Guam group gets MilCon contract; seven vied for award

Core Tech-Hawaiian Dredging LLC was awarded Sept. 17 (on Guam) a $42.87 million firm-fixed-price contract for design and construction of Munitions Storage Igloos Phase 3 at Andersen Air Force Base. 

The work includes construction of “20 adequately sized, configured, sited and protected munitions storage igloos required to support forward-positioned munitions at Andersen Air Force Base,” the U.S. Department of Defense said in a release.  The work will include all relevant systems and utilities.

The contract also contains four unexercised options, which if exercised, would increase cumulative contract value to $49.67 million.  Work is expected to be completed by June 2023. 

Seven proposals were received by Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific, which awarded the contract.

Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific on Jan. 23, 2019  awarded a $149 million firm-fixed price contract to Core Tech-Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company Inc.-Kajima LLC to design and construct at Andersen three training areas — a combat vehicle operators course; a facility combining a hand grenade range, live-fire shoot house and breacher facility; and a range warehouse, area distribution node and communication tower, funded through Japan or mamizu money, according to Journal files.

 

Travel news:

  • Philippine Airlines announced changes on 44 routes, to include reductions on the Guam Manila route from seven to five weekly flights, as of Sept. 15 through Nov. 30.
  • David Ige announced Sept. 16 a pre-travel COVID testing program will begin Oct. 15 that will allow travelers from “out of state” to bypass the current 14-day quarantine requirement if they test negative. The test can be taken (and paid for) within 72 hours arrival – initially through CVS drug stores and HMO Kaiser Permanente, but with new testing partners to be announced. For more information see www.governor.hawaii.gov .
  • Airlines offering or considering sellout “flights to nowhere” that leave and depart from the same airport with a variety of offerings including sightseeing, entertainment and catering include All Nippon Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Quantas.
  • No official end in sight yet to Guam’s 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine, though the Journal was previously told that certain individuals and family members can and are being exempted. Dr. Thomas Shieh wrote to Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero on Sept. 17 saying residents should be allowed to quarantine at home (as was previously the case), and that the U.S. Center for Disease Control has issued no guidance that requires that. Shieh said the hotel quarantines “at a cost of millions of dollars” resulted from Guam’s failure to adequately prepare or execute testing.

The Northern Mariana Islands also quarantines arrivals in Saipan but allows them to depart after a negative test after five days, according to Journal files.

 

Guam COVID alert app has downloads, but limitations

After almost a week, Guam’s COVID alert app had “around 10,000 downloads.” according to Janela Carrera, public information officer for Guam’s Department of Public Health and Social Services who shared the number with the Journal on Sep. 16.

The app was launched Sept. 10.

That is still far from the administration’s target of 60% of Guam’s population of 165,768.

The island currently has more than 180,000 cell phone numbers or app-enabled devices, according to Journal files.

No U.S. state has been able to register more than 38% of its population, according to information shared at the press conference.

The state of Virginia was one of the first to launch an exposure notification app, on Aug. 5. Only five other states have the app. As of Sept. 7, the Virginia app had received 493,878 downloads, approximately 17.3% of its 8.536 million population, its public health director told the Journal.

Jeffrey A. Stover, director of Virginia’s Department of Public Health, said on Sept. 9, “It’s hard for us to indicate whether the target has been good, because there is not much for us to compare to in the United States.

“We have continually increased every day since we launched, about 3,000 to 6,000 downloads a day,” Stover said.

On Sept. 7, 130 notifications went out on Virgina’s COVIDwise app. As of the beginning of September, there were more than 100 individuals who have submitted a positive result to the app.

The app is another alternative for areas like Guam that have challenges with getting immediate test results and with sufficient contact tracers. According to Journal research it has not proven more or less effective than contact tracing. In Guam, Carrera said, “We can use it as a tool to end the lockdowns.”

But while the app will alert downloaders that they have been in close proximity to an individual who tested positive, it cannot monitor what each individual receiving a notification will do. According to media reports, individuals in other jurisdictions have sometimes chosen – for example – to self-quarantine at home rather than be tested themselves.

Carrera acknowledged that situation with the app , while recognizing the general social responsibility of people in Guam. “You’re downloading it because you’re contributing to the whole community,” she said. “It’s something bigger than yourself.”

 

A mixed bag of United news

The Association of Flight Attendants issued Sept 15 “an urgent statement” to U.S. Congressional leaders to extend relief before Oct. 1.

“Without a COVID relief bill that includes an extension of the Payroll Support Program …, tens of thousands of aviation workers will lose their jobs on October 1, and that’s only the beginning,” the association’s president said.

