The V.I. Legislature voted Tuesday to approve the nomination of acting Education Commissioner Donna Frett-Gregory to serve permanently – or at least until the next governor takes office.
Frett-Gregory has been the acting commissioner since May, when the former commissioner, LaVerne Terry, resigned. Frett-Gregory held the post in an acting capacity several times between 2007 and 2008, before taking the post on a more full-time basis in 2013.
From February 2008 to April 2013, Frett-Gregory held the post of assistant commissioner of operations. Before that, she held the position of deputy commissioner for fiscal and administrative services, which encompassed oversight for the territorial operations of Federal Grants and Audit, Budget Control, Business Administration, Computer Operations, and Property and Auxiliary Services divisions, as well as the warehouse.
Frett-Gregory has more than 20 years of public financial and administration experience. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of the Virgin Islands and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Morgan State University. She was elected to the V.I. Board of Education from January 1997 to January 2000. From 1987 to 1992 she worked in the Post Audit division of the Legislature.
Fourteen of the 15 senators voted in favor of Frett-Gregory. Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen voted no.
The Senate also approved the nomination of Philip Arcidi to serve on the volunteer Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital governing board. Arcidi is president of Greenleaf VI, a financial consulting firm. He has a bachelor’s degree from Merrimack College in Massachusetts
In hospital-related experience, Arcidi is a founding principal of Whittier Health Network, which employs more than 3,000 health professionals in Massachusetts and New York.
And the Senate approved St. Thomas author and historian David W. Knight to the V.I. Historic Preservation Commission. Knight is a writer, historian, and a retired publisher and consultant. He is president of the St. John Historical Society, a Caribbean Genealogy Library member and board consultant, and a member of the Society of V.I. Historians. He has published a number of works on the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora, two of which have become "standard references in this field," according to Knight.
For many years, his company VIH&GRC was on the State Historic Preservation Office’s list of registered consultants, during which time he performed or consulted on many historical resource assessments and cultural resource surveys, including Botany Bay in 2001, Tutu archeological investigations in 1997, and National Park Service archeological projects for Cinnamon Bay and Water Island.
Knight’s family began visiting the territory in 1936 and moved to Charlotte Amalie in 1960, when he was nine and his father began practicing dentistry in Charlotte Amalie.
By law the Legislature must approve government land leases, and senators approved two on Tuesday. One is with the V.I. Tennis Association for Parcel "H" of Tract 1, Estate Nazareth, consisting of about 100,000 square feet. VITA plans to build six tennis courts, a pro shop and locker room.
The second lease is with Lew Henley Sewage Disposal for Parcel 17A-3, Estate Bovoni, with 46,250 square feet. This property is to be used to park equipment and a mobile trailer for storage and to build and run bio-diesel equipment.
The VITA lease has a 20-year term with four five-year options for renewal. Annual rent payments will be $12,000 per year. The lease includes a grace period while the nonprofit raises funds to build.
The Henley lease is also for 20 years with two five-year options for renewal. Rent is $23,125 per year. During the 18-month construction period, rent will be reduced by half.
The territory’s deliberative body also approved a resolution honoring and commending Orville “Chopper” Brown for his outstanding service to youths on the island of St. John and naming the basketball court located in Pine Piece, Enighed in his honor. [Bill 30-0297] The measure was proposed by Sens. Craig Barshinger and Shawn-Michael Malone. With the exception of Frett-Gregory’s nomination, no senator voted against these nominations, leases and resolution.
Toward the end of Tuesday’s hearing, Barshinger, the territory’s sole at-large senator and a St. John resident, said he is not running for reelection this year, to take some time off to spend with family. He said his father died not long after the last election and he needs to take some time off for family and personal reasons. Barshinger said he may run for the office of senator again at some point in the future, but emphasized that, despite rumors to the contrary, he is not and will not be running for the office of lieutenant governor or any other elective office this year.