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Saturday, December 30, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs December 30, 2023

Mayoral candidate Kimo Alameda sign waving Saturday morning ahead of his 'Ohana Fun Day in Nāʻālehu.
Photo from Friends of Kimo Alameda

DR. KIMO ALAMEDA BROUGHT HIS CAMPAIGN FOR MAYOR TO KAʻŪ on Saturday, with sign waving followed by an 'Ohana Fun Day at Nāʻālehu Park. 
     He said, "The event was incredibly successful with the help of campaign manager Raylene Moses and her team. Nearly 400 attendees came to hear a message of hope and inspiration."
     Alameda said he made made note of concerns about Pāhala’s broken lights and scoreboard at its ball field to Nāʻālehu’s "condemned lights and unfinished tennis court. 
    "I also spoke to residents from Wai‘ōhinu requesting a simple fix of a long overdue, broken bathroom. Oceanview residents expressed concerns of wild dogs and drug houses."
Tent of kupuna set to meet with mayoral candidate.
Photo from Friends of Kimo Alameda
      He said, "I was happy to see that connections in Kaʻū are still strong with everybody being related or somehow connected through their church, work, or a friend of a friend. I look forward to connecting with the Kaʻū  team to do this again sometime in July."
    Alameda is the former executive director of the Bay Clinic, which is now Hawai'i Community Health Center in Nāʻālehu, after a merger he helped to orchestrate. He is also known for his time with the County Office of Aging, where he ran services for seniors. 
    Alameda has led anti-fentanyl campaigns, including distributing the antidote Narcan. He said these the anti-addiction campaign around the island solidified his aim to run for mayor on the Democratic ticket. 
    Alameda also served as late Mayor Billy Kenoi's Campaign Manager but said he didn't think he would ever run till he "saw the need."
Halau Hula O Leionalani performs at 'Ohana Fun Day,
a production of mayoral candidate Kimo Alameda.
Photo from Friends of Kimo Alameda
    Alameda said he has heard much from communities around the island about a crisis-level need for affordable housing. He said he sees a workforce crisis and geographic inequality, described by Alameda as  people in rural areas receiving less service from the county than in Hilo and Kona. 
    He said he left employment with Hawai'i Community Health Center to campaign full-time. Alameda noted that he has been working for community service organizations for over 30 years.
   Alameda said he wants to use his business acumen to operate the county in a way that the public can see results from every tax, state, county, federal and donation dollar.

Mayoral hopeful Kimo Alameda talking with Kaʻū folks on
 Saturday in Nāʻālehu. Photo from Friends of Kimo Alameda
.   To tackle affordable housing, he said one approach is to empower local people to build houses they can afford on land they already have, and with infrastructure that can be improved by the county, state and federal government. "Build better, smarter and in locations that make sense."
    He said he also wants to protect the Kaʻū way of life, the fishing, hunting, farming and ranching. "These are activities that are important to people."
     He said he wants to push for more transparency and public access to county government.
Alameda graduated from St. Joseph High School and earned his doctorate in psychological, educational, and cultural studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is a licensed psychologist.
     Born in Hilo, he grew up in the hills of Wai'ākea Uka, working with his siblings to make ends meet with his parent's plumbing business and the family ranch. "This work ethic translated easily to other areas as Dr. Kimo gained many athletic and academic accolades and quickly became a state and county government leader," says the campaign website.
    He lives in Hilo with his wife of 29 years, Star Alameda. They are both 54 years of age. They have seven children, the eldest is 26, and the youngest is a freshman at Hilo High School. He said he and his family have always been involved in sports. Alameda hosts a show on Nā Leo TV titled Health is Everywhere.

Pāhala Hongwanji (above) and Nāʻālehu Hongwanji were drop-off and pick up places for Kaukau 4 Keiki in Kaʻū. Vibrant Hawai'i plans to work with these food hubs in Kaʻū again in 2024, including volunteer Glenn Okumura, who guides a delivery truck into place to drop off food. Photo by Julia Neal

