Where to find construction projects

Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres told the Journal the Northern Mariana Islands will welcome additional construction companies to those already based in the NMI. “We don’t have enough construction workers on-island.” At a news conference of Feb. 5, Torres said the return of Philippines workers to the H-2B program was a positive. “That is a great help,” he said.

The governor said the just awarded $11.2 million by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to rehabilitate road infrastructure would concentrate on three areas: the Garapan revitalization area from Garapan “all the way from [the American Memorial Park] South to [Pacific Islands Club Saipan} up to the Oleai Sports Complex.”

Additional work would be on Rte. 36 and to the Saipan International Airport.

Details will be forthcoming he said. “We’re getting the project work sheet soon.”

As for training, aside from funding, Torres said talks were ongoing with the U.S. military in the region so that companies receiving award work would include apprenticeships to develop a local construction workforce in their planning. “It’s not a new initiative,” he said. “That was one of our biggest requests.”

On tourism development, Torres said, “There’s not any new news.” While the NMI was proceeding with its COVID-19 vaccination program, he said tourism markets are not focused on outbound travel. “They have their own issues – whether it’s Japan or Korea.” Those issues included COVD in their countries and quarantine of traveling residents on their return to their countries. “There’s no update at this point on flights coming in.”

Torres said that in general, “We want to maximize the federal programs we have here.”

He urged people to get vaccinated, saying the more people that are vaccinated, the more doses the NMI will receive.

Secretary of Finance David Dlg. Atalig said about 30,000 residents had received stimulus checks “as evidenced by long lines at the banks.” $27 million out of the $41.3 million the NMI received had been distributed. Further stimulus funds are available, he said. “We expect about $50 million,” Atalig said. “There’s no limit to how much we can receive or request,” he said.


Next Guam vaccination schedule coming

The Guam vaccination schedule for the week of Feb. 8 is expected to be released Feb. 5, according to the Office of the Governor. The University of Guam Fieldhouse will again host vaccinations, again with the Eventbrite appointment system.

Vaccinations at UOG have been proceeding smoothly, according to Journal readers, with the experience – including wait time post-injection – taking about 30 minutes.

Island clinics are not yet certain what dosages they will receive. 

As at Feb. 4, Okkodu High School still had vacancies for Feb. 6 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

As of Feb. 3, Guam had 7,118 residents who were fully immunized with the Pfizer vaccination and 79 who were fully immunized with the Moderna vaccination. Some 13,288 residents had received first Pfizer doses and 11,397 had received Moderna first doses.


What the TR did in Guam

Joint Region Marianas confirmed Feb. 4 that the USS Theodore Roosevelt was in Guam for a Safe Haven port visit.

The carrier was accompanied by three other ships as part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group – the USS Bunker Hill, the USS Russell and the USS John Finn. The ships were at Naval Base Guam for a scheduled port visit from Jan. 31 to Feb. 4.

Apart from enjoyment of participating personnel, the port visit offered an economic benefit to island businesses.

“The TRCSG used this port call to resupply, conduct maintenance, and get some rest and relaxation. Sailors were limited to a small area of the base to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” JRM said.

“Safe Haven Liberty port visits such as this improve quality of life for sailors, boost crew morale, readiness, and effectiveness, while mitigating the risk of contracting COVID-19.

“While in Guam, sailors had the opportunity to unwind and enjoy food and beverages along with Wi-Fi installed on the pier. A section of the beach was designated as a safe zone,” JRM said.

The visit to Guam was part of a purposeful deployment, JRM said.

“TRCSG’s deployment thus far has enabled joint operations with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force that have improved interoperability and demonstrated our commitment to [our] presence in the Indo-Pacific.”


USDA offers funding for support and training

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Feb. 5 (CHamoru Standard Time) it is accepting applications under the Rural Business Development Grant program “for eligible entities to support business opportunity and enterprise projects in rural communities. Eligible entities are rural towns, communities, state agencies, authorities, nonprofits, federally recognized tribes, institutes of higher education and cooperatives.

