementary School

Sixth graders promoted from the Claude O. Markoe Elementary School who would normally attend Arthur A. Richards K-8 School for 7th grade in SY 2021-2022, will instead attend John H. Woodson Jr. High School; these students will be required to wear the Woodson uniform.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Claude O. Markoe Elementary School will continue to service students in grades PreK-6 at the school’s Frederiksted location – no changes are being made to the operations of Markoe Elementary.

For school year 2022-2023, nine new classrooms are planned for construction on the Claude O. Markoe Elementary School campus; the school will then transition to Claude O. Markoe PreK-8 School.

School Bus Transportation

• Bus transportation to and from school will be provided for all students needing those services

• In keeping with CDC guidelines for social distancing, busing will include multiple trips from pick-up and drop-off locations

Arthur Richards to Eulalie Rivera

With the merger of K-6th grade students from Arthur Richards into the Eulalie Rivera K-8 School, the Rivera campus will be occupied by 618 students (the Rivera campus was built to accommodate 900 students).

All class sizes will meet the collective bargaining agreement in place for teachers and will adhere to CDC guidelines of 3ft social distancing between student desks.

All safety protocols will remain in place – wearing of masks, regular sanitization of hands and desks, Plexiglas barriers around student and teacher desks.

Arthur Richards to John H. Woodson

With the merger of 7th and 8th grade students from Arthur Richards into the John H. Woodson Jr. High School, the Woodson campus will be occupied by 680 students (the Woodson campus was built to accommodate 1,300 students).

All class sizes will meet the collective bargaining agreement in place for teachers and will adhere to CDC guidelines of 3ft social distancing between student desks.

All safety protocols will remain in place – wearing of masks, regular sanitization of hands and desks, Plexiglas barriers around student and teacher desks.

 

 

Governor Bryan Suspends Evictions, Increases Taxi Passenger Limit and Allows Seating at Bars

May 25, 2021.

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. has issued a 24th Supplemental Executive Order that eases restrictions put into place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including suspending some evictions until July 30, raising the passenger limits on taxis and allowing patrons to sit at the bar in restaurants and clubs.

Eviction suspension

The Governor’s new directive amends the restrictions placed on landlord-tenant actions in the 21st Supplemental Order of January 27, 2021, regarding evictions, which will be suspended until at least July 30, 2021.

To qualify for the eviction suspension, tenants must meet three criteria:

• They are being evicted for financial reasons or non-payment of rental fees. • They have been financially impacted by COVID-19. • They have a pending Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) Application with the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority.

Taxi passenger limits

The change to the passenger limits for taxis – which also includes safaris, taxi vans and limousines – amends the 22nd Supplemental Order issued on March 1, 2021, allows those vehicle-for-hire services to raise their passenger limits from 50 percent of permitted capacity to 75 percent of permitted capacity.

Masks must be worn by the driver and all passengers at all times; if all the passengers in the taxicab or safari are of the same family or group, the taxicab or safari may exceed the limitation on capacity.

Restaurants and bars

The removal of the restriction against restaurant, bar and club patrons sitting at the bar amends the 21st Supplemental Order allows customers to have a seat at the bar; however, congregating and standing around a bar and the bar counter area still is prohibited.

Alcohol or food can be served only to patrons who are seated at designated seats at the bar counter. Designated and assigned seats at the bar counters must be placed so that each party is at least 4 feet away from any other party or table.

Seated patrons, whether seated at a table or at the bar counter, may order food, or alcohol, or both, so long as they are seated at a designated seating area.”

Governor Bryan Praises Class of 2021 Graduates And Investigation Into Cause of Odor Affecting St. Croix Residents

May 25, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — During the Government House weekly press briefing on Monday, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. praised the Class of 2021 and praised the principals, administrators and the high school, UVI and Adult Education graduation committees for providing a memorable and safe experience for students even as the Territory continues to fight the spread of COVID-19.

“Quite frankly, from what I have heard from several parents and some students, they appreciated not having to sit through a four-hours graduation ceremony with countless lectures from politicians,” Governor Bryan said. “What we had instead was truly a celebration that focused on the most important thing: the graduates and their achievement. If nothing else, this year’s graduations were short, upbeat, memorable, and, most importantly, safe.”

The Governor also thanked the Environmental Protection Agency for working with the Department of Planning and Natural Resources and other Government of the Virgin Islands agencies for pinpointing an open manhole cover at the Anguilla Landfill as the source of the odors plaguing St. Croix.

“We were having a difficult time matching up some of the readings of the gaseous odors detected in the community with events occurring within the refinery,” Governor Bryan said. “As it turns out, there was an additional source that was unaccounted for at the time. This is why we were very cautious in not jumping to early conclusions in this or any matter.”

The Governor said the investigation into the odor will continue to find complete proof of the cause of the odors.

 

Superior Court Clarifies Separation of Powers And Affirms Governor’s Authority Over Hospital Board

May 25, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. announced that the Virgin Islands Superior Court has issued an order confirming the authority of the executive branch regarding legislation that sought to limit the Governor’s ability to appoint and remove members of the Territorial Hospital Board.

