Category: Senator Myron D. Jackson


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St. Thomas – The Committee of the Whole led by Senate President Myron Jackson, held a meeting at the Capitol Building on Friday, to receive testimony on the Territory’s status and the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and Maria from Governor’s Financial Team, the Government Health Insurance, Hospitals & Medical Centers and the Virgin Islands Department of Labor.

“Given the fact of two hurricanes, we have been out of commission for a month. May God continue to bless us through these trying times. We are known for our strength and resilience. Today, the first branch of government will add to the recovery,” said Sen. Jackson.

Before the hurricanes, the Committee on Finance held meetings in regards to the Governor’s FY 2018 Budget recommendation for all government departments and agencies. However, once the natural disasters occurred, members of the 32nd Legislature were unable to complete the process by passing the appropriation of bills that would determine the budget for FY 2018. As a result, effective October 1, 2017, the funds for the fiscal year 2017 will be re-appropriated for FY 2018.

“Considering that originally there was a ten percent reduction for FY 2018, and now the budget is based on FY 2017, will there be payless paydays for government employees?” inquired Sen. Dwayne DeGraff. Director of the Office of Management and Budget Nellon Bowry said, “That is a cash issue. However, I do not anticipate any at this point.”

Sen. Brian Smith shared his concern about the government fairly compensating first responders in the Territory for their post-hurricane overtime hours. “Many of the first responders such as the Virgin Islands Police Department and the Water and Power Authority have made extraordinary sacrifices. Do not pay them retroactive monies that can happen two years from now. Get those men and women paid fast for their time.”

In response, Clarina Elliot, Executive Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Finance stated that an assessment has begun. “We have requested per department the submission of total work hours of first responders for post-hurricane.”

The total FY 2018 General Fund expenditure budget, including debt service and tax refunds, is $914.8 million. The General Fund revenues and resources estimate, for the FY 2018 budget, totalled at $833.9 million, stated Director Bowry. He added, “The indicated $80.9 million gaps would obviously be widened significantly by the expected revenue loss and additional unreimbursed expenditures resulting from the Hurricanes. The FY 2018 budget gap could widen to as much as $325 million. Disaster-induced budget gaps will continue into FY 2019 and FY 2020.”

Sen. Forde inquired about the cost or estimate of the damage in the Territory by both hurricanes. Director Bowry said, “The figures are still unknown. The cost will be determined based on the collaboration of the federal and local governments.”

Despite the budget gap, Excise Taxes should increase due to an exponential of items/products that imported to the Territory for hurricane relief efforts stated Donnie Dorsett, Senior Policy Analyst for the Bureau of Economic Research. “However, individual income may decline due to job losses, and Hotel Revenues will decrease because of the loss of rooms available,” he added.

In addition to the Governor’s Financial Team, the Government Health Insurance, Hospitals & Medical Centers and the V.I. Department of Labor shared their post-hurricane updates.

In comparison to FY 2017, annualized premium projections for the Government Health Insurance will increase by five percent for FY 2018. Beverly Joseph, Chairperson of the Government Employee Service Commission said, “All health insurance coverages combined will increase from $155.4 million in FY 2017 to $165 million in FY 2018. Comparatively, this is an increase of $9.6 million of which the employer share will be 65%/35% for all participants.” The Government Health Insurance coverage does not include Vision Care Insurance because members are wholly responsible for this.

Bernard Wheatley, Chief Executive Officer of Roy Lester Schneider Regional Medical Center (RLSH) stated that the RLSH, the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute, and Myrah Keating damaged as a result of the hurricanes. However, despite the structural challenges some of the services that are available are Emergency Services, Cardiology, Hemodialysis, Intensive Care Unit, Maternal Child Health Services, and Laboratory Services. Due to the steady decline of patients, SRMC needs a cash influx to keep the doors open, he stated.

Richard Evangelista, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Governor Juan Francisco Luis Hospital and Medical Center (JFL) shared similar sentiments. The roof and the infrastructure of the hospital were severely damaged. Over a hundred patients were evacuated and relocated to the United States. JFL is collaborating with Federal Agencies to assist with the disaster response and recovery efforts.

