St. Croix Source online all the time since 1999 Sat, 10 Dec 2022 02:46:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Viya Announces Abbreviated St. Thomas Office Hours On Saturday Sat, 10 Dec 2022 02:46:52 +0000 Viya will have abbreviated office hours on Saturday. Viya’s St. Thomas offices will close at 3:00 p.m. to facilitate Viya’s employee holiday celebration.

All customers are encouraged to conduct transactions at their convenience, using Viya’s online Customer Care and payment portal:, or call 340-774-2PAY (2729), 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Viya apologizes for any inconvenience this schedule change may cause its valued

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Online Petition Seeks To Protect Beeston Hill Sat, 10 Dec 2022 02:16:46 +0000 A petition seeking to block a proposed strip mall in nearly 16 acres of virgin St. Croix green space has quickly gathered support. ]]>
An online petition seeks to block rezoning nearly 16 acres of residential space for a strip mall. (Photo: From Senate testimony)

A petition seeking to block a proposed strip mall in nearly 16 acres of virgin St. Croix green space has quickly gathered support.

By Friday morning, more than 309 signatures backed the petition, which urged the U.S. Virgin Islands Legislature to not rezone the Beeston Hill land from residential to business.

A Department of Planning and Natural Resources study recommended against the proposed development, which included retail space, a restaurant, condominium complexes, a medical center, and parking lots. The report included voluminous objections to the project from people living in the area, including flooding and traffic concerns, as well as a negative impact on their property values.

The DPNR report also said the developer would not be held to the conceptual drawings or stated plans once a zoning change was made. People living nearby worried the area could be littered with tattoo parlors and nightclubs, heavy equipment and trucking industries.

The would-be developers altered their plans, removing the medical center, and presented them to the Senate in hopes legislators would rezone the land despite DPNR’s recommendation against it.

Three St. Croix senators — Sen. Kurt Vialet, Sen. Kenneth Gittens, Sen. Novelle Francis — and Senate President Donna Frett-Gregory applauded the developers, characterizing them as local people up against “snowbirds” and off-island landlords interested in profiting from short-term rentals.

Residents of Beeston Hill, as well as other areas surrounding the proposed construction site, pushed back. People from Beeston Hill, Hermon Hill, Questa Verde, Golden Rock, and Rosegate contacted the Source, saying they had lived in their homes for decades, some with family roots in the area going back centuries. They were puzzled why the senators would portray their neighborhoods as Airbnb communities.

At least 23 people had commented on the online petition by Friday morning, most calling for an end to spot zoning, a practice that can result in quiet residential neighborhoods pockmarked by industrial or 24-hour commercial enterprises.

Several petition signers suggested the would-be developers put their efforts toward revitalizing existing shopping malls, many of which are underused or vacant. They reiterated the would-be developers’ acknowledgment that they had purchased the land, knowing it was zoned for sparse residential structures, not a large commercial venture.

“There’s plenty of empty retail space begging for rehab. Make use of it! The traffic in this area is already heavy. Why destroy more natural green space?! This project has no positive purpose for anyone beyond the developer’s reach,” wrote one petition signer.

Another signer paraphrased a well-known Joni Michell song: “I don’t want my paradise to be a parking lot! There are many existing areas that are already zoned commercial use. The natural beauty of St. Croix must be preserved!”

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Public and Private Interests Clash at the Coastline Sat, 10 Dec 2022 02:14:53 +0000 When it comes to the Virgin Islands' shoreline, there’s a narrow path between public access and private property rights.]]>
The Virgin Islands’ shoreline is the site of disputes between public and private interests. (Michele Weichman photo)

When it comes to the Virgin Islands’ shoreline, there’s a narrow path between public access and private property rights.

In recent years, the highly sensitive issue has seemed to lay dormant under a compromise of sorts. While under the territory’s Open Shorelines Act, all beaches are public and anyone may access them via the water, only commercial establishments such as hotels have been required to provide some sort of public access across their property.

A recent government report has raised the issue again and has alarmed some people worried that private property rights may be in jeopardy in the future.

Government officials stress there is no immediate effort to make changes to the status quo and say that nothing will happen without careful consideration of all ramifications.

In October, the Coastal Zone Management Division of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources released a voluminous document reviewing various aspects of the management of land in the islands’ coastal zone. Included in it was a section discussing the need to protect and possibly expand public access to shorelines and raising the possibility of requiring residential property owners in beachfront areas to provide for public access.

