Pitchforks to Gary Engle and Interior Department officials for conducting a secret meeting about Caneel Bay Resort’s future. The Interior bigwigs’ visit to St. John started openly and above board. They met with St. Johnians, Delegate to Congress Stacy Plaskett and St. John National Park representatives about a land swap giving St. John a site for a new school.

That went well, but then things turned dark.

Engle and the Interior officials went slinking off to a back room for discussions everyone else can only guess about. Among the excluded were Gov. Albert Bryan Jr., Plaskett, Friends of the Park representatives, St. John community and business leaders and everyone else with a stake in Caneel Bay’s future.

Engle, principal owner of the company that holds the rights to manage Caneel Bay until 2023 (when the property is due to be turned over to the National Park Service) has already made his contempt for St. John clear. And he’s not letting go without a no-holds-barred fight.

Engle has been relentless in his efforts to use hurricane damage from Irma and Maria as an excuse to bully Interior into extending his hold on Caneel for 60 more years. He has basically held Caneel Bay hostage by refusing to use his insurance settlement money to repair and restore the resort until he gets what he wants – callously disregarding the enormous economic harm the loss of Caneel Bay is doing to St. John workers and vendors and to the Park’s future.

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Halo to the two Good Samaritans who rescued an injured woman from her burning vehicle. Whenher car hit a utility pole on a highway on St. Croix, two unidentified heroes heard the impact and rushed to the scene. They were able to get her out in time before the car was engulfed in flames. Thank you. Whoever you are.

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Pitchforks to Governor Bryan and Senate President Novelle Francis Jr. for seeking to force Virgin Islanders to pay yet another tax. This was a 2 percent gross receipts tax on purchases from companies such as Amazon that are not physically located in the territory. It would add to Virgin Islanders’ hardships, and it would be irresponsible to cook up a new tax without first making a diligent and genuine effort to reform the current tax structure, which penalizes businesses, deters success and burdens customers while generating less revenue than needed.

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Halos to the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce and its Board Chairman Ryan Nelthropp for taking the lead in opposing that misguided effort. Nelthropp’s statement on behalf of the Chamber generated a public outcry that was so persuasive, Francis ditched the tax plan before it was even formally introduced – although he grumbled that he never got a chance to extol the merits of the tax.

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Halos to Teachers of the Year Alicia Walters-Ramos and Marie L. Senosa. St. Croix District winner Walters-Ramos teaches English at St. Croix Educational Complex High School, and St. Thomas-St. John District winner Senosa teaches Social Studies at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School.

Halos also to the other contenders who stood out for their excellence inside and outside the classroom. On St. Croix they are Wendy Wynter at Lew Muckle Elementary School, Tysha St. Jules at Juanita Gardine K-8 School, Veronica Sargeant at Pearl B. Larsen PreK-8 School and AnnLouise Wilkins at John H. Woodson Junior High School. On St. Thomas they are Donnia Attidore-Meyers at Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School, Sherilyn O. Hodge at Joseph Sibilly Elementary School, Melony Dawes at Charlotte Amalie High School and Roselyn Samuel Hodge at Joseph Gomez Elementary School.

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Pitchfork to the Virgin Islands Police Department for choosing to focus on new uniforms at a time when homicides and gun violence are at an all-time high. Is looking good as important as fighting crime? It must be, considering the VIPD held an invitation-only “reveal” event during which officers performed like fashion models to show off the new styles. Virgin Islanders could use a lot less Project Runway and a lot more Project Crime Busters.

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Halo to Frontier Airlines for opening twice-weekly non-stop service between Orlando and St. Thomas and for offering it for $53 one-way. Nobody needs reminding that Disney World is in Orlando. The service is not merely an easy way to the Magic Kingdom, it’s also a boon to the many Virgin Islanders who have friends, family and business connections in and around Orlando.

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Pitchfork to the V.I. Economic Development Authority for handing out more than $500,000 in new loans even though it has a long track record of failures in handling and collecting on the many millions of dollars in loans it has already issued. A V.I. Inspector General’s audit plus documents obtained by The Virgin Islands Daily News via a Superior Court ruling all revealed the EDA had made a hopeless mess of its loan program – even though it had purchased expensive credit management software. Would anybody be shocked to know that the EDA never installed that software? What will it take to cure the EDA of its addiction to throwing away our money?

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Dumb Desperado of the Week Award goes to the dunce who did enough dimwitted things wrong in just five minutes to give the police hand cramps from writing down all the charges. He started on his fast-track to jail by overtaking a police car at a high rate of speed on Queen Mary Highway. As if that weren’t enough to attract attention, he then ran a red light. Sirens ensued. When the police pulled him over, they discovered that he had a criminal record and that he was carrying marijuana and an illegal .40 caliber “ghost gun” (erased serial number), which was fully loaded. Worse yet for him, he was carrying the gun within 1,000 feet of a school. Uh oh.