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American Samoa Government

Press Releases_

Friday, August 31, 2007

Governor Togiola signs up for fiber optic with PacRim East cable

(HONOLULU) – Governor Togiola Tulafono today signed a letter of intent with the other three parties to the redeployment of the Pacific Rim (PacRim) East cable from American Samoa to Hawaii.

According to Governor Togiola, the document is to approve the parties to move forward with the development of the project, securing financing, and ultimately to develop the purchase and sale agreement for the cable.

Governor Togiola said the American Samoa Government (ASG) will advance $9 million over the next three years, instead of the original proposal of $18 million, to assist in the security of the financing of the project.

ASG will acquire one-third ownership of the company that will own the cable and will be entitled to one third of all the profits from the venture.

Governor Togiola said he will consult with the legislature regarding the project and if plans fall in place, the cable could be up and running in the Territory by July of next year.

"I will be contacting the Fono when I return to work out the rest of the financing requirements and to bring them up to speed on how this project will work," said Governor Togiola. "If all goes according to schedule, the cable could be available for service by the second quarter of 2008."

The fiber optic Pacific Rim East cable operates at optical wavelength, a higher frequency than other undersea communications systems. It uses modulated laser light to carry the information, and all laser repeaters have redundant backup units, which switch in if the main laser fails.

"I am optimistic and I trust that all the partners in this venture want this cable lighted up as soon as we can," said Governor Togiola.

Governor Togiola announced ASG scholarship program re-structure

This is a portion of Governor Togiola's statement about the new ASG scholarship program structure stated in a June 8th, 2007, press release.

As a tax payer, I appreaciate knowing that someone is finally dealing with this. Who knows how much money the tax payers of American Samoa forked out all these years to recepients who never returned to serve them.

The idea of targeting needs of American Samoa to grants is a brilliant idea, but it's not something new. My employer, even before I was hired, gives money in its tuition assistance program based on its needs. My employer deals with technologies and communications, and the majority of its grants goes to students majoring in those fields.

However, my employer also cares about the overall needs of the community, so it also has a special program for a few special people who exhibit unique talents in other fields outside its core business.

So, kudos to Governor Togiola and the scholarship committee for addressing this subject. I'm sure the tax payers will appreciate that too. A suggestion if I may - I understand the necessity to focus on current needs of the territory, but how about looking also into the future? How about picking a year, say 2030, and asking ourselves what American Samoa would like to achieve by that date? What sorts of expertise will we need to have to make those things happen? Across the globe, there are many pograms that were designed by government and private organizations to focus attentions to future goals - like Vision 2020. I think American Samoa should do the same. What do you think? Write me -

Here is part of Governor Togiola press release:

Why are we restructuring the Scholarship program? Because the results, especially of the regular annual scholarship program, have been very disappointing only a few graduate and return to stay. Often, jobs are unavailable for them. Many graduate from college but possess no skills.

With limited resources, we need to maximize the results of our investment. We must coordinate scholarships and our needs, cut losses, and establish conditions to insure return. We need to make certain our graduates return with skills that meet the manpower needs of our government and the community, and that there will be jobs for them here.

The Scholarship Board, in coordination with the Department of Manpower Resources and DOE, has worked out a new three-part program. It will begin this year.

1. Undergraduate scholarships:

Ten (10) four-year scholarships of $7,000 a year will be available for high school graduates with top grades and SAT scores of not less than 1500.

Ten (10) two-year scholarships of $7,000 a year will be available for ASCC students with the best grade records, to continue their degree studies off-island.

Forty (40) two-year scholarships of $1000 each year will be awarded to high school graduates with high grades and SAT scores, to attend ASCC.

Funding will continue for scholarships and loans, second to fourth year, provided they meet Board requirements.

Every student, be they on a scholarship grant or a loan, will be required to sign an agreement to return. The waiver of up to 50% for student loans recently approved by the Board, will be in force.

