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HomeNewsLocal governmentLawmakers Consider St. John Road Naming Candidate at Tuesday Hearing

Lawmakers Consider St. John Road Naming Candidate at Tuesday Hearing

From left, Veterans Affairs Director Patrick Farrell, St. John residents Geneva Paris and Henry Powell, American Legion 131 Post Member Alvis Christian and Post Commander Harry Daniel testify on road naming proposal. (Photo courtesy of V.I. Legislature)

Proponents appearing before a Senate committee on Tuesday used heartfelt words to persuade lawmakers about the name to attach a St. John thoroughfare. If passed by the full body, Route 107 would bear the name of Marine Corporal Kendall Emanuel George.

Born on St. Thomas and raised on St. John, George, 24, was killed by enemy gunfire in the Vietnam War. The director of the Office of Veterans Affairs joined George’s siblings and members of American Legion Post 131, who spoke in favor of Bill No. 35-0109. Support for the measure was expressed during Tuesday’s meeting of the 35th Legislature’s Committee on Government Operations, Veterans Affairs, and Consumer Protection.

If approved, the road that runs south from Coral Bay intersection of Centerline Road and Rt. 107 to Lamshur Bay would become the Cpl. Kendall Emanuel George Drive South. The bill also calls for a $10,000 appropriation to create the appropriate signage.

Veterans Affairs Director Patrick Farrell declared George worthy of having a public road named after him, saying the slain Marine demonstrated courage, dedication, and commitment in his lifetime. “We affirm our collective gratitude to those who have given their all in service to the nation,” Farrell said.

Post 131 Commander Harry Daniel — himself a Vietnam War vet — told the committee there were two military service members who lived on St. John and died in the line of duty. Aside from George, there was also Viggo Sewer, for whom St. John’s American Legion Post is named.

St. John Legionnaire Henry Powell — the proposed honoree’s brother — alluded to the 57 years that had passed since George’s death. “Today has been a long time hoped for. I am grateful to my family for encouraging me to keep on trying until we saw this day,” Powell said.

Committee Chair Carla Joseph said that given the sentiments of testifiers Powell and other relatives, she had a sense of George’s depth of character. Joseph said she had a special place in her heart for Vietnam War veterans because her brother was one of them.

“I am very much in support of this measure,” the chairwoman said. So did Sens. Ray Fonseca, Alma Francis-Heyliger, Samuel Carrion, and Javan James. Senate Minority Leader Dwayne DeGraff is not a committee member but also appeared on Tuesday and signaled his support for the bill.

There were originally three agenda items before Government Ops, Veterans Affairs, and Consumer Protection, but one bill was withdrawn by its sponsor, Sen. Donna Frett-Gregory.

That measure called for replacing the Virgin Islands Taxi Commission with a Division of Transportation and Taxi Services placed under the Licensing and Consumer Affairs Department. The bill was the subject of a hybrid town meeting held Monday night on St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John.

Joseph and Fonseca were among the lawmakers attending the Monday meeting, where about 80 taxi operators appeared in person, along with those appearing by way of livestream internet. Both lawmakers thanked those who took the time to come out and share their opinions.

“Based on that discussion, it was decided by the bill’s sponsor to pull this item from the agenda,” Joseph said.

Discussions also took place Tuesday on a third bill, 35-0084. If passed by the Rules and Judiciary Committee and later by the full Senate, it would allow businesses operating under trade names to have renewal options at 2, 6, and 10-year intervals.

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