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Sunday, March 05, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Sunday, March 5, 2023

After the Storms
Rainbows popped up after the weeks of storms, as Kaʻū residents started traveling about
during the weekend, including heading past Honu'apo toward Punalu'u, Pāhala and Volcano.
Photo by Julia Neal

REP. JEANNĒ KAPELA VISITED KAʻŪ during the past two weeks in order to immerse herself in the citizenry of the state House of Representatives District that she represent. For the 2023 Hawai'i Legislature, her district expanded to include Punalu'u, Pahala, Volcano to Keaau, in addition to Nā'ālehu,
Jeanné Kapela
at Kaʻū District
Gym, supporting
free eyeglasses
for all students.
Ocean View to South Kona. While Kaʻū had two House of Representatives members, Richard Onishi and Kapela with the line between them at Honu'apo, it is now up to Kapela to represent all of Kaʻū.
     At 29 years of age, the second-term legislator said she loves Kaʻū, particularly the small town and country atmosphere that reminds her of her childhood days, growing up on a coffee farm in Kona. She said she appreciates the work by community members to conserve the coast and perpetuate the growing of food for local consumption. She met County Council member Michelle Galimba for the first time, along with education, health and business leaders in Kaʻū.
     Kapela noted that her work at the legislature includes advocating for free community college. She said, "Strengthening access to community college is essential to delivering the promise of higher education to all Hawai'i residents. Too often, the cost of college tuition is unattainable to local families, many of whom are experiencing financial hardship because of our islands’ high cost of living. That’s why I sponsored HB 78 this year to make community college free. Doing so would cost our state less than $15 million per year. That’s a small price to pay for the tremendous benefits of lifelong learning.
    "Unfortunately, HB 78 was not heard by the House Finance Committee. But we’re not giving up hope. We’re currently evaluating other ways of advancing free community college this session and empowering students to develop the skills that are necessary to meet the demands of a modern and sustainable society.
    "We’re not giving up this fight. We have a responsibility to ensure that the dream of higher education is not reserved for the privileged few. For working families and their keiki, the chance to make community college free is an opportunity that our state cannot afford to miss."
Rep. Jeanné Kapela signing resolutions to
benefit Kaʻū and the rest of her district.
Photo from Kapela
    Kapela also said her following CIP Requests would provide benefits for Kaʻū:
    Nā'ālehu Elementary School gutters for building A: $150,000.
    Miloli’i distance learning satellite facility: $2,500,000 (for acquisition and refurbishment of property to establish a distance learning center in extremely remote communities in the southern part of West Hawai’i to address chronic absenteeism).
    HB233- State Child tax credit- Establishes a state child tax credit, to be paid out monthly.
    HB82- Provides a tax credit for medical preceptors.
    HB828- Makes bus service free for students on free/reduced lunch.
    Kapela also proposed House Resolutions, saying, "Resolutions are instrumental in calling on specific agencies and departments to take action to benefit the public interest." Among her Resolutions are:
    Calling on the Hawai’i County Department of Water Supply to convene a working group to explore ways of bringing water to barren areas of West Hawai’i.
    Requesting the DOE to establish a priority list of schools for fire alarm repairs. "I'm horrified that some schools in our state do not have working fire alarms." said Kapela.
    Urging the Office of Digital Equity to provide free Wi-Fi in public parks throughout the state.

Gov. Josh Green presents his plan for $1 billion
investment in affordable housing. Photo from Green
FOR HAWAI'I'S AFFORDABLE HOUSING CRISIS, Gov. Josh Green recently reviewed his plan for the "state of emergency." Team Green issued a statement saying that the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism has determined that Hawai'i will need an additional 50,000 homes by the year 2025 and that Green "is taking action on this issue and proposing to invest over $1 billion in housing for families and essential workers in our state." 

    Green's statewide effort to address the affordable housing crisis focuses on: Providing housing for families and essential workers like teachers and nurses; investing in critical infrastructure and development of new housing units; and collaborating and coordinating with federal, state, county, and private sector stakeholders to streamline processes. "These funds will be used to support major investments in the Hawai'i Public Housing Authority to renovate and upgrade public housing units, to provide state rental subsidies to low-income families, and to boost financing for more affordable housing units through the Hawai'i Housing Finance and Development Corp.," said a statement from Team Green.

Na'alehu Elementary School teachers and Student
 Council Advisors stay in the shade and raise
 money with their Rice, BBQ Chicken and Corn.

A FRIEND-RAISER IS THE EVENT THAT ENGAGED FAMILIES and raised money for student activities at Na'alehu Elementary on Saturday, sponsored by the school and its Student Council. 
     One focus and slogans for the day were "Building Relationships" and a "Family Fun Day." It was called "A day full of fun and friendship building!"
A ring toss game generated prizes for hand and eye
 coordination. Photo by Julia Neal
    Children engaged in games with numbers and hand eye coordination. They enjoyed a bounce house. Teachers and their students and community supporters presented food, crafts and other creations for sale to raise the funding. Non-profits and government agencies presented their educational materials. 
     The Title 1 and Migrant Ed School received support from numerous community businesses, agencies and non-profits, including KTA, Punalu'u Bakeshop, L&L Hawai;i, Mizuno, Precious Jara, doTERRA: Elizabeth Crook; Imiloa Astronomy Center, Volcano House, Big Island Candies, KKP Complex Area Team,, Body Glove Cruises Hawai'i, S. Tokunaga Store and Walmart. 
Friend-raiser Coordinator Amber Keohuloa, a sixth grade teacher and Student Council Advisor,
emceed the event at Na'alehu School on Saturday. Photo by Julia Neal


St. Jude's Hot Meals are free to those in need on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until food runs out, no later than noon. Volunteers from the community are welcome to help and can contact Karen at pooch53@gmail.com. Location is 96-8606 Paradise Circle Drive in Ocean View. Those in need can also take hot showers from 9 a.m. to noon and use the computer lab from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Free Meals Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are served from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Nā'ālehu Hongwanji. Volunteers prepare the food provided by 'O Ka'ū Kākou with fresh produce from its gardens on the farm of Eva Liu, who supports the project. Other community members also make donations and approximately 150 meals are served each day, according to OKK President Wayne Kawachi.


Volcano Evening Market, Cooper Center, Volcano Village, Thursdays, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., with live music, artisan crafts, ono grinds, and fresh produce. See facebook.com.

Volcano Swap Meet, fourth Saturday of the month from 8 a.m. to noon. Large variety of vendors with numerous products. Tools, clothes, books, toys, local made healing extract and creams, antiques, jewelry, gemstones, crystals, food, music, plants, fruits, and vegetables. Also offered are cakes, coffee, and shave ice. Live music.                                                                                                                                  Volcano Farmers Market, Cooper Center, Volcano Village on Sundays, 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., with local produce, baked goods, food to go, island beef and Ka'ū Coffee. EBT is used for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps. Call 808-967-7800.

O Ka'ū Kākou Market, Nā'ālehu, Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Contact Nadine Ebert at 808-938-5124 or June Domondon 808-938-4875. See facebook.com/OKauKakouMarket.

Ocean View Community Market, Saturdays and Wednesdays, 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., corner Kona Dr. Drive and Hwy 11, near Thai Grindz. Masks mandatory. 100-person limit, social distancing required. Gate unlocked for vendors at 5:30 a.m., $15 dollars, no rez needed. Parking in the upper lot. Vendors must provide their own sanitizer. Food vendor permits required. Carpooling is encouraged.