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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Ka‘ū News Briefs, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022

Hawai'i Pacific Parks Association, which manages funds received from the Department of Motor Vehicles providing this
 style of license plate to Hawai'i drivers, has raised an additional $28,500 through a campaign in December. See more below.

STRENGTHEN COMMUNITY IS GOV. DAVID IGE'S second headline in his State of the State address this week. "To do that, we must first help our struggling families—to malama pono, make things right for them. It means making sure they can secure the very basics of food, shelter, and jobs," said the governor. "That’s why our Department of Human Services developed online applications for SNAP benefits (formerly Food Stamps) and added 32,000 additional families during the pandemic. As many faced job losses, we provided $6.6 billion in unemployment benefits, allowing those who are out-of-work to continue to receive essential income for their families."
    Ige noted that the pandemic caused many workers to lose long-held jobs and pursue new career paths. "To help them, the Department of Labor is rolling out the Hawai’i Career Acceleration Navigator, with its one-stop, online hub to help unemployed workers with new career and training opportunities."
    The pandemic also highlighted the need for childcare for working families and how it is essential for many to continue to hold jobs. "To help them, the state’s Child Care Program Office is distributing nearly $80 million to support access to childcare and provide much needed relief for young families," said the governor. "These funds will support childcare businesses weathering the challenges of the pandemic, and can be used for personnel costs, training, rent, mortgage, utilities, supplies, and equipment related to COVID-19."
'Ohana Zones that serve the homeless and other housing initiatives
were featured in Gov. David Ige's State of the State this week.
Photo from State of Hawai'i
    To assist renters and homeowners, "we provided $260 million in emergency rent and mortgage assistance to ensure that no family would be evicted because of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the Hawaiian Homes Commission postponed mortgage payments and provided its beneficiaries with rent and utility assistance. The state is also working closely with the counties to increase the number of affordable rentals on all islands," said Ige. The state is also working closely with the counties to increase the number of affordable rentals on all islands, "including more than a thousand across the neighbor islands since we took office."
    Two years ago, the Legislature created 'Ohana Zones. "Working with the counties, we opened 20 sites across all islands that provide a wide range of services for individuals and families. These projects have assisted over 5,500 homeless individuals statewide, with more than 1,300 placed directly into permanent housing. By increasing funding for the homeless by 68 percent since taking office, we’ve assisted more individuals to, not only find temporary shelter, but lift them out of the vicious cycle of homelessness."
    The governor said the "biggest factor affecting home ownership in Hawai’i is supply.That’s why we set out to build 10,000 new homes by 2020—and we did it! We also expect to build another 3,000 homes by the end of this year."
    Ige said, "We can strengthen our communities in another way too. Given the recent revenue projections, we’re asking the Legislature to return some of those dollars back to taxpayers. We want to issue refund checks of $100 for every taxpayer and for each dependent.For a family of four that means an extra $400. In this way, we’ll also inject $110 million back into our economy, giving it a boost as well."

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centers at national parks and historic sites, announced a contribution of $28,500 to Volcanoes, Haleakalā, Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau and Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historic Parks, along with Puʻukoholā Heiau National Historic Site.
    The donation comes from an initiative entitled $10,000 for 10 Years, to celebrate the ten year mark since Hawai'i Pacific Parks Association rebranded to generate more avenues of Park support. The goal of the December campaign was $5,000 in visitor donations that would be matched with another $5,000. However, by mid December, more than triple the 
amount was raised and matched.
    "Donations to national parks help support wildlife programs, youth ranger programs, cultural events, publications, demonstrations and so much more," says a statement from HPPA.
    HPPA is the nonprofit partner of six national parks in Hawai'i and American Samoa. Proceeds from its visitor center park stores and online ship have contributed over $20 million in support to parks since 1933. See more at https://shop.hawaiipacificparks.org/

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Roger Bong, founder of Aloha Got Soul record label and vinyl record shop, hosts the new Mauka to Makai radio show on
Sundays, to be heard on HPR1 at 88.8 FM in Ka'u and online. Photo from Aloha Got Soul

