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    Thursday, November 21, 2019-4:00:44A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Old Japanese lighthouse may be renovated

THE Historic Preservation Office is looking into the possibility of renovating the former Japanese lighthouse on Navy Hill, Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Robert Hunter told the Rotary Club of Saipan on Tuesday.

He said HPO will also renovate its office and launch various improvement projects at various historic sites on island. The HPO is exploring a new federal grant opportunity to accomplish this.

Click to enlarge
Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Robert Hunter talks about the missions and programs of the various divisions of DCCA during the Rotary Club of Saipan meeting at the Giovanni’s Restaurant of the Hyatt Regency on Tuesday.  Photo by Junhan B. Todiño

As for the former lighthouse, Hunter said the HPO has periodically cleaned up the structure; however, it does not take long afterward for the building to see graffiti and trash dumping. He noted that the HPO is limited in what it can do related to cleanup and site development, but that funding under this new grant opportunity looks promising to addressing some of these projects.

Constructed in 1934 when the NMI was under Japanese administration, the former lighthouse was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Hunter said HPO is tasked with documenting historic and archeological sites in the Commonwealth; regulating development to protect sites that may be damaged through construction; and educating the public about the history and culture of the islands.

HPO is one of the divisions of DCCA, a department that “oversees our human and social services, historic and landmark conservation and activities to preserve local heritage and traditions,” Hunter said.

As the largest department under the executive branch, DCCA brings into the CNMI a variety of federal grants, close to $30 million annually, he added.

In the next fiscal year, Hunter said DCCA will collectively receive around $35 million in federal grants.

He noted that DCCA’s Flame Tree Arts Festival is the longest consistently run cultural festival in Micronesia, adding that it will mark its 39th year in 2020.

Besides HPO, DCCA’s other divisions include the Chamorro & Carolinian Language Policy Commission, the Child Care Development Fund, the Child Care Licensing Program, the CNMI Respite Service Program, the Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture, the Sports and Recreation Program, the Division of Youth Services, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, the Nutrition Assistance Program, and the Office on Aging.

Hunter said the Nutrition Assistance Program serves around 7,500 individuals or 700 more compared to the figure in 2017, but lower than the over 8,000 who received food assistance in 2016.

Hunter said funding for child care assistance doubled in 2018 to $4.2 million from $2.1 million. For its part, the Child Care Development Fund assists lower-income families in accessing quality child care, but that this assistance was only available to parents working full-time or enrolled as a student or job-training full-time, he added.

The Chamorro-Carolinian Language Policy Commission, which is charged with several key duties related to the preservation and perpetuation of the Chamorro and Carolinian languages, also translates a significant volume of the official documents of the Legislature, the Public School System, and other governmental agencies, Hunter said.