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Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Punalu'u needs protection and visitor education, says Hawai'i Tourism Authority, which sent out a Request For Proposals for a stewardship plan, aiming to contract with a community organization. Photo by Bob Martin
PUNALU'U NEEDS PROTECTION AND HAWAI'I TOURISM AUTHORITY WILL PROVIDE STEWARDSHIP FUNDING. HTA announced Wednesday it has selected Punalu'u Black Sand Beach and two other sites on this island for a Request for Proposals to provide protection, visitor education and the hiring of stewards to work there. HTA promises funding.
    HTA Director of Planning Caroline Anderson said, “This initiative is a part of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s ongoing commitment to the community as we support residents’ desired approaches to managing visitor impacts and preserving natural and cultural resources in their neighborhoods. The program is intended to engage stewards from each area who will help to educate others about their home and how to care for the places they are visiting.”

Honu at tidepools along Punalu'u Beach, which has been named by Hawai'i
Photo by Julia Neal
    HTA announced on Wednesday that it wants to partner with "‘āina-based non-profit organizations to develop and manage the community stewardship program” at Punalu'u, Pohoiki and Kealakekua Bay. HTA noted that Punalu'u is one of the sites where protection of natural and cultural spaces is identified in the  Hawai‘i Island Destination Management Action Plan and that visitor education is needed. The Action Plan notes “increased overcrowding, congestion, degradation of resources, and safety hazards.” 
Honu frequent the sand with many footprints at
 Punalu'u Black Sand Beach. Photo by Bob Martin

     An Action Stewardship Program was already launched in Keaukaha in a “collaborative destination management effort,” according to HTA.
    An HTA statement says it will choose contractors for Punalu'u, Pohoiki and Kealakekua who “will be responsible for working with the local community to recruit and hire stewards from the designated area or district.”
    HTA lists the following objectives:
    Increase understanding of appropriate behavior and respect for Hawaiian culture, natural resources, and the surrounding communities through positive visitor-steward interactions.
    Train stewards to share place-based mo‘olelo (history), mo‘omeheu (culture) and ho‘oulu (hope for the future).
    Emphasize safety and redirect visitors from dangerous land and ocean conditions to parks and beaches that are open for visitation.
    Minimize trespassing on private and government lands.
    Encourage visitors to pick up their ‘ōpala (rubbish) and leave the area better than when they arrived.
   Gather data for the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism Resident Sentiment Survey
    Gather data to track visitation.
    See and download the Hawai'i Island Destination Management Action Plan at https://holomua.hawaiitourismauthority.org/media/sz1dbbfb/hta-hawaii-island-action-plan-2021.pdf 
See and download the application and Request for Proposals at visit hvcb.org. Proposals are due by 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 18 to IHVB Destination Manager Rachel Kaiama at rkaiama@hvcb.org. For more info, call (808) 294-1737 or email rkaiama@hvcb.org.

KAʻŪ HOSPITAL & RURAL HEALTH CLINIC will host its first annual Community Health Fair on Saturday, Aug. 26 at Pahala Community Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
     The event features free health education for the commuity, entertainment, prizes and more. 
   It is sponsored by Ka'u Hospital Charitable Foundation, Ka'u Rural Health Community Association and the hospital and clinic.
     Contact Salena Espejo, Community Health Worker at 808-932-4205 or sespejo@hhsc.org.

    Median credit card debt in Hawai'i is $2,936. The expected time until payoff is 12 months and nine days. The report comes from WalletHub, which notes that credit card debt in Hawai'i is drastically lower than in most of the country. The report says that Americans increased their collective credit card debt by a record $179.4 billion last year - the grand total at over $1.1 trillion.
    WalletHub drew upon data from TransUnion, the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Census Bureau and WalletHub's proprietary credit card payoff calculator to determine the cost and time required to repay the median credit card balance in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
    Dorris Perryman, one of the WalletHub financial consultants wrote: "One of the leading causes of large amounts of credit card debt is overspending: buying unnecessary purchases that do not contribute to a person's well-being. Paying the minimum amount on a high-interest credit card does not allow you to reduce the balance on the account.
Image from WalletHub
    "Falling for the rewards programs that establishments offer for your loyalty can also contribute to credit card debt. These programs come with a price of having to constantly buy more to receive less than the interest on their loyalty cards. Unless you travel for work every day, it is best to stay away from these programs as they do not benefit the customer but rather the organization.
    "A person living paycheck to paycheck does not have enough money or savings to cover simple emergencies and must use their credit cards to make ends meet."
    Paul Obermann, who also consults for WalletHub, explains the nationwide rise in credit card debt: "There are two major reasons. First, people who start accumulating credit card debt often do not have a choice. Unexpected expenses, such as unforeseen medical or other emergencies, may push people to overextend and spend more than they can pay back in time. Using a credit card is one of the easiest ways to borrow money since other loans are often not as readily available. However, credit card debt is one of the worst ways to borrow since credit cards have some of the highest interest rates. The second reason is poor budgeting. Most of us own at least one credit card (probably more), and it takes a lot of effort to track how much is owed and make payments before interest kicks in. Default sometimes simply happens because of forgetfulness rather than the inability to pay. Given the high interest rates on credit card debt, once interest is owed, it is often a downward spiral from there, and it becomes less likely to pay off the
debt without other cash injections, loans, or major life changes."
   John Pelletier, Director, Center for Financial Literacy, makes some suggestions: "I know it is hard for many, but you must spend less than you earn so you can build a rainy-day fund that equals three to six months of expenses. This should cover necessities like food, shelter, utilities, and transportation to work. About four out of 10 adults do not have a rainy-day fund."
   Obermann says more: "A budget is the key here...It should allow leeway for saving money, meaning the monthly bottom line should be positive. The remaining money each month should go into an interest-paying account, such as a savings account. This account should not be touched unless there are emergencies. The budget may also include a category for 'emergency savings' so that there is always some money on hand to cover emergencies without having to borrow funds. Unexpected situations (despite their name) should be expected when making a budget."
   On what government can do, WalletHub advisor Karen Holden writes: "Unfortunately, our government has not been particularly encouraging of low debt. For example, mortgage debt is encouraged by income
Image from WalletHub
tax preferences for home owners versus renters. Our health care system causes individuals with high-cost health conditions to go into debt. Two roles of government that could be protective within our current system are: Bankruptcy rules could take into account expenses that were more unpredictable – e.g., losses due to natural disasters or medical crises not covered by health insurance. Our Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been instrumental in providing information (e.g., on credit cards about payoff periods) to consumers. The government could play a larger role in protecting consumers against information that encourages debt."
   Pelleteir advises: "The government should be more aggressive in capping interest rates and not allowing usurious interest rates on payday lending and title loans, as some states do. And we need more states to create payroll-deducted retirement programs that small employers can use for free for all of their employees with a simple payroll deduction to the state-administered plan. Nearly four in ten full-time working adults work for employers without retirement plans in states that do not offer these. Currently, about one in four states has these plans with small companies. The ideal is automatically enrolling all employees in a plan that starts putting 3 percent of salaries into a 401K and having an auto-escalation clause over time so that retirement savings increase as income increases."


Five thousand in the mail, 2,500 on the street.
See the July edition of The Kaʻū Calendar Newspaper