Gov. Ralph DLG Torres would be meeting with U.S. Department of Defense officials and the Idaho governor, while the Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog is off-island on a separate trip, leaving Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan) as the acting governor until their return.
The governor, according to press secretary Kevin Bautista, is in Boise, Idaho to meet with DOD Office of Economic Adjustment, or OEA, Western Regional Director Gary Kuwabara on local community development grant opportunities and grant management capacity grant funding
The OEA’s primary mission is to help local communities adapt to DoD program changes, expansions and cutbacks, as well as incompatibilities between military operations and local development. OEA works with other federal agencies to help ensure local communities have access to the full breadth of federal resources and serves as a focal point for transition assistance.
“Given the military’s pivot into the Pacific, the OEA has been a critical partner for the Office of the Governor in determining critical federal resources that will allow for not only employment and funding opportunities, but also in ensuring community involvement within military discussions so that local concerns are heard and transitions run smoothly,” Bautista said.
Torres’ pursuit of grant management capacity funding allows for the development of young and local residents to receive the proper training needed to work in the federal grants process, he added.
Under Torres’ direction, Bautista said the CNMI Office of Grants Management has been at the forefront of applying for, competing for, and receiving about $200 million of awarded federal funds for the CNMI over the last three years. He said the management capacity funding creates a pipeline for local graduates, young people, and seasoned financial analysts to receive training to add to this progress.
Torres meets Idaho governor
Torres during his trip would also be meeting with Idaho Gov. Butch Otter to discuss “strengthening the partnership” between the CNMI and Boise State University, or BSU—Torres’ alma mater.
“[Torres] initiated the discussions to have… [CNMI] students visit the state office and transition smoothly into college,” said Bautista, referring to the 10 incoming BSU students this fall semester.
“Through collaborations with the Marianas Young Professionals and the Million Dollar Scholars Program under the leadership of 2017 CNMI Teacher of the Year Gerard Van Gils, the Million Dollar Scholars Program now has a partnership with Boise State University. The two governors’ meeting further fostered the relationship between the CNMI and BSU,” he said.
Bautista’s statement did not specify the date of the governor’s return.
Saipan Tribune attempted to ask about Hocog’s whereabouts, however John O. Gonzales, Hocog’s chief of staff, was unable to respond at the time of writing.
According to those familiar, Hocog has been off-island for over a month.