That quickly raised objections from members of the local real estate community, who cited concerns for the protection of private property rights and pointed out numerous legal and practical complications, including security and insurance concerns.

In an interview with the Source Thursday, CZM Director Marlon Hibbert implied that the real estate industry jumped the gun in submitting objections to the report. He said the division is not moving to implement any changes for shorelines in the near future and that it is aware of and sensitive to both legal and practical considerations.

The report that triggered the latest look at Open Shorelines policy is a routine, generally in-house document that federal partners require all Coastal Management Programs throughout the country to submit periodically.

In this case, the “Section 309 Assessment and Strategy, FY 2023-2025” must be completed by CZM and approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in order for the VI’s CZM program to be eligible for certain NOAA funding.

NOAA requires periodic review of nine different areas of CZM management, including such subjects as marine debris, aquaculture and ocean resources, and it asks the local officials to list priority areas.

In the recent Assessment and Strategy report, CZM listed three areas as high priority: wetlands, coastal hazards and public access.

But it is seeking NOAA funds only for the first two, wetlands and coastal hazards.

In the report, CZM said that factors such as erosion caused by climate change and a proliferation of private residences used as vacation rentals have given a sense of urgency to the need to protect public access.

“The CZM program acknowledges that public access and addressing the challenges to creating and ensuring long-term enduring public access to the shoreline are a priority for the territory,” the report states. However, it continues, “A strategy to address public access is not being developed at this time under the §309 program because other program and funding opportunities exist that can be utilized to address some of the identified needs and management priorities.”

In the interview, Hibbert added that CZM also wants more time to research the best strategies to increase public access without negative impacts for property owners.

“We agree it’s a very complicated issue,” Hibbert said. “It needs careful consideration . . . We’re certainly not in the business of taking away property rights.”

Such assurances did not completely ally fears for private property rights or the concerns raised by real estate experts in a response to the report.

The report identifies public access as a priority and references the possibility of using eminent domain or other mechanisms to require public easements across residential shoreline properties.

“It’s still something that’s in writing,” said Scott Newland, a St. Thomas real estate agent who studied the report and shared his concerns with others in the industry, leading to a response to the report from the Virgin Islands Territorial Association of Realtors.

“I think it’s something that needs to be addressed,” Newland said.

The VITAR response cites the Fifth Amendment clause in the U.S. Constitution, which narrowly restricts the government’s right to take private property and says it may not do so at all without just compensation to an owner. VITAR questions the government’s ability even to make such compensation.

It raises several other issues. Most private residences in the coastal zone are on half-acre lots with setbacks of just 15 to 20 feet, it states, effectively leaving little room for an easement without impacting the homeowner’s right to privacy and the “quiet enjoyment” of their property. If public access is required, there could be a need for parking areas, for accommodations for the disabled, for ongoing maintenance, and for liability insurance.

Moreover, the response argues that there are significant financial implications for the real estate market; property values in the coastal zone could plummet, leaving existing property owners losing equity.

So far, the balance between private and public interests has eluded the Virgin Islands community.

A legal review from 2015 in the Florida A&M University Law Review – and cited in the recent CZM report – found the territory’s Open Shoreline Act lacking because it doesn’t spell out how public access to shorelines is to be secured, nor does it provide penalties or enforcement mechanisms.

“Part of the reason CZM was created is to ensure that the public has the continuous right to use and enjoy the shorelines and to maximize public access to do so,” the 2015 review states. It suggests several possible methods to do that, including the creation of beach parks, historical usage easements, and extractions, that is, conditions for approval of land development.

Meanwhile, according to the CZM report, the issue is becoming critical.

“The USVI’s shoreline and beaches are far more than tourist destinations,” the report states. “Territorial beaches are culturally important areas and have served as the USVI’s de-facto park system – areas where Crucians, St. Thomians and St. Johnians have historically recreated. Shoreline areas have historically and customarily been used for camping, family gatherings (in many cases with generational ties to specific locations), recreating, and artisanal and subsistence fishing.

“Private development (e.g., conversion of existing historic access sites, installation of physical barriers blocking historical access sites, loss of perpendicular access to the coast) and increased demand for access to coastal resources are jeopardizing the public’s ability to access the shorelines and have been documented in several sources . . . as primary threats to continued equitable public access in the USVI. CZM staff have described an increase in sales of coastal parcels to off-island buyers since the hurricane impacts in 2017, as well as an increase in coastal properties being used as short-term rentals, which have resulted in an increase in the number of public access disputes and related incidents.”

