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Governor Hears St. John's Concerns

April 8, 2009 — While crime was on the list of concerns expressed by St. John residents at a community meeting called Wednesday by Gov. John deJongh Jr., other issues also surfaced.
"It's the little things that add to the aggravation of everyday life," deJongh said.
In fact, most of the concerns expressed by residents were the same ones they've complained about for years: roads, parking, flooding, garbage, transportation costs to St. Thomas and reckless truck drivers, with a few complaints thrown in about water on the Pine Peace basketball court.
The governor called the meeting, held at St. Ursula's Multi-Purpose Center, with residents of the neighborhoods of Power Boyd, as well as Enighed and Contant. He said he plans similar meetings with other St. John neighborhoods.
More than 100 people attended.
After pointing out that 90 percent of St. John's economy comes via tourism, Caneel Bay Resort Managing Director Nikolay Hotze said that one of the hotel's rooms was burglarized recently. According to Hotze, the guests saw the burglar come out of the bathroom and someone followed him until he got on the ferry to St. Thomas. Hotze said that when St. Thomas police were called to meet the ferry, they responded that they were too busy.
"I am appalled that no one on the other side responded," Police Commissioner James McCall said.
The governor said that to combat crime, he has not cut personnel in the police department and is recruiting off island.
Hotze said news of the crime made an Internet travel forum and made the rounds via email.
McCall also urged residents to call 911 rather than the police station in Cruz Bay so the calls get recorded. When he fumbled around for the number to call from cell phones, Police Ofc. Chezni Charles helped him out.
"It's 776-9110," she said.
That number is also recorded, so the police department has a record when problems occur.
Abigail Hendricks suggested that the police patrol Cruz Bay until the bars close around 2 or 3 a.m. to make the downtown area more secure.
She also addressed the issue of reckless drivers in big trucks. She said recently one large truck had its brakes fail as it sped downhill.
Hendricks suggested that big trucks carry signs that instruct other motorists to call a certain number if they see truckers driving erratically.
Myrna George, who heads the Motor Vehicle Bureau on St. John, said rules and regulations concerning the truck-driver issue had been drafted. Once they're approved, she expects the situation to improve.
Several St. John residents expressed frustration with the increased ferry fares approved by the Public Services Commission. The go into effect May 1.
The residents spoke about the already-high cost of living on St. John, which will be exacerbated by having to pay more for necessary trips to St. Thomas.
"We are going to look at the feasibility of getting the rates lower, but we're not going to say we can do it by May 1," deJongh said.
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