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Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs Wednesday, Oct.18 , 2023

Unity Day at Nāʻālehu and other schools saw students in a large circle to encourage kindness, acceptance and inclusion.
Photos by Nāʻālehu Elementary Principal Wilma Roddy

UNITY DAY CAME TO NĀ‘ĀLEHU AND OTHER SCHOOLS ACROSS THE STATE on Wednesday. The theme was Aloha in Action: United for Kindness, Acceptance, and Inclusion.
    Nāʻālehu Elementary School Counselor Jessica Lorenzo, who helped to organize the event along with Kuulei Pablo, Alesha Makuakane and Principal Wilma Roddy, said it encourages all students to stand together against violence and bullying. Participants were encouraged to sport orange attire and accessories, with students wearing Unity Day bracelets and staff wearing Unity Day lanyards.
    Students wrote messages on orange strips of paper. Some of them said, "When we unite against bullying, our message becomes stronger." Some others said, "Even though we may have differences, we all belong to this community."The youngest children drew images of the heart, smiley face, peace and other ideas, or wrote their names in support. Classes connected their strips together to create a long lei, symbolizing the power of uniting for a common cause.
     The students gathered in the schoolyard to make a large circle. At the end of the celebration they draped their huge paper lei on the fence facing Hwy 11 for all to see.

Students wrote and drew on individual strips of paper and connected them into a class lei, which was connected to an entire school lei and draped on the fence by Hwy 11 for all to see their celebration of Unity Day. Photo by Nāʻālehu Elementary Principal Wilma Roddy

PUBLIC INPUT ON HAWAI‘I COUNTY'S GENERAL PLAN HAS WON AN EXTENSION. The county announced Wednesday that public comment for Hawaiʻi County General Plan Comprehensive Review & Update is open until March 1, 2024.
The deadline is changed from Nov. 20 to March 1.
Image from Hawai'i County Planning Department
   "The General Plan, a vital document shaping the future of Hawai‘i County for the next 25 years, plays a pivotal role in addressing community challenges, harnessing opportunities, and creating a shared vision." said the County statement. Zendo Kern, Director of the County Planning Department, made the announcement and said, "Listening to and understanding the diverse perspectives of our communities is essential for creating a General Plan that supports a sustainable and thriving Hawaiʻi Island."
   The County statement said, the "Planning Department extends its gratitude to all the communities, stakeholders, County and State agencies, Community Development Plan Action Committees, and the Hawaiʻi County Council, who have actively engaged in the extensive public outreach process. "Their insights have been invaluable in shaping the recommended draft of the General Plan."
    The General Plan covers a broad spectrum of crucial topics, including active living, climate change, quality jobs, housing choice and affordability, local economy, and traffic.
General Plan image indicates roots in
the Environment, Culture and Economy.
 Mayor Mitch Roth emphasized, "The General Plan allows our community to navigate the future of our island home sustainably and truly in the best interest of us all. We hope to see many minds come together to ensure a plan that is as vibrant and diverse as the communities we serve."
    Following the conclusion of the extended public comment period, planners will evaluate and incorporate the feedback received into a final recommended draft, marking the beginning of the adoption process. The final recommended draft will be forwarded to the Windward and Leeward Planning Commissions for separate hearings. All community members are welcome and encouraged to participate in the process, offering their valuable testimonies during the hearings. The County Council is responsible for the final review and adoption and will also provide an opportunity for public testimony.
    To stay informed about upcoming events, progress, and the overall process, interested individuals can sign up for the Department's eNews at www.planning.hawaiicounty.gov/general-plan-community-planning/gp/connect. For more information, get in touch with staff members of the County of Hawai'i Planning Department at 101 Pauahi Street, Suite 3, Hilo, HI 96720. You can reach them at (808) 961-8288 or at GeneralPlan@hawaiicounty.gov.

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HAWAI‘I HAS THE SIXTH LEAST PROBLEM WITH HIRING EMPLOYEES, among all the states and Washington, D.C., according to a study released Wednesday by WalletHub. The place where employers struggle least with hiring is New York, followed by New Jersey, District of Columbia, Washington, Indiana and Hawai‘i.
    Places where employers struggle the most with hiring are Alaska, followed by West Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, New Mexico and Louisiana.
    The big overview from WalletHub is: "While the economy is still recovering from the pandemic, the labor market is showing signs of improvement. National labor force participation rates are nearing pre-pandemic levels, reaching 62.8% in September 2023. "That puts us at just 0.5% below where we were at the end of 2019. Unemployment rates are lower than they were at the height of the pandemic as well, remaining between 3.4 - 3.8% so far this year. Plus, employees are less inclined to leave their employers now than last year, allowing companies to focus on filling new positions rather than simply backfilling them from employee turnover."
KAʻŪ DESERT FOOTPRINTS TRAIL IS CLOSED past the Footprints Exhibit to the Mauna Iki Trail Intersection and the entire Mauna Iki Trail is closed due to episodic unrest in the area south-southwest of Kīlauea caldera, including earthquakes in the Kaʻū Desert toward Pāhala
    "Safety is always our top priority, and the potential hazards in this region are significant and could include elevated volcanic gases, dangerous lava activity, and damaging earthquakes with very little notice. After any potential eruptive activity occurs, park managers will re-evaluate high-hazard areas and access," said Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Superintendent Rhonda Loh.
    The Footprints Exhibit remains open and accessible from Highway 11. Kulanaokuaiki Campground is open and Hilina Pali Road is open but is closed to vehicles past the campground to the Hilina Pali Lookout due to elevated fire risk.
Earthquakes per day in the last week have been increasing and moving southwest of
Kīlauea Caldera into the Kaʻū Desert.
    The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reports that the summit of Kīlauea volcano remains at a high level of inflation and eruptive activity is possible in the coming weeks or months. The unrest is expected to fluctuate as magma moves around the area.
    As reported on Wednesday, over the past 24 hours, USGS recorded around 86 earthquakes in the Kīlauea summit region. Most of the earthquakes from the seismic swarm south of the caldera are at depths of around 1–3 km (0.6–2 mi) below the surface.
   A statement from the Park said, "Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is unique among national parks because of the two active volcanoes within its boundaries. Last year, the park closed the summit of Mauna Loa weeks ahead of its historic summit eruption in November. As a result, no one had to be evacuated and no search and rescue missions were necessary."
   Park visitors are urged to plan ahead and check the park website for any closure or hazard alerts at www.nps.gov/hawaiivolcanoes.

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    Oct. 23 & 25 between 6:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. for ʻuaʻu (Hawaiian petrel) monitoring on Mauna Loa between 4,000- and 9,000-ft. elevation.

Flights to assess conditions and conduct a site survey 500 to
1,000 ft elevation above Pohue Bay are scheduled for Oct. 27
 by Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Photo by Peter Bosted
    Oct. 27 between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., for condition assessments and site survey on Mauna Loa between 500- and 1,000-ft. elevation at the Kahuku-Pohue parcel.
    Oct. 31 between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. for survey and control of invasive banana poka on Mauna Loa between 3,800- and 6,800-ft. elevation.
    USGS HVO may conduct additional flight operations over Kīlauea and Mauna Loa to assess volcanic activity and maintain instrumentation.
    The Park issued a statement saying it "regrets any noise impact to residents and park visitors. Dates and times are subject to change based on aircraft availability and weather. Management of the park requires the use of aircraft to monitor and research volcanic activity, conduct search-and-rescue missions and law enforcement operations, support management of natural and cultural resources, and maintain backcountry facilities."