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Friday, November 19, 2021

Ka‘ū News Briefs, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021

Goldman Environmental Prize winner Noah Idechong is The Nature Conservancy's new Executive Director for Micronesia and Polynesia. Goldman Prize honors grassroots leaders involved in local efforts, creating positive change through community or citizen participation. "Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world," says a statement from The Goldman Environmental Prize. Photo from The Goldman Environmental Prize

MICRONESIAN CONSERVATION AND SUSTAINABILITY CHAMPION NOAH IDECHONG is the new Executive Director for the Micronesia and Polynesian Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. TNC made the announcement today, praising him as "a recognized leader in championing conservation in Palau and across the Pacific."  Idechong is a marine biologist and graduate of University of Hawai'i. He is an 
advocate of Palau and Hawai'i becoming two of the top places on the planet for conservation of coral reefs.
    Idechong served as TNC Micronesia's interim director for the last several months, and has been a senior advisor for TNC's large-scale fisheries management since 2015, focused on moving the region's multi-
billion dollar tuna fisheries towards greater sustainability.
    He is a recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize, a Pew Fellowship recipient, and is founding executive director of the Palau Conservation Society. Idechong encouraged and helped the northern Chiefs of Palau establish the first modern Bul (restriction) across state boundaries to protect spawning channels for groupers and other marine species important to Palauan livelihoods. Bul is the strictest tool in the traditional system still used by Chiefs to protect a resource.

Noah Idechong, The Nature Conservancy's new
Executive Director for Micronesia and Polynesia,
is a graduate of University of Hawai'i.
    Idechong has a long history of working collaboratively with people across the region. He shared locally-based approaches such as the Bul with community leaders from Hawai'i via Learning Exchanges that inspired co-management and new resource protection methods, from voluntary rest areas to legally protected marine reserves.
    "Noah has decades of experience in conservation aimed at building a better future for us all," said Mike Sweeney, TNC's Division Director, California, Hawai'i and Micronesia. "As we work to address critical conservation work in the region, Noah's experience working with colleagues from Palau to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Hawai'i, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands will be invaluable."
    Idechong served in the House of Delegates, Olbiil era Kelulau (Palau National Congress) for 12 years, eight as Chair of the Standing Committee on Resources and Development, and his final four as Speaker. While serving the Palau Congress, he worked with counterparts in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam and the Republic of the Marshall Islands to strengthen participation and sharing of responsibilities in management of oceanic and coastal fisheries, while protecting the habitats on which these ecosystems depend.
    Before serving in elected office, Noah helped to found the Palau Conservation Society and served as Chief of Palau's Division of Marine Resources, where he helped draft the country's first marine

conservation legislation, sponsored the creation of the Palau Protected Areas Network, and helped negotiate tuna treaties between the nations of Micronesia, Japan, the U.S. and other nations that share the Pacific.
    An early proponent of the Micronesia Challenge (a commitment by Micronesia's leaders to effectively conserve at least 30 percent of the near-shore marine resources and 20 percent of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by the year 2020), "Idechong is passionate about developing TNC's field-based work to successfully shape national policy and support improved resource management and quality of life for the peoples of the Pacific," said a TNC statement.
    Idechong said, "I will do my best to bring TNC's core values and strengths to bear in supporting the needs of the people of the Pacific, supporting both national aspirations and the need to make incremental progress towards our shared global responsibilities." 

