St. John Virgin Islands News

Beach at St. John Westin Resort
St. John Westin Resort Beach at Great Cruz Bay

Westin St John Resort & Villas Planning $35 Million Expansion
By the Caribbean Journal staff

The Westin St John Resort & Villas is planning a $35 million expansion and renovation project, the resort and Starwood Vacation Ownership announced Wednesday.

The project will include the launch of the new Coral Vista Villas and enhancements to the resort’s guestrooms, dining facilities, meeting space and pool area.

“The Westin St John Resort & Villas is one of the most successful resorts in the Caribbean. As the resort and the on-site vacation ownership continue to play a pivotal role in St John’s expansive tourism market, we are thrilled to enhance our presence and commitment to the island,” said Steve Williams, chief operating officer for Starwood Vacation Ownership, in a release.
Starwood Vacation Ownership will be expanding with the conversion of 79 rooms into 54 vacation ownership villas, the company said, with the new project adding 30 two-bedroom villas, six two-bedroom lofts and 18 studio villas.

Work will begin on Dec. 1, with occupancy expected to begin in January 2015.

Once the project is completed, the resort will have a total of 200 villas.

“The significant investment in the renovation of The Westin St John Resort & Villas will raise the standard of this premier resort with stylish and contemporary accommodations, unique amenities and a world-class guest experience,” said John de Jongh, governor of the US Virgin Islands. “These efforts will ensure that The Westin St. John Resort & Villas continues to be one of the top destinations of choice for business and leisure travelers.”

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Frank Bay Pond

Frank Bay Pond, St. John USVI
Frank Bay Pond Marine Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary
Pin Tail Duck

Frank Bay Pond was dedicated as a bird sanctuary in March 2000. It’s an easy walk from Cruz Bay, just one half mile southwest of the Ferry Dock.  Just walk along the road keeping the bay on your right.

On September 13,2013 the governor of the Virgin Islands, John deJongh signed an agreement with the Virgin Islands Audubon Society that will permit the Audubon Society to build an observation pier at the preserve.

For now there are two wooden benches, where you can sit and enjoy the birds and the native vegetation surrounding the pond.

Egret

Look for families of Great White Egrets and  Pintail Ducks that have made the Frank Bay Pond their home.

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Chocolate Hole Dawn

Chocolate Hole St. John US Virgin islands
Pink Sunrise over Chocolate Hole

We had some fairly powerful thunderstorms last night; high winds and hard rain. When dawn broke, the clouds parted and, for just about one minute, the sky turned a beautiful pink that reflected unto the bay.

According to the weather forecasters, we can expect more rain interspersed between sunny skies: “Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm before noon, then isolated thunderstorms after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 82. East wind 16 to 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.”

Virgin Islands News

V.I. Port Authority scraps 4 planes
By JENNY KANE (Daily News Staff)
Published: October 28, 2013

ST. THOMAS – The V.I. Port Authority was starting to become a graveyard for run-down planes, until last week.

The authority has scrapped four planes after it was unable to sell the aircraft. The planes were rusted and dilapidated, according to port authority spokeswoman Monifa Marrero.

The planes have been sitting at King Airport for “years,” Marrero said, though she was not sure how many years each had been there.

“We tried to sell the planes four times, but no one wanted them,” Marrero said.

Two of the planes had owners that had passed away and since have been left to the authority, while the other two were planes abandoned after their owners discontinued payments.

One of the planes was the Piper Aztec flown by veteran pilot Kirby Hodge. The twin-engine plane went down Oct. 13, 2012, in waters about eight miles south of St. Thomas.

The plane was returning to St. Thomas from St. Croix with three passengers – Rachel Hamilton, Dawin Carr and Valerie Thompson. Thompson was the only survivor.

The three other planes included a DC-3, a Convair 560, and a Cessna, according to Marrero.

The DC-3 had been owned by Four Star Air Cargo, which went bankrupt in 2009. The airline was based in Puerto Rico and served both the U.S. and the British Virgin Islands.

The Cessna was owned by Levette Ruan, who ceased making payments to the airport.

The owner of the Convair 560 had passed away…. read more

 

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Virgin Islands Considers Marijuana Decriminalization

St. John East End Beach

St. John and Virgin islands News

Advocates at Town Hall Meeting Prefer Pot Legalization over Decriminalization
By Jamie Ward — October 25, 2013

Sen. Terrence Nelson addresses a town hall meeting on lessening marijuana possession penalties.

