WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of the Interior approved last week $1,202,370 in fiscal year 2018 grant funding for the U.S. Virgin Islands, which supports a wide variety of needs.
Doug Domenech, U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs, announced the grant funding, saying: “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and I continue to support the leadership and people of the U.S. Virgin Islands through a wide variety of projects.”
Domenech said these funds supplement $827,812 in grants released earlier this month.
“Through Congress’ continued support for the U.S. insular areas, these funds continue to be important in many ways for the territory,” added Domenech.
Additional programs funded in the USVI for FY 2018 follow:
• $497,000 for the Virgin Islands Next Generation Network to purchase specialized equipment, machinery, and vehicles to remove and replace hurricane-destroyed fiber optic cables and enhance broadband network resiliency going forward. Roughly half of viNGN terrestrial network of fiber-optic cabling, or roughly 70 miles of cable is above-ground or hung aerially on utility poles, 90 percent of which was destroyed after the hurricanes in 2017. Government-owned, the viNGN network has been the middle-mile wholesale provider of internet (broadband) bandwidth to the territory’s government agencies as well as to businesses and residents via 14 internet service providers since 2014.
• $500,000 for a Master Training and Safety Program at the USVI Water and Power Authority for engineers, electricians, linemen, clerks, dispatchers, technicians, and meter readers in the Transmission and Distribution Division.
• $170,000 to assist the Schneider Regional Medical Center that was heavily impacted by the hurricanes of 2017 and needs to address concerns with respect to audit readiness in relation to capital assets impacted. Audit readiness would also include revamping the fixed asset register and the corresponding record-keeping process.
• $35,370 to maintain, renovate, repair, and provide technological upgrades for three bookmobiles on St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John, allowing the VI Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Division of Libraries, Archives, and Museums to improve the availability of digital literacy library programs, computer trainings, and educational library activities to the public at large. Funds would also upgrade the bookmobiles to be compliant with the American with Disabilities Act, repair heating and cooling systems, and generally help the territory continue to maintain the standards of the American Library Association.
Earlier this month, Domenech announced $827,812 in fiscal year 2018 funding for the U.S. Virgin Islands, bringing the total of fiscal year 2018 funding for the territory to $2,030,182.
• Gustav A. Quetel Fish House – $60,322
• East End Medical Center Corporation – $200,000
• Water and Power Authority – $367,490
• Division of Libraries, Archives, and Museums – $200,000
Funds are made available through the Technical Assistance and Maintenance Assistance Programs at the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs. Applications are submitted from October through May 1 each year. Funds are awarded once OIA receives appropriations from the U.S. Congress until they are exhausted.
Domenech, Insular and International Affairs, and the Office of Insular Affairs carry out the Interior secretary’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. OIA supports the Secretary’s mission of Fulfilling Trust and Insular Responsibilities through balancing efforts and limited resources toward stronger economic and health capacities, and fiscal accountability in the U.S. insular areas. (OIA)