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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The coastlines of Waikapuna are an intricate network of native flora and fauna, to be protected in the new management plan.
See http://www.alakahakaitrail.org/ Photo from ATA

THE STEWARDSHIP PLAN FOR WAIKAPUNA drew Kaʻū citizens to an online meeting on Wednesday. Access to the place was a main topic in the discussion period. One speaker suggested that lineal descendants of the area come forward and make themselves known. She also suggested that those who own and steward the 2,317 Waikapuna acres along the Kaʻū Coast continue to seek out the descendants of those who lived on the land to welcome them into decisionmaking. The owner is Ala Kahakai Trail Association and an overseer with a conservation easement is County of Hawai'i.
     Gabrielle Sham, of Townscapes, Inc., who has been working on the draft management plan for Waikapuna, explained the plan to provide Kupuna Days, 'Ohana Days, and weekend overnight camping for one group at a time during three weekends per month. Volunteer Workdays would be held monthly on weekends with no overnight camping permitted. Volunteering would help individuals and groups earn higher priority for camping reservations.
Access to Waikapuna was a main topic in a 
zoom meeting about the draft management plan.
See http://www.alakahakaitrail.org/ Photo from ATA
     With high demand for overnight camping on weekends, and some folks reporting reservations a year in advance, the planners came up with an idea to make reservations more timely. Camping reservations would be made quarterly, opening up the first weekdays of the month before each quarter begins. Those who have volunteered at Waikapuna would be able to apply as early as the first Monday; those from Kaʻū as early as first Tuesday, and those from outside Kaʻū as early as first Wednesday of the month before the quarter begins.
     Kupuna Days and Ohana Days would be reserved as early as the first day of the week of the desired date. It would also be required that  least one person in the group has already gone to Waikapuna.
    For other day visits, those having already volunteered would receive priority and able make a booking on the first Monday of the month; Kaʻū residents second Monday; and non- Kaʻū residents third Monday. Sham said the intent is to incentivize volunteering for people to develop a role in stewardship at Waikapuna. Volunteering can  include maintaining roadways, removing invasives and cleaning up trash at the bay.
    She also said the Ala Kahakai Trail Association plans to seek funding and hire staff. Sham noted that the federal Ala Kakahai Trail, which runs through the property, is open to foot traffic, no permit required. It is the vehicular traffic and camping that require the reservations. The idea of an informal Community Makai Watch to discourage people from driving into Waikapuna without permits was discussed.
Ala Kahakai Trail is open to the public without permits. Vehicles
going to Waikapuna require permits and reservations
. See
Photo from ATA

    Some speakers asked whether there could be a method for more flexible reservations, related to ocean and weather conditions. They said it is difficult for those fishing and gathering food to plan weeks in advance since the weather or sea state can change so quickly. It has been the tradition to call up the stewards of the land and ask them whether they could go down to the shore on that day, said fishermen commenting on the plan.
    Another participant in the zoom meeting suggested a live meeting in Nā'ālehu, noting tech connectivity difficulties for some folks in Kaʻū and recommending a face-to-face gathering. 
    Another asked about the definition of Kaʻū resident, someone who just moved here, or people with family ties? She noted that local people are being increasingly locked out of the places their families consider special in Kaʻū. A fisherman said that Waikapuna is important for feeding his family, with his children and grandchildren following the tradition. He said with new restrictions, it could be difficult. "Seems now we going to have to go to KTA, have to go to supermarket. No can bring the city to
Native shoreline plants at Waikapuna.
See http://www.alakahakaitrail.org/ Photo from ATA
the country and tell country guys how to live."
    Another speaker said up on a cliff at Waikapuna there are special outcroppings, a "bubbly rock area." She asked "how to protect those pohaku?" Sham said it is a matter of working with Ala Kahakai Trail Association and educating the community. She also noted that the county's conservation easement on the property requires and annual report from ATA and an annual county review of the stewardship. She also noted that anyone interested in being involved in a stewardship committee for Waikapuna can reach out to ATA.
    The entire meeting is recorded and will be posted online. See earlier meetings and more on Ala Kahakai Trail Association at  http://www.alakahakaitrail.org/
    A hard copy of the draft plan is available at the Nāʻālehu Public Library and Pahala Public Library. Comments on the draft plan may be submitted online or e-mailed to gabrielle@townscapeinc.com through April 22, 2023.

   Senate Bill 1 (SB1) advances Hawai'i's long civil rights history. Hawai'i's first civil rights protections against discrimination date back to pre-statehood days, when territorial lawmakers at the Constitutional Convention of 1950 ratified what is now an article in the state Constitution: Article I § 5 of the Hawai'i State Constitution states that no person "shall be denied the enjoyment of the person's civil rights or be discriminated against in the exercise thereof because of race, religion, sex, or ancestry."
The 1950 Hawai'i Constitutional convention, which
set forth civil rights protections, long before statehood. On
Wednesday Gov. Josh Green signed a bill to protect 
reproductive health care services.

