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Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Kaʻū High & Pāhala Elementary Principal Sharon Beck wins the 2023 Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership
Award at the Public Schools of Hawai'i event last Thursday. She is flanked at left by Hawai'i Superintendent of Schools
Keith Hayashi and at right by Island Insurance Foundation Chair Tyler Tokioka.

EXCELLENCE IN SCHOOL LEADERSHIP is the award bestowed upon Ka‘ū High & Pāhala Elementary School Principal Sharon Beck. The 2023 Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award was delivered at the Public Schools of Hawai‘i Foundation annual dinner last Thursday. 
    “This tremendous recognition of Principal Sharon Beck is a recognition of her leadership at Ka‘ū High & Pāhala Elementary,” said state Superintendent of Schools Keith Hayashi. “It’s her ability to bring the community together, all in the spirit of helping not only students, but their families and the overall Ka‘ū community.”
    Public Schools of Hawai'i Foundation Trustee and Island Insurance Foundation Chairman Tyler Tokioka said, “Principal Sharon Beck rose to the top primarily because we were amazed by what she’s been able to accomplish given the area that her school is located in. The location creates challenges that other principals may not face… the size of the area that she serves and the economic issues that the area can create logistical challenges, resource challenges, in addition to the normal learning challenges that all principals face.”

    Beck was awarded $25,000 – a $10,000 personal cash award and $15,000 toward a school project of her choice. Beck hopes to use the school award money toward bluetooth devices that would provide students with access to learning in remote areas that may not have WiFi access.
“This award, to me, is a team recognition,” Beck said. “I couldn’t do this alone. It is the faculty, the staff — everyone at school that puts their heart and soul into our students.”

PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF HAWAI'I FOUNDATION offers Good Idea mini grants to school teachers throughout the state. Deadline to apply is June 5, with awardees notified by July 24. The aim of the Foundation's Good Idea Grants Program is to enhance innovation in the classroom and empower teachers to bring their good ideas to life. Mini-grants of up to $3,000 provide public school teachers needed financial resources not available through usual government channels. See https://pshf.org/

MEMBERS OF HAWAI'I'S TEACHERS UNION voted overwhelmingly Wednesday afternoon to ratify a new four-year contract. Hawaiʻi State Teachers Association announced that Hawai'i Teachers Association Bargaining Unit 05 employees of the state Department of Education and public charter schools cast almost 7,000 ballots. Ninety-two percent approved the contract that will take effect July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2027. About 8% voted against the contract. For the first time since 2017, members voted in person at 31 polling sites across the state.
    HSTA President Osa Tui, Jr. said, “HSTA thanks bargaining unit members who came out today to ratify

a new four-year contract which will help to recruit and retain teachers and give further stability for our keiki to have highly qualified teachers in their classrooms."
    Gov. Josh Green said, "We have a deep appreciation for Hawai'i's teachers and and this contract was meant to demonstrate that. By raising starting salaries to $50,000, we hope more of Hawai'i's young men and women will aspire to become teachers,. Higher salaries and bonuses for veteran teachers will also improve teacher retention and reduce teacher shortages. Good public education remains one of our top priorities."
    To help offset Hawaiʻi's cost of living, employer contributions to teachers' health insurance premiums will also increase in the new contract.
    Department of Education Superintendent Keith Hayashi said, "We're happy to see the overwhelming support from teachers for this contract that all sides worked diligently on, to elevate the teaching profession in our public schools. The Department appreciates the collaborative effort with HSTA, Governor Green, and his administration."

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A MAGNITUDE 4.2 EARTHQUAKE off the Ka‘ū Coast, followed by a Magnitude 3.9 quake on land near Honaunau shook the island Wednesday afternoon and evening. The Ka‘ū quake, 7.5 miles East-
Southeast of Pāhala, rocked at 4:31 p.m. USGS reported: “The earthquake was widely felt on the Island of Hawaiʻi, with 89 felt reports in the first half-hour. Reported shaking intensity was very light (V on the Modified Mercalli scale) and little or no damage is expected.” HVO scientists characterized the earthquake as one in the seismic swarm under the Pāhala area, ongoing since 2019. Honaunau's quake happened at 7:21 p.m. 8 miles from Capt. Cook and 8 miles from Honaunau, drawing many more reports of shaking in the more populated district.

