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By Natalie J. Quinata

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 1) – The year 2004 has proved to be a rather trying year for many people both locally and internationally.

Despite the typhoon scares, the South Asia natural disaster, water woes and a controversial war in the Middle East that has taken the lives of a number of our local soldiers, resilient local residents are ringing in the new year with positive thinking and hopes of a more prosperous 2005.

Once again, stores and supermarkets were bustling with activity yesterday as people were out and about grabbing last-minute party supplies.

Jeff Sanchez, president of JamzMedia, a local promotion and production company, was out buying party hats and party favors for an '80s-themed party his company held last night at the Outrigger Guam Resort.

"With the way the economy is on the rise, I think there will be more events, more opportunities for people and businesses," said Sanchez. "I'm very positive about the new year."

Sanchez said he believes that if the government is able to catch up with its financial obligations such as bills and tax refunds, that in itself would be enough to make the year run positively.

"If they can take care of that and take care of the people, then that would make 2005 an awesome year," he said.

With tourist arrivals increasing and plans under way for increased military presence, Sanchez is confident that the economy is on a rebound and that it's a perfect time for businesses to get a head start.

"We're starting to see a slight rebound, and when you've been at the bottom for so long, then there's only one way to go, and it's about time," he said.

Already in the festive mood yesterday afternoon were John Castro and his 3-year-old daughter, Abigail, as they celebrated their New Year's Eve birthdays at Gameworks Guam yesterday.

John Castro, who had plans to watch the fireworks display from a family gathering in Barrigada Heights last night, said he is fairly positive about the new year, and just hopes the government will be more functional this year.

John Castro, who works with the Guam Police Department, said just receiving an increment this year would make it a good year.

As for New Year's resolutions, some of the island's local officials had their public duties in mind when asked what they hoped to accomplish in 2005.

Department of Education Superintendent Juan Flores said he's simply going to focus on the force that drives him -- the island's children.

"I'm going to keep my eye on the prize and do what I can for the kids," Flores said.

And if Attorney General Douglas Moylan is able to accomplish his New Year's resolution, the island may very well get to see some justice done when it comes to government corruption.

"As an elected official, I want to work with the new Legislature and increase the strength of my office so that we can restart government corruption cases to protect the people of Guam," he said yesterday.

Outgoing 27th Guam Legislature Speaker Ben Pangelinan, D-Barrigada, said he's going to focus more on friends and family this coming year.

"I think that my New Year's resolution is to just continue to work hard and appreciate all my friends and family around me," he said. "And I think that good things will come."

January 3, 2004

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