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Kosrae Headlines
UPDATED Friday, February 13, 2004

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Export Market Grow to Neighbor Islands 8/29/03

Extreme Diving off the Shores of Paradise 11/24/03

FSM Delegation Prepared to Testify Before U.S. Congress 7/9/03

FSM Enters Burgeoning Noni Market 12/13/03

FSM Judge Yamase Rules on the Fate of $3 million in Kosrae 4/29/03

FSM Struggling to Maintain Giant Clam Sanctuaries 11/24/03

Is Globalization Killing Island Languages? 7/9/03

Ka and the Circumferential Road at Yela 8/29/03

Kosrae Conservation Group Hires Director 4/15/03

Kosrae Dedicates Plant Propagation Research Center 4/15/03

Kosrae Moves Forward with Tourism Master Plan 11/07/03

Kosrae Port Authority Releases 2003 Annual Report 12/13/03

Kosrae Speaker, Vice, and Floor Leader Look Ahead 2/5/03

Kosrae Tourism Sector Struggles to Find its' Mojo 2/20/03

Kosrae Utility Authority Releases 2003 Annual Report 12/13/03

KSL Puts Kosrae's Rivers Under Protection 8/29/03

Legislature Continues Second Session 8/29/03

Micro 70 Comes to Kosrae11/24/03

Police Learn the Criminal Investigation Process in Kosrae 7/9/03

Renowned Archeologist Uncovering Micronesia's Past 2/5/03

US Scientist Warns of Biodiversity Loss Due to Road Construction 12/13/04

Women's Groups Getting It Done 8/29/03

Olivier Wordel

Olivier Wordel

FSM Enters Burgeoning Noni Market

Organic, forest-friendly Noni cultivation can be “a million dollar industry” for FSM.

December 13, 2003

By Olivier Wortel
Kosrae Korrespondent to the Kaselehlie Press

KOSRAE – One thing that Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, Hawaii, the Marquesas, and the Solomons have in common is the commercial cultivation and export of Noni juice, long a traditional healing medicine in Pacific cultures, and increasingly sought after by affluent people in the East and West.

The FSM is poised to join the ranks of Noni exporters to world markets thirsty for what is claimed by many as “the king of medicinal plants.”

In Kosrae, the Noni, or I (ee), is used traditionally to treat diabetes, arthritis, pains and aches, the flu, eye infections, high blood pressure, strokes, toothaches, boils, post delivery problems, cuts and burns, and rashes and worms in children without side effects. It has also been used as an anticancer treatment.

People around the world drink it or take it in capsulated form on a daily basis to boost overall immunity.

Glasstine Cornelius, a longtime specialist with the Kosrae Department of Agriculture, explained at a recent Noni presentation that the value of the plant goes beyond medicine. Cornelius said the tree is also “ecologically important”, helping in erosion control and also providing habitat and food for many bird species. It should and could, he added, become an important cash crop for the island as well.

“Noni, as it is named in Hawaii, or in English as the Indian Mulberry, is simple and organic. There is no need for chemicals or imported fertilizers as it can grow in most any soil condition, from the sea high up into the mountains.”

Cornelius repeatedly advocated for cash cultivation of Noni as part of an “intercropping” system, mixing the plant in with agricultural plots that also contain coconut trees, bananas, and even taros. Cornelius said that large scale monocropping could not match the multi purposes fulfilled with growing multiple crops together in regard to mulching and soil and moisture retention.

Dr. Josekutty, Director of the Micronesian Plant Propagation Research Center based in Kosrae, explained that of the big three money earners for the FSM – Fisheries, Tourism, and Agriculture – Agriculture was the most viable. He said the commercial cultivation of Noni is “A big opportunity for the FSM.”

“In this place the climate is good, with intermittent sun and rain you can harvest it many times a year.”

Josekutty laid out the prospect for Noni processing over a five year period and said that with the right initiative in research and development and marketing, it could be “a million dollar a year industry…It’s easily achievable in Kosrae and the FSM...It’s a wonderful opportunity.”

The Noni is easy to plant, grows easily and does not take much care.

Though perhaps Kosrae has a comparative advantage with the MPPRC (The center can tissue culture more viable and disease resistant plants) and the connections that SEMO Micronesia, Inc. has with South Korean markets, Josekutty admitted that Pohnpei has already begun growing Noni on a larger scale. The Federation should ideally work together to export to world markets, he explained.

“Always monocropping brings more disease,” said Josekutty, echoing the organic, environmentally friendly growing system. “We are not interested in monocropping. Wherever we can find space, we can grow Noni, because it can grow anywhere.”

It just might be the first self sustaining export industry that the FSM can muster.

Kosrae Port Authority Releases 2003 Annual Report

Authority still heavily subsidized by the State, and sees a budget shortfall.

December 13, 2003

By Olivier Wortel
Kosrae Korrespondent to the Kaselehlie Press

KOSRAE – The Kosrae Port Authority has just released its FY 2003 annual report under its first year as a semi-private agency.

Although there is legislation in place to transfer all assets and operations from the State to the Port Authority, this was not completed during 2003, as envisioned, due to what the report refers to as disagreement over “the mode of transfer.” Personnel working for the PA are still State employees.

The PA received 309 commercial aircraft landings at Kosrae International Airport. This was five less than the previous year, due to the “cessation of operation of the Pacific Tuna Incorporation.” There were 17 military landings. The total for landing fees and airport taxes for 2003 was $74,390.

Rental fees from Continental, individual snack bar and handicraft merchants were $12,588. This number will surely fall in 2004 as stepped up FAA security measures have all but turned airport merchant’s business to a trickle.

Total revenues from airport operations for 2003 were $118,919, while total expenses for the Authority were $135,695, leaving a shortfall of $16,776.

For FY 03 there were 29 cargo vessel arrivals at the Okat seaport and Lelu Harbor, 10 tankers, 10 fishing vessels, and 5 government ships. Revenue from these landings totaled $64,990.

The PA was not able to capitalize on revenue from the seaport, as these funds were being credited to the State, and the report credits this occurrence to the budget shortfall.

Adding to the struggles, the PA reports that two sources of revenue have not come through. Two of the major tenants of the port, Micronesian Petroleum Corporation and Pacific Tuna Industries are not paying rent for the spaces occupied by their installations. PTI has been defunct for some time, while the PA has received no response from MPC on a rental proposal.

The Authority also requested from the Governor to levy storage charges at the docks and for an increase in landing fees, as well as an introduction of parking fees at the airport. There has been little action in this regard also, states the report.

The Authority began the year with 12 personnel. At the end of 2003 only 9 remain. States the report: “One passed away, another was terminated, and yet another resigned.”

Several employees attended overseas training for Airport Management and a Firefighter’s Certification Course.

“The Authority,” the report ends, “wishes to record its appreciation and gratitude to the Administration for its continued support.”

Extreme Diving off the Shores of Paradise

Kosrae: “We often go beyond the limits of what would be considered sport diving here”.