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U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele flying back to Washington to work on passage
of the Build Back Better Act, approved by the House today, and
moving on to the U.S. Senate. Photo from Kahele
 "A ONCE IN A GENERATION INVESTMENT IN THE BACKBONE OF AMERICA," is Ka'u's Congressman Kai Kahele's description of the Build Back Better Act, which passed through the U.S. House of Representatives today. He said it provides much to Hawai'i. Kahele, a member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, said Build Back Better invests in working families. "Like the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Build Back Better Act includes initiatives championed by Kahele and passed with broad community support," says a statement from Kahele's staff. The Build Back Better Act will now move to consideration by the U.S. Senate.
    Kahele said, "This legislation delivers for Hawaiʻi. Hawaiʻi is on the front lines of the climate crisis, the affordable housing crisis and crumbling infrastructure crisis. Our state needs these critical investments."
    The Build Back Better Act will expand access to publicly-funded preschool in Hawaiʻi from three percent of three- and four-year-olds to 100 percent; expand Medicaid coverage to 18,000 currently uninsured people in Hawaiʻi; extend the Child Tax Credit monthly payments to keep our keiki fed, clothed and housed; cut taxes by up to $1,500 for 71,700 low-wage workers in Hawaiʻi through the Earned Income Tax Credit 
(EITC) expansion; and more.
    Kahele's efforts in crafting Build Back Better and the Infrastructure & Jobs Act include the following:
Secured increased investment in wastewater management funding.
    $250 million over five years to a grant program that allows nonprofit organizations to receive funds for the construction, repair, or replacement of decentralized wastewater systems for low or moderate income households, or groups of such households. The program gives priority to households that do not have access to sanitary sewer disposal systems.
    $150 million for grants to States, municipalities and nonprofits to address cesspools and to construct, repair or replace decentralized wastewater systems in the Build Back Better Act.
Historic investments for the Native Hawaiian community including:
    An additional two-year extension of 100 percent Federal Medical Assistance Percentages for Native Hawaiian Health Centers first authorized in the American Rescue Plan;
    $50 million for distribution to Papa Ola Lōkahi and the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems, serving communities throughout the neighbor islands.
    $200 million for Native American and Native Hawaiian language and early childhood educator training and professional development
Allowing for Medicare to negotiate drug pricing for the first time which will lower prescription drug prices for all Americans.
    Allows the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate the prices of up to ten drugs for plan year 2025, which then ramps up to 20 drugs by plan year 2028 and each plan year after;
    Lowers cost of prescription drugs by 25 percent to 60 percent;
    Lowers insulin costs so that Americans with diabetes don't pay more than $35 per month for insulin.
Creating universal, comprehensive paid family and medical leave for the first time in the United States.
    Starting in January 2024, all workers will be eligible for paid leave for new parents, workers dealing with their own serious medical issues or workers who need leave to care for a loved one with a serious illness by providing workers with a not taxed federal benefit that will replace wages by about two-thirds for the average worker.
    The most transformative investments in keiki and caregiving in generations including:
Extending the Child Tax Credit for one more year, continuing to lift millions of American children out of poverty;
    $100 billion to support high quality child care during the first three years by increasing wages for early childhood workforce and investing in child care quality and supply. This bill would also cap families' child care copayments to ensure that no eligible family pays more than 7 percent of their income on child care;
    $18 billion to carry out a universal, high quality, free preschool program;
    $1 billion for grants for land grant universities, which includes support for Native Hawaiian serving institutions.
Build Back Better image from the Education Trust
Enabling construction, rehabilitation, and improvement of more than one million affordable homes through investments like:

    $65 billion to address the capital needs backlog of public housing;
    $10 billion to provide first-time, first-generation homebuyers with financial assistance;
    $1 billion for Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities' housing and community development needs.
Setting United States on course to meet its climate targets through initiatives including:
    $50 million for climate resilience and adaptation activities that serve the Native Hawaiian community;
Tax incentives and funding to spur the deployment of renewable energy, alternative, clean fuels, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, green buildings and the development of a skilled, green energy workforce.
    Investing in veteran services by expanding Department of Veterans Affairs capacity.
$2.4 billion to address immediate and long-term infrastructure needs of the VA nationwide;
$268 million for the VA to conduct an education and training program for health professional students and residents by increasing its number of health professions residency positions.
Making long-overdue investments in infrastructure including:
    Transportation - $1.2 billion to Hawaiʻi to address reconstruction, resurfacing and rehabilitation of highways; $339 million for bridge replacement and repairs in Hawaiʻi; $246 million for infrastructure development at airports in Hawaiʻi; $312 million to improve public transportation options across the state; and $18 million to support the expansion of an electric vehicle charging network in Hawai'i
    Broadband Access - A minimum allocation of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state which will reach at least 33,000 Hawai'i residents currently without broadband coverage; ensuring that 280,000 low income residents are eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit so all families can access affordable internet; and $60 million for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to provide high-speed internet access to more Native Hawaiian families.
Acting State Director for Rural
Development Denise Salmeron
 Safe Water - Competitive grant opportunities including $250 million for grants over five years for individual households with low to moderate income to upgrade from cesspool systems; $390 million to improve water infrastructure across the state and ensure that clean, safe drinking water is a right in all communities.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see www.facebook.com/kaucalendar/. See latest print edition at kaucalendar.com.