Lastly, updates from the Virgin Islands Department of Labor (VIDOL) include a report of severe damage to the St. Thomas office building, according to Catherine Hendry, Esq., Commissioner of VIDOL. As a result, some operations were moved to the St. Croix offices including processing of unemployment insurance for claimants, and printed and distributed unemployment Insurance Checks. VIDOL is also collaborating with the local and federal governments for recovery efforts.



Senate President reflects on Workers and West Indies

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ST. THOMASSenate President Myron D. Jackson encouraged all during this weekend, in between hurricane preparations, to take a moment to reflect on the way labor movements and the West Indies have enriched the Virgin Islands during two important holidays. 


Labor Day, which is celebrated on the first Monday in September, also falls on a lesser known local holiday, West Indies Solidarity Day. 


The first is held annually to recognize the creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements nationally of workers and their contributions to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of America. It became a national holiday in 1894. 

West Indies Solidarity Day was adopted locally in 1964, to recognize the contributions of the West Indies to the life of Virgin Islanders, as specified in Title 1, Section 171, subsections d to f of the Virgin Islands Code. 

Senate President Jackson commended groups such as the Smith Bay Community Action Foundation of the annual Labor Day Extravaganza and Parade; and the Umoja Caribbean Union Inc. and Virgin Islands Youth Advocacy Coalition Inc. of the revival of West Indies Solidarity Day for hosting activities this weekend. 

“Our historic contributions to the advancement of the political, social, and economic development of the West Indian and African American community in this Centennial year should always be remembered,” Senate President Jackson said. “Blue and white collar workers made their mark in civil rights and government affairs on the national scene.” 

Virgin Islands leaders such as Hubert Harrison introduced Marcus Garvey to the black Harlem community; Ashley Totten worked behind the scenes for the advancements of people of color as part of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; and Geraldo Guirty was instrumental along with others Virgin Islanders in New York for improving conditions for those at home and abroad,” Jackson said. 

“We’re all interconnected. The impacts we make as a people are felt locally as well as globally and we are influenced and strengthened by our unique Caribbean diversity,” Jackson said. “Additionally, we have a rich history of labor movements in the Virgin Islands with the Labor Revolt of 1878, the Coal Workers Strike of 1892, and the work of David Hamilton Jackson and others that make Labor Day particularly relevant to us here in the territory.”



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ST. THOMAS – Senate President Myron D. Jackson announces that legislative meetings scheduled for the week of September 4 to 8 are postponed, due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Irma. The public will be informed of new dates. A final determination regarding the Legislative Session scheduled for September 8 will be made once the storm passes and its impacts are determined, he said.

Regarding the operations of the Legislature on all three islands, legislative employees are expected to report to work for 8 a.m. on Tuesday to secure their offices and, upon completion, will be allowed to leave at noon to continue their hurricane preparations at home. Casual wear is encouraged.

Based on reports from the National Hurricane Center and VITEMA, President Jackson said the Virgin Islands will likely be impacted by wind, rain, and ocean surge, particularly in the northern areas.

“As those reports are received I shall inform the public, all senators and our staff as to the operations of the Legislature,” he said. “All persons should therefore carefully monitor the media, including LEGIT TV – which can be accessed on Channel 5 throughout the territory, for announcements which may inform as to the operational status of the Legislature during the affected period.”

President Jackson said that the Legislature shall operate during this period only as weather conditions permit.

“Should the weather dictate the cessation of our operation for safety and health concerns, those decisions shall be made promptly and specific announcements shall be made,” he said. “I offer a prayer that all persons in the Virgin Islands, the Leeward and Windward Islands, and elsewhere be spared from Hurricane Irma. Please look to protect your families, friends, and properties be safe.”



