DPL completes land use plan; will award Pagan lots

The abandoned dispensary on Agrihan was used for food and supply distribution and shelter when the island was inhabited.

Photo by Sylvan Tudela

CAPITOL HILL, Saipan — The 300-page CNMI Comprehensive Public Land Use Plan Update for Rota, Saipan and Tinian are available on the Department of Public Lands site.

Pacific Engineering Group and Services was contracted by the NMI government to produce an update on land use in the islands and conduct public outreach on the potential for resettlement, according to Journal files. The update includes Saipan, Tinian and Rota as well as the smaller islands further north: Pagan, Alamagan, Agrihan and Anatahan. The last land use update was produced in 1989. Pacific Engineering worked with government agencies, mayors and local residents on the update. Civil Engineer Roy Reyes told the Journal at the time, “We identified primary and secondary areas that can be used for agricultural purposes, along with our projections for what would be needed for homestead.”

DPL announced in 2018 that 44 agricultural lots measuring 10,000 square meters each on Pagan were available for resettlement, according to Journal files. Since DPL received applications, it plans an April distribution of 88 agricultural homestead lots of 5,000 square meters each, according to a March 8 release from the Office of the Governor. Village homestead lots are planned after that.

Pagan is about 200 miles North of Saipan. In 2018 when Pacific Engineering surveyed the islands, there were seven residents in Alamagan, three in Pagan, two in Agrihan and none in Anatahan. Pigs, cows and chickens could be seen on the islands. There are no plumbing or sewer systems on the islands, and electricity comes from solar energy or small generators, Reyes said at the time.

The plan update includes a population estimate and details the challenges to the NMI economy and can be found at dpl.gov.mp.


Airline aims for 50,000 passengers per year to NMI
FRANCISCO C. ADA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Saipan — The first of six charter flights operated by Skymark Airlines between Tokyo and Saipan launched March 22, with the Haneda-based airline hopeful that a positive response from Japanese holidaymakers will enable the company to operate more similar flights this summer and again later in the year. Skymark flew a full Boeing 737-800 with 177 passengers to the NMI.

Japan Airlines stopped flying between Japan and the NMI in 2005; Delta Airlines stopped flying on that route in May 2018.

Skymark hopes to bring 50,000 passengers per year to Saipan according to the Center for Aviation in Australia. The low cost carrier is the third largest airline in Japan, according to Journal files.


Development unit supports FSM farmers
TAKAIOU, Pohnpei  — Through the Participant Guarantee System, a group of 12 farmers in Takaiou  have sold more than 9,000 pounds of husked coconut to the Vital Group’s Coconut Industry Development Unit in Dekehtik in Pohnpei, according to a March 12 release from Vital. The harvests were processed into virgin coconut oil as part of Vital’s Coconuts for Life, “designed to create a new and sustainable source of income for farmers in the FSM, as the nation prepares for the conclusion of the Compact of Free Association between the FSM and the United States in 2023,” the release said.


NMI disaster monies pending in US Senate


WASHINGTON D.C.  — The U.S. Senate is due to act on the supplemental disaster appropriation passed by the House on Jan. 16. The Senate version of House Resolution 268 is still in negotiation, according to a March 22 release from the Office of Gregorio C. “Kilili” Sablan, the Northern Mariana Islands delegate to Congress. Proposals include $25.2 million for the Marianas food stamp program, a $56 million set-aside for solid waste management and $10.4 million for water and sewer projects for the Marianas. 

Sablan said, “In addition, the typhoons we experienced in 2018 are specifically referenced to make the Marianas eligible for recovery money from the Economic Development Administration ($600 million), [the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of] Rural Development ($150 million) and the Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery ($1.06 billion).”

What is not included in the Senate version, he said, is $36 million for Medicaid, despite the NMI’s lack of Medicaid funding.

In other typhoon-related funding news, the Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded March 19 an additional $10.65 million for repairs to the NMI electrical distribution system, according to Sablan’s office.

Of the 941 residents in Saipan and Tinian eligible for FEMA’s Permanent Home Construction and home repair programs, 200 households opted for new construction, with 135 choosing the home repair program, according to a March 10 release from the Office of the Governor. Qualified residents had until March 22 to notify FEMA of their decision to participate, or decline and accept cash assistance in the amount of their FEMA-verified loss. Construction of new homes under PHC is due to begin in June and May for home repairs. 


SBA closes post-typhoons NMI office
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The U.S. Small Business Administration closed its Disaster Loan Outreach Center on Saipan on March 30. Businesses in the Northern Mariana Islands affected by Typhoon Mangkhut and Typhoon Yutu can contact the customer service line at 1-800-659-2955 until July 1 regarding economic injury loans and until July 26 regarding property damage, according to a March 22 release from the Disaster Field Operations Center-West.


OPA office releases Tourist Attraction Fund audit
TIYAN, Guam — The Office of Public Accountability has recently released a number of reports related to the fiscal condition of the Government of Guam.

In fiscal 2018, the Tourist Attraction Fund’s balance decreased by $4.7 million or 18.5%, going from $25.6 million in fiscal 2017 to $20.9 million in fiscal 2018.

There were 28 capital projects with a budget totaling $70.8 million, which included the following: the Guam and Chamorro Educational Facility/the Guam Museum for $26.8 million or 38%; other Hotel Occupancy Tax Bond Projects for $10.7 million or 15%; the Guam Museum for $6.1 million or 9%; the Guam Preservation Trust Reimbursement for $4.3 million or 6%; and the San Vitores Road Flooding mitigation for $4 million or 6%. “Expenditures from the Capital Projects Fund cumulatively totaled $43.3 million with the two largest expenditures being $19.6 million for the Guam Museum and $4.3 million for the Guam Preservation Trust Reimbursement. Both the Other HOT Bond Projects and the Dock Facility projects have yet to begin,” the report on the TAF said in a March 27 release.

The TAF report and reports on the Guam Highway Fund for fiscal 2018, the Government of Guam Retirement Fund and the Department of Revenue and Taxation’s Non-Profit Organization Limited Gaming Tax can be found on www.opa.guam.org.


Program aims to add nurses in Guam
HAGÅTÑA, Guam —  Fourteen Guam Department of Labor Earn and Learn Nursing Academy participants passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. The academy combines a NCLEX-RN review with a clinical refresher for participating nurses to pass the NCLEX-RN and secure full-time employment as a registered nurse at Guam Regional Medical City or Guam Memorial Hospital, according to a March 21 release from DOL. It is designed to fill a “critical nursing shortage,” DOL said in the release.


Women’s Guam non-profit launched
TUMON, Guam — The Guam Endo Movement is designed to help suffers of endometriosis, a condition affecting the uterus and pelvic area, and raise awareness of its effects.

Founders Catherine Manlapaz, owner and certified fitness instructor at the Mantrasana Fitness Studio, and Hannah Cho Iriarte, public relations consultant, announced its formation, launch, proclamation signing and first gathering — a High Tea Meet and Greet on March 30 at the Siesta Café in Tamuning. The condition affects “one in ten women, girls and transgender individuals,” according to a March 21 release. Contact the charity at [email protected] or follow on Instagram @GuamEndo. mbj