The court’s decision in Bryan v V.I. Government Hospital and Health Facilities Corporation asserts that the Governor is charged with the general administrative power of appointing, overseeing and controlling the execution of the laws, including power of appointment and removal.

The Court confirmed that the Hospital Board is an executive agency and its administration is within the principles of Separation of Powers Doctrine. The Court ruled that the Legislature’s attempt to limit the Governor’s executive authority by eliminating his authority to remove appointees to the Hospital Board is an intrusion into the executive powers and is a violation of the Revised Organic Act.

“The Separation of Powers Doctrine is a cornerstone in the foundation of democracy and is crucial in keeping the branches of government working on equal footing, so that one branch does not carry more weight than the other,” Governor Bryan said. “The specific branches of government have specific responsibilities that are balanced to ensure that the government as a whole works equitably and fairly on behalf of the people.”

The Governor said his Office of Legal Counsel is closely reviewing the Superior Court decision to see how and whether it applies to other boards and other pieces of legislation seeking to exert or increase legislative influence over the makeup of the Territory’s various boards and commissions.

The Court ruled, as derived from prior U.S. Supreme Court cases, the principle of separation of powers applies through the provisions of the Revised Organic Act and within those powers, the Executive Branch is clothed with the executive “power of appointing, overseeing and controlling” the persons and agencies that execute the laws.

Other primary points of the Superior Court’s decision are: • The grant of executive power encompasses “the express mandate to take care that the laws are faithfully executed, including the power of appointment and removal of executive officers.” • The executive has absolute power to remove executive officers. No other branch has such power. • The elimination of the Governor’s power to remove members of the Board and District Boards violates the separation of powers principles and is invalid under the Revised Organic Act.

Equating the Hospital Board to other boards and commissions, the Superior Court’s ruling supports the premise that the Governor has the absolute authority of appointment and removal of executive officers, including boards and commissions that assist in implementing executive functions of running the Government. Any attempt to restrict that power is a violation of the ROA and is invalid.

First Lady Yolanda Bryan Teams Up with AARP Virgin Islands, Department of Tourism, and Virgin Islands Council of the Arts to Celebrate Older Americans Month

May 22, 2021

US VIRGIN ISLANDS — First Lady Yolanda Bryan has teamed up with AARP in The Virgin Islands, the Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts-DPNR, and Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights to celebrate older Americans Month.

The group will join Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights on Saturday, May 22, for an “ole’ time serenade” at the various senior living communities in St. Croix and continue the celebration at the various senior living facilities in St. Thomas on Saturday, May 29, and St. John on Sunday, May 30.

The serenade on St. Croix will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 22, with a presentation and performance at Wilfred Pedro Homes (Whim Gardens) in Estate Whim in St. Croix, with performances following at Herbert Grigg Home for the Aged, Flambouyant Gardens Senior Housing and Sunny Isles Elderly Housing facilities.

The serenade on St. Thomas will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 29, with a presentation and performance at Kirwan Terrace Community Housing, with performances following at the Queen Louise Home for the Aged and Ebenezer Gardens in Hospital Ground, as well as performances at the Lucinda A. Millin Homes and Celestino A. White, Sr., Senior Citizens Home.

May 22, St. Croix Serenade Itinerary • 10 to 11 a.m. – Presentation and performance at Wilfred Pedro Homes (Whim Gardens), St. Croix, US Virgin Islands • Noon to 1 p.m. – Presentation and performance at Herbert Grigg Home for the Aged, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands • 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. – Presentation and performance at Flambouyant Gardens Senior Housing, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands • 3 to 4 p.m. – Presentation and performance at Sunny Isles Elderly Housing, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

May 29, St. Thomas Serenade Itinerary • 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. – Drive-through performance at Kirwan Terrace Community Housing, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands • 11 a.m. to noon –Presentation and performance at Queen Louise Home for the Aged, Hospital Ground, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.

• 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. – Presentation and performance at Ebenezer Gardens, Hospital Ground, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands • 2 to 3 p.m. – Presentation and performance at Lucinda A. Millin Homes, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands • 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. – Presentation and performance at Celestino A. White, Sr., Senior Citizens Home, Sugar Estate, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

May 30, St. John Serenade Itinerary • 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. – Presentation and performance at Franklin Powell Park, Cruz Bay, St John, US Virgin Islands

Governor Bryan Takes Action on 16 Bills, Setting In Motion a Number of Promised Infrastructure Projects

May 20, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. has taken action on 16 bills sent up by the 34th Legislature, vetoing two pieces of legislation and signing into law 14 bills, including measures for a number of infrastructure projects across the Territory that he vowed during his “State of the Territory” speech to get underway this year.

Among the infrastructure-related bills, which include a number of proposed bills he submitted, Governor Bryan signed into law:

• Bill 34-0014, which the Governor had submitted to appropriate $1.6 million from the Communities Facilities Trust Account for three community facilities projects – the pier at King’s Alley in Christiansted; the dock at Gallows Bay; and the DPNR roll-on roll-off ramp at the Gordon A. Finch Molasses Pier at Krause Lagoon on St. Croix.

• Bill 34-0036, which the Governor had submitted to appropriate $19.6 million for more than two dozen desperately needed road projects on St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John.

