Thursday, February 26, 2015

Red flag at 4 Saipan sites

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(DEQ) â€" The Division of Environmental Quality analyzes water samples collected from Saipan’s recreational beaches and storm drainages every Tuesday.

Samples collected from the following locations contained excessive concentrations of fecal indicator bacteria â€" enterococci â€" that exceeded CNMI marine water quality standards.

These bacteria can indicate the presence of human and animal waste in the water.

However, studies have shown that storm water runoff in tropical environments may also contain these bacteria from the natural environment, which may not be directly associated with public health concerns.

Still, to adequately address public health concerns, DEQ has given the following locations a red flag and advises the public not to fish or swim within 300 feet of these locations for the next 48 hours or until otherwise notified:

Tanapag Meeting Hall

Hafa Adai Hotel  

Garapan Fishing Dock

Garapan Beach

For more information, call DEQ at 664-8500.

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Lawmaker proposes to name portion of Marpi Road after Japan emperor

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REPRESENTATIVE Ralph Yumul is proposing to name a portion of Marpi Road after Japanese Emperor Akihito to commemorate his visit to the island almost a decade ago.

Akihito and his wife Empress Michiko traveled to Saipan in June of 2005.

In an interview yesterday, Yumul said they are still working on the resolution and coordinating with the Japanese Consulate.

Yumul said he has to ask if it’s acceptable to name a portion of the Marpi Road after the emperor.

“I was told that the Japanese are very particular regarding naming streets after them so nothing is final yet â€" we are still coordinating with the Japan’s consul. We want to know if it’s okay to name a portion of Marpi Road after the emperor. If it is okay then we will go ahead with the resolution,” Yumul said.

Visiting Nenpou Shinkyo Buddhist priests from Japan, accompanied by Pacific Eagle Enterprises president and vice president Willie Matsumoto and Aya Matsumo and JTB’s Mizuno-san pay a courtesy visit at the governor’s office on Wednesday. Photo by Alexie Villegas Zotomayor

He is also coordinating with the Marianas Visitors Authority.

In related news, Ninpo Shinkyou delegation members from Japan are on island to inspect the site where they plan to build a monument in honor of the imperial couple.

The members of the delegation met with Gov. Eloy S. Inos on Wednesday morning to discuss the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the imperial couple’s visit to Saipan.

The delegation wants to construct a commemorative monument at Banzaii Cliff and the Last Command Post in Marpi which were visited by the imperial couple in 2005.

Press Secretary Ivan Blanco in an email yesterday said the governor was delighted to meet with the delegation and discuss the project which will commence in April.

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DPW launches Adopt-a-Highway program, hopes for community involvement

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THE Department of Public Works yesterday launched its Adopt-a-Highway program which is a public service campaign undertaken in many states and territories to keep highways litter free.

It provides opportunities for citizens, businesses and various organizations to make positive contributions in their communities.

Among those that joined the local program are the Seventh-Day Adventist Clinic, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation Employee Association and the Saipan Office of the Mayor.

“It is time for us to help DPW and take responsibility for making sure our highways are clean and beautiful. We want to be part of the solution,” the CHCC Employee Association said in a group statement.

Acting DPW Secretary James Ada expressed his gratitude to the teams that joined the program, saying that by keeping the highways clean and litter-free, the participants are also helping prevent pollutants from entering storm drains.

Press Secretary Ivan Blanco, who spoke on behalf of Gov. Eloy Inos, thanked DPW for a program that will eventually lead to a productive collaboration among community members.

 Adopt-a-Highway participants pose with Department of Public Works personnel during the program launching at the DPW office yesterday. Photo by Richelle Ann Agpoon-Cabang

“Since the CNMI is a tourist destination, DPW’s program will not only ensure that we have a clean environment and roads but beautification can also be incorporated in it,” he said.

DPW is inviting other members of the community to join the program.

Groups or individuals can “adopt” portions of a highway for a minimum of two years.

The group will make sure the adopted site is clean and litter-free, and it must also provide training to volunteers before any cleanup activity.

DPW will assist the group by providing safety information, trash bags and disposable gloves.Further, DPW will provide and remove trash bins along the highway, remove heavy or hazardous items in the area and erect a highway sign to recognize the group’s efforts.

For more information, call DPW at 235-5287/9570 or email [email protected].

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Northern Islands mayor says DPL should prioritize free-trade-zone program

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MAYOR Jerome Aldan is urging the Department of Public Lands to implement the agricultural-homestead and free-trade-zone programs for the Northern islands.

Today, Aldan said he is scheduled to meet DPL Secretary Pete A. Tenorio to discuss Public Law 18-16 which includes the Northern Islands in the free trade zone economic diversification policy of the CNMI.

“The law is significant as it is designed to boost economic diversification in the CNMI. P.L. 18-16 articulates the CNMI’s preferred set of economic activities for diversification that are environment-friendly and compatible with tourism and related business, industry, and commercial activities,” he told Variety.

Jerome Aldan

Aldan said he will discuss with Tenorio his mandate as a mayor under the free-trade-zone law.

