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Monday, December 18, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs December 18, 2023

Rain Nihipali-Sesson, a Junior at Kaʻū High, works for pin against a Hilo girl in a pre-season high school wrestling tournament at Pahoa High on Saturday. Photo by Coach Ray Mazyck

TROJAN WRESTLING IS BACK! Kaʻū High School's wrestling team started off strong on Saturday with a pre-season tournament at Pahoa High. The Trojan Boys & Girls got their first taste of competitive wrestling since 2019, and rose to the occasion.
    Kaʻū and 11 other teams sent their eligible freshman-junior wrestlers to face off, all of them getting two matches on the day. The Trojans were represented by Freshmen Eli Crook and Isaiah Salmo and Juniors Eddie Wirtz, Edzack Badua, and Rain Nihipali-Sesson.
    Not able to compete on Saturday were Seniors Stephen Alder, Ralph Aurelio, Laakea Kajiwara-Ke, Ocean Nihipali-Sesson, as well as Freshman Alazae Forcum (due to ankle sprain earlier in the week).

    Coach Ray Mazyck said, "Each one of our wrestlers gave it their all and gained valuable experience they desperately needed. Being a brand new program and a new sport to all of our wrestlers, we went out and competed great against well established teams."
    Notably, said the Coach, "Eli Crook started off the Trojan boys with a win by pin in overtime against a Honoka’a wrestler, a tremendous start to a promising season for the freshman."
    Rain Nihipali-Sesson was able to secure a rematch victory by third round pin for the Trojan girls against a Hilo wrestler. "Rain lost by pin in the first match against Hilo, but she kept a positive attitude and was able to be coachable and make the needed adjustments within a few hours allowing her to avenge the loss in the rematch," reported Mazyck.
    The Coach explained, "The point of a pre-season tournament like this is to gain experience and get an understanding of what this sport takes, and we did exactly that. The coaching staff is extremely proud of each of our wrestlers and excited for the season to come. The most important thing is that our team all had an incredible amount of fun, had amazing attitudes, and kept smiles on their faces through-out. We as coaches are blessed and can’t ask for much more than that."  

PUBLIC INPUT ON RELOCATION OF AN ELECTRICAL TRANSMISSION LINE from rugged terrain to a 2.5 mile stretch along Hwy 11 in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is open through Jan. 14. HVNP in coordination with Hawaiʻi Electric Light Company is requesting the comment.
    The HVNP statement on the project says "existing poles and lines are located along a corridor with hazardous terrain, including earth cracks and lava tubes. Maintenance and repairs are currently difficult and unsafe. Relocating the line along the highway will also help reduce potential impacts to the forested areas in HVNP."
The new power line route in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park will
put the polls by Hwy 11, away from the forest and rugged terrain.
Photo from HVNP
    The primary purpose "is to relocate, upgrade, and bring up to code the sub-transmission electric utility poles and power lines. The update will improve capacity, lower impedance, and make the poles and lines more resistant to weather events."
    The project includes an area between Piʻi Mauna Drive and the Hilo-side park boundary near Old Volcano Road. The project is considered Phase 3 of HELCO's efforts to upgrade and harden the 3400 Line, which spans from Puna to just outside the park's boundary on the Kaʻū side.
    Phase 1 and 2 of the project included an area between the Kīlauea Switching Station outside the Kaʻū-side boundary of the park to Piʻi Mauna Drive within the park. It was completed in 2020.
   HVNP is working with HELCO and Tetra Tech, Inc. to develop and analyze alternatives, develop mitigation measures, and conduct consultations. In addition to relocating the existing power line by installing new poles and transmission and distribution lines along 2.6 miles of Highway 11, the project will remove and/or decommission approximately 2.6 miles of existing poles and transmission and distribution lines within the current power line alignment in HVNP.
     HVNP is initiating the scoping process under the National Environmental Policy Act to determine the extent and nature of issues and alternatives that should be considered in an environmental assessment. There are three ways to provide input:
    Online: Visit https://parkplanning.nps.gov/Phase3 for project information to submit comments online.
    Email: Email comments to havo_planning@nps.com.
    Hard copy: Mail written comments to Attn: 3400 Phase 3 Power Line Relocation, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, P.O. Box 52, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, HI 96718-0052
    Comments must be submitted online, via email, or postmarked by Jan. 14, 2024 to be considered in the draft environmental assessment.

OFFICE OF SUSTAINABILITY, CLIMATE, EQUITY AND RESILIENCE will have Bethany Morrison as Interim Administrator. County of Hawai'i made the announcement Monday and said she will assume her new role in early 2024.
    Morrison has been with County of Hawaiʻi for over 15 years, serving within the Planning Department. Most recently, she served as a Planner VI where she oversaw the General Plan Comprehensive Review and the County of Hawaiʻi's Climate Action Plan.

