Department of Public Safety officers will soon be receiving three new patrol vehicles, according to Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan.
The congressman received word Thursday that Interior Assistant Secretary Anthony Babauta has signed off on a grant of $136,000 for the police cars. The award is in addition to a grant of about $80,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in July, bringing the total of new DPS vehicles to five. Sablan worked with DPS officials on finding the funding.
Babauta also Thursday awarded $10,000 in seed money to the Nurturing Transformative & Sustainable Communities, or NUTESE, program to help establish a 24-hour sexual assault crisis hotline.
“Today's Technical Assistance Program grants will provide support for one of the most critical needs in the Northern Marianas, public safety,” Babauta said.
“I appreciate that the Office of Insular Affairs continues to have the resources we need to help the Northern Marianas, as well as Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, because of the strong voice and hard work of Congressman Sablan and his territorial colleagues in the U.S. Congress.”
Insular Affairs also recently used Technical Assistance Program funds for a $20,000 grant to the Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence and a $10,000 grant to the Public School System's Parent, Teacher & Student Association.
“I am very glad to have been able to work in cooperation with each of these community groups and government agencies to bring this federal funding home to the Northern Marianas,” Congressman Sablan said.
“This money will help us tackle the issues we all care about: improving education, making our communities safer, and responding to the problem of domestic violence.
“I am also very glad to have good partners at the Department of the Interior, and thank Assistant Secretary Babauta and his staff for their support and their understanding of these critical needs in our islands.”
In addition to the three new patrol vehicles, yesterday's $136,000 grant will also purchase 100,000-mile maintenance packages to keep the vehicles running.
“Patrolling our villages and being always on call to respond to accidents and other emergencies means that DPS pushes its vehicles to the limit, often operating them around the clock.
“At the same time there is very little local funding for maintenance and repair. So we burn through these cars quickly.
“My hope is that buying the maintenance packages together with the patrol cars will keep them in good condition longer, so our DPS officers have the tools they need to do their job,” Sablan said.
$30K addresses domestic and sexual violence
The $10,000 grant to NUTESE will be used to set up a 24-hour sexual and domestic assault hotline. The Nurturing Transformative & Sustainable Communities program provides crisis counseling, information, and referral services to victims and survivors of assault and to their friends, family members and significant others.
The grant also reinforces last month's award of $20,000 in Technical Assistance Program funds to the Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence. Those monies will enable the establishment of a batterer's intervention program, “Chechu La'lahe,” or “Men's Work.”
“In addition to the Coalition, I was also advised by the judiciary that we needed a treatment program for batterers,” Sablan explained.
“Right now, anger management is all there is available. Chechu La'lahe will provide another means of rehabilitation for the Courts to use.”
Parent, Teacher, and Student Association gets grant
The Public School System's Parent, Teacher, and Student Association is another recent Technical Assistance grant awardee. A $10,000 grant to PTSA is aimed at increasing parents' participation in their children's education as required by Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
“You could say it's Parents First, when it comes to education,” Sablan said. “Parents are the first educators of their children. And when kids start their formal schooling parents need to stay involved and work in partnership with the school system to ensure their children succeed.
“This funding will enable PTSA leaders to meet that goal.”
The grant monies will go toward educating parent leaders on Rota, Tinian, and Saipan, about the role of parents in meeting Title I goals. School personnel will also gain new tools, technical assistance, and support in the implementation of Title I programs.
The grant announcements bring to seven the number of recent Technical Assistance Program awards for the Northern Mariana Islands for a total of over $271,000.
In addition to the awards for DPS, NUTESE, the Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, and the PTSA, the Office of Insular Affairs previously awarded $75,000 to the Marianas Visitors Authority, $10,000 to the Northern Marianas Humanities Council, and $10,000 to the Northern Mariana Islands Museum of History and Culture.
“I have made it a priority to help our community get more federal funding,” said Sablan.
“So the congressional office has brought federal agencies that have money together with local groups that need funding. And we have also helped local individuals, non-profits, and government offices get better at finding federal funds themselves and better at applying for grants.
“I applaud all of those who worked hard to put together these winning applications, which ultimately benefit each and every one of us. And, again, I thank Assistant Secretary Babauta and his staff for recognizing the value and importance of these Technical Assistance Program funds to the well-being of the people of the Northern Mariana Islands.”