Oct. 30, 2002 – Two individuals each on St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix are being honored this week as Taxi Ambassadors of the Year by the Taxicab Division of the Licensing and Consumer Affairs Department.
"The Ambassadors of the Year are taxicab drivers who have gone above and beyond their duty," Mario Carroll, division director, said.
He said the six honorees were chosen because of their service, interaction with their passengers, ability to resolve conflicts, condition of their vehicles, grooming and other factors.
A series of luncheons honoring the drivers kicked off Tuesday at the Old Mill nightclub on St. Thomas. There, Keturah Richards and Newman Francis received plaques for their service.
On Wednesday, James Penn and Randolph Thomas received their awards at a luncheon held at the Westin Resort on St. John.
On Thursday, Kelvin Dennie and Victor Jouavel will receive similar honors at a luncheon to be held at Gertrude's Restaurant on St. Croix.
Francis works for Kelly Tours, which operates out of the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas Resort. "He is one of the best for the island," said his boss, Kelly Ramsey.
Richards works under the V.I. Taxi Association umbrella and usually starts his day out at The West Indian Co. dock. "She's a class act. Other cab drivers should look to her," Eustace Grant, president of the taxi association, said. She has the ability to smooth over problems and turn negatives into positives, he added.
Penn is president of the Westin Taxi Association. Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Andrew Rutnik, who presented the St. John awards on Wednesday, said that when opportunity knocked, Penn answered. "He started down at the bottom," Rutnik said, mentioning that Penn also owns a trucking company.
Thomas, who heads the St. John Taxi Association, is the elder statesman of island's taxi industry. Rutnik noted that he was able to organize the taxi drivers who work at the Cruz Bay dock, describing the task as a difficult one with many challenges.
Jouavel works out of Sunterra Carambola Beach Resort. He said that he was surprised to receive the award. What he likes most about his job, he said, is meeting people and exchanging views with them. "And I like to serve the community," he added.
Dennie, who works on the Christiansted waterfront, said he likes the independence that comes with being a taxi driver. "And it gives you an opportunity to meet people — good people, bad people and in-between people," he said.

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