Bethany Morrison takes the helm of Office of
Sustainability, Climate Equity & Resilience
    The county statement says, "Bethany also has demonstrated leadership in crisis management, notably during Kīlauea Eruption Recovery and with her role on the Natural Resources Resilience Action Team. In her managerial role, she supervises consultants, facilitates community meetings, evaluates various development plans, and engages in legislative advocacy."
    Mayor Mitch Roth said, "This office is all about helping to make sure we have a future where our keiki can raise their keiki here for generations," said Mayor Mitch Roth. "We are confident that Bethany understands that responsibility and will leverage her extensive experience and strong background in leading sustainability initiatives. With technical expertise in climate change mitigation and adaptation, proven leadership skills, proficiency in project management, and a successful track record in policy development and securing funding, she is well-equipped for her new role and we are excited to welcome her aboard."

    As the appointed Interim Sustainability Administrator, Morrison will oversee the administration and operation of OSCER, develop policies and programs aligned with County codes, collaboratie with County departments and community partners on sustainability and resilience strategies, and ensure the equitable implementation of sustainability efforts across all community sectors.
    "Hawaiʻi County remains steadfast in its dedication to providing exceptional public service while embracing the values of diversity, equity, and sustainability. With Ms. Morrison at the helm, the County looks forward to advancing its commitment to a resilient and vibrant community that honors its cultural heritage and natural environment, fostering opportunities for all residents," says the county statement.

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ADDING $326 MILLION TO HIS PROPOSED STATE BUDGET, Gov. Josh Green submitted a Supplemental Budget for Fiscal Year 2025 to the Hawai'i Legislature on Monday. A statement from his office says the additional proposed funding prioritizes housing, healthcare, education and recovery and resilience. He also proposed $890 million in general obligation bond funds for capital improvement projects statewide.
    The budget includes disaster case management services for those displaced by the Maui wildfires, fire
Hawai'i state Director of Finance Luis 
P. Salaveria recommends bond financing
to keep capital improvements on track.
prevention and suppression measures statewide, emergency equipment, rehabilitation of State highway facilities in Lahaina, and brushfire positions in Hawai'i's emergency management agency.
    "In addition to disaster preparation and mitigation, many of the proposed funds will advance key priority initiatives across the state, such as increasing access to quality healthcare, fully resourcing our public education systems, and accelerating the development of affordable housing and essential infrastructure," said Green.
    Other highlights include funding for school food and transportation programs, continued support for Hawai'i Public Housing Authority to develop housing for kūpuna, improvements across HHSC hospitals (including Ka'u Hospital) statewide, and to expand healthcare education and mental health services across the University of Hawai'i campuses.
    Since the Governor repurposed state resources to ensure general funds were available to allow continued support for statewide priorities and respond to the impacts of the Maui wildfires, he is asking for general funded capital improvement projects be reauthorized as general obligation bond funds "to maintain strong reserves and keep the projects on track."
    State Director of Finance Luis P. Salaveria said, "This approach frees up valuable general funds for wildfire recovery costs while supporting the continuation of projects by providing them with a longer implementation period through bond financing."
    Green said, "The full costs of the recovery will unfold over time, and we are financially prepared to address those needs, but we cannot afford to stop our progress on our key priorities. This budget allows us to continue our important initiatives and support the recovery and resiliency of our state."

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE'S RURAL DEVELOPMENT has announced new ways to connect for opportunities for funding, loans and services. Chris Kanazawa, Hawai'i Western Pacific State Director, listed the following:  
Chris Kanazawa, head of Rural
 Development for Hawai'i.
    A new history webpage that traces USDA Rural Development’s evolution from the Great Depression and New Deal to the present, highlighting the many ways the agency supports efforts to create prosperity in rural communities.
    One of Rural Development's more recent initiatives, the Rural Partners Network, which has brought together a coalition of 24 federal agencies that offer programs and funding designed specifically for rural communities.
    A new feature on Rural.gov that makes it easier to find these federal resources in one place. The Find Programs and Opportunities tool includes hundreds of millions of dollars in financing and technical assistance opportunities that are easy to search, filter and find.
    The information will help people in rural areas access funding for a variety of business, health care, housing, community and economic development needs, said Kanazawa.
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Christmas choir photo from KDEN
WE NEED A LITTLE CHRISTMAS is the title of the Holiday Concert on Tuesday, Dec. 19 at Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park at 7 p.m.
    Volcano Festival Chorus and Kilauea Drama and Entertainment Network performs its 28th annual Holiday Concert to include a mix of sacred and secular holiday music. The concert is free, but park entrance fees apply.

LITO ARKANGEL PERFORMS A MAGICAL HOLIDAY CONCERT on Wednesday, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. at Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium.
Lito Arkangel performs Wednesday at Kīlauea
 Visitor Center Auditorium. Photo by J. Patterson
    Born and raised in East Hawaiʻi, the musician, entertainer and educator grew up in East Hawai'i loving music and sitting next to his grandmother while she played piano for their church. As an adult, Lito’s music career has taken off, with two albums nominated for Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards, the Hawaiʻi version of the Grammys. 
    His concert on Wednesday is part of Nā Leo Manu (Heavenly Voices of Hawaiian music) concerts and presentations at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park and co-sponsored by Hawaiʻi Pacific Parks Association.