Government House Shares Updates on Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Center Rebuild; New Director of V.I. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Appointed

Richard Motta Jr., Government House director of Communications, speaks during a Government House briefing on Monday afternoon. (Photo courtesy of Facebook live stream)

Information about the construction of a new Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute on St. Thomas, as well as the announcement of a new director of the V.I. Fire and Emergency Medical Services, were among several topics covered at a Government House press briefing on Monday.

Government House Director of Communications Richard Motta Jr. conducted the briefing and opened with information about Antonio Stevens, newly appointed director of the Virgin Islands Fire and Emergency Medical Services.

Stevens, who previously held the position of assistant director of the organization, was honored during the briefing for his years of dedication to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Governor Albert Bryan Jr. expresses his gratitude for Antonio Stevens’ unwavering dedication to the people of the United States Virgin Islands and is confident that Stevens will continue to faithfully execute the agency’s mission of providing top-tier emergency medical and fire services to Virgin Islands residents,” explained Motta.

Motta also offered condolences and gratitude for service on behalf of the V.I. Government for the passing of VIFEMS’ previous director, Daryl A. George. Information was provided about the times and locations of several services scheduled to honor George, and the community is encouraged to participate. Information about the upcoming services and ways to pay respects are available here.

Antonio Stevens named acting director of VIFEMS. (Photo courtesy of Facebook live stream)

“Government House extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Director Daryl George. His dedication to the Virgin Islands Fire and Emergency Medical Services will be cherished and remembered by all. We invite the community to the solemn ceremonies to celebrate his life and legacy,” said Motta.

Charlotte Kimelman Center is Scheduled to be Operational by 2025

In an exciting moment for the future of healthcare in the territory, Motta commended the advancement of the construction of a new Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute. The medical facility, which was heavily damaged during the hurricanes of 2017, is scheduled to be up and running by the end of 2025. The completion of the project is estimated to cost approximately $50 million.

Government House announced that the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute rebuild is expected to be completed by the end of 2025. (Courtesy of V.I. Office of Disaster Recovery Website)

“The administration marked a historic moment in the healthcare landscape of the territory this past weekend, as Governor Bryan, Health Commissioner Justa E. Encarnacion, and the leadership team at the Schneider Regional Medical Center broke ground to reconstruct the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer in St. Thomas,” Motta proclaimed.

“Closed since hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, the rebirth of the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute stands as a beacon of hope and progress in the fight against cancer in the territory,” he added.

Demolition of the damaged facility was completed in May 2023, and since then, local business J. Benton Construction, LLC has been contracted for the rebuild. Extensive exterior and interior construction is anticipated, and the medical buildings will be designed to withstand severe weather events, including destructive hurricanes and earthquakes.

“Construction on this project will commence immediately and is expected to be complete by the end of 2025. So, that is great news for the territory,” Motta announced.

Encouraging Public Involvement Across Government Organizations

In other news shared at Monday’s briefing, invitations were extended to encourage the public to become involved in projects with the Department of Planning and Natural Resources and the V.I. Human Services Department.

Motta shared progress from the DPNR regarding the “Virgin Islands Comprehensive Land and Water Use Plan.” The project is devoted to prioritizing necessary public and private developments across the islands while working to preserve natural resources. Town hall events have been scheduled this week for interested community members to learn more about the latest plans, and information is also available on the project’s website.

Additionally, residents looking for ways to get more involved with the Human Services Department were made aware of a new podcast, which will share the latest news from the department and information about available services.

Veterans Day Events and Closures

Finally, Motta reported that events will be held this coming Saturday to celebrate Veterans Day. The V.I. Office of Veterans Affairs has organized celebrations on Saturday scheduled for 9 a.m. in Frederiksted on St. Croix and at 3 p.m. on Veterans Drive in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas. Updates and additional event information may be found on the organization’s official Facebook page.

Motta noted that local and federal offices will be closed this Friday across the USVI in observance of Veterans Day, and he expressed appreciation for those who have served.

“We salute and deeply appreciate our Veterans for their unwavering dedication and sacrifice in service to our nation and to the Virgin Islands community,” said Motta. “Your courage and commitment inspire us all, and we are forever grateful for your invaluable contributions.”