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Friday, March 25, 2022

Ka‘ū News Briefs, Friday, March 25, 2022

John Benner, a 23 year old plant researcher at Volcano, won the half marathon in the ‘Ōhi’a Lehua Runs
in 2021 during the Experience Volcano Hawai'i Festival. The events return on July 30. Photo by Mikey Brown

VOLCANO RUNS ARE BACK. Volcano’s ‘Ōhi’a Lehua Runs return for a third year in Volcano Village on Saturday, July 30, with a half marathon and 5k. The half-marathon will begin at 7 a.m. at The Volcano

‘Ōhi’a Lehua Runs help raise money to
study and protect the native trees.
Photo from 
‘Ōhi’a Lehua Runs
School of Arts & Sciences campus on Old Volcano Road. The 5K will follow after the half-marathon runners are on their way. The course will take runners from the Volcano School up Wright Road. Road closures may be expected around the start of the event near the Volcano School.
    The Runs are part of Experience Volcano Festival weekend. This year the Festival will take place over two days, July 30 and 31 showcasing local artists, Hawaiian hula, musicians, and more. To register and for more information about this event, visit https://www.ohialehuahalf.com/. E-mail the Race Director with any questions at ohialehuahalf@gmail.com

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see www.facebook.com/kaucalendar/. See latest print edition at www.kaucalendar.com. See upcoming events at https://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022/03/upcoming-events-for-kau-and-volcano.

SKILLS FOR A GROWING DIGITAL ECONOMY can be learned through the Hawai'i State Library System and State of Hawai'i Workforce Development Council.
    “The COVID-19 pandemic has increased not only our digital economy overall but our reliance on digital technologies to access employment, healthcare, education and other opportunities,” said Rep. Ed Case who helped to secure $975,000 in federal funding. “This means that we must even more rapidly expand training of our Hawai’i workforce in digital economy skills not only to keep pace but to take full advantage of these opportunities."

    Hawai‘i Workforce Development Council, in partnership with the Hawai‘i State Library System, offers digital literary training via in-person computer classes and access to online learning resources to help individuals attain computer skills and perform basic activities available online. The "targeted federal funding will allow for substantial expansion of these efforts to get more of our residents into this workplace faster,” said Case.
    Stacey A. Aldrich, Hawaii’s State Librarian, said the funding shows "recognition that a more digitally 
literate population enables Hawai'i to be ready for the challenges and opportunities that the future brings to our world."
    The funding supports expansion of a pilot project created by the Department of Labor & Industrial Relations and Workforce Development Council under leadership of Director Anne Eustacio. The WDC staff partnered with Hawai‘i State Public Library System and University of Hawai'i Community Colleges to deliver over 200 free classes and provide over 200 laptops and/or desktops to participants without devices. With the new funding, residents will have access to free classes in public libraries and community spaces to build digital skills.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see www.facebook.com/kaucalendar/. See latest print edition at www.kaucalendar.com. See upcoming events at https://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022/03/upcoming-events-for-kau-and-volcano.

THE STATE OF THE COUNTY ADDRESS FROM MAYOR MITCH ROTH on Thursday addressed infrastructure, preservation of special places, food production, recreation for keiki, mass transit, community policing and more. See Part I of his address in Thursday's Kaʻū News Briefs at http://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022_03_24_archive.html
    In Part II of his address, the mayor said, "We are proud to say that we have been an administration that has taken ownership of the outdated and sorely neglected infrastructure that we have inherited and have committed to addressing." He pointed to road and sewage treatment plant repairs, as well as rebuilding infrastructure in Puna where lava took out homes in 2018.
    He said his administration has added 428 projects to the Department of Water Supply pipeline, "with the

understanding that the water is a necessary building block for sustainable communities islandwide and will be critical in our quest to build affordable housing for our residents to thrive and succeed.
    "Aside from our roads, bridges, waste, and water infrastructure, we have committed to long-overdue improvements to our parks and recreational facilities. Over the past year, we have worked to complete ADA projects at Hilo Bayfront, Pana‘ewa Zoo, and Wong Stadium. By the end of this year, we anticipate completing long-awaited maintenance projects at Disappearing Sands and Miloli‘i, as well as continuing work on our active construction projects in Pa‘auilo, Pāpa‘aloa, Kolekole, Kahuku, Nā‘ālehu and Pāhala parks. We have also floated a bond ordinance that will provide us an additional $10 million for various maintenance and repair projects to County Parks. For our keiki to thrive and succeed, we know that they need safe places to play, grow, sharpen their athletic skills, and learn the power of teamwork And we are committed to ensuring that every keiki, regardless of where they live on this island, will have that same opportunity.

