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Rules Committee makes major changes to Broadband initiative  

It's 79° Fahrenheit  69% humidity. Clear Skies
Wind out of the East South East  at 11 mph  
Barometric pressure is 29.94 and rising  
Ocean temp is up to 80.8 degrees at Lime tree bay St. Thomas
We had  a trace  of rain in the last 24 hours.
Doppler radar shows: widely scattered showers  The Satellite Photo shows: Clear Skies

The national weather forecast calls for Partly cloudy. Scattered showers in the morning...then isolated showers in the afternoon. Highs 86. Northeast winds up to 5 mph. Chance of rain 30 percent.

On this Wednesday April 20    we welcome Solstice to Havensight  Dock and Allure of the Seas to Austin Monsanto Marine Terminal

At the top of the news on Wednesday April 20

Senate Rules Committee met yesterday to consider the bills – One bill to allow disabled Veterans not to pay for handicapped decals was altered in the Rules committee with two unrelated amendments. One – regarding Bournefield would require the Port Authority to find one-to-one replacement housing  for all the residents before the Port Authority could demolish those buildings.  The other amendment would require the Board of Elections to make paper ballots available to any voter who requests one. The Rules committee advanced the other bills before them, The bill to float bonds for the NextGeneration Broadband initiative was heavily amended to require the Next Generation project to have its headquarters in St. Croix, Another amendment requires WAPA to take control of the project and any revenues realized from the use of the new broadband would be used to reduce the Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause, the senators added a provision that a fifty thousand  dollars be set aside for scholarships for students who want to pursue degrees in telecommunications.  Another provision requires that all fiber optics be installed underground to avoid natural disasters and another provision would favor local contractors and another amendment would fund the St. Croix Jaxx and Country music festivals... The Rules committee approved an increase in the fees in the Superior and District Court; They approved a bill to extend burial death benefit to off-shore veterans, and a bill to limit WAPA’s reconnect charges.  

Senate has a full legislative session with consideration of floor agenda, and to consider the bills that were approved by the rules committee.

WAPA says they are suspending water conservation efforts starting today at 5:00 PM. Water storage levels have improved. They still want everyone to do their utmost to conserve water.

HOVENSA said that starting May 2 it will revise the rack rate for gasoline up or down every week instead of once a month. They want to even out the changes and avoid big jumps with weekly smaller jumps or the price may go down.

Housing Finance Authority Board of Directors said it has terminated the CEO, Clifford Graham and the COO was appointed to the job on an interim basis while a successor is found. Lots of rumors and accusations about why Graham was fired and who might replace him. No rumors make the news at my desk.

Coastal Zone Management Commission St. Thomas held hearings on changes to a permit for a Caribbean Cultural Center on Parcels 2 and 13 of Careening Point St. Thomas – the permit for the basic project was approved in October, now the developers are back asking for changes, specifically for a paddock to allow them to keep animals on the property, specifically donkeys, a horse and two bulls.  They say the animals are part of the living museum.  Their plans call for a recreations of a colonial era plantation with a sugar boiling house, greathouse, kitchen and slave quarters.  The amphitheater will seat 250 people and feature live demonstrations of sugar making. At issue was the traffic in the area and the use of concrete trucks through Frenchtown.
The Coastal Zone Management Commission also approved plans for Yacht Haven Grande to add a generator and for Crown Bay Marina to build a 360 sq foot gazebo to serve as a staging area for passengers boarding the Westin ferry.

Governor John DeJongh and First Lady Cecile deJongh will dedicate the First Lady’s herb and tea garden today at Government House.  As part of Earth Week and Earth Day – various garden clubs are meeting to plant tea plants, herbs and other plants in Government House garden plots. Earth Day is April 22 and the dedication of the garden plots is today at 10:00 AM.

Police Department says it will have police patrols out on heightened vigilance over the Easter Holiday looking for drivers driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol and any weapons. Expect DUI checks on the roadways.

Elena Christian Jr. High School, will distribute report cards to parents /guardian today from 8 am until 3:00 PM  All parents are expected to pick up report cards during this time.

Virgin Islands Carnival Committee is meeting at at Carnival headquarters at 6:00 PM The topic is the boat races set for May 1.

News from the Virgin Islands Carnival Committee – now you get to vote for the Carnival queen on-line.  The choice of Miss Popularity will be made by votes cast on-line – go to www.vicarnival.com and vote of rMiss popularity.

Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs reminds all bands, DJ’s, musicians and artists that you must have a valid business license. With Carnival right around the corner it is time to make sure your business license is up to date. You must have an applicable business license on display at your performace.

Mogul Richard Branson has a spare Caribbean island that he's planning to turn over to some of the world's most endangered species. The billionaire plans to create a colony of lemurs on the undeveloped island in the British Virgin Islands. The primates are rapidly disappearing from their native Madagascar, and Branson has secured permission to import 30 of the animals. He hopes to eventually have more than a dozen species of lemurs on Moskito Island.  Critics fear that the omnivorous lemurs will wipe out native wildlife on Moskito Cay. One  biologist who knows the area calls Branson's plan a "horrible idea,. He says introducing exotic species into any environment never works. Branson plans to meet with scientists opposed to the project and find ways to address their concerns.

Hearty Congratulations from Governor John DeJongh to Cleo Hodge on being nominated as a certified flight instructor of the year by the Southern region of the FAA Federal Aviation Administration. There are 16,000 flight instructors in the region so Cleo is one of 16,000. Quite an honor. Cleo holds a Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certificate and is a FAA pilot examiner with over 28,000 hours of flight time of which 15,000 is flight instruction time.

Tonight is the Alfred O. Heath Distinguished Lecture Series.  Susan L. Taylor is known for her grace, wisdom and influence for leading one of the most popular African-American women’s magazines, magazine publishing legend Susan L. Taylor will deliver a  presentation entitled, “Women and Health: the Search for Balance.” Taylor will speak this evening at 6 pm at the Reichhold Center for the Arts on the St. Thomas campus. She will also speak at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 21, at the Great Hall on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix. Both lectures are free and open to the public.

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