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Sunday, May 07, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Sunday, May 7, 2023

Halau Hula O Leionalani performs first and third Saturdays at Ke Ola Pu'uhonua in Nā'ālehu. Photo by Brenda Iokepa-Moses
Sami Stanbro and Ed Olson at Keola Pu'uhonua in
 Nā'ālehu Saturday with cultural demonstrations and
 hula on first and third Saturdays, of the month, 10 a.m.
 to 2 p.m. Photo by Brenda Iokepa-Moses
HALAU HULA O LEIONALANI HONORED EDMUND C. OLSON AT KE OLA PU'UHONUA Cultural Gardens on Saturday on the grounds of Punalu'u Bakeshop in Nā'ālehu. The event drew family and community members to enjoy hula and presentation of lei to Olson, who founded  Kaʻū Coffee Mill and leases land to farmers and ranchers in the area. They thanked him for his donations toward the halau traveling to Japan and also for Olson's support of other community programs in Kaʻū.
    The halau performs during a regular event at Keola Pu'uhonua, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., first and third Saturdays of the month. Cultural practitioners give demonstrations and teach the public. On Saturday, a group from Puna joined in with a kalo demonstration, pounding poi and inviting the public to join in.
    Halau Hula O Leonalani Kumu Debbie Ryder said, "A lot of community people came out to support the practitioners and enjoy the hula." She called it "A real 'Ohana Day." Halau member Jamie Kailiawa, whose late husband Bull Kailiawa planted the Kaʻū Coffee, now grown by Olson along Hwy 11 by the historic graveyard in Pāhala, came out from Hilo to thank Olson for his donation and to give him a lei. All of the keiki and women dancers who will travel to Japan also presented lei to Olson.

Ed Olson receives lei from young hula dancers for his
donation toward their upcoming visit to Japan to perform
and visit cultural sites. Photo by Brenda Iokepa-Moses

    Working at Ke Ola Pu'uhonua are Demetrius Oliveira, Hulali Waltgen Puli and Chelse Kobzi. They are all employed through Alu Like. During the summer, said Ryder, Alu Like will also employ youth to work to help steward and further develop the cultural gardens.
    Halau Hula O Leonalani offers classes from keiki to kupuna at Pāhala Hongwanji in the old Japanese school classrooms. Tuesdays are for beginners from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. minimum age five, followed by advanced hula class from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. On Wednesday, keiki kāne classes are 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., an advanced opi'o class from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., followed by a ladies class from 6 p.m. to 7p.m.
    For more information, contact the Kumu at 808-649-9334.

Keiki of Halau Hula O Leonalani performing Saturday at Ke Ola Pu'uhonua in Nā'ālehu. Photo by Brenda Iokepa-Moses

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David Fuertes was guest speaker
at the Kaʻū FFA banquet.
Photo from Kahua Pa'a Mua
FUTURE FARMERS OF AMERICA HELD ITS FIRST KAʻŪ BANQUET IN MORE THAN 15 YEARS on Friday and presented awards and certificates to high school student members. The event was staged in the Robert Herkes District Gym Multipurpose Room with families, students and alumni attending.            
    FFA nationwide considers itself "the premier youth organization preparing members for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture."
    Guest speaker was David Fuertes, the retired agriculture teacher and FFA advisor from Kohala, who operates Kahua Pa'a Mua, a nonprofit that teaches people to farm in order to earn a living and feed their families, with a focus on traditional Hawaiian crops and Korean Natural Farming. He is also a leader in establishing certified kitchens for farmers. 
Kaʻū High Ag teacher and FFA advisor Kaweni Ibarra, 
FFA student member Pomai Kajiwara-Ke, and advisor
 Jessie Denny hold three awards for Ke including Star
Farmer. He also received a scholarship. Photo From FFA
    Fuertes spoke on the innovation and persistence of agriculture in Kaʻū, following the 1996 shut down of one of the first and the the very last sugar plantation on the island. Fuertes highlighted successful careers of many Kaʻū Future Farmers of America alumni.
    During the FFA banquet, Kaʻū High agriculture teacher Kaweni Ibarra, Jessie Denny, Cynthia Emmsley, and Janelle Cardenas, who are all advisors for Kaʻū High's newly relaunched FFA, helped facilitate the event with the chapter officers.
    FFA chapter officers summarized their accomplishments for the. year and members who participated in the the FFA Greenhand Degree program received certificates of recognition. 
    The Chapter Star Greenhand title went to Jacelyn Jara. The Chapter Star Farmer title went to Pomai Kajiwara-Ke. The Spark Plug Award went to to Nicoli Makuakane, and the All the Way Award to Ezekiel Kaawa-Kamimura. Pomai Kajiwara-Ke was also awarded a scholarship from Kaʻu FFA Alumni Marvin Min and his company Hawaiian Earth Products.