    "We are also committed to preserving natural, cultural, and environmental open spaces in perpetuity for generations to come On August 13, 2021, Property Management Division successfully closed escrow for fee simple purchase of the area commonly known as Kapanaiʻa Bay in North Kohala On Oct. 12, 2021, Property Management Division successfully closed escrow for a conservation easement purchase of Kaunamano in Kaʻū And on Dec. 17, 2021, Property Management Division successfully closed escrow for fee simple purchase of Waiʻele in Puna.
   "This is the most PONC purchases made in a single year by any administration in Hawaiʻi County. And that is because we are committed to saving and preserving the spaces that make our island so special.          Moving forward, we are under contract to purchase Conservation Easements of over 642 acres at Mahukona in North Kohala to preserve and protect the Mahukona Navigation and Cultural Complex We are also under contract to co-hold a Conservation Easement over 2,700 acres at Haloa Aina in Kealakekua to restore Sandalwood forest and canopy to the uplands of North Kona Furthermore, we are under contract to purchase in fee 18 acres at Kapanaia Bay to encompass the Kapalama Heiau.
    "And we aren’t stopping there In fact, our administration has worked tirelessly to aggressively go after grants to increase food production on our island so that we have not only conservation land but land that

provides for and feeds the Community – sustainably. That said, in late 2021, we were awarded $500,000 in a phase 1 grant from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce Economic Development Administration through their Build Back Better Regional Challenge. Hawai'i County’s application was submitted by members of our Research & Development team with a focus on improving the island’s agricultural economy. Phase 2 has just been submitted, and if awarded, will be eligible to receive up to $100 million to help support our local growers, producers, processors, and sellers here on Hawaiʻi Island.
    "We have also proposed an allocation of $500,000 in our current budget for grant writers in the coming fiscal year to help take advantage of the federal funding streams that are to become available As an administration, we understand the importance of our ʻāina and will continue to invest in it and those who care for it.
    "We are also committed to the idea of connecting our communities – not just farm to table – but from farm to farm, place to place, town to town, and home to home Through that effort, we have retransformed our Mass Transit Agency by implementing a new Hele-On fixed route, flex route, and paratransit network

with more buses islandwide, seven days a week, new express services, and additional services to the airports. We are also pleased to announce that Service is now free for the next two years. However, we know that free rides aren’t helpful if access to the routes is unreasonable. So we partnered with varying taxi companies to create a shared-ride taxi program in the Hilo area for travel up to nine miles on three cab companies, six days a week as a supplement to people who live outside the Hele-On fixed and flex routes.      "We also created a Kona Trolley for residents and visitors to traverse Kailua-Kona safely. Before summer, we will expand that program to add Uber and Lyft for additional transportation and start a new vanpool program for commuters who want to commute to work with others and create their own schedule, with Hele-On subsidizing up to $500.00 per van We have also obtained over $20 million in grants to replace the entire Hele-On fleet so that our residents can feel proud to take the ride on Hele-on Moving forward, we hope to be an island community that is closer than we have ever been, and we know Mass Transit will play a significant role in that.
    "We also hope to be an island that is safe and can adequately respond to the health and safety needs of everyone in our Community – from keiki to kupuna. That said, last summer, the Hawaiʻi Fire Department responded to the Mana Road Fire, which is the largest wildland fire on record in State History, consuming

