October 28, 2005
Innovative Files $200 Million Suit Against Rural Telephone Finance Cooperative and Officers-Directors as Individuals
ST. CROIX, U.S. Virgin Islands, Oct. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Innovative Communication Corporation today filed a lawsuit for more than $200 million against the Rural Telephone Finance Cooperative of Herndon, Va., and two of its officers and directors as individuals. The suit accuses them of maliciously using the courts for improper purposes with an agenda of destroying one of its borrowers in good standing and current on all loan payment obligations.
October 24, 2005
Avoiding Taxes Harder As Scrutiny Increases
"The Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration has made its first demand for payment of overdue state income taxes from an unidentified Arkansan who claimed to be a resident of the U.S. Virgin Islands."
US Virgin Islands National Park access threatened
From Caribbean Net News (I can't say they are a news organization that I have full faith in):
ST THOMAS, USVI: Friends of Virgin Islands National Park (FVINP) president, Joe Kessler has released information on the organization's web site, detailing a 441 acre land deal involving, "...stretches from Maho Bay beach to Centerline Road, Mamey Peak and Ajax Peak."
Kessler states, "... potential buyers are in 'secret negotiations' with the heirs of the land's original owners and are, at the same time, trying to force the National Park Service to sell its share of the property in return for the designation of 80 acres as a conservation area."
The president of the 3,000-member group, with members each state of the union and a dozen foreign countries, went on to say, "The developer is also planning to divert North Shore Road in such a way as to make Maho Bay beach access more difficult and to build a private dock at Maho."
The potential buyers have been identified by FVINP as James and Marilyn Simons, of New York City. They are sponsors of the charitable, Simons Foundation, a non-profit organization chartered with the state of Delaware. According to Kessler, 44 acres would be allocated for the present Maho Bay Institute as a "think tank", 42 acres for the heirs' residential sites, and 89 acres for the family compound and (presumably) other residential sites.
Kessler pointed out that Maho Beach is the most accessible beach on St. John for both visitors and island residents with disabilities. People can be transported to within about 20 feet of the water and the beach, as well as the submerged, relatively flat land.
Recent tourism publications have highlighted the accessibility of the Maho Bay area for visitors with mobility disabilities. The area serves as a model, new initiative for the disabled, according to information released by USVI Tourism officials at the current, International, Caribbean Tourism Conference.
The developer also wants the right to clean and drain the wetlands area in Maho Bay, and open a permanent waterway. Kessler says the wetland area has kept Maho Bay clean for the last 50 years, and to do so would "environmentally devastate Maho Bay."
The organization's president released the following statement to Caribbean Net News, "The Jackson Hole Preserve (Laurence Rockefeller's Foundation) was donated to the US Government specifically for the establishment of Virgin Islands National Park," and "Furthermore, within the transfer deed was a 'reversion clause' which basically states that should the land donated by JHP no longer be used as a national park, the land reverts to JHP."
Caribbean Fears Storms Will Hurt Tourism
This AP article was filed from the US Virgin Islands - it is without a byline but I assume someone is there covering the CTC conference. It does raise and interesting and valid point though of guilt by association - consumers tend to think of the Caribbean as a whole, and bad news for one island can be construed as bad news for many:
"CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) - Caribbean tourism officials are worried this year's record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season could scare away visitors who may falsely believe the entire region has been affected by the flurry of storms.
How to deal with the negative publicity surrounding hurricanes was one of several issues officials planned to tackle at the four-day Caribbean Tourism Conference that kicked off Sunday in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The meeting came as the record-breaking 22nd named storm of the season, Alpha, came ashore over the Dominican Republic and Haiti, days after a fierce Hurricane Wilma roared through the region before slamming Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Alpha later weakened into a depression.
Officials say the Caribbean's frequent association with storms only makes life harder for the region's fickle tourism industry, the backbone of many small-island economies. The region has seen a slow but steady rise in visitors since a drought in travel after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
"People's sense of geography isn't as sharp as we would wish it to be, so the perception is that when one country is affected (by hurricanes), all are," said Hugh Riley, marketing director for the 32-member Caribbean Tourism Organization.
A spokesman for the tourism department of the British Caribbean territory of the Turks and Caicos islands agreed.
