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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, July 18, 2024


Almost a month after Fire Services director Pedro Encarnacion announced the closing of the Cotton Valley Fire Station, the East End landmark will be reopened, he said.
Encarnacion did not specify the date when the reopening will take place.
The station was closed in July because of a shortage of personnel, a lack of funding for overtime and deteriorating conditions. But the public outcry and the fact that the next-closest fire station is 30 minutes away from some parts of the East End prompted Encarnacion to decide to reopen the facility, albeit with "minimal staffing and equipment," he said.
Encarnacion said members of the St. Croix Junior Firefighters and Fire Services staff recently worked on sprucing up the station to make it usable until major renovations can be made. The Property and Procurement and Public Works Departments will hold a pre-bid conference on Friday for plumbing and electrical work to be done at the station.
"We really cleaned up the place and made some minor improvements," he said. "Nevertheless, upgrading needs to be done."
Staffing the station is a problem largely because 18 St. Croix firefighters retired this year, and overtime budgeted for fiscal year 2000 has been used up. Encarnacion had said these factors along with the run-down state of the facility had forced him to close the station last month, tentatively through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30.
While the closing of the station was a first for St. Croix, two stations have been shuttered on St. Thomas in the last year because of shortages of money and personnel, Encarnacion said. Nine firefighters in the St. Thomas-St. John district have retired this year, causing increased staffing problems, he said.

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