“But as the U.S. continues to lead the world in cases and deaths, aviation revenue is still down 85 percent and we are cut off from the rest of the world,” she said.

The AFA represents nearly 50,000 flight attendants at 19 airlines, the union said.

Meanwhile. Japanese media are reporting the closure of the United Airlines hub in Narita from Oct. 1 due to COVID, with the potential loss of 270 jobs – 150 of which will be flight attendants.

Other United jobs due to be lost include slots for pilots in Guam.

Estimates of actual job losses vary according to Journal sources, depending on whether pilots are willing to retire, or can or want to re-locate.

In the latest development, on Sept. 16, the Air Line Pilots Association International announced it has “reached a tentative agreement with United Airlines management that addresses the imminent furlough threat to more than 2,850 pilots.”

The deal includes preventing pilot furloughs until June 2021, offering a second round of early separation options for all pilots age 50+ with 10 years of experience, adding restrictions on express carrier flying, and securing triggers for a pay raise and additional permanent contract modifications that improve work conditions for all United pilots, according to ALPA. 

The union represents 13,000 pilots.  

 

NMI tax credits coming, businesses back after sanctions

During a Sept. 18 press conference, David Atalig, secretary of the Northern Mariana Islands Department of Finance, said a third batch of Child Tax Credit payments has been submitted to the IRS for approval.

Regarding the disbursement of payments, Atalig said, “We expect them to approve and send us the funds to release a third batch, hopefully, mid-next week or by the end of next week.”

In other related news, a variety of taxes can be paid online at www.finance.gov.mp as of Sept. 18.

The taxes that can be paid online are business gross receipts taxes, bar taxes and hotel occupancy taxes. Future developments include online payments for excise taxes and a business license application portal.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security terminated arrival restrictions from certain flight destinations that include the People’s Republic of China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau); the Schengen area countries of Europe; the U.K. excluding its overseas territories); Ireland; and Brazil as of Sept.14.

Regarding the termination of the restrictions, Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres said, “It’s a good thing that it is lifted because … [it] doesn’t mean that we’re gonna stop with our efforts in making sure that our tourists come in. We need to make [sure] any and all passengers coming in from China … do not carry COVID entering the CNMI.”Torres, as with past press conferences, reiterated that no governor has the authority to “cease planes, scheduled flights or airlines” arriving to the U.S.

“Now that it’s lifted, it’s our obligation to make sure that we continue the effort of testing at the border and the requirements, and to make sure that COVID is not transmitted here in our community,” he said.

The governor’s COVID-19 task force announced on Sept. 17 that the NMI’s community-based testing initiative is temporarily suspended until further notice.

Warren Villagomez, chairman of the COVID-19 task force, said during the Sept. 18 press conference that the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and task force are focused on inbound passengers, testing and ongoing efforts for COVID-19 prevention. No resumption date was provided for community-based testing.  According to a release from the governor’s office, specimens from approximately 34% of the NMI’s population have been collected as of Sept. 14.

Additionally, Villagomez said businesses that had infractions from visits by the task force and NMI Department of Commerce’s Alcoholic Beverage and Tobacco Control Division are “back to business. And we continue on to do visits. I’m sending the team to do real-time training [in] Rota and Tinian, as well as engaging with the business partners and educating them.”.

School inspections will be held simultaneously in Rota and Tinian, he said.  

 

Another week of lockdown for Guam, but some business relief

Guam will spend another week in PCOR 1 and under a Stay at Home Executive Order issued Sept. 17 by Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero. The EO was issued a day earlier than previous orders, as news leaked out again; this time that the administration would include some easing of restrictions on businesses, which also meant that the relief for businesses could take place a day earlier also. In short, restaurants will be allowed to accept takeout orders inside restaurants again, and “non-essential” businesses will be allowed to accept orders for curbside collection. The island has been in lockdown since Aug. 16.

 Guam suffered its 31st death Sept. 17, along with the announcement of 32 new positive cases the same day.

Naval Base Guam announced Sept. 18 the re-opening of the Visitor Control Center (for passes, IDs, etc.) after it closed for cleaning Sept. 16 due to a positive COVID case among its staff.

 

Guam essential COVID supplies arriving

  • The Bureau of Statistics and Plans announced Sept. 18 three ambulances received by the Guam Fire Department and COVID sanitation and personal protection supplies distributed to a number of GovGuam agencies, through CARES funding for public safety agencies. One ambulance was received in July according to BSP. The $2.9 million CARES grant was awarded in April.
  • According to the Office of the Governor, many of the Guam’s “frontliners” will receive additional personal protective equipment with a first shipment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency the week of Sept. 14. Items include 160 Powered Air-Purifying Respirators and 495,000 3M 9502+ masks. The items were received and are being distributed by the Guam Homeland Security/Office of Civil Defense; Guam Memorial Hospital is in receipt of its PAPRs —100 pieces. The remaining 60 PAPRs will be distributed among other agencies, a Sept. 18 release said. 