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St. Croix—Senate President Myron D. Jackson said in light of the recent reports on Hurricane Irma, residents of the territory need to take precautionary measures for expected landfall early next week.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) there are certain measures that need to be adhered to:

  • Protect windows with permanent storm shutters or invest in one-half inch marine plywood that is pre-cut to fit your doors and windows
  • Secure loose items on property
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts to prevent flooding and unnecessary pressure on the awnings
  • Listen to local area radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates
  • Check your emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply
  • Fill plastic bottles with clean water for drinking
  • Fill bathtubs and sinks with water for flushing the toilet or for washing
  • Fill your gas tank, in case an evacuation notice is issued
  • Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances
  • Unplug small appliances to reduce potential damage from power surges that may occur
  • Keep insurance policies, documents, and other valuables in a safe-deposit box
  • Take pictures on a phone and keep copies of important documents and files on a flash drive

Senate President Jackson said taking the necessary steps is one way of preparing for any uncertainty that we may experience as a people. He concluded by saying, be safe and may God guide us through this.




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ST. THOMAS- Members of the 32nd Legislature, led by Senate President Myron Jackson, approved a nomination, a resolution, several coastal management permits and bills on Wednesday during Legislative Session at the Capitol Building.


Most lawmakers approved nominee Lloyd Bough, Jr. for Commissioner of the Department of Property and Procurement, and Bill No 32-0052, a resolution to honor and commend Allen Haynes for his contributions to the community as a police officer and healer.


Sen. Jackson stated he hoped Bough would continue to advocate for the care of government properties, residences and materials. He also supported the resolution.


“For thousands of years as a people we depended on tradition-bearers for healing,” said Sen. Jackson. “In terms of the centennial, for many years we had midwives. They are now restricted to assisting with the birth process in the hospitals. As a community, we once cared for our dead. Now we are restricted to two hours with them in the funeral homes. Tradition- bearers were eventually forced to discontinue their practices.”


Sen. Brian Smith had similar sentiments.


“For too long we have overlooked people in our community who served for several years, received an education and worked in the community. Mr. Bough is the epitome of leadership,” Sen. Smith said. “Talent is not something to be compared to a physician or chiropractor. Mr. Haynes dedicated his service throughout his career and daily activities. Somebody has to stand up for local talent.”


Although many of the senators expressed support for Bough, some were uncomfortable with voting in favor for Haynes.


“I am wary of sending this resolution forward,” said Sen. Tregenza Roach. “I would be endorsing a method of medical treatment that I would never do.”


Sen. Janette Millin Young also expressed concern.


“I just wish that this resolution wasn’t weighing heavily on the medical aspect,” she said. “This may serve as an endorsement.”


Senators also considered and voted favorably for all the Coastal Zone Management Permits.


“All of the measures have to do with marine economic development and water safety. They are for continued use which means they are currently in use and the bills are an extension that allow the public to use what is already in place,” Sen. Jean Forde said. “As far as the installation of the moorings are concerned, they are put in place to ensure water safety. Overall, these measures are the beginning of a new industry in the Virgin Islands.”


The following Coastal Zone Permits were approved:


Bill No. 32-0114 – Act ratifying Major Coastal Zone Permit No. CZT-3-16 (W) issued to RC Hotels (Virgin Islands) Inc. for the continued use and occupancy of an existing 8’ diameter x 130’ long seawater intake line to the RO Plant seaward of Parcel Nos 1&3 Estate Nazareth, and the installation of 6 swim buoys four moorings at Great Bay, St. Thomas Virgin Islands 3


Bill No. 32-0116 – An Act ratifying Minor Coastal Zone Permit No. CZT-05-15W issued to Reef Ecology Foundation for continued use and occupancy of permanent moorings for day use only at frequently used dive site locations in the territorial waters surrounding the islands of St. Thomas and St. John, Virgin Islands


Bill No. 32-0115 – An Act ratifying Minor Coastal Zone Permit No. CZT-10-16W issued to the Anchorage Condominium Association for the continued use and occupancy of a 120 foot, three-inch seawater intake line which services its reverse osmosis plant and the continued use and occupancy of the submerged lands for six swimming buoys


Bill No. 32-0118 – An Act ratifying Major Coastal Zone Permit No. CZT-4-16(W) issued to St. Thomas Yacht Club Owner, Inc. for the continued use and occupancy of a 110’-9” by 7’-8” dock with a 39’-6” by 8’- 6” “T” and a 335sq. ft. concrete bulkhead with a length of 58 linear feet, 3,500 sq. ft. of submerged land surrounding the dock, and one wooden pile located seaward of Parcel Nos. 8-1-1 and 8-58 Estate Nazareth, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands


