BILLS HONORING THE LATE VIGGO E. SEWER AND BERNICE ALMA TURNBULL ADVANCES, THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION SHARES UPDATE

Published: Jan 23, 2024

ST. THOMAS – Members of the Committee on Government Operations, chaired by Senator Carla Joseph, convened in a meeting at the Capitol Building. Lawmakers voted and approved several measures regarding posthumously honoring Viggo E. Sewer and commending Mrs. Bernice Alma Turnbull for her outstanding contributions to the Virgin Islands. Separately, the Virgin Islands Public Service Commission (PSC) shared an update on operations and challenges. All approved items on the agenda will be forwarded to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consideration.

Lawmakers voted in favor of Bill No. 35-0184, An Act to honor and commend Viggo E. Sewer posthumously for his ultimate contribution to the Virgin Islands and to rename East End Road on Route 10 on the island of St. John in his honor. The bill sponsor, Senator Dwayne M. DeGraff, noted that, as a proud veteran, it is truly an honor to acknowledge the outstanding contributions of fellow veterans in the Virgin Islands. Senator Joseph stated that Viggo’s served the country and made the ultimate sacrifice by fighting for the freedom of all Virgin Islanders. In support of the measure, the Virgin Islands Office of Veterans Affairs Director Patrick Farrell mentioned that Viggo, the first member of the Virgin Islands community to perish in the Korean War in 1953, exemplified the highest ideals of patriotism and selflessness. Renaming a road in his honor is absolutely a fitting tribute, a tangible reminder of his ultimate contribution to both our community and the nation he served with unwavering dedication.

 Senators voted in the affirmative for Bill No. 35-0208, A Resolution honoring and commending Mrs. Bernice Alma Turnbull for her lifetime of service and dedication to the people of the Virgin Islands. Senator Milton E. Potter proposed the bill. Extended family Ronald Belfon described her colorful and helpful personality. Belfon stated that Turnbull spent her free time driving around, delivering necessities and niceties to many in the community. Meanwhile, from a professional perspective, former staff at the Office of Management and Budget Ira Mills shared Turnbull’s leadership skills when she was Commissioner of Finance. Mills indicated that one of her accomplishments was transitioning the Government of the Virgin Islands payroll system from printing paper checks to implementing direct deposit for all government employees. Senator Ray Fonseca stated that Turnbull was a truly a boss lady.

 Lastly, Virgin Islands Public Service Commission Executive Director Sandra Setorie shared the status of PSC. Currently, PSC has commenced mandated rate investigations of regulated utilities for the franchised ferries and the WAPA water and electric systems. Although an investigation was not launched for the Waste Management Authority, PSC began gathering pertinent information suitable for a full review. Regarding standard policies and procedures, PSC is in the process of creating new standard operating procedures and policies, such as internal operating procedures for accounting, budget, and travel policies, that are being reviewed and approved by Commission employees. Additional procedures include updating the customer service processes for cellular service, antiquated published regulations, and the selection and appointment of hearing examiners.

Senators present during the Legislative Session were Carla J. Joseph, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Kenneth L. Gittens, Samuel Carrión and Dwayne M. DeGraff, Ray Fonseca, Alma Francis Heyliger, Milton E. Potter, and Marise C. James.

The Division of Public Affairs is committed to providing the community with accurate information on legislative proceedings and other events at the Legislature of the Virgin Islands.

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