 

Interest high in GEDA community grants; board donates stipends

During the Sept. 17 Guam Economic Development Authority board meeting the authority adopted GEDA’s fiscal 2021 budget. With little difference from the previous fiscal year, changes that were made include lowered travel, legal and marketing funds. The authority projected less revenue in its public finance department, about $500,000 in fiscal 2021 compared to $700,000 in fiscal 2020.

Also, board members voted to “donate” their individual stipends of $10,000 each back to the GEDA budget. It is estimated for fiscal 2021 that GEDA will have an excess of $190,000 over budget; in fiscal 2020 its excess was $200,000.

GEDA CEO and administrator, Melanie Mendiola, said marketing will be different moving forward — including having partnerships with organizations to provide support for small businesses, like a virtual training series on how businesses can adapt to the “new normal” in the COVID-19 era.

The board also discussed GEDA’s Qualifying Certificate Community Contribution Grant Program, which helps to fund non-profits from healthcare, public safety and higher education to cultural preservation, economic development and tourism. The grants will be based on a scored system, offering organizations between $1,000 and $10,000. The total grant funds being dispersed are $300,000.

The program as of Sept. 17 had 101 application downloads, and 56 completed applications submitted.

The board also voted to issue a qualifying certificate to the Guam Brewery Corp. for 20 years. A qualifying certificate is intended to be an economic incentive encouraging investment through tax rebates. Shareholders of Guam Brewery Corp. include JassBe Inc., Jeff and Tracy Voacolo, Jay Merrill, Cesar Cabot, MaFe Teffany Cabot, George Bello, Prudencio Miguel Jr. and Michael Converse. The certificate application was filed on June 18, 2019.

The Guam Brewery Tap House is a sister company of the Guam Brewery, according to Journal files.

 

Leaders of the PAC; Guam business group issues endorsements

During a Sept. 17 press conference, Action PAC Inc. announced which senatorial candidates it would be endorsing in Guam’s upcoming general election on Nov. 3. According to the committee, the candidates “align with Action PAC’s five key initiatives.”

The candidates and their respective parties are:

Sen. Therese Terlaje (Democrat); John A. Ananich II (Democrat); Vicente A. “Tony” Ada (Republican); Michelle L. Armenta (Republican); Joseph I. “Ji” Cruz (Republican); Sen. James C. Moylan (Republican); Sen. Telo T. Taitague (Republican); Sen. Mary C. Torres (Republican); Frank F. Blas Jr. (Republican); Joaquin Leon Guerrero (Republican); Christopher M. Duenas (Republican); and Vincent A.V. Borja (Republican).

Each candidate was given a survey to complete that determined if they would be endorsed by the committee. Laura-Lynn V. Dacanay, executive director of Action PAC, did not disclose the survey’s questions, but said the questions involved the committee’s initiatives, such as if a candidate supports the military buildup on Guam, as well as a rollback of the business privilege tax.

Regarding the questions, Dacanay said, “They were all associated with the [committee’s] five initiatives; mainly asking them whether they would support this initiative: ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ And that’s how we wanted to know would you support this initiative or would you not? Do you agree with this or do you not agree?”

Dacanay told the Journal that it was not a requirement for candidates to submit written explanations of their answers. “But [a] majority of them actually did provide comments,” she said.

The committee’s selection panel was comprised of Dacanay, as well as board and committee members of the PAC.

The survey’s response rate was 50%, with 73% being Republican candidates and 27% Democrat candidates; 73% were ‘newcomers,’ while 27% were incumbent senators.

“We’re not picking on party lines; we did not look at party lines when we looked and we reviewed the packets. We just looked at the answers,” Dacanay said.

The Democratic Party issued a release Sept. 12, condemning the Yes/No formula of the survey, amid allegations of “special interests” behind the PAC.

The committee’s plans regarding candidate endorsements will include Dacanay speaking with media organizations about “effectuating change” via candidates, and advertisements on social media platforms to gain public support and educate voters.

According to Dacanay, the committee has also filed its organizational report with the Guam Election Commission as of last week – the week of Sept. 7.

The PAC represents Guam’s civic organizations including the Guam Chamber of Commerce, the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association, the Guam Association of Realtors, the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and the Guam Contractors Association. mbj