Port completes last phase of terminal gate project

Tuesday, 04 Aug 2015 03:00am


THE Port Authority of Guam is one step closer to completing the final phase of a $50 million project funded by the Department of Defense with its newly completed terminal gate complex.

According to a statement from the port, the terminal gate complex was opened yesterday. The terminal is a 7-acre gate complex, with three new gate stalls, four lanes and a load center with three generators.

The gate also has a domestic water and fire suppression system that includes a 274,000-gallon concrete water tank. The improvements are part of the third and most expensive phase of the Guam commercial port improvement project. All the improvements are expected to be complete in October, according to the release.

Port General Manager Joanne Brown commended the collaboration between the port, Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration, project designer EA Engineering and contractor Black Construction. In a statement, Brown said the collaboration resulted in a user-friendly facility that will improve the terminal operations’ overall efficiency for the port and stakeholders.

Port officials describe the new terminal gate complex as a “state-of-the-art facility” that will streamline terminal gate operations, in addition to helping improve the traffic flow of incoming and outgoing rigs.

The Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD) allocated about $27 million of the total $50 million of DoD funds for the third phase of the port improvement program, which began in April 2014.

Prior to the renovation, the gatehouse could only accommodate one or two trucks at a time entering and exiting the yard. However, the new gate complex should be able to now accommodate a line of trucks, according to Variety files.

In February, port officials found three major cavities in the port yard, which they said would delay the completion of the final phase of the improvement project, which is projected to be complete around October.

The first phase of the port improvement project was the container freight station building modification project which was completed in January, followed by demolition of select areas and break-bulk yard modifications, which added 10 acres to the break-bulk yard, according to a port news release.

According to a statement from MARAD, DoD designated the Guam port as one of 17 key “strategic” commercial ports across the country. With the improved port facilities, the port is better able to “meet the demands of an expanding military presence” on the island as well as meet the needs of commercial growth, the MARAD statement said.

Residents urged to import live chickens early

Tuesday, 04 Aug 2015 03:00am


Men in hazardous material suits load dead poultry last year, during an outbreak of HPAI that claimed the lives of 50 million chickens and turkeys in the U.S. AP photo

THE Department of Agriculture is hoping to skirt any incidents of bird flu on island and is recommending residents who are considering importing live poultry do so immediately, before more states in the mainland are banned from exporting live poultry to Guam, according to a statement from the department.

Acting Director Matthew Sablan said the department’s recommendation is mostly directed to residents who may want to import live chickens.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is advising those interested in importing live poultry from the mainland over the next year to do so sooner because there will likely be a widespread epidemic of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) during the fall this year, according to a statement.

HPAI virus occurs mainly in birds and is highly contagious among birds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus is especially deadly for poultry. CDC officials have said there has not been an HPAI Asian H5NI virus infection in people in the United States.

Last year, an outbreak of HPAI claimed the lives of 50 million chickens and turkeys in the U.S. and was considered the worst outbreak of HPAI in American history. About 22 states were affected by the pandemic and the situation has improved, according to a release.

Department of Agriculture officials on Guam anticipate more states might be prohibited from exporting live poultry to Guam and encouraged poultry importers to import soon. Currently three states – Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota – are banned from exporting poultry to Guam.

Could increase

According to a statement from the local agriculture department, “The number of states banned from exporting could increase again this fall.”

No incidents of avian flu in poultry or in people have been reported on Guam.

In 2013, a type of avian flu flared up in China, leading to six deaths and a total of 21 confirmed infections in the country. The World Health Organization and the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services kept close watch over the avian flu developments in China.

While there is no evidence of person-to-person transmission of avian flu, health officials remain watchful. According to the CDC website, flu viruses are constantly changing and animal flu viruses may change so they might be able to infect people easily and spread among people, which would cause a pandemic.

While the risk of avian flu to human health is low, the CDC recommends taking precautions as most human infections of the avian flu have occurred after prolonged and close contact with infected sick or dead birds.

For more information about importing live poultry on Guam, contact the agriculture department at 300-7965.

Guam International Airport expands runway

Posted: Jul 28, 2015                Nestor Licanto    KUAM

Calling it a huge milestone in the Guam International Airport's history, officials celebrated the official opening of their new primary runway extension. It's a development they hope will be the launching pad for lucrative new business opportunities.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, airport executive manager Chuck Ada said it was the most significant project for the airport in almost twenty years, telling KUAM News "As you all know, with the extension of our primary runway which is 6 Left/24 Right, this was by far the largest, and most ambitious project outside of the terminal expansion itself which was completed in 1996."

It is the culmination of a seven-year, $70 million multi-phase capital improvement project funded mostly by the FAA. Other improvements included new taxiways, extension of a shorter parallel runway, and new approach lighting.

But the most significant is the 2,000 additional feet added to the primary runway - 1,000-thousand on each end.

Airport board chairman Ed Untalan explained what a difference 2,000 feet can make, saying, "This is very important in the strategic development, the future strategic development of the airport and the island as it now makes long-haul flights to the West Coast possible. Today marks the beginning of a new line of business for Guam, and the airport, the long haul travel business. We can now market the opportunity to connect to and from Guam globally with direct flights to the West Coast."

Direct flights will certainly cut travel time to the United States mainland, and presumably airfares, as well.

Lizama promoted to general

Wednesday, 29 Jul 2015 03:00am


First Guam airman promoted to general

A GUAMANIAN has attained the rank of brigadier general in the United States Air Force.

According to the Guam National Guard, this is a first for the island and will mark an historic day as a son of Guam is pinned with the star signifying the general rank in this branch of military.

According to Maj. Josephine Blas, spokeswoman for the Guam National Guard, Col. Johnny S. Lizama, current director of staff for Air, Joint Forces Headquarters, Guam National Guard, will be promoted today to the rank of brigadier general by Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo, who serves as commander-in-chief of the Guam National Guard.

Lizama was initially appointed at the federal level by President Obama on Feb 4. and confirmed by the Senate on March 27. His federal appointment means Lizama is recognized throughout the U.S. Armed Forces as a one-star general.

