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HomeNewsArchivesQueen Conch May Become USVI Official Seashell, Baa Library Archive Plan Shelved

Queen Conch May Become USVI Official Seashell, Baa Library Archive Plan Shelved

The shell of the queen conch, or Strombus gigas, will become the official seashell of the U.S. Virgin Islands if a bill approved in the Culture, Historic, Preservation, Youth and Recreation Committee becomes law.Sen. Donald Cole, who sponsored the measure, blew a hoarse note on a shell, in the traditional V.I. fashion, as he introduced the bill. No one opposed the measure and several testifiers spoke to the potential merits for tourism, for promotion of local jewelry made from the shell, and for environmental conservation

St. Thomas historian and storyteller Glenn "Kwabena" Davis said he supported the measure both to commemorate and celebrate an iconic cultural object and for its potential economic, environmental and other benefits.
"Along with food and jewelry, the conch shell as a horn was a symbol both of pride and of subjugation for Virgin Islanders," Davis said. "During slavery it was the instrument that aroused those in bondage from sleep to begin their daily grueling work, then it announced their break time, return to work and end of the work day," he said. "Later, however, it became a symbol of hope and much more,” he said, speaking of its uses as a call to rally or in an emergency or to announce the arrival of fresh fish to sell, among other uses.
"When seine fish were beating close, it called out the neighborhood to help the fishermen set, trap and pull in the school of hard nose, caraan, bonito and more," Davis said.
Ivanne Farr of Rare Earth Studio jewelry store testified that in 2011 the territory saw $330 million in jewelry sold in the territory, but almost all of it was imported from outside the territory. Even a small percentage of that jewelry-making market would translate into large numbers of dollars staying in the territory, she said.
The committee also approved a bill, sponsored by Sen. Terrence "Positive" Nelson, authorizing the Sports, Parks and Recreation Department to develop a master plan for the Altona Lagoon as a public park and recreational area. No funding is provided. If the department does the study, the bill requires it be submitted by June 30, 2014.
It also approved a bill to name Room 201 in the Charles W. Turnbull Regional Library the June Lindqvist Caribbean Reading Room. Lindqvist spent decades years working in salvaging, collecting, recording and preserving the history and culture of the territory. She devoted much of her 40 years of service as curator of the Von Scholten Collection, which is currently kept in this room.
The committee voted 4-3 to hold a bill sponsored by Sens. Myron Jackson and Shawn-Michael Malone to use the Enid M. Baa Library, which was largely emptied into the Turnbull Library, to operate as a territorial archive. It would have also authorized leasing out a gift shop on the first floor, using the proceeds to help finance the archives.
The committee voted 4-3 to hold a bill sponsored by Sens. Myron Jackson and Shawn-Michael Malone to use the Enid M. Baa Library, which was largely emptied into the Turnbull Library, to operate as a territorial archive. It would have also authorized leasing out a gift shop on the first floor, using the proceeds to help finance the archives.
Several senators raised concerns about the plan, preferring to reopen the Baa library as a library or a reading room or library annex. Some testifiers said they were concerned the building would need extensive renovations to keep archives safe from moisture, mold and decay.
Ingrid Bough, DPNR’s director of the Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums, testified that funding and staffing were major hurdles to reopening Baa as a library. She and the former director, Robert Moron, testified that a new building would be better, but funding prevented the Turnbull Library from having an archive wing. Both agreed the Baa library was the best existing building for the purpose.
Voting to hold the bill in committee were Nelson, Sens. Kenneth Gittens, Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O’Reilly and Tregenza Roach. Voting against holding the bill were Jackson, Malone and Sen. Janette Millin Young.
During discussion of this measure, O’Reilly proposed and moved a resolution to require the V.I. Office of the Inspector General to audit the Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums. While the bill was held, the separate resolution was approved 7-0 and sent on to the Rules and Judiciary Committee.
Another bill, sponsored by Jackson, to authorize a feasibility study for a festival park on St. Thomas was held at Jackson’s request.
"It was a very interesting hearing," Jackson said afterwards. "With the queen conch shell, it was interesting to hear the size and value of the jewelry industry and the potential of using the shell as a valuable resource, in addition to, of course, its historical significance," he said.
Developing a master plan for Altona Lagoon will be helpful, partly because "that area is underutilized and in many ways it is still an untapped resource," he said.
The measures approved in committee Tuesday will now go to the Rules and Judiciary Committee and, if approved there, on to the full Senate for a final vote.
Editor’s Note: The story has been amended to include the resolution to require an audit of the Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums. The resolution was not mentioned in the original article because the author incorrectly believed the resolution was an amendment to the bill that was held in committee.