While Hibbert said there are no immediate plans to introduce new strategies, he emphasized that CZM is actively working to find ways to increase public access to the shoreline without negative impacts.

“We are continually looking at how to address it,” he said.

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Marine Weather Alerts Extended as a Powerful Swell Impacts the Local Waters Sat, 10 Dec 2022 02:12:28 +0000 The National Weather Service (NWS) in San Juan, PR, has extended marine weather alerts for portions of Puerto Rico and the USVI. ]]>

The National Weather Service (NWS) in San Juan, PR, has extended marine weather alerts for portions of Puerto Rico and the USVI.

“Hazardous coastal conditions will persist from the north and east coast of St Thomas, St John, and St Croix, northern Vieques, Rincón, Aguada, the Atlantic Coastline of Puerto Rico, and Culebra. These areas can expect coastal flooding and erosion due to dangerous breaking waves,” according to an update from the NWS on Friday afternoon. 

“This swell could suddenly produce larger breaking waves along the U.S. Virgin Islands, Culebra, Aguada, and Rincón. Breaking waves are expected to reach 15 to 20 feet, and beach erosion is possible,” the NWS update explains. 

Waves crash along the rocks at Dorothea Beach on St. Thomas, USVI, on Dec. 9. Hazardous marine conditions will persist into next week. (Photo by Jesse Daley)

Currently, a “Coastal Flood Warning” and a “High Surf Warning” are in effect until at least 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning. Additionally, a “High Rip Current Risk,” a “Small Craft Advisory,” and a “High Surf Advisory” are in effect through next week.  

Individuals in and around the water are advised to remain vigilant. Weather updates will be posted on the Source Weather Page as they become available. 

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VIPD Hosts Safety Seat Donation Drive Sat, 10 Dec 2022 02:10:51 +0000 As the Christmas-New Year’s festivities approach, local public safety messages offer drivers safety tips. But this season, there’s a new safe driving message that evokes the holiday spirit of giving.]]>
The VIPD Office of Highway Safety hopes to host a booster seat giveaway in February, with help from community donors. (Shutterstock image)

As the Christmas-New Year’s festivities approach, local public safety messages offer drivers safety tips. But this season, there’s a new safe driving message that evokes the holiday spirit of giving.

The Virgin Islands Office of Highway Safety is asking the community to help supply local families with child booster seats. Booster seats are the devices used to protect children ages 4-7 while riding in vehicles.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, car accidents are a leading cause of death for children nationwide. VIPD Highway Safety Coordinator Denise Gomes says the booster seat donation drive began two weeks ago.

Gomes says there’s a shortage of booster seats in the territory. “Since the pandemic (and) supply chain interruptions, our local retailers — KMart and other stores — don’t have any stock,” she said. “Four to seven-year-olds are being transported unsafely without booster seats.”

The more familiar child safety seats are more readily available, the coordinator said. By law, infants transported from local hospitals from the delivery ward must be carried in a car seat. But Gomes said parents and guardians become less safety conscious as the baby grows out of their car seat.

“Our goal is (to get) about 700 seats per district,” Gomes said, to assist local families. The last time Highway Safety held a booster seat giveaway in April, they ran out, she said.

With help from generous donors, the division hopes to hold another giveaway in February. “We do distribute seats when we have them,” Gomes said.

Car safety rules also apply to visiting families. One vacation rental business owner catering to children on St. John keeps booster seats in inventory. The business owner, who asked not to be named, said all of their boosters have already been booked for the Christmas holiday. That leaves families having one more item to carry with them as they fly or sail to the V.I.

So far, she said, one donor has contributed 10 booster seats. Those who would like to join the effort are encouraged to order through stateside vendors and have the items shipped to the territory.

Gomes stressed that donated items must be new. “We cannot take used booster seats for liability reasons. We do ask that they buy new seats,” she said.

Those who wish to support the booster seat donor drive can drop off their items on St. Croix in Frederiksted, next to the Boys and Girls Club. On St. Thomas, VIPD is partnering with the Department of Education to arrange a donation site, Gomes said.

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Banking Board Says No To Crypto Sat, 10 Dec 2022 02:08:46 +0000 Five cryptocurrency firms hoping to operate in the territory were turned down by the Virgin Islands Banking Board at its Thursday meeting.]]>
The Virgin Islands Banking Board voted against allowing five cryptocurrency firms to operate in the territory. (Michele Weichman photo)

Five cryptocurrency firms hoping to operate in the territory were turned down by the Virgin Islands Banking Board at its Thursday meeting.

