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WTJX NEWSFEED: November 7, 2023

Peter Holmberg

On today's WTJX NewsFeed, Virgin Islands Olympic silver medalist, Peter Holmberg, was inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame over the weekend. The Department of Health kicked off its second annual Health Disparities Leadership Conference. The Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas installs its first female Rabbi, Julia Margolis. Listen to these stories and more.


It's 5 p.m.. Welcome to the WTJX News Feed. In today's top stories, the Department of Health kicked off its second annual health disparities Leadership Conference yesterday on the island of Saint Thomas. The Hebrew Congregation of Saint Thomas celebrates the installation of Rabbi Julia Margolis as we speak with representatives from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources about a grant they received from the EPA.

These stories and more on today's tax news feed from the Virgin Islands Public Broadcasting System Studios on Saint Thomas. This is the WTJX News Feed with Marcellina Ventura-Douglas, welcome to the WTJX News Feed, bringing you the latest news and updates throughout our community. Yesterday, the Department of Health kicked off its second Annual Health Disparities Leadership Conference.

The conference was designed to provide policy and decision makers with a framework for including equity in all policy. It's being held November six through the eighth at the Marriott Frenchman's Reef Resort on Saint Thomas and is hosted by the department's Health Disparities Program. Department of Health Commissioner, who Encarnacion greeted guests from across the territory and the mainland. The goal over the next three days is not simply to honor a very special person in our personal and public health lives.

Dr. Donna Christensen, Dr. C as we affectionately call her. It is also to hear from our stakeholders, from you. And to begin to define health equity as the Virgin Islanders. Senate President Novelle Francis shared remarks during the opening ceremonies. Many of us in this room policy makers sit in positions of privilege. This privilege insulates us from the impact of many of the health disparities that we'll be discussing here today at this conference or these next three days.

Sometimes our privilege and sadly, our bias can lead us to minimize the existence of social, economic and other barriers that contribute to the existence of health disparities in our community. As a legislature, we have to be carefully examine our own hidden bias as we work to craft policies and take actions that best serve the needs of this community.

Health Equity for all. Policy is something that we should aspire to as legislators. Governor Albert Bryan said the conference was another push to bettering the health of Virgin Islanders. He remarked on how disparities affect residents in the Territory. I looked up a couple of years ago. What is the meaning of middle class versus poverty? I found the definition and it said that poverty and middle class are more positions socially than economically.

And it went on to say that the way a middle class person thinks is not the way that somebody in the poverty class thinks. Middle class people believe in education. Look for have savings, believe in investing, see a future in and plan when poverty class does not do that. So when we talk about disparities, I always tell people is so is is so remarkable that in on an island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, all of our markers, our statistics match urban city African-Americans.

Now, how is that? Right. So it has to be in institutionalized for them to be getting the same results. Using this cookie cutter approach everywhere. So when we look at what we're doing, I think it all fits together. And I you know, it's funny, we talk about funding. All these things overlap. Poverty is a reason for almost every problem we have in the Virgin Islands, believe it or not.

And when you when you see what's happening in the community, you understand that these disparities are also as supremely a mental state. Why? I see that there is nothing that's going to happen that's going to automatically catapult you from where you are to a state of economic security, except a very rich husband or wife. But knowing that we have to, this is the reason why the administration is powering free education, creating value in individual wealth.

Oh, Lord. Or our best life and all of our promotions around health and healthy living, telemedicine, all things that promote access and accessibility and opportunity. The Virgin Islands District Court Judge Robert Molloy has set a court date of December 8th for Stephanie Barnes, the former Casino Control Commission contractor convicted in December 2021 of conspiracy to commit theft from programs receiving federal funds.

Judge Molloy ordered that going forward, Barnes would represent herself after firing her six attorney before officially withdrawing. Court appointed counsel, Miguel Oppenheimer filed an appeal during an August 25th hearing seeking to delay sentencing based on new provisions going into effect November 1st. While appearing on the WTJX TV series Comes with the Territory attorney Kye Walker of the Walker Legal Group provided comments on the matter.

Well, you know, honestly, I believe that Ms.. Barnes is in a good position. One of the reasons for the last delay of her sentencing was an amendment to the US sentencing guidelines, which more than likely will benefit her on the judges decision to not appoint yet another attorney to represent her is an unusual one. But there's precedent for it and there's precedent for it in a Third Circuit.

