Survivor preparations ramp up for November filming
KOROR Palau – Survivor Palau 2 has completed initial preparations for filming scheduled in November at the base campsite in Malakal. Located in a large gated compound adjacent to Neco Marine and Dive facilities shipping containers tents maintenance and fabrication equipment cover the entire area. The initial work crew mostly from Australia and New Zealand arrived and began off-loading and construction of the base camp in mid-September. Now that the site is set up technical crew and others who will be in Palau during the actual filming of the television series are replacing the initial crew.

Koror State Conservation and Law Enforcement director Adalbert Eledui estimates that Big Fish the production company will employ a total of about 400 workers – 250 international crew and 150 local hires.

Survivor Palau 1 was filmed and aired in 2004 with a budget of about $3.5 million. In addition to the actual expenditures of Clear-Water Inc. in 2004 Big Fish transportation manager Blake Archer estimated another $1 million on personal expenses incurred at restaurants stores and tours on days off.

President wants to woo high-end Asian retirees to Palau with special visa
KOROR Palau – In his annual State of the Republic address President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. reiterated his position that Palau has all of the necessary attractions for the wealthy Asian "silver hair" generation to purchase homes and retire in Palau. The concept involves defining a base minimum investment or purchase to warrant a long-term visa and specifically targets Japan Taiwan Hong Kong and the Philippines. The President also said that if such a program is established family and friends of those resident retirees would also contribute to the economy of Palau and that it would be a long-term sustainable program. So far there has not been any action taken on the concept by Palau’s Congress.

Continental Airlines expands eTicket capabilities to DragonAir
HOUSTON – Continental Airlines announced that interline eTicket capabilities have been implemented with DragonAir its 100th eTicket partner and it is nearing its goal of having all interline agreements eTicketable by the end of the year.

Interline eTickets permit customers to fly and check baggage on Continental and other carriers on a single paperless eTicket itinerary reducing instances of loss or theft of tickets. Currently more than 99% of Continental’s customers travel on eTickets which are valid at all of the more than 280 airports Continental serves around the world according to the Oct. 15 press release.

EJ Calvo joins Bridge Capital
HAGåTÑA Guam – Edward J. "EJ" Calvo was named managing director of Guam Operations for Bridge Capital LLC and its affiliates including Guam Greyhound Park where he will replace Benson Ko according to an Oct. 17 release.

His responsibilities include managing several Guam properties including Guam Greyhound Park and the Perlas Court Condominiums.

Calvo was previously sales and marketing manager at Calvo’s Insurance Underwriters Inc.

Mosely

GTA announces completion of billing system conversion
TAMUNING Guam – GTA Teleguam announced in an Oct. 18 press release that it has successfully migrated from its 20-year-old multiple billing systems to a new consolidated billing system. The new "Tulaika" system will provide customers with faster service order processing and a single consolidated bill for all GTA services.

According to Tony Mosely executive vice president of marketing at GTA; the new billing platform will allow GTA to become more flexible in providing incentives or discounts to customers. "Although we are still going through the conversion clean-up for the next 30 days " Mosely said "we will address GTA customer issues immediately and apologize for any customer inconvenience."

For questions or additional information customers may call GTA’s call center at 644-4482.

SBA accepts nominations for annual Small Business Awards competition
HAGåTÑA Guam – The U.S. Small Business Administration announced the start of the agency’s annual Small Business Awards competition for 2007 including competition for the annual national Small Business Person of the Year according to an Oct. 16 release. The Small Business Awards honor small business owners and the champions of small business interests for their achievements in select categories.

This year the SBA will recognize winners in a number of award categories including Small Business Person of the Year Financial Services Champion of the Year Home-Based Business Champion of the Year Small Business Journalist of the Year Young Entrepreneur of the Year Jeffrey Butland Family-Owned Business of the Year and the Entrepreneurial Success Award. Other award categories spotlight Armed Forces veterans minorities and women in business.