The companies sought money transmitter licenses in the Virgin Islands, meaning the firms could provide check cashing, currency exchange, issue travelers’ checks or other similar instruments. The companies wanted to provide cryptocurrencies and/or virtual currency services. They requested permits to become an International Financial Services entity.

Lt. Gov. Tregenza A. Roach said the Banking Board does not issue licenses to cryptocurrency firms not regulated by the territory.

“To the extent that an applicant seeks a license as a money transmitter to provide services that facilitate virtual currency, the Banking Board does not issue licenses for such activities,” said Roach, the Banking Board chairman.

There was also concern expressed at the Thursday meeting that the cryptocurrency firms were acting as brokerages, not exchanges — holding money, not simply acting as a through point.

The firms included MoonPay USA, LLC, a company that holds similar licenses in 34 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.; NYDIG Trust Company, LLC and affiliate NYDIG Execution, LLC, which does business under many different names in 47 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.; Uphold HQ, Inc., which operates in 42 states, in 47 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.; BAM Trading Services, Inc., also known as Binance.US, which has a website that says the company does business “in several U.S. states and territories”; and Foris DAX, Inc, part of Foris, a company operating from London, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

The Banking Board members also voted unanimously to uphold a 2021 resolution allowing non-bank ATM providers in the territory to charge up to $4 per terminal transaction for customers of non-USVI Financial Institutions. The resolution limited local banks to charge no more than $3.50 per transaction at any non-bank terminal.

The Board voted to conditionally approve an application by Spyglass Capital, LLC for a permit to organize an International Financial Services Entity. Spyglass wants to help high-net-worth customers with investment management, transfer of family money from one generation to the next, and wealth management, said Erika Kellerhals, an attorney working with Spyglass. The conditional approval status was implemented by the board as a result of Spyglass Capital, LLC’s current status of not being registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.


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Woman Arrested for Allegedly Defrauding Her Elderly Father Fri, 09 Dec 2022 22:40:45 +0000 A woman on St. Croix was arrested on Thursday for defrauding her elderly father, the V.I. Police Department reported.]]>

A woman on St. Croix was arrested on Thursday for defrauding her elderly father, the V.I. Police Department reported.

An investigation was initiated on Wanda Reyes after a complaint was filed with
the Virgin Islands Police Department, which revealed that she knowingly and intentionally defrauded her elderly father by taking him to Oriental Bank to conduct two separate cash withdrawals totaling $1,000, knowing that he suffers from Alzheimer’s and was incapable of providing consent, according to the police report.

An arrest warrant was executed on Thursday and Reyes, 45, was arrested and charged with obtaining money by false pretenses and grand larceny, the report stated.

Bail was set at $20,000 for the alleged incident. Unable to post bail, Reyes
was remanded to John A. Bell Adult Correctional Facility pending her advice of rights
hearing, the police said.

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St. Croix Business Owner Arrested on Gun Charges and Assault Fri, 09 Dec 2022 22:27:40 +0000 A man on St. Croix was arrested for assault on Wednesday, the V.I. Police Department reported. ]]>

A St. Croix business owner was arrested for assault on Wednesday, the V.I. Police Department reported.

The 911 Emergency Call Center received a call from a woman reporting that she was in an altercation with her child’s father, Jamaal Mingo, at his place of business, where he fired a single gunshot in the air, waved, and pointed a firearm at a family member, according to the police report.

Several witnesses were interviewed, and their statements all corroborated with the complainants’ statements, however, added that the Mingo was intoxicated and got in a verbal and then physical altercation with some women at the business. The witnesses also stated that Mingo ran into the establishment and returned with a firearm, discharged a shot in the air, and then approached the women and pointed the firearm in one of their faces, the police report stated.

A firearms registration check revealed that Mingo does not have a license to carry a
firearm, at which point search warrants were obtained, which resulted in the discovery of a firearm.

Mingo, 40, was arrested and charged with assault, unauthorized possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, unauthorized possession of ammunition, discharging or
aiming firearms and reckless endangerment. His bail was set at $100,000. He was also arrested and charged with unauthorized possession of a firearm after the firearm was discovered in a vehicle, and he claimed ownership. Bail was set at $50,000, the report stated.

He was unable to post bail and was remanded to the John Bell Correctional Facility pending his advice of rights hearing, police said.


