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President's Signature Sends $8 million to Virgin Islands

March 11, 2009 — President Barack Obama Wednesday signed the Omnibus Appropriations Act of FY 2009, which includes almost $8 million dollars in funding for special projects in the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to a statement released by Gov. John deJongh Jr.'s office.
The bill includes funding for the new 911 emergency communications system in the territory, federal dollars for the solid-waste system, highway construction funds and money for mass transit, as well as land acquisition for the National Park System.
"I am gratified by the actions of Congress to fund some of my administration's top priorities," deJongh said. "These projects will go a long way in creating a better and safer Virgin Islands for all our people."
There is also funding in the bill for the territory's health-care facilities, shoreline protection for the St. Thomas waterfront and wildlife conservation. The bill funds a flood-control project to protect the town of Frederiksted and a comprehensive engineering study of practical ways to connect the electricity grids between all four islands and reduce utility bills for V.I. consumers.
"These projects have been important priorities of my administration, and I would thank not only our friends in the House and U.S. Senate who supported our funding requests, but, in particular, I want to acknowledge the effective leadership of Delegate Donna Christensen, who coordinated the appropriations effort with my office to include our projects in this spending bill," deJongh said.
Christensen said she was grateful so many of her funding requests made it into the bill and that, along with stimulus funding, the money should go a long way to easing the financial burdens of the territory in these difficult economic times.
She acknowledged that the concept of earmarks has been controversial, but defended the practice for the benefit it gives small communities without a lot of political clout.
"Even with the bad publicity that earmarks are getting, small communities like the Virgin Islands use the funding to complete critical projects," she said. "I was pleased to support the funding priorities of the deJongh administration in these requests."
Funding in the bill will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to finalize engineering design plans for channel improvements, a new levee and an interior drainage canal for the town of Frederiksted. In the works since the late 1990s, the grant funding will allow the Army Corps of Engineers to modify and complete outdated plans and to proceed to construction of the $4 million project in the following year.
In addition, the bill provides funding for the Corps of Engineers to conduct a shoreline-protection study of the St. Thomas waterfront. The bill also includes $500,000 for an engineering study to connect the electricity grids on all three islands through underwater cables.
"Connecting the electricity grids would allow WAPA to become more efficient, reduce duplication of costly generation equipment and lead to lower electricity bills for all V.I. residents," the governor said.
Other funds bound for the territory and their targets include:
— $475,000 for the purchase of new buses;
— $2 million for improvements to the territory's solid-waste system;
— $2.25 million for land acquisition for the acquisition of Maho Bay by V.I. National Park;
— $571,000 is being provided to the Department of Health to upgrade health facilities and purchase equipment, including funds for a new mental health facility. Some of the funding will be utilized for the expansion of the Eldra Schulterbrandt long-term care facility;
— $2.18 million for Covenant Grants for Capital Improvements;
— $160,000 for the Wildlife Conservation Grant;
— $380,000 for the Christiansted bypass and Long Bay project;
— $48,000 to provide glaucoma screenings in the Virgin Islands; and
— $300,000 for ACOE Shoreline Protection Study for the Veterans Drive Shoreline.
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March 11, 2009 -- President Barack Obama Wednesday signed the Omnibus Appropriations Act of FY 2009, which includes almost $8 million dollars in funding for special projects in the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to a statement released by Gov. John deJongh Jr.'s office.
The bill includes funding for the new 911 emergency communications system in the territory, federal dollars for the solid-waste system, highway construction funds and money for mass transit, as well as land acquisition for the National Park System.
"I am gratified by the actions of Congress to fund some of my administration's top priorities," deJongh said. "These projects will go a long way in creating a better and safer Virgin Islands for all our people."
There is also funding in the bill for the territory's health-care facilities, shoreline protection for the St. Thomas waterfront and wildlife conservation. The bill funds a flood-control project to protect the town of Frederiksted and a comprehensive engineering study of practical ways to connect the electricity grids between all four islands and reduce utility bills for V.I. consumers.
"These projects have been important priorities of my administration, and I would thank not only our friends in the House and U.S. Senate who supported our funding requests, but, in particular, I want to acknowledge the effective leadership of Delegate Donna Christensen, who coordinated the appropriations effort with my office to include our projects in this spending bill," deJongh said.
Christensen said she was grateful so many of her funding requests made it into the bill and that, along with stimulus funding, the money should go a long way to easing the financial burdens of the territory in these difficult economic times.
She acknowledged that the concept of earmarks has been controversial, but defended the practice for the benefit it gives small communities without a lot of political clout.
"Even with the bad publicity that earmarks are getting, small communities like the Virgin Islands use the funding to complete critical projects," she said. "I was pleased to support the funding priorities of the deJongh administration in these requests."
Funding in the bill will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to finalize engineering design plans for channel improvements, a new levee and an interior drainage canal for the town of Frederiksted. In the works since the late 1990s, the grant funding will allow the Army Corps of Engineers to modify and complete outdated plans and to proceed to construction of the $4 million project in the following year.
In addition, the bill provides funding for the Corps of Engineers to conduct a shoreline-protection study of the St. Thomas waterfront. The bill also includes $500,000 for an engineering study to connect the electricity grids on all three islands through underwater cables.
"Connecting the electricity grids would allow WAPA to become more efficient, reduce duplication of costly generation equipment and lead to lower electricity bills for all V.I. residents," the governor said.
Other funds bound for the territory and their targets include:
-- $475,000 for the purchase of new buses;
-- $2 million for improvements to the territory's solid-waste system;
-- $2.25 million for land acquisition for the acquisition of Maho Bay by V.I. National Park;
-- $571,000 is being provided to the Department of Health to upgrade health facilities and purchase equipment, including funds for a new mental health facility. Some of the funding will be utilized for the expansion of the Eldra Schulterbrandt long-term care facility;
-- $2.18 million for Covenant Grants for Capital Improvements;
-- $160,000 for the Wildlife Conservation Grant;
-- $380,000 for the Christiansted bypass and Long Bay project;
-- $48,000 to provide glaucoma screenings in the Virgin Islands; and
-- $300,000 for ACOE Shoreline Protection Study for the Veterans Drive Shoreline.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.