Individuals are encouraged to nominate qualified persons for each award category. Nomination forms can be obtained by contacting Kenneth Lujan at the SBA Guam Branch Office at 472-7277. The forms must be returned to the SBA by Nov. 30. Winners will be selected by a panel of judges and announced at an award ceremony early next year.

Contract awarded for cleanup of former Coast Guard station
COCOS ISLAND Guam – According to a release dated Oct. 16 the U.S. Coast Guard Civil Engineering Unit Honolulu has awarded the contract for the remediation of Polychlorinated Bi-phenyl-contaminated soils from the former Coast Guard Long Range Aids to Navigation station on Cocos Island to Unitek Environmental Guam. The contract will entail excavation of contaminated soils transport of the soils to the treatment unit return of treated soils to Cocos Island and restoration of the excavation site. Work will begin at the site following issuance of permits and regulatory approval of the various components of the Site Work Plan the release said.

Mama Sita’s founders visit Guam
HAGåTÑA Guam – The founders of Mama Sita’s Mixes and Sauces visited Guam during the week of Oct. 7. Bart Lapus and Clara Lapus daughter of the company’s namesake visited the island to conduct a market study on their fastest-growing international location the Oct. 16 release said.

During the visit the Lapus made courtesy visits to Gov. Felix P. Camacho; Sen. Eddie B. Calvo chairman of the Committee on Finance Taxation Commerce and Economic Development; and Consul General of the Philippines Bayani Mercado and attended a luncheon hosted by Mama Sita’s Guam distributor Pacific Rim Brokers Inc.. at the Blue Plate restaurant in Tamuning on Oct. 9.

Koror State leads Palau’s solid waste separation program
KOROR Palau – The coordinated national and state program for solid waste management began its separation program under the leadership of Koror State. In 2004 Palau’s most populous state and previous center of commerce and government (prior to the establishment of the new Capitol in Melekeok State) began the rehabilitation of the M-Dock landfill and the separation of garbage at the dumpsite. The historical landfill which was established immediately after World War II and continues to this day encompasses about 13 acres and accepts about three million tons of waste a year or 55 pounds per person.

The planning monitoring and daily operation and oversight of the waste management program at the landfill – as well as developing sites throughout the Republic – are responsibilities of the Ministry of Resources and Development Koror State Bureau of Public Works Public Health and Environmental Quality Protection Board. Key managers of the program are Calvin Ikesiil project manager Waste Management Department of Public Works ; Donald Dengokl assistant executive officer Environmental Quality Protection Board; John O. Ngiraked Jr. waste management officer Department of Public Works; Katsuo Fuji Solid Waste Management Consultant and Technical Officer Koror State Government; and Takahiro Kamishita senior expert for Organization Finance Human Resource Capacity Development of Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The workers at the landfill separate plastic glass and metal waste from material that will naturally be absorbed into the landfill. The overall program is designed to enhance knowledge experience and personnel capacity and then share it in the Micronesian Region.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission hosts Guam seminar
TUMON Guam – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will host a one-day seminar on Nov. 7 at the Guam Marriott Resort & Spa. The seminar will cover a variety of topics including lectures about overcoming hidden biases preventing retaliation in the workplace race age and color discrimination and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Panel members will also discuss new and emerging topics review policies and procedures and provide contact information.

Tickets for the full-day seminar cost $249 per person and include breakfast and lunch and a seven-volume EEO Resource Guide on CD. Early registration is suggested as space is limited. For more information contact Program Analyst Santos Albarran at 213-894-1045.

University of Guam to host job fair
MANGILAO Guam – The Career Development Office of the University of Guam will hold its annual Career/Job Fair on Nov. 1 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the UOG Field House. More than 25 organizations from the public and private sectors will be participating in the activities including Bank of Guam Payless Supermarkets Guam Memorial Hospital University of Guam Guam Army National Guard and the Consulate General of Japan.

Several military agencies and contractors including Naval Facilities Marianas Andersen Air Force Base and the Military Sealift Command will feature exhibits at the fair while scouting for prospective employees in preparation for the military buildup on Guam.