Bill No. 32-0113 -. An act ratifying Minor Coastal Zone Permit No. CZT-25-16W issued to Sanctuary Holding, LLC for the installation of eight mooring to be completed in two phases No. 23 Estate Frenchman’s Bay, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands


Bill No. 32-0117 – An Act ratifying Minor Coastal Zone Permit No. CZT-33-16W issued to True Crew VI, LLC to install a private mooring and operate a “food boat” at Christmas cove area of Jersey Bay St. Thomas.


“In terms of economic development in the Virgin Islands the marine industry is a gold mine that will open many doors for businesses and it will encourage job growth in the community,” Sen. Dwayne DeGraff said.


The following bills were approved:


Bill No. 32-0002- An Act to authorize the Virgin Islands Government to purchase Estate Catherineberg from WICO by offsetting payments owed in lieu of taxes, as mandated by Act No. 5826, as amended and for other related purposes


Bill No. 32-0020 -An Act amending 3 V.I.C. Section §§ 6, 7, 631 and 640 relating to the composition of the Government Employees Services Commission and re-designating the GESC as the Government Employees and Retirees Health Insurance Board of Trustees and for other related purposes


Bill No. 32-0021- An Act amending Virgin Islands Code, Title 1, Section 253, Title 3 Sections 256, 558, 562 to replace the Government Employees Services Commission with the Public Employees Relations Board; Section 643 to replace the GESC with the Division of Personnel” Title 17 Section 190 to replace the chairman of the Government Employees Services Commission with the Commissioner of Education; and repealing Title 3 Subchapter II and Title 23 Section 11 of the Virgin Islands Code


Bill No. 32-0038 – An Act amending Title 3, Chapter 11, Section 26b; Title 20, Section 436 Title 30, Section 15a; and Title 17, Section 475 providing for the acceptance of a Real ID as a valid form of identification for various senior citizen’s discounts 4


Bill No. 32-0039 – An Act amending Virgin Islands Code, Title 8, Chapter 1 Section 9, Subsection (a) to change the amount of Tavernkeeper Liquor Licenses (A) that can be in effect within the historic districts of the Virgin Islands


Bill No. 32-0040 – An act amending Title 1 Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 11 commemorating the week of June 26th to July 3rd as Virgin Islands Freedom Week


Bill No. 32-0087- An Act to authorize the Government of the Virgin Islands, through the Department of Property and Procurement to purchase certain real property on behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands for the completion of the Paul E. Joseph Stadium Project on the Island of St. Croix


Bill No. 32-0088 – An Act to provide for the reprogramming of funds appropriated from the Community Facilities Trust Account authorized under Act No 7012 for certain capital projects through the Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation


Bill No. 32-0090- An Act amending Act 7897 to increase the Department of Human Services appropriation in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2017; authorizing the Public Finance Authority to acquire and finance the acquisition of a residential skilled nursing home on the island of St. Thomas


Bill No. 32-0091- An Act amending Act No. 7911section 1increasing the amount of the appropriation from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund to the General Fund; providing a contribution from the Tourism Advertising Fund to the General Fund in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2017


Bill No. 32-0094- An Act reprogramming $545,634.52 from any available funds in the Gross Receipt Tax Bond proceeds. Matching fund Bond or the Community Facilities Trust Account to fund emergency repairs and replacements at the Schneider Center


All measures approved by this body will be forwarded to the governor for further consideration.






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ST. THOMAS – Members of the 32nd Legislature hosted a Senior Citizens Mock Session Capitol Building on Tuesday, to vote and approve Bill No. 32-0000 as it relates to the Senior Citizens Bill of Rights.


“It is a tremendous honor to deal with legislation that will improve the life of seniors in the Territory,” said Senate President Myron Jackson. “According to the U.S. Census 2010 there are approximately 14,000 seniors residing in the Territory. This theme encourages seniors to address top priorities that are affecting them in the Territory,” he added.


