Residents and tourists alike would soon witness the unveiling of a new island attraction after the Saipan Municipal Council disclosed yesterday that the Saipan Leadership Memorial Kios-ku project will be completed in two months' time.
Ray Camacho, chairman of the 11th Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council, urged the families of those who will be honored by the historical monument to take part in the council's meeting on Aug. 9, 6pm, at the Multi-Purpose Center for their final input.
The kios-ku heralds the pivotal roles played by scores of local leaders in the political advancement and modernization of the Commonwealth.
To date, a total of 336 names of local leaders will be honored in the courtyard, said Camacho, all of them having contributed to the economic and social progress of the CNMI during the Naval, Trust Territory, and Commonwealth eras.
Camacho said the committee for the project has tentatively endorsed a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 24, a date that still needs to be finalized with the families at the upcoming meeting.
Only a few showed up at the last three meetings for the families, hampering efforts of the committee to decide on other matters relating to the project. Camacho said the Aug. 9 meeting is intended to gather a final input and last-minute checking of details with the nominees' families.
He described the ribbon-cutting in September as one of the most important celebrations for the community. The leadership courtyard will after all not only honor CNMI leaders but will also have educational purposes for future generations, he said.
In a visit to the courtyard yesterday, workers were seen putting mostly finishing touches on the project.
According to Camacho, the Kios-ku is considered the biggest municipal council project so far and the beginning of more projects for the community.
Saipan Tribune learned that funding for the project was sourced from the Northern Marianas Housing Corp.'s community development block grant of over $400,000. This project was initiated by the 10th municipal council.
Besides the kios-ku project, the council also initiated other community programs such as the neighborhood watch, village revitalization projects, agriculture and farming, and adopt-a-highway program-all aimed to help ensure the safety and welfare of villages.
Camacho revealed that due to the limited appropriation for the council's operation and personnel, members are currently functioning as volunteers because they are not being paid a salary, as mandated by law.
The council has a $67,000 budget for the current fiscal year-an amount lower than what Rota and Tinian municipal councils are receiving.
The proposed budget for incoming fiscal year 2013 allocates a similar amount for Saipan while the Rota municipal council is budgeted for $171,000 and the Tinian council, $145,000.
Camacho said he will continue appeal to the Legislature to increase the council's budget, citing the projects and functions it is performing.
Camacho said he has no problem with the idea of abolishing the municipal council, as proposed by some sectors, but since it is still existing and is functioning well, it should be supported.
Camacho, who is serving a second term, will seek re-election this November.
Eleventh Saipan & Northern Islands Municipal Council chair Ray Camacho shows Saipan Tribune the list of appointed and elected leaders of the CNMI who will be honored in the new monument.