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December 21, 2004

Antique barometer stolen from Fort Christian Museum

ST. THOMAS - An irreplaceable part of Virgin Islands history was stolen from the Fort Christian Museum, officials from the museum said, and they are appealing to whoever took the antique to return it.

Museum personnel reported the theft about 4 p.m. Thursday. The item - described as an antique barometer - last was seen on display Wednesday morning, according to a Sunday statement from police.

Myron Jackson, director of the V.I. State Historic Preservation Office, said the missing antique is a barometer that had been used to measure air pressure and could help determine whether a hurricane was imminent.

Jackson said it hung on a wall in an enclosed antique furniture exhibition.

"Someone went over and lifted it off the wall," Jackson said. "It's an unfortunate incident."

Jackson said that because of the theft, future museum visitors must leave all their bags at the front before taking the self-guided tour.

The barometer is encased in a dark mahogany frame and is very heavy because of the frame, metal and glasswork. There was no information Sunday about its age, but the police statement indicated it was valued at more than $100.

Police urge anyone with information about the incident to contact the museum at 776-4566 or the V.I. Police Department at 774-2211. The information received will be kept confidential.

Posted by afinta at 08:31 PM

December 13, 2004

Sad news -

10,000 V.I. children live in poverty, report shows
By AYESHA MORRIS
Saturday, December 11th 2004

ST. THOMAS - While child poverty has slightly dropped in the Virgin Islands, almost 10,000 local children, or 30.6 percent, remain impoverished - almost double the national average.

Those figures were at the core of the Kids Count report released Friday by the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands. The report tracks the well-being of children in the territory.

Kids Count is part of a national campaign funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to trace 13 indicators of children's well-being - from the percentage of children living in poverty to the high school dropout rate, birth rate and violent crime arrest rate among teens.

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Posted by afinta at 01:09 AM

December 09, 2004

Schneider Hospital is mulling options in wake of surgical center's approval

This new out patient clinic/hospital things has been a brewing controversy for some time. I think it is a pretty complex issue, and Schneider Hospital seems to have made some great strides in the last few years. I would hate to see something new short circuit their revenues. This is a complex issue, I would like to hear opinions about it.

By JOY BLACKBURN Tuesday, December 7th 2004

ST. THOMAS - The controversy surrounding a proposed privately owned outpatient surgical center here does not appear likely to die down soon, despite the fact that the center has been granted a certificate of need by the Health commissioner.

At a special hospital board meeting called Monday night, Schneider Hospital officials left open the possibility that the organization might pursue legal action in an attempt to stop development of the facility.

Schneider Hospital Chief Executive Officer Rodney Miller distributed an unsigned, unaddressed document that he said was the only written notification the hospital had received about Health Commissioner Darlene Carty's decision to grant the certificate of need.

Miller said he received the document via e-mail only after requesting it from Government House spokesman James O'Bryan Jr.

Miller said hospital officials are still analyzing the document and its overall impact, but that "there are a number of things we will have to consider from a legal standpoint."

The hospital has been a vocal opponent of the proposed surgical center, where outpatient procedures would be done and patients would not stay overnight.

The doctors backing the proposal say the center will provide a much-needed service and a choice that will help stem the flow of residents going off-island for health care. Hospital officials counter that the facility would rob the hospital of insured patients and revenue-generating outpatient procedures, which could cripple its ability to provide other needed services to the community.

The document says that "anyone can appeal the commissioner's decision, based on the grounds for reconsideration specified in the rules and regulations." Miller said hospital officials requested the rules and regulations from Carty on Monday to determine whether they have grounds to appeal the decision.

He would not comment Monday on any specific action the hospital plans to take. Schneider Hospital officials have scheduled a press conference Thursday to respond to the decision.

"I would say at this point, we are considering all options to preserve health care for the people of the Virgin Islands, specifically, the St. Thomas-St. John District," Miller said.

Attorney David Bornn, who represents the doctors backing the facility, did not return a Daily News telephone call seeking comment Monday night.

