I couldn't agree more with Frank Schneiger. I am a Virgin Islander that lives abroad. However I keep up with the changes and events affecting the islands.
I recently visited St. Croix and was somewhat disheartened to see hardly any tourists, deplorable roads and buildings, closed businesses and what seemed like a dwindling economy.
So many times I've heard "St. Croix don't have anything to offer anyone, that is why everyone is leaving."
Well, how can St. Croix, and the other islands for that matter, have anything to offer if everyone stays away, myself included. Two reasons for staying away is the lack of good jobs and the salary potential. St. Croix Central High School has produced doctors, lawyers, engineers of sorts, and many talented individuals that can turn the island around.
The Virgin Islands need young people with new ideas to remove some of the old timers that are set in their ways. Why is it that when there is a new governor, there is a new staff and system for doing things? If something is working why change or do away with it? Why not try to improve on what someone previously did?
Why do the Virgin Islands need so many senators? Why are their salaries so lavish when really they are not doing nearly enough to curb crime, educate and empower our young people, increase tourism, boost the economy, and assist our seniors?
Why was Leon Hess denied the right to build a vocational school and a hospital on the island? His company is polluting the island, it's the least the V.I. government could have done before his death.
Has anyone done a study of cancer related illnesses on the island since Hess (now Hovensa) has been there? A vocational school will give some of the young people who are not inclined to attend college another option. They can learn a lifetime trade in half the time. This will create businesses, and jobs for others. Not to mention this will boost the economy.
We have too many drug addicts and mentally ill people walking the streets. Why is there not adequate therapy to help such people? Why is there such a high AIDS rate in the Virgin Islands?
Local people are afraid to go to the doctors and the hospital on the island. The hospital does not have the proper equipment to care for the sick. The staff is not properly trained to handle various situations.
Why arent Fire Services and Emergency Medical Services one agency? Wouldn't it provide better service to the people? I'm not sure how true this is, but I was told there are only two ambulances on St. Croix. One day both of them broke down. People got to the hospital any way they could. That is absurd.
If you noticed, my comments although they affect the islands as a whole are directed to St. Croix. This is only because St. Thomas is booming. The economy there is far better than St. Croix's. There are three islands that should be "united" yet are so divided. When I tell people I am from the Virgin Islands, they respond, "Oh, you're from St. Thomas." So now I specifically say St. Croix.
My point? Hardly anyone thinks of St. Croix unless you educate them about it. Our tourism is concentrated and promoted on one island. The islands are not being promoted enough as a vacation destination.
Why is it that money is being spent to import fruits and vegetables from other islands when there is plenty of land to be farmed? Why were the sugar factories never reopened and modernized with equipment to produce sugar? These are items that can both be sold in the islands as well as exported.
We want tourists to come to the islands yet there is nothing to offer them on St. Croix other than a beautiful drive around the island. Why isn't the safety of tourists a priority? Why isn't there enough things for tourists to see and do? Why arent there undercover police officers patrolling the streets at night?
Why is there so much corruption in the police departments? Fellow officers have learned to look the other way in fear of their own lives. Why are there still so many unsolved murders in the islands? For Gods sake, these are small islands. The police departments here on the mainland solve crimes 100 percent faster and have far more territory to cover.
If the issues are money and training, then stop mismanaging monies allocated to each agency. Train the police department. How do so many drugs and so many weapons get onto the islands with no one noticing? Get the federal government to step in and help.
From the outside looking in, any governor that goes into office will not be able to turn the islands around without the aid of the federal government. I think the United States needs to consider going back to the days of appointing a governor. The entire system needs to be restructured from the governor down.
Also, jobs should be given based on knowledge and qualifications, not who you know or to who you are related. This contributes to the islands being run into the ground.
Obviously the current system is not working. The youths are the ones suffering the most. When you have respected officials bickering constantly over petty issues daily and ignoring the real problems, what message is that sending to our young people?
Nobody cares. Parents are not completely innocent either. Parents, do you remember when you were young, when the sun went down you had to be inside your parents house or you could expect a whipping?
Where are your kids when the sun goes down? Are they out gang-banging? Jumping up in front of a band? Under a tree smoking marijuana? Nothing is wrong with going to a dance and having a good time, however, instill in your children the importance of spirituality and education. Do not allow them to drop out of school. Attend PTA meetings, know your childrens teachers and friends.
Make time for them. If you don't their friends will and possibly lead them to other things. Check up on them in school .Teach your children to respect themselves and others.
In our schools, teach the children how to open a bank account and save and invest their money or even start a business.
I can go on and on. I think these are some of the things that have to change first before anyone will consider the Virgin Islands a true paradise again.
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
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