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Legislature raises Gross Receipts Tax  

It's 79° Fahrenheit  78% humidity. Clear Skies
Wind out of the East South East at 8 mph  (note this is the first turn toward the south east since the Winter solstice)

Barometric pressure is 30.01 and rising  
Water temp: 79° in Charlotte Amalie  St. Thomas
We had  .00 inches of rain in the last 24 hours.
Doppler radar shows: Mostly Clear Skies  The Satellite Photo shows: Clear Skies

The national weather forecast calls for Partly cloudy with isolated showers. Highs 83. East winds 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 20 percent.

On this Friday March 25    we welcome to Cruise Ship News
Explorer of the Seas  - - to Havensight  Dock
Maasdam and Emerald Princess  - - to Austin Monsanto Marine Terminal

At the top of the news on Friday March 25

The Legislature finished up their session on Thursday – well after midnight.  They approved an increase in the Gross Receipts Tax to 4.5% Not the 5% the Governor asked for but more than the present 4% tax. The Hotel Occupancy Tax will go up from 8% to 10% and the senators approved a moratorium on the purchase of new vehicles and stricter rules on the use of government vehicles. Another provision of the bill will require all government employees to pay their own cell phone bills, no more free ride on government money for cell phones. Oh except the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, senators, judges, magistrates, Police Department staff and VI Fire Service and emergency providers.  The Senators approved increases for the fees for liquor licenses, night clubs and marriage licenses. The senators also approved a 3% across the board reduction in government allotments to various agencies of the government. Another provision of the bill calls for filling positions in government agencies to reduce the amount  overtime being paid. And the Senators moved the entire government to line item budgets instead of lump sum budgets.

The Senators balked at approving new bonds to fund the local share of the Governor’s Broadband initiative.  Julito Francis said he had to tell Washington that the local government was making progress toward paying for our share and he has to tell them now.  Deadline is today! The senators were not impressed. They forwarded the bill to the Committee on Economic Development, Technology and Agriculture for consideration. They all balked at borrowing 42.5 million dollars as our part of getting 68 million from the federal government, even though the Virgin Islands is the only jurisdiction to secure all of the grants offered by the federal government which is quite an accomplishment, the senators balked at the salary being paid to Julito Francis and his aide.  Francis made 97,000 as head of the Public Finance Authority but got the NextGen Board to pay him $170,000 and pay his right hand man 105,000.  Senators thought that was a bit rich. The project calls for 244 miles of a new fiber optic ring to link all islands and connect the Virgin Islands to the worldwide Internet. and to fund 45 public computer centers throughout the territory.

Governor John DeJongh says the Virgin Islands got a new million dollar grant from the Dept. of Health and Human Services in Washington DC – to explore how the Virgin Islands will participate in the American Health benefit exchange under Obama care.

How will WAPA get its oil. HOVENSA says they want to get out of the delivery business – they have no plans to replace the barge that brings oil to St. Thomas from St. Croix. We have a year to figure this one out or run out of fuel. The WAPA Board approved a one year extension to their present contract to buy oil from Hovensa and to continue using the current barge. It all chances June 2012By then they have to figure out another way to get oil to St. Thomas. The board approved repairs to Unit 15

Did your High School student get an invitation to join the National Society of High School Scholars? Pay $60 and get in a book that list all the scholars? Pay more for a medallion or a patch or T-shirt.  It’s a fake.  Same at the Whos Who of American High School Students and the National Honor roll.  Scams to take your money. Not real honors. They have sent invitations to a huge long mailing list of all the students in all schools. And the worst of these are a front for a marketing company that uses the information they get to try to sell your students a lot of other stuff unrelated to school or achievement. They’ll sign up anyone who will pay the fees.  No special honor. No bragging rights. Sorry. Oh and this is quite different from the National Honor Society which is open ONLY to students with the highest grades and best academic performance.

Department of Planning and Natural Resources is having a  meeting to focus discussion on the USVI development code – part of the 2009 Zoning and Subdivision Code Assessment.  The meeting is today at 6:00 PM at the Florence Williams Public Library. St. Croix

WAPA will be installing a new 6 inch water line today in Contant Knolls to the Old Mill.  One lane will be open during construction.

United Way is having a annual meeting on Friday  at 6:00 PM at Great Bay Ballroom at the Ritz Carlton St. Thomas. They will give an update on the 2010 community impact activities and disclose the 2011 fundraising campaign goals and elect new board members and officers.  Who benefits from United Way – American Red Cross, Catholic Charities, Dial-A-Ride, Ebenezer Gardens and many other community not-for-profit organizations.

Retired Fire Fighters is meeting at Friday at 6:00 PM at Kilo Company – all retired firefighters are urged to attend and all are welcome.

American Red Cross is having a “Fill the Boot” campaign on Friday with the help of the VI Fire Service  on St. Thomas and St. Croix – there will be firemen’s boots where you can make a contribution to American Red Cross at Sunny Isles Shopping Center, Five Corners, and Mars Hill. On St. Thomas at vendor’s Plaza and at Four Winds Plaza.

Hearty Congratulations to the UVI students who won the 2011 Spring Student Research Symposium.  Among the winners. Kenya Emanuel, Jan Alexis Barry, Odari Thomas and Stella Jarvis and Bryan Legare and Chistopher Loeffler

We all need to help our own Sondria Pemberton the replacement Good News Gal.  She has a film in a competition and needs our votes. Go to this web site: and vote for the tropical day movie. She is up yo 700 votes now but the leader has 1400. Everyone vote every day and Sondria gives a Big Thank You to everyone who is helping her win.

Thank You

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