Cinderella to go to ball

The Guam Visitors Bureau will be attending a major marketing event in Japan next month, after all.

Nadine Leon Guerrero, the bureau’s director of global marketing, told the Journal on Aug. 17, “Thanks to Governor Lou Leon Guerrero’s support, the Guam Visitors Bureau will attend Tourism Expo Japan in September. While Guam’s presence will be smaller than pre-COVID years, GVB is grateful we are still able to show our dedication to the Japan Association of Travel Agents and participate in Tourism Expo Japan.

“The team is preparing for the expo and will be reaching out to our membership soon on how to participate.”

The Journal initially reported on Aug. 12 that GVB would not be attending JATA’s annual expo, taking place from Sept. 22 to Sept. 25 at the Tokyo Big Sight, officially known as the Tokyo International Exhibition Center.

The Northern Mariana Islands Marianas Visitors Authority told the Journal on Aug. 11 it was attending JATA. MVA also attended Pacific Asia Travel Association Destination Marketing Forum held from Aug. 2 to Aug. 4 in Songkhla, Thailand.


COVID updates

The Marshall Islands reported its first cases of COVID on Aug. 8.

An Aug. 18 report saw 1,347 new cases with a total of 8,197 since Aug. 8.

Posting on Facebook on Aug. 13, Jack Niedenthal, secretary of Health and Social Services for the Marshall Islands said, “As we expected the outbreak continues to gain strength.”

The U.S. Army Garrison on Kwajalein also reported the first community cases on the military base, Niedenthal said.

The Ministry of Health was making immediate plans to visit neighboring islands with suspect cases, has put together mobile teams to begin outreach for people who cannot leave their homes, and has opened a satellite pharmacy at the Majuro Hospital, Neidenthal said.

The Federated States of Micronesia held a state funeral for the late Vice President Yosiwo P. George on Aug. 17 at the Chamber of Congress in Palikir. The Office of the President announced his passing on Aug. 14. Yosiwo who was 81 had been hospitalized after contracting COVID-19. Yosiwo became ill, and was first hospitalized after COVID broke out in the FSM in mid-July.

The Office of the President said in an Aug. 16 release that the FSM Congress must meet to elect a new vice president to serve out the remainder of the administration’s term, which concludes “on or around 12 p.m. on May 11, 2023 (with elections in March 2023).

The FSM Congress will elect the new vice president from amongst the four sitting at-large senators, who are T.H. Joseph J. Urusemal (Yap State); T.H. Wesley W. Simina (Chuuk State); T.H. Peter M. Christian (Pohnpei State); and T.H. Aren B. Palik (Kosrae State). Urusemal and Christian are former presidents, Simina is also the speaker of the Congress; and Palik is in his first term.

Prior to his election, Palik was the former president and CEO of the Pacific Islands Development Bank, headquartered in Guam, according to Journal files.

After Congress elects the new vice president, the speaker will declare a vacancy in Congress. Because there is less than one year until the next national election, there will not be a special election to fill the vacancy; rather, the Governor of the affected state will appoint a replacement.

Yap confirmed community spread of COVID on Aug. 17.

“Officials across Yap State Government confirmed that schools are closed for the next 48 hours and possibly until further notice; that non-essential government employees are working from home; and that private businesses are openly practicing COVID-19 safety measures such as signs encouraging the use of masks and hand sanitizer and/or handwashing stations nearby,” a release from the Office of the President said.


ADB loans Palau $5 million for utility infrastructure

The Asian Development Bank has approved a $5 million loan to boost electricity, water, and wastewater in Palau, according to an Aug. 15 release from the ADB.

“The support will help Palau’s utility sector more financially sustainable by addressing inefficient regulation and tariffs, improving the corporate governance and financial management of Palau Public Utilities Corporation, and providing an enabling environment for private sector participation in the electricity, water, and wastewater subsectors,” the release said.

The loan agreement was signed Aug. 15 in Koror by Palau Minister of Finance Kaleb Udui Jr. and ADB Director General for the Pacific Leah Gutierrez at ADB headquarters in Manila.


College ceremony for childcare providers and nursing assistants

Guam Community College held a “completion” ceremony for 35 students on Aug. 16, 16 of whom will receive Child Care Provider Program II certificates, and 19 will receive Nursing Assistant certificates. Of the 19, 16 have applied to test for CNA licensure through the Guam Board of Nurse Examiners, according to an Aug. 15 release from GCC.

The Child Care Provider “boot camp” is the second cohort to complete training. This training concept was developed by the Guam Economic Development Authority, the Department of Public Health and Social Services, and GCC to meet the shortage of personnel for daycare and afterschool programs, according to an Aug. 15 release.

In other GCC news, the college has extended fall registration until Aug. 20.


Government updates:


More than 1,100 individuals applied for help through the Government of Guam Relief Center in the three weeks from its opening on July 11 to July 29, according to an Aug. 12 release. Of the total walk-ins, 859 clients were assisted through available programs. 

A total of 289 phone calls were tracked.

  •  72% of calls were from clients seeking a status update on their payment for Prugråman Salåppe’ 2 and 3. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program was the second most inquired program for phone call inquiries. 

Northern Mariana Islands:

Government of the NMI retirees will receive additional 25% pension benefits for the first quarter of fiscal 2023, which is “on top of the 75% mandated pension under the U.S. District Court stipulated and approved settlement agreement,” according to an Aug. 14 release from the Office of the Governor. 

The amount of $3.27 million, or $545,000 bi-weekly, will be remitted to the NMI Retirement Settlement Fund to cover payments from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31.


VA undersecretary to visit Guam

Donald M. Remy, deputy secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs will visit Guam on Aug. 22. 

The visit was announced by the office of Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero and confirmed by Michael A. San Nicolas, Guam’s delegate to Congress.

Remy – who acts as the chief operating officer of the VA, has been in office since July 2021.  

“His trip to Guam will likely include visits to the Guam Office of Veterans Affairs, Guam Veterans Cemetery, Community-Based Outpatient Clinic, Guam Vet Center, and Guam Benefits Office,” Lt. Governor Joshua F. Tenorio said in an Aug. 10 release.

“We are excited to welcome Deputy Secretary Remy who we will be accompanying on site visits to our Guam VA Clinic, Veterans Center, and Benefits Intake Center,” San Nicolas said. “We intend to highlight the need for upgraded care capacity and processing capabilities locally, the challenges with time zone and distance unique to Guam Veterans, and the benefits of pursuing Regional Center status for Guam to serve as a hub for the greater Micronesia Area,” he said.


And also:

The Guam Regional Medical City presented $100,000 each to to the University of Guam’s School of Health and Guam Community College’s Allied Health Department, through the Guam Economic Development Authority’s Qualifying Certificate program. Beneficiaries of the program like GRMC are required to make community contributions.

Retail alert: The Triple J Auto Group unveiled the EV6, Kia’s first dedicated electric vehicle on Aug. 19. Guam’s first Blink charging station has been installed at Triple J’s main headquarters and showroom in Upper Tumon, and was also unveiled on Aug. 19 after the partnership between Triple J and Blink Charging Co. was announced. mbj