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WTJX NEWSFEED: December 1, 2023

Senator Alma Francis Heyliger

On today's WTJX NewsFeed, Senator Alma Francis Heyliger assails Governor Bryan's veto of several pieces of legislation she sponsored. Representatives from the Virgin Islands Housing Authority said that they are at the mercy of the St. Thomas and St. Croix administrators to remove abandoned vehicles from housing communities across the territory. We speak with the two Administrators. Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority Project Manager, Ron Phillips, tells us what to expect from Phase II of the project that is disrupting the roads in Christiansted town, noting that Phase I has yet to be completed. Listen to these stories and more.

TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to the WTJX news feed in today's top stories. Senator Alma Francis Heyliger slams Governor Bryan's veto of several pieces of legislation she sponsored to include a six month water bill abatement for residents impacted by lead and copper in their water supply. Representatives from the Virgin Islands Housing Authority said that they were at the mercy of the administrators of both Saint Thomas and Saint Roy.

We speak with Saint Thomas, Administrator Avery Lewis, and Saint Roy, Administrator Samuel Sanes Waste Management Authority project manager Ron Phillips says work being done in Christian said town is only phase one. Road closures will occur again in 2024. These stories and more on today's WTJX News Feed from the Virgin Islands Public Broadcasting System Studios on Saint Thomas. This is the WTJX News Feed with Marceline Marcellina Ventura-Douglas, welcome to the WTJX News Feed, bringing you the latest news and updates throughout our community.

Governor Albert Bryan Jr. Recently acted on seven bills passed by the 35th Legislature at its session on November 14th and vetoed three bills, all of which were sponsored by Senator Alma Francis Heyliger. Senator Heyliger said she was truly disappointed the governor vetoed a bill requiring the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority to issue a monthly water bill abatement for six months to residential customers impacted by levels of lead and copper, and a bill requiring every owner or operator of a public water system to monitor, test and analyze the water systems for lead and copper content at least once a year.

And Governor decided that, for one, he was going to veto the one piece of legislation stating that the thought process behind it was that they're already going to do things in regards to giving $25 to individuals as a way of an abatement. You know, my concern that individuals were dealing with this issue for so long. I myself, along with two other minority senators, sent letters to the governor calling for a state of emergency which basically fell on deaf ears.

And only when it came to crisis was some effort made. He attempted to get a set local state of emergency and get a presidential state of emergency. And my problem that I'm having is we as a people have to stop waiting on things, get to the point that, you know, it's so egregious. Why do other people have to consistently step in to tell us what is wrong with our system?

Senator Heyliger said the Water and Power Authority continues to wreak havoc on the lives of Virgin Islanders, and her legislation attempted to offer relief to customers at the end of the day to give them six months abatement based on the average of what they were paying. To compare it now to just a $25 amount. The problem with that is that what happens to families that have higher water bills because multiple people live in the home.

That is why the formula was created the way it was. Because if you take the last previous six months and you get an average for it and you split it and think that would have been the discount they would have gotten. But for you to know we that for some people down to $25, you know, which might serve some that have much lower water bills but for those that those that don't know what she slammed Governor Bryan vetoing her proposed a resolution posthumously honoring Wayne Flaxman Adams by naming the bridge at the NADA intersection on the island of Saint Thomas, the Wayne Flaxman Adams Bridge.

Let me say something. I am not one to deal with elitist individuals. But his response was a kick in the face and the guts of the many boarding Virgin Islanders and individuals that go to the polls to vote for people such as himself. So for him to turn around and say that the average person is not worthy to get an honor of naming our bridge after them because they're not a public servant or elected official is disrespectful for you to write a document to say something so disrespectful about him because you know God has to help us.

If this is the governor that is who's running these territories. Because when I read that document as to his justification, it hurt my spirit. It genuinely, genuinely hurt my spirit. Senator Heyliger moved on to say that Mr. Adams was not, quote, less than a human being because he was not elected or an ambassador. But just for the governor to make a reference that we were doing a disservice to ambassadors and senators who have names and buildings and bridges named after them, that how dare we attempt to give the average Joe Blue, the average man, the regular person that gives such a great impact to so many lives that he is not deserving of his name

being put on something. I don't know what level we've come to as part of this, these Virgin Islands. But it's a sad day when the very person that these regular people have to vote for you to be in the position that you're entity, that this is how you speak about them and look down on them. She says she intends to move for an override on all three pieces of legislation.

