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A CRUCIAN INFUSION OF LIEUTENANT GOVERNORS

June 7, 2002 – St. Croix's depressed economy, a subject of much concern of late, should get a decidedly upbeat infusion starting on June 25 — when between 150 and 200 politicians, along with their families, descend on the big island for the 2002 annual meeting of the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors.
The meeting, running through June 30, will take place at the Divi Carina Bay Resort, with Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II as host.
The conference is chaired by Lt. Gov. Gary Sherrer of Kansas and includes all of the seconds-in-command of the 50 states and five territories. The annual meeting theme, pertinent to St. Croix and the rest of the world, is "Prospects for Economic Recovery."
James, who serves on the NCLG 's18-member Executive Committee as the organization's Eastern Region chair, also is chair of the 2002 Annual Meeting Program Committee.
Kevin Jackson, James's events coordinator, said Friday that he is busily tying up loose ends, arranging entertainment, food, activities, transportation and more. But he's being guided by an overall concept as he's doing it.
"I'm trying to thread every element of V.I. culture into what we're doing," he said. "And we are putting emphasis on youth throughout."
Arriving participants will be met at Henry E. Rohlsen Airport by a youth steelband and an entourage of island greeters. "I am delighted to have the young kids from the Caribbean Dance Company — they're so talented," he said. "And we'll have Willard John's Guardians of Culture moko jumbies, too."
Arranging a five-day national gathering for high-powered people who spend a lot of their professional time at national gatherings is no easy task. Jackson a longtime V.I. resident, has been working pretty much from the start on the project, since it was in the planning stages nearly two years ago. Although most of the formal meetings will take place at the Divi Resort, there will be excursions for symposiums at the Whim Greathouse Museum and tours of Carambola Golf Course, Buck Island, the Hovensa refinery, Frederiksted and Christiansted.
Most of the events are "island casual," Jackson said, with one notable exception: a formal dinner at Government House. He said he's still finalizing the list of guest speakers. The final night will feature entertainment by Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights, the Bradley Christian Heritage Dancers, and Caribbean Dance Company.
As of Friday, the lieutenant governors or their equivalents from Arkansas, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and the territory of Guam had indicated they would be attending. In addition, "At this point, the NCLG home office may be getting word from Washington, D.C.," Jackson said. "White House representatives might be coming, and the national press corps will probably be down."
Jackson said he was in Washington in February to make a Power Point presentation on the meeting plans. "All the photos I used in D.C. are on the web site," he said. That's the NCLG annual meeting agenda web page, which is filled with enticing Crucian images as well as the daily schedule of events. Jackson says he designed that page, himself.
He also has designed a special conference within the annual meeting — a children's conference. Most of the lieutenant governors are expected to bring their families with them for the annual meeting, he said, and from June 27 through 29, there will be three days of events especially for young people — including their own excursions, including ice cream stops and bicycle rides. For one evening, there's a "sunset kayak tour," where Jackson has in marked in his notes, "box lunches?" Of such stuff are the loose ends he is tying together.
Another loose end apparently has to do with what James is referring to as "supplemental funding" from the V.I. government for the meeting.
On Wednesday, a release from Government House stated that Gov. Charles W. Turnbull had sent the Legislature a bill dealing with commercial property assessment and appraisers employed by the Office of the Tax Assessor.
On Thursday, a release from James stated that Turnbull's bill also would "provide supplemental funding" for the lieutenant governors' meeting in the amount of $250,000. "It goes without saying that the $250,000 to underwrite the Lieutenant Governor's Conference [meeting] … will be money well spent," James said in a letter to Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd urging prompt approval of the governor's bill.
James also announced on Friday that he will be out of the territory Saturday through June 12 attending the annual meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in Philadelphia.
Locally, at least, there has been little promotion of the lieutenant governors' gathering, a little more than two weeks away. Jackson says the Tourism Department's public relations agency, Martin Public Relations, should be "getting on the bandwagon" soon.
Calls to the Tourism Department and to Divi Carina Bay seeking information were referred to Office of the Lieutenant Governor. Repeated calls to Gregory L. Davila, James's director of communications and media relations, for information about the funding request went unreturned Thursday and Friday.
This will not be the first gathering of the nation's lieutenant governors in the territory. During the Farrelly administration, Lt. Gov. Derek Hodge hosted a national meeting on St. Thomas that included a banquet under the stars in the courtyard of Fort Christian.

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