This is not always the case for all persons who hold the rank of general in the National Guard of the various states. If the individual was promoted by the governor to the rank of general, his authority is limited to the state of origin; though he may be promoted locally, if he is not promoted federally, in his travel – save for National Guard Bureau business – he is an officer at the rank of his federal military record.


Blas said the promotion ceremony will be historic because Lizama will become the first Chamorro airman to be promoted, and federally recognized, to the rank of brigadier general in both the Guam Air National Guard and the U.S. Air Force.

“He’ll be both locally and federally recognized,” Blas said. “For the Air Guard, this is significant, as it will be a first simply because we, as an organization, are still young – we just celebrated last week the 34th anniversary of our charter. As we mature, with the growing of the Guard on Guam, our members are now qualifying for the higher ranks.”

A promotion ceremony is scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. today at the Guam National Guard Readiness Center in Barrigada.

According to the Guam National Guard, as the director of staff for Air, Joint Forces Headquarters, Guam National Guard, Lizama exercises overall control of all Guam Air National Guard personnel, material and fiscal resources, and also serves as principal adviser to the adjutant general on matters pertaining to Air National Guard functions.

Lizama served in the United States Coast Guard Reserve and the U.S. Air Force before joining the Guam Air National Guard in 1988 as the 254th Services Flight Superintendent. He was instrumental in the organization of that new unit.

Lizama was commissioned in the Guam Air National Guard in July 1992 and was personnel programs officer, 254th Air Base Group. Subsequently, he became the director of personnel in the Active Guard Reserve program.

As the director of personnel and comptroller from 2002 to 2006, Lizama was instrumental in the planning and standup of the 254th Security Forces Squadron. He served as the commander of the 254th Air Base Group, Guam Air National Guard from August 2007 to September 2013 and was responsible for the overall command, control and supervision of all Guam Air National Guard units and activities and for attaining and maintaining maximum operational readiness capabilities.

FD alumni

Lizama is a 1977 graduate of Father Duenas Memorial School. He has a bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Guam, a master’s in public administration and human resources from Golden Gate University and is a graduate of the Air War College.

Lizama is married to Doris (Dee) Camacho San Nicolas from Santa Rita. They have four children and two grandchildren.

The late Brig. Gen. Vicente “Ben” Blaz became the first Guamanian to attain the rank of general in the United States military when he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in the Marine Corps in 1977. Blaz was also reportedly the first non-Caucasian Marine to attain the general officer rank.

GEDA board approves resolution on GovGuam bond bill

Wednesday, 29 Jul 2015 03:00am


To be considered in session today

AT A meeting yesterday, Guam Economic Development Authority board members voted in support of a GEDA resolution regarding recently introduced legislation that would allow the government to refinance two general obligation bonds, with the intent of helping the government save money.

Bill 130-33 was introduced June 18 by Sen. Michael San Nicolas and will be considered during the legislature’s session today. Session was requested by San Nicolas and will begin at 10 a.m. at the legislative session hall in Hagatna.

“As noted by the Guam Economic Development Authority, this bill must be passed by July 30 to reduce the risk of rising interest rates and to achieve $2 million in debt service savings in FY2015,” San Nicolas wrote to Speaker Judi Won Pat.

Yesterday, the GEDA board approved the distribution of a statement authorizing the execution of the bond purchase agreement as it relates to issuing a refunding bond, outlined in San Nicolas’ bill.

“We have presented to the legislature an opportunity to refund two government of Guam general obligation bonds from 2007 general obligation bond and the 2009 bond,” said Tina Garcia, GEDA public finance manager. “Together, we would refund an amount up to, but not to exceed $465 million.”

Low interest

Garcia said GEDA is taking advantage of the low interest rate environment and pushing for a speedy closing of the bonds. GEDA hopes to close the bonds by Sept. 4, to avoid the next principal payment and bring immediate cash flow savings to the government, Garcia told board members.

“We’re offering to refund the bonds with business privilege tax bonds because of the strength of the EPT credit, which is an A-grade credit, versus the general obligation, which is a B-(grade) credit,” Garcia said.

Garcia said based on GEDA’s analysis, the government could realize up to $48.9 million in gross savings or $30 million present-value savings, which would be about 8.1 percent savings to the government.

Garcia said GEDA anticipates the bill will be passed.

On July 17, a public hearing was held and GEDA testified in support of the bill, but recommended the law be changed to issue a business privilege tax bond instead of a general obligation bond, said John Rios, GEDA administrator.

According to the bill, this refunding of the bond “would not be additional debt” because it “specifically replaces existing debt with more favorable terms and conditions.”

The bill proposes to authorize the governor to issue a new general obligation bond to refund the two other general obligation bonds from 2007 and 2009 for more favorable interest rate conditions.

The bonds shall mature not later than Nov. 15, 2039 and shall bear interest at rates and be sold for such prices not exceeding 5.25 percent per annum, the legislation proposes.

Dededo Farmer's Co-op should open later this year

Posted: Jul 24, 2015

By Ken Quintanilla

Construction on the Guam Farmer's Co-Op facility in Dededo is set to be completed by the end of July, however, the opening most likely won't take place until later this year. Guam Economic Development Authority administrator John Rios says the addition of a water tank and pump required by the Guam Fire Department to help address low water pressure in the area has "pushed the overall schedule a bit."

He adds the flea market side of the overall project has been a challenge to complete, given the severe rain over the past year. He says half of the project is almost completely composed of site prep and paving- which is almost seven acres. Once the building is complete, the contractor will then commit all resources to finishing the paving.

The final leg of the project is expected to take up to three months. The total project handover to include the flea market will be complete by October.


Guam museum project more than halfway complete

Posted: Jul 24, 2015 By Ken Quintanilla

Construction on the Guam Chamorro and Educational Facility continues to progress in the island's capital of Hagatna. Guam Economic Development Authority administrator John Rios says 60% of construction is complete. He says contractor Inland Builders is currently working on the third floor walls, beams and columns and should complete this portion by the end of July.

Rios adds the contractor has communicated that the roof cap will be completed by the end of August with the iconic arches of the structure to be completed by October. Overall construction is expected to be done by December 29 and opened in time for the Festival of Pacific Arts in summer of 2016.

