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Senate Committee passes head tax increase

It's 78° Fahrenheit  64% humidity. Mostly clear skies
Wind out of the East North East at 8 mph  
Barometric pressure is 29.94 and rising  
Water temp: 78° in Charlotte Amalie  St. Thomas
No rain.  
Doppler radar shows: Mostly Clear Skies  The Satellite Photo shows: Clear Skies

The national weather forecast calls for Variably cloudy this morning then becoming mostly cloudy. Scattered showers. Highs 84. Breezy Northeast winds 15 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 50 percent.

On this Tuesday March 22 we welcome to: Cruise Ship News
Liberty and the Liberty of the seas to Havensight  Dock

At the top of the news on Tuesday March 22

Senate Rules Committee met and approved all of the bills before them.  They debated the plan to build a Parking Lot beside the existing Fort Christian Parking Lot and amended the bill to insure there is no disturbance to the Parking Lot where Carnival is held or any disturbance to the historic buildings in the area. Not more than three stories and work must begin by October 30, 2012.  Among amendments was one to allocate 2 million dollars from the St. Croix capital Improvement fund to build an indoor multi-purpose complex is Estate Stoney Ground. Another changes the requirements for the position of head of the Bureau of Information Technology. The Senators also moved forward a plan to try using e-books in the public schools and they approved increasing the head tax on cruise ship visitors by $1 and allow the cruise ships to operate their casinos while a ship is in port. When the ship stays past 5PM.  They also approved using 2 million of the Tourism Advertising revolving fund to promote St. Croix exclusively. Today the Senate Committee on Planning and Environmental Protection is meeting to consider a Coastal Zone Management permit for Sea Chest, and the full senate will meet on Wednesday to consider all the bills passed by the rules committee.

Education Commissioner, Dr. La Verne Terry, announces the opening of the 2011 testing season with scheduled Virgin Islands Territorial Assessment of Learning testing from March, 21-25, 2011. Dr. Terry said, We cannot say enough how important these tests are to the overall process of school improvement. We need all students to continue reporting to school each day and on time, be sure to be on time and participate in the testing, as well as to be well rested and nutritionally prepared on each testing day.

Governor John DeJongh announced that this year’s Transfer Day activities will be held on St. Croix this year. The event will be held at the Lawaetz museum on March 31 and there will be a ruins ramble after the transfer ceremony. The Governor reminded everyone to open their hearts to the visiting Danes coming here for Transfer Day.

Economic Development Authority approved a half million dollars in loans to help small business in the territory.  They have approved 1.6 million so far this year. One loan will help a restaurant remain open and expand, another loan will help a consulting firm add a new position. The Economic Development Authority is looking for business on St. John and they are on St. John on Thursday from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM at the Battery.

Good News from UVI where the new St. John academic center opened last evening.  There are many possible uses for the center. St. John students can take classes offered on St. Thomas and St. Croix.  Cooperative Extension Service will be able to bring St. Johnians into their programs normally offered on the bigger islands. and Delegate Dr. Donna Christensen noted that St. John residents will be able to link into her town hall meetings held on another island could include St. John by using the Academic Center’s videoconferencing. The territory’s various boards and commissions could use the videoconferencing feature to hold meetings as well. The center was opened with a federal grant of $337,000 and will run for five years. After that – the center has to pay for itself.

Who can help Work-Able, Inc?  Our  community-based non-profit, workforce development agency  is in serious financial difficulty at this time!  They specialize in providing employment, training and transition services to our youth and adults with disabilities, as well as others with support needs in the workforce.  Work-Able Inc. needs to raise $100,000 by the end of April to pay off mounting debt, and be able to continue to provide these much needed services in our community.  Who can contribute? You can call Gwendolyn T. Powell at 774-5899 Contributions are all Tax-deductible. Call 774-5899.

St. Thomas special Olympics volunteers are meeting at 5:30 PM at Havensight Mall. Call 776-4303. The special Olympic games are on Saturday March 26 at the CAHS starting at 8:00 AM.

Schneider Hospital is looking for volunteers with interests skills and time to help in patient care, and services to enhance the patient experience. Alice Taylor the CEO says there are many people with a compassionate spirit and talents suitable for the needs of Schneider Hospital patients.  Call Lisa Williams the volunteer coordinator at 776-8311 ex 5086.

Dr. James Rakocy, a well known former University of the Virgin Islands professor and researcher on the St. Croix campus, will present a talk titled “Amazing Thailand” at 5:30 this evening in the Great Hall of the North West Wing Building on St. Croix. Dr. Rakocy’s presentation is sponsored by UVI’s The Caribbean Writer and the Agricultural Experiment Station. The event is free and open to the public. Dr. Rakocy recently retired from UVI after 30 years of service. He was the director of the Agricultural Experiment Station and a research professor of aquaculture. His main area of research centered on the development of aquaponics, the integration of fish culture and vegetable hydroponics in re-circulating systems. He directed the development of a commercial aquaponics system, which has become well known worldwide.  He has made presentations on Aquaponics in all over the world.  Now he is planning to retire in Thailand living at the top of Golden Buddha Hill overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. The program on Amazing Thailand is this evening at 5:30 PM Great Hall North West Wing UVI St. Croix Campus. call 692-4152.

This is Tsunami Awareness week in the Virgin Islands and tomorrow the Virgin Islands will hold a tsunami response exercise designed to evaluate local response plans, increase preparedness, and improve coordination throughout the region.  The exercise, called CARIBE WAVE 11, will simulate a widespread tsunami warning and watch situation throughout the Caribbean which requires implementation of local tsunami response plans. It is the first such international exercise in the Caribbean region and will include public notification through the Emergency Alert System, which means a tsunami warning message will be aired on radio and televisions stations across the territory. The exercise will simulate a major earthquake and tsunami generated 25 miles southeast of Fajardo, Puerto Rico and 55 miles southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico at 9 am. Atlantic Standard Time.
So tomorrow around 9:00 AM you may hear or see a message that a tsunami warning has been issued for all of the Virgin Islands. But it’s just a test to make sure that the tsunami warning system works on all three islands. So tell your friends and family: It’s not a real emergency, Do not evacuate your home. Do not call 9-1-1, So remember, on Wednesday, “Don’t stress, it’s just a Test!”

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