KAʻŪ COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN ACTION COMMITTEE will hold its public meeting on Monday, May 8 at Ocean View Community Center from 5:30 p.m.
     On the agenda are reports from the Punalu'u Coastline Access and Resources Investigatory Subcommittee; Mahana Bay (Green Sands Beach) Coastline Access and Resources Investigatory Subcommittee; Pohue Bay Coastline Access and Resources Investigatory Subcommittee; Kupuna Housing Investigatory Subcommittee; Development in Kaʻū Investigatory Subcommittee; Nā'ālehu Theatre Site Investigatory Subcommittee; and Small and Industrial Solar Farm Developments.
     Regarding Small and Industrial Solar Farm Developments, the Action Committee announced that its members "will discuss the topic of these developments and potential actions to be taken following the discussion, if any."
    Also on the agenda is a discussion on the Hawai'i County Code update.
    Members of the Kaʻū Action Committee are:
Jesse Ke, Ka'ohinani Mokuhali'i, Leina'ala Enos, Babette Morrow, Jason Masters, Pernell Hanoa, Catherine Williams and Kaweni Ibarra.
    See the Community Development Plan at

THE END OF THE 2023 HAWAI'I LEGISLATURE BROUGHT A REVIEW FROM GOV. JOSH GREEN at the end of last week. The physician, who started his career in medicine in Kaʻū, is in his first term as governor, and noted his attachment to Kaʻū when he took office and during his campaign. A statement from his office regarding his working with the 25 state Senators and 51 members of the state House of Representatives says:
    "Gov. Josh Green, M.D. is proud to announce wide legislative successes in the Administration's first legislative session. The Green Administration, through strong collaboration with the legislature, has secured the passage of a diverse portfolio of legislation that embraces the bold vision for the State of Hawai'i outlined by Governor Green during his first State of the State Address."
Gov. Josh Green. Photo from National Governors Assn

    The statement says that the end of the 2023 Legislative Session "marks an important date as a critical first step to lower Hawaiʻi's cost of living, construct truly affordable housing, protect our natural environment, and promote the health and wellness of our residents." It says the Governor "would like to thank the legislature for its collaboration, its willingness to put forth and embrace new, bold ideas, and for sharing values that prioritize the wellbeing of residents." It points to Green's assessment of the following four as "critical areas": Homelessness and housing needs; the Green Affordability Plan proposal; climate change; and a health care crisis.
    The Governor's assessment says "the 2023 legislative session secures critical achievements in all four areas. The Green Administration will build on these achievements over the next year."
    To tackle homelessness and housing needs: The Rental Housing Revolving Fund will receive $280 million over the next two years. $100 million has been appropriated in FY24, while $180 million has been appropriated in FY25.
    For the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund, $50 million is appropriated for each year.
    Kauhale Projects throughout Hawai'i will benefit from an infusion of $15 million in FY24 and $33 million in FY25.
     ʻOhana Zones will benefit from an infusion of $15 million.
      State Rent Supplement Program ($6 million in FY24); our Housing First Program ($3.7 million); our Rapid Re-Housing Program ($3.7 million); and our Homeless Outreach Services ($1.7 million).
     More than $150 million for the Hawai'i Community Development Authority for infrastructure improvements for housing developments.
    To roll out the Green Affordability Plan with tax relief that prioritizes working families, provisions include: Doubling the earned income tax creditDoubling the food tax credit and 
improving the existing child and dependent care tax credit.
    For Climate Change Adaptation, the Hawaiʻi Green Infrastructure Authority will receive $100 million to lower the energy burden for more than 4,000 Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed households in Hawai'i.
    For Hawai'i's Health Care Crisis, "this administration has secured funding to provide loan forgiveness programs for social workers, nurses, and physicians across Hawai'i. These investments will help shrink the state's physician shortage and ensure better health outcomes for communities across the state" with the following:
    Family Assessment Centers will benefit from an infusion of $1.5 million, while nursing facilities in the State of Hawai'i will receive $5.6 million in general funds and $7.1 million in federal funds.
    $30 million for the Hawaiʻi State Loan Repayment Program. "The State of Hawaiʻi is the first state in the country to start and invest in a loan repayment program for medical professionals to recruit, retain and attract doctors, nurses and social workers."
    Reduce health disparities for the 450,000 residents on Medicaid through $30 million dollars per year investment, matched with $43 million in federal support to raise Medicaid reimbursement rates. "Currently, physicians are reimbursed at a higher rate for patients on Medicare than those on Medicaid, discouraging healthcare providers from taking Medicaid patients. This investment ensures parity in reimbursement rates, facilitating access to higher quality care for Medicaid patients."
    Crucial investments in rural and neighbor island hospitals including:$50 million for Hilo Medical Center ICU and Medical Surgery Expansion; $18 million for Kona Community Hospital for Pharmacy and Infrastructure upgrades; $21.2 million for improvements at Samuel Mahelona Hospital in Kapa'a, Kaua'i; and $39 million for Maui Health System for repair and maintenance projects
     The Governor's statement said that collaboration with the Hawai'i State Legislature extended beyond these four priorities and includes the successful negotiation of a new contract with the Hawai'i State Teachers Association.