VIBRANT HAWAI'I released a year of end report and its leader Janice Ikeda says the non-profit is looking forward to continuing work in Kaʻū. Vibrant helps Kaʻū Food Hubs that serve Ocean View, Kaʻū and Nāʻālehu and surrounding areas and communities in between. In  2023 they partnered for the Kaukau 4 Keiki program. Co-captains Marlene Freitas and Julia Neal led the effort for Pāhala and Captain Marcia Masters led the effort for Nāʻālehu. 
Pāhala Co-captain Marlene Freitas and volunteers help distribute
fresh produce during Kaukau for Keiki. Photo by Julia Neal
     For Kaukau 4 Keiki during the summer school break, the Vibrant Hawai'i report notes that Hawai'i Alliance, LLC, Hilo Products, Inc. Hawai' Institute of Pacific Agriculture and Ho'ola Farms rough pallets of canned goods, milk and boxes of locally grown produce every week to Pāhala Hongwanji, Nāʻālehu Hongwanji and 12 other drop-sites across the island. 
     The report says, "These deliveries were an incredible orchestration of logistics that sourced pantry items and produce for 56,00 meals a week. During the regular academic year, thousands of students receive free or reduced-priced meals, but during hte summer, many schools are unable to continue their meal program due to staffing and logistical challenges. For students living in rural areas, transportation challenges or conflicting family work schedules make picking up Department of Education Gran and Go meals difficult.
    "In an economy that already imports 90 percent of its food, the Kaukau 4 Keiki project provided keiki and teens access to healthy meals, especially low-income rural areas."
Kaʻū Food Hubs participated in distribution of food that reached 4,000 keiki weekly, islandwide during Kaukau 4 Keiki.
Photo by Julia Neal
      Meal kits were provided to the families of 4,000 keiki weekly. They were designed to USDA food guidelines and included over five pounds of locally sourced fruits and vegetables, bread, shelf-stable milk, and protein. "There was a purposeful emphasis on incorporating local produce as part of the Summer Food Series Program: a federally-funded, state-administered program that reimbursed Vibrant Hawai'i for the meal kits."
     See this and other Vibrant Hawai'i programs at www.vibranthawaii.org.

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY MAY BE OUT IN KAʻŪ to help people become homeowners in 2024. The organization helps to construct homes with sweat equity of the owners-to-be and volunteers, also offering assistance with financing. New programs could begin in Kaʻū as early as summer, said Margaret Tanaka, the non-profit's community outreach director. 
    Habitat released an end of year statement about its housing ministry on Hawai'i Island, reporting 
Congresswoman Jill Tokuda assisted with building
a home for Habitat for Humanity.
that ten Habitat affordable homes on this island are in various construction phases. In 2023, Habitat completed three critical home repair projects, and two more critical home repair projects are in progress with at least four more projects expected to start in 2024. 
      Over 20 families applied for Habitat's  November offering for new builds. "A lot of work to be done, but it will mean that many more families will have a place to call their own," said the Habitat report.
     Kaʻū's Congresswoman Jill Tokuda and staff volunteered to help build a home earlier this year. They worked alongside Habitat volunteers, the homeowners, and Habitat staff and board members putting up a house wrap and windows.
    Any company, non-profit or other group wanting to volunteer with their team, can contact info@habitathawaiiisland.org.
​    Habitat for Humanity Hawai'i Island's Board of Directors are: Richard Tardiff - President; Gail Noeau - Vice President; Dr. Ann Marie Muramoto - Secretary; Hobbs Lowson - Treasurer; Leiola Augustine;
April Bates; Alexander Keeley; Bo Kahui; Edwina Fujimoto and Napua Kekauoha-Chartrand.
Advisory members are Steve Machesky and Julie Ziemelis. Executive Director is Chris Marlett Patulski.
    Learn more at habitathawaiiisland.org.

PROTECT SAFETY AND WELL-BEING OF FOUR-LEGGED FAMILY MEMBERS the New Year approaches, said a statement from Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth, along with the Animal Control and Protection Agency.
    New Year's celebrations "are a time of joy and festivity, but they can also be stressful for pets, particularly dogs. The Animal Control and Protection Agency has observed a surge in calls for lost dogs
during this period, many of which can be prevented with a few simple measures," says the statement.
    "Fireworks, a hallmark of New Year's celebrations, can be frightening for dogs, leading them to escape from yards and properties in search of safety. To mitigate this risk, Mayor Roth encourages pet owners to secure their dogs indoors or in a properly fenced outdoor area during the holiday season.
    "Pets are family for many residents, and our goal this holiday season is to ensure their safety," said the Mayor. "With a rise in lost dog reports during New Year celebrations, we're asking our pet owners to help minimize their stress and worry during the festivities by taking a couple of simple steps that can ensure the safety of themselves and their four-legged friends."
    In addition to securing pets, the Mayor recommends having dogs microchipped as a reliable and permanent form of identification. Collars can break or be removed, but a microchip ensures that vital information is always accessible, significantly increasing the chances of a lost pet being reunited with its owner.
    "After getting your pet microchipped, take the extra step to register their information with one of the many online registration organizations. This proactive measure will expedite the process of reuniting you with your furry friend if they are found," said Matt Runnells, Animal Control and Protection Agency Administrator.
    For more information or assistance, contact the Animal Control and Protection Agency at 808-327-3558.