Category: Senators

Rules and Judiciary Committee to Meet on Thursday

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ST. THOMAS–The Committee on Rules and Judiciary chaired by Senator Janelle K. Sarauw will meet on Thursday, June 13, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. in the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall, St. Thomas.

The Committee will meet to reconsider the nomination for the Director of the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency, Daryl Jaschen and several bills, as follows:

Bill No. 33-0009 An Act amending title 20, Part II, chapter 37, subchapter II, section 407 relating to the sale of taxi medallions by adding a new subsection (d) providing a definition of Virgin Islands veteran for the purposes of the section. (Proposed by Senators Marvin A. Blyden and Athneil “Bobby” Thomas; Co-Sponsored by Senators Javan E. James, Sr. and Oakland Benta).

Bill No. 33-0027 An act amending title 17, chapter 7, section 61a of the Virgin Islands Code to allow the Department of Education greater flexibility in setting the school calendar upon the declaration of a state of emergency. (Proposed by Senator Kurt A. Vialet; Co-Sponsored by Senator Javan E. James, Sr.).

Bill No. 33-0043 An Act amending title 27, chapter 9 of the Virgin Islands Code by adding a section 305h providing for a ban on the retail sale or offer for sale, and the distribution or importation for

retail purposes of topical sunscreen products containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. (Proposed by Senators Marvin A. Blyden, Alicia V. Barnes, Myron D. Jackson, Janelle K. Sarauw, and Athneil “Bobby” Thomas; Co-Sponsored by Senators Dwayne M. DeGraff, Javan E. James, Sr., Steven D. Payne, Sr.).

For complete coverage on this and all meetings, tune into LEGIT Television Cable Channel 26, WVSE Radio Papilove 91.9 FM, https://livestream.com/legittv/ and on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/USVILegislature . ffffffffffffff

33rd Legislature’s Majority Caucus finalized; press conference scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m.

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ST. THOMAS, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – After a day-long Committee of the Whole hearing regarding matters concerning our Territory’s hospitals, Majority Leader, Senator Marvin A. Blyden special ordered a measure to the Floor that finalized the reorganization of the 33rd Legislature’s Majority Caucus. The resolution was voted on favorably with nine senators in support of the measure and will be sent to Governor Albert Bryan, Jr. for his acknowledgment.

This resolution, Bill No.33-0089, solidified the election of officers, amended and reestablished standing committees, and elected chairs, vice-chairs and members of the standing committees. 

“I am happy that we have been able to work collaboratively and truly finalize the makeup of the 33rd Legislature,” said Majority Leader Blyden. “Today’s bill was basically a housekeeping measure to firm up the committee chairs and members, and to formally amend our rules to reflect the changes in the committee structure. We will continue to move forward in the best interest of the people of the Territory.” 

The Majority Caucus will now include Senators Alicia V. Barnes, Marvin A. Blyden, Allison L. DeGazon, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Myron D. Jackson, Javan E. James, Sr., Steven D. Payne, Sr., Janelle K. Sarauw, and Kurt A. Vialet. 

Veteran Senator Novelle E. Francis, Jr. has been chosen to sit at the helm of the 33rd Legislature as President with the most senior senator, Senator Myron D. Jackson, selected as Vice-President. Senators Alicia V. Barnes and Marvin A. Blyden will continue to serve as the Body’s Secretary and Majority Leader, respectively.   

The Majority Caucus will host a news conference at 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 6 in the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Chambers on St. Thomas to provide information to the public regarding the reorganization.

The officers of the 33rd Legislature are as follows:

Senator Novelle E. Francis, Jr. is elected President. 

Senator Myron D. Jackson is elected Vice-President. 

Senator Alicia V. Barnes is elected Secretary. 

Senator Marvin A. Blyden is elected Majority Leader. 

Senator Myron D. Jackson is elected Secretary for Intergovernmental and Territorial Affairs. 

Senator Allison L. DeGazon is elected Liaison to the United States Congress. 

Senator Alicia V. Barnes is elected Liaison to the United States Department of Interior, Office of Insular Affairs. 

Senator Janelle K. Sarauw is elected Liaison to the White House. 

The 33rd Legislature’s standing committee chairs are as follows: 

Committee on Rules and Judiciary 

Chair: Senator Janelle K. Sarauw 

Vice-Chair: Senator Novelle E. Francis, Jr. 