 

The one bill he did not veto was the one in regards to where I had requested to change the code to allow for the IRS to say no to an active members. Their benefit in contributions information. But what the law previously said was that they could only mail them out. And she basically wanted to give their members the option to say, Hey, would you like your annual report via mail or would you like to have it via email, which is electronic for eligible customers on Saint Croix who were unable to collect water vouchers from the Virgin Islands?

Water and Power Authority can do so next week from Monday, December 4th through Thursday, December seven. The authority has extended business hours until 6 p.m. at the Sonny Isles Business Office for Eligibility or to pre-register Visit Clean water Usvi Dotcom Acting Governor Kevin McCurdy signed an executive order on November 29th, renewing the local state of emergency until December 29th, 2023.

On October 38, Governor Albert Bryan Jr initially signed the executive order declaring a state of emergency in the District of Saint Croix on November 18th. President Joe Biden approved a federal emergency declaration before the extension. The local order expired earlier this week on the 29th. Mr. McCurdy is in the role of acting governor because Governor Bryan is in Washington, D.C., as part of his duties as vice chair of the National Board of Directors of Jobs for America's Graduates.

He is scheduled to return to the territory on Monday, December 4th. The town of Christians that has been enduring dug up streets and closed roads for an extended period of time as the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority has executed a contract to replace the sewer lines in the town area. Christian said business owners and residents have been calling for the repayment of roads as contractor Marco Saint Croix executes the project.

We push for a timeline on when residents can expect results from Waste Management Authority project manager Ron Phillips. As soon as the contractor gives us a timeline. We will definitely communicate that with the public. Mr. Phillips said A lot of work is completed, but there is still more to be done, as this is only phase one of the project.

Phase two the roads are not going to be dug up. Phase one, the road that dug out the guys are removing is to align themselves. That's where you're going to remove it as well. But all pipes are replaced and you pipes and phase to the manholes already they are doing is actually coming in. You are watching the manholes.

You clean them. Then you do an inspection to make sure that the walls are good. And once the wells I mean good, then what you do job by what is something known as a backside. So perhaps it's like a protective coating that you put in on the manhole was composed of the main hall that made out of concrete.

Acknowledging that people want to see the roads repaired, Mr. Phillips said. Clarification needed to be made on what the authority's responsibility is. What the contractor is going to do is a contractor is actually going to be the trenches. The trenches are the area of the road that was dug up where the existence of our line was removed and the new squall line has been installed.

They're not doing the entire road in anticipation for phase two. Residents and businesses will continue to be impacted by road closures. When you don't these doors, you've got to close the road because most of them main holes in the middle of the street. So what happened is that when you go into the ocean and when you're doing the plastering and when you put in the backseat, the road has to be shut down.

Certain sections of the road have to be set up. So what we did in phase one, in terms of shutting down the road, we got to do that in place to figure that they're probably going to start maybe around March, April of next year. You are listening to the TJX News Feed out of Virgin Islands Housing Authority board meeting.

Jimmie Farmer, director of Asset management, said that they were, quote, literally at the mercy of the administrators. Both Saint Thomas and Saint Croix to advise them on when a ban has been lifted. For the authority to remove derelict vehicles from housing communities across the territory. Saint Thomas, Administrator every Lewis says the Bovoni fire that started on September 14th and lasted for 21 days has hampered those efforts.

The situation that's happened currently with the removal of the island and derelict vehicles is that since the first initial fire with a fire took place in a metal yard, you know, a landfill operators on waste management, you know, Porsche and all the regulatory agencies came down hard and and they had to put some rules and regulations in place.

So this thing to settle for you to do work in and then a bucket and then also some equipment issues, some equipment damage and the fire that had to be replaced. And that section has an opinion. So the government and seems almost unchanged. We don't have a space, so say we could collect the cars and hold them in.

You know, all this area where we collect the cars. That's why we need more than six, seven years. And, you know, when we do collective negotiating, a recycling center, which is day in front of the landfill, symptomatic of women and children, administrate. Lewis says, however, there is nothing stopping the housing authority from tagging the derelict vehicles. At this time, they're not stopping Holden from taking their cars or anything.

It's on their property. But we do do a joint something and assist. Okay. I go in with my team and we take the need for the removal of the vehicle themselves. Go for it. And then we do really detoxification other people's detox and other cars and so forth. I really feel but at this time there's no movement on that.

We had a few in some egregious areas that we had to remove the people, not put them where, you know, ambulances or emergency vehicles couldn't pass a traffic stop in. I don't know how they got there. So we just had to deal with those like a lot like, well, six or seven of them. But at this time, nothing is happening until they get these off through the regulations.

