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Chamber of Commerce 'Night' Honors Residents, Business

March 3, 2006 – The community can look forward to "A night on Broadway" on March 25 when the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce will recognize five local stars at its annual awards banquet and dinner dance at 7 p.m. at St. Peter Greathouse.
The Chamber has released the honorees for several awards, including the Wilbur "Bill" LaMotta Community Service Award, which was established in 1983 to recognize the outstanding contributions of public and private citizens. The award is given to people who exhibit dedication, sincerity, forthrightness and ethics in the practice of their businesses or professions.
Chamber President Joe Aubain said Friday that he is particularly pleased about this year's honorees, which include an 82-year-old education pioneer on St. John, two community movers, and a design award for a recent and continuing embellishment to the island, as well as the student achievement award.
Recipients of the LaMotta award are Rodney Miller, Schneider Regional Medical Center chief operating officer, and Ricardo J. Charaf, president of Charaf & Company.
A relative newcomer to the island – he arrived in 2001 – much has been accomplished under Miller's watch. The hospital was accredited in 2004 by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations – something the facility had pursued for 40 years.
The Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute, a pipe dream a few years ago, opened earlier this year, and a long-awaited heliport was inaugurated last month.
Funding for the heliport came from the other LaMotta honoree, Ricardo Charaf. The Charaf Family Fund, under Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, provided more than $100,000 for the heliport. Charaf has been chair of CVFI's board since 2001.
At the SRMC dedication ceremony Feb. 16, Charaf said the 2001 death of his good friend, Antilles School headmaster Mark Marin, had inspired him.
Marin was unable to be immediately flown out of the territory after suffering a fatal head injury, since there was no heliport nearby certified for night landings, Charaf said.
Aubain said Charaf is being honored for "his philanthropic support of so many nonprofit organizations and for his acumen as a business person."
The Award for Design Excellence was established in 1999 to recognize capital investment that demonstrates outstanding achievement in quality design, improving the environment, commitment to the community and economic growth.
Aubain said, "We are proud to honor Yacht Haven USVI," noting that the project is still ongoing. "The award doesn't say the work has to be finished," he said. "It is being awarded for its commitment to the quality of design and improvement to the environment."
Twenty-six years ago, St. Johnian Ruth "Sis" Frank, along with Rudy Wells and Rodney Varlack, decided to provide training in the arts for St. John youngsters, and the St. John School of the Arts was born. Frank served as a director for many years. Though she recently retired, she still maintains an active role in the school.
The Student Achievement Award was established in 1992 to honor students who have made their school a better place through student government, extra curricular activities and academic excellence.
The 2006 award will go to Charlotte Amalie High School student Jermaine Baptiste, chapter president of V.I. Future Business Leaders of America.
The Seabreeze band will provide dance music at the awards banquet. Tickets are $125 per person, and may be reserved by calling the Chamber at 776-0100.

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