Community Briefs

reporters@samoanews.com

FLAGS FLY HALF-STAFF FOR LATE LUALEMAGA E. FAOA

Lt. Gov. Lemanu Mauga has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff beginning at sunrise today, Wednesday, and continuing until sunset tomorrow in remembrance of the late Western District Governor, Lualemaga Etuati Tilotilo Faoa, who passed away Jan. 24 at LBJ hospital and will be laid to rest tomorrow.

In a Feb. 17 memo, Lemanu, who is also the acting governor, authorized the use of the American Samoa flag in Lualemaga’s two-day funeral service, which begins today. He also directed the Department of Public Safety “to present all appropriate honors and ceremony” as authorized by territorial protocol.

In the same memo, Lemanu ordered all flags in American Samoa to be lowered to half staff in remembrance of Lualemaga’s “outstanding public service and his dedication to our beloved Territory.”

Lemanu called on the people of American Samoa to join him in “honoring the passing” of Lualemaga. “His service to his government and to the people as an associate judge of the High Court, as a member of the Senate, and as district governor will be remembered,” Lemanu said. “His commitment and leadership shall stand as a legacy for us all to follow.”

IGIA MEETING IN D.C. MOVED TO THIS FRIDAY

The US Department of Interior announced late last week that the new date for the federal Interagency Group on Insular Areas (IGIA) meeting is now set for this Friday starting at 9a.m to address issues of concern to the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The IGIA meeting was initially announced by DOI to be held today.

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga is in Washington D.C. to attend the IGIA 2017 senior plenary session as well as other meetings. Congressional delegates from the territories along with their counterparts in the Executive Branch are also expected to attend.

According to the IGIA draft agenda released late last week, Interior’s acting assistant secretary for Insular Areas, Nikolao Pula, who is also the executive director of DOI’s Office of Insular Affairs, will deliver welcoming remarks along with two top officials with DOI and the White House.

Lolo along with US Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp and Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo will then address the gathering followed by presentations from US Department of Health and Human Services — on improving health services to the territories — and US Treasury Department on long term debt management and lessons learned from the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA).

The session closes at 12noon after final closing remarks from Pula and two other federal officials. 

Lolo is accompanied by some of his cabinet members at the IGIA meeting.                       

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL GROUP SPEAKS AT LOCAL GATHERING

Association for University Center for Excellence on Disabilities (AUCD) executive director, Andrew Imparato, is the keynote speaker on “Disability Rights” at Friday’s gathering hosted by the ASCC’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) at DDW restaurant.

Invitations have already gone out to lawmakers, members of the American Samoa Legal Aid and the American Samoa Bar Association, says UCEDD director Tafaimalo L. Tua-Tupuola.

Prior to working at AUCD, a national organization for 68 UCEDDs across the US and territories, Imparato was senior counsel and disability policy director for former U.S Sen. D. Harkin on the Committee for Health Education, Labor and Pensions, says Tua-Tupuola.

Two federal departments as well as the National Council have recognized his work on Independent Living and the National Association of the Deaf. He has testified before US congressional committees and has been interviewed by the national media on a wide range of disability issues.

“His leadership cultivates grassroots activism on social media and is known for seeking out and mentoring emerging leaders with disabilities,” said Tua-Tupuola.

POLYNESIAN AIR GETS ONLY 30-DAY WAIVER FOR MANU’A FLIGHTS

In accordance with current federal law, the US Transportation Department has granted only a 30-day cabotage waiver for the Samoa government own Polynesian Airlines to operate American Samoa’s domestic flights.

Last month, Polynesian sought a 12-month exemption, which would prevent the need for the airline to file duplicative requests for separate 30-day waivers. In a decision last week Thursday, USDOT granted only 30-days, effective Feb. 18 to Mar. 19 and deferred the rest of the airline’s request beyond Mar. 19th.

“I support the granting of the extension of cabotage exemption to ...Polynesian Airlines until such time a U.S. carrier can resume operations,” Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga wrote in a Jan. 26 letter to USDOT.

Polynesian has been operating flights between Tutuila and the Manu’a islands — Fitiuta Airport on Ta’u island and Ofu Airport on Ofu island — since 2014, due to the lack of a U.S carrier for the territory’s domestic air service.

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