But honestly, I think the judge has exercised great judicial temperament with her. I think all of his his positions, his opinions, his orders with regards to what we're referring to as her shenanigans have been balanced and thorough, even when she's attacked him personally. And I think the last decision that was made to say, listen, I can't appoint another counsel to you was was made after he had warned her on several occasions that if you're not going to cooperate with your attorney, I can't keep appointing new counsel.

The Hebrew congregation of Saint Thomas celebrated a milestone last Friday evening with the installation of Rabbi Julia Margolis, the first woman rabbi to lead the historic synagogue in its history. We spoke with Rabbi Margolis on what it means to her still as a very big unknown. I'm really, really humbled and feel that it's just something that not every rabbi has an experience should be leading services and therefore synagogue, and also to be the first female rabbi on this island and and for this synagogue.

But it's not one of my firsts. I was first female rabbi in South Africa and established my community there, too. So I think I'm you know, I'm getting used to be the first in some certain areas. But I have really a warm and very supportive board. And the president of my board, she's the woman and she was the first president that was elected on the board.

And she she's doing an amazing job. Therefore, I think this community, the very some formalizing itself with woman leaders as she moves into this new position. Rabbi Margolis shared a message to the community. Every woman, every man, every human being is worse off because pursuing their dreams. And nothing should stop them. And I want that the young generations of women will come.

May it be to their leaders at church, may it be to me, at the synagogue, their parents, their elders, and ask questions. Because asking questions is very, very important. Still, in our age, with all the technology, the wisdom is and knowledge. This is what I think the key to any new successful in Gaza. And I believe that a good doctor, a good lawyer, good teacher, good rabbi, is something that should be pursued by young generation, may be men or women.

And also is the beauty of this island is that people live together side by side and feel like one very big family. And there is really something and I think as an outsider, I can even appreciate that sometimes. And it's more than those that live there forever and ever because they're used to this. And you get used very quickly to all the good things.

But this feeling of the community and one with another, it's absolutely priceless. And I think we've all missed the point that every dream can be achieved. You're in the WTJX news feed to combat restaurant related pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency granted the U.S. Virgin Islands nearly $700,000. The money helps to expand the V.I. Clean Coast programs, which focuses on significantly reducing single use food, plastics.

We spoke with Kitty Edwards, director of Territorial Parks and Protected Areas, and how the Clean Coast Program can benefit local business. Very clean coasts of Commissioner Oriol. And I started actually when he was the director of Coastal Zone Management and I was the Education and outreach coordinator of Coastal Zone Management. And we wanted to give an opportunity to help businesses and organizations be more eco friendly.

And we wanted to initially get rid of expanded polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam and offer a support to businesses and their I always call it their eco journey. We did seed grants for businesses so that we could help them start projects. For instance, we had a business who wanted a dishwasher so that they could switch from using single use plastic cups to using reusable glasses.

We had a campground who purchased a water filtration unit so that all of their visitors could use fresh water with refillable glasses. And in the last six years or so, the program has expanded to include or initiatives, starting with the eco certification, which this grant with EPA is focused on. Ms.. Edwards Share how businesses can become a part of the program.

We have a wonderful partnership with the Virgin Islands Conservation Society, a local nonprofit. They have been working in the territory for over 50 years, and I've been saying that for as long as I've known them. So it's got to be close to 60 now. And they reach out to businesses. Businesses will also hear about the program and call us.

We have been very lucky to expand considerably in the past few years. And Vic's has actually hired a program coordinator who goes and talks to businesses, helps them decide what they want their project to be and manages those seed grants for us. It's been really fun to see the growth. Ms. Edwards continued. Any business can go ahead and register to be a part of the Clean Coast because it's a continuation of this program.

However, when the new grant comes in, we will be expanding to new education opportunities, new grants available for businesses, and the team has been already building a lot of the relationships necessary for the new grant. Commissioner Jean-Pierre Oriol stressed that businesses should not be worried about the cost to move away from polystyrene products. We've had informal conversation ins over the years with small businesses and just trying to just trying to curb their thought process on the alternative products.

