Wednesday, January 07, 2009 – The Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands (NMI), the Honorable Benigno R. Fitial, and the new Member of Congress from NMI, the Honorable Gregorio Camacho Sablan, and members of their staffs met today at the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) with Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Doug Domenech and OIA Director Nikolao Pula. They were joined by the Honorable Lyle Laverty, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, and his special assistant Randal Bowman.
Mr. Domenech welcomed Governor Fitial and Congressman Sablan again to OIA, and they discussed a wide range of issues for continued collaboration on data collection for the insular areas, infrastructure, utilities and renewable energy. They also discussed the upcoming Business Opportunities Conference, which will take place in Honolulu, Hawaii, April 6–8, 2009.
Mr. Laverty was pleased to inform the Governor of a recently approved grant from Fish and Wildlife Service for NMI in the amount of $296,675 for historic preservation. Mr. Bowman, who is the Department of the Interior's lead for the Mariana Trench Marine Monument initiative signed by President Bush on January 6, 2009, announced that he would be in touch with the Governor to begin coordination in marine preservation issues.
Governor Fitial was accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Josie Fitial, and staff members, Howard P. Willens, Esq.; Deanne C. Siemer, Esq.; and Jeffrey L. Taylor. Congressman Sablan was accompanied by Becky Cruz Lizama and Robert Schwalbach, respectively his legislative assistant and chief of staff. Also present were several OIA staff members.