27 February 2013
First the weather:
78 degrees in Crown Bay St. Thomas
30.02 Barometric Pressure – rising
Wind from East at 18 mph – Under Partly Cloudy Skies
No rain in the down below
A generally fair and stable weather pattern will prevail for the next few days. A high pressure ridge dominates the weather across the region. A few passing showers are expected during the morning hours.
Cruise Ship News
Freedom of the Seas, Norwegian Epic, Carnival Glory and Poesia at anchor at Havensight Dock
Eurodam and Reflection at Austin Monsanto Marine Terminal:
At the top of the news on Wednesday February 27
Governor DeJongh submitted testimony the Interagency Group on the Insular Areas in Washington calling for greater equality for the nation’s insular territories in several federal programs. The Governor identified issues of critical importance to the economic development and fiscal independence of the Virgin Islands – specifically Medicaid, taxes, homeland security and early childhood education. The governor called for modest changes to two Medicaid provisions that would end special treatment for the territories. The governor recommended homeland security officials approve a visa-waiver program for that would allow Caribbean Community members to visit the US Virgin Islands for up to 30 days without a visa. the Virgin Islands, and he lobbied for expansion of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative to include the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. He repeated an appeal he made to President Obama and his fellow governors for inclusion of ALL the territories in President Obama’s plan for Early Childhood Education.
The Good News from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is that official Total Unemployment Rate has fallen below the 9.0%. That crosses a threshold that takes the Virgin Islands off of Tier 4 of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Benefits. The bad news is that unemployment is actually about 13% and as high as 17% on St Croix – BUT they don’t count in calculating the tiers of payments. Commissioner of Labor Bryan said, "We usually "trigger off" these benefits at this time of year because of the "uptick" in employment caused by the tourist season. While the actual number of persons opening up new unemployment claims has dropped dramatically, many people will be impacted by the end of ZTier four benefits. Anyone with questions regarding his or her unemployment claims status can call the Department of Labor offices on St. Croix at 773-1440 or on St. Thomas at 776-3700.
Senator Donald Cole made a point at the first meeting of the Senate Committee on Education and Workforce Development that he will insure the members of the Chamber of Commerce get the weekly Senate Calendar. He calls it a key to transparency to insure that the business community know what hearings are coming up and which committees are addressing which issues. Meanwhile senators called for restrictions in the cash for gold business noting that easy cash for gold encourages theft and burglary. They want new restrictions to take crime out of cash for gold.
Public Services Commission is holding hearings this evening and Thursday on the ferry rates to St John. The ferry companies want a 50 cent per trip increase. That adds a dollar to a round trip. They want a new luggage rate of $2.25. The owners are entitled to an 8% profit by law, but the owners say they are losing money, not earning a profit.
On St. Thomas the Housing Finance Authority is taking applicants from residents of low income housing - looking for candidates to move into the new Amalie Terrace above Hospital Ground. Here come 54 units in 6 buildings. The first will be ready to occupy in September. Every unit will have a balcony, range, refrigerator, dishwasher and it will be ready for cable TV. If you qualify under federal low income guidelines you could move into Amalie terrace.
Meanwhile on St Croix the Housing Finance Authority unveiled the Meadows at Bonne Esperance with a new plan – buy-a-lot, build-a-house. They want folks to buy building lots in The Meadows and then get financing to build a house. The Meadows will be composed of 66 homes spread over 20 acres. The lots cost from 17 thousand to 24 thousand dollars and the home plans range from 180 thousand to a quarter million dollars.
St. Croix Alternative Program, located in Estate La Grande Princesse, will re-open for classes on today. The campus was closed on Tuesday following an electrical fire in one of the buildings. The fire was quickly extinguished by a crew from V.I. Fire Services. And school is open again today.
This evening Charlotte Amalie High School presents the Ambassador Terence Todman Lecture Series. Tonight at 5:30 in the Ruth E. Thomas Auditorium. This week’s lecture is entitled, “The Prevention and Treatment of Diabetes,” with Dr. Judy Barzey, a celebrated endocrinologist. Two more lectures will follow in coming months.
The Rotary Club of St. Thomas II invites you to join us as we unveil the identity of the PERSON of the YEAR today – oops – not happening today. The event has been postponed.
The Forum presents their final Metropolitan Opera Live in HD for this season, Verdi’s Rigoletto (set in 1960 Las Vegas), on Thursday, February 28th at 7 pm, They also have a concert by the piano-violin duo, Lora Tch-e-kor-a-tova and Georgy Valt-chev on Saturday, March 2nd at 8 pm, both at Prior-Jollek Hall.
The Division of Real Property Tax, Office of the Lieutenant Governor, will auction delinquent properties located in the St. Thomas/St. John district today and tomorrow if needed. The property sales will be held in the courtyard of the GERS Building on Kronprindsens Gade, St. Thomas. The property auction is happening today. Delinquent properties are sold “as is, where is”.