Committee on Finance 

Chair: Senator Kurt A. Vialet 

Vice Chair: Senator Marvin A. Blyden 

Committee on Government Operations, Consumer Affairs, Energy, Environment, and Planning 

Chair: Senator Alicia V. Barnes 

Vice-Chair: Senator Myron D. Jackson 

Committee on Education and Workforce Development  

Chair: Senator Donna A. Frett-Gregory 

Vice-Chair: Senator Kurt A. Vialet 

Committee on Health, Hospitals and Human Services 

Chair: Senator Oakland Benta 

Vice Chair: Senator Janelle K. Sarauw 

Committee on Youth, Sports, Parks and Recreation 

Chair: Senator Javan E. James, Sr. 

Vice-Chair: Senator Steven D. Payne, Sr.  

Committee on Economic Development, Regulations and Agriculture 

Chair: Senator Allison L. DeGazon  

Vice Chair: Senator Athneil “Bobby” Thomas  

Committee on Homeland Security, Justice, Public Safety, and Veterans’ Affairs 

Chair: Senator Steven D. Payne, Sr. 

Vice-Chair: Senator Oakland Benta 

Committee on Housing, Transportation, Infrastructure and Telecommunications 

Chair: Senator Marvin A. Blyden 

Vice-Chair: Senator Alicia V. Barnes 

Committee on Culture, Historic Preservation, and Aging 

Chair: Senator Myron D. Jackson 

Vice-Chair: Senator Javan E. James, Sr. 

Committee of the Whole 

Consists of ALL Members of the 33rd Legislature  fffff

Senate to Meet Wednesday in Regular Session

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ST. THOMAS–Senate President Novelle E. Francis, Jr. will convene the 33rdLegislature into regular session on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 to receive testimony relating to Bill No.33-0072. Representatives of the territory’s hospitals, federally qualified health centers, the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority and the Water and Power Authorityhave been invited to attend. Bill No.33-0072,seeks to appropriate$39,467,909 that was awarded to the Virgin Islands Medical Assistance Program(MAP)as theresult of a multi-year account reconciliationof several of the territory’shealthcare agencies. It seeks to redistribute the funds to meetcritical operating needsof various governmental agencies.The agencies that are scheduled to testify at Wednesday’sSession are:the Department of Health; Schneider Regional Medical Center; Juan F. Luis Hospital & Medical Center; Frederiksted Health Care, Inc., and the St. Thomas East End Medical Center.The Legislative Session is scheduled to convene at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 in the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall and will be broadcast live on LEGIT Television Cable Channel 26, WVSE 91.9 FM, https://livestream.com/legittv/and also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/USVILegislature/.

Majority Caucus to Host Press Conference

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ST. THOMAS—Senate Majority Leader Marvin A. Blyden announced today that the 33rd Legislature’s Majority Caucus will host a press conference on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 5 p.m., following the adjournment of Legislative Session.
The press conference will provide information to the public regarding the reorganization of the 33rd Legislature, to include the restructuring and composition of its standing committees.
Wednesday’s press conference will broadcast live on LEGIT Television Channel 26 and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/USVILegislature.

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FOUR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTORS HONORED

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St. Croix–The Committee on Culture, Historic Preservation, and Agriculture chaired by Senator Myron D. Jackson, met Friday, May 31, 2019, in the Cardiac Center Conference Room, St. Croix and considered several proposed resolutions.

The resolutions honored several outstanding musicians, a storyteller and culture bearer, and a contributor to a historic church in the Virgin Islands.

The first item on the day’s agenda was Bill No.33-0079, which is a resolution proposed by Senator Javan James.  The resolution seeks to honor and commend Alwyn “Big Al” Baptiste, Sr., posthumously for his outstanding contribution to the music industry in the Virgin Islands.

The committee heard from Deanroy Baptise who said that Big Al was the oldest of ten (10) siblings. He added that he knew his brother was destined for greatness in the musical industry. Born on the Island of Antigua, Dean said when he joined his brother in 1979, he realized that he was very respected by the people of St. Croix. He added that his brother was also well respected in the Caribbean community in New York.

Other testifiers joined in the honoring of Big Al were: Bernard Liburd, of St. Thomas who told of the collaboration efforts between him and Big Al which yielded the popular song, “Barna Jam” and Fitzroy Ogarro who became a Carnival Calyso King.