CASHLESS ENTRY FEES & PASSES AT HAWAI'I VOLCANOES begins Friday, May 26. Those planning to visit Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park this summer are advised, "Don't bring cash." Starting Friday, May 26, ahead of Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial kickoff to summer, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park will no longer accept cash for entrance fees or passes. Only credit or debit cards and
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park will only accept credit and
 debit cards starting May 26. NPS Photo/J.Wei

digital site passes
will be accepted.
    A statement from the Park says, "Entrance fees are an important source of revenue used to improve the visitor experience in national parks, including road and facility repairs and maintenance, trail improvements, visitor and resource protection services and more. Moving to a cashless system allows parks to be better stewards of visitor dollars by reducing the amount of time park staff spend managing cash, increasing the amount of fee revenue available to support critical projects and visitor services, and improving accountability and reducing risk."

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at kaucalendar.com, in the mail and on stands.

KAʻŪ'S CONGRESSWOMAN PUT THE SPOTLIGHT ON MASS SHOOTINGS across the country in a message on Tuesday. Jill Tokuda wrote: "There have already been at least 160 mass shootings in the
United States. That's more shootings than days this year. It's tragic, and it's past time we end this madness. We can't be complacent and shouldn't have to live with this violence in our communities, schools, churches, or workplaces."
    She said, "I stand with the majority of Americans that are demanding comon-sense solutions." She published a poster saying: "Here are just a few of the reforms that I am fighting for," and listed the following: 
    Conduct Universal Background Checks on all Gun Sales;
    Combat Gun Trafficking and the Spread of Illegal Guns;
    Ban Assault Weapons and High-Capacity Magazines; and
    Allow Victim's Families and Survivors of Gun Violence to Hold Gun Sellers and Manufacturers Accountable. 
    Tokuda pointed to culture wars, saying that "more than 40,000 Americans die yearly from gun violence. Enough with banning books, bullying trans children, taking away reproductive health care, and making it harder to vote... let's tackle a real problem, the leading cause of death of adolescents in the USA."
    She said she joined the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in Congress "so that I can continue working on commonsense legislation and advocate for life-saving gun safety measures." She also pointed to the 2024 election, saying that by "electing more members of Congress committed to gun reform, we can start passing reforms to create a safer and more peaceful country for all of us."

South Korea's Consul General for
Hawai'i Hong Seok-In
FORGING GREATER TIES WITH KOREA was on U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono's agenda Wednesday. As South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol marked his first visit to the U.S. and met with Pres. Joe Biden, Hirono introduced bicameral legislation to build on the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. The measure encourages greater ties between American and Korean businesses. Called the Partner with Korea Act, it was also introduced in the House of Representatives.
    Hirono said, “The United States’ partnership with South Korea is critical to both of our countries and economies. Expanding the E nonimmigrant visa category will help further strengthen trade between our nations while increasing the number of qualified workers in the U.S."
   The Partner with Korea Act would create an allotment of 15,000 E-4 highly skilled work visas for Korean nationals with specialized education and expertise, provided that potential employers can ensure the visa holders are not hired for positions that American workers could fill. Similar visa allotments were created following U.S. free trade agreements with other countries, including Australia and Singapore.
    South Korea maintains a diplomatic presence in Hawai'i. The Consul General is Hong Seok-In. See https://www.consularcorpshawaii.org/korea.

POLICE ARRESTED 13 FOR DUI April 17 through April 23. Hawai'i Island police made the arrests for driving under the influence of an intoxicant. Nine of the drivers were involved in a traffic collision. None were under 21.
    So far this year, there have been 317 DUI arrests compared with 339 during the same period last year, a decrease of 6.5 percent.
    Hawai‘i Police Department’s Traffic Services Section reviewed all updated crashes and found 284 major crashes so far this year compared with 233 during the same period last year, an increase of 21.9 percent.
    To date, there have been seven fatal crashes, resulting in eight fatalities, compared with last year's 10 fatal crashes, resulting in 12 fatalities. One crash led to multiple deaths. This represents a decrease of 30 percent for fatal crashes, and 33.3 percent for fatalities. Police promise that DUI roadblocks and patrols will continue island wide.