Benavente is permanent general manager of GPA

Saturday, 25 Jul 2015 03:00am


THE Consolidated Commission on Utilities has named John Benavente as the permanent general manager of the Guam Power Authority.

The commission made the decision during its meeting Thursday.

“Out of all the candidates who were considered and interviewed we believe that John is the best qualified,” said Joey Duenas, CCU chairman. “John has demonstrated leadership with many years of success with the Authority. We have great confidence in John’s ability to continue to move our agency forward in a positive direction.”

Duenas said the commission is continuing its search for a candidate for the position of chief finance officer. “GPA is fortunate to have the current finance staff capable of addressing the many needs of the agency,” he added.

Benavente assumed the position of interim general manager of GPA in October 2014 following the retirement of Joaquin C. Flores.

He was appointed Consolidated Utility Services general manager in June 2005 to oversee GPA and the Guam Waterworks Authority.

Benavente has over 35 years of technical, engineering and management experience in the power- and water-related fields both in the government and private sectors. He previously served as the general manager of GPA for nine years.

Benavente holds a Master of Science in Engineering Management degree from the University of Missouri (Rolla) and a Bachelor of Science Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Dayton. He is also a registered Professional Mechanical Engineer in Guam.


GWA says fate of Fena is yet to be determined

Monday, 27 Jul 2015 03:00am


THE future operation of the Fena Valley Reservoir remains to be determined, according to Guam Waterworks Authority interim General Manager Mark Miller.

“The transfer of Fena Lake is presently not a part of our discussions,” Miller said, reacting to Speaker Judith Won Pat’s earlier disclosure that a draft document to integrate military and civilian water infrastructure is in its final stages at the policymaking level.

“We are mainly focused on identifying short- and long-term goals to successfully meet the overall objective of the possible integration and turnover of (Department of Defense) water infrastructure to GWA.”

According to Won Pat's office, the draft document is currently being reviewed by GWA and the Consolidated Commission on Utilities.

She said as the plan moves along, the ultimate decision on integrating systems will come from Congress.

Although a review of the draft by GWA and the CCU is not expected for some time, Miller said weekly meetings are being held between GWA and the Department of Defense on matters of common interest between the parties.

One such matter involves the preservation of Guam's northern aquifer. As part of those negotiations, GWA is awaiting a response from DoD on a letter of intent to utilize the DoD Tumon Maui water well. The letter was submitted last month, Miller said.


The plan to integrate water systems falls into a master plan that attempts to address what CCU Chairman Joseph Duenas called “50 years of neglect” on GWA’s water and wastewater systems. According to Miller, the plan was published in 2005 and outlines 25 years of infrastructure needs in anticipation of economic and community growth.

The concept of integrating water systems stems from a 2010 memorandum of understanding between GWA and the U.S. Navy. The purpose of the MOU was to plan joint cooperation between GWA and DOD with regard to the parties’ utility systems in anticipation of the military buildup.

Miller said current talks between GWA and DOD involve looking at the existing waters systems and identifying areas where integration can already take place. One area of interest involves coordinating the opening or closing of water control valves that presently separate the systems.

“These interconnections existed from a time when GWA did not have water infrastructures in some island areas and relied on DOD water to supply its customers,” Miller said. “GWA over the years has built its own infrastructure and has very few areas that remain reliant on DOD-supplied water for its customers.”

Costs and savings

Miller said it was too early to provide specifics on how integrating systems could affect rate payers. However, he did state that as part of ongoing discussions, some change is expected. 

Miller also said that DoD could become a GWA ratepayer. “Our discussions have included DoD possibly becoming a ratepayer to GWA. GWA has provided DoD our rates,” he said.

He added that cost-saving measures are expected as well. One expectation for both parties is a reduction in energy costs for pumping water to the far ends of the island. “For example, GWA could provide water to Naval Hospital by utilizing the nearby GWA wells and reservoir,” Miller said. “The Navy presently pumps water all the way from the Fena treatment plant in Santa Rita to Naval Hospital utilizing several pump stations along the way.”

He said integration could also allow both parties to meet growing consumer demand without having to build new infrastructure.

US Attorney, Tinian Dynasty settle casino case

Saturday, 25 Jul 2015 03:00am


THE U.S. Attorney for the Districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands and Tinian Dynasty and Casino have entered into a non-prosecution agreement that requires the hotel to forfeit $3 million, the largest forfeiture ever collected by the United States in the CNMI.

According to the U.S. Attorney, the agreement also obligates Tinian Dynasty to fully cooperate with the United States in ongoing criminal investigations and to comply with federal reporting and other regulatory requirements.

The U.S. Attorney said the federal government – in its sole discretion – can rescind the agreement and initiate criminal proceedings should the government determine that Tinian Dynasty has failed to comply with any provision of the agreement.

Tinian Dynasty is owned by Hong Kong Entertainment Investments (HKE).

The agreement further requires the hotel to implement new policies and procedures to ensure stringent compliance with federal law. This will assist the Internal Revenue Service and the Gaming Commission to better identify all taxable revenue, according to the U.S. Attorney.

The U.S. government prosecuted HKE for suspicious activity and failure to file reports on currency transactions as required by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

On Nov. 20, 2014, a federal grand jury returned a second superseding indictment that charged Tinian Dynasty with one count of conspiracy for failure to file the required transaction reports.

The indictment included 155 counts of failure to file reports and one count of failure to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program.

Tinian Dynasty allegedly did not fully identify and disclose all individuals whose gambling activities should have legally triggered a BSA report.

Failure to report

The indictment charged Tinian Dynasty for failure to report over $138 million in reportable cash transactions between Oct. 1, 2009 and April 25, 2013. It was estimated that TDHC failed to report 3,640 separate cash transactions during this same time period.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said it will closely monitor Tinian Dynasty to ensure compliance with their reporting requirements under federal law as well as under the terms of the agreement.  “Casino reporting requirements under the Bank Secrecy Act are an important means of preventing abuse of our financial system by those seeking to conceal ill-gotten gains or evade their tax obligations,” said Teri L. Alexander, special agent in charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in Seattle, Washington.