While UOG’s Career Development Office only provides services to university students and alumni the job fair is open to the public.

GCA spearheads petition against fee increases for H2B workers
HAGåTÑA Guam – The Guam Contractors’ Association announced that it is initiating a petition to reverse an "unreasonable and unjustified" increase in fees imposed by the Guam Department of Labor according to an Oct. 18 press release. Previously employers bringing H2B workers into Guam were charged $200 per foreign worker; however those charges were recently increased 500% to $1 000 per foreign worker. According to the release GCA proposes an initial increase of 100% bringing fees to a "more manageable" $400 per foreign worker and incremental increases over the next five years capped at $800 per foreign worker.

Military contract awards exceed $160 million this year
HAGåTÑA Guam – A $6.2 million contract for the operation and maintenance of the Naval Computer Telecommunications Station in Dededo and in Radio Barrigada raised the total amount of military contracts awarded to Guam this year to more than $160 million according to a release dated Oct. 17.

Rome Research Corp. of Rome N.Y. was awarded the Navy contract which has three one-year renewal options that could bring the contract total to $25.6 million if fully exercised. The corporation already has an existing contract to operate and maintain a Voice of America relay station on Tinian.

According to the Department of Defense other Guam contracts awarded by the military this year went primarily to Guam-based contractors including contracts totaling $17.7 million to the Guam Shipyard $84 million to Black Construction Corp. $9.9 million to Core Tech International and $42.6 million to Watts Constructors.

Guam Coastal Management Program compiles cleanup data
HAGåTÑA Guam – The Bureau of Statistics and Plans Guam Coastal Management Program and the Coastal Cleanup Committee released preliminary data from the 13th Annual International Coastal Cleanup. According to a Sept. 28 press release approximately 3 228 volunteers picked up trash and marine debris along Guam’s coasts marking the largest public turnout in the history of the event. The volunteers collected 2 452 bags of trash weighing a total of 31 543 pounds from 16 beach sites and two offshore dive sites.

Among the debris collected were 18 519 cigarette filters a third of which were found at Ypao Beach and 17 944 beverage cans according to the report.

OPA releases Q3 financial reports; expresses concern over FY 2008 Budget Act
HAGåTÑA Guam – The Office of the Public Auditor presented its review on the submission of fiscal 2007 quarterly financials staffing patterns and other special reports covering the period of April 1 through June 30 according to a Sept. 26 press release. The Amended General Appropriations Act of 2007 now Public Law 29-02 modified the required staffing reports from monthly submissions to quarterly reports and imposed a 20% salary reduction penalty against each director deputy and chief financial officer failing to comply with the reporting requirements the report said.

The OPA saw "considerable improvement" of compliance with the reporting requirements – of 58 entities 40 entities or 69% fully complied with reporting requirements the report said. An additional eight entities would have been in full compliance with all the reporting requirements had the deadline for staffing pattern reports been extended from one day to 30 days as this was their only reporting infractions. The remaining 10 entities either did not meet all three reporting requirements or did not submit any reports.

In other news the Office of the Public Auditor claims that its ability to recruit and retain qualified professional staff is "under attack" due to "certain provisions" of the FY 2008 Budget Act according to a press release dated Oct. 1.

Among the provisions mentioned in the release Section 63 of Miscellaneous Provisions stated that unclassified personnel recruited above Step 10 must immediately go back to Step 10 except in autonomous agencies that have boards and commissions with unclassified personnel working for the governor lt. governor senators and mayors. This provision according to the release would immediately affect three key staff supervisors at the OPA. Also disputed is Section 19 which prohibits the hiring of unclassified employees but "creates a laundry list of exceptions to the rule " the release said. Those exempted include certified personnel working for a variety of government agencies including the Guam Public School System University of Guam Guam Community College licensed health professionals ancillary health employees and doctors and programming employees at the Department of Revenue and Taxation. None of the Office of the Public Auditor’s certified personnel is exempted the release said.