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The shell of the queen conch, or Strombus gigas, will become the official seashell of the U.S. Virgin Islands if a bill approved in the Culture, Historic, Preservation, Youth and Recreation Committee becomes law.Sen. Donald Cole, who sponsored the measure, blew a hoarse note on a shell, in the traditional V.I. fashion, as he introduced the bill. No one opposed the measure and several testifiers spoke to the potential merits for tourism, for promotion of local jewelry made from the shell, and for environmental conservation

St. Thomas historian and storyteller Glenn "Kwabena" Davis said he supported the measure both to commemorate and celebrate an iconic cultural object and for its potential economic, environmental and other benefits.
"Along with food and jewelry, the conch shell as a horn was a symbol both of pride and of subjugation for Virgin Islanders," Davis said. "During slavery it was the instrument that aroused those in bondage from sleep to begin their daily grueling work, then it announced their break time, return to work and end of the work day," he said. "Later, however, it became a symbol of hope and much more,” he said, speaking of its uses as a call to rally or in an emergency or to announce the arrival of fresh fish to sell, among other uses.
"When seine fish were beating close, it called out the neighborhood to help the fishermen set, trap and pull in the school of hard nose, caraan, bonito and more," Davis said.
Ivanne Farr of Rare Earth Studio jewelry store testified that in 2011 the territory saw $330 million in jewelry sold in the territory, but almost all of it was imported from outside the territory. Even a small percentage of that jewelry-making market would translate into large numbers of dollars staying in the territory, she said.
The committee also approved a bill, sponsored by Sen. Terrence "Positive" Nelson, authorizing the Sports, Parks and Recreation Department to develop a master plan for the Altona Lagoon as a public park and recreational area. No funding is provided. If the department does the study, the bill requires it be submitted by June 30, 2014.
It also approved a bill to name Room 201 in the Charles W. Turnbull Regional Library the June Lindqvist Caribbean Reading Room. Lindqvist spent decades years working in salvaging, collecting, recording and preserving the history and culture of the territory. She devoted much of her 40 years of service as curator of the Von Scholten Collection, which is currently kept in this room.
The committee voted 4-3 to hold a bill sponsored by Sens. Myron Jackson and Shawn-Michael Malone to use the Enid M. Baa Library, which was largely emptied into the Turnbull Library, to operate as a territorial archive. It would have also authorized leasing out a gift shop on the first floor, using the proceeds to help finance the archives.
The committee voted 4-3 to hold a bill sponsored by Sens. Myron Jackson and Shawn-Michael Malone to use the Enid M. Baa Library, which was largely emptied into the Turnbull Library, to operate as a territorial archive. It would have also authorized leasing out a gift shop on the first floor, using the proceeds to help finance the archives.
Several senators raised concerns about the plan, preferring to reopen the Baa library as a library or a reading room or library annex. Some testifiers said they were concerned the building would need extensive renovations to keep archives safe from moisture, mold and decay.
Ingrid Bough, DPNR’s director of the Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums, testified that funding and staffing were major hurdles to reopening Baa as a library. She and the former director, Robert Moron, testified that a new building would be better, but funding prevented the Turnbull Library from having an archive wing. Both agreed the Baa library was the best existing building for the purpose.
Voting to hold the bill in committee were Nelson, Sens. Kenneth Gittens, Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O'Reilly and Tregenza Roach. Voting against holding the bill were Jackson, Malone and Sen. Janette Millin Young.
During discussion of this measure, O'Reilly proposed and moved a resolution to require the V.I. Office of the Inspector General to audit the Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums. While the bill was held, the separate resolution was approved 7-0 and sent on to the Rules and Judiciary Committee.
Another bill, sponsored by Jackson, to authorize a feasibility study for a festival park on St. Thomas was held at Jackson's request.
"It was a very interesting hearing," Jackson said afterwards. "With the queen conch shell, it was interesting to hear the size and value of the jewelry industry and the potential of using the shell as a valuable resource, in addition to, of course, its historical significance," he said.
Developing a master plan for Altona Lagoon will be helpful, partly because "that area is underutilized and in many ways it is still an untapped resource," he said.
The measures approved in committee Tuesday will now go to the Rules and Judiciary Committee and, if approved there, on to the full Senate for a final vote.
Editor's Note: The story has been amended to include the resolution to require an audit of the Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums. The resolution was not mentioned in the original article because the author incorrectly believed the resolution was an amendment to the bill that was held in committee.