Posted by afinta at 11:37 AM

December 08, 2004

Isidor Paiewonsky dies

ST. THOMAS - Isidor Paiewonsky, who was known as a gentleman, entrepreneur and scholar of the Virgin Islands, died peacefully Monday morning, surrounded by family members at Schneider Hospital.

He was 95.

One of his crowning achievements was helping to restore several Napoleonic-era ruins on Hassel Island and later giving much of the land to the National Park Service to be preserved for future generations.

"Those were some of his great passions - historic preservation and restoration," said Filippo Cassinelli, Paiewonsky's grandson.

Born Oct. 24, 1909 - while the Virgin Islands were still under Danish rule - on Synagogue Hill to parents Isaac and Rebecca Paiewonsky, he attended primary school on St. Thomas before continuing his education in New York.

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Posted by afinta at 07:00 PM

December 07, 2004

A nurse's aide who quit her job to take a cruise hit the jackpot.

Carol Baird won a $321,694 slot machine jackpot aboard a Carnival Cruise Lines ship off the U.S. Virgin Islands early Wednesday.

Baird, 59, quit her job after realizing she had booked her cruise in violation of her company's policy prohibiting personal vacation time seven days before or after a holiday.

"When I booked the cruise, I didn't look at the calendar," Baird said Thursday.

So she decided to quit her job at a nursing home after 17 years.

Baird said she was playing the ship's MegaCash machine, featuring a fleet-wide progressive jackpot, with her husband gaming next to her. Initially she didn't realize she had struck the bonanza.

"Now I'm glad I did (quit)," she said.

Baird said she was going to get the jackpot payout in installments over six years "so I don't have to work."

Posted by afinta at 10:51 AM

December 04, 2004

U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Calls for Coordinated Efforts to Avoid Adverse Impacts on Reefs; Launches Local Strategy Implementation

MIAMI, Dec. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force called for improved interagency coordination to avoid adverse coral reef impacts during spawning season, and for the establishment of interagency working groups to develop standard mitigation protocols and best management practices, as they wrapped up a two-day meeting today in Miami.
(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20041022/DCF003LOGO )

"It is critical we strengthen efforts to insure the conservation of these marine resources," said Timothy Keeney, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and Task Force co-chair. "As the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy notes, healthy coral reefs support millions of dollars in economic activities in U.S. coastal communities and hold tremendous potential for pharmaceutical and medicinal products that can address human health needs. The actions we took today will help implement that conservation."

The Task Force passed two resolutions during its 12th biannual meeting. The first recognized that corals are the primary reef builders that create habitat for tens of thousands of species of plant and animal life, and that as such their spawning periods are vital to their continued survival and those of the plants and animals who use the reefs as habitat.

The Task Force called on all federal agencies conducting activities in coastal waters adjacent to or on coral reefs to assess activity impacts on coral reproduction and life cycles. It further called for development of additional forecasts of coral spawning events to help avoid impacts on coral reproduction.

The second resolution called for the establishment of interagency working groups -- federal, state and territories -- to develop and "implement a more effective and efficient mitigation process for coral reef ecosystems." This effort is another step which reflects the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy's call for better coordination of ocean resource management. The Task Force further called for "fully considering support for the interagency working groups as a high priority for funding in applicable areas."

In addition to the resolutions, a major outcome of the meeting was the full-scale launch of "Three-Year Local Action Strategies" in each of seven Task Force jurisdictions. Each jurisdiction has spent the past year developing these local strategies to translate national priorities into measurable local projects.

White House Council of Environmental Quality chairman James L. Connaughton brought good news to this effort announcing that President Bush will request $2.7 million to support state and local coral conservation efforts to implement the strategies.

"Better coordination of environmental efforts is always worthwhile," said Marshall Jones, deputy director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "The Task Force is adopting a policy we know will lead to concrete improvements in how we protect our reefs."

Local Action Strategies have been developed to bring the goals of the National U.S. Coral Reef Action Plan to the local level. They seek to address six priority threats to corals: over-fishing, land-based sources of pollution, recreational overuse and misuse, lack of public awareness, climate change and coral bleaching, and disease.

