AMERICAN SAMOA HEADLINE NEWS

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Tuesday, June 29, 1999
Samoa News

IMMIGRATION BOARD MEMBER INSISTS DECISION BE REVERSED

PAGO PAGO--While more than 1,000 applications are pending for [Western] Samoa's quota under American Samoa's immigration law, three members of the Immigration Board during a meeting last Wednesday granted a request from COS Samoa Packing to sponsor 57 foreign workers from the neighboring country, says Board member Senator Tuilefano M. Vaelaa.

If the Chairman of the Immigration Board does not reverse this decision, based on numerous reasons, Senator Tuilefano said he will be forced to seek legal action to "stop your illegal acts," according to a letter he is sending to the Board Chairman dated June 25th.

However, Immigration Board Chairman Faau Seumanutafa said on Saturday that "it was only a deliberation by the Board -- the final decision has not even been signed." Seumanutafa also told Samoa News over the weekend that he has not yet received Tuilefano's letter.

SUSPECTS CHARGED IN FOOD STAMP FRAUD APPEAR IN DISTRICT COURT

PAGO PAGO--It was an emotionally trying day for the eight members of the Food Stamp Program who appeared in the District Court of American Samoa yesterday morning for their initial appearance.

All the seats in the District Court quickly filled as family and friends of the eight filtered in to offer moral support and encouragement.

The eight members of the Food Stamps program who were formally charged and who appeared before the court were: Taulauniu E. Hunkin, Lolomi Aumua, Aigasalemalama Petaia, Salamina Tiumalu, Temukisa Feliuai, Caroline Galea‘i, Va‘aloa Siu and Iakopo Meleisea.

LBJ CHANGES POLICY CONCERNING CIRCUMCISION

PAGO PAGO--The LBJ Medical Center at Faga‘alu has released an internal memorandum which halts the male circumcision. On behalf of LBJ Medical Director Dr. Saleapaga, CEO John Faumuina said that the circumcision was halted after the hospital board considered the operation to have interfered with "real" patients.

Asked what he was referring to as "real" patients, Faumuina stated, "Circumcision is not a medical problem, it's a social problem."

CHRISTIAN GROUPS ARRIVE TO HELP WITH YOUTH AT RISK PROGRAM

PAGO PAGO--Two spirited Christian groups from the mainland recently arrived on-island to assist the South Pacific International Christian Center (SPICC) with projects. A group of young adults from Masters College in Santa Clarita, California arrived last week to help with the Youth At Risk program in keeping with a commitment made in the summer of 1996. The second group, from Mesa, Arizona, which arrived this past Friday, is here to help complete a three-story building which will soon house the SPICC school.

DOC SAYS ALL 259 LICENSED POKER MACHINES ARE AT 23 LOCATIONS

PAGO PAGO--The largest number of approved and licensed poker machines in the Territory are owned by Tui's Enterprise, according to a list compiled by the Department of Commerce (DOC) as of April 8, 1999. The list was prepared by DOC official Alex Zodiacal.

A copy of the list made its way to Samoa News last week. It outlines the name of the applicant, name of the business, number of (licensed) poker machines and the location of these devices that have created many arguments in the Territory.

LOCAL USCG DETACHMENT WELCOMES NEW LEADER

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO--The change of leadership in the local unit of the United States Coast Guard was held yesterday morning, with Lt. Michael Sakaio turning over the torch to Lt. Thomas Griffitts.

Held at Pago Pago Bay Restaurant, the official "change of supervisor ceremony" for the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment-American Samoa was attended by cabinet members, local leaders, those in the ocean transport business, members of the Army Reserve, friends and family.

Also in attendance were Captain Gilbert J. Kanazawa, Commanding Officer of the USCG Marine Safety Office in Honolulu and Lt. Governor Togiola Tulafono representing the American Samoa Government.

The ceremony, a time honored tradition in every branch of the military, is a unique ritual. The guests witnessed American Samoa's good-bye to Lt. Sakaio and its welcome of Lt. Griffitts for a two-year tour of duty.

In his new post as Commander, Capt. Kanazawa promised that the USCG Marine Safety Office in Honolulu would continue to provide assistance and support the needs of American Samoa through its detachment unit here.

Besides presenting a Letter of Commendation to Lt. Sakaio, Capt. Kanazawa highlighted some of the outgoing supervisor's accomplishments, such as an increase in the number of detained vessels for safety violations in non-compliance with international and U.S. marine safety regulations.