November 24, 2003

By Olivier Wortel
Kosrae Korrespondent to the Marianas Variety

KOSRAE – The way that Bruce Brandt, owner of the Kosrae Village Ecolodge and Dive Resort (KVR) tells it, you can’t be over prepared when searching for shipwrecks, deep underwater caves, and getting close to submerged “sand waterfalls” pouring over a wall of reef.

In other words, even extreme diving – commonly referred to as technical diving amongst avid divers – has its limitations.

Well, sort of.

“There is actually no limit when it comes to diving. It’s just that the amount of preparation time and equipment increase drastically the deeper you want to go, and the longer you want to stay down.”

At depths beyond 165 feet, what Brandt refers to as “The practical limit of air”, the 21% of oxygen that is contained within the air mix humans breathe starts to become toxic, and nitrogen (nitrox) and eventually helium (trimix) must be added in greater quantities if a person wants to survive. Helium is not inexpensive, so costs also increase with the leap that goes beyond the definition of sport diving.

Technical Diving in Kosrae

When it comes to technical diving, a niche in the diving market that has started to grow in popularity over the last five years, Brandt is a preparation meister, leaving nothing to chance, checking and rechecking “what if” scenarios and the assorted equipment that comes with the show.

“Technical diving is safe diving because it is forced to be. Technical divers are not the cowboy divers that people make them out to be, they are the opposite – ultra conservative. They are constantly asking ‘what if?’”

Yet for Brandt, one of the true pros in the region, diving, whether for sport or the more extreme underwater efforts, is all about adjusting the sport to meet one’s needs and desires. It’s flexible.

“You can chill out and examine and meditate, or do the hair raising stuff…You don’t have to be a technical diver to appreciate the reef here.”

As far as locating new and unusual life forms, such as the “huge” sea fans he and a group saw recently at 150 feet, or finding caves and shipwrecks, it is only a matter of time, and depth. “The deeper you go, the more likely you are to find a cave or a wreck…I know it’s going to happen.”

Kosrae Moves Forward with
Tourism Master Plan

Guam-based Redda Pacific Group has been awarded the contract to help develop tourism.

November 7, 2003

By Olivier Wortel
Kosrae Korrespondent to the Kaselehlie Press

KOSRAE - The State Government, in collaboration with the Kosrae Visitors Bureau, has concluded a contract with Guam-based Redda Pacific Group Ltd. for the preparation of a comprehensive action-based tourism master plan for the state of Kosrae.


The plan will be prepared for presentation to state leadership in late January of 2004.

Mr. Gerry Perez and Mr. John Salas, both directors of Redda Pacific Group, will be visiting the state during the month of November. During this period they will be holding discussions with relevant government departments, the visitors bureau and private sector representatives of the tourism industry.

RPG will be seeking to define the range of tourism facilities and services which the state offers, to understand the views and aspirations of Kosrae state regarding tourism development, and to gain a full understanding of the aims, objectives and longer-term potential of tourism in Kosrae.

Kosrae has pursued this tourism master plan to meet Performance Based budgeting and Compact II requirements as well as a guiding document for its future tourism works.

The master plan will help to define the main types of tourism (e.g. diving, eco-tourism, cultural tourism, sport-fishing, etc.) which Kosrae offers and can develop in future. The plan will also seek to match these with the key tourism markets from which foreign visitors can be drawn

Southeast Asia, Japan, the European Union, and the U.S. will be amongst the major markets.

KSL Puts Kosrae's Rivers Under Protection

Move foreshadows the revised Land Use Plan, strengthens environmental protections.

August 29, 2003

By Olivier Wortel
Kosrae Korrespondent to the Kaselehlie Press

KOSRAE - Land ownership, water quality, environmental health, stewardship. These are the themes of a recent decision by the 8th Legislature to put more of the islands major rivers under government protection.


LB 8-22, otherwise known as the River Bill, designates a total of thirteen rivers and their tributaries as public property. They are the Tofol, Tafeyat, Malem, Palusrik, Mutunte, Pukusrik, Leap, Okat, Finkol, Tafout, Mosral, Isra, and Pilyuul Rivers.

Going on recommendations from the Development Review Commission (DRC), the Legislature's Resources and Development Committee nearly doubled the major river systems to be protected by law, aligning their legislation to fit with the State's new Land Use Plan (LUP) being developed by the DRC, and expected to be adopted into force later this year.

"These rivers should be classified as such so that they are regulated or protected for the benefit of all Kosraeans", stated the committee report.

The LUP and the River Bill will strengthen oversight and environmental protection of sensitive ecological zones and what have been deemed "areas of particular concern" on Kosrae.

NGO's, community groups, and input from the executive offices of government were all considered in putting the LUP together, stated Simpson Abraham, Director of DRC. Abraham said that further public comments for the LUP are being accepted for the next thirty days. After the public comment period, the plan will be submitted to the Governor for approval, then transmitted to the legislative branch.

According to Abraham, the River Bill will cover the rivers from their watersheds high in the mountains down to where they drain into the mangroves, bays, and reefs, as well as "buffer zones" on each side of the rivers. The LUP, he said, would be used as guideline to control development in sensitive areas.

"All rivers need to be protected by law", said Abraham. "The worry that people have is with destruction of the upland areas because of the circumferential road opening up more access to sensitive areas of the island."

Regarding the River Bill, and individual rights versus the greater good, Andy George, Director of Kosrae Conservation and Safety Organization, stated, "Watershed protection is important, but so is public comment…They have to feel part of it, the desire to make these public river systems. Otherwise it will be just another State Law that will have controversies and different perspectives."

Women's Groups Getting it Done for Themselves

August 29, 2003

By Olivier Wortel
Kosrae Korrespondent to the Kaselehlie Press

Lelu Women

Members of the Kosrae Women's Council gathered at the Women's Center recently to discuss various fundraising activities and report on their respective village projects.

A locally developed laundry soap, made with a base of coconut oil, is making good progress in the village of Malem. In Lelu, there is a collaboration with the government sponsored Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and the Women's Association to undertake a community sewing project. The Tafunsak group has embarked upon a village beautification project, also lauded by Governor Rensley Sigrah. In Utwe, the Women's group just completed the first phase of a tree-planting program at the Utwe-Walung Conservation Area's Marine Park.

Many of these projects will be on display at the First Annual Festival of Arts to be held in Kosrae during the second week of September.

In addition, the KWC, along with all of the Women's organizations on the island, will come together on September 19 for a workshop to teach and discuss diabetes, culture and custom, and environmental issues.

"That's the big issue," said Josila Moses, Council member and President of the Utwe Women's Association. "How can we keep things clean? We would like to be like Palau and Yap in that regard."

"And then after," added Moses, "a big volleyball tournament at the Tofol Gymnasium. Arlac pwacr, mweyen muhtwacn muhkwena."

FSM Delegation Prepared to Testify Before U.S. Congress

JCN Chairman Gerson Jackson indicates strong support from Congressional leaders."

