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Tourism is going underwater in Chicago

It's 79° Fahrenheit  72% humidity. Mostly cloudy skies  
Wind out of the North East at 2 mph
Barometric pressure is 29.97 rising  
Water temp: 79° in Charlotte Amalie  St. Thomas
No rain
Doppler radar shows: Showers on  the way   Satellite Photo Shows: We’ve been watching a cold front hover north of our area for days, now it looks like that front will pass through here today.

The national weather forecast calls for cloudy this morning with scattered showers... Brief periods of moderate to locally heavy rainfall...gusty winds...reduced visibilities...and ponding of water on roadways this morning.  

Then variably cloudy skies with scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon. Highs 83. Northeast winds around 5 mph shifting to the north 10 to 15 mph with gusts to around 30 mph in the afternoon. Chance of rain 40 percent.

On this Friday February 18 we welcome :
Seaborne Legend , Mercury to Havensight  Dock
Maasdam - - to Austin Monsanto Marine Terminal and St. John has Azamara Journey

At the top of the news on Friday February 18  
Governor John DeJongh convened his Comprehensive Economic development Strategy Committee on Wednesday at Government House to discuss economic development for the territory. They got a financial briefing on the government’s fiscal health and a briefing on the Cost of living in the territory. On the agenda, a better trained workforce, access to capital for entrepreneurs and streamlining of licensing and permitting process.

The Governor met with Chamber of Commerce earlier in the week, They asked that the government be more aggressive collecting the existing Gross Receipts Tax before they raise the tax.  It is wrong to charge those willing to pay more while so many duck their taxes. The Governor said – it is already happening. Oh and expect three land tax bills per year until the taxes are caught up.

The Juan Luis Hospital wants to pre-pay for a half million dollars worth of medicines. New CEO, Jeff Nelson, said that having the right medication at the right time is critical.  Reprogramming of the funds will require Senate approval because the money is for emergency room renovations – Nelson says that can wait a year. Pre-paying will save the hospital money.

Gasoline prices are up again and probably not coming down. The U.S. Energy Information Agency expects retail prices for regular gas to average $3.15 per gallon in 2011—37 cents per gallon higher than the 2010 average—and $3.30 per gallon in 2012. St. Croix prices usually match the stateside average, while St. Thomas prices are higher by 80 to 90 cents per gallon. Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs says the best bargain for self-service gas on St. Croix as of Feb. 16, Three stations had gas for $2,98 – they are Five Corners Gas Station, Gateway Service Station and Royal Service Station. On St. Thomas, Total in Frenchtown has gas for $3.76.

GERS paid 5 million dollars to buy 170 acres of land in Coakley bay with plans to develop the land for home sites for retirees and government employees. The Christian Hendricks Trust owned the land and was asking 9 million dollars for the acres, but dropped the price to sell it to the government retirees.

Bournfield residents will be the topic as the Port Authority Board holds a special meeting on Monday at the Port Authority Administration Building at 9:00 AM. Monday is President’s Day Holiday and the special meeting will give the board an update on the structures in Bournefield and the hardship closing Bournefield represents for the residents.  It is not clear if there will be time set aside for the residents to voice their concerns.

The Agriculture Fair in St. Croix is coming this weekend  - Opening ceremonies for the 40th Annual USVI Agriculture and Food Fair are slated for 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 19.

On Saturday the fair features a grand quadrille dance from 2 to 6:00 PM at the main stage. Love City Pan Dragons will perform, so will Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra. On Sunday a gospel Singspiration is featruresd along with the Jr. Calypso competition, Latin music and Fusion Band on the East Stage.  Monday will feature Love City Pan Dragons and the Fyah Train with Katalis and Sherise King. Every day there are food demonstrations and food competitions.  It is all at the Rudolph Shulterbrandt Agricultural Complex in Estate Lower Love, St. Croix. Gates are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for children and $4 for senior citizens. DOA reminds you that their offices are operating on Special reduced hours during the Agriculture fair. on St. Croix – they will reopen on Monday. St. Thomas Agriculture offices will close today at noon to allow staff to go to the fair.

The Department of Health is offering  free health screenings during the Aggie fair and educational information about health;  breast and cervical cancer, diabetes and other chronic disease information will be available. Oh and look for the new Department of Health No Smoking Signs available at the fair.

Motorists are  reminded of parking restrictions around the St. Croix Agriculture fair. From February 19 to 21 there are restrictions in effect along Queen Mary Highway, Estate Lower Love road and along the fencing by the fair ground.  Only authorized vehicles are allowed on the fair grounds.

Our Dept. of Tourism is at the World Underwater in Chicago, IL  this weekend,  This is a longstanding dive and travel show in its 41st year, that brings together hundreds of exhibitors and draws thousands of visitors to the Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois over three days. Our tourism staff is there amid in-depth workshops, manufacturer clinics, book signings, a film festival and seminars for dive and underwater experts and enthusiasts. The Dept. of Tourism  will be on site to promote the USVI’s various dive offerings.

Nigel O. Hodge Foundation will be visiting pre-schools today  as part of the commemoration of the birthday of Nigel O. Hodge. Josephie Hodge will be reading to the pre-scholars at Heavenly Preschool,. Building Blocks of Love and the Paradise Preschool on Friday and encouraging a love of reading among the tiniest of children.

News from the Retired Fire Fighters – they elected new officers – Elroy Pickering in the new Sergeant-at-Arms, Asst treasurer is Gustav Dowling, JoseJames is the treasurer. LouBen Daniel is the secretary and Jose “Crash” Kean Junior is Public relations officer and the Vice-President.  The President of the Retired Fire Fighters is Frankie Soar and all retired firefighters are reminded of the upcoming meeting on February 25 at 6:00 PM at Kilo COmpany in Bournefield.

Street Beat, a critically acclaimed percussion and hip hop dance show that plays to sold-out audiences around the country, will NOT present a show at Island Center on St. Croix that is canceled. They will perform on Saturday at the Reichhold Center for the Arts on St. Thomas on Saturday. Street Beat employs trash cans, paint buckets and auto parts to create its unique hip sound, while adding high energy and astonishing acrobatics. Show start at 7 p.m. For tickets call 693-1559

Dept. Housing Parks and Recreation is inviting everyone on St. Croix to the Quadrille dance With Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights on tonight  at the D.C. Canegata Multi-Purpose Center – 9:00 PM to 2am. $5 for entry.  There is also a free class in wellness from 6 to 8:00 PM at the same location.  For more information call 773-3954.

Governor John DeJongh says this is Dental health month in the Virgin Islands and calls on all residents to pay attention to dental health, see your dentist regularly and make sure you are practicing good dental health.

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