USDA'S RURAL DEVELOPMENT WILL INVEST $222 MILLION IN HAWAI'I, GUAM, NORTHERN MARIANAS AND PUERTO RICO as well as 43 other states. Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small made the announcement today saying infrastructure funding will benefit nearly 2.5 million people in rural communities. It also includes $132 million to support health care, food security, and emergency response services for more than 850,000 rural residents in 37 states. Funding addresses the continued fight against COVID-19, which is causing highest case loads ever in such places as rural Alaska. It also aims "to rebuild our economy," said Small. “Rural Americans need emergency response, hospitals and medical facilities, and USDA’s loans and grants invest in critical infrastructure to make that possible. USDA Rural Development puts rural people at the forefront of investment and opportunity to help us all build back better, stronger, and more resilient.”
    The Acting State Director Denise Salmeron, who assumed the position after the departure of Kaʻū  resident Brenda Iokepa-Moses who took a leadership position at Hawai'i County, said these investments are vital for our rural communities in Hawai'i and Western Pacific. Salmeron said, “Through the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program, USDA is investing in critical community facilities that equip, rebuild, and modernize essential services that are vital to our rural communities. These investments also aid in combating the COVID-19 pandemic and aims to build back a better and stronger America.”
    USDA is investing in 536 projects through the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program. The assistance will fund essential community services that will help keep rural America resilient in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The projects will finance emergency response vehicles and equipment; build or improve hospitals and clinics; and combat food insecurity. There is expected to be similar funding in the future when Kaʻū agencies and organizations can apply. Examples in this round of funding are:
    Moloka'i Land Trust - $200,000: This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase vehicles and heavy equipment to improve dirt roads to ensure safe access by staff, volunteers, researchers, and the general public to Native Hawaiian cultural sites and traditional gathering areas. Intense storms and hurricanes damaged more than six miles of dirt roads that lead to 4.5 miles of shoreline used for subsistence gathering, cultural learning, and restoration activities. This area is historically known for providing marine resources necessary for a subsistence lifestyle. Molokai Land Trust has been maintaining the access road system since 2010 through the support of multiple funders including USDA.
    Government of Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency - $200,000: This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase three vehicles and complete repairs to the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency's canine facility located in Tiyan, Guam. The vehicles and improvements to the canine facility will enhance the agency's efforts to prevent importation of illicit drugs and invasive species into the island.
    Northern Marianas College - $183,300: This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase various grounds and maintenance equipment including a 4 X4 pick-up truck, utility trailers, a forklift and an articulating boom lift that were lost or severely damaged by Super Typhoon Yutu which destroyed 90 percent of the college campus in October of 2018.
    More than 100 types of projects are eligible for Community Facilities funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations, and federally recognized Native American tribes. Projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less. For more information, visit https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/community-facilities/community-facilities-direct-loan-grant-program.
    Today’s investments complement the recently announced funding availability under USDA’s Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program, which also is being administered through the Community Facilities program. Through this program, USDA is making up to $500 million available through the American Rescue Plan to help rural health care facilities, tribes and communities expand access to COVID-19 vaccines, health care services and nutrition assistance.
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KAʻŪ HOSPITAL'S SISTER FACILITY HILO MEDICAL CENTER is asking the public to participate in the Access to Care community health assessment survey project by Community First. Completion of the survey provides each participant with a chance to win a $250 KTA Super Stores gift card.
A statement from spokesperson Elena Cabutu says the survey aims for " a simple goal: to better understand what our Hawaiʻi Island community needs to improve timely access to care and health services." It says the short survey will "let us know what access to high quality healthcare looks like for you and your family so we can celebrate the things that are working well and also get resources for those things that are not working so well. Our legislators, insurance companies, and healthcare organizations want to know and we want to elevate our community’s voice and let them know how they can continue to help OR how they can help more."
    Take the survey at: www.accesstocarehawaii.org.

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KAʻŪ COFFEE MILL & VISITOR CENTER. Buy online at kaucoffeemill.com and in person at 96-2694 Wood Valley Road, daily, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

PUNALUʻU BAKESHOP online at bakeshophawaii.com and in-person 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week in x.

ALIʻI HAWAIʻI HULA HANDS COFFEE. Order by calling 928-0608 or emailing alihhhcoffee@yahoo.com.