2. Graduate degrees and professional training:

The need for professionals like doctors, engineers, and lawyers continue to increase. Recruiting is expensive. It is not easy to find and keep good people. It is time we face facts and take bold steps to make the necessary changes. We need professionals to offer the services that meet requirements of present lifestyles, and lead our people to join the march of modem civilization. That is done through investment we have a moral obligation to maximize the results of investments, for they are made from very limited resources.

Therefore, we are returning to the policy of developing our local core of professionals and skilled public servants. We begin by offering scholarships in the areas of greatest need, and gradually work our way to cover all areas of government services, hopefully within the next five years. Where the need is greatest, opportunities will be offered every year. Beginning this year (2007­-2008), and in consultation with the Director of Human Resources, graduate and professional scholarships will be offered as follows:

Two( 2 ) scholarships for studies in each of these fields - medicine (including dentists), law, civil engineering and physical education / coaching. One ( 1 ) scholarship for studies in each of these fields - health/hospital technician, computer engineering, journalism and media, law enforcement / criminal justice, agriculture, and historian/ archivist/ curator.

These opportunities will be offered first to those presently studying in these fields.

For 2008-2009, scholarships will offered as follows. Two( 2 ) scholarships for studies in each of these fields - medicine and physical education / coaching. One ( 1 ) scholarship for studies in each of these fields - law, civil engineering, personnel manager, economic planning, counseling, environmental scientist, health/hospital technician, travel and tourism.

The slots for years 2009-2010 and beyond will be structured by the Board, in consultation with the Director of Human Resources and various agencies, and announced a year ahead so that students graduating from the bachelor degree program can plan accordingly. Employees in these fields may apply for these scholarships.

3. Cohort programs

To meet the critical need for trained and certified counselors, the Board, working with DOE and Human Resources, is entering the area of cohorts. Cohort programs are organized and held here, to provide graduate studies and professional training for government employees, while they continue in their jobs. The most recent example was the graduation of 16 local teachers with Masters degrees earned in the Cohort program with the University of Hawaii.

Counseling has been recognized as one the areas in serious need of trained professionals. Work is now in progress to arrange a counseling cohort with the University of San Diego. We hope to start in June. Twenty-five candidates will be selected from present staff of DOE, Human and Social

Services, LBJ Hospital, and Public Safety. They must possess bachelor degrees and have their applications accepted by the University.

Each candidate selected will be awarded a $7,000 scholarship, which will go toward cost of the program. The cohort is a two-year program after which the candidates, if successful, will receive an MA and certified as a trained counselor.

A cohort on accounting will follow. I believe government accountants should have graduate training, and hopefully go on to become certified public accountants. Another area where a cohort is vitally needed is law enforcement

Other Comments:

I have not said anything about nursing because we have a separate special program for them, and that is working well. A number of local nurses recently passed the national Registered Nurse test and are now working at LBJ Hospital in Faga’alu.

As you know, we only have two Samoan MDs in our medical care service. I have asked the Board to look into preparing our Suva Medical School graduates in medicine and dentistry, to take the U. S. Medical License Exam (USMLE).

The Board is also inviting departments and agencies to make known their wishes for special training, so they may be fitted into their schedules.

I wish to announce the addition of a Scholarship Search unit to our Scholarship program. There are many scholarships and financial assistance available at universities and colleges, foundations, corporations, government agencies, and a variety of other sources. We need to contact them and request inclusion.

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ASG Photo: "Lieutenant Governor Ipulasi Aitofele Sunia joined Secretary Kempthorne on a tour of the Bay Area, National Park of American Samoa in Vatia and StarKist Samoa cannery in Atu'u. Secretary Kemphtorne took in the breathtaking views of Pago Pago harbor and the north shore of Tutuila from the top of the road to Afono. While at the National Park, Secretary Kempthorne was presented with a plaque from staff of the National Park Service –which is under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior– and had his NPS passport stamped to commemorate his visit to the only U.S. national park south of the equator."