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Thursday, May 23, 2024
HomeNewsLocal governmentSenate Approves Willocks for Supreme Court and Other Nominees

Senate Approves Willocks for Supreme Court and Other Nominees

Harold W. L. Willocks would be the newest Supreme Court justice. (Photo courtesy Judicial Branch of the Virgin Islands)

Senators voted to approve a new justice of the U.S. Virgin Islands Supreme Court, a new Human Services commissioner, a new Virgin Islands Fire and Emergency Medical Services director, and other nominees to positions of public trust Monday.

If the legislation is signed by Gov. Albert Bryan Jr., Harold W. L. Willocks would be the newest Supreme Court justice. Willocks, a St. Croix author, educator, and longtime chief territorial public defender, has sat on the Superior Court bench since 2010.

In the Committee of the Whole meeting Monday, Willocks thanked his supporters for their confidence.

“I do promise that I will do my best to make everyone proud,” he said.

The Senate also approved Assistant Public Works Commissioner Averil George as the next commissioner of Human Services. George had been acting Labor commissioner under Gov. Kenneth Mapp and had worked for HOVENSA for two decades.

Antonio O. Stevens was approved as the next director of the Virgin Islands Fire and Emergency Medical Services. Stevens would step into the role formerly held by Daryl “Mousey” George Sr. before his death in October 2023.

Stevens spoke to the dedication of the territory’s emergency responders.

“I owe them to lead them,” he said. “I want to live up to their expectations.”

The Senate approved Maurice K. Muia to join the Water and Power Authority Board of Directors despite Muia not living in the territory. Born in Tennessee, Muia grew up on St. Thomas before relocating to Missouri. He has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from St. Louis University. He lives in Richmond Heights, Missouri, where he is currently a city councilman.

The St. Croix district could soon have May A. Cornwall on its Coastal Zone Management Commission and Nathaniel Olive as part of the island’s V.I. Conservation District Board if approved by the governor. Carlos Robles was approved to represent the V.I. Conservation District Board on St. Thomas.

Senate President Novelle Francis Jr. joined other senators in warning the nominees that added responsibilities can be overwhelming and, at times, isolating.

“Pace yourself and surround yourself with good people,” Francis said. “You can’t do this all by yourself.”

The Senate itself did not heed Francis’ advice, launching into hours of debate and legislation approval.

Criminal justice matters approved by the Senate included a bill that automatically expunged people’s arrest records when the arrest was without probable cause. Another measure would limit the amount of arrest history a prospective employee would have to provide when applying for a job.

Legislators approved a zoning permit for Water Island’s Beach Life, LLC, allowing for continued use and occupancy installation of a five-foot-wide by 30-foot-long floating dock anchored by a four-foot-wide by 24-foot-long wooden walkway on the beach and out to the sea. They also approved zoning for a restaurant and bar, amphitheater, retail outlet, barber or beauty salon, short-term rental or guesthouse, and event space at Estate Morning Star, St. Croix, on land previously zoned low-density residential.

On St. Thomas, the Senate approved a parking lot in Estate Contant, a business hotel near Nisky Center, and a reconfiguring of medium residential and scattered business zoning in Estate Donoe.

Legislators approved a long-term lease for St. Thomas Rescue in Sub Base, a farmland lease for James O. Gaston on St. Croix, a lease for the Church Street, Christiansted home of the Virgin Islands Architecture Center for Built Heritage and Crafts, a Lagoon Street lease for St. Croix’s Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Relief Program, and another Sub Base lease for Pro Mar Services.

The Senate honored Honorary Brig. Gen. Leayle Gerard Galiber, who helped create the Virgin Islands National Guard and named the University of the Virgin Islands tennis courts for Fenella Cooper. The body also approved renaming East End Road on Route 10, St. John, in honor of Viggio E. Sewer.

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