And one of the things that happens is that there is a can there's a misconception, really, that these alternative products are recycled products, those types of things, that they are significantly more expensive than the polystyrene products. And the truth is there's not like, you know, we've done a lot of the neighbors looked at different vendors, been able to share that.

We share it through picks. But, you know, so there is a part of this that's going to be the education campaign. And in just letting people know that these alternative products, they are not they don't break the bank, number one. That's why, you know, number two, we're willing to put in the seed money. We inquired whether there would be a push to ban Styrofoam products in the territory.

Absolutely. That has been a goal of our for many years. Legislation is is hard. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes. You need to have people interested at the right time. But one of the first things that we did when we started the the Clean Coasts program is Commissioner Orioll then director and JP with him reached out to our commissioner at the time and said, EPA can't use our home anymore.

We have to be an example. And that was able to inspire action also with the Department of Property and Procurement, who later stopped carrying Styrofoam in their central stores. And so by being an example, we hope to make it an easier transition for the rest of the territory in more news. Governor Albert Bryan declared November as military's family month in the U.S. Virgin Islands to recognize those who have served and are serving in the armed forces.

He also proclaimed the month of November as Virgin Islands Indigenous Native American Heritage Month, an occasion for Virgin Islanders to commemorate their patriotic ties to the original people of the Caribbean. As we move through the News Feed, a new class of sailing legends was inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame yesterday. Joining that class was St Thomas native Peter Holmberg, the only Olympic medalist representing the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The fact that a kid from a little island can be here today that didn't go to high school and it was walking down the wrong road is because of our sport of sailing. So my life is a thank you to sailing. I'm here standing in front of all of you. And the first one I must thank is my U.S. Virgin Islands.

Those of you in the West Coast, you might not know, but you have some islands on the East Coast. And they're us. And that's where I'm from. Born and raised there. And it is that island, that island, tough mentality, that village around me. That is the reason I am here, too. So I must first start thank my Virgin Islands.

Next is my family had parents that were very brave. They went there when there was dirt roads and donkeys, and they stayed and they fell in love with sailing. And they let my brother and I go out and play in boats and there it is. That's how it all got started. So I'm so grateful for my parents, the chapters, the way I look at it and it starts with the Olympics.

Growing up, that was my dream. And for those of you who don't know or haven't tasted it, the Olympic teaches you a code, and that code is with you for life. And it applies to everything in life. And I'm so grateful for my Olympic campaigns that I did that taught me how to do this. And the people that helped me do that.

Next comes the America's Cup. And for me, growing up down there, it wasn't a big thing for me. But a hurricane, a carnival, rum and national pride is a dangerous thing. And we came up with this idea we're going to challenge for the America's Cup from our little island of 50,000 people, 100,000 in the whole Virgin Islands. And it was the hardest project I ever did, and it was the most wonderful project I ever failed that we didn't make it, but it taught me so much brought our islands together.

I'm so, so proud of it. And all of those that believed and helped me in doing it. In closing, I just have to say sailing has given me the most beautiful life I've dreamed of. I'm really, really grateful. Sailing is a great sport and this is our tribe and it's everything. And I have to thank the Hall of Fame selection Committee.

I am truly honored and touched that you guys felt I was worthy. Thank you. You're in the WTJX News Feed the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club's annual Wahoo wind up tournament was held over the weekend on St Thomas. Kelvin Bailey, President of the club and the tournament director, has the details. It's a locally based tournament that we have an annual every year and it includes both this year from St Thomas, Saint John and St Croix.

It's something that we put on by the John King Fishing Club and it's to promote conservation and preservations of the species. The Wahoo fish. We discourage any catching of any Wahoo under £10 to promote the species and allow them to get bigger and breed. So anything under £10 does not count for the tournament. This year we had a total of 14 boats during the tournament and all the way in was done here on St Thomas.

In the end, St Thomas's Jarryd Bucs sign caught the largest Wahoo at 26.5 lb from aboard the 32 foot regulator. The dude abides. We asked Mr. Bailey what the grand prize was for the tournament. The big prize is if you catch a Wahoo over 75 lb, you get $25,000. Derrick Fish was about 48 lb or so, just shy of the the big boy.