The next item on the agenda was Bill No. 33-0039 which is a resolution proposed by Senator James, commending Alwyn “Daddy Jones” Baptiste, Jr., for his outstanding contributions to the music industry in the Virgin Islands and the wider Caribbean.

Testifiers participating in the honoring of Baptiste Jr., were Alwyn Baptiste, III, Henry Willock, Jr. and Alvin Burke, Jr.  

Baptiste III said his father was always around his grandfather whenever he was playing music, and he soon realized that his father would become like his grandfather—a master musician.    Willock, Jr., said, “music is life and the universal language.” He pointed out that both him and Baptiste, Jr., met in elementary school at the age of 9-years old. Burke in his testimony said the modern calypso musical styles that are heard today, were revolutionized a long time ago by Daddy Jones.

Chairman, Sen. Jackson said many of our arts and culture bearers have made sacrifice for what they do. He congratulated the testifiers for their insights on behalf of the honorees.  He further stated that we need to establish an institution that foster the development and celebration of our arts and culture for future generations.

Bill No.33-0038 and Bill No.33-0039 were favorable approved and sent on to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consideration.

Bill No. 33-0057 a resolution posthumously honoring and commending Janice Pemberton Tutein for her tireless years of educating our youth and work as a storyteller and cultural bearer.

Senator Jackson characterized Tutein as a traditional crucian and Virgin Islands cultural bearer, who was also known as “Auntie Janice.”  The Senator further indicated that Tutein was also an educator and a noted master storyteller.  

Testifiers who recalled the life and times of this noted cultural bearer were Zoraida Jacobs, friend and fellow educator; Roy Pemberton (brother); Larry Larsen, friend and fellow educator; and Violet Harrigan Connor, ret-educator.

Many of the testifiers spoke of “Auntie Janice” as a dedicated teacher who would go beyond the ordinary to make sure her students achieve their expectations. She was, they echoed, incorporated the cultural realities of the Virgin Islands within her teaching practices.

This Bill was amended by Senator Jackson, whereas the store on the Agricultural Fair Ground, Estate Lower Love, St. Croix be named the “Auntie Janice Li’l Shop and the Homestead House, the “Auntie Janice” Pemberton Tutein Homestead House.”

The Bill was voted out of the committee and sent to the Rule and Judiciary Committee for further consideration.

The last item on the day’s agenda was Bill No.33-0079, which is a resolution sponsored by Senator Jackson.  The resolution seeks to honor and commend Thelma Ruby Schade, Youngblood for her outstanding service and contributions to the Lutheran Church of the Virgin Islands.

Testifiers who spoke on behalf of Pastor Youngblood were: Pastor Gerald A. Williams, Lord God of Sabaoth Lutheran Church and Pastor Robert Wakefield, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.

According to the testifiers Pastor Youngblood was a pioneer who made outstanding contributions to the church and the community throughout her ministry.  She became the first black American-born fully trained Lutheran Deaconess.

The Bill was amended by Senator Jackson and thereafter was favorably approved by the committee and sent on to the Rules and Judiciary Committee for further consideration.

Senators at Friday’s hearing were: Chairman, Senator Myron D. Jackson, Javan James, Sr., Alicia Barnes, Oakland Benta, Stedmann Hodge, Donna Frett-Gregory, and Novelle Francis, Jr.

Committee on Gov’t Operations, Consumer and Veterans Affairs Forwards Approved Bills to Rules and the Judiciary

