Nov. 11, 2004 As the territory saluted and honored Virgin Islands Veterans Thursday, initiatives to benefit those who served their country were progressing thanks to the efforts of the V.I. government and a private corporation. "Notice to Proceed" has been given to a new veteran's low-cost housing and medical complex; more space is being allocated for vet burial grounds and the long awaited V.I. memorial/museum has taken a step forward.
The construction of the Virgin Islands Veteran's multipurpose complex on St. Thomas got the go-ahead this week, according to a press release issued on Nov. 8. The project includes 163 units of one- and two-bedroom apartments and three-bedroom bungalows, with facilities for veteran's services, including space for a medical unit.
Veterans Resource and Development Inc. is the center's developer. Samuel Ebbesen, president of the company, laid out the plans to the Legislature at a Labor and Veteran's committee meeting in August. (See "Vet Center Construction to Begin Soon, Senators Told").
In another matter, definitive steps have been taken to establish a V.I. veterans memorial and museum on St. Croix. The related bill was passed in a Labor and Veterans committee meeting four years ago. (See "Veteran's Memorial/Museum Wins Panel's Okay"). As recently as August, Lawrence Bastian, American Legion District 10 commander, told a Senate committee he doubted the old Catholic convent property in Frederiksted would ever be turned over to the legion as mandated by the Legislature.
But on Thursday, Curtis Williams, commander of Bromley Berkley Post 133, said the legion had acquired the property and is proceeding with plans for reconstruction. Williams said the project would be done in two phases and would consist of a meeting place, offices, a museum and housing for visiting veterans. Williams said the legion is still soliciting funds to cover the $200,000 project.
Another undertaking that has been in the works for years on St. Croix and St. Thomas is the designation of burial grounds for veterans. Tony Messer, technical assistant to the commissioner of Public Works, said on Wednesday there is adequate room in the Kingshill cemetery for veterans. "There are at least two or three acres of additional space on the west side of the cemetery set aside for veterans," Messer said.
On St. Thomas, about 10 acres in Smith Bay has been identified for a new cemetery, according to Gregory Francis, St. Croix Administrator. Francis, a veteran and 1st vice commander for American Legion Post 85, spoke to a Source reporter at the annual Veteran's Parade in Christiansted on Thursday.
However, Justin Harrigan, territorial director on Veterans Affairs, in a telephone interview on Wednesday, said the St. Thomas cemetery project "is still at a standstill." Officials met in March at a Labor and Veterans committee meeting to discuss the details of both cemeteries. ("New Cemetery Snags in Both Districts Cited").
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