well over 40,000 acres and destroying several structures. The firefighting effort highlighted the Community coming together to provide meals and logistical support to the first responders, encompassing representatives from the County, State, Federal, and private sectors.
    "The fire also highlighted the need to improve on information in times of natural hazards, which prompted our Civil Defense Administration to create an online Hazard Map so that residents can be informed in times of crisis and make educated decisions on how best to keep themselves and their families safe.
    "Since the fire, we have invested heavily in our departments and, with the help of the Sayer Foundation and other grants, have been able to secure 2 Big-Dog wildland fire response vehicles, two brush trucks, two water rescue crafts, and purchase a replacement for Chopper 2 -- totaling 6 million in investment toward the health and safety of our communities. We have also been able to hire 34 firefighters within the last year to help narrow the gap of vacancies and additionally secured nine critical leadership positions through the SAFER Grant over $3.5 million, which will ultimately result in a better response capability for the public we serve In addition, we Increased police presence throughout our neighborhoods in response to community concerns.
    "We’ve also continued efforts in downtown Hilo to address homelessness and crime with frequent foot and bike patrols, as well as upgrading the Mooheau Police Substation to allow for more police presence in the area.
    "We’ve increased partnerships with the DOE, DPW and State Highways to tackle and alleviate traffic congestion near our schools. Furthermore, we’ve increased Ag theft awareness and arrests, called for the immediate apprehension of criminals involved in high profile crimes, property and crime against persons, and increased response and attention to runaway cases within East Hawai`i.
    "Since coming into office, we vowed to be an administration that is committed to the sustainability of our island home, which to me means that we can create a place that our keiki and their keiki can thrive and
succeed for generations. In pursuing that vision, we knew that we wouldn’t be able to get there alone We understood the need for partnership and collaboration and found experts in their fields to help us manage our environment, create housing, maintain our infrastructure, bolster our economy, etc. So in early 2021, just 80 days into office, we hosted the first-ever Hawaiʻi County Sustainability Summit, where we brought together bright minds to explore and share sustainable ideas and solutions and celebrate individuals and collaborative sustainability efforts currently taking place on Hawaiʻi Island.
    "The two-day event featured seven inspiring keynote speakers and 14 engaging breakout sessions that cultivated imagination and developed actionable strategies which will set the course for a more sustainable island, State, and world. The virtual event received over 20,000 views online and set the tone for a TEDxCounty of Hawaiʻi event months later that shared, on a global stage, the fantastic work happening here on our island to advance sustainability and mitigate climate change. Through that event, we realized that collectively we could balance environmental health, social equity, and economic vitality and craft a thriving, healthy, diverse, and resilient island for all generations to come.
    "This year, we are proud to be hosting a second summit that will focus on policy and collective advocacy to address the growing and insurmountable challenges we face in terms of sustainable action on our island and across the State." Roth noted, "our administration’s request to Governor Ige asking him to declare an energy emergency so that we can get fast track our path to 100% renewable energy and lessen our State’s reliance on fossil fuels. Our island utility has the potential to be 100% renewable with the removal of some red tape, and we will stop at nothing to help them remove it Our island deserves it, our people deserve it, and the planet deserves it.
    "Lastly, we have committed to increasing transparency and improving communication across the board And we are excited to announce that we will be releasing phase 1 of our County mobile application,
Kāhea, which was created with residents in mind and is aimed at helping to inform and empower the Community through relevant, concise, and clear information – straight from the source.
    "The app will roll out in phases, with phase two projected to be completed by early 2023. There has been a steep learning curve, but because of the amazing individuals on our team and in the communities, we have been able to take significant strides to improve the lives of everyone on our island, and we have no plans of easing up now. We are committed to this island, its people, and the cultural and environmental aspects that make this island the best place to live in the world.
    "Our future is bright, and if we can all keep in mind how our actions impact the next generation and their ability to live, grow, and raise a family here, then I am confident that we will succeed in creating a vibrant and thriving Hawai'i Island for us all.
    "Mahalo for this opportunity to serve you and your 'ohanas We look forward to a year of learning, growth, and, most importantly, action. The time to do is now, and we are ready to heed the call. Mahalo and aloha" concluded Mayor Mitch Roth's State of the County address.
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see www.facebook.com/kaucalendar/. See latest print edition at www.kaucalendar.com. See upcoming events at https://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022/03/upcoming-events-for-kau-and-volcano.html

                          SEE UPCOMING EVENTS IN KAʻŪ & VOLCANO
See March edition of The Kaʻū Calendar newspaper at