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The Committee on Government Operations, Consumer & Veterans Affairs, chaired by Sen. Athneil “Bobby” Thomas, met in the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall on Monday, to take testimony and consider bills relating to taxi medallions and trade name registration.
In its first block, the Committee considered two bills which spoke specifically about taxi medallions for Veterans. Bill No. 33-0006, sponsored by Sen. Dwayne M. DeGraff, which seeks to “…amend title 20 VIC, part II, chapter 37, subchapter II, section 407 relating to taxi medallions, to prohibit veterans who obtain taxi medallions at auction from selling the medallion to a person who is not a veteran”; and Bill No. 33-0009, sponsored by Sen. Marvin A. Blyden, which seeks to “…amend title 20 VIC, part II, chapter 37, subchapter II, section 407 relating to the sale of taxi medal-lions by adding a new subsection (d) providing a definition of Virgin Islands Veteran for the purpos-es of the section”.
In his testimony, Patrick D. Farrell, Director of the V.I. Office of Veterans Affairs, expressed his support for both measures. He said it would be unfair for non-veterans to benefit from a law that was initially created for veterans, and noted that “there are many Veterans awaiting the opportunity to own a taxi medallion via this process.” With his support of Bill No. 33-0009, Farrell suggested that the definition of Virgin Islands Veteran be considered for all sections of the V.I. Code pertain-ing to Veterans, similar to other state laws specific to veterans of their state.
Also testifying on both measures, from the V.I. Taxicab Commission, was Executive Director Levron Sarauw, Sr., who indicated that he is in support of both measures, noting that the Commis-sion currently has a policy that mirrors Bill No. 33-0006.
Both bills were approved and forwarded to the Rules and Judiciary Committee.
The Committee also considered Bill No. 33-0030, sponsored by Sen. Thomas, which would, “…amend title 11, chapter 21, section 1213 of the Virgin Islands Code, by requiring the annual renewal of trade name registration”. Sen. Thomas noted that it has been approximately 26 years since the fee schedule has been upgraded, and this measure seeks to bring the fees up-to-date, by suggesting an annual renewal fee of $50. While Denise Johannes, Director of the Division of Corporations and Trademarks for the Lt. Governor’s Office testified that the office in is favor of the change in fee, she said they would prefer that the biannual schedule remains, and that they be given the leeway to set “a reasonable fee by regulation”. Senators did not agree with leaving that decision solely to the division without legislative approval, and voted to forward the measure to the Rules and Judiciary Committee, pending and amendment to allow the fee to remain biannual, with a change to $100.
Committee members present at Monday’s meeting along with Committee Chair Sen. Thomas, were Senators DeGraff, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Javan E. James, Sr., Steven D. Payne, Sr., and Janelle K. Sarauw. Sen. Alicia V. Barnes was excused. Non-committee member Sen. Blyden was also present.
Capitol Building, P.O. Box 1690
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands 00804

Transportation/Infrastructure Chair: Safe and reliable transportation is a must

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ST. THOMAS, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – On Monday, April 15, the Committee on Housing, Transportation, Infrastructure and Telecommunications met to hear testimony from the Department of Public Works on the status of infrastructure and public transportation services in the territory.

Committee Chair, Senator Marvin A. Blyden, stressed the role the roads and public transportation system plays in our lives in order to highlight the importance of keeping them maintained.

“The study of human civilization shows us that roads are the physical links that bind communities together. From everyday transportation, to commerce, to healthcare and other emergency services, the functioning of a modern society depends on a solid road system and a solid public transportation system”

In his testimony, Commissioner Nominee Nelson Petty Jr. detailed multiple active infrastructure projects totaling $176 million. These projects include the Veteran’s Drive project, the Melvin D. Evans Highway project, Carlton Road repavement and drainage, rehabilitation of Sion Valley Hill, paving of Moravian Highway, replacement of Scott Free Bridge, emergency repairs of Fish Bay Road in St. John, the Mainstreet Enhancement Project, and more. Overall, the Department of Public Works expects to receive approximately $460 million in funding through a combination of local non-disaster funding and federal funding from FEMA, the Department of Interior, GARVEE bonds, the Federal Highway Administration and HUD CDBG-DR grants.

To increase the presence and reliability of the VITRAN bus system,the Commissioner Nominee and Transportation Planner Dennis Chance explained how 10 medium buses had been ordered and that there were plans to hire more drivers.

Noting the considerable interest in the topic, Commissioner Nominee Petty explained his opinion on the way the GVI accepts private roads in order to repair them. He noted there are provisions that allow the Government to make repairs without having them deeded, but the larger issue was a matter of funding. Unless funding sources are identified, he recommends against accepting private roads. Should a source be found, the Department of Public Works can evaluate the request appropriately.

Senators in attendance also pressed for a resolution of the traffic light issue on St. Thomas and learned that the delay is the result of supply issues with the manufacturers. All necessary materials are expected to arrive in May.

Senators Marvin A. Blyden, Novelle E. Francis, Kenneth L. Gittens, Alicia V. Barnes, Janelle K. Sarauw, and Javan E. James were present at Monday’s hearing. Non-committee members Donna Frett-Gregory and Oakland Benta were also in attendance.