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José Angel Laboy Dies Fri, 09 Dec 2022 12:53:39 +0000 José Angel Laboy died on Wednesday, Nov. 23.]]>
Jose Angel Laboy

José Angel Laboy died on Wednesday, Nov. 23.

He is survived by his son, José Angel Laboy Jr.; brother, Quitin Laboy; sister, Olga Torres; nieces: Brenda Laboy, Elba Lovera and Ruth Lebron; nephew, Bienvenido Torres Jr.; cousins: Carmen Melendez and Edwin Lopez; brother-in-law, Bienvenido Torres; special friends: Mr. Carl, Rafael Rivera and Marisol Rivera; as well as other family and friends too numerous to mention.

A viewing will be held from 3-5 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 14, at Divine Funeral Services, 129 Peter’s Rest, Christiansted. A second viewing will be held at 9 a.m. followed by a funeral service at 10 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 15, at Divine Funeral Services, 129 Peter’s Rest, Christiansted.  Interment will be at Kingshill Cemetery.

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Fernella Lenora Marshall Anthony Dies Fri, 09 Dec 2022 12:46:27 +0000 Fernella Lenora Marshall Anthony died on Nov. 18.]]>
Fernella Lenora Marshall Anthony

Fernella Lenora Marshall Anthony died on Nov. 18.

Fernella Anthony is preceded in death by her mother, Victoria Tittle Williams; father, Cyril Marshall; son, Lawrence Jacobs; and brothers: Hugh Conroy Williams, Elwalder Williams and Reginald Williams (Sonny).

Fernella Anthony is survived by her:

Son, St. Clair Jacobs

Daughter/niece and son-in-law (caretakers): Pamela Williams Murray and Garth Murray

Honorary Son, Angel “Butch” Dawson

Honorary daughters: Winifred Wayland and Naomi Monsanto

Brother, Anthony Williams (Tony or Toro)

Sister, Juanita Williams

Grandchildren: Jasmine Jacob Sims, Charleen Jacobs and Howard Gayle

Great Grandchildren: Amaya Sims and Amir Sims

Uncles: Alphaeus William Tittle and Gershom Lewis

Nephews: Steven (Samantha) Williams and Nicholas Williams

Nieces: Donna Ferris, Denise Ferris, Avril (Carlos) Maynard, Victoria Williams, Avery (Darnell) Shaw, Adele Williams, Nihjole Heskey, Andrea Heskey, Lorna Peterson, Karen Williams and Ria Williams

Great Nephews: Christian McBean, Calix Jamerson, Camden McBean, Cas Ferris, Amaya Sikes and Cameron Sikes

Great Nieces: Jada Vilcin, Kailey Walker, Ceniyah Weekes and Ameera Parks

Brother-in-law, Miles Williams

Sisters-in-law: Eudaly Williams, Audrey Williams, and Maureen Williams

Godchildren: Phyllis Almestica, Monaly Richards, Callix Crabbe, Shenobia Rouse, Ira McKay and Aubrey Ruan III

Special Caregivers: Sharlene Thomas and Maude Brown

Special Cousins: Geraldine (Raymond) Bridgewater-Hodge, Gwendolyn Ryan, Ylanda Goodwin, Vernie Lake, Ferdinand Barreiro and George Barreiro, Lolita Hampson, Cory Joseph and Sharon Joseph, Naomi Henry, James Aaron, Pamela Isaac Larson, Novella Tittle and Blondel Davis, Patsy Browne, Eurena Charles and Doradeen Tittle, Irene Tittle, Elaine Tittle and many others too numerous to mention.

Special Friends: Jacqueline Pascal-Mercer and Family, Alana Crabbe and Family, Melissa Brown and Family, Annette Parson and Family, Maisie Harvey, Estillita Peterson, The Prentice Family, The Roberts Family, Joyce Lebron and Family, Vida Rouse, The Freeman Family, The Wilkinson Family and the Smith Family

Other Family Members: the Aaron, Tittle, Byam, Barreiro, Smith, Joseph, Challenger and Merchant families of Antigua

Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend the funeral service on Friday, Dec. 16, at Memorial Moravian Church. The viewing will be from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. with service to follow at 10 a.m. Interment will be at Memorial Moravian Cemetery.

Funeral arrangements are under the care of Dan Hurley Home for Funerals and Cremation Centers of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix.

For online condolences or to share a special memory, visit the website at

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