Asked where the free trade zone will be established on the volcanic island of Pagan, Aldan said it should be be strategically located near a seaport, air strip or another suitable location.

Aldan said the idea of free-trade-zone development was discussed three years ago during the 1st Northern Frontier Summit in 2012 hosted by the Northern Islands mayor’s office.

Two years later, then-Senate Vice President and now Senate President Victor B. Hocog introduced an amendment to the free-trade-zone law that was enacted in 2014.

Since then and during Aldan’s stint as program manager for the mayor’s office, they started the preparatory efforts for the project.

He said they are expecting to be in full gear this year for the program.

“As mayor, I intend to pursue with due diligence and good faith effort the expectations required under the law to get it to work for the benefit of the people of the Northern Islands and the CNMI,” he said.

He said they started pushing the program last year following the enactment of P.L. 18-16.

“And now that I am mayor, I want to get the Northern Islands Frontier Resettlement & Re-Development Investment 2020 moving forward in full force through the free trade zone and related activities during my first year in office and my entire term,” Aldan said.

The economic activities that are envisioned in Public Law 18-16 are those involving high capital investment with negligible impact on the environment, eco-friendly tourism that provides valued and meaningful training and employment opportunities for the Northern Islanders, Aldan said.

The socio-economic development investment priorities of the mayor’s office include specialty crop agriculture, community gardens, flori-culture, cultured fishing, cultured black pearl, shell crafting, environment-friendly and low footprint tourism such as eco-tourism, agri-tourism, hot spring, black sand, sun and wellness, aqua-culture, films and filming, a scientific research laboratory for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Fish & Wildlife, the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, flight training, skydiving, a cultural learning institute, study tours and research and summer exploratory camps catering to university students.

Aldan said these plans are being considered by his administration to focus on value-added destinations around eco-tourism and heritage tourism.

At the free trade zone, Aldan said he would like to facilitate any business opportunity while taking into account labor and capitalization requirements.

“Past experience in a proposed business or commercial venture will also be part of the overall evaluation consideration in qualifying interested vendors within the free trade zone,” he said, adding that a letter of intent fron any interested party should include the investor’s forecast of job and wealth creation stemming from the proposed business or commercial activity, and the type of assistance needed from the mayor’s office to facilitate the identified business or commercial venture in the Northern Islands.

In Sept. 2014, Aldan said the visit of Silver Explorer cruise liner to Pagan with around 100 tourists was beneficial for the economic growth of the island.

“We want to continue and expand cruise liner tourism from once a year to four times a year,” he added.

His office, Aldan said, will continue to work with Pacific Development Inc., the Marianas Visitors Authority, and the mayors of Guam.

“I hope to one day see a cruise liner launched out of Guam with stopovers on Rota, Tinian, Saipan and the islands to the north as part of my Frontier Development Investment 2020 plan that is consistent with the intent of Public Law 18-16,” he said.

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Guam’s Calvo pushes collaborative effort by insular areas in DC

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HAGÃ…TÃ'A â€" Gov. Eddie Calvo is in the nation’s capital discussing Compact-Impact reimbursement, the stalled China visa waiver program, the military buildup and other issues impacting the island.

In a teleconference with media on Wednesday at Adelup, the governor gave an update of his work in D.C. Calvo said he is knocking on doors to discuss policy mandates and matters imposed by the federal government as well as sharing the impact they have on the island.

He said he has already spoke to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and he has made a friend in Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.

Eddie Calvo

Calvo is in Washington to attend a host of meetings including those of the Interagency Group on Insular Affairs or IGIA and the Western Governors Association.

“We were able to meet with many of the governors, as well as through the IGIA meeting, we were able to meet with key decision members in the president’s cabinet,” Calvo said.

With Jewell, he spoke of the need to address climate change, workforce development, tourism and Compact-Impact issues.

Calvo reiterated that the government of Guam was open to using offsets or other innovative solutions to minimize the impact of the Compacts of Free Association on the local economy, a cost reported to exceed $140 million in unreimbursed costs.

“I spoke specifically with (Jewell) on the impact of the Compacts, and gave an update of the numbers and more clarity of what these impacts are and the need to address them,” Calvo said. “If these are not addressed, there will be a question of our viability. We need the help.”

Origins

The governor also suggested to Jewell that Interior look at the origins and issues with the Freely Associated States such as economic empowerment. “There’s a reason why there is a vast migration out, and these states need to develop their local economies and hopefully the United States can work with them so that they can work toward a more strong and stable economy for the Freely Associated States,” Calvo said.

During a dinner hosted by President Obama, Calvo said he was seated next to Johnson with whom he discussed the China visa waiver program and a plan to take steps toward Guam’s parole authority. “I was able to bend his ear toward re-invigorating the China visa waiver program,” he said.

Calvo said he was encouraged that Johnson was receptive and felt they could address concerns by the Federal Bureau of Investigations through a hybrid plan.