Humphreys executive director Robert Graham has, however, said the housing authority continues to subsidize the disposal of vehicles. He explained that they have asked the administration to include a vehicle identification number and match that with the last registration of the vehicles so that the costs can be charged to the last registered owner. Mr. Avery explained That already happens. We're going to take the vehicle.

The car asks for some important information, such as the registered owner's name and so forth on the vehicle identification information. So then we collect all this data and then we've submitted to DMV a lien in place against the last registered owner. And it does go into it does work because we have a lot of people to be calling it or they didn't know this.

I didn't know that. But it's just that dealer, your first phone is $1,000 and the second phone for a friend is 2500. So it does go that you wouldn't be able to register anymore your vehicles or your driver's license. St Croix Administrator Samuel Sanes says lack of funds has caused them to stop the removal of abandoned vehicles. For the most part, he was being coy.

What we do is when the supervisor of the supreme housing developments call us what we do, we assist internally making arrangements with people, truck drivers that we use. And when I say we, the Administrative Duties committee, accounting Vehicle program, and we also are putting stickers in the cars. They do, however, take care of the cost of the entire process.

So that was the arrangement. One of the things that I've faced numerous times to different supervisors is to not let these abandoned vehicles pile up. In other words, you can do it on a monthly schedule. And the reason why I say that is when you have a when you have a big operation, for instance, a few weeks ago, we did pretty much we have to make arrangements with the IPD to be there, because there have been times in the past in which residents get a bit unruly, if you want to use our word.

So, you know, we are trying to assist and as you know, we are going through a short as well financial crisis. And so we we had to temporarily I don't think we stopped the program. Hopefully we'll be able to resume either at the end of December or the beginning of January. After a delay, the National Park Service announced that work to remove asbestos containing material at the Canal Bay Resort site within the Virgin National Park will begin in early 2024.

Today marked the observance of World AIDS Day. Jason Henry, director of the Communicable Disease Division with the Department of Health, emphasized the need to end the stigma in our community. World AIDS Day What is day is the day that public health workers come together and globally to remember the individuals who are infected and infected with HIV, particularly those who are living with HIV?

What is the actually the theme for this series? Before I go forward is remember 35? So this is a 35th year that we are celebrating World AIDS Day globally. And the theme is remember and commit what it did today, because it's very important that as a community, remember where we've come from, we commemorate individuals who are living with HIV and its positive employees.

We also recommit ourselves to actually HIV in the territory. The department held HIV screenings today both on Saint Croix and on Saint Thomas to commemorate World AIDS Day. And then tomorrow, we be actually decorating our public schools. Are we actually participating in the mobile parade? We're open because we've been lit up promoting some messages about ending HIV and reducing the stigma.

One of the challenges with getting individuals into care is that it's the stigma that is associated with HIV. And we're trying to make this a test in our part of routine health care. And to recognize and we know that HIV is no longer a death sentence. You know, back in 2021, Governor Brian did a proclamation for the Department of Health.

We have a slogan that we see 34000 HIV infections, very new HIV infections by 2030. Mr. Henry said they had three goals to achieve this initiative. 90% of the individuals living in the US Virgin Islands know the status of 90% of individuals were HIV positive. We want to get them into care. And 90% of those individuals were in care.

We want to have a reduced viral load. And what does that mean when you say which is very low? We're just down pretty much means an individual who has HIV. If you have a viral load undetectable, which is the amount of virus in your body, it also makes HIV transmittable. So if we have individuals who are in care, who taking medication have a05 or very small amount of viral load, they're unable to track HIV to another person.

And so that's that's one of our goals here at the Department of Health Countrywide, as we have the carbon footprint of our community partners to include head to head care. And since I was in medical center, you are listening to the TJX News Feed the Caribbean writer, the Internet National Refereed Literary Journal, published by the University of the Virgin Islands each year, recently announced the release of Volume 37 under the theme carrying Recognition and Repair.

We spoke with C.S. Lewis Brown, an award winning author of Young Adult books. Member of the university's adjunct faculty since 1990 and editor of the Caribbean. Writer since 2012. Use themes each year to capture the essence of the pieces that are being submitted by the various offers from around the Diaspora Caribbean Diaspora and carrying recognition and repair is the theme for Volume 37.

The theme captures some of the nuances of Caribbean experience, the things we carry, how we recognize them and how we set about to repair them. And we try to illustrate that theme in an artwork that is selected by a young artist here in Saint Corey named Alexis Camarena. Alexis Camarena is an up and coming artist, and his is which graces the front cover of the of the journal is captures that particular idea of carrying recognition and repair.

