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Block Grant Applicants Vie for Limited Funding

April 18, 2006 – Police Officer Steven Payne received kudos Tuesday night from two fellow Community Development Block Grant applicants for his work with the department's Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Program.
"He does a tremendous job. You find only a few people in the community so dedicated," Clarence Scipio of the Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands said.
Scipio made his remarks Tuesday at the Legislature building on St. John during the first of three hearings on Community Block Grant applications.
Safety Zone Director Iris Kern, noting that it was unusual for other Block Grant applicants to speak in support of another program, also praised Payne's work.
Payne asked for $185,000 for the program, which operates in both St. John and St. Thomas. The program provides a musical program and other services for youths.
After Block Grant Program Director Laurence Joshua asked if the program could operate if it didn't receive the full amount, Payne's mother, Deanna Rogers, stood up from her seat in the audience.
"These are our young people's lives. We have to start speaking out for our children," Rogers said.
However, Payne said he could manage if he got $45,000 for the van needed to store and transport instruments. He said they're currently kept at his house, his mother's house and at the homes of some of the participants.
He also said that if the program got the funding, it could expand to St. Croix.
A total of six St. John organizations requested $1.1 million in grants for their projects.
Similar hearings will be held Wednesday at Lockhart Elementary School on St. Thomas and Thursday at the Curriculum Center on St. Croix. Both begin at 5:30 p.m.
Since the Block Grant program has only $1.9 million to split equally between the St. Thomas/St. John and St. Croix districts, Joshua pointed out that the program would not be able to fully meet all the needs.
"For every dollar you are requesting, there is only nine cents available," Joshua said.
The St. John School of the Arts asked for $814,000 to add on to its existing building in Cruz Bay. Assistant Director Jan Kinder said the school needs more space so it can offer more programs.
"The St. John School of the Arts is a one-room school house," Kinder said.
She said the school currently serves 500 children in schools and 160 in after school programs.
Kinder said the school could be built in phases if full funding was not available.
Corine Matthias, president of the Love City Pan Dragons, asked for $40,000 to fund operating expenses.
She said the program has a long waiting list of youths wanting steel pan instruction. She said the program fills needs not met by the educational system or by parents with at-risk youths.
Scipio requested $35,000 the run a computer instruction program at St. Ursula's Senior Citizen Center. The program serves people of all ages.
He said if the program did not get the money requested, it would have to rely more on volunteers.
Joycelyn Stagger, representing the V.I. Resource Center for the Disabled, asked for $19,400 for an after-school program for children with disabilities to be held at Julius E. Sprauve School.
Kern requested $3,988 to pay for a chairlift already installed and in use at the organization's new office at the Lumberyard Shopping Complex.
"The landlord put the money forward and will allow us to repay it," she said.
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