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Iconic Queen Louise Children’s Home Faces Fire Damage; Revival Initiatives in Progress

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ST. CROIX — In the early hours of a peaceful Sunday morning, flames threatened the legacy of the Queen Louise Home for Children on St. Croix. The V.I. Police Department and the V.I. Dept. of Human Services swiftly reported the incident, assuring the public that the situation was promptly addressed. The fire, which luckily stayed localized, did not harm any of the residents or dedicated staff at the facility.

For nearly 12 decades, the Queen Louise Home for Children has stood as a stalwart symbol of hope and refuge for numerous young lives in the community. Its commitment to the welfare of children has earned it respect and recognition far and wide.

The 911 Emergency Call Center shed light on the timing of the incident. At precisely 3:33 a.m., they received a distress call from a female staff member notifying them of the fire, particularly in the kitchen section of the Queen Louise Home for Children. Teams from the Fire and Emergency Management Services were quick on the scene, and their prompt intervention helped contain the fire and prevent a potentially more devastating outcome.

Officials from DHS lauded the staff members for their quick thinking, which ensured the residents of Queen Louise were relocated to safer premises in a timely manner. Recognizing the trauma such incidents can cause, especially to young minds, arrangements have been made to provide counseling support for everyone impacted.

In a show of transparency and continued commitment to the community, the Lutheran Social Services of the Virgin Islands pledged to keep citizens updated on the recovery and restoration efforts post the unfortunate event.

While the cause of the fire remains a mystery, both the DHS and the 911 Emergency Call Center have refrained from speculating. Investigations are underway, and more details are expected to emerge soon.

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USVI Community Pulse

Over 100 Volunteers Rally for Vessup Beach Cleanup, Collecting 80 Bags of Trash

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On a sunny Saturday, more than 100 community members, including 78 enthusiastic students, gathered at Vessup Beach in Estate Nazareth, motivated by a common goal: to rid the beach of litter. This environmental initiative, spearheaded by YES! Waste Management, marked a significant achievement as volunteers managed to remove 80 bags full of garbage from the shores of St. Thomas.

The variety of trash collected was vast, ranging from abandoned fishing lines and plastic jugs to fast-food packaging, cans, bottles, and even a partially submerged dinghy. This extensive haul underscores the critical need for diligent waste management practices, particularly in the US Virgin Islands’ delicate coastal regions.

The cleanup received generous support from local businesses, enhancing the experience for those involved. West Indies Windsurfing offered complimentary kayaks and paddleboards for participants to enjoy Muller Bay, while Leatherback Brewing Company, a brewery based in St. Croix, provided refreshments for the adult volunteers as a token of appreciation for their efforts.

MacKenzie Stoller, co-owner of YES! Waste Management, expressed gratitude for the community’s robust turnout and spirit. “The incredible turnout and spirit of cooperation at this beach cleanup event were truly heartening. It’s remarkable to witness our community, especially the youth, uniting for such a vital cause,” Stoller remarked.

YES! Waste Management is extending an invitation to the local business sector to support forthcoming cleanups and environmental campaigns. This initiative is part of a broader effort to foster sustainable waste management and conservation ethos within the community, ensuring the preservation of the territory’s natural beauty for generations to come.

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USVI Community Pulse

Renewal of Forest Inventory Activities Across St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John by USDA

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service has announced the forthcoming resumption of the Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (FIA) across St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John. This initiative marks a continuation of a comprehensive federal effort initiated in 1930, aimed at compiling, analyzing, and disseminating data on the condition and trends of America’s forestlands. The project, which began anew in 2020, encountered delays due to the pandemic but is now set to proceed under the guidance of Belinda Ferro, an esteemed ecologist with the Southern Research Station’s FIA program.

Collaborating closely with the International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF), a team of skilled biological scientists will undertake the inventory. This essential work will gather critical data to support the assessment of ecosystem management sustainability, wildlife habitat evaluation, and forest planning and decision-making processes.

The forthcoming inventory will delve into various aspects of the forest, including its size, location, ownership, and the dynamics of change over time. It will also examine tree growth, as well as recent mortality or removal of forest vegetation. This iteration marks the Virgin Islands’ fourth comprehensive inventory, initiating a transition to annual remeasurements to more accurately monitor fluctuations in forest cover, land use, biodiversity, and the impact and recovery from hurricane damage, according to FIA statements.

Adopting an annual cycle for remeasurements enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of capturing the intricate dynamics of forest ecosystems. Ferro emphasized the initiative’s aim to enlighten residents, policymakers, and governmental bodies about the distinctiveness of island ecosystems and their recent significant ecological shifts. The forthcoming reports will offer insights into current conditions, trends, and potential future scenarios if current trends persist. This information will empower resource managers to make well-informed decisions, taking into account the latest data on forest health, hurricane damage, developmental impact, and the influence of climate change and invasive species.

Upon completion of the forest surveys, the gathered data will undergo analysis and be presented in a comprehensive report published every five years by the Southern Research Station. Additionally, the findings will be accessible for download from the Forest Inventory and Analysis website, providing valuable resources for ongoing environmental management and conservation efforts.

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USVI Community Pulse

Virgin Islands’ Vocal Prodigy Shines at Carnegie Hall

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Charlotte Amalie High School’s senior tenor, Qian Harrigan-Thomas, recently delivered an unforgettable performance at the iconic Carnegie Hall in New York City, marking a significant milestone in his burgeoning musical career. Harrigan-Thomas participated in the Honors Performance Series, an esteemed event that brings together young musicians from across the globe to showcase their talents on an internationally recognized stage.

This event draws participants from every corner of the United States, including the Virgin Islands, who must navigate a highly competitive selection process to earn the opportunity to perform in world-class venues like Carnegie Hall.

Harrigan-Thomas’s path to this prestigious platform was paved by his outstanding achievement at the WorldStrides Heritage Festival in Atlanta, where he earned the Maestro Award. This accolade, a reflection of his extraordinary talent and dedication, was awarded for his performance with the Charlotte Amalie High School Band. His audition for the Honors Performance Series Selection Board was met with acclaim, noting his “warm, rich sound and commendable Italian diction,” elements that played a pivotal role in his selection for this notable performance.

Participation in the Honors Concert Choir at Carnegie Hall offered Harrigan-Thomas not only the chance to perform but also an enriching experience of rehearsals, cultural interactions, and sightseeing, leading to a performance that he describes as “life-changing.”

Looking ahead, Harrigan-Thomas has already been accepted into a university and is currently auditioning for several others, poised for the next chapter in his promising musical journey.

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