AIKANE PLANTATION COFFEE COMPANY. Order online at aikaneplantation.com. Call 808-927-2252

MIRANDA'S FARMS KAʻŪ COFFEE. Order online at mirandafarms.com or, in person at 73-7136 Mamalahoa Hwy. See latest print edition at kaucalendar.com..

KUAHIWI RANCH STORE, in person. Shop weekdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, 11 am to 3 p.m. at 95-5520 Hwy 11. Locally processed grass-fed beef, live meat chickens, and feed for cattle, goats, sheep, chickens, horses, dogs, and pigs. Call 929-7333 of 938-1625, email kaohi@kuahiwiranch.com.

DEPRESSED, ANXIOUS, NEED SOMEONE TO TALK TO? Call Department of Health's expanded Hawai‘i C.A.R.E.S. program at 1-800-753-6879 – the same number previously used by Crisis Line of Hawai‘i. Individuals in crisis can also text ALOHA to 741741, available 24/7.

LEARN SELF-CARE THROUGH Big Island Substance Abuse Council's Practice Self-Care Series. For additional series that feature refreshing wellness tips, follow the Behavioral Health & Homelessness Statewide Unified Response Group at facebook.com/bhhsurg

WOMEN'S COLLECTIVE OFFERS HEALTH PROGRAMS. Piko focuses on reproductive health; increasing access, respect, cultural competence, education, and choice. Pilina aims to grow membership and establish a culture of collaborative decision-making. Follow @kau_womens_health_collective. Contact rootsmedieshawaii@gmail.com. Call 808-450-0498.

YOGA WITH EMILY Catey Weiss, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at Volcano Art Center Niʻaulani Campus in Volcano Village. Advanced registration required; $5 per class. volcanoartcenter.org/events, 967-8222.

CHOOSE ALOHA FOR HOME is available to families, to provide a healthy way to grow together using neuroscience and positive psychology. Program uses a series of self-guided videos, activities, and "dinner table discussion topics." Sign up at chooselovemovement.org/choose-love-home.


Register for Boys & Girls Club Mobile Outreach and Tutoring Programs at rb.gy/o1o2hy. For keiki grades 1-6. Contact Boys & Girls Club of the Big Island Administrative Office, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at (808) 961-5536 or email mobiletutoring@bgcbi.org or info@bgcbi.org.

ʻOhana Help Desk offers online How-To Guides for Chromebooks and iPads at rb.gy/8er9wm. ʻOhana Help Desk also available by phone, weekdays, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sundays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Invite Park Rangers to Virtually Visit Classes, through connecting with teachers and home-schoolers with distance learning programs and virtual huakaʻi (field trips). Contact havo_education@nps.gov.

Public Libraries are open for WiFi, pick-up, and other services. Nāʻālehu open Monday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pāhala open Tuesday, noon to 7 p.m., Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., limited entry into library with Wiki Visits. Schedule a Library Take Out time at picktime.com/hspls. Open for library card account help and reference assistance from the front door. WiFi available to anyone with a library card, from each library parking lot. See librarieshawaii.org.

Free Book Exchanges, at laundromats in Ocean View and Nāʻālehu, provided by Friends of the Kaʻū Libraries. Open to all. Keep the books, pass them on to other readers, or return them. Selection of books replenished weekly at both sites.

Read Report on Public Input about Disaster Recovery from damage during the 2018 Kīlauea eruption.
View the Civic Engagement and Comment Analysis Report at rb.gy/awu65k.

Learn About Hawaiʻi's History & Culture through Papakilo Database, papakilodatabase.com.
Virtual Workshops on Hawaiʻi's Legislative Processes through Public Access Room. Sign up by contacting (808) 587-0478 or par@capitol.hawaii.gov. Ask questions and discuss all things legislative in a non-partisan environment. Attend Coffee Hour with PAR: Fridays at 3 p.m. on Zoom, meeting ID 990 4865 9652 or click zoom.us/j/99048659652. PAR staff will be available to answer questions and to discuss the legislative process. Anyone wanting to listen in without taking part in discussions is welcome. Learn more at lrb.hawaii.gov/public-access-room.

Online Directory at shopbigisland.com, co-sponsored by County of Hawai‘i, has a signup sheet for local businesses to fill in the blanks. The only requirement is a physical address on this island.

