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State of the Territory – At the Tipping Point  Jazz in St. John and Perseverance is the virtue of the week.

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At Havensight  Dock – Liberty

At the top of the news on Tuesday January 25  
Governor John DeJongh delivered  his fifth State of the Territory Address to the people of the Virgin Islands last evening. He says the Territory is at the tipping point.  We have to make it tip in the right direction or it will tip in the wrong direction.  We have to change how we think about our problems and how we develop solutions to our problems. He called on local residents to embrace the private sector and become entrepreneurs, start new businesses and create new opportunities.

The education of our children must be done better. In Education, 19 schools made Annual Yearly Progress but six schools have never did – he wants major changes. He suggested changing the length of the school year calling the present system archaic and an artificial limit that is hurting education. He called for replacing teachers who are failing our students. He also called for better early child education and child care pointing to the new Quality rating system. The Governor wants to build a new school on St. John, replace Cancryn Junior High and Central High School.

He wants the government process of permitting to be smoother and easier and more Customer friendly. Pointing out how many businesses trying to expand or people trying to build a home have felt hostage to government regulations and the permitting process. He wants a 30% reduction in the time it takes to get a permit.

In law enforcement and crime the Governor wants our police officers to be visible, accessible and responsible. He says the vast majority of homicides are committed by people under age 24  and called for more educational efforts to make sure our youth are trained for jobs that drive the economy. He also noted that the Police Department has a clearance rate of 65% on solving major crimes, far above the national average.  

In tourism, the Governor noted the success of eliminating the off-shore sales offices and creating virtual sales offices that are mobile and flexible. He called for new attention to traffic flow and transportation of visitors. Speaking of inter-island ferries he said what we have done in the past is not good enough.  The Governor proposed merging the Port Authority and West Indian Company Limited into one central authority over all of the Charlotte Amalie Port facilities.  He called for merging the University’s Research and Technology Park and the Economic Development Authority to bring a unified effort to attracting new high tech businesses. He also wants to bring the Waste Management Authority back under the general government structure. The Governor wants to merge the Department of Health and Dept. of Human Services – saying they perform similar services for the same people with redundant staff.  

He called for a new private public partnership to create a new world class sports complex in the area around the Paul E. Joseph Stadium with swimming and tennis facilities. He called upon private developers to move forward with hotel development on St. Croix.  The Governor also pointed to the new Broadband initiative as a huge project that promises to bring new technology and new jobs to the Virgin Islands. All to be done in short time and leading to 45 centers for public access to computers and advanced technology.

He also says we have tight times, The Governor called for a two year freeze on wages and three unpaid holidays.  Previously planned salary increases are on hold. He says we can’t afford it. and he is instituting a 17 million dollar cut back in executive branch department and asked all of the affiliated agencies to institute similar cut backs. He also plans to lay off 300 part time and per deim workers.  He was pleased to see the end of litigation over the land tax system which will bring new revenue to the government. The Governor called for a 2% increase in the hotel tax, and increase in the Time Share occupancy tax, a cell phone tax and a 1% increase in Gross Receipts Tax.

The Governor says that energy costs are part of our problem and called on WAPA to make plans to convert to fueling the generators with natural gas and put out requests for proposals to utilize solar energy.

Bureau of Internal Revenue reminds tax payers of the 90 day gross receipts tax amnesty which will expire January 25 tomorrow.

Coming Up Thursday - Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs announces that the lottery for ALL spaces in Vendors plaza is set for Thursday January 27 at 6:00 PM at the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs Conference Room.  Vendors MUST be present at the lottery and only the person whose name appears on the application may attend the lottery.  For more information call 774-3130 ex 4239.

Yesterday we had runners on Caribbean Princess – tomorrow we have jazz  - -St. John will be abuzz with the sounds of Rhythm & Blues on Wednesday, when the Eurodam anchors in Cruz Bay carrying a crew of Blues performers and more than 2,000 Blues fans aboard “The Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise.” This is the world’s only fully chartered Blues cruise. The Department of Tourism has a full lineup of local entertainment, cultural activities and educational programs across St. John for both residents and visitors to enjoy. Cruise passengers will be welcomed with steel pan music, mocko jumbies, Carnival dancers and greeters with island information and Cruzan Rum.  Vendors will offer locally made products in the Franklin Powell Park.  Cool Session Brass will perform with two Carnival troupes, Quadrille and Salsa dancers and a limbo show. The
Blues Cruise has visited St. Croix four times and St. Thomas twice. Wednesday’s is the first Blues Cruise to St. John.  

Our virtue of the week is  Perseverance. being steadfast and persistent.
You commit to your goals and overcome obstacles, no matter how long it takes.  When you persevere, you don’t give up…you keep going.  Like a strong ship in a storm, you don’t become battered or blown off course.  You just ride the waves.  You are practicing perseverance when you… Choose your commitments wisely
Set goals and stick with them until completed. Pace yourself, and take one step at a time. Don’t let doubts or tests blow you off course. Stand by your friends and loved ones. Your Affirmation is I have perseverance.  I finish what I start.  I keep steady in what I choose to do.  I am loyal and committed.

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