July 9, 2003

By Olivier Wortel Kosrae Korrespondent to the Marianas Variety

KOSRAE, FSM - In the midst of potentially drastic reductions in U.S. Compact II funding, the Joint Committee on Compact Negotiations (JCN) for the FSM is currently working hard to curry support from Congressional leaders in Washington D.C.

A JCN delegation is prepared to testify before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, chaired by Pete Domenici, and the House Resources Committee, chaired by Richard Pombo, on July 10 and July 15.

Speaker of the FSM Congress, Peter Christian, Lt. Governor of Kosrae, Gerson Jackson, Secretary of the FSM Department of Foreign Affairs, Ieski Iehsi, and Secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs, Sebastian Anefal will be the primary members of the FSM Delegation.

On June 28, the FSM formally submitted the signed Compact II documents to the U.S. Congress. Various United States Congressional Committees have held hearings seeking testimony to help U.S. representatives reauthorize the Compacts of Free Association with both the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia shortly after the July 4 recess, according to Congressman James Leach, Chairman of the House International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.

David Cohen, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior, along with Albert Short, U.S. Chief Negotiator, was called to testify before the House Sub-committee on Foreign Relations. Two major issues of concern during the hearing were (1) accountability, and (2) the impact of FSM citizens migrating to other US jurisdictions, particularly to Hawaii, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa.

Short acknowledged "recurring problems" in past years, which stemmed from "the lack of accountability and the sometimes ineffective use of Compact Funds."

In Pohnpei recently, Cohen informed FSM President Joseph Urusemal, Vice President Redley Killion, and FSM Vice Speaker, Claude Phillip, that the meetings went very well, and that he and other high ranking US officials have been working hard to secure passage of the amended Compact.

Chairman of the JCN, Gerson Jackson, says there is continued concern that the proposed $6.6 billion combined aid package of the amended Compacts of Free Association with the Federated States and the Republic of the Marshall Islands won't keep pace with inflation during the next 20 years, which would amount to substantial financial cuts.

Susan Westin, managing director of international affairs and trade for the Government Accounting Office (GAO) verified this concern, stating that per capita aid would fall in the FSM from $687 in 2004 to $476 in 2023. For the Marshalls the per person figure would drop from $627 to $303. Westin also told the Congress' Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific that trust funds would not generate enough income to compensate for the loss of direct federal funding when the Compact expires in 2023. The GAO assessment stated that new measures would improve accountability only if diligently implemented.

Chairman Jackson stated that these were some of the positive points made clear to US officials and that the FSM delegation headed to Capitol Hill would build upon it. "We are trying to capitalize on this." He stated.

Jackson also met with Cohen in Kosrae and stated that their informal discussion was positive. Cohen will be leading the bilateral oversight committee that will review and approve the FAS nation budgets each year. "We're hoping that we can work with him." Said Jackson.

Police Learn the Criminal Investigation Process in Kosrae

The yearlong collaboration between AESOP and Kosrae Police continues successfully."

July 9, 2003

By Olivier Wortel Kosrae Korrespondent to the Marianas Variety

KOSRAE, FSM - Police, detectives, customs, immigration, and court officials received another three weeks of training with experts from the Queensland Police Service, through the Australian Expert Skills Overseas Program (AESOP).

Public Safety Members of the Queensland Police Service and Immigration, Court, Customs, and Kosrae Public Safety personnel pose for a picture during the Criminal Investigation Process Course. It is an ongoing collaboration between the Kosrae AG's office and AESOP.

Managed through the Attorney General's office, the course taught the basics involved with the Criminal Investigation Process. First response duties, entry and search warrants, preservation and handling of evidence and crime scenes, investigative techniques, establishing cordons and roadblocks, taking statements, communications, and presenting evidence in court were some of the key issues discussed and practiced.

With reports of police corruption in Fiji and Bougainville, shootouts in Chuuk, and near anarchy and militant uprising in the Solomons, Kosrae fits the peaceful paradise mold, the calm in the middle of a storm of breakdown and chaos.

Yet, the island could soon have the model policing organization and criminal justice system in the region through the professional capacities of Superintendent Tim Fenlon, joined on this trip by detectives Donna Wrembeck and Wayne King.

Fenlon was the officer in charge of security operations for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

Throughout the course the theme of the police as community servants was stressed, never to obstruct or interfere with the rights of the public but to provide professional, caring, and fair service when called upon. Miranda Rights, using notebooks, and roadblocks were also central issues.

Like any good reporter, copious note taking is essential to the police and detective's jobs. "Notebooks are a very good value for the money." Stated Fenlon during one of the sessions.

In a brief exercise on recording and reporting, Donna Wrembeck noted, "You must take down all your observations…It's called painting a picture." Notes, Wrembeck explained, are important for obtaining search warrants, recalling facts, and getting convictions.

On Miranda Rights, Police Chief Jefferson Timothy stated, "The rights of the individual are paramount. Every time we arrest someone we are restricting his or her freedom. We need to understand that and operate as a team…Professionalism should be the norm of any organization, including the police."

Fenlon led an important discussion on roadblocks, significant because a major court case in Kosrae with a former legislator on one side, and the State on the other, will probably question the constitutionality of the practice.

"Roadblocks are difficult situations," Fenlon stated. "You can do it for DUI checks, but I also think you can do it for public safety reasons…The ability to interfere with the free movement of the people has many legal ramifications, and you have to use good judgment." Fenlon also added, "You cannot set up a roadblock, under any circumstances, without probable cause."

Kosrae Dedicates Plant Propagation Research Center

President of COM: "This facility puts the FSM in a position to be world leaders in research."

April 15, 2003

By Olivier Wortel Kosrae Korrespondent to the Kaselehlie Press

KOSRAE - Government and College of Micronesia (COM) representatives gathered to dedicate the Micronesia Plant Propagation Research Center (MPPRC), the only laboratory in the FSM equipped to do advanced research in Plant Science.

Dedication Ceramony

Kosrae and Yap working together. From left to right are Joseph Choay, Tolman Kilfwasru, Salik Cornelius, Francis Reugorong, Hattie Andrew, Roland George, Dr. Josekutty, Elsa Langu, Joeson Mongkeya, Neis Nena, and Joseph Ochay at the MPPRC Dedication in Kosrae.

The Center is the culmination of collaborative efforts between COM, the U.S. Department of Interior, the Kosrae Division of Agriculture, FSM Congress, and the USDA.

There are several main objectives carried out by the top-notch facility. To improve and increase agricultural production in Kosrae and the FSM; rid plants of disease and control invasive species; lure overseas marketing opportunities for Kosrae and the other FSM States; and conducting advanced microbiology, tissue culturing, and genetic engineering of staple crops.

The center has already successfully produced and distributed thousands of "elite" seedlings of banana, taro, and citrus, and with them established a conservation program (in tissue culture) to secure the safety of plant stock - known as germplasm - in case of natural calamities such as plant diseases, typhoons, ocean rise, or floods.

The disease resistant crops have been popular with local farmers. They should also provide for superior and consistent agricultural exports to neighboring and overseas markets.