The 30th Legislature on Friday will discuss Sen. Terrence “Positive” Nelson’s bill that seeks to lessen the penalties for marijuana possession from imprisonment to fines.

On Thursday a town hall meeting was held to discuss the matter, and what many of those in attendance want is for the prohibition on marijuana to be lifted and for the territory to join the states of Colorado and Washington, where marijuana has now been legalized and taxed, for recreational purposes.

“I don’t understand why we have to decriminalize and why we can’t just go to legalize,” said Ariela Hayes, who has previously testified on the issue before the Senate. “We need to drop the apprehension. The time is now and I think our community will completely support this.” … read more

Senate Ponders Decriminalizing Marijuana
By Bill Kossler — October 26, 2013

Possessing up to either one or two ounces of marijuana would be decriminalized and subject to a fine of $100, with additional reductions in penalties for larger amounts, if a bill discussed in the Committee on Homeland Security, Justice and Public Safety on Friday is enacted into law.

After taking testimony from legalization and decriminalization proponents – and from police officials and Attorney General Vincent Frazer, who opposed parts of the bill, but not decriminalization of small quantities – the committee voted to hold the bill for new amendments and more testimony.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Terrence “Positive” Nelson would make simple possession of up to two ounces a civil offense with a fine of $100. If the offender is under the age of 18, he or she would be required to complete a drug awareness program and the parents would be notified. [Bill 30-0018]

Under current V.I. law, a first offense of simple possession of marijuana and other drugs placed in the same legal category is treated as a misdemeanor carrying a potential sentence of up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. A second offense can get two years and $10,000. The penalty and nature of the crime are not tied to specific weights and volumes. The court, at its discretion, may also place a first-offense perpetrator on probation and dismiss the case and expunge the record upon successful completion of probation…. read more

St. John Live Music
Beach Bar – Nate Clendenen- 8:00 pm 340- 777-4220

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St. John Film Society Press Release

daughtersofthedust4St. John Film Society Resumes 2013 Season on November 5 with Daughters of the Dust

St. John Film Society (SJFS) resumes the 2013 season at 7:30pm on November 5 at St. John School of the Arts in Cruz Bay with the epic dramatic feature film Daughters of the Dust, written, produced, and directed by Julie Dash.

Daughters of the Dust is a milestone independent film – the first feature film by an African-American woman to receive widespread theatrical distribution in the U.S., the film received the prestigious Sundance award for Excellence in Cinematography.

“Not only visually stunning, this film particularly resonates with us [SJFS Programming Committee] as an island tale and a tale of the deep impact migration to the mainland has on a culture – themes that the territory has experienced firsthand,” said Michelle Ward, who heads up membership and publicity efforts for the society. “It is a courageous and original story the likes of which we have never seen before and won’t easily forget.”

Off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina, The Sea Islands were the Ellis Islands of the transatlantic slave trade, the dropping-off point for the forced immigration of millions of West Africans. The heat, insects, and threat of yellow fever made the islands inhospitable to white settlement yet it is here, isolated in a swampy environment adjacent to an untamed coastline that the Gullah community – descendants of West African slaves who worked the indigo, rice, and cotton plantations — thrives, steeped in ancient Yoruba tradition.

Daughters of the Dust is set on a summer day in 1902, fifty years after emancipation, and a farewell picnic is underway on the beach where the Peazants of Ibo Landing, in their Sunday best, are gathered for a feast of shrimp gumbo, fresh clams, yellow corn, and johnnycake.  On this eve of the family’s planned migration from their insulated paradise to a modern, industrialized North, tensions are high. The young women of the family, romantic in long white dresses, move as languidly as clouds while a photographer records them for posterity.  The family performs West African rituals as elders fear once the Peazants have dispersed throughout the North, their culture may not survive.

Evoking a griot’s oral narrative set to film, or an impressionist portrait, Dash effectively serves up a visually appealing moment in African-American history. Tales of flying Africans, water-walking Ibo, Islamic and Native American culture are skillfully woven in small snatches throughout the film alongside turn-of-the century tableaus.  Daughters of the Dust is a languidly-paced film that frequently stops in its tracks simply to contemplate the wild beauty of a semi-tropical paradise drenched in sea mist and strewn with palms.

Ward concludes “I have to agree with the critic who said ‘Daughters of the Dust is truly a cinematic feast for the eyes, and one that has to be savored slowly, taking sips from it as if it were a bottle of some elegant vintage wine.’ This will undoubtedly be the one film in the 2013 SJFS season that you do not want to miss.”  The suggested donation is $5.00.

