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Seniors and Police Honor Each Other at Luncheon

May 14, 2007 — Elder Crucians joined the police for music, dancing and a West Indian luncheon at the Violet Damidaux Police Pavilion on St. Croix Monday.
Senior Citizen Day was a part of both Police Week and Senior Citizen Month. A mixed group of senior citizens from all over the big island came in, some on a bus from Human Services, some on their own or with family. They came to listen to stories and anecdotes, eat and especially to dance.
Among the notable seniors present were Violet Damidaux, for whom the pavilion is named; Eulalie Rivera, who turns 100 later this year; and Otto and Emily Tranberg. The 89-year-old Otto Tranberg is the subject of latest book by noted and prolific local author Richard Schrader.
Hugh Payne was named honorary police commissioner and Eileen Walwyn honorary St. Croix police chief for the day. Having retired Virgin Islanders take on honorary positions for the day has been a Senior Citizens Month tradition for a number of years. In a similar vein, Tuesday evening at the Legislature in Frederiksted a mock Senate session will have seniors filling in for the senators.
St. Croix Police Chief Winsbut McFarlande proved very popular with the gathering. More than one senior spoke of McFarlande coming in to the Aldershville Senior Center in Frederiksted every day during his rounds and seeing how everyone was doing.
“Chief McFarlande has been very kind to every one of us at Aldershville Senior Center,” Thelma Clark said. “When we see him, it’s like spotting a diamond.”
Added Violet Damidaux, “Isn’t it nice to see McFarlande as (St. Croix Police) chief? I’m glad the governor picked someone like McFarlande who worked his way up through the ranks and demonstrated his commitment, instead of a more political pick.”
Assistant Police Commissioner Novelle Francis was popular with the senior crowd, too. Speaking just before the dancing began, he asked the guests to make themselves at home, relax and enjoy themselves.
“It’s your day: Dance, eat, sleep if you want to and then dance again,” Francis said, getting a laugh from the crowd.
Then Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights struck up the music and got the crowd moving to their quelbe rhythms. Although Francis said he might be too sore from dancing too long with Alice Petersen at the Police Week Mother’s Day event on Sunday, he was a popular dance partner. Pain or no, he pulled it together for five or six more dances. McFarlande and Lt. Thomas Hannah also cut a rug with a few of the ladies.
The role seniors have to play in V.I. society was a natural topic for the day.
“It is good that we set aside a day to recognize their valuable contributions and to show we care,” said Police Chaplain Arnaldo Gonzalez. “They have so much to contribute and we need them — especially their wisdom — as we look at our community.
Otto Tranberg could not agree more.
“We are the backbone of today’s society,” he said. “We have the knowledge and the experience. If the people would listen to their seniors, the seniors could really steer the government in the right direction.”
Tranberg, a U.S. Navy veteran who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, went on to offer some of that direction, with some choice words about the state of the Legislature.
“As far as the senators are concerned, we’ve got no respect for them, especially in regard to this recent pay issue,” Tranberg said. “One senator in particular we do respect, however, is (Sen. Terrence) “Positive” Nelson, because he comes among us and we can talk to him. But as far as the other senators, they will not listen to the people’s will. I think the senators are not there to vote the people’s will but to do their own business.”
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