Alexander added that the requirement for Tinian Dynasty to fully cooperate with IRS is an important step in ensuring that those who may be trying to evade reporting requirements are detected.

The Bank Secrecy Act requires that financial institutions and certain businesses, including casinos with annual gaming revenue in excess of $1 million, be vigilant in detecting and reporting activity that may indicate that money laundering, or other financial crimes, are being committed, and that the casino implement and maintain an effective anti-money laundering program.

The law requires casinos to file a “Currency Transaction Report for Casinos” for transactions that involve more than $10,000 in cash.

“Under the BSA and its implementing regulations, financial institutions that fail to adequately know its customers and screen their transactions for suspicious activities can be exploited by criminals,” U.S. Attorney Alicia A.G. Limtiaco said. “Financial institutions that do not comply with the BSA also gain an unfair competitive advantage within the industry. The IRS CI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Department of Justice will continue to partner together to ensure casinos, financial institutions, and businesses comply with the requirements of the BSA and other regulations.”

Airport awarded $34.4M from FAA

Thursday, 23 Jul 2015 03:00am


THE Guam International Airport Authority has been awarded $34.4 million from the Federal Aviation Administration for the last phase of the airport’s runway rehabilitation project.

According to Rolenda Faasuamalie, airport marketing administrator, the fifth phase of the rehabilitation of primary runway 6L/24R has been completed which consisted of strengthening the runway asphalt.

Faasuamalie said the funding will be used to pay for the work completed on the primary runway. Inspection of the runway by the FAA is ongoing, however, the primary runway is scheduled to open on July 27 at 5:30 p.m.

According to a press release from the airport, the rehabilitation is part of the multi-phase/ multi-project capital improvement program which extended the Airport’s primary runway from 10,000 to 12,000 linear feet.

The extended runway allows for fully loaded, long-range aircraft to land or take off to or from the U.S. West Coast nonstop. Over $70 million has been invested in facility enhancements, improvements and navigational aids related to the extension of Guam’s primary runway since 2008.

With the completion of the extended primary runway the airport now has two active runways. Primary runway 6L/24R is 12,000 linear feet and the secondary runway 6R/24L is 10,000 linear feet. In addition there is a parallel taxiway which also allows for simultaneous take-offs and landings.



United Airlines to end Korea, Australia flights from Guam

Thursday, 23 Jul 2015 03:00am


UNITED Airlines confirmed yesterday that the company will discontinue its daily flights between Guam and Seoul’s Incheon International Airport in Korea and its twice weekly flights between Guam and Cairns, Australia.

The Guam-Cairns flights will end on Sept. 26. United will terminate flights between Seoul-Incheon and Guam on Sept. 30, according to a statement from the United Corporate Communications office.

“We have made this decision because the services’ financial performance did not meet our expectations,” United Corporate Communications officials said. “We will contact customers with bookings for flights beyond those dates to either offer them alternate travel plans or provide refunds.”

In its statement, the airline apologized for any inconvenience the discontinued flight service may have caused.

About nine months ago United added nonstop flights between Seoul and Guam. The daily flight service started on Oct. 27. The start of daily nonstop service to Korea was a reflection of changing conditions on Guam as the number of Korean visitors continued to show growth, according to Variety files.

The airline operates the route with Boeing 737-800 aircraft with 155 seats, including 14 in business class. The flight leaves Guam at 8:05 a.m. and arrives at Incheon airport at 12:10 p.m. daily. The returning flight departs Incheon at 10:25 p.m. and arrives on Guam at 4 a.m. the next day, according to the airline.

According to Variety files, officials with United aimed to compete with low-cost carriers that serve most Korean visitors to Guam. Korean low-cost carriers including Jin Air, Jeju Air, T’Way Air, and, most recently, Air Busan continue to service Guam.

A web search of flights in August on Jin Air and Jeju Air shows that round-trip economy tickets from Incheon to A.B. Won Pat International Airport start at $265 and $476, respectively.

The same flight, nonstop, round-trip economy on United starts at $686, according to the airlines Web flight search feature.

A round-trip economy ticket in August on United’s twice weekly flight to Cairns starts at about $870, according to a web search.


Agat Marina restaurant contract in final stages

Thursday, 23 Jul 2015 03:00am


KALS Corp. will lease the restaurant space at the Agat Marina and is in the final stages of closing on an agreement to do so.

Yesterday, the Port Authority of Guam board of directors authorized port management to enter into an agreement with Kals Corp, according to Brown. The board held a special meeting to address this and a handful of other items.

“I know they’re anxious to actually get into the facility and actually getting it back into operation,” Brown said. “We’re planning our ribbon-cutting for Docks C and D to coincide with the re-opening of the restaurant.”

The space that Kals will take over used to house the popular Jan Z’s By the Sea restaurant.

The port spent about $30,000 to repair a dropped ceiling, renovate wiring, doors, widows, cracks on the outside of the building and make other improvements to the building, according to Variety files. The port also expects to install a new air-conditioning system.

Kals Corp. also operates Avenue Steak and Lobster restaurant in the Outrigger Resort Guam in Tumon.

Also undergoing renovation at the Agat Marina are Docks C and D.  The docks were wooden and in bad shape when rough waters from recent tropical storms wrecked them.

In 2013, Tropical Storm Wipha and Tropical Storm Francisco brought wind and waters rough enough to snap Dock D in half, leaving resident mariners without a pier to dock their boats.

In 2014, Tropical Depression 9W and Tropical Storm Halong caused damage to Dock C, which port officials then condemned as unfit for use.

According to Brown, the docks had not been upgraded in the last 20 years, prior to the recent renovations that will be complete soon.

Senators briefed on SEIS

Thursday, 23 Jul 2015 03:00am


 “THE devil is in the details,” said Speaker Judith Won after being briefed by the Navy on the final supplemental environmental impact statement regarding preparations for the transfer of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, commander of Joint Region Marianas, agreed. “We also have some homework items we owe to the legislature,” Bolivar said.

