HPO halts construction on MHS cafeteria; human bone, artifacts found at site

THE Historic Preservation Office has halted the construction of the $2.5 million Marianas High School cafeteria after a human bone and some items believed to be of cultural or historical value were found in the excavation two weeks ago.

Glenn Muna, the Public School System’s associate commissioner for administrative services, said the resumption of construction will depend on HPO’s decision.

“They [the construction workers] were doing the land clearing and they were about to begin the process of putting in the foundation when they discovered the human bones and artifacts,” Muna said.

HPO was present at the time of the land clearing. “When they found the artifacts, they issued an order to stop the work.”

He said the order will allow an archeologist to do examine the finds and determine the next step.

“Once we get the archeologist on board and we get the green light from HPO, then the construction will continue,” he added.

PSS, according to Muna, is contacting two or three archeologists on island or on Guam.

“I haven’t seen the report on the artifacts — they have not really removed the soil because we have yet to hire archeologists. We are trying to get quotations from them to determine the lowest bid,” Muna told reporters.

The MHS cafeteria construction may have to be delayed for 30 days, he added. “It depends on how soon archeologist comes in and how soon HPO allows the continuation of the construction of the project.”

Established in 1969, MHS is one of the oldest schools in the CNMI. Muna said there has been no construction or excavation since it was built, especially in the area where the cafeteria was supposed to be built.

PSS federal programs officer Tim Thornburgh noted that the cafeteria is near the MHS gym. “I hope there will be no relocation because there’s not that many open locations at MHS,” he added.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the MHS cafeteria was held in March. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

MHS principal Cherlyn Cabrera said the cafeteria, which was expected to be completed by February 2018, will also serve as a culinary arts classroom.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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