Each year, prizes are offered to those who are selected for the Journal to purchase editions of the Journal and for submissions visit Caribbeanwriter.ORG. This year we have we have actually four prizes that we offer each year, and we're still looking for persons who would like to sponsor prizes. We have the Broadhurst Prize, which is sponsored by the St. Croix Avis, and that has been offered from the inception of the Journal.

The Daily News also has a prize. That prize has also been offered since the inception of the Journal Prize. Prizes $500. The Daily News prize is $600. The Marvin Williams Prize. Morgan was the editor of the Caribbean, writer for seven years before he passed away. He is of Fredrick Said Native, and his wife has contributed a prize in his name each year in the amount of $500.

Most times we all say to an up and coming first artist who has submitted a piece that our board finds to be exceptional and then we have the Vincent Cooper Prize, which is a prize that's offered by Dr. Vincent Cooper, who recently retired from the university. But he has been with the Journal since the inception as well. The Department of Education has asked the community to mark their calendars and support students by attending the upcoming holiday concerts.

Dion Don Wardell, director of music programs, tells us about the upcoming concerts. Most always try to do concerts or programs of some sort. We are slowly getting back up of that. The Hurricane Corps will not have any resources able to tour together. We've been doing that for Russia to do some stuff too. And now we have a little bit more this year, which is what we're used to seeing with the holiday concert itself.

You get to see what the kids have been working on and are different at a higher advanced level, even at the elementary level, because they're now trying to learn how to perform. But with the program goes in elementary school specifically, you see different entities from like maybe an English class or even a Sam's class in my class that might get involved.

We may see some cool arena we used to see years ago and different things that happen in the house of Dancing. We just really want to bring back the whole community spirit. The first concert will be held Monday, December 4th, at the Ivana Durkin High School, starting at 6:59 p.m.. As we continue in the news feed, we turn now to our regional report.

Today, the United Nations top court ordered Venezuela not to take any action that would alter Guyana's control over disputed territory. But did not specifically ban Venezuela from holding its planned referendum Sunday on the territory's future. Both countries interpreted today's ruling as largely backing their own positions on the territory. The court order falls short of any explicit mention of the referendum, but says that Venezuela must refrain from taking any action which would modify that situation that currently prevails in a squabble.

The legally binding ruling remains in place until a case brought by Guyana against Venezuela on the region's future is considered by the court, which could take years. Venezuela does not recognize the U.N. panel's jurisdiction over the decades old dispute. But the country's vice president, Del C Rodriguez, categorized today's ruling as a victory for Venezuela. Given that the U.N. did not order a halt to the referendum plans.

Guyana's president, Muhammad Irfan Ali, also welcomed the ruling, saying that the decision makes clear that Venezuela is prohibited from annexing or trespassing upon Guyanese territory or taking any other actions, regardless of the outcome of the referendum. In our final update on the news feed, scattered showers will continue this evening, but this weekend should be sunny. Meteorologist Eric Weglarz has the Territory's weather forecast.

Here's the latest look at the short term forecast for the Virgin Islands. Meteorologists are quite worried. Mostly sunny skies continue this afternoon area wide. We'll find a few clouds building late day and a few scattered showers as well. At Saint Croix, temperatures will climb into the middle eighties. Winds remain from the northeast at 15 to 20, gusts as high as 25 at Saint Thomas in Saint John, similar story.

A few clouds and a few scattered showers are possible near sunset. Winds are a bit stronger from the northeast at 20 to 25 miles per hour with highs in the middle to upper eighties tonight. Scattered showers will taper off to probably cloudy skies area. Wide lows fall back into the lower seventies at Saint Croix. Winds remain from the northeast at 15 to 20, with the occasional gusts over 20.

At Saint Thomas and Saint John, a few showers will taper off a bit earlier to mostly clear skies. Lows fall back into the upper seventies. Winds are a bit stronger from the northeast at 20 to 25 miles per hour. Gusts occasionally up to 30. And Saturday features a mostly sunny sky at Saint Croix with temperatures in the middle eighties, once in the northeast at 15 to 20 miles per hour.

At Saint Thomas and Saint John will find sunshine giving way to increasing clouds and scattered showers for the afternoon. Highs reached the middle to upper eighties winds also from the northeast at 20 to 25. That's the latest. Look at your short term forecast. I'm meteorologist Eric Weglarz. We are at the end of today's WTJX NEWSFEED. I’m, Marcellina Ventura-Douglas join me every weekday at 5 p.m..

If you haven't already, be sure to download the WTJX app and if you miss a part of our news, you can 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.
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