MPPRC has also been active in developing resistance to citrus canker sickness through cell level research. Future projects under consideration are tissue culture production of enhanced sakau and coconut seedlings, and collaboration with Yap to conserve several Yam varieties.

In addition to the seven "talented, young, and dynamic" Kosraeans doing advanced scientific work at the facility, three Yapese have just completed a three-week Nursery Training Program.

Michael Tatum, President of COM stated that the MPPRC is a world class facility, and "a giant step forward" in economic, agricultural, and human development for the FSM.

Kosrae Tourism Sector Struggles to Find its' Mojo

"Continental is our biggest hurdle," says Nautilus Resort owner. "We need airline competition."

February 20, 2003

By Olivier Wortel Kosrae Korrespondent

A jewel. That is very often how Kosrae is described; a shimmering, green oasis that powerfully pushes herself up, towering in the middle of the aqua-blue Western Pacific Ocean.

Does a jewel still sparkle if there is no one there to see it? A question that those within the tourist sector are certainly considering in the midst of what can be described as a downturn in tourism for Kosrae over the last year and a half.

Kosrae receives the majority of its tourists from the United States, some 70%, according to Grant Ismael, Director of the Kosrae Visitors Bureau. And 9-11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the current American recession directly influence those numbers. Japan, Australia, and Europe make up the remaining 30% of visitors.

Competition comes from across the region. The Solomon Islands, for example, recently instigated a new tourism campaign targeting Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the United States. Their target is a 65% increase in visitors.

In addition, Palau and Yap represented Micronesia at the biggest boat and dive exhibition in Europe - Boot Dusseldorf - earlier this month. They are tapping quality travelers from Europe, a growing market for Micronesia as it becomes better known within the continent.

Travel costs thwart tourism the most, according to Geoff Raaschou, owner of Nautilus Resort. While there is stiff regional and global competition within the tourist industry, he stated, there exists at the same time a total lack of airline competition. "Continental is our biggest hurdle to attract tourists, we need airline competition. It's gotta be the most expensive plane route in the world."

Fiji and Tahiti, he said, could offer better deals because of low airfares from the U.S. Alan Seid, owner of Rock Island Air in Palau could shake things up with possible flights to Pohnpei and Kosrae later this year.

Ecotourism on Kosrae

Yet for Kosrae, it is not a matter of mere numbers; for most within the industry it is a matter of quality over quantity. According to Katrina Adams, owner of one of the premier eco-resorts and dive centers in all of Micronesia, Kosrae Village Resort, patience and selectivity will pay off in the long term when it comes to promoting tourism.

"Our focus is from a conservation standpoint. If the island can resist the lure of fast cash - some promoter coming and promising the moon - then in another ten years this is going to be one of the rarest places in the world and people are going to be beating down the door."

Much like the island of Belize in Central America today, Kosrae would then be able to issue a set number of tourist passes each year.

This is a common theme in Kosrae. Tourism is good for the private sector and economic sustainability, yet there is considerable forbearance and carefulness when it comes to development. Kosrae wants tourism, but, as Madison Nena, award-winning conservationist and hotel owner, insists, the island would not be served well by the huge tourist arrivals that islands like Palau, Saipan, Guam, and Hawaii receive.

Ismael stated that the top priority for Kosrae today is to improve the island from within before marketing to the outside world. He averred that Kosrae has much to offer and that many projects will be undertaken this year to accomplish this goal.

Ultimately, he said, "Our number one asset is the people, our hospitality and friendliness."

Renowned Archeologist Uncovering Micronesia's Past

Dr. Felicia Beardsley works to salvage ancient artifacts forgotten by development.

February 5, 2003

By Olivier Wortel Kosrae Korrespondent

WALUNG, KOSRAE - Bouncing along the new mountain road that pushes through dense and immaculate jungle on the eastern part of this island, with a hotel owner, journalist, videographer, the Director of Historic Preservation, and a crew of contract workers in tow, Archeologist Felicia Beardsley pointed out all of the old ruins that dot the landscape.

Dr. Beardsley and  Hamlet Jim Scientific Researchers

Dr. Beardsley's mission in Kosrae was to check on the condition of a cultural site known as Likihnluhlwem (Look-oon-la-lem), a place where, according to the great oral traditions, gave rise to the political system and titles in Lelu.

It was also the birthplace of the hero of Kosrae, Nepartek, a famous warrior who went to Pohnpei, conquered, and became a chief.

The famous cultural sites at Likihnluhlwem, Menke, and Lelu, she said, are all parts of a linear progression, pieces in a physical history that is unique to Kosrae.

"You see this gradual development and you see the pieces of architecture, you see how things are put together from one site to the next here. And you don't see that in Pohnpei, which suggests to me that Pohnpei is a much later tradition. It comes after Kosrae. Nan Madol from an architectural standpoint looks like the next step of Lelu."

According to Professor Beardsley, the site is going to be nominated onto the U.S. Historic Register, and considered as a site development project for tourism purposes. She and her team were there to assess the damage done by the new road to the site.

It is an issue that affects islands everywhere: the conflict between development and the environment, progress versus traditional culture.

"Wherever we go, especially on this island, there are choices that have to be made. How do we preserve historic, how do we preserve mangroves, how do we preserve some of the upland forest areas? They are hard choices we have to make."

Twenty years of anthropological and archeological research in the Pacific, including her current work as the consulting archeologist for the FSM, have yielded many monumental discoveries in what she terms the "big black holes" of history here- from Palau to the Marshals.

She said that two of her greatest discoveries were in the FSM. In Yap, Dr. Beardsley uncovered two new types of pottery not seen before. In Kosrae last year, at Sacfohnfohk (Seh-fon-fok), she and her crew unearthed coral fishhooks, the first of their kind anywhere in the world. Many of them are now at the Museum.

Hamlet Jim, from Walung who excavated on both Sacfohnfohk and Likihnluhlwem, said, "We work and we learn at the same time…the tools, excavations, measurements, and mapping - all of the works that are involved. We just help and we are proud to do it. It is very exciting to be a part of."

US Scientist Warns of Biodiversity Loss Due to Road Construction

“Unless there is a decision to preserve the Yela Ka Forest, it will be lost to all Kosraeans.”

December 13, 2003

By Olivier Wortel
Kosrae Korrespondent to the Kaselehlie Press

KOSRAE – At this point it seems a foregone conclusion that the island’s circumferential road will go through some part of the world’s only remaining Ka forest. The question before scientists, environmentalists, landowners and government leaders lies in how and where the road will be built in relation to the massive canopy and the various ecosystems that it prolifigates and protects.

Katherine C. Ewel, Ph.D., a senior scientist with the US Forest Service and the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, submitted a report to the Kosrae Island Resource Management Program (formerly know as the Development Review Commission) addressing impacts of development in the Yela watershed.

In the report Ewel, who has an intimate knowledge of the island’s ecosystems through years of observation and study, summarizes the value of the swamp and outlines the different consequences and costs of five possible paths for the remaining stretch of the circumferential road.

“The decision to proceed with a road should not be taken lightly, states Ewel. “A swamp is likely to be degraded if access to its watershed is increased.”

