Community News Briefs

compiled by Samoa News staff

HAWAIIAN AIR ADDS THREE FLIGHTS FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON —

To accommodate the usual peak in travel during the holiday season, Hawaiian Airlines has added three extra flights during the end of the year.

The airline confirmed that the extra flights will operate on Wednesdays, Dec. 20 & Dec. 27, 2017 and Jan. 3, 2018. Flights will arrive and depart Pago Pago at night, similar to current flight times on Fridays and Mondays.

Due to the overwhelming response to early check-in services in Pago Pago, the airline says it will continue to provide this service from 8a.m. to 4p.m. on the day of the flights. Passengers are reminded that they must present valid travel documents — such as a passport — upon check-in, so that “we may serve you more effectively and efficiently.”

Passengers can also check-in online at <www.hawaiianairlines.com> and can drop off their bags at the airport between 6:30p.m and 10p.m.

Of note: Immigration and the TSA close their services at 10:30 p.m. — which means you cannot board the flight if you miss their deadlines.

LOLO SIGNS BILL THAT PUTS SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY IN COMPLIANCE

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga signed last week, legislation, which provides an important “technical amendment” to the American Samoa Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, in order to comply with the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

In signing the bill into law, Lolo informed Fono leaders that full compliance with federal statute ensures maximum amount of federal money will flow to American Samoa “in support of our efforts to enforce our local SORNA law.”

Under the territory’s current law, Tier II offenders may have their registration periods reduced to 10 years if they maintain a clean record for 10 consecutive years, but this provision is not in compliance with SORNA, according to the governor.

The now approved amendment “will allow the government to continue monitoring individuals who have committed more severe sexual crimes,” he said.

There was strong support of the measure in both the Senate and House, after Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale testified about the importance of protecting children from being victims of sexual assault.

There are currently more than 100 sex offenders in the local sex offender registry, said Talauega, referring to the American Samoa Sex Offender Registry (ASSOR), which is overseen by his office.

PORT USERS REQUEST A 60-DAY REPRIEVE FROM FEE HIKE

Port users were taken by surprise by the Fono’s endorsement of the increase of wharfage fees and were not happy with it.

A meeting called by Port Director, Tamailelagi Dr. Claire Poumele this morning heard complaints from business people and port users who were able to attend a meeting in the port administration conference room to discuss the now approved increase in wharfage and dock charges.

When the meeting was scheduled the Senate had not passed the bill to increase the fees in final reading.

Port Deputy Director Christopher King addressed the audience of about 30, including cannery officials, shipping agents and importers. He said at the outset they did not expect the Fono to pass the measure just yet as there were indications the bill would be tabled. Those attending the meeting asked King to talk to Governor Lolo for a grace period of 60 days so they can thoroughly review the bill and how it will impact their operations.

Mrs. Isabel Hudson, one of the vocal participants of the meeting said that the port users were supposed to be given an opportunity to deliberate and discuss the hikes before the bill is passed.

Port Director Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Poumele responded that the business community has had two years to do this and the government is now implementing the hikes.

There was a public hearing on the wharfage and dock fee hikes in 2015 but the higher fees were put on hold since then. However they reappeared in the revenue generating bills that the administration submitted to the Fono, this year.

The bill which was first passed by the House and cleared the Senate in final reading last week calls for an immediate effective date after being signed by the governor.

(Source: talanei.com)

EPIC AWARDED DOJ FUNDS TO PROVIDE YOUTH OFFENDER REENTRY SERVICES

Local nonprofit Empowering Pacific Island Communities, Inc. (EPIC) has been awarded $300,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice to implement the American Samoa Youth Offender Reentry Program.

Managed by Executive Director Toetasi Fue Tuiteleleapaga, EPIC will provide a multi-faceted approach to helping youth offenders successfully transition from institutionalization to their families and communities. The primary objective is to remove all barriers which limit access to education, employment and stable housing.

A core component of the comprehensive program includes civil legal services as well as a coordinated care system including integrated, evidence based intervention and treatment services in addition to effective transitional support services such as mentoring, peer counseling and life skills training.

The target population for the program are justice involved youth between the ages of 16 and 24 who are being released or have recently been released from the Juvenile Detention Center, or any out-of-home placement in the territory as well as adjudicated cases under the jurisdiction of the Family, Drug and Alcohol Court.

Legal services available include record expungement, correction of records, reinstatement of driver’s licenses, and assistance with navigating public services for housing and employment opportunities and legal consultation.

Concurrently, youth participants will access behavioral health services and support including client intake, screening, clinical assessments, treatment planning, community-based treatment services, referral, care coordination and after-care.

Youth and families have access to family and group counseling, and peer support. Transitional support services include mentorship with a certified Community Mentor, skill development acquired through Botvin’s Life Skills Training and Job Readiness using Tackling Tough Skills, a workplace preparedness curriculum specifically designed for the offender population.

Our local program furthers the purposes of the Second Chance Act by actively engaging community and nonprofit organizations in response to the needs of juvenile offenders and their families. EPIC is committed to providing quality services to justice-related youth and individuals in the target population looking to reenter society and looking to participate in our Territory as productive citizens.

For more information, please contact our office at 699-7923 or visit us at the Fa’atamali’i Center, 2nd Floor, Suite 2B.

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