"If there's a hurricane off Barbados, we get calls (from abroad) asking if family members are OK in the Turks and Caicos," some 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away, said Kingsley Been."
Click here for the rest.
October 21, 2005
USVI Delegate seeks waiver for Virgin Islands charter boaters
From Caribbean Net News:
"ST THOMAS, USVI: The US Virgin Islands Delegate to Congress, Donna M. Christensen, has announced that she is working with federal and local Customs and Border Protection officials to secure a waiver of the requirement of the Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS), 33 CFR Part 160, for small vessels operating in US and British Virgin islands waters.
The Aviation and transportation Security Act of 2001 and the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of 2002 together mandate the collection of certain information on all passenger and crew members who arrive in and depart from the United States on a commercial air or sea carrier."
Click here for the rest.
October 11, 2005
Group’s St. John Protests Targeted Businesses
From the St. Thomas Source:
Oct. 10, 2005 – Many St. John residents remain puzzled as to why the St. Croix group, We the People for Justice, targeted St. John restaurants by holding sit-ins over the weekend.
St. John resident Ronnie Jones, who participated in some of the events, said the main purpose was to pressure law enforcement officials into providing information on the alleged rape of Esther Frett. No one has been arrested in connection with this case.
"It seems a long time to get any kind of response," Jones said.
He said that if someone had raped a "Caucasian lady, you know there would have been an arrest even if it wasn't factual."
Jones said the group also targeted Starfish Market because it was the "biggest business on St. John."
Click here for the whole story.
October 05, 2005
Abandoned historic building destroyed in blaze
From the VI Daily News:
"ST. THOMAS - A 150-year-old historic building on Bunker Hill that preservationists were hoping to turn into a museum was gutted by a fire early Friday.
St. Thomas-St. John Fire Chief Glenn Francis said firefighters from Hotel Company arrived at the Garden Street fire just five minutes after receiving the call about 6 a.m. Friday, but the building was entirely engulfed in flames.
"The fire was very intense," Francis said. "Because of the heat, we were unable to enter, and the roof and floor collapsed."
Francis said 15 firefighters from Hotel Company, Echo Company and some off-duty firefighters battled the blaze for about an hour to bring it under control. It took another hour to extinguish the flames, he said.
Containment of the fire was critical because it was close to other buildings, he said. No other buildings were damaged in the blaze, and no one was injured.
"Firefighters did a pretty good job," Francis said."
Always a sad day when St. Thomas loses another historical building. The rest of the article is here.
October 03, 2005
USVI march leader calls for blocking tourist dollars on St John
Here is another take on the march, with some more details, from Caribbean Net News:
"Leaders of the group would later say several charter boats canceled reservations once they learned the purpose of the group's trip; to lend a hand to the St. John community in calling attention to the lack of progress the FBI is making in solving the rape of a black woman by four white men on the island."
Many Calls for Unity at St. John Rally
So this is good news - it seems that the march on Saturday was a peaceful event. From the St. Thomas Source:
Oct. 1, 2005 –– Although Mario Moorhead threatened to do harm to Cruz Bay businesses if no one is apprehended in the Esther Frett alleged rape case, many people preferred to focus instead on the unity message at Saturday's Virgin Islands Unity Day march.
"After the rally comes the work," the Rev. Charles Crespo said.
Crespo, who shepherds the flock at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church on St. John, said the island needs to address issues like its racial dynamics, insufficient infrastructure, land grab, and accelerated over population.
About 250 people both black and white marched from the Winston Wells Ballfield through the streets of Cruz Bay. A rally followed at the ballfield.
The rest is here.
October 02, 2005
U.S. answers V.I. letter on St. John hate crime investigation
The Virgin Islands Daily News is reporting:
In a letter responding to Gov. Charles Turnbull's plea for intervention, a U.S. Justice Department official said Friday that several of its agencies are "devoting substantial resources" to investigating hate crimes on St. John.
Turnbull sent a letter Thursday to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in Washington, D.C., urging him to intervene, expressing concern about the lack of results in the federal investigation of reported hate crimes on the island.
In recent months a series of events - including an assault and reports of a rape, vandalism and several arsons - have resulted in a hate crime investigation by federal and local law enforcement agencies.
The rest is here.