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Saturday, September 02, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023

               Kōlea Birds are Back in Kaʻū & Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park
Kōlea, the Pacific golden plover, are returning to Ka‘ū and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park after spending the summer in Alaska and Siberia. The Park report: "Kōlea are less than a foot long and you’ll most likely see them in their golden mottled  feathers. Next spring they will ready themselves for the long journey back to the north. Check out the kōlea and many different birds you may observe along Mauna Loa Road: https://www.nps.gov/im/pacn/havo-mauna-loa-road.htm." NPS Photo
ORGANIZED ILLEGAL DOG FIGHTS, A MAN KILLED BY LOOSE DOGS, AND NEED FOR ANIMAL CONTROL were some hot topics brought up by Ocean View residents at Friday's meeting co-hosted by county Office of Research & Development Director Douglass Shipman Adams and County Council member Michelle Galimba. The gathering was held at Ocean View Community Center.
    Concerning the issues raised by some of the 30 people in attendance, the County Council member reported on the selection of Matthew Runnells from Florida for Administrator of the new Animal Control & Protection Agency for County of Hawaiʻi. Galimba said that Runnells is a veteran and has experience working with Disney in Orlando. She said that she plans to work with the county for an animal control facility in Kaʻū with one or two animal control officers. She explained that establishing a Kaʻū facility with staff would shorten response time. Right now, animal control officers have to drive from Kona or Hilo to attend to animal-related emergencies in Kaʻū. Galimba noted that Acting Animal Control chief Regina Serrano will train the new Animal Control Administrator.
    Ocean View resident Paulette Frerichs urged Galimba to ask the county for animal control officers to be on duty around the clock in Kaʻū.
Ocean View residents brought their issues to the county meeting on Friday. Photo by Annie Bosted

    Frerichs also reported seeing truckloads of canines being hauled to Ocean View for dog fights. She said dog fights are associated with illegal activities, including gambling. She said gunshots at the dog fights terrorize the neighbors. Frerichs said many people also perceive dog fights as cruel and responsible for the loss of family pets.
    Long-time Ocean View resident Richard Rogers said, "They get any dogs they can, including family pets, to use as bait dogs." Frerichs said she appealed to the Hawai‘i Police Department to intervene to stop the dog fights and claimed that police said they could not enter private property without a search warrant. "We need somebody in government to back us up," added Frerichs.
    Galimba said, "I am obsessed with dog safety and welfare. I want something that will work in the long term." However, Galimba acknowledged that ending organized dog fights would not be the responsibility of an animal control officer.
    Residents also reported on a recent spate of dog attacks in Ocean View, one of them fatal to a man walking in his neighborhood. Frerichs pointed out that the dogs that attacked and killed the man in his 70s were not feral, but owned by a couple with a home in Ocean View. The dogs were given over to authorities.
     A resident raised the subject of water for Ocean View as being a much-needed improvement to the town's infrastructure and said that the County received Covid funds to develop infrastructure. Adams replied that water system improvements are the kuleana of the semi-autonomous Department of Water Supply.
County Council member Michelle Galimba and Director of county
 Department of Research & Development Doug Adams.
Photo by Annie Bosted
    Another issue raised is the planned industrial solar farm project in the Ranchos community, with residents concerned about the fire risk and high price of electricity to be produced in solar fields that would cover entire house lots in neighborhoods. Annie Bosted who opposes the 26 solar farms said the Public Utilities Commission in Honolulu needs to curb the mismanagement of the Feed In Tariff program, which was designed as an incentive for solar years ago, but is leading to high-cost electricity and industrialization of residential communities. 
    She said dealing with the issue has been a long and difficult process. "It has been seven years and two days since we filed our Formal Complaint," said Bosted. "Now we must be lawyers and argue that the project violates the Competitive Bidding Framework, citing points of law. The PUC has given us the burden of proof. If we fail, then the town gets industrialized. We desperately need County support to stop this nightmare."
    Another issue is the continuing blight of junk cars in Ocean View. Some residents said that the County claims to have no staff nor funding to clear out junkyards. Others bemoaned the junk cars littering the town and asked for them to be removed. Former Neighborhood Watch coordinator Heidi Jaworski said that in addition to junkyards being unsightly and unhealthy, they allegedly bring in crime, drugs, feral dogs, and prostitution to the town, while being a danger to children. "We are trying to make this a better community."
    The County does have a new program to provide the removal of two derelict vehicles per applicant per year at no cost to the property or vehicle owner. It was launched on Aug. 7. A county statement says that towing services will begin once contracts are in place. Registered vehicle owners and property owners are encouraged to submit their applications early as this program will only be available while funding is available.
    Visit http://www.hawaiizerowaste.org/recycle/automotive/ for the application and requirements. Direct questions to the Derelict/Abandoned Vehicle Section at (808) 961‐8552 or VDAP@hawaiicounty.gov.
    During the Ocean View meeting, county representatives gave the onsite and virtual presentation that they recently brought to Pāhala and other towns around the island, featuring their efforts to take broadband to rural communities, to deal with theft of agricultural produce and equipment, and to create programs to get rid of feral pigs.  See more on the presentation in a future edition of Kaʻū News Briefs.

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MATTHEW RUNNELLS IS THE NEW ANIMAL CONTROL & PROTECTION AGENCY ADMINISTRATOR for Hawai‘i County. Mayor Mitch Roth made the announcement this week.  
Matt Runnells is the new Administrator of the
new county Animal Control & Protection
Agency. Photo from County of Hawai'i
    Runnells comes to the County with over 25 years of experience in the industry, working with animals ranging from small domestic pets to large zoo animals. His experience includes roles at such institutions as Brevard and Birmingham Zoos, as well as at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, FL, where he was most recently employed.
    The statement from the County says, "Runnells' comprehensive skill set extends beyond animal care, encompassing critical areas such as case management, supervision, financial management, marketing, and supply management. His proven track record is further highlighted by his successful ownership and operation of his own animal-related company for an impressive 19 years. This venture allowed him to collaborate closely with veterinarians, animal control agencies, conservancies, and animal care facilities, enriching his understanding of the multifaceted aspects of animal welfare."
    Mayor Mitch Roth said, "Matthew Runnells' appointment as the Administrator of our new Animal Control & Protection Agency marks a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of our community's animals. "His extensive experience, coupled with his genuine passion for animal care, makes him an ideal fit for this crucial role. We are confident that under his leadership, the agency will thrive and provide outstanding services to our residents."
Kaʻū made a comeback and scored in the
 second half of the Trojan's first home game.
Photo by Joy Marie Ridgely

    The team, comprised of students from Kaʻū High and Volcano School of the Arts & Sciences, took on Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy from Waimea. Hawai‘i Prep won 23 to 8. 
    Highlights from Trojan play include TG Kuahuia-Faaffia making a deep comeback catch from a great spiraling pass by Adahdiyah Ellis-Reyes for a deep touchdown. Ellis-Reyes followed up by scrambling out of the pocket for a successful two-point conversion. Ellis-Reyes' pass led to one touchdown. He also made three interceptions. Kuahuia-Faaffia made six catches, with one touchdown.