MAUKA TO MAKAI IS THE NEW HAWAIIAN MUSIC SHOW on Hawai'i Public Radio, the broadcast beginning Sunday, Feb. 6. The weekly program explores the rich musical diversity of the Hawaiian Islands and the artists who call Hawai'i home. Mauka to Makai will air every Sunday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on HPR1 at 88.8 FM in Ka'u and online.
    Hosted by Roger Bong, creator of Aloha Got Soul, a record label and vinyl record shop that celebrates new music and rare reissues from Hawaiʻi, Mauka to Makai completes HPR's Hawaiian music lineup on Sundays, which showcases Hawaiian and local music from its beginnings to now, exploring the musical diversity as well as the depth of history and songwriting that makes these islands unique.
    Bong shares, "I'm excited to bring more local music to HPR's Sunday programming, alongside the excellent Hawai'i Kulāiwi and Kanikapila Sunday shows. With Mauka to Makai, my hope is to help listeners discover the rich, musical diversity of our islands by exploring all genres and generations, from jazz to rock, funk and soul, electronic, Hawaiian music, and more."
    Mauka to Makai takes the place of Applause in a Small Room, a showcase of music recorded live in HPR's Atherton Studio, which has been paused due to the COVID pandemic.
    In addition to radio broadcast in Ka`u at KAHU 88.8, HPR's programming can be streamed via smart speaker, the HPR website, or on the HPR mobile app. Updated program schedules are available online at hawaiipublicradio.org.

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HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC WILL GIVE BACK $2 MILLION IN CREDITS TO CUSTOMERS "who have struggled to pay their electric bill during the COVID-19 pandemic," says a statement from the utility on Thursday. The Kokua Fund Bill Credit Program will automatically provide a one-time credit of $90 to past-due balances for about 22,000 residential and business customers by Jan. 31.
HECO President and CEO Shelee Kimura
    “Our priority during the pandemic has been to keep customers connected,” said Hawaiian Electric President and CEO Shelee Kimura. “Many people have been affected by the pandemic and we have designed this program to reach as many as we can, especially those for whom this credit will be the most meaningful. No application is necessary, as we envisioned a quick, simple way to provide some relief for qualified customers in the new year.”          The credits will be automatically applied to past-due balances for about 22,000 active residential and business accounts that were at least 30 days past due as of Dec. 31, 2021, with a minimum current past-due balance of at least $200. For more information, go to hawaiianelectric.com/kokuafund.
    Hawaiian Electric explained that the The Kokua Fund bill credit uses funds from company shareholders – not other customers – to help Hawaiian Electric residential and business customers on O'ahu, Hawai'i Island and in Maui County with qualifying balances. Not every customer will qualify for the credits, which are meant to supplement other pandemic-related financial assistance programs. 
    To learn more about available assistance administered by government agencies or nonprofits, go to hawaiianelectric.com/COVID19. Aloha United Way’s 2-1-1 also has additional information and resources available on food, shelter, financial assistance, elderly care, financial counseling/education and disability services.
    This is the second program Hawaiian Electric has funded to help utility customers who were financially affected by the pandemic. Hawaiian Electric was the founding sponsor of Aloha United Way’s Hawai'i Utility Bill Assistance Program in 2021, pledging $2 million in shareholder money from its parent company, HEI, to help households pay electric, water, sewer and gas bills.
    Hawaiian Electric continues to offer special payment arrangement options for past-due customers. Customers may go to hawaiianelectric.com/paymentarrangement for more information.

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HAWAI'I HAS BEEN THE SAFEST U.S. PLACE DURING THE PANDEMIC, according to a study released by WalletHub this week. Rankings based on available data on Wednesday, Jan. 26 show Hawai'i with second least death rate, fifth least transmission rate, ninth least hospitalization rate and 11th in the
number of people vaccinated.
    The nationwide summary from WalletHub: "As the U.S. continues its efforts to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and the surging omicron variant, staying safe is one of Americans’ top concerns. Safety is
also essential for getting the economy back on track, as the lower COVID-19 transmission and deaths are in a state, the fewer restrictions there will be and the more confidence people will have to shop in person. While the country has mostly reopened, increasing the percentage of people who have been vaccinated and received booster doses is key to getting back to life as normal. The good news is that around 64% of the population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of January 25. Some states are already safer than others, though, based on how well they have kept the pandemic under control and how much they are vaccinating."
    To view the full report, visit: https://wallethub.com/edu/safest-states-during-covid/86567. The top ten places in the U.S. for safety during COVID, according to WalletHub, are: Hawai'i, California, Virginia, District of Columbia, Maine, Oregon, Florida, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maryland.  Metrics used for the rankings include data set includes the rates of COVID-19 transmission, positive testing, hospitalizations and death, as well as the share of the eligible population getting vaccinated.

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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.

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