Although he did not provide additional details, Capt. Kanazawa said a contractor should be in place soon to help with the removal of oil from the abandoned longliners in the Bay Area, which he said will be followed by the ships' removal.

This is a long-standing eyesore for the residents of the Territory and Capt. Kanazawa said this project is of great importance to American Samoa. The USCG has been working with local and federal agencies on this issue since the longliners were grounded on the reef following Hurricane Val in 1991.

After the leadership was relinquished to Lt. Griffitts, he told the gathering that he and his wife look forward to this tour of duty and said he has two important goals: maintain port safety and prevent the loss of life.

"Safety of the port is the operator's responsibility," the Sacramento native said in his brief comments, noting that he will continue the work started by Lt. Sakaio. "All current notices and policies remain in effect."

The new leader for the USCG Detachment comes from the USCG Marine Safety Field Office in Bucksport, Maine where he was the assistant supervisor.

In 1992, Lt. Griffitts enlisted in the Coast Guard and was commissioned as an Ensign after completing Officer Candidate School the follow year.

He has served as the wood hobby shop manager in Kodiak Alaska and an exercise planner at the USCG Pacific Area in Alameda California.

Before taking the post in Bucksport, Maine, Lt. Griffitts was assigned as marine inspector at the Marine Inspection office in New York.

As for Lt. Sakaio, he and his family will depart later this week for his new assignment at the USCG headquarters in Washington D.C.

TERRITORY PREPARES FOR YEAR 2000 CENSUS COUNT

PAGO PAGO--With only months before the dawning of the new millennium, the start of a new century and the next census count, the Department of Commerce (DOC) is preparing itself for a population count of American Samoa in conjunction with the U.S. Census Bureau.

Additionally, Samoans in Southern California are also preparing for the census by conducting awareness programs urging people to be included in the next population count, which is held every 10 years.

STARKIST INTRODUCES NEW "ISLAND STYLE" TUNA

PAGO PAGO--Charlie the Tuna has a new product on the market that targets the taste buds of Samoans and other islanders.

With a tapa designed label, the "Island Style" brand of tuna that is "Distributed by StarKist, American Samoa" with the safe dolphin label on the can, had an official launching at the canned food section of Cost-U-Less two weeks ago.

The official launching, including Charlie the Tuna on location, gave the public a chance to taste StarKist's newest product. Officials hope it will attract Samoans and island buyers and also boost tuna consumption as tuna sales have declined compared to years past.

U.S.A. PREPARES FOR ITS 223 INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATION

PAGO PAGO--Fireworks displays, Independence Day parades and other festivities will be held throughout the United States starting this Friday to mark the birth of the most powerful nation on earth.

The United States became a nation in 1776 and has gone through major changes in its 223-year history. On Sunday, July 4th, the people of the U.S and its territories will join in the last Independence Day celebration of this century.

For American Samoa, Governor Tauese Sunia issued a General Memorandum yesterday declaring that "Independence Day will be observed as a holiday in American Samoa on Monday, July 5, 1999. All offices will be closed and all normal activities will be suspended."

DIRECTOR OF TCSP TO VISIT TERRITORY'S NEWEST HOTEL

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO--The travel and tourism industry is praising the newest hotel and apartment in American Samoa and the industry representatives were looking forward to the arrival last night of the top honcho of the region's tourism association.

Less than two weeks ago the Tessarea Vaitogi Inn, a hotel and apartment unit, officially opened for business. The hotel section has eight air-conditioned guestrooms on the lower level with the amenities of a first class hotel.

Information released to Samoa News states that the five-self contained units on the upper level of the two story building are for apartments with amenities usually found in hotel/apartments in Hawai‘i or the mainland.

For the businessperson, e-mail, fax, coping, phone, computer and meeting facilities are available at the new establishment located just off the golf course.

The Tessarea Vaitogi Inn will be the temporary home of Levani Tuinabua, the Executive Director of the Tourism Council of the South Pacific (TCSP) who was scheduled to arrive in the Territory last night.

According to the Tourism Office, this will be Tuinabua's first visit to American Samoa. Through the Tourism Division, the American Samoa Government is the 13th member of TCSP.

Tuinabua is currently scheduled to make a courtesy call to the Lt. Governor and the DOC Director tomorrow. Other visits also are scheduled, including a luncheon at Pago Yacht Club at noon tomorrow.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to

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