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Thursday, April 27, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Thursday, April 27, 2023

Esport club members Rylan Peralta, Chloe Gabini, Marcky Tamayo and Ivan Ramos carry team member Patrick Riehle as they
 get ready to head off to O'ahu for this weekend's state championships. Photo by Andrew Honma 
THE ESPORT CLUB AT KAʻŪ HIGH travels to O'ahu this weekend to seek a statewide championship. The varsity Valorant Team will compete in Vanta Hawai'i Esports League's HS Valorant semi-final game. It pits Kaʻū against Kea'au High in a best of three at Hawai'i Pacific University's Esports Arena. 
    The winner will advance to the championship match against either Castle High or Leilehua High. The day’s events will be carried on Channel 54 on Spectrum, and streamed via Vanta’s twitch channel twitch.tv/vantaesports). The day will also include High School championship matches in Overwatch 2, Apex Legends, Rocket League, Super Smash Brothers, and Chess, and a mini college fair with representatives from UH Manoa, UH West O'ahu, Chaminade University, and Hawai'i Pacific University.
      Kaʻū High esports club is comprised of JV and Varsity Valorant teams, an Overwatch team, and a Super Smash Brothers team. 
    Valorant is a popular online multiplayer game that pits two teams of five players against each other. Teams either attempt to plant a spike until detonation, or prevent that from occurring, with a time limit of 100 seconds per round. The first team to win 13 rounds wins the match. 
    The game requires a high level of teamwork, strategy, and skill to win. Kaʻū High Varsity Valorant team consists of seniors Patrick Riehle, Marcky Tamayo, Rylan Peralta, Chloe Gabini, and Ivan Ramos.                   
    They have been playing together for over a year, even before joining Kaʻū High’s esports club. "We are ready to show what we can do and represent Kaʻū, as we give our best and have fun," said  Riehle, the unofficial team captain. The club eschews official leadership roles. 
    If they defeat Kea'au High, they will play in the championship on the same day at 3:15 pm. A statement from the esports club says: "While the Kaʻū High esports club has self-funded its equipment through fundraisers and donations over the past four years, a last minute trip to O'ahu was a bit of a curveball, and the members of the club would like to express their gratitude to their school and athletic department, and various local organizations and businesses that helped to fund the trip."
    Among the donors are ʻO Kaʻū Kākou, a nonprofit community organization that promotes education, health, and culture in Ka’u; Aloha MAP, a mentoring and tutoring program that serves students in grades 6-12; and Arnott’s Lodge, a lodge and hiking adventure company that offers affordable accommodations and tours on the Big Island.

PROTECTING KIDS ON SOCIAL MEDIA ACT is a bill introduced Wednesday into the U.S. Senate by Hawai'i Sen. Brian Schatz and Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, both Democrats, along with  Republicans Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Sen. Katie Britt of Alabama.
     The Protecting Kids on Social Media Act would  restrict keiki under 13 from social media apps and would require parental consent for 13 through 17 year-olds. The bill would also stop social media companies from feeding algorithmically-generated content to users under the age of 18.
    A joint statement from the Senators says, "The United States is facing a mental health crisis and no group is affected more than adolescents, and especially young girls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 57 percent of high school girls and 29 percent of high
Sen. Brian Schatz and Sen. Chris Murphy join Republicans,
Sen. Katie Britt and Tom Cotton in effort to regulate social
media for people under 18. Photo from Sen. Katie Britt

school boys felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, with 22 percent of all high school students reporting they had seriously considered attempting suicide in the preceding year. One area that requires immediate action is the clear link between social media and poor mental health. Social media companies have known about this link for years, and independent research has confirmed it: social media usage is a cause for the mental health epidemic."
    Schatz weighed in saying, “The growing evidence is clear: social media is making kids more depressed and wreaking havoc on their mental health. While kids are suffering, social media companies are profiting. This needs to stop. Our bill will help us stop the growing social media health crisis among kids by setting a minimum age and preventing companies from using algorithms to automatically feed them addictive content based on their personal information.”
    The Republican Senator from Arkansas said, “From bullying and sex trafficking to addiction and explicit content, social media companies subject children and teens to a wide variety of content that can hurt them, emotionally and physically. Just as parents safeguard their kids from threats in the real world, they need the opportunity to protect their children online. By setting an age limit of 13—and requiring parental consent until age 18—our bill will put parents back in control of what their kids experience online.”
    The Democrat Senator from Connecticut said, “As a parent of two kids – one a teenager and one about to be a teenager – I see firsthand the damage that social media companies, 100% committed to addicting our children to their screens, are doing to our society. This is a reality that we don’t have to accept, The alarm bells about social media’s devastating impact on -kids have been sounding for a long time, and yet time and time again, these companies have proven they care more about profit than preventing the well-documented harm they cause. In particular, these algorithms are sending many down dangerous online rabbit holes, with little chance for parents to know what their kids are seeing online. None of this is out of Congress’s control, and this bipartisan legislation would take important steps to protect kids and hold social media companies accountable.”
    The Republican Senator from Alabama said, “As a mom, nothing is more important to me than preserving the next generation’s opportunity to live the American Dream. Unfortunately, that Dream is turning into a nightmare for families across our country. This bill is a bold, critical step to protect our kids, secure their future, and empower parents. There is no doubt that our country is facing a growing mental health crisis and a deteriorating culture of violence. Children and teenagers across our nation are dying, families are being devastated, and our society is withering. The only beneficiaries of the status quo are social media companies’ bottom lines and the foreign adversaries cheering them on. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to enact the commonsense, age-appropriate solutions needed to tackle this generational challenge.”