Northwest Airlines adds Airbus A330 to Guam-Tokyo route
TOKYO – Northwest Airlines introduced its Airbus A330 wide-body aircraft from Guam and Saipan to Tokyo starting on Sept. 28. The airline will continue to offer same day connections from Guam and Saipan to U.S. and Asia markets through Japan. Northwest’s A330s are equipped with the airline’s World Business Class lie-flat seats new seats in economy class and a fully interactive in-flight entertainment system in both cabins offering travelers a choice of 40 movies four short-subject video programs 56 different audio selections six games and in-flight information all available "on demand " giving customers the freedom and flexibility to start pause or stop their selection at any time.

Northwest began taking delivery of new Airbus A330 aircraft in August 2003 and currently has 26 aircraft in trans-Atlantic trans-Pacific and intra-Asia service. Its A330 fleet includes fourteen 298-seat A330-300s and 12 longer-range 243-seat A330-200s. With an average fleet age of two years Northwest’s A330’S are one of the youngest international fleets in the airline industry. The airline has an additional six A330 aircraft scheduled for delivery by the end of the year.

USCIS expects more travel in December with converging holidays
WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service is anticipating an unusually high volume of requests for advance parole and other travel documents this winter given the occurrence of three major religious observances – Christmas Hanukkah and Hajj – during the month of December.

In an Oct. 16 press release USCIS urged applicants needing a travel document (Reentry Permit Refugee Travel Document or Advance Parole) to file Form I -131 Application for Travel Document available online at www.uscis.gov before the end of October.

For those applying for renewal of their advance parole document (I-512L or I-512) USCIS will accept and adjudicate a Form I-131 filed up to 120 days before the expiration date of their current advance parole.

For those with a valid reentry permit or refugee travel document that will soon expire a new reentry permit or refugee travel document may be obtained by filing Form I-131 and returning the current document to USCIS. A new Form I-131 may be filed regardless of the expiration date of your current reentry permit or refugee travel document.

Individuals requesting advance parole must be approved before leaving the United States. Travel outside the United States without advance parole may result in serious consequences including being unable to return to the United States and having pending immigration-related applications denied. An asylum applicant who leaves the United States on advance parole and returns to the country of claimed persecution shall be presumed to have abandoned his or her asylum application absent compelling reasons for such return.

10th annual Pastries in Paradise winners announced
TUMON Guam – The 10th annual Pastries in Paradise event which was held at the Guam Hotel Okura on Oct. 13 featured the skills of the island’s chefs.

The winners of the Judges Cup were in first place Takeshi Sato of the Guam Hotel Okura; in second place Ernest Chonggum of Planet Hollywood; and tied for third place Gary Cruz of the Hotel Nikko Guam and Sammy Fellone and Rick Valdez of the Guam Reef Hotel.

The winners of the Bailey’s Challenge were in first place Chef Suharto of the Hyatt Regency Guam; in second place Robert Rhoden of the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa; and in third place Brandon Sanchez of Sam Choy’s Guam.

The winners of Torani’s Sugar-Free Beverage Challenge were in first place Peter Miranda of the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa; and in second place Karla Kaneshiro of the Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort.

The winners of the People’s Choice Awards were Hyatt Regency Guam for best tasting dessert; and the Guam Reef Hotel for best dessert presentation most creative dessert and best booth design.

Matson to raise fuel surcharge
OAKLAND Calif. – Citing the recent record high prices for fuel and related costs Matson Navigation Co. announced that it is raising its fuel-related surcharge for its Hawaii and Guam/NMI services by two percentage points according to a press release dated Oct. 19. The surcharge increase the first such increase in four months will take effect on Dec. 2.

Red Cross to hold Safety Saturday
TUMON Guam – The Guam Chapter of the American Red Cross will hold its annual Safety Saturday training on Nov. 3 according to a release dated Oct. 23. The all-day event will be held at the Holiday Resort Guam.

