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Hostage Crisis Has Blacktip Island Resort On Edge

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The calm around the Sandy Bottoms’ Beach Resort pool Thursday afternoon belied the tense overnight standoff between Blacktip Island police and a man who took hostage the resort’s manager. (photo by Wendy Beaufort /Blacktip Times Staff)

A dispute between two Blacktip Island residents turned ugly Thursday evening when a man took a resort manager hostage and refused to release her until questions about his bar tab had been resolved.

Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette identified the man as Dermott Bottoms and the hostage as Kay Valve, Sandy Bottoms’ Beach Resort’s manager.

“Mr. Bottoms was at the bar complaining he hadn’t been credited for paying last month’s bill,” Marquette said. “Mrs. Valve tried to reason with him, things escalated and Dermott barricaded them both in her office, demanding a month of free drinks and a helicopter ride off the island.

“We initiated hostage negotiations, but Dermott broke that off abruptly when we said ‘no’ to the helicopter,” Marquette said. “At this point we’re waiting him out.”

The passive response angered some close to the situation.

“Rafe yelled, ‘Dermott, you give yourself up,’ then Dermott yelled, ‘No,’ and Rafe yelled, ‘Well, all right, then,’” Kay Valve’s husband, Jay Valve, said. “That’s not a negotiation, that’s molly-coddling.

“Rafe needs to do something,” Valve said. “My wife’s locked in a room with a three-sheets-to-the-wind Dermott. No telling what’s going on in there.”

The constable stressed Kay Valve was not in any danger.

“Dermott’s harmless, essentially, unless you get physical with him,” Marquette said. “He does this kind of thing all the time. I could bust in there, sure, but someone’d get hurt unnecessarily. Probably me.

“Our current protocol is to set beer and a pack of cigarettes outside the door, get out of sight and wait for him to come out,” Marquette said. “When he does, we’ll pop him with a tranquilizer dart from across the lobby.”

The resort’s owner backed the plan.

“You got a cat up a tree, you set out a can of tuna and let nature take its course,” Sandy Bottoms said. “Same thing’ll work with Dermott. Not that he’s a cat. A cat’s much smarter.

“I phoned in to Dermott, told him there’s goodies outside the door,” Bottoms said. “He knows to behave himself. I talked to Kay, too, and she didn’t sound worried. Said she’d walk on out if Dermott passed out, which it looked like he was about to do.”

Bottoms added resolving the situation by voiding Dermott’s tab was not an option.

“It’s Dermott we’re talking about,” he said. “It’s not an insubstantial sum. Plus, we let him off once, we’ll be doing this every month.”

Bottoms would neither confirm nor deny accusations his resort routinely double-bills bar tabs.

The standoff was still ongoing at press time.

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West Coast Developments May Capsize Blacktip Island

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Blacktip Island’s world-renowned west coast beaches may be lost forever if the island flips over due to too much development on its west side, a recent study suggests. (photo courtesy of Ferris Skerritt/Skerritt Construction)

A study released Thursday by a Blacktip Island construction firm revealed the Caribbean island may be in danger of flipping upside down due to the concentration of resorts and other infrastructure on the island’s west coast.

“All that cement, the vehicles, the staff, the pool water and whatnot, it puts a lot of strain on the island’s base,” Skerritt Construction owner Ferris Skerritt said. “We’ve been keeping an eye on it for years. It’s a ticking time bomb.

“At this point, a big influx of tourists to those resorts could cause the island to snap off,” Skerritt said. “I mean, have you seen the size of some of those folks? At that point, Blacktip’d capsize and drown us all. We need to get this island balanced. Pronto.”

Local business owners urged development on the sparsely-developed east coast as a solution.

“We got the Spring Break crowds coming, then the summer crowds,” Eagle Ray Cove resort owner Rich Skerritt said. “For the good of the island and everyone on it, we need more development over on the east side.

“Problem is, building over there’s always been cost-prohibitive, what with that being the weather coast and so far from the airfield,” Rich Skerritt said. “But with some public funds to offset the construction costs, there may still be time to save our island.”

Others business owners concurred.

“I always wanted a resort on the east coast, just couldn’t justify the cost,” Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort owner Sandy Bottoms said. “I don’t like taking public money, but if it’s for the good of the island, I’ll make the sacrifice.”

Some experts, though, disputed the study’s findings.

“The island’s not going to break loose or flip over,” said Tiperon University-Blacktip geology department chair Ernesto Mojarra. “That’s physically, scientifically impossible. People need to use their noggins.

“Rich and Sandy are just trying to scare people into subsidizing new resorts,” Mojarra said. “And Rich’s brother just wants the construction contracts.”

Some locals remained worried, despite Mojarra’s assurances.

“It’s scary, these experts saying opposite things, especially when it concerns our safety,” Sand Spit bartender Cori Anders said. “With so much controversy, it’s probably best to err on the side of caution.

“They say something like this happened near Fiji a few years back,” Anders said. “Stuff like this happens all the time. You just don’t hear about it.”

Other island entrepreneurs are unconcerned.

“If Ernesto’s right, we’re fine,” said Blacktip Haven resort own Elena Havens. “And if Blacktip does turn turtle, well, we’ve already waterproofed the Haven’s rooms so we can be the first full-service underwater resort in the Caribbean.”

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