Maurice Sebastian, who was representing Sen. Jackson, said, “This is an excellent idea to establish a Senior Citizens Bill of Rights. What will happen if we lose funding? We need to educate the younger generation on the importance of our gems of elders in the community. The message has to get across to the youths so that they can play their role in taking care of the elderly.”


Similarly, Charlita Schuster who was representing Sen. Positive Nelson said, “We need to maintain a strategy that will encourage the younger generation to care for the elderly. This is important especially if federal funding is cut.”


Separately, Maria Santiago Feliciano who was representing Sen. Alicia “Chucky” Hansen said, “There are two crucial issues that are not on the bill. They are the Pharmaceutical Assistant Program and the Senior Citizens ID Card. I am doing a special amendment to add this to the bill.”

“One thing that must be made clear, the Real ID does not replace the Senior Citizens ID Card,” said Alphonse Stalliard, who was representing Sen. Neville James. He continued, “The funds that the Virgin Islands has must be used for maximum efficiency. Whether the funds are federal or local. We also need to address providing appropriate medical services for those who suffer with a mental health condition.”


Angelita Jemmings who was representing Sen. Tregenza Roach said, “This bill is dependent upon President Donald Trump. To my knowledge programs are funded 80/20. If President Trump decided to cut funding for the senior citizen programs, where is the 80% going to come from? If that happens, how will the senior citizen program thrive?”


“We must get creative and think outside of the box,” said Lydia Hendricks, who was representing Sen. Marvin Blyden. She continued, “For example, we need to consider having a satellite kitchen in which meals can be prepared and delivered to all seniors. We must stop harping on funds that could be potentially cut and focus on the monies that we have and how we can utilize it more efficiently.”


Ultimately, lawmakers voted unanimously Bill No. 32-0000 as amended. It will be forwarded to the Governor for further consideration.


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St. Thomas- Members of the 32nd Legislature, led by Senate President Myron Jackson, hosted a program in celebration of African Liberation Day with the theme “Raising the Consciousness of African Youth,” on the grounds of the Legislature on St. Thomas and St. Croix, on Thursday.


“The 2017 African Liberation Day Ceremony engages our youths as well as the elders. The youths in our community are our future. If you do not know your history, then your history will be lost. As African people, let us celebrate our contributions to the world.

We observe this day as required by law for this specification,” said Sen. Jackson.


Bill No. 18-0147 proclaims that the third week in May is recognized as the Virgin Islands African Liberation Week. This is in homage of Africans brought to the Virgin Islands by force and taken away from their homeland, family and culture.


The event began with the conch shell blowers and libation. This was followed by performances by the Queens of the Earth and Wachanga Drummers. Community culture bearers shared words of wisdom and encouragement but added that the community must have an urgency to continue the work of those that came before us. Remarks were also given by Nyabinghi Priest Tafari Tzakki and lawmakers.


“I understand the importance of these types of programs. We are Virgin Islanders,” said Sen. Millin Young. “When we look back at our history and where we came from. Our ancestors are a part of us. Each aspect of us must be respected. I see a lot of pride in our young people and I am proud to be here with you today.”


Sen. Dwayne DeGraff said, “The question I asked myself was how do we integrate the younger generation into carrying this forward? It’s inspiring to see the younger generation playing an active role in maintaining and sharing our history on African Liberation Day.”


Additional aspects of the program included musical selections from Calypsonian Kirabo Stephens, Soloist Gylchris Sprauve, Violinist Isis Collier, and the Legends Choir. Senator Tregenza Roach and Lukata Samuel read poems. There were dance performances by Christopher Williams, Seymour Davis and the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School Creative Dancers. The traditional story was told by Master Storyteller Yohance Henley.


Senators in attendance included Myron Jackson, Janette Millin Young, Marvin A. Blyden, Jean, Positive T.A. Nelson, Dwayne DeGraff and Tregenza A. Roach.




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ST. THOMAS Members of the Committee on Workforce Development, Consumer Affairs and Culture, chaired by Sen. Myron D. Jackson, met on Wednesday at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall to consider measures regarding Virgin Islands Freedom Week, Tavern Keeper liquor licenses, and overtime pay.