Calvo also had the opportunity to meet with the senior staffer of the Senate Armed Services Committee to discuss the military buildup. Sen. John McCain of Arizona is chairman of the committee. “I was consistent with our support for the pivot, the realignment, but also very consistent with my stance that we look outside the gate and improve, or mitigate areas that we believe will impact our community,” Calvo said.

Calvo also said he is solidifying plans with his counterparts in other insular areas of the United States and hopes to achieve leverage through the creation of a formal association of the governors of the respective U.S. territories and commonwealths.

Calvo said the strategic importance of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, coupled with the sheer population of Puerto Rico and contributions of American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands, can only help Guam’s case in Washington when it comes to discussions regarding the impact that treaties, mandates and policies of the federal government have on insular areas.

“We will discuss issues that all the territory and commonwealth governors have a harmony of interest in,” Calvo said. “Each and every island may be unique, whether it’s Puerto Rico or Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa or the U.S. Virgin Islands, in what are the challenges when it comes to federal mandates and actions or treaties that have negative impacts toward our territories or commonwealth.”

Calvo said collectively laying like issues on the table and sharing the negative and positive impacts the federal government’s actions have on insular areas would force the attention of the president and Congress.

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Northern Marianas International School students win gold in choral speaking

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(Press Release) â€" Northern Marianas International School students again showed their mastery and prowess in the 2015 Primary Grade Forensic Competition held last February 14, 2015 in Oleai Elementary School.

NMIS grabbed 1st Place in Choral Speaking in the K-2 Division.

The gold medalists are Euanne Kyra Claveria, Kimberly Villegas, Rafael Gozon, Simon Tang, and Jay Francis Dominic Pineda.

Northern Marianas International School students who participated in the recently held forensic competition pose with their teachers. Contributed photo

Silver medals were awarded to Vladimir Radge Palma for the Humorous Interpretation, Miyuki Takayama and Matson Betty for DUO.

Bronze medals went to Betty Matson, Nhicole Valiente, Miyuki Takayama, and Juliana Vergara for the Choral Speaking 3-5 Division.

PGFC coordinator and coach Rosalie Habijan wish to thank the students and parents who untiringly support the PGFC event throughout the regional competition. She said, “Hats off to the coaches and students who qualified in the regional event, especially who got in the finals.”

Complete list of winners:

1st Place Choral Speaking K-2 Division Final

Claveria, Evanne

Pineda, Jay Francis Dominic

Villegas, Kimberly

Gozon, Rafael

Tang, Simon

2nd Place Humorous Interpretation 3-5 Division Final

Vladimir Radge Palma

2nd Place Duo 3-5 Division Final

Miyuki Takayama

Betty Matson

3rd Place Choral Speaking 3-5 Division Final

Betty Matson

Nhicole Valiente

Juliana Vergara

Miyuki Takayama

4th Place Dramatic Interpretation 3-5 Division Final

Edgardo Severin Palma Jr.

4th Place Duo 3-5 Division Final

Vladimir Radge Palma

Edgardo Severin Palma Jr.

5th Place Choral Speaking K-2 Division Final

Patricia Lugtu

Ashley Theresse Perez

Annieskha Arreza

5th Place Impromptu K-2 Division Final

Jay Francis Dominic Pineda

Choral Speaking K-2 Division Finalists:

Lilia Angelica Brien

Keylie Shian Claveria

Angelina Maria Camacho

Alaysha Skye Fejeran

Hyacinth Gail Lobo

Razielle Sobremisana

Semi-Finals Results:

1st Place Duo 3-5 Division

Betty Matson & Miyuki Takayama

2nd Place Impromptu K-2 Division

Jay Francis Dominic Pineda

4th Place Duo 3-5 Division

Vladmir Radge Pama & Edgardo Severin Palma Jr.

PGFC Coaches:

Ms. Darlene Sobremisana - Coordinator

Mr. Levi Sobremisana

Mr. Roy Dolon

Ms. Criselda Aldan

Ms. Rosalie Habijan - Coordinator

The administration, faculty, staff, and parents of NMIS would like to extend their congratulations to all the winners and thank everyone who participated, including the coaches and judges in this year’s PGFC competitions.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wild land fire in Wireless Ridge

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(Press Release) â€" On Tuesday, Feb, 24, 2015 at 1:30 p.m., the CNMI Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services or DFEMS received a call for a reported wild land fire by Wireless Ridge on Capital Hill.

DFEMS suppression units were dispatched to the area.

A primary survey of the fire was conducted on foot by fire personnel, who noted heavy smoke and active flames in the grassy area between Talafofo and Wireless Ridge.

Wild land fire broke out in the Wireless Ridge area on Tuesday afternoon. Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services photo

Initial assessment of the fire indicated no access routes to the fire and no immediate threat to life and property, DFEMS firefighter’s monitored directional travel of smoke and fire, once access was gained, fire personnel were able to suppress the fire, the wild land fire was cleared at 11:28 p.m.

The estimated burned area is between 15-20 acres, mostly comprising of natural materials and vegetation. The cause remains unknown at this time.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services did not receive any medical calls related to this wild land fire.

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