• Bill 34-0020, which the Governor had submitted to appropriate $675,000 from the Community Facility Trust Fund to Sports, Parks and Recreation for the Caribbean Drag Racing Association to restore the facilities at the St. Croix Motor Sports Complex.

• Bill 34-0008, which was sponsored by Senator Javan James to reprogram $200,00 from the Gross Receipts Tax Bonds proceeds to renovate the Police Athletic League Headquarters in Estate Whim on St. Croix.

• Bill 34-000-13, which the Governor had submitted to appropriate $2.05 million from the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund to replace the deteriorated tender landing pier and make repairs to the Ann E. Abramson Marine Terminal in Frederiksted.

Regarding Bills 34-008 and 34-0013, Governor Bryan asked the Senate to facilitate the continuity of the projects by amending them to include: “The sums appropriated herein shall remain available until expended.”

Governor Bryan also vetoed two measures: Bill 34-0021, which would establish the Public Services Commission (PSC) as a semi-autonomous agency and require the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority to hire a “turnaround” company, and Bill 34-0026, which would establish a criteria for the makeup of the WAPA board.

The Governor said Bill 34-0021 goes beyond enhancing the regulatory functions of the PSC and give it and the Legislature the authority to run various instrumentalities in violation of the separation of powers doctrine.

“In doing so, the Legislature has, again, intruded into the supervisory and decision-making powers of the Executive Branch and violated several federal statutes,” Governor Bryan wrote in his transmittal letter to Senate President Donna Frett-Gregory. “The most fatal component of the Bill is the inclusion of the directives that WAPA must hire a turnaround management company, implement its recommendations and comply with its Turnaround Report.”

The Governor also noted that the directive to hire a turnaround company and provisions in the bill for additional staffing and expand jurisdiction for the PSC are unfunded mandates that cannot be effectuated from the existing funds of either WAPA or the PSC.

Regarding Bill 34-0026, Governor Bryan said he vetoed the measure because it is solely an attempt to remove the number of individuals directly appointed by the Governor from amongst cabinet-level heads of departments and agencies, which puts it in violation the Revised Organic Act.

“While this measure is motivated by great intentions to address the vexing problems of WAPA, it does nothing to improve the efficiency, reliability and affordability of the services provided by the Water and Power Authority,” Governor Bryan wrote in his transmittal letter. “This does nothing to address the allegations of waste, fraud and abuse. It does nothing to address customer complaints. It is solely focused on limiting the Governor’s input into the decision-making of WAPA.”

However, Governor Bryan signed into law Bill 34-0025, which establishes new criteria for the makeup of the PSC board and is a revised version of a previously vetoed bill.

“This bill was properly drafted to enable the Commission to function better, with fewer member seats to fill and a more realistic number to establish a quorum while not attempting to remove the Governor’s authority and obligations pursuant to Section 11 of the Revised Organic Act,” Governor Bryan wrote in the transmittal letter. “The addition of the conflict-of-interest sections to this bill are commendable and in the best interest of the people of this Territory.”

Governor Bryan also signed 34-0059, which approves his request for an extension to the State of Emergency based on the COVID-19 pandemic for an additional 60 days, from May 7, 2021, to July 6, 2021.

St. Croix Career & Technical Education Center Leads the Way with Territory’s First Hybrid Graduation

May 18, 2021

ST. CROIX, USVI – The St. Croix Career & Technical Education Center (CTEC) successfully hosted the territory’s first hybrid graduation ceremony on May 17, with 140 students receiving certificates in various career pathways.

The ceremony was one of several hybrid graduations—with some elements prerecorded and others conducted in-person—Virgin Islands Department of Education schools will host this week. At CTEC, graduates and their guests participated in a brief ceremony, which featured students receiving their certifications and being greeted by dignitaries as they walked across a stage erected on the campus lawn.

Guests not in attendance received a link to view the prerecorded portion of the ceremony. A video of the complete event will be made available to the public at a later date.

The St. Croix Adult Education Program also hosted a ceremony for 16 graduates at the St. Croix Educational Complex High School auditorium later in the day. Graduates were lauded for their perseverance and encouraged by Governor Bryan to keep learning and pursuing their dreams. The class has a distinction of having perfect attendance. Jeanne Thomas is valedictorian and Mario William is salutatorian.

Hybrid graduations are planned for the territory’s four public high schools, and will be streamed live on the Department of Education’s Facebook Page and air on Viya Channel 27

St. Croix Central High School – May 18 at 10 a.m. St. Croix Educational Complex High School – May 19 at 10 a.m. Ivanna Eudora Kean High School – May 20 at 1 p.m. Charlotte Amalie High School – May 21 at 1 p.m.

Governor Bryan Proclaims May 16-22 National Public Works Week in the Territory

May 17, 2021.

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. has proclaimed May 16-22 National Public Works Week in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The 2021 theme for the national week of recognition of public works agencies around the country, which is celebrating its 61st anniversary, is “Stronger Together.” It comes as the Virgin Islands Department of Public Works (DPW) is at various stages of more than two dozen major road and infrastructure projects throughout the Territory.

