Something but not much – an uptick in easing of Guam restrictions 

Despite hopes and hints, what rolled out Dec. 17 as an easing of Guam’s COVID restrictions was just an increase of social gathering limits from 75 to 100 persons for outdoor events. Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero said, “This is the only change to COVID-19 restrictions I am making at this time under the advice and counsel of our healthcare experts.”

As a justification, she said monitoring of the Omicron variant is ongoing. “While we do not at this time have any confirmed cases of Omicron, it is only a matter of time. That is why we must do what we can now to prevent a fourth surge,” the governor said, urging residents to “stay the course.”

 

GEDA LEAP program accepting applications

The Guam Economic Development Authority is scheduled to begin accepting applications for the Local Employers’ Assistance Program from Dec. 20.

The assistance program – which is aimed at “helping those businesses most affected by the pandemic,” according to Melanie R. Mendiola, CEO and administrator of GEDA – will offer loans up to $300,000 for businesses with at least five employees that lost at least 50% of their monthly income during the pandemic. The entire loan can be forgiven if at least 60% of funding is spent on payroll.

Additionally, GEDA plans on providing grants for those businesses with fewer than five employees that have lost at least 20% of their monthly income; those grants will max out at $50,000.

GEDA calculated the program can help up to 1,044 businesses, 729 of which with less than five employees and 315 with more than five.

The program may also go down to a 40% revenue loss requirement after a few weeks of applications, depending on the response, which would be able to help an additional 60 businesses.

 

Relief for airport tenants

The Guam International Airport Authority will offer airport concession tenants more relief for the months of October through December. Previous relief packages stopped in September, and GIAA plans to extend the program through the end of 2021.

The relief is valid for retail, rent-a-car and parking tenants, and will waive the monthly charge in lieu of only charging a percentage of sales for that month, and will work with concessions’ cash flow and needs.

Artemio “Ricky” Hernandez, the airport’s deputy executive manager, said this relief is needed for tenants because “flight activity has not been as expected,” and the tenants have continued to be hit hard.

In other airport news, Air Busan has once again requested to be a signatory airline, which it was from 2015-2020, and that contract will now expire in 2024.

Currently, per week at the airport there are 53 scheduled flights, with eight airlines from nine incoming destinations.

 

Andersen AFB munitions storage contract awarded

RELYANT Global LLC was awarded Dec. 17 CHamoru standard time a $28,999,210 firm-fixed-price contract for design and construction of “eight new earth-covered munitions storage magazines at Andersen Air Force Base,”

according to a release from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The contract also contains four options which will be exercised at time of award. Work is expected to be completed by February 2025. The contract was competitively procured via the beta.sam.gov website, with four proposals received. Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Pacific made the award.

 

University to mark unique milestone

The University of Guam will “celebrate a historic milestone” as 12 graduates become the first to earn civil engineering degrees at the commencement on Dec. 19. Marking a second historic milestone is Class of Fanuchånan 2021 (or Fall Semester) Valedictorian Anthony Reyes, the university’s first valedictorian from the School of Engineering, according to a Dec. 17 release. 

Evolving from a two-year pre-engineering program that was offered at UOG from1989, the four-year degree program launched in 2019, when it was formally approved by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.  

According to an earlier release, UOG will graduate 250 students on Dec. 19. Addressing the graduates from California for the keynote speech will be Diosdado P. “Dado” Banatao, an engineer himself as well as a self-made entrepreneur, and venture capitalist who has come to be known as a visionary within Silicon Valley, the global center for high-tech innovations.  Banatao has ties to Guam through his father, Salvador, who worked overseas in Guam from the Philippines when Banatao was a child, UOG said. 

 

Visit to Guam base to collect moss allowed under “public access” plan

“Members of Guam’s community” collected moss for nativity displays (or belens) from Northwest Field on Andersen Air Force Base, according to a Dec. 14 release from Naval Facilities Engineering System Command.

The visit took place as part of the Public Access Plan in the 2011 Programmatic Agreement Regarding the Military Relocation to Guam and Tinian, which includes more than 20 sites at Andersen, Naval Base Guam, Marines Corps Camp Blaz and Tinian. Such visits are at the discretion of base commanders, the release said.

 

Guam Housing Corp. approves families for homes

Through the First Time Homeowners Assistance Program, 16 families were approved, according to a Dec. 14 release from the Office of the Governor. Qualifying individuals receive 4% of the purchase or construction of a home, with a ceiling of $375,000.

 

University to study gout

A grant from the Royal Society of New Zealand Te Aparangi will fund a study of gout by the University of Guam, according to a Dec. 14 release from UOG, which is seeking participants of CHamoru, other Micronesian or Filipino ancestry of 18 years or older to examine the genetic factor. Interested individuals should contact 671-707-0492 or [email protected].

 

SecDef issues statement on contamination at base in Hawaii

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin II expressed concern and said he is receiving daily updates on freshwater contamination or leakage near the underground Red Hill Bulk Storage Facility at Pearl Harbor, with operations suspended at Red Hill. More than 3,000 individuals have moved from base housing to hotels, with “thousands evaluated by medical staff,” according to a Dec. 13 release from the U.S. Department of Defense. A Pregnancy Medical Advice Hotline has been established and more than 150,000 gallons of potable water and additional water filtration systems have been supplied to Oahu, the release said.

 

OAG hosts open government training

The Guam Office of the Attorney General will continue Open Government Law training sessions, according to a Dec. 14 release. Nearly 90 government employees have so far participated in training, according to the release.

 

Retail alert:

Macy’s Guam has opened its “newly enhanced” open-concept beauty department, according to a Dec. 14 release. The roughly 700 square-foot space will feature brands new to the department store, as well as skincare and hair care assortments “tailored to the needs of the local customer.” In addition there will be special shopping events,  and extended holiday hours, Macy’s said. mbj