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DOC looking at early 2019 for Lee Auditorium renovations

Commerce Department director Keniseli Lafaele

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Commerce Department director Keniseli Lafaele says they are working on securing a funding source to carry out renovations for the Fale Laumei that according to Lafaele is deteriorating. He said DOC would like to see the renovations completed before the Polynesian Leaders Group meeting, set to be hosted in the territory next year.

“The demand for the Lee Auditorium to hold meetings, funerals, weddings, concerts, exhibitions, church events etc., is high so we'd like to maintain and sustain this landmark building for the community,” Lafaele explained in response to Samoa News inquiries.

He said DOC is hoping to begin the renovation work in January 2019, and once funding is secured, they will determine the contractor for the job that is expected to take about six months to complete.

The House of Representatives has been using the auditorium’s North Wing — which faces KVZK-TV and the main Education Department building — since the old Fono building was demolished last year.

When asked if the North Wing will be affected by the renovation work, Lafaele said the entire facility is being considered, to determine the scope of work.

The plan is to use the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium when the 36th Legislature convenes for a joint session on Jan. 14, 2019 — where Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga will deliver his State of the Territory Address, according to the ASG schedule of events for the first three weeks of January 2019.

The last time the Fale Laumei underwent a major renovation and upgrade was back in 2009, using federal funds.