Bolivar and members of the Joint Guam Program Office spent more than an hour and a half briefing several of the island’s lawmakers in a closed-door meeting at the legislature.

Bolivar said the briefing spanned a host of issues, some unrelated to the SEIS, but related to the organic growth of the entire island community.

Among the items discussed with JGPO was the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s hold on the wildlife refuge at Ritidian. Bolivar told lawmakers that the Navy expects to come to an agreement with FWS on the issue.

Won Pat said she remained concerned about the artifacts and the latte sites contained in the areas to be developed for the Marine facilities.

Won Pat said senators were concerned with the impact on the civilian community, such as the sustainability of the island’s infrastructure, the effect on the roadways, water, power and wastewater, the landfill and related matters.

Navy is listening

Bolivar said the Navy is listening and that was part of the “homework” she referenced as she committed to responding to the concerns of the lawmakers. 

“The 2010 draft EIS was very difficult, very challenging for our island, but over the last few years we’ve been listening – not only to the government of Guam but to the people of our 'One Guam'  and we’ve made some great strides,” Bolivar said after the meeting.

The admiral emphasized that the SEIS going forward incorporates the four pillars offered in 2011. “The inputs that the people of Guam have given us as well as the government have all been taken into consideration,” Bolivar said.

Won Pat acknowledged that this time around there is a smoother approach by the military. The speaker added that under Bolivar’s command, she felt a more thoughtful consideration and concession on issues that concern the people of Guam were included.

“They realized their mistake. When they came in, they came in hard and fast and big,” Won Pat said. “The great thing today is that yes, they said they are listening, we were shown a chart that compared the 2010 FEIS process to this FEIS and they didn’t want to make the same mistakes with this SEIS process.”

The speaker said the Navy provided a general summary of what was in the SEIS packet. “We wanted to learn what the mitigations are. And so we (senators) will be going into the individual chapters to learn those impacts,” Won Pat said.

Bolivar said that her team explained the main components of the four pillars. “The (SEIS) basically ties into the four pillars that we were able to build together,” said Bolivar.

These pillars are:

  • Shrinking the DoD footprint by the end of the buildup;

  • 24/7 unimpeded access to the Chamorro cultural and historical site at Pågat Village and Pågat Cave in the area below the cliff line to the east of Route 15 (DoD’s initial plans had the Marines live-fire training ranges in the area. That has changed and Pågat Village and the cave site will remain accessible at all times);

  • Using a “One Guam” approach to ensure that civilian infrastructure is also improved; and

  • Employing a “Green Guam” approach to bolster island sustainability and protect natural resources.

    Much to do

    “We still have so much to do,” Bolivar said. “And each and every day we’re going try to make sure that we work with our One Guam partners to ensure efficiency in terms of sustainability and compatibility as it ties in to our host community which is Guam.”

    The original record of decision for the final EIS was signed on Sept. 20, 2010. The supplemental study was mandated by a federal court as the result of a lawsuit that challenged the selection of Pågat as the site of the live-fire training range complex. The new ROD is expected to be signed in about 30 days.

    Bolivar said JGPO will also meet with island mayors in the coming days.

    According a JGPO media release accompanying the EIS, “With the release of the final SEIS, the Department of the Navy has identified a new preferred alternative that was not identified in the draft SEIS.

    The Department of the Navy changed its preferred alternative based on continued analysis of reasonable alternatives and feedback from the public as well as local and federal agencies during the draft SEIS public comment period.

    The new preferred alternative is to construct and operate a cantonment area at the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Site at Finegayan, a family housing area at Andersen Air Force Base, and a live-fire training range complex at Northwest Field on Andersen. This preferred alternative is not a final decision and may change from the release of the dinal SEIS to the signing of the record of decision.”

    Members of the island community interested in information contained in the supplemental environmental impact statement can find it in three places. It is available for public review at the Nieves Flores Memorial Library in Hagåtña, the Robert F. Kennedy Library at the University of Guam and online at http://guambuildupeis.us./.


Officials praise opening of new hospital

Tuesday, 21 Jul 2015 03:00am


FOUR years ago, Guam Regional Medical City officials were commemorating the pouring of the foundation that is now the base of the new hospital building that towered over the crowd at yesterday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony in Dededo.

The project launched in 2011 but had been in progress long before that. In 2011, Pete Sgro, president and chairman of the Guam Healthcare and Hospital Development Foundation, called the hospital a vision four years in the making. Sgro said then that a private hospital would create significant positive impacts, according to Variety files.

Yesterday, Sgro echoed the sentiment of many officials that spoke at the ceremony and said, “More than anything else, I’m really, really happy for the people of Guam that they now have a choice in health care. It’s a state-of-the-art facility and it will reduce the number of people that go off-island.”

Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo said over the years, thousands of people have had to travel off-island for medical care that was unavailable on Guam and their families spent a great deal of money to be with them.

“Now we have that on Guam,” Bordallo said. “Now we have specialized health care. Our families can be with us at no additional cost and I think it will be a much more comfortable atmosphere.”

Dream come true

Gov. Eddie Calvo commended The Medical City for its newest facility. “This is one of those dreams that have come true,” he said. To GRMC CEO Margaret Bengzon, Calvo said, “I know there’ve been obstacles. But you have that can-do attitude that there’s no obstacle that cannot be overtaken and pushed through.”

The hospital was originally projected to open last year, but construction delays, including the addition of some facilities to the hospital, delayed the opening. In the end, the hospital cost about $240 million, about 10 percent over its original budget.

Sgro said that while the Guam Healthcare and Hospital Development Foundation was motivated to get the project going, they could not claim ownership over the hospital. “It was always for the people of Guam,” he said. “I’m personally proud that we did it.”

Margaret Bengzon said yesterday that the GRMC team, looking ahead, is focused on elevating and improving health care on Guam. “We need to get started on the real work,” she said.

Alfredo Bengzon, president and CEO of The Medical City, the parent company of GRMC, encouraged the community on Guam to embrace the “patients are partners” standard of health care.

“Health is every person’s right,” Alfredo Bengzon said.

Upon hearing that Gov. Calvo’s father’s favorite song is “The Impossible Dream,” Bengzon surprised Calvo and all in attendance with an impromptu performance of the song.