Committee on Rules and Judiciary Approves Five Nominees

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From the office of Senator Alicia V. Barnes

St. Thomas, V.I. – Five cabinet nominees selected by Governor Albert Bryan were confirmed before the 33rd Legislature’s Committee on Rules & Judiciary during confirmation hearings chaired by Senator Alicia V. Barnes on Thursday, March 28, and Friday, March 29 at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall in St. Thomas.
The approved nominees are Justa Encarnacion, Department of Health, Positive T.A. Nelson Department of Agriculture, Nelson Petty, Jr., Department of Public Works, Jean-Pierre L. Oriol, Department of Planning and Natural Resources, and Racquel Berry-Benjamin, Department of Education.

Department of Health Commissioner Nominee Encarnacion earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing and served as the first Health Supervisor at the University of the Virgin Islands’ St. Croix Campus. Encarnacion’s short-term goals include the development of a U.S. Virgin Islands Health Plan by conducting a health needs assessment with the input of all stakeholders to improve the overall performance of public health. Long-term goals include the opening of a 40-bed residential behavioral health facility on St. Croix, to include the return of patients receiving care off-island.
Senator Barnes asked about emergency planning relative to patient evacuees and managing databases in the wake of another natural disaster. During a line of questioning, Senate President Kenneth L. Gittens asked the nominee if the department had looked into placing EMT’s at fire stations to reduce ambulatory response times. Commissioner Nominee Encarnacion stated that meetings and conversations have started. Senator Janelle K. Sarauw asked about the status of the dental clinic in the territory and if community health clinics were operational. Commissioner Nominee Encarnacion said that while the dental clinic was taken out of the budget, agencies have expressed interest in continued collaboration with the Frederiksted and East End Health Centers.

Commissioner Nominee Nelson of the Department of Agriculture earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting and has eight years of crop farming, landscaping, and horticulture experience. His goals include revisiting and updating the Strategic Plan for Sustainable Agricultural Development and Advancement, improving infrastructure, pursuing additional funding sources, and establishing a deeper partnership with the University of the Virgin Islands.
Senator Novelle E. Francis, Jr. asked about fund capitalization, assistance with facility rehabilitation, and how much funding local farm industries received. Nelson said two million dollars have been utilized thus far.
Commissioner Nominee Oriol earned a degree in Biology and began his work at DPNR as an inspector at the Division of Coastal Zone Management. His short-term goals include resolving staffing issues, addressing repairs at DPNR’s St. John office through a bid process, and providing permitees with standardized permit placards. Long-term goals include the development of comprehensive Island-Specific land use plans, and the implementation of an electronic permitting system.
Senator Dwayne M. DeGraff asked about his plans for DPNR for the next six months. Oriol listed staffing, making inspections, and having vehicles for inspectors as top priorities. Senator Barnes asked about the recent issues with CZM permits for the racetrack, how it was resolved, and if there’s a strategy in place to ensure that it won’t happen again. Oriol said the matter was resolved and permits were signed, and that legal opinions are being taken into consideration.
Commissioner Nominee Nelson Petty, Jr. earned a degree in Civil Engineering and started his career as a registered professional engineer with the Department of Public Works. Petty also founded his own engineering and surveying company. One of Petty’s goals is to “manage the community’s expectations with regards to expending federal funds to address repairs to our infrastructure,” and to attract more community and business involvement.
Committee members asked about overall safety issues, the VITRAN system, traffic and parking concerns, leadership roles on each island and specifics on projects such as the La Reine Fish Market.
Commissioner Nominee Racquel Berry-Benjamin earned a bachelor’s degree, two Masters’ Degrees, and is a Doctoral Candidate. She appeared before the committee a second time and passed, along with the other members nominees during this two-day period, to the full body with favorable recommendations.

POLICYMAKERS UPDATED ON THE STATUS OF HOUSING IN THE TERRITORY

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ST. THOMAS- Members of the Committee on Housing, Transportation, Infrastructure and Telecommunications chaired by Sen. Marvin Blyden, convened in a meeting at the Capitol Building on Tuesday, to receive testimony on the status of Housing in the Territory.

The Virgin Islands Housing Authority (VIHA) public housing operations are as follows: For FY 2018 VIHA received a total of $46,525,937 of Federal Funds. The breakdown is as follows: Public Housing Subsidy is $20,952,312, Public Housing Capital Fund is $9,553,554, Housing Choice Voucher Administration Fee is $1,865,490 and the Housing Voucher Choice Fund is $14,154,581. Sen. Alicia Barnes inquired about the impact to service Section 8 clients despite rent inflation. VIHA Director of the Housing Choice Voucher Program Akala Anthony stated that the allocation of over $14 million equivalents to 17,000 vouchers for 1,750 families with the inflation of rent. The inflation prices adversely affect the ability to house more families of which there are 2400 applicants on a waiting list.

