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Friday, May 19, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Friday, May 19, 2023

Many lei and many fans praised the 73 who graduated from the Class of 2023 at Kaʻū High on Friday. Photo by Julia Neal
KAʻŪ  HIGH SCHOOL VALEDICTORIAN TAYLER RASMUSSEN plans to go to University of Hawai'i Hilo and its pharmacy school. In her speech to the 73 graduating seniors on Friday night, she encouraged her classmates to keep meeting challenges and accomplishing their dreams. "Over these past four and more years, we've dealt with a plethora of obstacles and mishaps. Whether it was a magnitude 4.9 earthquake, or making it to our advisory classes, we have stood by each other, similar to how we stand here at this moment." 
    To the class that chose its motto to be "Small Town, Big Dreams," and its song Legacy by High Watah, Rasmussen said, "There's no uncertainty that coming from Kaʻū presents unique challenges. As a rural
Kaʻū High valedictorian Tayler Rasmussen
plans to go to U.H. pharmacy school in Hilo.
Photo by Julia Neal
district, we are underserved by our county, we are often lacking in opportunities and resources, and we are forgotten. I don't believe for a second that anyone can count the number of times we've told someone we are from  Kaʻū, and they respond with something along the lines of 'Kaʻū? That's far out country, isn't it?' Well  yes, it is. And while we are country pertaining to our vast agriculture, farming, hunting and being so in tune with the bountiful environment around us, we are also a country in the sense that we are an independent entity. "There are not many places you can find so much culture, scenery, community, persistence, or pigs. And there's one key thing that we still hold onto, that we definitely do not lack. And that key thing is spirit....Our spirit is something they can never take away from us, because we will never let them."
    Rasmussen advised her classmates, "I implore you to take that spirit, that compassion, and vitality, and use it to our advantage. Nothing comes easy, and that is especially true here. However, do not view it as a restriction. View it as a challenge. There is no definite or omnipotent passage somewhere hidden in the rocks that reads, 'You can not because you are from Kaʻū.'
    "There is only me telling you right now that I know that all of you are entirely capable of anything you desire to do, but only if you contribute continuous time, perseverance, and raw devotion to your goal. What I said is much easier said than done, but it is necessary to your success, and the future success of our community.
    "My dad whom some of you might know as your math teacher, once told me, 'You can't assume anything.' And while he was referring to my expectation that my physics teacher would grade my assignments before mid quarters, that phrase is applicable to any and all of you aspirations. Nothing is ever gained through passiveness, through waiting for that change that should have already been granted. It might be unfair, but your only choice of action that induces progress is to fight for what you want and more importantly what you deserve. Advocating for intentions is not only entirely possible but your responsibility." 
     In the opening and closing of her speech Rasmussen quoted from the poem by Dylan Thomas:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
A Marshallese family with their graduate Ricehe Jorbon from
Kaʻū High School on Friday. Photo by Julia Neal
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    See more on the Kaʻū High School graduation in Saturday's Kaʻū News Briefs.

FUNDING TO HELP FARMERS AND RANCHERS SHIP IN SUPPLIES was introduced to Congress on Friday by Hawai'i Democrats Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz and Alaska Republican Dan Sullivan. Hawaiian and Alaskan Senators often collaborate as their citizenry faces unique challenges, including transportation to and from the other 48 states. U.S. Pacific and Atlantic islands are also included in the funding.
    The RTCP Revitalization Act is legislation to secure additional funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Reimbursement Transportation Cost Payment Program. The program enables geographically disadvantaged farmers and ranchers in Hawai'i, Alaska, and other insular areas to receive reimbursements for costs incurred when transporting supplies such as feed, fertilizer, and equipment parts.

    “Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural producers help boost our local economies and enable communities to have access to fresh, healthy produce,” said Hirono. “I am glad to join my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan bill to support local producers in Hawaii, Alaska, and other insular areas.” Schatz said, "Our bill will help more farmers in Hawai‘i get their products where they need to go, and help make locally-produced food more affordable."
    Murray Clay, President of Ulupono Initiative, said, “We deeply appreciate the hard work put forth in this legislation to support our local farmers and ranchers. Along with increasing the number of agricultural producers who can participate in the RTCP program, this legislation also increases the amount of funding they can receive. This would help hundreds of Hawai'i food producers with cost savings on eligible transportation costs and, as a result, support their efforts to become more profitable and remain a valuable food source as our state continues to work towards our agricultural sustainability goals.”
   The RTCP program was established in the 2008 Farm Bill in recognition of the increased costs producers face in geographically disadvantaged areas. USDA began administering the program in 2010 and throughout its history, demand for this popular program has substantially exceeded available funds. In addition to Hawai'i and Alaska, the program is also available to farmers, ranchers, and producers in Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, and the Virgin Islands.
    Due to the increase in demand for the program and costs for producers, the RTCP Revitalization Act aims to secure additional funding for the program. The bill would:
    Provide mandatory funding for RTCP, starting with $10 million in fiscal year (FY) 2024, increasing by $1 million each year to $15 million in FY 2029, and then provides $15 million each fiscal year thereafter;

    Remove statutory language setting a $15 million payment cap for any given fiscal year; and
Provide language saying that the USDA Secretary may not impose a cap to individual producer payments for any fiscal year that program funds exceed demand.

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Of the 700 anchialine pools in Hawai'i, 650 are on this island. Photo from Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
KAHUKU COFFEE TALK on Saturday features experts in anchialine pools. Venue for the talk is Kahuku Visitor Station in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
    Anchialine pondss are among the rarest ecosystems on Earth. Few people know they exist. Anchialine coastal pools in Kaʻū and beyond, provide critical habitat for ʻōpae ʻula (endemic shrimp) and other native species. Hawaiʻi Island is home to 650 of the 700 anchialine pools in the state.
    This Saturday, Anne Farahi, lead aquatic biologist for the NPS Pacific Island Network Inventory & Monitoring division, joins anchialine enthusiast and park ranger Dean Gallagher on a virtual plunge into hidden Hawaiʻi.
    The free presentation is part of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes’ ongoing Kahuku Coffee Talk program, and is sponsored by Hawaiʻi Pacific Parks Association. Free admission. Kaʻū Coffee will be available for sale.

OCEAN VIEW WELL IS REPAIRED. "Normal water usage from the water spigots may resume. The HOVE standpipe facility for commercial water haulers will reopen Monday, May 22, 2023," reports the County of Hawai'i's Department of Water Supply.

    "The Department sincerely acknowledges the community’s efforts to reduce water usage while the emergency well repairs were underway. Mahalo for your kokua!" says the statement from DWS.
    The well shut down for repairs on Feb. 13 to fix a broken pump. The County hauled water to the water tank at the facility to keep the spigots available so that people could fill up their water containers for home use at no cost. The County asked the community to limit consumption. The commercial standpipes where customers pay for water have been unavailable since the breakdown and will reopen on Monday.
    Call (808) 961-8790 for additional information or email dws@hawaiidws.org.