"The implementation of these local action strategies has allowed the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force agencies to identify local needs, connect local priorities to national goals and better coordinate agency action in support of those efforts," noted Roger Griffis, coordinator of NOAA's coral reef conservation program.

The seven jurisdictions impacted by these plans are Florida, Hawaii, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The two-day public meeting featured an expert panel on building resilience in reef ecosystems in south Florida; a presentation on Australia's latest reef management efforts; and updates on key forthcoming reports including the State of U.S. Reefs, Reefs at Risk, and recent report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.

On the meetings opening day, two events highlighted the ongoing cooperation of U.S. agencies and Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). First, GBRMPA posthumously honored Nancy Foster, longtime NOAA scientist and administrator, with the naming of a section of the world's largest coral reef in her honor. Foster served in a variety of positions during a 23-year NOAA career, and is only the second American to receive the naming recognition. The other American honoree was famed ecologist Rachel Carson in 1996.

The second U.S.-Australian announcement was that of a partnership between NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP), the State of Florida and the GBRMPA to improve coral reef resilience. Resilience is the natural ability of corals to survive and recover from stresses in the natural environment.

"This unprecedented partnership reinforces Florida's commitment to protecting and restoring coral reefs," said Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Colleen M. Castille. "Sharing the latest science expands our ability to accelerate global research and improve water quality, wildlife habitat and the resiliency of reefs worldwide."

A series of workshop symposiums were also held in conjunction with the formal business meeting. These workshops were designed to educate Task Force agencies and the interested public about Florida's coral reef threats and conservation successes, and to fuel support and involvement in local initiatives. The workshops were free and were attended by federal, state and territory agency representatives; Florida coral reef managers and researchers; national and local conservation organizations; and the interested local public.

Two individuals were presented with special "Coral Champion" awards for outstanding lifetime contributions to the conservation and management of coral reefs: Billy Causey, Superintendent for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and Joel Tutien, manager of the U.S. Virgin Islands National Coral Reef Monument.

The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force biannual meeting has been scheduled for March 2-3, 2005, in Washington, D.C.

Ten additional Coral Reef Task Force awards were presented to the following organizations or individuals in five categories:

Outstanding Public Awareness and Education:

John Hargis, Teacher/Educator, Palm Beach County School District, Florida Seacamp Association, Inc., Big Pine Key, Florida

Outstanding Scientific Advancement of Knowledge:

Robert Ginsburg, Ph.D., Professor of Marine Geology, University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Miami, Florida

Walter Jaap, Ph.D., Coral Reef Ecologist, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Marine Research Institute
Outstanding Community Level Participation:

Peter Gladding, Private commercial fisherman, Florida (posthumous)

Jay Cashmere, WPTV News Channel 5, Florida

Ocean Watch Foundation, Lighthouse Point, Florida

Outstanding Management -- National

Hanalei Watershed Hui, Hanalei, Hawaii

Outstanding Management -- International

Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute, Belize

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville, Australia

A Presidential Executive Order established the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force in 1998 to lead U.S. efforts to preserve and protect coral reef ecosystems. Through the coordinated efforts of its members, including representatives of 12 federal agencies, the governors of seven states and territories, and the leaders of the Freely Associated States, the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force has helped lead U.S. efforts to protect and manage valuable coral reef ecosystems in the U.S. and internationally. NOAA and Department of Interior co-chair the Task Force.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources.
On the Web:
NOAA -- http://www.noaa.gov
U.S. Department of the Interior -- http://www.doi.gov
U.S. Coral Reef Task Force -- http://www.coralreef.gov
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary -- http://floridakeys.noaa.gov
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park -- http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au
State of Florida DEP -- http://www.florida.dep.org

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Posted by afinta at 12:19 PM

December 01, 2004

St. Croix hopes to woo back tourists

By MAT PROBASCO, ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) - Despite its white sand beaches, coral reefs and historic sites including centuries-old sugar mills, St. Croix has been bypassed recently by most tourists cruising the Caribbean.

That is about to change on Tuesday, as Royal Caribbean cruise ships begin making twice-weekly overnight stops in the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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Posted by afinta at 10:10 AM