In response to Sen. Blyden’s inquiries on the number of active tenant councils per community and the hinderances of resident participation in leadership council positions; VIHA Executive Director Robert Graham noted that out of 26 housing communities there are three active Resident Councils with elected officers. The community centers are utilized for afterschool programs and daycare for the Dept. of Human Services. The lack of tenant council leaders is due to the responsibility of an advocate to take a stance against guns, gangs, and drugs in the neighborhood. Many are hesitant and fear retaliation because of those challenges.

Post Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Lucinda Millin Homes elevator was damaged. However, some of the woes facing the Lucinda Millin Homes are the units were small, there was a lack of amenities and healthcare facilities, and the structure of the edifice was built with inexpensive materials. Sen. Athneil Thomas inquired about the relocation plans for the Lucinda Millin Homes and the Tutu Hi-Rise. Graham stated that VIHA’s Portfolio Repositioning Strategy is to replace the edifice with new senior housing at Oswald Harris Court. As it relates to the Tutu Hi-Rise, demolition plans are on hold due to VIHA awaiting final approval from FEMA for the Project Worksheet 390. The VIHA’s Portfolio Repositioning Strategy is to replace the Tutu Hi-Rise and relocate family and senior units to three locations.

Separately, the Catholic Charities of the Virgin Islands Inc. (CCVI) and the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority (VIHFA) shared an update.

Presently, CCVI St. Thomas location, is the only emergency shelter throughout the Territory. The shelter on St. Croix is inoperable because of damages sustained by Hurricane Maria in 2017. CCVI Executive Director Andrea Shillingford noted that one of the significant challenges is inadequate mental health and substance abuse treatment services which is a contributing factor to homelessness. Shortly, plans are inclusive of replacing and upgrading the Bethlehem House on St. Thomas and to open eleven apartment units on St. Croix to house single men.

The VIHFA was awarded $242,684,000 with an additional $779,217,000 totaling $1,021,901,000 from the U.S. Virgin Islands Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Action Plan. Since then, the department hired twenty employees to implement plans to increase housing and community development with the primary goal of creating opportunities for affordable homeownership throughout the Territory. Some of the targeted locations for first-time home-owners in the St. Croix District are Bonne Esperance, Cotton Valley, Estate Mount Pleasant, and Estate Solitude. In the St. Thomas-St. John District there will be homeownership opportunities at Whispering Hills, Estate Nazareth, Estate Fortuna, Ross Taarneberg, Queen Louise Apartments, and Estate Bethany.                                                                                  ###

2ND ANNUAL STENOGRAPHER’S DAY

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ST. THOMAS- The Office of Sen. Janelle Sarauw and the Legislature of the Virgin Islands Division of Reporters collaborated to host the 2nd Annual Stenographer’s Day held at the Capitol Building on Friday. The event showcases the tasks, duties and career opportunities of stenographers to a group of high school students.

“The purpose of today is to expose the youths to the profession of stenography as they begin to explore career possibilities,” said Sen. Janelle Sarauw. “Young people will have an opportunity to learn from professionals in the field who are passionate about stenography and look forward to sharing their profession and experiences.”

Sen. Donna Frett-Gregory stated that this is one of the most awesome professions. Lawmakers are researching scholarships to support students who want to pursue a career as a stenographer or a court reporter.

Guest panelists are the Legislative Reporters Tricia Sealey, Casmus Caines, Vashti Berry, and Nataya Munoz; Retired Legislative Reporter Desiree Francis; Official Reporters for the Superior Court are Kai M. Mulley, Suzette Descartes, and Jasmine Wadie-Francis; Freelance Reporters Noreen Surge and Verdell Porter; Student Reporter Joyann Morris.

The 2nd Annual Stenographer’s Day is in conjunction with the 2019 NCRA National Court Reporting and Captioning Week which is recognized annually on February 9th-16th. The event creates awareness of court reporting and captioning. Throughout the week, participants learn about the various aspects of the profession to include salaries.  The National Court Reporting and Captioning Week is an effort to recruit career seekers to meet the high demand for employment opportunities in the trade.

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