Oceanview calls for help with overgrown trees
by Krystal Paco
Guam - The Oceanview Middle School Knights are in need of some saving. The Agat campus continues to battle it out with overgrown vegetation that may pose a threat to students' safety and the school's temporary buildings.
"It's pretty scary at this point because at our 'C' and 'D' Wings, they are wooden and tin structures and we have large trees that are overlapping in the tin roof areas. So we've requested since last year that the Department of Agriculture assess it. And we received a permit and they've given us the green light to go ahead and get the trees cut ," said Oceanview principal Lynda Hernandez-Avilla. She told KUAM News thar her students are advised to keep off the courtyard as the 30-foot trees pose major safety concerns.
Hernandez-Avilla recalls the accident in 2010 when a 54-year-old woman died after being struck from a falling tree while watching the Liberation Day Parade in Anigua. "When you hear events like that, you never know when it's going to happen you think the trees are strong, and then it just snaps right under so it's really risky at this point," she added.
According to Department of Education safety administrator Bruce Williams, Oceanview is not a top priority as other schools struggle with larger trees that prohibit students from playing in the playground, including the Ordot-Chalan Pago and Marcial Sablan Elementary Schools. Williams says DOE cannot do the work themselves due to lack of chainsaws and bucket trucks.
Department of Public Works director Joanne Brown says she has responded to DOE's request for assistance but cannot help due to lack of resources within her agency. Brown admits that DPW has had to rent out equipment to do roadwork around the island. Although the Guam Power Authority has yet to receive a formal request from DOE, GPA spokesperson Art Perez says the agency's bucket trucks are heavily involved with islandwide maintenance projects, especially those to prevent outages.
In the meantime, principal Hernandez-Avilla continues to call for help, saying, "At this point we're just holding our breath, hoping that someone will come forward some agency even a private company can come and assist our school." She added, "Ae always say that safety is first on campus in order for learning to continue and teaching will go on."