On St. Thomas, DPW has completed paving Bunker Hill in Downtown Charlotte Amalie, redeveloping Main Street and repairing Mafolie Road, where a section of the roadbed collapsed. Crews also have installed the palm trees and other landscaping along the Waterfront as the department nears completion of the second half of Phase 1 of the road-widening.

In June, DPW will begin the extensive re-paving project in Frederiksted Town, and earlier this month, Governor Bryan sent down legislation to the Senate requesting $1.5 million to complete improvements to the Frederiksted waterfront, spanning from Dorsch Beach along Strand Street to Buddhoe Park.

Other road and infrastructure projects underway include: • Road paving projects throughout the downtown areas, which are in various stages of completion. • Restoration and redevelopment of Gallows Bay Marina, which is set to begin this summer. • Restoration of the King’s Alley Pier, which is set to begin in early summer. • Lighting of the Ann Abramson Pier and installation of a tender dock at the pier, which also is set to begin in early summer.

“The United States Virgin Islands Public Works Department employees, such as engineers, administrators and essential laborers, play a vital role in maintaining and enhancing the health, safety and welfare of all Virgin Islanders,” the proclamation states. “Public Works professionals focus on infrastructure, facilities and services that are of vital importance to sustainable and resilient communities and to the public health, high quality of life and well-being of the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands.”

“Every engineer, project manager, support staff and leader plays a vital role in pushing the department’s mission forward,” said Public Works Commissioner Derek Gabriel said. “I want to take this opportunity to salute each member of our staff. Know that your contributions are valuable and necessary.”

Governor Bryan Proclaims May 16-22 Emergency Medical Services Week

May 17, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. has proclaimed May 16-22 Emergency Medical Services Week in honor of the men and women who work for Emergency Medical Services and who provide vital, lifesaving service 24/7 to Virgin Islanders in need.

“Access to quality emergency care dramatically improves the survival and recovery rate of those who experience sudden illness or injury and emergency medical services has been critical in the fight against COVID-19,” the proclamation states. “Emergency medical services has grown to fill a gap by providing important, out of hospital care, including preventive medicine, follow-up care and access to telemedicine.”

Personnel who comprise the Territory’s Emergency Medical Services system include first responders, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, emergency medical dispatchers, firefighters, police officers, educators, administrators, pre-hospital nurses, emergency nurses, emergency physicians, trained members of the public and other out of hospital medical care providers.

“The Virgin Islands is in the process of preparing for the integration of fire services and emergency medical services to provide a greater level of service and shorter response times,” the proclamation states. “It is appropriate to recognize the value, dedication and accomplishments of emergency medical services providers by designating Emergency Medical Services Week.”

Dadlie’s Trucking Service Donates More Than 800 Bookbags to Students in St. Thomas-St. John District

May 12, 2021.

ST. THOMAS, USVI – Dadlie’s Trucking Service, Inc., a St. Thomas-based company, recently donated more than 800, fully stocked bookbags to students in the St. Thomas-St. John District as part of the company’s annual outreach and giveback to schools.

The bookbags, stocked with notebooks, loose-leaf paper, pencils, pens, and rulers, were delivered to the district’s elementary schools on April 7 and given to students attending in-person classes.

According to Jerae Forde, district school and community affairs director, while the company has traditionally done large, event-style giveaways and supported schools in other ways, “due to the coronavirus pandemic, they found a new way to give back” this year.

Hillary “Julie” Joseph, who operates the business with her husband and company owner, Dadlie Joseph, said of the company’s mantra, “God helps those who helps themselves and others.” She added, “It is a passion and a joy for me to see others happy.”

The first districtwide giveaway event Dadlie Trucking held was in 2018 and featured a fun day filled with food, games, music, and school supply giveaways for students and teachers. As a 1984 graduate of the Ivana Eudora Kean High School, Joseph understands the importance of giving back to her community and is thrilled to do so whenever she can.

Dadlie’s Trucking has been in business for more than 35 years, and Forde said, “whenever there is a need at one of the schools, they try to assist.” The company is planning another school-supplies giveaway before the start of the next school year.

Forde and Kisha Corbett, district technology coordinator, partnered with Joseph for this year’s bookbag giveaway.

Governor Bryan Waives Graduation Fees for 2021 Graduates of Territory’s Public High Schools

May 11, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Governor Albert Bryan Jr. announced he is waiving graduation fees for students graduating from the territory’s public high schools this year as COVID-19 health protocols have prevented traditional graduation ceremonies.

“We want our students and their families to celebrate this important milestone, especially after overcoming the challenges presented by this pandemic over the last year,” Governor Bryan said. “However, our primary responsibility is the health and safety of our students, their families, and that of the faculty and staff of our schools. And we cannot guarantee their safety while allowing traditional graduation ceremonies at this time. I know this is not what the graduates or their families want. So, they should not be responsible for any costs associated with this year’s ceremonies.”

Governor Bryan said the fees for each graduating senior will be paid through funds from the CARES Act. Families who already paid graduation fees will be refunded.

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Acting Governor Roach Provides Details On Investigation into Noxious Odor on St. Croix

May 10, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Lt. Governor Tregenza A. Roach, Esq., in his capacity as Acting Governor while Governor Albert Bryan Jr. is out of the Territory, held Monday’s Government House weekly press briefing and provided an update on the status of the Government of the Virgin Islands’ (GVI) investigation into the noxious odor that is plaguing St. Croix.

Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) Commissioner Jean-Pierre Oriol and Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion also provided information during the briefing about the odor investigation.

“The island of St. Croix has been confronted in recent weeks with gaseous emissions in the atmosphere that are at best a nuisance that is degrading our enjoyment and quality of life; but at worst presents a clear and present risk to the health of our residents,” Lt. Governor Roach said. “Several agencies have spent the weekend tirelessly pursuing the source of those emissions. I must say that I am impressed with the technical capacity possessed by our Virgin Islands Civil Support Team, the Virgin Islands Fire Service Hazmat, and the DPNR Environmental Protection Division.”

The Lt. Governor said he is confident that the Territory, which is working in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has the ability and resources to track down the source of the smell.

Lt. Governor Roach also reminded residents that now is the time to begin putting together hurricane survival kits for the upcoming hurricane season.

“We live in a time when changes to the climate make the behaviors of these storms more difficult to predict. That is why it is all the more important to make a plan and discuss it with your family, not just during hurricane season. Before a hurricane strikes it is important to a have conversation with your family about where you will go and what you will do for shelter if needed,” he said.

The Lt. Governor advised residents to service their generators and visit vitema.gov for up-to-date information about hurricane season.

Lt. Governor Roach opened Monday’s briefing by sending his condolences to the family of 16-year-old Kimani Perdomo, who was murdered Sunday morning in the John F. Kennedy housing community on St. Croix.

“That is certainly a tragic occurrence, particularly on Mother’s Day. I pray that the family finds comfort in this time of grief, and we ask that if any of you have knowledge that can lead to the apprehension of the individuals that perpetrated this crime, please come forward and share what you know with the Virgin Islands Police Department,” the Lt. Governor said.

Graduations

Lt. Governor Roach also discussed the Department of Education’s plans for the upcoming graduations and said the primacy of public health must take precedence. He also praised the department’s “hybrid” approach that will allow students to walk the stage in front of their families and pose for graduation pictures with their diplomas.

“The principals and graduation planning committees at each of our public high schools have put significant thought into the conduct of these events. They have planned spectacular events that will honor the achievement of our graduating seniors, and we thank them for their creativity and ingenuity in these trying times,” Lt. Governor Roach said. “We must be mindful that times are not normal. We have been effective in our management of this virus because we have made prudent decisions when necessary. We cannot afford to abandon that same level of prudence at this time when we are making such great progress towards restoring normalcy.”

Stimulus payments

Noting that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Department of Finance had issued a batch of 10,000 stimulus checks last week, the Lt. Governor said the agencies will be releasing a second batch of the $1,400 checks this week.

Those checks averaged approximately $2,500 per household, and the Bryan-Roach Administration is on track to issue all checks from this latest round of stimulus payments within the month of May, he said.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue has established a hotline – 340-714-9325 – to assist in responding to the high volume of calls be residents with questions about the stimulus checks.

Lt. Governor Roach also thanked Clarina Modeste-Elliott for filling in as the acting Commissioner of Finance since last October.

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National Guard Civil Support Team Finds Elevated Levels of Sulfur Dioxide in Atmosphere

May 9,2021

US VIRGIN ISLANDS — Preliminary air quality testing conducted by the Virgin Islands National Guard Civil Support Team Saturday found elevated levels of sulfur dioxide in the air near the Limetree Bay Refinery.

Saturday’s findings were the result of new monitoring instrumentation in place and the mobilization of VING’s Civil Support Team.

The Virgin Islands National Guard Civil Support Team joined the investigation into the source of the noxious odor after being activated by Governor Bryan and identified the chemical constituents after conducting air quality monitoring Friday afternoon into Saturday morning.

The team’s preliminary reading found elevated quantities of Sulfur Dioxide in the air near the refinery, which has narrowed the investigation to the small industrial corridor on the island’s south shore that includes the refinery, the Diageo Rum Distillery, Anguilla Landfill, and the Asphalt Plant north of the landfill.

However, readings conducted outside the other facilities Saturday did not provide any elevated readings of harmful chemical constituents.

While the refinery did not identify a particular upset. Based on the chemical constituents present in the atmosphere, the team’s investigation continues to center on the refinery but has not ruled out other sources.

The Government of the Virgin Islands received additional air quality monitoring instruments from the Environmental Protection Agency in support of the ongoing investigation.

The monitoring instruments arrived in St. Croix Saturday and will be utilized by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources and the EPA and will be deployed throughout the island to conduct continuous air quality monitoring in support of confirming the exact source of the odor.

Once the source is confirmed and identified, the Government’s Unified Command team will take definitive action to eliminate the source and seek appropriate remedies and penalties with the appropriate parties.

In the team's continued effort to confirm or rule out other chemical constituents causing the odor, VING’s Civil Support Team will be stationed in Frederiksted town Saturday evening in the effort to quickly mobilize and conduct air quality testing in response to resident complaints.

Residents with respiratory ailments such as allergies, lung disease, or asthma are strongly encouraged to consider staying indoors or taking other protective actions.

