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reporters@samoanews.com

SANTA COMES EARLY FOR GOVERNMENT RETIREES

Santa Claus arrived a few days early for some retirees of the American Samoa Government, bringing good cheer and laughter by providing monthly benefit checks in advance of the usual date.

ASG Employees Retirement Fund usually releases benefit checks on the 15th and the 30th of every month. However, instead of waiting for the end of December to release the next batch of benefit checks, the retirement office released them yesterday, which some retirees described as “Santa” coming early after hearing the “great news”.

“We do this every year, releasing the checks prior to the 30th of December because of Christmas to help retirees and their families,” said Retirement Fund Office director Filisouaiga Ta’afua, who noted that some 400 retirees got their benefit checks yesterday.

NEW INFORMATION ON OFFICER KILLED IN LINE OF DUTY 20 YEARS AGO

The widow of a police officer killed in the line of duty two decades ago has provided more information on what happened to her husband, who was responding to a call for police assistance at an incident in Pago Pago.

Tu’umafua Fasi Ta’ase contacted Samoa News last Friday following a story about the families of two Army Reservists from American Samoa killed in the Iraq war and three police officers who died in the line of duty being recognized Wednesday night with the Gold Family license plate from Gov. Togiola Tulafono.

Samoa News reported, that one of the officers was Pati Ta’ase but Tu’umafua says her late husband’s first name is “Fasi”, who died June 1981 at the age of 43 when their six children were very young. (Samoa News apologies for the error in the first name)

Asked for some details about what happened, she explained that her husband responded to a call about a public disturbance at the former Tepatasi night club in Pago Pago and Fasi stepped outside of the police vehicle unit heading to the area of the now closed business establishment when he was hit by an assailant on the back of his neck and fell unconscious.

She said her husband never regained consciousness and was later pronounced dead. At the time of his death the couple and their children were living in Aoa, the home village of the late fallen police officer, and the family has since moved to Tafuna.

She said she still remembered this information about her husband’s sudden death, 20 years later.

POST OFFICE TO OPEN TWO HOURS LONGER ON CHRISTMAS EVE

The U.S. Post Office in Fagatogo will extend its hours of operation on Christmas Eve, a Saturday, to ensure that residents expecting gifts and other holiday packages from off-island friends and relatives are received in time for Christmas Day.

Pago Pago Post Master Aneterea Ioane said on KVZK-TV on Monday afternoon that the Post Office will be opened from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Christmas Eve (Dec. 24th), a Saturday.  The  regular business hours on Saturdays are from  9a.m. to 12noon.

The next cargo flight to arrive before Christmas is this Friday with more holiday mail onboard. The Post Office will be closed Christmas Day which is a Sunday.

HEALTH DEPARTMENT ASKED TO REVIEW HOW TO ASSIST PUBLIC AT CLINICS

Gov. Togiola Tulafono has requested the Department of Health to provide a report on how the DOH clinics can assist the general public if the LBJ Medical Center goes ahead with its planned facility fee hikes, effective Christmas Eve.

Togiola says the government needs to look at all available options to ensure there are no interruptions in medical services to the community when residents cannot afford to go to hospital due to the high rates.

He says that maybe the clinics, or community health centers, can accommodate most cases while urgent and emergency cases are referred to the hospital. 

Faced with a projected $15 million to $16 million shortfall for the current fiscal year, the hospital says it has no choice but to hike fees, especially when there is no guarantee that ASG will continue to provide subsidy payments in a timely manner.

LBJ is also unsure of the status of its Interior Department funding because Congress has not approved a full budget for the federal government for FY 2012.



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