|Mayor Billy Kenoi spoke to a full house at Na`alehu School last night. Photos by Julia Neal|
Among county chiefs attending were directors of planning, water, public works, parks, police, transportation, civil defense, information, housing, finance, environmental management and economic development, as well as attorneys working for the county. Kenoi said he would “stand here take any question on any topic related to government, and will stay after until all questions are answered.”
|Billy Kenoi's administration reduced consulting contracts|
by $12 million, he told citizens attending the talk story,
where co-sponsor Jessie Marques of Ka`u Rural Health
Community Association talked to the mayor.
The mayor also said he targeted county consulting fees when he took office taking them from $16 million a year to $4 million. More work is done in house now. He pointed to a road project with much of the engineering and management of the project done by county employees, allowing the county to build “twice the road for the same amount of money.”
|Several community members last night|
said they are afraid to go to Kawa,
which recently became county land.
Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
The mayor vowed to work on the issue and said he didn’t want to evict people, who could be fined $25 and come right back to Kawa. He said he wanted to work out a long-term solution and asked for continued patience. “Our goal is to transfer ownership, stewardship and management to the people of Ka`u,” the mayor said. He said that the acquisition of Kawa was “paid for by all the people.”
Paul Makuakani, of Wai`ohinu, offered to take anyone concerned about Kawa to visit Abel Simeona Lui who lives there with friends and family, himself a resident for some 20 years. Lui has claimed the property belongs to him in the face of court decisions allowing for his eviction.
Rancher Kyle Soares asked for more protection for people going to Kawa. “When we go down to Kawa, the police stop at the border as if it was border between Texas and Mexico,” he said. Several others said they had been harassed by people at Kawa and asked the county to take control of the area.
The mayor said Kawa involves complex cultural issues, not just a “series of arrests, evictions, more arrests and evictions.” He said his vision is "a transition and transfer from what it is to what it is going to be."
BETTER COMMUNICATION FOR POLICE was another issue brought forward. Police Chief Harry Kojiri said one initiative is to provide mobile data terminals in every police vehicle that allow police officers to file reports and interact with the Hawai`i Police Department. He noted, however, that to a communications line at the Ocean View Police Substation would cost $1,000 a month. The mayor said that a $30 million project for communication towers to help with civil defense and other county services around the island is in the works.
|Ola Kochis asked Public Works Director Warren|
Lee about water for Green Sands subdivision.
The mayor asked Soares to organize people from Ka`u with water concerns to meet with the county.
MIKE DUBOIS talked about the new Ocean View water spigots expected to be available to the public May 1. He recommended that the speed limit be reduced on Hwy 11 to 30 miles an hour near the water station and also to make the drive through the Ocean View commercial area more pleasant and more likely for visitors to stop in and use local businesses. Public Works Director Warren Lee said he would talk to the state Department of Transportation.
Dubois also asked if overflow water could be used to create a community garden on the grounds of the water station. Mayor Billy Kenoi said he supports the idea.
A COUNTY OFFICE for Ka`u where citizens can participate in County Council meetings remotely and take their concerns was brought up by a member of the public. Kenoi asked Nelson Ho from the office of council member Brittany Smart about the project, which was one of her campaign promises. Ho said that her staff is working with the state to release a section of the old Na`alehu Courthouse, which is not being used, in order to create the regional council office.
KA`U COFFEE FESTIVAL holds a meeting tonight, 5 p.m., at Pahala Community Center. Public is invited to help the coffee farmers celebrate their new industry and thank the community through this annual event to be held on May 12.
HULA HALAU KE `OLU MAKANI O MAUNA LOA performs tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park’s Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium. Donations are accepted, and park entrance fees apply.
|Ka'u experienced unhealthy air quality this morning. The|
proposed shelter gym could have two rooms with air
cleaning equipment. Image from hiso2index.info
The Draft Environment Assessment is available at Pahala and Na`alehu Public Libraries and online at hawaii.gov/health/environmental/oeqc/index.html. Comments can be sent to Tammy Kapali, Planner, PBR Hawai`i & Associates, Inc., 1001 Bishop Street, Suite 650 Honolulu, HI 96813 or faxed to 808-523-1402. Comments can also be sent to County of Hawai`i Department of Public Works, Attn: David Yamamoto, Aupuni Center, 101 Pauahi Street, Suite 7, Hilo, HI 96720 or faxed to 808-961-8630.