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Tuesday, January 02, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs Jan. 2, 2024

The artist contest for creating images for Hawai‘i Wildlife Conservation Stamps is open through March 15. The game bird stamp will depict the Melanistic Mutant Blue Pheasant, its photo above. The wildlife stamp will depict a forest bird. See more below.
 Photo from state Department of Land & Natural Resources Division of Forestry & Wildlife.

HAWAI‘I'S MINIMUM WAGE ROSE TO $14 AN HOUR ON JAN. 1. Twenty-two other states and 32 cities and counties across the country hiked the minimum, with Hawai‘i increasing it by $2 an hour, the highest percentage increase of any state. The Hawai‘i Legislature made the change, with incremental wage increases to continue to $16 an hour in 2026 and $18 an hour in 2028.
    About a fifth of the workers in Hawai‘i were making under $14 an hour until this week. Government and non-profit agencies have reported that Hawai‘i's $14 an hour is far below the livable wage, given the high cost of housing and food in Hawai‘i. The state Department of Business & Economic Development estimated that a single parent with one child would need more than $31 an hour. With two keiki, the need would be $38 per hour. 
Cartoon by David Swann, Grassroot Institute of Hawai'i
     However, Chambers of Commerce and other groups representing businesses predicted that some employers will cut their staff and others may shut down their small businesses with the wage increases over the next four years.
     Twenty states mirror the national minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour. States with a $15 or higher minimum wage in 2024 are California, Washington, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Washington state has the highest minimum wage at $16.28 per hour.
    The highest minimum wages in the world are in the European country of Luxembourg, followed by Australia, New Zealand and The Netherlands.

HAWAI‘I ISLAND YOUTH AMBASSADOR OPPORTUNITIES, PAYING $22.50 AN HOUR, are available from Vibrant Hawai‘i. Designed for Hawaiʻi Island youth aged 18-24, the Ambassador role is a part-time, temporary position. It is an opportunity for those taking a gap year and for young individuals passionate about contributing to their communities.
    A statement from Vibrant says, "Founded in 2018, Vibrant Hawaiʻi aims to nurture equity and empower residents across Hawaiʻi Island. It operates as a convener and facilitator, supporting community-driven
initiatives across various sectors, including economy, education, health, housing, and community resilience."
    The Ambassador role is a four-month intensive program designed to hone skills in public service, social services, and organizational leadership. It offers hands-on experience and is especially suited for those experiencing their first formal employment. The program focuses on developing workplace skills, leadership abilities, and understanding of the Vibrant Hawaiʻi's Streams concept – a framework for responsive and adaptive community action.
    The work environment is mostly remote, with occasional travel. Those interested in this opportunity are encouraged to send a cover letter and resume, with personal and professional references, to oaka@vibranthawaii.org by Jan. 19, For more details and more on Vibrant, visit www.vibranthawaii.org. The application for becoming a Youth Ambassador can be found at https://9a1f09be-5e9e-4824-a2c1 1f8419d141a7.usrfiles.com/ugd/9a1f09_42e47c8721d94be0803f59e3f3c4e82f.pdf

The wildlife conservation stamp is a requirement for Hawai‘i state hunting licensees. The game bird stamp is required for anyone intending to hunt game birds. Both stamps will also be available to stamp collectors.
    The contest is sponsored by the state Department of Land & Natural Resources' Division of Forestry & Wildlife. Artists receive up to $1000 for winning images. See the rules for entering the art contest at https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/blog/2023/12/29/nr23-205/.

Deanna Sako
LEADERSHIP TRANSITIONS IN COUNTY OF HAWAI‘I were announced by Mayor Mitch Roth on Tuesday, Jan. 2. "A statement from the County noted, "These changes reflect Mayor Roth's commitment to fostering strong and capable leadership to drive the County forward."
    Deanna Sako, previously serving as Finance Director, has been appointed as the Managing Director for the County of Hawaiʻi. "In her new role, Sako will play a pivotal part in the overall management and administration of county government operations. With a wealth of experience in financial management and a deep understanding of the County's needs, Sako is well-suited to lead in this expanded capacity," says the County statement.
Diane Nakagawa
    The Mayor said, "Deanna has consistently demonstrated exemplary leadership and dedication to the County of Hawaiʻi. Her strategic mindset and proven track record make her an ideal choice for the position of Managing Director, where she will undoubtedly contribute to the continued success and progress of our County."
    Following Sako's transition, Diane Nakagawa was promoted to the position of Finance Director. The statement says, "Nakagawa, who has been an integral part of the Finance Department recently serving as Deputy, brings a wealth of financial expertise and a deep understanding of the county's fiscal matters. Mayor Roth believes that Nakagawa's promotion will ensure the continuity of strong financial stewardship for the County."
Aaron Brown
    Roth also announced the appointment of Aaron Brown to the role of Deputy Finance Director. "Brown, previously serving as the Deputy County Clerk, comes with a background in finance and a proven record of effective financial and business management and is well-positioned to support the Finance Director in navigating the county's fiscal responsibilities."
    Two of the appointments –Managing Director and Finance Director – have received unanimous approvals from the Hawaiʻi County Council. The Deputy Finance Director position is not subject to Council approval.
   "I am confident that these appointments will enhance the effectiveness of our county government, ensuring that we have a skilled and dedicated team in place to address the needs of our community," said the Mayor. "I extend my sincere congratulations to Deanna, Diane, and Aaron and look forward to their continued contributions to the success of the County of Hawaiʻi."