The Yela Ka swamp was proposed as one of fourteen Areas of Biological Significance during the recent assessment of biodiversity in the Federated States of Micronesia, undertaken by The Nature Conservancy. (The other ABS on Kosrae is the Utwe Walung Conservation Area, and the two combined reflect the undeveloped nature of the entire South and Western portions of the island.)

Ewel assumes in her report that the road is not yet a certainty, and explains clearly the effects of encroachment.

“The Yela watershed is the largest and perhaps the most valuable intact landscape remaining in Kosrae. Left undisturbed, it will continue to provide a supply of firewood from its mangrove forest and fish from its offshore waters. It will continue to provide habitat for the Micronesian pigeon, which has few other refuges on the island. With the largest remaining stand of Terminalia carolinensis in the world, the natural beauty of a wild and undisturbed wetland will attract tourists, even if seeing it requires hiking for some distance from the ends of the existing roads.

“Unless the State of Kosrae makes a firm decision now to preserve this landscape, it will eventually be lost to all Kosraeans by the accumulation of the small changes made by landowners and visitors, none of them intending malice but all of them together leading to degradation. Perhaps Kosraeans should decide first if preservation of this swamp is more important than having a circumferential road. If they decide to preserve the swamp, a way should be sought to compensate the landowners for agreeing to serve a common good. If they decide that having a circumferential road is more important, then a type of road should be selected that will cause the least damage to the swamp and that would slow the rate at which the swamp is degraded.”

Roads do not encourage biodiversity. And if the stretch of circumferential road that was recently completed from Utwe to Walung is any indication, construction companies are not friends of the forest either. Small streams, taro patches and farms, and even important cultural sites were bulldozed over for the sake of expediency and profit.

According to Ewel and others, expedience and singular profit are not more important than an environmental and cultural legacy that is unmatched anywhere else in the world.

Kosrae Utility Authority Releases 2003 Annual Report

2003 marks 10th anniversary and the end of a major energy subsidy for the utility.

December 13, 2003

By Olivier Wortel
Kosrae Korrespondent to the Kaselehlie Press

KOSRAE – For ten years the people of Kosrae have enjoyed some of the lowest electricity rates and most reliable power supply in the Pacific region.

According to the annual report recently released by the Kosrae Utility Authority, that power supply and electricity service should get better, and energy rates will remain relatively low - .08 cents under 100 kilowatt hours used, and .15 cents up to 1000 for most residential users – at least for the short term.

KUA Linemen At Work

According to the annual report, KUA operated with a budget surplus for 2003, and built up its infrastructure and linemen capacity, but will face the difficult challenges of replacing the $470,000 per year energy subsidy that expired at the end of Compact I, a sum that covered 25% of all operating expenses in 2003.

Revenues from energy sales accounted for 65% of operating expenses, while the remaining 10% of the operating budget came from DOI/OMIP reimbursement funds and interest income.

Total revenues from its various income streams were $1,869,502, while total expenditures were 1,822,595, resulting in a net income of $46,907.

$230,833 is accounted as receivables still owed from the Kosrae State Government

Fuel costs for KUA, as for the state as a whole, were the bulk of its costs for total operating expenses, accounting for 42% of expenditures.

A $1.12 million pole hardening project funded by FEMA, the DOI and KUA was completed in FY 2003, upgrading 139 wooden poles with hard fiberglass poles from the government capitol of Tofol to Okat, hub of industry with the Airport, SEMO dry dock, the Okat Marina, Micronesian Petroleum Corporation, and the Port Authority.

“The project also provided the opportunities for KUA linemen to have the practical and hands-on training in upgrading and constructing the power distribution system…and will be able to perform similar works…without the need for outside contractors and assistance,” the report stated.

KUA also completed a line extension project to Boro Mountain, part of the cell phone tower infrastructure requested by FSM Telecom. The authority also completed the Lelu Causeway Project, installing high voltage fiberglass power poles to the most populace part of the island, and insuring against “salty mists and strong winds.”

KUA also continued to “promote conservation of power usage” through the installation of 429 cash power meters, an electronic system that is paid in advance by consumers and businesses. The meters, stated the report, are the likely result in the 596,527 gallons of diesel fuel consumed in 2003, compared to 614,596 for 2002.

“Customers have been very receptive in using the CP meters due to substantial reduction of power payments experienced by using the meters.”

But raising electric rates is in the works in the near future, something on Kosrae that is akin to political suicide. People already don’t pay for the minimal water services they receive, and they don’t really want to either. Raising the costs of modern living is a touchy business.

KUA has reduced its own administrative costs, but will probably start raising rates starting sometime in October of 2004 in order to “replace the energy grant subsidy…and to close the gap between operating revenues and expenditures.”

Micro 70 Comes to Kosrae

Nine new American Peace Corps to focus on community volunteerism.

November 24, 2003

By Olivier Wortel
Kosrae Korrespondent to the Tia Belau News

KOSRAE – The long wait for the new batch of US Peace Corps is finally over with the swearing-in of nine volunteers to the island on November 20.

Known as Micro 70 because this is the 70th group to be dispatched to Micronesia, the latest cadre of volunteers reflects some changes in the program’s aims, part of an overall shift in US policy in the region.

Safety and security are dominant issues.

Said Peace Corps Micronesia Administrative Officer, David Sundvall, in his swearing of the oath: “To protect American values from enemies, both foreign and domestic,” a theme on security that has been equally and perhaps more directly instituted within the region by Australia, and to a lesser degree, Japan, in recent months.

Perhaps there is safety in numbers as well, with nine young Americans easily doubling the white population on the island, a clear majority of them PCV’s. It is the largest number of new volunteers that Kosrae has had in recent memory, if not ever.

The volunteers have been eagerly anticipated for some time, training in Pohnpei for over two months before fanning out to their respective islands and work assignments, a change from the usual July arrival dates of the past.

“One of the goals,” said Madison Nena, Field Representative in Kosrae, referring to the delay, “Is to be fully prepared to work with the Government and the communities effectively.”

Indeed, the volunteers are supposedly to be more “community-based” than in the past, providing assistance and expertise wherever may be needed within the municipalities as well as their respective State duties.

Although the traditional stalwarts of education, health, youth, and the environment will be covered within the new group, the volunteers have some assignments that appear to be in line with the economic provisions of Compact II, most notably, tourism and small business development.

The agencies and institutions that will be assisted are the Kosrae Sports Council, Kosrae State Business Development Center, the Utwe-Walung Marine Park, the Kosrae Island Resource Management Agency, the Department of Health Services, Malem Elementary School, the division of Marine Resources, the Kosrae Visitors Bureau, and the Office of Community Affairs.

FSM Struggling to Maintain Giant Clam Sanctuaries

FSM Aquaculture Center, located in Kosrae, sees little in the way of export since 1990.

November 24, 2003

By Olivier Wortel
Kosrae Korrespondent to the Marianas Variety

KOSRAE – Swimming with the dolphins next to the wreck of the Leonora, famous ship of 19th Century copra trader and blackbirder Bully Hayes, while scoping giant clams is not a bad way to spend the afternoon.