Bill No. 32-0040, an Act that commemorates June 26th to July 3rd as Virgin Islands Freedom Week, requires public and private employers to pay time and one half for work done on July 3rd. The measure also seeks to implement educational events to acknowlege and respect the significance of July 3rd in Virgin Islands history.

Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina, Director of the Virgin Islands Caribbean Cultural Center at UVI, had her testimony read into the record in support of the measure stating, “Even amidst adversity, pain, controversy and institutional remnants of colonization, the people, history, cultural heritage and spirit of St. Croix and the entire Virgin Islands ascends with endurance, revolutionary strength, resilience and dignity.” Bill No. 32-0040, sponsored by Sen. Positive T. Nelson, was favorably passed to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary as amended.

Bill No. 32-0012, an Act that seeks to amend the Virgin Islands Code, repeal Section 570b of the Virgin Islands Code and requires the Director of Personnel to establish a Recruitment & Retention Program and incentive packages for police, correction officers, registered nurses and teachers. Milton Potter, Director of the Division of Personnel, insisted that a series of discussions with all stakeholders should take place before approving the bill. Director Potter also suggested that upgrading pertinent salary scales for critical positions if funding is available would provide incentive for incoming candidates while reducing the percentage of tenured employees leaving the workforce.

Consent Decree mandates within the Virgin Islands Police Department and Bureau of Corrections continue to be a challenge as they strive to address their staffing concerns due to a reduction of overtime and competitive salaries offered abroad. The measure was sponsored by Sen. Novelle Francis Jr., and held in Committee until funding sources can be identified and the language in the bill clarified.

Bill No. 32-0039, an Act amending the amount of Tavern Keeper Liquor Licenses that can be in effect within the historic districts of the Virgin Islands. Sponsored by Sen. Jean Forde, the Bill amends the VI Code, allowing the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs to determine the maximum number allowed in a district and conduct public hearings before any licenses are issued. The measure passed favorably to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consdieration.

Bill No. 32-0052, a Resolution honoring Allen Haynes, Sr. for his contributions to the community as a police officer and a healer. Several testimonies were given by clients and family in support of Mr. Haynes and his work throughout the community over the past 45 years. The Resolution, sponsored by Sen. Marvin Blyden, passed favorably to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consideration.

During the final remarks of the meeting, Senate President Myron D. Jackson thanked the testifiers, staff and his colleagues for their continued support. “It is an honor to recognize the talents of the members of our community in our Centennial year.” Sen. Jackson concluded.



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ST. THOMAS—Senate President Myron Jackson encouraged graduates to give back to the Virgin Islands, during his remarks as a guest speaker at the 53rd Annual Commencement Ceremony at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), on Friday.

“The Virgin Islands is at a crossroads as we observe this Centennial Year. As you make your way as U.S. graduates into the workforce inside and outside of the territory, let us always be committed to our homeland and region. It is through this intellectual capacity that we are able to meet our challenges,” said Senate President Jackson.

Sen. Jackson also acknowledged his former High School Principal Ruth Thomas for her dedication to improving the Education System in the Territory.

Today, we also honor one of our longtime educators, Ms. Ruth Thomas, who will be bestowed with a well-deserving acknowledgment of a woman who has committed her entire life to the advancement of education, and who daily provides commentary on the social, cultural, and economic state of affairs of the Territory. She has nurtured and developed hundreds of our youth.”


Lastly, the senator shared his advice with the UVI graduates who are in the Class of 2017.


“You live in a time capsule where so many windows of opportunities and innovative ideas are possible. It is important that you remember this campus and these islands, and cultivate your intellectual capacity to take your rightful place in this universe,” said Sen. Jackson.


Additional remarks were presented by David Hall, S.J.D. President, Henry Smock, Esq., Governor Kenneth Mapp, Monel Marcellin (Class of 2017) and Keynote Speaker Iyanla Vanzant.