Governor Bryan Activates National Guard Civil Support Team, VITEMA Emergency Operation Center in Response to Odor Complaints on St. Croix

May 7, 2021.

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Governor Albert Bryan Jr. has activated the Virgin Islands National Guard and VITEMA’s Emergency Operations Center in response to complaints by residents in Frederiksted of a noxious odor in the air.

Governor Bryan made the announcement Friday during a press briefing with members of the media.

“We have been closely monitoring the reports from residents on the west end of St. Croix since Wednesday and are working to confirm the contaminant or contaminants as well as the source of the odor,” Governor Bryan said. “Our primary concern is the health and well-being of our residents, and we are putting all of our available resources in honing in on the problem so that we can rectify it and ensure that whatever is causing this does not reoccur.”

The Governor further explained Friday that while the areas of focus include the Limetree Bay Refinery, an asphalt plant, and the Anguilla landfill, the source of the odor and the contents of the odor are not yet confirmed.

“While we are focused on serval possible sources of the odor, we don’t yet have confirmation on what the odor is or exactly where it is coming from,” Governor Bryan said. “Limetree issued a statement late Thursday notifying the public of a hydrocarbon release due to maintenance work underway at the refinery’s Coker unit. And while we appreciate them coming forward with that information, that information does not square with what the public is reporting. We have to be able to confirm whether this is the source of the odor, and more importantly, we have to be able to confirm that there isn’t something more harmful or detrimental to the health of St. Croix residents being emitted.”

The Department of Health and Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) began receiving reports of a noxious odor from residents in St. Croix late Wednesday afternoon.

The complaints come as the Department of Planning and Natural Resources and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is investigating a gas emissions release from Limetree Bay Refinery that occurred earlier this month.

The National Guard’s civil support team will join the Department of Planning and Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency in investigating and conducting tests to confirm the source of the odor and identify contaminants.

During Friday’s briefing, Department of Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion reported that three people sought medical attention at the Emergency Room in the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center for headache and nausea related to the odor.

Commissioner Encarnacion is encouraging individuals with respiratory ailments, including allergies, lung disease, or asthma, to consider taking protective actions such as staying indoors or temporarily relocating to areas less affected.

VIHA’S CENTRAL OFFICES ON ST. THOMAS CLOSED DUE TO POTENTIAL COVID-19 EXPOSURE

May 7, 2021

St. Thomas, U. S. Virgin Islands) Please be advised that the Virgin Islands Housing Authority’s (VIHA’s) Central Offices in the St. Thomas/St. John District will be closed on Friday, May 7th after learning an employee tested positive for the coronavirus. This closure will allow for staff testing and the sanitizing of the office.

VIHA continues to enforce its limited in-person public contact policy. Additionally, employees and residents are required to wear face coverings and adhere to physical distancing protocols when in contact with each other and visitors.

Individuals with Low-Income Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher inquiries are encouraged to contact our St. Croix Office for assistance at (340) 778-8442.

Department of Human Services Addresses COVID-19 Exposures in Group Home

May 4, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS: The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS) today confirmed that three of the residents of the Anna’s Hope Group Home in St. Croix have tested positive for COVID-19. Currently, none of the staff have tested positive, though four results are pending. DHS is currently working with the Virgin Islands Department of Health Division of Epidemiology to get all residents and staff members tested. The Anna’s Hope Group Home is a residential facility and so will remain open.

Suspension of visitors has remained in place since March 2020 and prevention methods such as temperature checks and self-attestation surveys for staff entering the facility have been in place since July 2020. Residents recently began accessing specialized services off-site, which is currently being revisited. All measures are being taken to resume the safety that Group Home residents and staff enjoyed for more than a year since the pandemic began.

One resident exhibited mild symptoms. The other two positive residents are currently asymptomatic. The Department of Human Services is in consultation with the Department of Health and additional staffing and mitigating measures have been implemented. Employees that may have come into direct contact with the positive and/or who may have occupied a common space during the estimated period of possible contagion, have been advised, quarantined, tested or are awaiting testing conducted by the Department of Health.

 

Three St. Croix Schools Remain Closed to In-Person Learning on May 7

May 7, 2021

ST. CROIX, USVI – Out of an abundance of caution and to avoid instructional interruptions during the school day, Eulalie R. Rivera K-8, Arthur A. Richards K-8, and the St. Croix Career and Technical Education Center will remain closed to in-person learning on May 7; students will attend classes virtually.

The schools were dismissed early on May 6, due to a gaseous odor affecting the air quality on the campuses.

The matter is under investigation by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources.

Virgin Islands National Guard, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Mervin Mills with the 2020 Visionary Voice Award, April 30, 2021.

May 5, 2021

U.S. Virgin Islands – The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) honors Virgin Islands National Guard, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Mervin Mills with the 2020 Visionary Voice Award, April 30, 2021.

As part of the Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign, the Visionary Voice Award honor individuals throughout the country who display outstanding work in anti-sexual violence.

With 33 years of service, Mills has tirelessly dedicated his time to assisting the Women's Coalition and VI Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council by raising vital funds to combat the violence of sexual assault within the Virgin Islands for the past seven years. In April, the annual "Ride Out" is a much anticipated community event that raises awareness and funds for prevention, education, and service, in which Mills has been a committed leader.