Had you been with a crew of FSM Aquaculture specialists, US Peace Corps and Japanese volunteers, and experts from the Japanese Overseas Fisheries Cooperation Organization aboard the research vessel Marine Hunter II on November 21, you would have.

Diving just off the shore of the island of Utwe-ma under seventy feet of water, they came to check on the health of one of the two clam sanctuaries on the island, part of a national program over the last decade to replenish and reseed several species of giant clam throughout the Federation.

Monitoring Giant Clam Growth Rate

Once abundant throughout the FSM, native stocks, like many other inhabitants of the ocean, have either been harvested to extinction, or near the brink of it.

Clam meat is a delicacy and generally easy to harvest, two distinctions that have helped lead to its demise in the natural reef ecosystems of Micronesia.

The Center has had nominal success in helping set up individuals with seed stock throughout each of the four states. In Yap, there are two sanctuaries, or farms, with indications from a workshop held there last year, that six more are on the way. Pohnpei currently has seven established giant clam farmers. In Chuuk, there is one operation that has made it beyond one year.

But poor or lax management of a giant clam sanctuary, as well as poaching, has made the success of the program problematic. Though there are regulations in place in most areas, enforcement, due to both financial and cultural conditions, remains a problem.

At Utwe-ma for example, the clams were moved to seventy feet because at fifty feet breath-held divers could still poach. Seventy feet is also not so deep that the clams can still get the sunlight they need to survive.

“When conducting workshops,” says Mason Timothy, Aquaculture Specialist, “we try to explain the very important factor of establishing the sites.” Timothy stated that a new clam farm should be checked twice per week.

Of the nine known species of giant clam, the Center focuses on four original Micronesian species: Tridacna gigas, Tridacna derasa, Tridacna maxima, and Hippopus hippopus. Of the four native species on Kosrae, the maxima is not yet extinct. The other three were imported from Palau in the early nineties and reintroduced.

The National Aquaculture Center is focused mostly on the business side of replenishing giant clams in the FSM, such as tourism, marketing and export, and as subsistence fishery for the local markets. Yet the environmental benefits of having a healthy giant clam population should not be overlooked.

According to Marine Resources Peace Corps volunteer, Michael Lemons, giant clams, like sea sponges, scallops, and mussels, are filter feeders, making the clean, clear water that reefs need to survive.

“They are basically water purifiers. They take in huge quantities of water and filter out organic materials, heavy metals and the like and keep the water in a oligotrophic state, which means water without organic life, without nutrients, so that algae can’t take hold. Coral reefs thrive in oligotrophic water.”

The Last of the Great Ka and the Circumferential Road

Scientists, environmentalists, government look for ways to build through Yela drainage.

August 29, 2003

By Olivier Wortel
Kosrae Korrespondent to the Kaselehlie Press

YELA, KOSRAE - A major portion of Kosrae's 200 inches of annual rainfall drains through the Yela basin, an area of land that comprises roughly 4% of the islands' total land mass, and contains what many scientists consider to be the world's last remaining intact stand of Terminala Carloninensis trees.

The tree is more commonly referred to as Ka on Kosrae, and is the predominant species found in the freshwater swamps, acting as giant filters between the upland mountains and the mangroves, sea-grass beds, and reefs.

The ongoing circumferential road project is now less than a mile away from the Yela drainage, and environmental groups, American and Japanese scientists from the US Forest Service, and other concerned citizens are looking for ways to keep the forest, and its pristine watershed, away from the effects of heavy road-building machines and encroachment.

The Terminalia forests were once common on both Pohnpei and Kosrae, but heavy logging during the Japanese era, and farming, development, and settlement in the ensuing years has left the Yela Ka stand as the last of its kind globally.

The government has been sending personnel from various agencies into the massive swamp to ascertain the most viable route, trying to balance both financial and environmental considerations.

Simpson Abraham, the Director of the Development Review Commission, the environmental and permitting arm of the government, has been spearheading efforts to bring awareness to what he considers to be "an area of particular concern" on Kosrae.

According to Abraham, the forest is of major biological, educational, ecological, aesthetic, and economic importance to the island and the people. His major priority at this point, he stated, is to get together with the main landowners and try to come to a consensus on the value of saving rather than cutting the area.

Ka Forest

Along with Bruce Howell, the Director of Public Works, Simpson recently hosted Richard Creed, a retired civil engineer who resides most of the time in the woods of Northern Idaho, but over the last decade has become well known in environmental circles for his mindful efforts on roads in Yap, Guam, Hawaii, and Palau. Creed likens the soils and environment of Yela to be "like the East Coast of Babeldoab."

Creed said he often finds himself in the delicate situation of balancing the pressures of development with the needs of the environment, a situation that he is acutely aware of at Yela. Creed generally insists on doing things the "right" way, trying to find solutions to problems that others may have overlooked.

"It's a complex system, much like the relationship between the people and the land, you can't just come in and take it apart." Said Creed, while pouring over a detailed map of the area, showing a new route for the road that suggests less impact to the ecosystems. "It can be done in a manner with a minimal amount of disturbance to the environment."

If you are in Kosrae, make the effort to get a boat ride into the area for a hike. The towering trees, with their huge wall roots and canopy of nearly perpendicular branches, are about as tropical as one can get.

Indeed, nearly mythical.

Legislature Continues Second Session

On the minds of the legislators: over speeding, overspending, and over fishing.

August 29, 2003

By Olivier Wortel
Kosrae Korrespondent to the Kaselehlie Press

TOFOL, KOSRAE - Some recent actions to come out of the 8th KSL's ongoing Second Regular Session.

LB 8-53 passed its second reading to appropriate $8,400 to fund the tuition costs of three law students from Kosrae. The monies provided by the bill will go to support the scholastic endeavors of three of Kosrae's top students abroad.

Yoslin P. Sigrah, the first Kosraean to attend a U.S. law school, will continue at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Johnson Asher and Sweetyona Waguk will attend the University of the South Pacific Law School in Vanuatu.

Another bill, LB 8-22, brought a total of thirteen major rivers under government protection as public property. (See story "KSL Puts Kosrae's Rivers Under Protection", in this issue of the Kpress.)

A proposed appropriation for the Marine Park in the Utwe-Walung Conservation Area, a popular picnic site for locals and visitors, was initially reduced from $47,000 to $25,000, and then tabled after legislators went along with the recommendation of the committee report which suggested in part that, "Past appropriations for improvement activities at the Park were never satisfactorily implemented."

The legislature also passed resolution 8-37, requesting Governor Sigrah immediately dismiss his legal advisor, Ron Bickett. The resolution sites law 7-283, the State Lawyers Act, as the basis for the request, stating that Bickett is not in compliance with the law as legal advisor to the governor.

Attorney General Danny Clearman stated that the current contract of Bickett is in full compliance with the law, and was when he approved the contract four months ago when it went into effect.

