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Monday, January 24, 2022

Ka‘ū News Briefs, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022

Gov. David Ige giving the State of the State Address on Monday. Photo from Office of the Governor
PRESCHOOL FOR EVERY CHILD, BETTER BROADBAND AND A $100 REBATE FOR EVERY TAXPAYER AND DEPENDENT are proposed by Gov. David Ige. He presented the plan on Monday in his 2022 State of the State Address, saying that recent projections of state income makes it possible for the tax rebate and much more. "We want to issue refund checks of $100 for every taxpayer and for each of their dependents. For a family of four, that would mean an extra $400. In this way, we'll also inject $110 million back into our economy," said the governor.

    He also urged the Legislature to work with him on taking the next step to provide access to preschool for every child in Hawaiʻi. "There have been a lot of things we've had to postpone because of the pandemic. One of the most important was our proposal to create a universal preschool system in Hawaiʻi," said Ige. "Research tells us that early learning is crucial in preparing our children for school and life in general. We will continue to nurture our early learners through our community-based centers."
    The governor also announced the state is working to maximize federal funding for Broadband and is proposing the largest investment in technology in state history – a total of more than $400 million. "We're calling it Apakau Ka La, 'spreading of the sun's rays' -- and it will support critical infrastructure for the future, connecting all of the main Hawaiian Islands. This initiative will not only close the digital divide between the haves and the have-nots, but it will also strengthen us as a community," said the governor.
    He began his State of the State by saying,  "We’ve endured tremendous hardship over the last two years -- Throughout the pandemic, we’ve sacrificed, delayed, or canceled so many of life’s cherished milestones: weddings and graduations; first birthdays and holiday gatherings. We’ve had to face shutdowns, restrictions of all kinds, and two variants that have changed how we deal with the coronavirus. And the fight is far from over.
Gov. David Ige referred to the Hawai'i State Seal, which says in
 Hawaiian, "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness."
  "But I’m proud of the way that we, as a community, have responded to the pandemic. Our nurses, doctors and healthcare professionals have worked endless shifts to provide quality care and keep our families healthy. Our teachers and principals have gone above and beyond to make sure students have the opportunity to learn despite the many challenges. Our public employees on both the county and state levels have worked together to ensure that we keep everyone safe. And you have done what you’ve had to do to protect all of us—by getting vaccinated and conducting your daily lives responsibly. This pandemic is re-defining us as a generation—in the same way that the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor and the Vietnam War shaped their generations. 
    "Events and history have a way of repeatedly testing us. Each generation must find its own strengths, its own answers, and its own path forward. In many instances, we’ve had to choose between what is best for ourselves as individuals and what is best for us as a community. As a state, we’ve never been one to take the easy path. Instead, we choose to do the right things for the right reasons. Last week, we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. day. He said, “The time is always right to do what’s right.” In Hawai’i, we have a name for this: pono or righteousness. An idea so important that it’s imprinted on our state seal. Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ‘Āina i ka Pono. The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness. We have much to do in this session. I have three goals this year: To continue to steer us through the pandemic, to strengthen our families and communities, and to move toward full economic recovery. With your help, I know we can accomplish all three."
     See more in on the State of the State in Tuesday's Kaʻū News Briefs.