Mills was the former president and an active member of the VI Taekwondo Federation, the chief instructor of guardian Taekwondo, member and coach of the VING HUMMERS Softball team, vice president of the VI Cycling Federation, captain of the cycling team, member of the triathlon federation, an aerobics instructor for the VI Mounting Climbers Association (MCA), a spin instructor at VING, and currently leads the triathlon team in support of the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

Mills also volunteered with the Beacon Program at Elena Christian Junior High School, mentoring young men at risk.

Mills continues to exhibit a relentless commitment to our community and shows no signs of slowing down. His efforts demonstrate Brig. Gen. Kodjo Knox-Limbacker's motto of "Exceeding the Standards." He is a true representation in our community.

UVI Partners with Government Agencies to Celebrate Earth Day 2021

May 3, 2021

In honor and celebration of Earth Day 2021, the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources (VIDPNR), the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (VIWMA), and the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) are co-hosting a series of webinars and community conversations about solid waste and the Territory’s plans and progress towards lifecycle assessment (LCA), sustainable materials management (SMM) and zero waste (ZW).

The webinars will explore how the community can reduce, reuse, resell, repair, repurpose, and recycle all the materials generated in the Territory. The presentations will explore options to capture, rather than waste, the value of the embedded natural resources and energy in the materials currently being disposed, and highlight opportunities to capitalize on this approach to create green jobs, build a green economy, and help develop a resilient and sustainable future for the Virgin Islands.

The events take place each Wednesday during the month of May on the following dates:

Wednesday, May 5, 2021 Noon - 1p.m. What’s Happening with Solid Waste and Sustainable Materials Management in the USVI? (Webinar with Q&A)

Wednesday May 12, 2021 Noon -1 p.m. What Are We Wasting and What Can We Do About It? Introducing the Waste Characterization Study and the USVI Sustainable Materials Management Analysis (Webinar with Q&A)

Wednesday May 19, 2021 Noon -1 p.m. What Are Other Islands Around the World Doing with Their Materials? Let’s Learn from our Global Island Communities (Webinar with Q&A and Broadcast Links Highlighting Islands SMM Speaker Series #1 and #2)

Wednesday May 26, 2021 Noon -1 p.m. What Should We Do Next? Let’s Regather and Reflect Together to Strategize Next Steps Towards Our Common Vision (Webinar and Community Conversation/ Visioning Facilitated by UVI Creativity Lab)

Governor Bryan Issues Statement About CDC's Letter to Cruise Industry

May 2, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Governor Albert Bryan Jr. on Friday issued the following statement regarding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) letter to the cruise ship industry clearing the way for ships to begin docking at U.S. ports in mid-July:

“I want to thank the Biden Administration, and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky for acting swiftly to deliver this great news for the Virgin Islands, and for all the U.S. jurisdictions that rely on Tourism as a foundation of their economy,” Governor Bryan said. “While we continue to put in place initiatives to diversify our economy, we will continue supporting our local businesses and vendors who rely on cruise travel to survive.

“While the Bryan-Roach Administration continues to maintain that balance between public health, the economy and personal freedoms, it is the community’s resilience, compliance and perseverance that has changed the Territory’s vision from a glimmer of hope to a future with a brighter outlook than before the pandemic struck,” Governor Bryan said.

“As our recovery from the 2017 storms continues to advance while we continue steadily toward the ‘new normal,’ there will be more financial and business opportunities available to Virgin Islanders as our Tourism sector grows more robust and surpasses the point where it was before COVID-19 struck,” the Governor said. “Still, we all have been hit hard by this virus, physically, financially and emotionally, and I want to thank all members of the community for their strength and determination in following the Department of Health guidelines that are keeping the public as safe as possible during this crisis.”

Earlier this month, Governor Bryan sent a letter that was signed onto by the governors of 5 states and Puerto Rico to senior level officials in the Biden Administration and CDC Director Walensky urging them to issue guidelines that would allow cruise ships to return to U.S. ports as expeditiously as possible.

 

Governor Bryan meets with New CEO, Management of Limetree Bay

April 29, 2021

.U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Governor Albert Bryan Jr. met with the newly named Chief Executive Officer of Limetree Bay, Jeff Rinker, and his executive team at Government House Tuesday to discuss the company’s progress in the restart of refinery operations at its facility in St. Croix.

Although previously planned, Tuesday’s meeting followed a recent gas flaring event from the refinery that prompted the closure of several schools in the vicinity of the refinery and triggered complaints from residents living in the surrounding areas.

During the meeting Tuesday, Governor Bryan expressed his concerns with the gas flaring event from the refinery and stressed the importance of transparency.

“I had an informative meeting with Mr. Rinker and the executive team of Limetree and expressed my concerns with the recent gas flaring event and Limetree’s response efforts,” Governor Bryan said. “We have confirmed with the executive team that last Thursday’s event was of sulfur dioxide, which was triggered by excess hydrogen sulfide being sent to the flare for combustion. We have been further assured by the Limetree team that an in-depth investigation of the cause of the incident is in process for reporting to all regulatory agencies and that the refinery will keep the community informed of the findings.”