ST JOHN FILM SOCIETY PRESENTS:
Daughters of the Dust
DATE: Tuesday, November 5, 2013
TIME: 7:30pm
PLACE: St. John School of the Arts, Cruz Bay
$5 suggested donation

For more information contact Michelle Ward at 340- 201-2407

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St. John Ferries

st john ferry 1949 -fritz henley
St. John Ferry 1949 – photo by Fritz Henley
St. John Ferry Today
St. John Ferry 2013

Cruz Bay – Red Hook and Cruz Bay – Charlotte Amalie Ferry Schedules

St. John and Virgin Islands News

Tough talk and post-shutdown relief at Caribbean conference
By Gay Nagle Myers

FORT-DE-FRANCE, Martinique — News of the resolution ending the partial shutdown of the U.S. government was greeted with a sense of relief by tourism officials attending the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) annual State of the Industry conference here last week.

The U. S. Virgin Islands — St. John, in particular — experienced the shutdown directly, since two-thirds of that island is a national park. Tourists arriving there in the first week of the 16-day shutdown found beaches barred by chains, hiking trails closed and even the visitors center off-limits.

“Fortunately, a deal was struck after the first seven days with the National Park Service, and … the park was reopened to visitors,” said Richard Doumeng, president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and owner of Bolongo Bay Beach Resort on St. Thomas.

This was not a minor event, he said.

“The livelihood of an entire island was at stake,” Doumeng said. “Trunk Bay [part of Virgin Islands National Park] is a favorite attraction for cruise passengers in particular, and closure of that beach with its underwater snorkeling trail dealt a serious blow to our tourism and had a ripple effect on vendors at the beach, watersports operators, concessionaires near the park and even the ferry operators whose passenger numbers were down between St. Thomas and St. John.”… read more

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Caribbean Genealogy Library

Caribbean Genealogy Library
The Ghost and former Governor Turnbull at the Caribbean Genealogy Library Open House

The Caribbean Genealogy Library is a little known library on St.Thomas that is a veritable treasure trove of information for those interested in genealogical studies as well as Caribbean history. The Library is located at Al Cohens Plaza, next to Mango Tango Art Gallery, across from Randys Restaurant, on St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Just a 10 minute ride by taxi from the WICO cruise ship dock.

The library features rare books, maps, newspapers, & magazines, Danish West Indies/US Virgin, Islands census records, Virgin Islands Church Records, US National Archives M1883 & M1884 microfilms, Virgin Islands Funeral Booklets, Ancestry.com, Family History Library affiliate library, Caribbean Jewish family genealogies and a St. Thomas Graphics publications collection.

Live Music at the Beach Bar
October 21 and 22 (Monday and Tuesday) The Revolvers- 8pm

Today’s Weather Forecast
Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 92. East wind around 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

 

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Sea Wasps

St. John Sea Creatures: Sea Wasp
Sea Wasp or Box Jellyfish – Image from Reef Creature Identification by Paul Human

Sea Wasp Carybdea alata
I saw four of these nasty creatures yesterday during the late afternoon on my Trunk Bay swim. They’re small and translucent, so they’re hard to watch out for, but do your best.

According to Paul Human, they are “highly toxic; contact with bare skin can produce an intense sting, redness and welts. Pour vinegar on affected area…” For severe reactions seek medical attention.

Sea Wasp Video

Chocolate Hole SunriseChocolate Hole Sunrise
Another beautiful orange sunrise this morning. The full blast colors only lasted for about a minute, so I was lucky to get the photo.

The sea appears to be just about flat calm again like yesterday. Great day for power boats!

St. John Live Music Tonight
Beach Bar
October 18 and 19 (Fri and Sat)
Coral Creek- 8pm

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St. John Market & Dolphin Markets Lucky Winner Contest

chocolate hole dawn
Sunrise over Chocolate Hole

St. John and Dolphin Markets ContestLike EC Gas, St. John Market and Dolphin Market are offering a monthly drawing for store rewards. In the case of the St. John and Dolphin Markets that would be a $500 credit towards store purchases.

The Rules:

1 – Minimum purchase of $75.00 to qualify
2 – Print your name and contact information on the back of your register receipt
3 – Deposit your receipt in the raffle box at the register

First drawing will be on November 15, 2013

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