Several local agencies received nearly $3 million in fiscal year 2022 from the Technical Assistance Program and the Maintenance Assistance Program of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Island Affairs.
The Technical Assistance Program grant, totaling $2,973,247, includes “$499,550 to the VI Bureau of Corrections to design a reintegration program that will merge best practices, evidence-based models evidence and a range of personal, behavioral, educational and workforce development services and activities necessary to equip inmates with the knowledge and skills essential for successful return and reintegration into the community,” according to a press release.
BOC spokesman Kyza Callwood said in response to questions from the Daily News that the program “is not new but has been relaunched and restructured” under the direction of director Wynnie Testamark” and of the Bryan/Roach administration”.
The goal of the program is to develop “an evidence-based reintegration program model for the territory that will serve to foster the successful community reintegration of returning citizens, currently housed on the island and across the United States, to reduce rates of recidivism and to promote increased public safety for both residents and tourists,” according to Bureau information. “The VIBOC reintegration program, as designed, merges best practices, models grounded in evidence and a range of personal, behavioral, educational and workforce development services and activities necessary to equip prisoners with the knowledge and skills essential for successful return and reintegration into the community. , as well as designed to promote self-sufficiency.
The program aims to help offer services and referrals “to prepare the returning citizen for a successful return to the community so that they are better able to become employable, self-sufficient, civically engaged and be a respectful responsible citizen. laws”.
The program “is a three-year project aimed at providing a lasting solution to the current deficiencies in correctional programs that exist in the territory; shortcomings that have undermined the territory for some forty years”, according to the Bureau.
The VI Water and Power Authority received a total of $1.19 million, including a Maintenance Assistance Program grant of $750,000, “for the training and maintenance of underground power substations and facilities to ensure safe and reliable operations,” according to the press release. “WAPA has moved a large majority of the electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure to underground facilities to minimize the impacts of hurricanes and other natural disasters on electricity distribution.”
According to a statement from WAPA CEO Andrew Smith, “The transition of some parts of the Authority’s infrastructure to the underground creates the need for different operating procedures. For example, working safely in an underground system accessible via a manhole requires a different safety protocol than working on overhead lines. So the grant, for example, will help support the ongoing training of our T&D team to be able to work safely. »
WAPA also received $269,106 “for cybersecurity training to protect WAPA’s IT infrastructure network that runs power plants, transmission and distribution, including financial and customer service operations,” according to the release. Press.
WAPA fell prey to an email scam in 2018 that resulted in two wire transfers totaling $2.17 million to accounts controlled by the hackers, then transferred to accounts in China and elsewhere, according to court documents .
“WAPA takes cybersecurity very seriously. We have an extensive cybersecurity program in place, but we do not discuss program details as they may provide cybercriminals with insight into how they may choose to attempt to breach our security. DOI funding will help us continue to maintain strong cybersecurity through ongoing employee training as well as best-in-class technology. There has been no repeat of the wire transfer fraud that has been widely reported and discussed,” according to Smith.
According to the Department of the Interior, “Funding provided to government, non-profit and semi-autonomous organizations will be used to support goals such as streamlining business processes in government agencies, empowering former inmates for successful reintegration into the community, building telehealth capacity. , offering training in energy maintenance and distribution, and more, according to the Home Office press release.
“The federal investments we are making in the Virgin Islands will help provide better opportunities in health care, economic development, and improve capacity building and resilience of local public services,” said the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. Island and International Affairs, Keone Nakoa. statement. “The funding will also be used to improve government business processes in the territory to support government for efficiencies that we hope will support improvements for all Virgin Islanders.”
Other Technical Assistance Program scholarships include:
- to the Association of State and Territory Health Officials to assist the VI Government in improving and streamlining interagency business processes for more effective and efficient management of federal grant funds for the territory.
- to the VI Economic Development Authority to renovate and repair the J. Antonio Jarvis Complex, a historically significant structure on St. Thomas that will contain an arts and civic center and serve as an anchor for community revitalization.
Semele George, marketing and public relations specialist for the EDA, Shanell Petersen, director of marketing and Vision 2040, and EDA CEO Wayne Biggs Jr. did not respond to a request for information on the Daily News project.
- to Schneider Hospital for the installation of a telehealth IT system to connect patients with physicians in remote locations (such as specialists on the mainland) and improve overall internal and external communications for health and telemedicine .
- to the VI Department of Planning and Natural Resources “to develop a pilot scallop aquaculture program that can build on local expertise and explore potential commercially viable options for the territory.”
DPNR spokesman Jamal Nielsen was also contacted for additional information about the program, but did not respond.