We asked Mr. Bailey about any upcoming tournaments in the community. We do a couple of tournaments every year, but I big one for the community and get the youths and their parents involved. We will do the kids tournament every October ish based on whether where it's open for the kids. We provide everything for them, the backpacks, the handling, the bait, and it's just for the kids to come out and have a great time.

For more information about the club and its events, call 3407759144 or visit V.I. GFC dot com. The Division of Personnel, the GLC Health Insurance Board and Cigna is informing participants from its 2023 virtual Annual Health and Wellness Expo that they will be receiving a bag of fresh local produce from local farmers. Distribution will begin on St Croix, November 13 at the D.C. kind of gate, a ballpark from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saint John on November 16th at the Cruz Bay stand from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saint Thomas, November 17th at the Emile Griffith Ballpark parking lot from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m..

As we continue in the news feed, we turn now to our regional report. A government agency in Jamaica found that security forces were not wearing body cameras when they fatally shot or injured more than 100 people on the Caribbean island for the first half of the year. Only one body camera was worn during the 106 incidents, including 64 killings reported from January to June involving Jamaica's police and military.

That's according to a report released last Thursday by the Independent Commission of Investigations. Security forces have killed a total of 119 people as of October 31st, although it wasn't clear if any body cameras were worn in the cases reported from July to October. The report on shootings comes after Jamaica's government announced in April that it had distributed 400 body cameras to the Constable Larry Force.

Security forces in Jamaica have long been accused of unlawful killings and using excessive force, with the commission noting that the fatal shootings have increased since 2019. There were 134 fatal shootings last year by security forces on the island of 2.8 million people. In 2021, 127 people were killed, a 10% increase compared with the previous year. That's according to the commission.


Few officers tend to be charged in these cases, and Jamaica's constabulary force has long dismissed the accusations, saying officers work in dangerous areas controlled by gangs wielding numerous illegal firearms. The commission that released the report was created in 2010 to investigate allegations against the security forces. As we update the news, we we turn now to the territory's weather forecast.

Here's the latest look at the short term forecast for the Virgin Islands. I'm meteorologist Eric Weglarz. Mostly cloudy skies will continue at St Croix this afternoon. Numerous showers are expected as well and perhaps a thunderstorm. Highs will hold in the middle to upper eighties winds from the southeast at 5 to 10 miles per hour at st thomas and st John.

It's also mostly cloudy with showers and thunderstorms expected. Temperatures will hold in the middle to upper eighties winds from the southeast at between five and ten miles per hour. Tonight, showers continue at St Thomas, St John and St Croix. Temperatures will fall back into the upper seventies to near 80 across the entire Virgin islands. Winds from the east southeast at 5 to 10 miles per hour.

The plan for Wednesday at St Croix features more showers and thunderstorms during the afternoon, with temperatures only in the middle to upper eighties. Winds are a bit stronger from the east southeast at 10 to 15 miles per hour with gusts as high as 20. And at St Thomas and St John will find showers and thunderstorms, especially in the afternoon.

Windsor from the east at 10 to 15 miles per hour, with gusts as high as 20 to 25. Showers will continue on Thursday for the Virgin Islands before more sunshine as we go into the day on Friday. That's the latest look at your short term forecast. I'm meteorologist Eric Weglarz. We are at the end of today's WTJX news feed.

I'm Marcellina Ventura-Douglas. Join me every weekday at 5 p.m.. Be sure to download the WTJX app and if you missed a part of our news, listen to it on demand wherever you get your podcasts.


Marcellina Ventura-Douglas is the Radio News Reporter for WTJX-FM, 93.1. Born and raised on St. Croix, Ventura-Douglas graduated from the University of the Virgin Islands, where she received her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. While at UVI, she worked in the office of Senator Shawn-Michael Malone before beginning her career in radio. Ventura-Douglas fell in love with radio growing up, when she and her father would spend every morning and afternoon listening to local radio news legend, Alvin G. After leaving Senator Malone's office, she became the program director of Vivid Streaming. She then joined WTJX-TV, Channel 12 as a producer. Soon after, she was tapped to switch to WTJX-FM to present an evening news. She is passionate about bringing radio news to the Virgin Islands community through the WTJX NewsFeed, airing every weekday at 5:00pm on 93.1 FM and available online, on demand.<br/>Email:<br/>Phone: (340) 474-1682
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