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GRASSROOT INSTITUTE OF HAWAI'I COMMENDED GOV. DAVID IGE'S PROPOSAL TO REFUND TAXES TO HAWAI'I CITIZENS. The announcement came during his State of the State address, the governor proposing each Hawai'i taxpayer and dependent receive $100. 
     The statement from Grassroot said, "the average family would receive a much-needed $400, which, the governor noted, would 'also inject $110 million back into our economy, giving it a boost as well.'"                   Grassroot Institute of Hawaii President Keli'i Akina said it "will help businesses and residents still struggling to recover from the COVID-19 lockdowns. The governor is definitely on the right track, and now that he has endorsed the idea of a refund, we hope that the Legislature will act promptly to put the governor's plan into action, or even increase the refund amount. This is one of the best and most immediate ways for the Hawai'i Legislature to help working families while boosting the economy. The money for the tax refund is available thanks to higher-than-expected revenues, combined with an infusion of federal funds that has left Hawai'i with a $3 billion budget windfall.
Grassroot Institute of Hawai'i supports tax refund by
State of Hawai'i. Photo from Grassroot Institute
    Earlier this month, the Grassroot Institute of Hawai'i suggested Hawai'i lawmakers return at least $1 billion of the windfall to Hawaii taxpayers. Joe Kent, institute executive vice president, writing in the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle, said that if the state distributed just $1 billion of its recent windfall cash to Hawai'i's 734,673 taxpayers, that would result in $1,361 per taxpayer. He noted that Hawai'i's Constitution requires that any "excess revenues" be given back to taxpayers, if the revenues are over 5% for each of two successive fiscal years — "exactly the situation we are in today, as the state's revenues increased by 8.1% in fiscal 2021 and are projected to show a [15]% gain by the end of fiscal 2022." Kent added that over the years, Hawaii's constitutional tax-refund provision has been amended to also allow excess revenues to be saved for a rainy day or be used to pay down debt or unfunded liabilities — "but any of the three options, he said, would be good moves."
    In any case, said Kent, "there still would be plenty of room to lower state taxes, which would be a refreshing change from the deluge of tax-hike proposals we see each year."
   Akina also urged that the governor and Legislature look for ways to lighten Hawai'i's exceptionally high tax burden. "What we need most are policies that would lower the cost of living in Hawai'i, and that begins with more responsible budgeting and spending. By proposing the return of excess funds to the taxpayers, Gov. Ige has demonstrated that he is listening to the people."

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OCEAN VIEW RESIDENT TRAVIS LEKA, 33, has been arrested and charged for his outstanding warrants, as well several other crimes occurring in the Ocean View area. .
According to the Hawai'i Police Department, on Sunday, Jan. 16, at 9:54 a.m., police responded to a report of an unidentified man who was captured on video surveillance within a residence on Prince Kūhiō Blvd. in the Hawaiian Ocean View Ranchos Subdivision. The suspect, later identified as Travis Leka, left the area on foot prior to the officers’ arrival, but was later located by police on Hawai`i Blvd. in the Hawaii Ocean View Estates Subdivision.
Travis Leka, 33, has been arrested
for thefts, assaults and other crimes
in Ocean View. Photo from HPD
    At 11:05 a.m., Leka was arrested without incident for his two outstanding warrants and for suspicion of burglary. He was taken to the Nā‘ālehu Police Station while Detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigation Section continued the investigation into this and other crimes he was suspected of being involved with in the Ocean View area.
    Later Sunday evening and after conferring with the County Prosecutor’s Office, police charged Leka for one count of first-degree burglary in connection with the Jan. 16 incident on Prince Kūhiō Blvd. He was also arrested and charged with first-degree terroristic threatening, unlawful imprisonment, and abuse of a family/household member stemming from a December 7, 2021, incident on Tiki Lane involving a 26-year-old Ocean View woman; second-degree assault against a 46 year-old Ocean View man with a crowbar at a Walaka Dr. address on Dec. 8; second-degree burglary of a structure on Pineapple Parkway also on Dec. 8; and two counts of unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle involving a truck and van that were taken from a Bamboo Lane property on Dec. 31.
    His total bail, including his warrants, was set at $80,000. Leka had his initial appearance in Kona District Court on Tuesday Jan. 18, and was held on bail and remanded to the custody of the Hawai‘i Community Correctional Center pending a preliminary hearing that was held Thursday Jan. 20, in Hilo District Court.
    Anyone with any information on these incidents is asked to call the police department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Donovan Kohara of the Area II Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 326-4646 Ext. 267; or via email at donovan.kohara@hawaiicounty.gov.
    Citizens who wish to remain anonymous may call the island-wide Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300 and be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential and does not record any calls or subscribe to caller ID.
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FOUR FOOD DISTRIBUTIONS for  'ohana will be happening this week in Kaʻū and Volcano, sponsored by Hawai'i Food Basket. 
    On Tuesday, Jan. 25, there will be two distributions in Kaʻū. One is at St. Jude's Episcopal Church in Ocean View from 9:30 a.m. 'til pau. The other is at Kaʻū District Gym in Pāhala from 10 a.m. 'til pau.
    On Wednesday, Jan. 26, there will be a distribution at Cooper Center on Wright Road in Volcano from 9:30 a.m. 'til 11:30 a.m.
    On Thursday, Jan. 27, there will be a Nāʻālehu distribution by Sacred Hearts - Loaves and Fishes, at the Church on Hwy 11, from 9 a.m. 'til 11 a.m.

