Guam – The government of Guam saved millions in future federal funding opportunities this past week that were in jeopardy. The payment made to save this funding also will fix a six-year-old flooding problem in Merizo.
[Caption: Governor Eddie Baza Calvo presents the government of Guam’s cost share payment of major federal grant to National Resources Conservation Service Assistant Director for the Pacific Region Bart Lawrence.]
Governor Eddie Baza Calvo prioritized the payment of Guam’s small cost share of a six-year-old grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. This $115,000 payment to the NRCS is Guam’s cost share of $2.1 million. The payment, made before January 15 (NRCS’s deadline), ensures Guam can qualify for future grants. It also provides funding to start fixing private property in Merizo, owned by family of Delores and the late Fred Barcinas family, damaged during Typhoon Tingting by a major landslide.
“The fact that it took this long for the local government to make good on its obligations to even a federal grant really highlights the cash situation we’re in,” Governor Calvo said. “We can’t afford to just write off money from the federal government, especially when that money is going directly to fix problems residents have.”
Delores Barcinas attended the Governor’s media conference today, where she spoke through tears thanking the Governor, Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio, and local and federal partners for finally prioritizing her struggles. She said she wished her husband could be there. Mr. Barcinas died two years ago.
Merizo Mayor Ernest Chargualaf, Santa Rita Mayor Dale Alvarez and Piti Mayor Ben Gumataotao joined the Governor in the media conference.
Typhoon Tingting caused severe erosion, landslides and flooding, especially in the Nimitz Hill area, Santa Rita and Merizo. The National Resources Conservation Service provided Guam $2.1 million to mitigate the damage. Guam was supposed to pay its matching share of the grant two years ago. Meanwhile, the NRCS provided this funding, approving seven projects throughout the island. Six of those projects were completed. The final project, the mitigation of the Barcinas property, was on hold because of the funding issues.
Department of Public Works Director Joanne Brown discovered the problem when she took office in January. She worked diligently with the Guam Soil and Water Conservation District, NRCS and the Department of Administration to make the payment. Governor Calvo recognized the need for the payment, and the government’s fiduciary responsibility to save future funding, and approved it.