VOLCANO SCHOOL STUDENTS GAVE FARM-IN-A BOX KITS to 50 families at ʻO Kaʻū Kākou Farmers Market in Nā'ālehu on Wednesday. During this third annual event from The Volcano School of Arts & Sciences, eighth grade Papa Pono Kiwila - Civics and Papa Nohona Mauō - Permaculture, Sustainability students took turns in teams to explain why they were promoting food sovereignty on the island. They also talked about the role of Farm-in-a-Box Kits in helping with food security.
Volcano School students promote food sovereignty giving out Farm-In
A-Box Kits at OKK's Farmers Market in Nā'ālehu. Photo from VSAS
    A statement from teacher Barbara Sarbin says, "This was the culminating event and authentic assessment process for the Global Run Project, in which the students raised awareness and funding for food justice, to help support healthy food initiatives in our community. After studying the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and participating in the Hunger Banquet, students agreed they wanted to find ways to take action to balance out the world hunger situation. Nothing is better than thinking globally while acting locally!
    "The 50 families who received the free kits gave a lot of recognition to our 8th Graders for their service, and were very grateful to take home a container, organic soil and fertilizer, and a choice of three kinds of seeds for growing their own veggies and herbs. Mahalo to Something Good in the World for donating the funding for the project, to Seed Savers Exchange for the donation of organic, non GMO, heritage seeds, and to McCall's Farm for the locally sourced materials!"

WAIOHINU'S LONG AWAITED TRANSFER STATION UPGRADES are scheduled for a soft opening on Monday, May 1, with an official opening ceremony to be held later in May after more improvements have been completed.
A view of the new waste transfer facilities at Waiohinu Transfer
Station. Drive the one-way route around the upper circle and stop to
 drop off waste. County collection vehicles will use the lower route.
Photo by Annie Bosted
  Michael Kaha, the county's Acting Solid Waste Chief, told The Kaʻū Calendar that due to Covid shutdowns and supply chain delays, construction of new facilities took nearly three years to complete. The project involved building out new facilities for dumping at the lower end of the site and then building a circular one-way road for ease-of-use and improved traffic flow. Cardboard and glass recycling as well as solid waste collection areas will be moved to the lower level. The thrift store, which is presently located on the lower lever, will be moved to the upper level to allow shoppers to visit the store without mixing with traffic destined for collection areas.
    Kaha explained that an area lined with rocks and dirt has been set aside for a planned green waste collection area. He explained that green waste collection is not available to the public immediately as equipment and manpower will need to be in place. However, the waste will be hauled to the West Hawai'i facilities as that is where the contractor is located. The final cost is not available, but according to an Environmental Assessment published in July, 2020, the cost was estimated to be $4.5 million.

The Thrift Store, located in a shipping container, will be moved

 to the upper level so that shoppers can easily visit the store.

   In 2006, County of Hawai'i Dept. of Environmental Management conducted detailed inspections of all the transfer stations and convenience centers. At that time the Waiohinu transfer station was assessed as having "major engineering deficiencies that would require reconstruction of the facility". However, funding at the time had only been authorized for reconstruction of the Pahoa, Volcano and Glenwood stations, according to the 2020 Environmental Assessment.
    In June of 2016, Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd, then Director of Environmental Management, told a meeting of Ocean View residents that rebuilding the transfer station at Wai'ohinu has "top priority" as a dumpster fire had damaged the wooden beams supporting the retaining wall, above which vehicles are parked for off-loading. Engineers feared that the structure could collapse. In 2018, heavy rains further damaged a portion of the retaining wall adjacent to the existing disposal chutes, according to the Environmental Assessment. This meant that residents had to carry waste from their vehicles to the chute. It also meant that smaller dumpsters from Ocean View could not be tipped into the larger dumpsters as they could not be backed onto the crumbling wall.

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ONE POUND OF METHAMPHETAMINE DELIVERED TO VOLCANO POST OFFICE is evidence used by a Grand Jury to indict Eric W Clough. A statement from Prosecuting Attorney Kelden Waltjen on Wednesday says the 42-year old Volcano resident appeared in Hilo Circuit Court on Monday afternoon. His bail is $135,0000 and he is ordered to appear for jury trial on Sept. 18.
Eric Clough, charged with receiving
meth through Volcano Post Office.
    As the Indictment alleges, Clough was charged with two counts of Attempted Promoting a Dangerous Drug in the First Degree and a single count of Promoting a Dangerous Drug in the Second Degree (possess over one-eighth of an ounce of methamphetamine). 
    Attempted Promoting a Dangerous Drug in the First Degree is a class A felony offense punishable by either a 20-year prison term or ten years probation and up to two years in jail.        The Prosecuting Attorney's Statement says, "The charges are merely allegations, and the Defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty."
     The investigation was a collaboration between members of Hawai‘i Police Department’s Area I Vice Section and Special Enforcement Unit, Homeland Security Investigations, and U.S. Postal Inspection Services. The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Muñoz. 
    "The Office of the Prosecuting Attorney remains dedicated to the pursuit of justice with integrity and commitment. Anyone having information concerning illegal narcotics distribution should call the Hawai‘i Police Department Vice Section in East Hawai‘i at (808) 934-8423 or in West Hawai‘i at (808) 329-0423, or Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300," concludes the Prosecuting Attorney' statement.