Bengzon and Calvo both good-naturedly sang the 1965 Broadway classic just before the ribbon cutting. Participants greeted the opening of the hospital, and Bengzon and Calvo’s performance, with a shower of applause.

The Dededo hospital has 130 patient beds and boasts specialty services that have not been offered to residents in Guam and the surrounding region. Often, residents who require specialty health care must fly to other hospitals in the Philippines or the U.S. mainland for treatment.

Specialty services

The hospital plans to offer specialty services, notably cancer care, cardiology services, electrophysiology, neurology, otolaryngology (ENT), ophthalmology, urology, hematology/oncology, wound care/hyperbaric medicine, endocrinology, radiology, and pathology.

GRMC began accepting patients at the start of this month, mostly for outpatient services and specialty consultation. About 200 patients have been seen to date.

The first elective surgery is tentatively scheduled for next week, according to Kevin Kerrigan, GRMC communication officer. Next month, the hyperbaric chambers will be available and the hospital’s emergency room is expected to open soon, though no date has been set, Kerrigan said.


According to Kerrigan, GRMC accepts the insurance coverage by StayWell, NetCare, Tricare, United Healthcare, Medicare/Medicaid and Medically Indigent Program.

GRMC is also accepting all Veterans Affairs referrals with proper authorization from the VA.

The hospital is working with TakeCare to reach coverage agreement, according to Kerrigan.

Guam engineering company awarded US Navy contract

Wednesday, 22 Jul 2015 03:00am


THE U.S. Navy announced last week that it has awarded WM Engineering Services of Tumon an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for mechanical architectural and engineering services for facilities and activities under the purview of Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas. The maximum value of the contract is $20 million, according to the Federal Business Opportunities website.

The duration of the contract is a one-year base period and four option periods. The contract is set aside for a certified Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) small business.

With the contract award, the company was awarded a $55,900 task order as a seed project. The initial project is to “provide energy solar hot water B2000 fiscal year 2016 project development; evaluate B2000 domestic hot water; provide information for FY2016 DD1391 development; and develop request for proposal documents,” according to the announcement.

DD1391 is a form used by DoD to submit and justify funding requests to the U.S. Congress.

Work for the task order is expected to be completed by November.

Planned projects under the contract include predominantly energy, fuel system facilities and upgrades; and mechanical engineering systems in building facilities. Work will be performed primarily in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, according to the Navy solicitation synopsis.

Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas is the contracting unit.


Edible marijuana products included in DPHSS draft rules

Wednesday, 22 Jul 2015 03:00am


THE Department of Public Health and Social Services last week published the first draft of the rules and regulations that will guide the medical marijuana program for Guam. Included in the draft are proposed rules for marijuana-infused edible products.

Even in the discussion stages, public health officials spoke of other ways medical marijuana might be consumed, including in edible products. Typically, marijuana is smoked, but the medical marijuana market in the U.S. mainland has grown to include edible products.

In the draft rules, DPHSS defines an edible food product as a substance, beverage or ingredient used or intended for use or for sale in whole or in part for human consumption. The department also took into account “medibles,” which it defines in the draft rules as “food or drink products for human consumption prepared or infused with cannabis as a medical alternative to smoking.”

A dispensary that opts to prepare, package, sell or dispense edibles must first have a sanitary permit and health certificate from the DPHSS Division of Environmental Health and follow applicable local food and sanitation laws regarding preparation, packaging, storing, selling and distributing, the draft states.

All medical marijuana products, both edible and nonedible, will also be labeled distinctly. DPHSS draft rules indicate that product labels should include the dispensary’s registry identification number, the amount, strain and batch number of medical marijuana and a disclaimer.


The disclaimer DPHSS has written in its draft rules states, “The Department of Public Health and Social Services’ Warning: Marijuana use can be addictive and can impair an individual’s ability to drive a motor vehicle or operate heavy machinery. Marijuana smoke contains carcinogens and can lead to an increased risk for cancer, tachycardia, hypertension, heart attack and lung infection. Keep out of reach of children.”

The patient’s name, registry identification number and a list of chemical additives, manufacture, harvest and sale dates are also items that DPHSS recommends to be on the product label. In the draft rules, DPHSS also proposes that edibles be labeled with total weight of the edible food product.

According to a study published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers studied edible marijuana products from three metropolitan areas on the U.S. West Coast and found that three out of every five edible products tested contained less THC than was indicated on the product label. THC is the chemical in marijuana responsible for its psychological effects on consumers.

In Guam’s draft rules, the health department included requirement for dispensaries and cultivation sites to submit samples for laboratory analysis. The lab will be responsible for testing medical marijuana products and verifying the products’ levels of pesticides, mold, mildew, THC, CBD and terpenoids. The lab must be qualified, compliant and licensed and registered by DPHSS and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the draft rules state.

With the draft completed, DPHSS has scheduled three public hearings on the 151-page document. The public hearings will be held Wednesday, July 29 and Thursday, July 30, from 9 to 11 a.m., at the public hearing room of the Guam Legislature in Hagatna; and Friday, July 30, from 3 to 6 p.m., at the Division of Senior Citizens conference room at the Castle Mall in Mangilao. The draft can be downloaded online and hard copies are available at the DEH office on the second floor of the DPHSS Mangilao facility.


Public hearings on medical marijuana rules set for this month

Monday, 20 Jul 2015 03:00am


THE Department of Public Health and Social Services published the first draft of medical marijuana rules and regulations for Guam and will host three public hearings at the end of this month, giving residents the chance to provide their input regarding the regulations.

The public hearings will be held Wednesday, July 29 and Thursday, July 30 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Guam Legislature public hearing room in Hagåtña; and Friday, July 31 from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Division of Senior Citizens conference room at the Castle Mall in Mangilao.

Interested individuals can download the draft rules from the Department of Public Health and Social Services’ website. It can be found under the announcements section of the site. Copies of the 151-page draft are also available to be picked up at the Division of Environmental Health office on the second floor of the DPHSS Mangilao facility.