The final draft of the State Lawyers Act does include language for the positions of Legislative Counsel and the Attorney General and Assistant AG, but does not include either the Kosrae State Court Counsel or any Legal Advisor in its provisions.

Bickett called LR 8-37 "misguided", and inconsistent with the Legislature's previous stance that the Executive and Legislative branches not meddle with the others' employees or affairs.

In Miscellaneous Business, Senator Reed Nena discussed the problem of drivers "over speeding" and called for ways to address the problem, particularly on the stretch of Tafunsak pavement going to the airport, where many families live close to the road.

Senator Bob Skilling made a statement for people to adopt responsible fishing habits, and for those who fish in Kosrae's reefs and waters to limit their catch to the larger fish and not to over fish

KSA Could See Export Market Grow to Neighbor Islands

Continental slashes rates nearly fifty percent from Kosrae to Pohnpei and the Marshalls.

August 29, 2003

By Olivier Wortel
Kosrae Korrespondent to the Kaselehlie Press

OKAT, KOSRAE - Continental Micronesia's Cargo Sales division has lowered the amount that local farmers must pay to ship foods to Pohnpei, Majuro, and Kwajalein.

In some cases, shipping agricultural products - termed international fruits and vegetables by the carrier - from Kosrae to its neighboring trading partners and beyond has been reduced by up to fifty percent of the previous plane trans-shipment costs.

The savings, or SCR 15 Rates, will surely expand the export opportunities for Kosrae, the goal of the new program set up by Continental Cargo Sales, which started on August 6 and will continue through March 31, 2004.

Guam, Saipan, and Hawaii will also benefit from the new rates emanating on the Kosrae leg of the island hopper route. The higher the volume of weight shipped the lower the rates.

Senator John Martin of Utwe, himself a large grower of bananas, oranges, tangerines, mandarines, and vegetables on the seaside mountain slopes of Finsrem, lobbied hard for the concessions by Continental to expand the export opportunities for Kosrae, an island long known in the region for its high quality of citrus and root crops.

Martin said that customers in the Marshalls and Guam, where bananas and taro are popular, and importers of citrus in Pohnpei, have already placed nearly double orders due to the new SCR 15 Rates. Martin also suggested that the potential competition between Palau Micronesia Air (PMA) effected the decision for Continental to lower rates at this time.

Kosrae may be a stakeholder in PMA come December, and the upstart airline has already promised discounts in cargo and passenger fares. PMA has proposed to start service to Pohnpei and Kosrae in the latter part of 2003.

Representatives from the division of Commerce and Industry will join personnel from the department of Agriculture and Fisheries later in the month on a trip to Ebai and Majuro in efforts to promote increased trade between the two Freely Associated States.

Is Globalization Killing Island Languages?

Educators at last month's PIBBA conference: Pacific languages are being squeezed out.

July 9, 2003

By Olivier Wortel Kosrae Korrespondent to Tia Belau News

KOSRAE, FSM - This story you are reading should not be written in English.

More than 100 educators from around the Pacific gathered in Rota, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands last month to promote and develop bilingualism and biculturalism while expressing concern about the "takeover" of the English language and Western culture.

In the case of American Samoa, Flowerpot Salas said many residents prefer to use English because they don't find their native language "useful." Palau delegates, headed by President Tommy Remengesau, said in cases of conflict in their island nation, English prevails over the Palauan language. Pohnpei's Hanover Ehsa, chief of the state's education department for curriculum, said island nations are slowly losing their identities.

In Kosrae, Alister Tolenoa, Chief of Instructional Services and former PIBBA President, says that a constitutional amendment makes Kosraean and English the official languages, and that in cases of conflict, Kosraean should prevail.

"In reality," he says, "when it comes into conflict we start interpreting English terms and start questioning our imported lawyers." This is because, Tolenoa states, laws are written in English, 99% of written communication in the government is English, and traffic and safety signs are written in English. "These are very dangerous practices."

To counter this the FSM has mandated a language policy for the development of locally produced instructional materials and learning resources, and the establishment of local language commissions for each state.

The effort at what Tolenoa popularly refers to as the "preservation and maintenance of language and culture" has resulted in the first educational assisted software not only for Kosrae, but probably for all Micronesia: a computer game for grades preschool to sixth that features photos of the local culture and entirely composed in the Kosraean venacular.

Developed last summer in cooperation with the Shonan Institute of technology in Japan, the game has been immensely popular with teachers and students alike in initial pilot tests. The summer of 2003 will bring together Ken Hough, a middle-school student at St. Maur International School in Yokohama, who developed the software, and Sepe Rensley Sigrah, the first Kosraean to graduate in Linguistics at the University of Hawaii, to continue the emphasis on first language literacy.

"I think Kosrae is ahead in this area." States Tolenoa

For David Hough, noted author, linguist, and professor at the Shonan Institute, the reason that islands are losing their identities to U.S. values is simple. Globalization.

"While Kosrae has been spared much of this to date - the plantations, tourist industry, fishing companies that extract massive natural resources, have yet to overwhelm - the problems of globalization and development are still there. They manifest themselves, in among other ways, in the shift to a labor economy from subsistence."

"Although language shift (loss of first language) may not be obvious immediately," Hough adds, "the very fact that English becomes the language necessary to procure employment and supposedly advance, makes it also a killer language."

"You don't see it immediately," Tolenoa says, "but in the long run we will lose our language. If we don't develop it in writing, or on the computer, we won't have anything to refer to in the future."

Caption for photo: The mixing of technology and tradition: Jerry Tulensru and Ken Hough work on the first locally developed educational software in Micronesia, part of an ongoing effort in Kosrae to preserve and maintain a standardized language.

FSM Judge Yamase Rules on the Fate of $3 million in Kosrae

The KSL looks for a Preliminary Injunction, while the FSMDB wants a Motion to Dismiss.

April 29, 2003

By Olivier Wortel Kosrae Korrespondent to Tia Belau News

KOSRAE - The skirmish for $3 million in IDF monies continued on April 15 and 16 as the 8th Kosrae State Legislature (KSL) attempted to arrest, or at least, delay the FSM Development Bank from releasing monies to an economic development project in Kosrae.

Governor Sigrah, through the Federated Development Authority, has steadfastly backed the use of the funds to bankroll private economic development, create jobs, increase the tax base, and provide for what proponents of Tropical Waters Kosrae, Inc. (TWKI) have claimed to be a reliable and sustainable export item for Kosrae: Fresh aquifer water.

Meanwhile, the 8th KSL has sought to gain control of the monies to use for more immediate prospects, in particular, funding the balance of the Kosrae obligation to the FSM Trust Fund.

A variety of methods have been attempted - a Legislative Resolution introduced by Senator Gibson Siba of Lelu, a Fiscal Policy Act passed by the 8th KSL and vetoed by the Governor, and at last a lawsuit brought against the FSMDB - all with little effect on the forward progress of a project masterminded, from all accounts, by Attorney General of Kosrae, Ron Bickett.

