Elections Supervisor Delivers Follow Up to April Fire at Old Cruz Bay Office

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St. Thomas-St. John Elections Board Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr. leads June 8 meeting which included an update to the April fire in Cruz Bay.

ST. THOMAS — Six weeks after a fire at the old St. John elections office, members of the district elections board said they want to prevent any more problems. At a scheduled meeting held Thursday, Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes updated officials on the steps being taken now.

Some board members appeared to be confused by Fawkes’ involvement with a building they believed they had left behind. But the supervisor said the Elections System still controls the property.

“We have to do the paperwork because it is still our building,” Fawkes said.

Fire officials have not yet stated a cause for the fire that triggered an emergency call on the morning of April 28. Fire Marshall Leon Baptiste said investigators are finalizing a report on the incident, based on information obtained from first responders.

Baptiste said an exact cause should be determined when that work is completed. That determination could be made over the weekend, he said.

Elections staff helped direct the cleanup after the fire and the supervisor said additional steps would be taken to board up the front door. Currently, Fawkes said, the building where the fire took place is used to store voting machines that fell out of use after 2014.

District board secretary Carla Joseph asked why the follow up was necessary. Fawkes and District Board Chairman Arturo Watlington said it was part of a process used to return properties to the government inventory.

“Until that time when the Board of Elections severs its ties to the building, it is still our responsibility,” Watlington said.

Located near the Cruz Bay Traffic Circle, next to the Julius E. Sprauve School Industrial Arts Building, the old elections office served the public until 2016. A new location was established at St. John Marketplace after board members cited accessibility problems and other deficiencies at the former site.