While the first draft of the rules has been published, the proposed environmental impact statement is still pending.

“The economic impact statement must be completed and made available for review by the public prior to the first hearing – that is a requirement of Title 5 GCA Chapter 9. We don't have a firmer date than that yet, but it will be before July 29,” said Cynthia Naval, planner with the Division of Environmental Health. DEH is responsible for the EIS, according to the draft rules.

Naval said there will also likely be more drafts of the rules as DPHSS receives input from the public.


In November 2014, voters chose to legalize medicinal marijuana through a referendum and since the law’s enactment, the Department of Public Health and Social Services has been working to develop the draft rules and regulations.

In the draft regulations, and the law that allows medical marijuana, there are nine identified medical conditions considered “debilitating” for which marijuana may be prescribed. Medical marijuana will be considered a legal treatment for cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, HIV or AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, rheumatoid arthritis or similar chronic auto-immune inflammatory disorders. People who have damage to nervous tissue of the spinal cord or who are admitted to hospice care may also be legally prescribed marijuana for their health condition.

Also included in the list of debilitating medical conditions, as written in the draft rules and the law, are “any other medical condition, medical treatment or disease as approved by the department.”

Adding a medical condition to the current list, however, is an extensive process, as dictated in the draft rules.


The draft rules list a schedule of fees proposed for cultivation sites and marijuana dispensaries as well as fees for licenses, patient registration, renewal of licenses and others.

The DPHSS draft rules suggest a $35,000 fee for new registration certificates for dispensaries and cultivation sites. Renewal, a change of location for sites and facilities are also priced at $35,000 in the draft rules. This does not include the $1,000 proposed license application fee to apply to operate the dispensary or cultivation site and the proposed $1,000 to renew the license.

Qualified patients are required to register with DPHSS. Patient registration cards are proposed at a cost of $150 and $200 for designated caregivers. The suggested cost for registration identification cards for dispensaries, dispensary agents, cultivation sites and cultivation agents is $500 for each agent and dispensary and cultivation site.

Qualifying patients that provide proof of federal assistance may pay a $75 reduced fee for their registration identification card.

Guam joins 22 states and the District of Columbia that now allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs. California was the first to allow medical marijuana in 1996.

BBQ Block Party draws thousands

Monday, 20 Jul 2015 03:00am


THE Pleasure Island district in Tumon was packed Saturday with local and visiting event-goers at the Guam Visitors Bureau’s third annual Barbecue Block Party.

Thousands of individuals were in the area for a night of music, live performances, arts and crafts, and the highlight of the event: the barbecue cook off competition. The combined aroma of all the competitors’ entry dishes filled the air and could be smelled throughout Tumon.

Event-goers were able to receive henna tattoos by Lawsonia Art, view art demonstrations by local artists Myracle Mugol, Lucas Storts and Austin Domingo, watch live performances by the Mt. Carmel Phoenix Stage Band, Love & Håfa Adai, and the Pacific Islands Club Pacific Fantasies Dance Group, and dine on turkey legs and barbecue.

Cook-off competitors were also able to sell their morsels to the public as the judges deliberated and the lines for barbecue stands stretched from the sidewalks to the parking lots across from SandCastle to halfway across the street.

“We estimate that about 8,000 people flocked to Pleasure Island in Tumon, making it the largest block party we ever had,” said Nathan Denight, GVB general manager. “A steady flow of people of all ages could be seen lining up for barbecue plates and patronizing our different local vendors throughout the night. It was a good mix of not only local residents, but also visitors and military service members.”

'Champion Grillmaster'

During the event, cook-off competitors were judged in three categories – pork, chicken and beef. However, only one received the overall award and the title “Champion Grillmaster.” According to Sonny Orsini, team caption of Team Asu Smokehouse, the challenging part of this year`s competition was that the competitors were given a whole-peeled knuckle, a very lean piece of meat with little to no fat and has a tendency of becoming dry if not prepared properly.

Near the end of the evening, Asu Smokehouse successfully defended its title as Champion Grillmaster out of nine teams and were awarded best overall.

Asu Smokehouse also won the beef category, while Meskla won best in the chicken category and Outrigger was named best in pork.

“We are humble and grateful for all the love and support we`ve been given for the last three years since opening Asu and we could not have come this far without it,” Orsini said. “Me and my brother (Buddy) compete for the love of food and we have mutual respect for each one`s craft and art.

Navy releases final SEIS

Saturday, 18 Jul 2015 03:00am


http://mvguam.com/images/resized/images/stories/localnews/071815/top_200_200.jpgRecord of Decision coming soon

THE federal government last night released the final supplemental environmental impact statement on the U.S. Marine Corps relocation plan, which is expected to be followed shortly by the Record of Decision that will cap the environmental review process and finalize the U.S. Navy’s actions related to the military buildup on Guam and the CNMI.

The Calvo administration said it expects the ROD to be released by the end of summer.

Both documents were originally anticipated to be released last month but the Navy pushed the schedule back, pending further discussion with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on building a suitable recovery habitat for the endangered Micronesia kingfisher.

According to the final EIS, the preferred alternative for a live-fire training complex at Northwest Field would comprise approximately 4,016 acres. Although this alternative would not require acquisition of lands, access to areas within the Ritidian Unit of the Guam National Wildlife Refuge that fall within the boundaries of the surface danger zones (SDZs) would be restricted when ranges are in use.

“The Department of the Navy would pursue an agreement with USFWS in accordance with ... the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which would allow for the continued management of the Ritidian Unit consistent with the purposes for which it was established and the operation of the range SDZs associated with the (live-fire training complex) preferred alternative at (Northwest Field),” the EIS states.

The Navy said it anticipates that access restrictions will be addressed in this agreement.

For the cantonment site, the Navy’s preferred alternative is to construct and operate a cantonment at Finegayan and a family housing area at Andersen Air Force Base, plus a live-fire training complex at Northwest Field.

“This preferred alternative is different than what was identified in the draft SEIS. Similar to the draft SEIS preferred alternative (Alternative A [cantonment and family housing at Finegayan]), this new preferred alternative still meets Marine Corps operational requirements, maximizes the use of federal land on Guam, and optimizes operational efficiencies due to the relative proximity of the cantonment and (live-fire training complex) to one another,” the EIS states.