The funding may be used to establish business support centers or to finance job training and leadership development in rural areas. Applications must be submitted to the nearest USDA office by 4:30 p.m. local time on March 31. For additional information, see Page 8610 of the Feb. 4 Federal Register, according to USDA. A link is provided for the convenience of Journal readers: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-02-04/pdf/2021-02343.pdf


In other news:

The Guam Economic Development Authority opened its application period for the Qualifying Certificate Community Contribution Grant Program Series 3. The program will provide grant funding up to $50,000 per award to non-profit organizations and Government of Guam departments or agencies toward eligible projects and programs with an emphasis on workforce and entrepreneurship development. This grant funding is provided by the Qualifying Certificate Community Contributions from the Guam Regional Medical City and TNN Guam, which does business as The Tsubaki Tower.

The grant application period is from Feb.5 to Feb. 26. The focus of Series 3 is on projects that aid in the re-training of unemployed or underemployed persons or development of new small businesses.


Attorney General Leevin Taitano Camacho and 47 other attorneys general have reached a $573 million settlement with McKinsey & Company, one of the world’s largest consulting firms who worked for Purdue Pharma and other opioid companies, helped them promote their drugs, and profited from the opioid epidemic, according to a Feb. 5 release from the Office of the Attorney General.

“Guam will receive $279,049.44 from the multistate settlement. This is the largest nontobacco settlement Guam has ever received, and the first multi-state opioid settlement to result in substantial payment. Under the settlement terms, the funds will be used for abatement efforts in the participating territories and states,” the release said.

The Guam Department of Labor processed a second batch of unemployment benefits for the year totaling a little more than $19 million. Of that amount, $9.4 million is in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, $7.9 million is in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and $1.8 million is in Lost Wages Assistance. Another $1.6 million will go toward federal withholding taxes. Claimants can expect funds to be in accounts by “the end of this week or early next week,” according to a Feb. 3 release. The first batch was for $20.9 million. The next batch will be readied Feb. 16, GDOL said.  

The Federated States of Micronesia extended its health emergency until March 31.

Economic provisions, such as cargo shipping and at-sea transshipment of fish, remain in place and unaltered. Travel into the FSM remains restricted; outbound travel from the FSM to the United States and other jurisdictions remains open. An amendment was made that interstate travel can be restricted if a COVID-19 case occurs and should that be on a vessel, the individual will be allowed into the FSM for treatment.

The Government of Guam submitted what it called a “conservative” budget of $927.3 million for fiscal 2022 to the 36th Guam Legislature, which noted a shortfall of $29 million in anticipated local revenues, but included an anticipated $114.4 million in federal funds.

Although economic diversification efforts in agriculture, aquaculture and training are mentioned, these are unlikely to see significant fruition in the short term.

TakeCare Insurance Co. Inc. and Guam Regional Medical City announced they have entered into a limited-term agreement under which eligible TakeCare commercial/private sector and federal members will have access to covered and approved services under the TakeCare member’s in-network benefits plans at GRMC starting Feb. 1. This limited-term agreement also retroactively covers services provided by GRMC to eligible TakeCare members for covered services from March 14, 2020, the start of the public health emergency. For further information, call 647-3526, or Toll Free at 1-877-484-2411 or email [email protected].

Guam Premier Outlets has added six Airdog X8 air purifiers to its COVID mitigation procedures. The purifiers were placed in the food court and common areas to provide clean air to all patrons and mall employees. The air purifier is also a smart device that features a detachable air quality laser detector. The purifiers are moved into the retail shops after closing and left on overnight to clean and purify air in the tenant spaces, with GPO stores on a daily rotation schedule to ensure the spaces are rid of any airborne pollutants and viruses before the mall opens.

Boka Box has moved to West Soledad Street in Hagatna and offers takeout and dine-in. The restaurant closed in early 2020. Boka box has a new brunch menu and a Diet-Beat-It program to help diabetics.

The organizing committee for the Pacific Mini Games 2022 is accepting applications for a CEO to oversee management of the games, scheduled for June 2022 in the Northern Mariana Islands. For more information, contact the 2022 Pacific Mini Games Organizing Committee at [email protected]mbj