    Hawai'i was the first state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, to recognize a woman's right to choose, and to seriously address the issue of same-sex marriage.
   Senate Bill 1 expands access to reproductive health care services in numerous ways; clarifies that the state will not deny or interfere with a pregnant person's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy and protects Hawai'i health care providers from punitive legal action from within or outside of the state relating to the provision of legally provided reproductive health care services. Additional protections, prohibitions and requirements are included.
    The Governor said, "This is one of the most important issues of our time and as Hawai'i's physician-governor, I tell you absolutely that this goes beyond a complex social issue for political discussion. This is 100-percent about fundamental, practical health care for our people."
Abortion has risen to the forefront since the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Dobbs v. Jackson Woman's Health Organization decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. "Roe" was a 1973 SCOTUS decision that decriminalized abortion and protected the right to access the procedure legally across the country.
    Upon Green's signature, SB1 became Act 2.
    Senate Bill 36 (SB36) amends state law to allow county prosecutors to initiate felony cases by complaints following preliminary hearings and prohibits multiple attempts to initiate a felony prosecution for an offense, except in certain circumstances.
    "The people of Hawai'i want to feel safe in their homes and communities and have every right to expect
government leaders to provide public safety. This legislation is a tool that will help our law enforcement officers and county prosecutors continue their work toward that goal," said Green. Upon his signature, SB36 became Act 1.
    The measure resolves an issue resulting from the Hawai'i Supreme Court decision in State v. Obrero, in which the court ruled that HRS 801-1 did not permit initiation of felony criminal charges via preliminary hearing. The ruling came despite active use of the process for some 40 years.
    A subsection of SB36 limits the prosecution to one attempt to charge a felony case via grand jury indictment or complaint following preliminary hearing unless certain conditions are met, including presentation of additional material evidence, there is evidence of misconduct by the grand jury or grand jury counsel, or if a court finds good cause to allow another attempt.

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SWEEPING CHANGES THAT ENABLE RESIDENTS WITH DISABILITIES AND OLDER ADULTS TO LIVE AND PARTICIPATE FULLY in their communities, and to engage in meaningful employment, is promised for Hawai' by its Department of Health and Gov. Josh Green. As of March 17, all states must be compliant with the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services settings regulation. The changes are expected to impact more than one million people receiving Medicaid HCBS nationally, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
    “The regulations protect each person’s rights and uphold the value of person-centered processes that make sure people are making their own choices and control the decisions in their lives — a right most people take for granted,” said Dr. Kenneth Fink, Director of Hawai‘i Department of Health. “This includes being treated with privacy, dignity and respect; freedom from coercion and restraint; deciding what and when to eat; having visitors, and having the protections of a lease or other legally enforceable residency agreement.”
   "DOH Developmental Disabilities Division, which operates Hawai‘i’s Medicaid waiver for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, has been preparing to meet this compliance deadline despite the challenges of the pandemic," says a DOH statement. "It marks the beginning of a new phase of implementation of the rule, requiring ongoing evaluation, monitoring, and public engagement."
   Mary Brogan, Administrator of DOH Developmental Disabilities Division since 2014 and President of the National Association of State Directors of Development Disabilities Services, said, “It is not
enough to simply be living in the community; we need to make sure participants in our program with intellectual and developmental disabilities are fully integrated into the fabric of our community. We need to take our transformation to the next level so everyone we serve has access to the life they choose, and we are committed to continuously improving our services. Our entire system, including staff, participants, families and providers have worked tirelessly through the transition period to make the changes needed, and we are incredibly grateful for everyone’s efforts.”
   About 3,500 participants benefit from the services provided through the DOH Developmental Disabilities Division.
    Debbie Kobayakawa, a parent of an adult child who receives services from DOH, said her son's services have been game changing. “Person-centered planning allows my son to live and work fully integrated into his community, which is the life he wants. The whole point of these services is to provide individuals with the life they want,” Kobayakawa said.
    The waiver program has positive impacts on Hawai‘i, both in supporting better outcomes for people with significant disabilities, and the economic effect in the community. The State has agreements with more than 50 agencies providing services such as personal assistance, employment supports, and adult day programs. These agencies employ thousands of people statewide.
    A number of states including Hawai‘i, are investing resources to address the direct-care workforce crisis, essential to ensuring people have access to the services they need, especially on the neighbor islands. For example, because low wages make it very hard to recruit and retain the professionals who provide critical services, during the pandemic, many states increased payment rates and targeted those increases to apply to wages for direct-support professionals.
   “Our goal is to ensure the timely provision of quality services that truly make a difference in people’s lives,” said the DOH Director. “The support from the Governor and Legislature has been instrumental toward this shared goal.”

In the mail and on stands.


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.


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.