“The preferred alternative with Finegayan cantonment/AAFB family housing would comprise approximately 1,751 acres of federally owned land. The cantonment area at Finegayan is bounded on the north by NWF (Northwest Field) and Route 3, and on the west by a cliffline (within Department of Defense property), the Haputo Ecological Reserve Area (ERA), and the Philippine Sea. The site is also bounded to the east by limited residential development and to the south by the Dos Amantes planned area, also known as the former Harmon Village (non-federal property),” the EIS said.

According to a press release from Adelup, representatives of the Joint Guam Program Office will provide Gov. Eddie Calvo with a briefing on Monday. In the discussions held thus far, the agreement between the Department of Defense and Office of the Governor fashioned several years ago are being honored.

The draft document, which supplements the final EIS for the planned transfer of 5,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam, expands the scope of the study for the proposed live-fire training range complex on Guam based on the 2012 adjustments made to the program.

The original Record of Decision for the final EIS was signed on Sept. 20, 2010. The supplemental study was mandated by a federal court as the result of a lawsuit that challenged the selection of Pågat as the site of the live-fire training range complex.



Guam officials pleased with final SEIS on Marine relocation plan

Monday, 20 Jul 2015 03:00am


KEY officials of the government of Guam were pleased with the final supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) on the U.S. Marine Corps relocation plan, which was released by the federal government Friday night.

Sen. Frank Aguon Jr. in an initial release early Saturday morning said he felt the SEIS actually took into account the sentiments of the majority of the public. “Based on my initial review of the SEIS, I am confident with the gradual approach that has been taken through the downsizing of the proposed Marine Corps buildup on Guam,” said Aguon, legislative buildup chairman. “Moreover, the smaller footprint on Guam demonstrates that the Department of Defense has listened and responded to the concerns of the people of Guam.”

Echoing Aguon’s sentiments, Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo lauded the new timeline and reflection of community concerns. “This is a very important step forward in the relocation effort, and the Department of Defense has worked diligently to address the core concerns that were raised by our community,” Bordallo said. “Further, the new relocation plan occurs over a more manageable timeline that will minimize adverse impacts on our community.”

Bordallo said she believed the preferred sites for the main base and the firing range are in appropriate locations on Guam that do not require any additional land from the government of Guam or private owners.


Gov. Eddie Calvo touted his administration’s efforts and said he believes the SEIS incorporated concerns he shared at the onset of his administration taking the helm with then-Under Secretary of the Navy Robert Work in 2011 which included four pillars of the military buildup. In January 2011 during a visit to Guam, Work announced the approach to a smaller, more manageable buildup plan.

The concerns originated in part with the 30th Guam Legislature.

The pillars include: 1) Shrinking the DoD footprint by the end of the buildup; 2) Twenty-four/seven unimpeded access to the Chamorro cultural and historical site at Pågat Village and Pågat Cave in the area below the cliff line to the east of Route 15 (DoD’s initial plans would have required control of the area, prohibiting military personnel and civilians from the area while some of the live fire ranges were being used. That has changed and access to Pågat Village and the cave site below the cliff line will remain accessible at all times); 3) Using a “One Guam” approach to ensure that civilian infrastructure is also improved; and 4) Employing a “Green Guam” approach to bolster island sustainability and protect natural resources.

In 2013, the military informed the governor that the preferred sites for the Marine Corps training range and housing area would fall within their existing property inventory, specifically:

  • The live-fire training range complex moved to Northwest Field;

  • The Marine cantonment area will be at Naval Computer Telecommunications Site; and

  • The Marine family housing will be redirected to Andersen Air Force Base.

    “Those four pillars remain at the core of our agreement to supporting a military buildup on Guam.”


    On Friday evening, the SEIS was released. This step finalizes the process before the final Record of Decision is released which would cap the environmental review process and finalize the U.S. Navy’s actions related to the military buildup on Guam and the CNMI.

    The Calvo administration said it expects the ROD to be released by the end of summer.

    Both documents were originally anticipated to be released last month but the Navy pushed the schedule back, pending further discussion with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on building a suitable recovery habitat for the endangered Micronesia kingfisher.

    Representatives of the Joint Guam Program Office are expected to provide Calvo with a briefing on Monday. The draft document, which supplements the final EIS for the planned transfer of 5,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam, expands the scope of the study for the proposed live-fire training range complex on Guam based on the 2012 adjustments made to the program.

    The original Record of Decision for the final EIS was signed on Sept. 20, 2010. The supplemental study was mandated by a federal court as the result of a lawsuit that challenged the selection of Pågat as the site of the live-fire training range complex.


Power rate increase approved

Monday, 20 Jul 2015 03:00am


THE Public Utilities Commission has approved a 1.4 percent increase in the Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause (LEAC), which will go into effect on Aug. 1 and remain at that level until Jan. 31, according to Consolidated Commission on Utilities Chairman Joseph Duenas.

He said the increase is in the total monthly bill. “If your bill is $1,000, you’ll owe $1,014.20,” Duenas said, adding that the increase can be attributed to the fluctuating cost of fuel.

Duenas said prices are estimated for a six-month period and charges are dependent on what the commission believes will be the cost of generating power. The difference between revenue and costs are considered when the next LEAC is up for approval at the end of the six-month period.

“At the end of the six months, we should end up with zero,” Duenas said. “If we end up with too much money, we include that in the next LEAC. We say we’re going to lower the next LEAC by that amount. If we don’t recover enough then we’re going to have to increase (the LEAC) based on what the price of oil is.”

He added that the six-month block is an attempt to levelize energy costs for consumers. The price for oil fluctuates within the six-month period. Duenas said the Guam Power Authority is in a fuel oil contract with Hyundai. The price Hyundai charges to ship a barrel of oil is the price GPA must pay per barrel on top of a fixed premium for shipping insurance, and blending charges.

“We try to estimate what our shipment will be and try and figure what the price will be ... for this six-month period – this is what we have to get from the customer to recover the oil,” Duenas said.