Classes will include Basic Aid Training for children between the ages of five and 11 Babysitter’s Training for children between the ages of 11 and 18 Standard First Aid (Adult CPR/AED/First Aid) for participants 15 years of age and older and Community CPR (Adult Child Infant CPR and AED). All classes include course materials and certifications a free T-shirt and lunch on the day of the event.

Space is limited and early registration is suggested. To register or for more information please call 472-6217.

NMI candidates vie for seats in November election
GUALO RAI Saipan – A total of 56 candidates will vie for 23 seats in the Northern Mariana Islands Legislature during the Nov. 3 NMI midterm polls according to the Commonwealth Election Commission.

There are three vacant seats in the Senate – one each for Saipan Tinian and Rota; and 20 in the House of Representatives – 18 for Saipan and one each for Tinian and Rota.

CEC records show there are 10 candidates running for the three Senate seats-five from Saipan two from Tinian and three from Rota.

Moreover there are 46 candidates for the House – 42 from Saipan and two each from Tinian and Rota.

Members of the judiciary that are up for a retention vote are NMI Supreme Court Associate Justice John A. Manglona NMI Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert C. Naraja Superior Court Judge Ramona V. Manglona and Superior Court Judge Kenneth Lewis Govendo.

Members of the judiciary have a six-year term following Senate confirmation. The election nearest their end of term would put them up for a retention vote. If they are not retained then they finish the remaining years of their term without renewal.

Four initiatives are also up for ratification in the November election. They are House Legislative Initiative 15-1 which would amend the NMI Constitution to transfer licensing authority over post-secondary institutions from the Northern Marianas College’s Board of Regents to a newly established Higher Education Commission; and House Legislative Initiative 15-16 SD1 which would amend the NMI Constitution to require a runoff election for governor and lt. Governor if no candidates receive a majority of votes cast and counted for those offices in a general election.

The other two initiatives are the Saipan Casino Act which would regulate casino gambling on Saipan; and the Rota Casino Act which would also allow casino gambling on Rota.

Among the new faces that have cropped up in this year’s election are Christina Marie Sablan environmentalist and community advocate who is running for a House seat; and Galvin De Leon Guerrero who is running for a seat on the NMI Board of Education.

Bond amendment signed into law
HAGåTÑA Guam – Gov. Felix P. Camacho signed Bill No. 182 into law on Oct. 22. The new Public Law 29-21 amends the recently passed P.L. 29-19 which authorizes the sale of bonds to pay down many of Guam’s debts and make improvements to education and safety programs.

The amendment is critical according to an Oct. 22 release as it allows the government to sell bonds with a 10-year protection clause for investors that will reduce interest rates on the bonds. The reduced rates will keep more of the bond proceeds available to pay tax refunds court-ordered COLA and school and hospital upgrades. This amendment with the ten-year protection clause will provide the government with additional bond proceeds ranging from $2.1 million to $4.3 million the release said.

Marshall Islands builds dedicates new convention center
MAJURO Marshall Islands- The Republic of the Marshall Islands held a dedication ceremony on Oct. 12 for the newly built RMI International Convention Center according to an Oct. 24 release. The 1 000-seat facility was donated by the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the Marshall Islands which will host the second annual Taiwan-Pacific Allies Summit of the Heads of State from the Marshall Islands China Kiribati Nauru Palau Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

Pacific International Inc. the prime contractor for the project completed the center on a "compressed schedule " according to the release – an assignment that would have normally taken 14 months after engineered drawings was compressed to eight months including design and engineering leaving only six months of actual construction. After the groundbreaking on March 11 crews worked 24 hours a day every day of the week with no serious incidents. Ultimately the release said the project was completed on time and within its $4.9 million budget.

Perez

PTI calling IT&E; sale in the offing
TAMUNING Guam – PTI has offered to purchase IT&E Overseas Inc. the Journal has learned.

A Journal source said negotiations were proceeding with due diligence for the sale completed after several months.

Joseph J. Perez vice president and general manager of IT&E; confirmed the potential deal. "An offer was made and it’s being considered. I can’t say more at this point " he told the Journal.