For more information on pantry locations and schedules, visit www.hawaiifoodbasket.org

A SCHOLARSHIP FOR VOLCANO STUDENTS is offered by the Volcano Community Foundation. The Foundation will award at least one $1,000 scholarship for the 2022-2023 school year. Applicants must maintain their primary residence in Volcano and be graduating high-school seniors who will be full-time students at an accredited two or four-year college or university in Fall of 2022. Recipients will be selected

based on academic performance, a short essay, and personal 
    Applications have been sent to area high schools. To receive an application, contact volcanocommunity@gmail.com or call 808--895-1011. Complete applications must be received no later than Friday, April 1.
    Additional scholarships will be awarded if funding is available. Those who would like to support this community effort can make tax-deductible donations. Send to Volcano Community Foundation, P.O. Box 94, Volcano, HI 96785.

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HAWAI'I ISLAND SCHOOL GARDEN NETWORK is looking for an experienced program director to manage The nonprofit Māla'ai states that the "ideal candidate is interested in developing and sustaining gardens as nurturing learning environments, connecting with educators and stakeholders, and collaborating on program development." Go to tinyurl.com/HISGNprogramdirector to read the complete job description and apply. Deadline is Sunday, Jan. 30. Any questions? Contact zoe@malaai.org.

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Summer Fun is usually held a the county gym in Pāhala
 and Community Center in Nāʻālehu. Photo by Julia Neal
EMPLOYMENT WITH THE 2022 SUMMER FUN PROGRAM, run by Hawai‘i County Department of Parks & Recreation, is available. Deadline to apply is Feb. 11. Applicants must possess a current First Aid certification, submit a completed Summer Fun application, and be available to work June 2 through July 15. Summer Fun starts June 6, following a mandatory two-day training period for all temporary employees. Summer Fun applications are available online at https://www.parks.hawaiicounty.gov/facilitiesparks/recreation, and at the county gym in Pāhala and Community Center in Nāʻālehu. They are also available at the Recreation Division Office at 799 Pi‘ilani Street in Hilo, and other County gymnasiums around the island. Completed applications must be filed with the Recreation Division or postmarked by
Monday, Feb. 11. For more information about the Department of Parks & Recreation’s 2022 Summer Fun Program employment opportunities, contact the Recreation Division at 961-8740.

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PROGRAMS FOR DIABETES AND HYPERTENSION begin in February, hosted by Hui Mālama Ola Nā 'Ōiwi. The free online services are for those living with Diabetes or Hypertension.
    The Diabetes Self-Management Education Program is a four-week online class led by healthcare professionals about diabetes management, including nutrition, exercise, and medication. Classes will be held on Wednesdays from Feb. 2 to 23 at 5 p.m. -7 p.m.
    The Hypertension Management Program is a 3-week online class about hypertension (high blood pressure) and management. Classes will be held on Wednesday from Feb. 9 to 23 at 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
    Classes will be online via computer or smartphone. Call-in option available upon request. To sign up, visit hmono.org/services.

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The Pacific Internship Programs for Exploring Science (PIPES) is accepting applications

for its summer 2022 internship program. PIPES is a 10-week undergraduate internship

program May 31 to Aug. 5, offered through University of Hawai'i at Hilo.

The goal is "to connect under-represented undergraduate students, especially those

who are Native Hawaiian or kamaʻāina, to internship opportunities with agencies and

organizations responsible for research, management, and education relating to

environmental issues in Hawaiʻi and throughout the Pacific region. Internships are

paid experiences. Participants may be eligible for additional housing assistance.

For more information, visit: https://hilo.hawaii.edu/uhintern

The deadline to apply is January 31, 2022.

See archives of The Ka`u Calendar at
www.kaucalendar.com and find the
monthly print copy in mailboxes from 
Volcano through Ocean View.