Local and International News Briefs
ASHPO GIVING OUT FREE CALENDARS FOR 2013
The American Samoa Historical Protection Office (ASHPO) is handing out free calendars for 2013. This year’s calendar is a tribute to the local KVZK TV station, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This recognition, according to Historical Preservation Officer David Herdrich, means that their office will step in and conduct renovation and restoration work, if necessary, on the building.
Half of the calendar features old pictures of KVZK TV while the other half includes old World War II photos. According to Herdrich, KVZK TV was the first television station in the Pacific Islands outside of Australia and New Zealand, and this occurred during a time when it was hard to recruit qualified teachers to work in the territory.
Then Governor H. Rex Lee decided to bring educational television here and with the support of Ohio Congressman Michael J. Kirwan, KVZK TV became a reality. (The official name of the KVZK TV building is the Michael J. Kirwan Educational Television Center).
The calendar pinpoints not only federal and regular holidays, but also key dates in American Samoa’s history, like the day the first official US air mail was delivered to the territory, the day a Pan Am 707 crashed during an attempt to land at the local airport, and the day the new Government High School (later renamed Poyer School) was dedicated near the present day location of the canneries.
Production of the calendar was made possible through a grant from the US National Park Service, Department of Interior.
Herdrich said the number of calendars being distributed this year is a little less than last year, when ARRA funding made it possible to produce more. He said people can stop by and take up to five calendars at a time, as there needs to be enough for everyone.
“Some people look forward to sending these calendars off island to friends and relatives,” Herdrich said.
In addition to the calendar, ASHPO has other projects and goals in the works for this year. According to Herdrich, their office is currently looking to hire a historian intern and a staff archaeologist. Also, ASHPO intends to seek funding for the Old Fagatele Boys School for possible rehabilitation, and nominate the Sogelau Flag Pole site in Fagatogo to the National Register of Historic Places. This is in addition to developing historic preservation education materials for the territory and improving/updating their webpage (ASHPO.org)
This year, ASHPO will conduct an assessment of the Fagatogo Hydroelectric Plant, an architectural survey of historic buildings in American Samoa, and archaeological survey of Swains Island, rehabilitation work on the guns at Blunts Point, and an assessment of the KVZK TV building to see if any rehabilitation or restoration work is needed. (Everything on the KVZK TV building is original except for the roof which was replaced by FEMA after a hurricane).
ASHPO, which is under the umbrella of the Governor’s Office, is located in Nuuuli.
OHS PEDESTRIAN SAFETY PROGRAM PAYING FOR 24 SAFETY PATROL OFFICERS
A total of 24 people are getting paid $7 an hour for part time work as safety patrol officers for six local schools, thanks to the local Office of Highway Safety’s (OHS) Pedestrian Safety Program. The salary is much higher than the current minimum wage on island which is a little more than $4 an hour.
The program is funded by the US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and administered by OHS.
The Pedestrian Safety Program, which is highlighted in the OHS annual report for federal fiscal year 2012, aims to reduce the number of fatalities among pedestrians and bicyclists, and maintain the 0% school fatality rate and school aged pedestrian injuries in school zones during school hours.
Last year, only one pedestrian was killed in American Samoa. The year before that in 2011, as well as 2008 and 2009, there were no pedestrian fatalities at all in the territory. The program hopes to maintain those low figures by carrying out several planned activities which include the procurement of crossing safety guard equipment, conducting training, providing promotional items to schools, raising public awareness through outreach and paid media advertisements and, of course, funding school safety patrols.
Currently, six schools are enrolled in the program. They are: Tafuna High School, Pava’ia’i Elementary School, Marist St. Francis School, Aua Elementary School, Coleman Elementary School, and Lupelele Elementary School. Each school has 4 safety patrol officers who serve as crossing guards before and after school hours.
Since the beginning of the new fiscal year, there have been no school bus or pedestrian fatalities. The Pedestrian Safety Program aims to keep it that way.
LOCAL STATS SHOW USE OF SEAT BELTS, CHILD SAFETY RESTRAINTS WELL BELOW NATIONAL AVERAGE
About 75% of people in American Samoa are practicing the regular use of safety belts. While this is a big jump from the 46% six years ago in 2006, the figures are still below the national average. (The goal is to achieve an 80% usage rate by the end of this year).
According to the annual report for federal fiscal year 2012 submitted to the US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration by the American Samoa Office of Highway Safety (OHS), increased enforcement is necessary in order to get local motorists to buckle up and enforce the use of child safety restraints — both of which are critical to saving lives.
Last year, there was a significant increase in the enforcement of the seat belt law during grant —funded enforcement activities, including the national campaign week of “Click It or Ticket.”
According to the report, a total of 1185 seatbelt citations were issued last year, 614 of which were issued during grant funded activities, and the percentage of local people who used their safety belts has climbed since 2006. Data reveals that the figure went from 46% in 2006 to 50% in 2007, before it increased to 56% in 2008. The percentage then rose to 58% in 2009, jumping to 73% in 2010, increasing to 77% in 2011, and then finishing off 2012 at 75%
The increase in the use of safety belts can be credited for the significant drop in the number of injured persons, serious injuries, and fatalities during car crashes in American Samoa over the past six years.
However, there is still work to be done. While the use of seat belts has increased among local motorists, the use of child safety restraints has dropped by 2%
Many people would rather carry their children on their lap or place them on one of the seats during car rides, thinking nothing will happen to the child without the proper restraints. Frankly, some people just don’t want to spend the money to buy a child’s car seat, which can cost around $100.
It should be noted that there are certain times when OHS, through the Department of Human and Social Services, provides free infant car seats and booster chairs locally, however, OHS must be contacted for details.
To help increase the use of seat belts and child restraints, OHS’s Occupant Safety Program has several planned activities, which include continued enforcement of safety belt use to achieve the goal of 80% usage rate. OHS also plans to provide child safety seats at check point and fitting stations, to install or replace unsafe seats, provide child passenger safety training for technicians and parents, and increase the use of child restraints through paid media campaigns demonstrating appropriate installation and use of car seats.
The program also plans to provide educational and promotional materials to support training and enforcement, as well as to procure car seats and provide training for their proper use.
OHS continues to remind everyone to buckle up and make sure our children are placed in proper restraints every time they are in a moving vehicle, for their own safety and protection.
The OHS is under the Department of Public Safety and coordinated by Fred Scanlan. The Occupant Protection Program is managed by David Bird.
GUN CONTROL UPDATE
WASHINGTON (AP) — Acknowledging strong opposition and conceding "this will be difficult," President Barack Obama urges Congress to require background checks for all gun sales and ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines to curb gun violence in America. One month after the Connecticut school shootings, he signs 23 executive actions on his own but concedes their lesser impact.
The National Rifle Association launches a harsh attack in a web video criticizing Obama's new push for gun-control measures.
RUSSIA-US ADOPTION LIMBO
MOSCOW (AP) — From their faraway homes in the American West, the two couples made repeated missions of love to Moscow, each seeking to adopt children with Down syndrome. Now, with court approval at last in hand, a political squabble with a trace of Cold War friction has derailed those plans, leaving them in anxious limbo