Food Assistance: Apply for The Volcano School of Arts & Sciences COVID-19 Family Relief Funds. Funded by Volcano Community Association, and members of the VSAS Friends and Governing Boards, who have donated, the fund supplies KTA or Dimple Cheek Gift Cards, or gift cards to other locally owned business, to VSAS families in need. Contact Kim Miller at 985-8537, kmiller@volcanoschool.net. Contributions to the fund can be sent in by check to: VSAS, PO Box 845, Volcano, HI 96785 – write Relief Fund in the memo. See volcanoschool.net

ENROLL CHILDREN, from first through eighth grade, in Kula ʻAmakihi, a program from Volcano School of the Arts & Sciences. It started Aug. 3. Call 808-985- 9800 or visit www.volcanoschool.net.

WALK THROUGH A GUIDED NATURE TRAIL & Sculpture Garden, Mondays, 9:30 a.m. at Volcano Art Center Niʻaulani Campus in Volcano Village. No reservations for five or fewer – limited to ten people. Free; donations appreciated. Email programs@volcanoartcenter.org. Garden is open to walk through at one's own pace, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. www.volcanoartcenter.org. Call 967-8222.

KAʻŪ ART GALLERY is open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. in Nāʻālehu. It features and sells works by local artists and offers other gift items. "We are always looking to collaborate with local artists in our community," said assistant Alexandra Kaupu. Artists with an interest in being featured at Kaʻū Art Gallery and Gift Shop, contact gallery owner and director Corrine Kaupu at kauartgallery@hawaiiantel.biz.

GOLF & MEMBERSHIPS for Discovery Harbour Golf Course and its Clubhouse: The Club offers Social Memberships, with future use of the clubhouse and current use of the pickleball courts as well as walking and running on specified areas of the golf course before 8 a.m. and after 3 p.m. to enjoy the panoramiocean views. Golf memberships range from unlimited play for the avid golfer to casual play options. Membership is required to play and practice golf on the course. All golf memberships include Social Membership amenities. Membership fees are designed to help underwrite programs and improvements to the facilities.Call 808-731-5122 or stop by the Clubhouse during business hours, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily at 94-1581 Kaulua Circle. Email clubatdiscoveryharbour@gmail.com. See The Club at Discovery Harbour Facebook page.

ALOHA FRIDAY MARKETPLACE, hosted by Main Street, is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., grounds of The Old Shirakawa Estate in Waiʻohinu. It features: Made in Hawai'i Products, Organic Produce, Creative Crafts, ARt, Flower and Plants, Food, Ka`u Coffee, Gluen Free Low Carb Goodies, Wellness Services and Products, Clothing, Hand Crafted Treats, Music and more. Vendor and customer inquiries: AlohaFridayMarket@gmail.com.

VOLCANO FARMERS MARKET, Cooper Center, Volcano Village on Sundays. 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., with much local produce, baked goods, food to go, island beef and Hawai‘i Coffee. Cooper Center's EBT Machine, used at the Farmer's Market, is out of service until further notice. EBT is used for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps. Call 808-967-7800.

OCEAN VIEW COMMUNITY MARKET, open Saturdays and Thursdays, 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., on the corner of Kona Drive and Highway 11, where Thai Grindz is located. Managed by Mark Council. Masks mandatory. 100-person limit, social distancing required. Gate unlocked for vendors at 5:30 a.m., $15 dollars, no reservations needed. Parking in upper lot only. Vendors must provide own sanitizer. Food vendor permits required. Carpooling encouraged.

O KAʻŪ KĀKOU MARKET, in Nāʻālehu, open Wednesday, and Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon. Limit of 50 customers per hour, 20 vendor booths, with 20 feet of space between vendors. Masks and hand sanitizing required, social distancing enforced. Contact Sue Barnett, OKK Market Manager, at 808-345-9374 (voice or text) or kaufarmer@aol.com for more and to apply to vend. See facebook.com/OKauKakouMarket.

OCEAN VIEW SWAP MEET is open at Ocean View makai shopping center, near Mālama Market. Hours for patrons are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Vendor set-up time is 5 a.m. Masks required.


VOLCANO ART CENTER ONLINE, in person. Shop at Niʻaulani Campus in Volcano Village, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Gallery in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, open Wednesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Virtual Shopping Appointments offered via Skype or FaceTime. Book at volcanoartcenter.org/shop for $5. Shop online gallery 24/7. Orders shipped or free local pickup available. See the VAC Virtual Classroom, which features over 90 videos. See volcanoartcenter.org/events, call 967-8222.