Undercurrents: Where’s the Paper?

A regular Source column, Undercurrents explores issues, ideas and events developing beneath the surface in the Virgin Islands community.

Media Watch

St. Thomas readers of the St. Croix Avis are complaining that its been several weeks since they’ve seen a copy of the newspaper, and the only explanation is a vague reference to transport problems.

The paper is printed on St. Croix, where it is well established. For years copies have been flown regularly to St. Thomas for distribution. Until recently, the Avis shared a transport service with the St. Thomas-based Daily News, with each outlet flying papers one way on a two-way flight.

According to an informed source, the service faltered and the Daily News found another carrier. But, so far at least, the Avis has not.

While its main office is on St. Croix, the Avis also maintains a small office on St. Thomas. Receptionists in both offices told a caller that the newspaper is having some “transportation” issues and hopes to have them resolved soon. But they said they could give no details.

“I don’t have the answers to the questions,” managing editor Eunice Bedminster said. She referred questions to publisher Rena Brodhurst, as did Judi Shimel, who reports for the Avis from the St. Thomas-St. John district.

Brodhurst, however, did not respond to an email seeking comment or to numerous voice mail messages left over the past week.

The Avis is one of the oldest independent newspapers still in print in the U.S. It was established in 1844.

Green in more than one sense

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has money to give away to individuals, organizations and non-federal governmental agencies interested in “the development and adoption of innovative approaches and technologies for conservation and agricultural lands.”

This spring the USDA-NRCS office for the Caribbean region was waving $250,000 around, inviting people in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to apply for a share of it through Conservation Innovation Grants. Individual grants could be as much as $75,000.

The program was created in 2002 and the first grants were made in 2004. Since then, there has been $237 million worth of Conservation Innovation Grants made throughout the country, according to the department website.

Grantees have included such projects as irrigation systems in Texas and the University of Hawaii’s improvements on a calculator designed to measure nitrogen in the soil and reduce the need for fertilizer.

The deadline for applications this year in the Caribbean region was the end of May.

Jaime Valentin, the State Resource Conservationist stationed in Puerto Rico, said last week that the agency is reviewing all the applications it received and will make an announcement soon about awardees.

He said they received 19 applications. “Unfortunately, no application was received from the USVI this year.”

Maybe next year. 

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