It has been defined increasingly as a State rights versus National authority issue, with the KSL and Kosrae Executive Branch the principal players. FSM Associate Justice Dennis Yamase and the Supreme Court stepped into the fray in a hearing loaded with government witnesses, Bank mangers, and enough electricity to keep Guam free of a brownout for at least one year.

Rhonda Byers, Legislative Counsel representing the KSL stated in her argument that, "The Bank put the (TWKI) application in the best possible light", and further that the Bank "twisted the report" to meet the needs of the FDA.

James Woodruff, counsel for the FSMDB, would reveal in his rebuttal that the FDA had in fact "pre-approved the loan" long before any reports were submitted to them. A discretion that the FDA apparently has.

Indeed, the FSMDB report, along with the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) Comments to the FDA, are littered with critical remarks of the project. "As evident," it states on page 14 of the FSMDB evaluation report to the DEA, "the weaknesses and threats overweigh the strength and opportunities for this loan and the proposed project."

The DEA also made several recommendations to the FDA, all of which were adopted in part or whole by the Presidential and Gubernatorial Board. The DEA stated that the equity contribution was too low - $5,000 - and should be raised to somewhere between $180,000 and $300,000. DEA comments also called for collateralization of the loan, as there has been none.

"It is unheard of in the banking business for loans in millions of dollars to be offered without requirement of collateralization."

It was revealed in the hearing that loan monies would not be disbursed until certain other conditions are met. These include plant and commercial feasibility studies, a Development Review Commission permit and environmental impact assessment, as well as an interest rate of three percent, as opposed to the zero percent the applicants had originally requested.

Byers added in her closing remarks, "We are bringing this suit in behalf of the people of Kosrae…The Chief Advisor is involved and cannot bring a suit. Cannot objectively represent the interests of the State when his own interests are involved. That is why someone must step in."

Woodruff added in his closing argument, "There is no relationship whatsoever between the Bank and the Kosrae Legislature…It is specious at best." In his rebuttal to Ms. Byers' closing argument, he commented that the IDF is not for the benefit of the people of Kosrae per se, but to promote trade between the US and the FSM.

In the outcome, Yamase dismissed the case for lack of standing, and for "lack of subject matter jurisdiction."

In its First Special Session, the 8th KSL must now decide on whether to override the veto of the Fiscal Policy Act, and decide on the nomination of Ron Bickett as AG.

Kosrae Conservation Group Hires Director

Andy George assumes the position of Managing Director for the NGO.

April 15, 2003

By Olivier Wortel Kosrae Korrespondent to Marianas Variety
KOSRAE - Kosrae Conservation and Safety Organization (KCSO), an environmental NGO, recently hired Andy George as its Managing Director. He will be working with Peace Corps Volunteer, Brendan Hurley on environmental projects.

Andy George and Brendan Hurley

Andy George (left) and Brendan Hurley of KCSO. The NGO has a broad cross-section of support and hopes to help in the effort to protect Kosrae's reefs, rivers, and forests.

Experienced in environmental education and conservation issues, George will seek to collaborate specifically with the other environmental organizations on the island, both at the State Government and Municipal levels.

"KCSO is very willing to help and assist in any way in regard to conservation." He said. "This is an interest group," he stated in reference to the NGO. "We are not under legal obligation to do this, we do it because we love it." He and Hurley both stress the need for communication and collaboration for there to be any conservation success.

One of his first priorities with KCSO will be to spearhead the Ka Campaign Project, an ambitious plan to set aside as a conservation area and eventual eco-tourism reserve of what many scientists believe to be the last uncompromised and intact Terminalia forest in the world. (Ka, scientifically known as Terminalia Carolinensis, is a large canopy tree that is predominate in the freshwater swamps and riparian zones.)

Holding workshops with landowners and ensuring that the planned circumferential road goes around the forest will be challenges to look forward to, he stated.

"We are looking forward to a major role in the Ka Campaign. The conservation of the Ka stand with all of the means available."

Kosrae Speaker, Vice, and Floor Leader Look Ahead

Leaders of the 8th Legislature discuss the bills of 2002 and their hopes for the new term.

February 5, 2003

By Olivier Wortel Kosrae Korrespondent

2002 saw the introduction of 101 bills at the Legislature. 45 of those bills became law.

Among the bills that became law: · Bill 7-391, which became State Law 7-221, increasing funding in the Travel category in the Legislature's Operation Budget by $20,000.

· Bill 7-393, now S.L. 7-215, which allocated $315,000 to the Kosrae Department of Education for capital improvement projects to classrooms, the Kosrae High School office building, an education multipurpose building, and an education complex drainage system.

· Bills 7-405 and 7-433, now State Laws 7-217 and 7-229, appropriating $88,446 and $36,283 to fund the Workforce Investment Act.

· Bill 7-441, now S.L. 7-241, changes the holiday law allowing weekend holidays to be celebrated to fit with common practices and work schedules.

· Bill 7-442, now S.L. 7-246, to provide for more comprehensive educational programs and services for children with disabilities.

· Bill 7-443, now S.L. 7-247, increasing the salaries of the Senators, Governor, Lt. Governor, Justices, and the Public Auditor.

· Bill 7-446, which became S.L. 7-234, a $10,000 appropriation funding the Ka (Terminalia Carolinensis) tree comprehensive education campaign.

Some notable bills that did not pass, but might be revisited in the 8th Legislature:

· Bill 7-440, which proposes free on-island medical and dental services to senior citizens.

· Bill 7-445, to authorize off-island polling places to fax or email ballot results to the Chairman of the Election Commission.

· Bill 7-450, a proposed $50,000 appropriation to renovate/expand the Kosrae-owned medical referral housing in Honolulu, Hawaii.

· Bill 7-452, to conform Oversight Board provisions and activities to constitutional mandates under the Separation of Powers Doctrine.

· Bill 7-453, a sweeping financial mandate that would seek to ensure financial independence for all three branches of government; to provide a more transparent and unified state-wide financial management system; and to eliminate check processing delays by the Department of Finance and Administration.

On the effectiveness of the Legislature, Speaker Hiteo Shrew averred that the process of passing laws is not a simple one.

"Passing a bill is not a simple thing. It is something that ten members of the legislature must agree to support. Certain things may cause a bill not to come up, such as limited time or lack of information on an issue - however the Legislature will look for anyway to come up with a law based on what it can do to protect the people."

Looking forward, Vice Speaker Patterson Benjamin said, "We need to rework the tax system here…We cannot maintain current government spending with the current tax structure. Perhaps cut the number of Senators from fourteen to ten - or something like that - decrease the number of government workers."

Sometimes, Vice Speaker Benjamin admitted, legislators need to make tough and unpopular decisions, such as streamlining municipal and state government "Sometimes the Legislature needs to take the lead, that is why we are elected."

For Floor Leader, Lyndon Jackson, a major frustration has been the adversarial relationship between the Executive and Legislative branches of government over the last term. "This has not benefited Kosrae," he said.

He added, "We have a duty to see that all measures introduced are investigated…We have to take action on all the bills. Most important, we should always seek comments and opinions from our constituents. If we want to have good laws, a good democracy, we need the people."

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