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Monday, December 25, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs December 25, 2023

Christmas Traffic & the Nēnē
"The holidays can be a magical time for many, but they are also a vital time for the survival of the Hawaiian goose, or nēnē, the rarest goose in the world. Nēnē pairs are breeding and nesting, and goslings have been observed in the park," says a posting from Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. With increased visitation in the Park, National Park Service asks the public to "Help them survive with these three simple actions: Give them space! Stay at least 60 feet away (about four car lengths) at all times. If they approach. move away. Never, ever feed nēnē. Pay attention while driving and go slow. Together, we can ensure the survival of these remarkable birds." Learn more: https://www.nps.gov/havo/learn/nature/nene.htm
National Park Service Photo
KAʻŪ'S KEIKI RATED HIGHER IN BEING READY FOR KINDERGARTEN than in a number of school districts across the state, according to the recent Johns Hopkins University Readiness for Kindergarten Assessment.
     Statewide, less than a third of keiki demonstrated "baseline readiness." This was the first year that Johns Hopkins Ready for Kindergarten assessment was administered in Hawai'i. The island with all school districts showing most readiness for kindergarten is Kaua'i - all over 30 percent.
    Kaʻū rated at 17.4 percent, lowest on Hawai'i Island with Kohala and Kea'au just ahead with 18.5 percent readiness. The lowest statewide were Lana'i at 6.5 percent, Waianae at 8.3 percent, Hana at 9.1 percent, Farrington at 9.3 percent, MiKinley at 11.4 percent, and Kulanihakoi at 16.2 percent. Reasons given for low ratings included language spoken in homes, poverty, nutrition and health care.
    The testing was not a paper test and involved observations and interactions with keiki across the state.
    Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke is leading state government's effort to prepare keiki for kindergarten. The plan is to expand high-quality child care and preschool for keiki three and four years of age. The state's Ready Keiki plan calls for addition preschool classrooms, increasing provider subsidies to expand preschool access, and educational partnerships to train new preschool teachers and assistants.
    "Access to preschool is a social justice issue for Hawai’i,” said Luke. “Children who have attended high-quality preschool or child care programs are much better prepared for success in Kindergarten, but not every family has access to early learning programs. If we can provide enough classrooms at an affordable price, we can make sure all of our keiki are ready to learn.”
    The Ready Keiki initiative is supported by all four Counties as well as public, private and nonprofit educational partners and philanthropic foundations. The partners include: state Department of Education, Department of Human Services, School Facilities Authority and Executive Office on Early Learning; the University of Hawai’i; Kamehameha Schools; Early Childhood Action Strategy; Hawai’i P-20; Chaminade University of Honolulu; Hawai'i Data Collaborative; The Learning Coalition; Commit to Keiki; Harold K.L. Castle Foundation and the Hawai’i Community Foundation.

THE FIRST STATE WITH NO SHORTAGE OF HEALTHCARE WORKERS: Gov. Josh Green said that's a goal for Hawai'i he wants accomplished. Just before Christmas he announced that the state’s new Hawaiʻi Healthcare Education Loan Repayment Program (HELP) is alleviating the educational debt of 492 medical and healthcare professionals who have been accepted into the program.
    Nearly 300 of the individuals are in primary and mental health care, said Green. "The HELP program will retain medical professionals in our state, which can secure medical care for approximately 750,000 Hawai‘i residents annually."
    The next deadline to commit to practicing health care in Hawai'i in exchange for paying off health care education debt is Jan. 1. See more and find the application at https://www.ahec.hawaii.edu/hawai%ca%bbi-help/
    Green said, "It is so rewarding to see this program come to fruition, as it was this type of assistance that first brought me to Hawaiʻi so many years ago. I saw first-hand how desperately needed medical care is, especially in rural areas of the islands, and for underserved populations. HELP will prove to be a great start toward decreasing our longstanding and challenging shortage of healthcare professionals across the state."

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RESPONSIBLE CELEBRATION DURING UPCOMING NEW YEAR FESTIVITIES is the goal of Hawaiʻi County's announcement, as communities continue to grapple with persistent drought conditions conducive to brushfires starting, spreading rapidly, and endangering Hawaiʻi Island communities.    
   Mayor Mitch Roth and County officials emphasized importance of prioritizing safety and responsible firework use to prevent accidents that could lead to dangerous wildfires.
    "We are once again relying on our residents to do their part in keeping our community safe," said the Mayor. "Even though some parts of our island have been wet, other parts have seen sustained dryness that is of significant cause for concern. Our hope is that all of us make it to the new year without incident while enjoying invaluable time with our friends, families, and loved ones."
    Key firework safety points from the County include:
    Use Approved Fireworks Only: Purchase and use only fireworks that local authorities have approved. Ensure they bear the appropriate safety labels acquired from licensed vendors.
    Designated Areas Only: Limit firework use to designated areas approved for such activities. Avoid open fields, dry grass, and areas prone to catching fire.
    Adult Supervision: Children should never handle fireworks; adult supervision is always essential. Keep a safe distance from the ignition site.
   Fire Safety Measures: Have fire safety equipment, such as a water hose or bucket, readily available. Be prepared to extinguish any sparks or embers immediately.
    Dispose of Properly: Ensure proper disposal of used fireworks after the celebration. Soak them in water before placing them in a non-combustible container.
    The statement notes that the Hawaiʻi Police Department will patrol this New Year's Eve to ensure responsible celebrations and prioritize community safety. "They are ready to enforce the law whenever necessary and are reminding the public that the combination of drinking, driving, and drugs will not be tolerated."
    Hawaiʻi County officials also remind residents that dry conditions may lead to tighter islandwide firework restrictions, and residents are asked to follow County guidance for a safer celebration.
    "The County remains committed to the health and safety of the Hawaiʻi Island community and would like to wish its residents a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season spent with loved ones."
    See the following link: 2024 COH Firework PSA.