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ST. THOMAS- Members of the Committee on Workforce Development, Consumer Affairs and Culture, chaired by Sen. Myron D. Jackson, met on Tuesday at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall to receive status updates and discuss challenges within the Departments of Labor, Licensing & Consumer Affairs, the Virgin Islands Transfer Centennial Commission and the Virgin Islands Carnival Committee.

The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs, represented by Commissioner Devin Carrington, Esq., gave testimony outlining the issues with their responsibility of regulating businesses that engage in the sale of goods and services in the territory. Although the DLCA is authorized to implement price control measures on specific essential consumer commodities, no such measure has been taken by the department in the last eleven years.

The DLCA, in conjunction with the Dept. of Justice is currently conducting a study on gas and food prices. The contract for this study, which is exclusively focused on the US Virgin Islands, was awarded to a third-party. “Now, the study is in its final stages of completion and should be available in the next two months,” Commissioner Carrington clarified.

The Virgin Islands Carnival Committee, provided a brief testimony on the Committee’s observance of the Centennial Celebration. Executive Director, Halvor Hart III, announced that the 2017 Carnival theme is “A Centennial Commemoration for Our 65th Carnival Celebration”. In addition to the celebration, this year’s Prince, Princess, Queen & Calypso monarch will become the 1st Centennial royalty of the Virgin Islands. In addition to the $5 entry fee into the Adults village, three entry and safety checkpoints will be established around the venue. Free admission into the Carnival village applies to children ages 12 and under. Questions concerning safety and admission were raised, noting that the stage will be constructed on the east side of the Fort Christian parking lot.

Sen. Alicia “Chucky” Hansen disagreed with the idea that a fence should be used around the perimeter of the Village and disappointed with the lack of moral and financial support for local bands and artists during cultural events.

In response to an inquiry by Sen. Brian Smith, the Virgin Islands Carnival Committee receives an annual allotment of $545,000 from the General Fund. Other sources of funding are received in kind from businesses in the private sector. Chairman Jackson understood the need for revenues and profit margins, but stated that it should our profit not come at the cost of the participants and visitors attending the festivities.

Commissioner Catherine Hendry, Esq., of the Department of Labor expressed in her testimony, “Our mission is to administer a system of effective programs and services designed to develop, protect and maintain a viable workforce. We work to achieve a well-organized/efficient motivated team that helps to ensure the success of our territory in a global economy through pooling and streamlining our resources “to pull out all the stops” and produce a work ready labor force that is dynamic, career driven, adaptable, technically literate, protected and can meet the needs of employers in a demand driven work environment.”

The Dept. of Labor faces many challenges with their federal programs and training services in the territory. On December 20, 2016, they were notified by USDOL Employment and Training Administration that several of the federal grants were designated as “high-risk” due to outstanding unresolved audit and monitoring findings that trace as far back as 2009. Because of the “high-risk” designation, ETA requires VIDOL to implement Corrective Actions in specific areas. “This department has an extensive responsibility of making sure that the workforce of this territory is well prepared with their programs to meet the demands and needs of our modern society,” said Chairman Jackson.

The workforce development system continues to provide workforce development services to both job seeker and employer customers territory wide. These services and related activities are primarily supported through USDOL-ETA funded grants in accordance with guidelines prescribed by the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA). The Workforce Development team along with its newly mandated program partners, Department of Human Services, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Department of Education, Division of Adult Education, have met to facilitate the preparation of the Virgin Islands Five-Year Strategic Plan.

Chairman Pamela Richards of the Virgin Islands Transfer Centennial Commission sent a letter explaining the Commission’s absence from today’s meeting. “After much consideration, we have determined that, considering the critical preparations and meetings scheduled to ensure the success of the upcoming events that culminate in our Transfer Day observance on March 31, 2017, we will be unable to provide testimony now.”

The Commission stated that they would be pleased to appear after the activities have been hosted. The Committee on Workforce Development, Consumer Affairs and Culture concluded with the members suggesting the Virgin Islands Carnival Committee to consult with the Virgin Islands Police Department to ensure all viable options are considered in regards to public safety and they begin to consider new plans to alleviate the traffic and parking issues along the Waterfront in Downtown Charlotte Amalie.