“As an Administration, our focus is to work with Limetree to ensure the safety of the Crucian community and that the U.S. Virgin Islands receives its fair share from a successful refinery operation,” Governor Bryan said.

Also in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting was Department of Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Jean Pierre Oriol.

USVI DHS Head Start Centers Closed Next Week, Temporary Pause to Meal Distribution

4/22/2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS) announced today that all Head Start locations in the Territory will be closed from Monday, April 26 to Friday, April 30, 2021. This includes a temporary pause to the regular meal distribution schedule as meals will only be distributed one day this week on Tuesday, April 27.

All Head Start locations will re-open to staff and resume regular food distribution on Monday, May 3rd , 2021.

For more information, please contact the Office of Head Start: • St. Croix: (340) 773-1972 • St. Thomas: (340) 244-4360

Governor Bryan Proclaims National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

4/22/2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Governor Albert Bryan Jr., issued a proclamation Monday recognizing “National Crime Victims’ Rights Week,” which is celebrating its 40th anniversary from April 18-24 and now is an initiative of the federal Office for Victims of Crime, a division within the U.S. Department of Justice.

This year’s theme is “Support Victims. Build Trust. Engage Communities.”

The purpose of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is to raise awareness of victims’ rights and services, highlight programs for crime victims and honor victims and the professionals who serve them.

Governor Bryan said his proclamation reaffirms the Territory’s commitment to creating a victim services and criminal justice response that assists all victims of crime, and he expressed his sincere gratitude and appreciation to those members of the community who are victim service providers and to the criminal justice professionals who are committed to improving our response to all victims of crime.

 

USVI Department of Human Services Honors Victims of Crime with Memory Tree Ribbon Ceremony

April 20, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS —The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS) paid tribute to victims of crime with a private memory tree ribbon ceremony today in honor of the 40th Anniversary of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which takes place from April 18-24 this year.

About 97 ribbons were tied to branches of a tree along Sugar Beach in St. Croix by DHS staff and the Administrator of the Criminal Victims Compensation Commission (CVCC). The display of color-coded ribbons represented a ratio of 2020 data from five specific acts of crime: homicide, survivors of gunshot wounds, physical assault, sexual assault, and DUI’s. Each single ribbon represents five persons who were directly impacted by an act of violent crime.

The Crime Victims Compensation Commission is taking to heart this year's theme: “Support Victims, Build Trust, Engage Communities.” DHS is moving forward to strengthen the CVCC program by identifying new sources of funding, providing useful referrals, and processing claims for compensation.

“We remember victims and survivors of crime and their families and hope we can work together to build a community where we are all safe from crime,” DHS Commissioner Kimberley Causey- Gomez said.

The Criminal Victims Compensation Commission provides monetary assistance to innocent victims of violent crime. The CVCC helps victims of crime and their families with the physical and emotional aftermath of a crime by easing the financial losses incurred by providing reimbursement and financial benefits for expenses such as medical expenses, loss of wages and mental health counseling. For more information, please call 340-718-2980.

Governor Bryan Ends Beach Curfew, Eases COVID-19 Restrictions for Restaurants

April 19, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — During the Government House weekly press briefing on Monday, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. ended the curfews at all of the Territory’s beaches, which had been ordered closed by 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The existing curfew will be lifted beginning Friday, April 23; however, the restrictions prohibiting grilling, DJs and live or amplified music as well as social distancing and mass gatherings guidelines will remain in effect.

Additionally, Governor Bryan said because they pose less of a risk to transmission of infection now than they did previously, restaurants can now place tables 4 feet apart.

“I am encouraged by our progress thus far to achieve herd immunity and promised several weeks ago that we would look at restrictions we can safely remove as we move forward with our vaccination strategy,” Governor Bryan said. “These lessened restrictions will allow us to deploy our law enforcement resources in the other areas that they patrol that require their attention.

“I am appealing to the listening public to exercise the good judgment and restraint that will continue to keep our community safe from this virus,” the Governor said. “If we cannot practice good judgment and restraint, I will be forced to reinstitute the curfew.”

Finance Commissioner Nominee

Governor Bryan also announced that he has chosen Bosede Bruce as his nominee to lead the Virgin Islands Department of Finance. Commissioner Nominee Bruce is a native of St. John who is returning to the Territory from Chicago, where she was the comptroller for Echelon Property & Casualty Insurance Company.

Ms. Bruce earned a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Tuskegee University and a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of the Virgin Islands, and she has more than 20 years’ experience in accounting, finance and financial reporting structure.

27th COVID-19 Victim

Governor Bryan also extended sincere condolences to the family of the Territory’s 27th death from COVID-19, who died last week.

“Our latest Virgin Islander to succumb to COVID-19 is a stark reminder that this virus is still a threat to the health and safety of our community. That is why we continue to urge everyone to take the vaccine and continue to wear your mask, practice safe social distancing and wash, wash, wash your hands,” the Governor said. “You don’t have to go to that mass gathering. You can stay away and keep not only you, but your family safe. I pray to dear God that this will be the last Virgin Islander to lose their life to this awful pandemic.”