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Wednesday, January 03, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs Jan. 3, 2024

THERE IS AN OPENING ON THE KAʻŪ COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN ACTION COMMITTEE. See videos and much more on its purpose, sign up for notices, and apply to fill the empty position at https://www.planning.hawaiicounty.gov/general-plan-community-planning/cdp/kau#mailing.
Members of the Kaʻū Committee are: Jesse Ke, Ka‘ohinani Mokuhali‘i, Leina‘ala Enos, Babette Morrow, Jason Masters, Pernell Hanoa, Catherine Williams and Kaweni Ibarra. The ninth seat is vacant.
    The purpose of CDPs, according to a message from the County, is to translate the General Plan's broad statements into actions specific within the CDP planning area, to improve and advance community resilience, and to provide civic dialogue for community engagement.
    The Action Committees are responsible for implementing resident-driven solutions from the CDPs that positively transform their communities in partnership with a network of businesses, non-profits, and community leaders. Committee members are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the County Council. All AC members must reside in the CDP planning area and are required to make the following commitments:
    Duration of Commitment: Willing and able to commit to a term of up to four years.

    Time Commitment: Willing and able to attend regular (quarterly) meetings during evenings and invest a minimum of eight (8) hours of work each month advancing CDP implementation through priority projects and initiatives.
    Personal Commitment: Possess a deep love for their community, a passion for equity, and a motivation to work for the greater good of their community.
    Learning Commitment: Willing and able to attend training workshops relative to facilitation, network
development, local government, planning processes, equitable community engagement, etc.; and work with the community to identify other capacity-building needs and opportunities.
    Action Commitment: Willing and able to develop priorities and a work plan to implement community actions in the CDPs; intentionally and explicitly engage all factions of their community with specific attention to those who are marginalized and underrepresented, and organize and attend public meetings and workshops.
    Collaboration Commitment: Willing and able to 1) be a point of contact for CDP and AC initiatives; 2) develop partnerships with individuals, non-profits, businesses, and community groups/associations; 3) transmit project updates and involvement opportunities regularly to their CDP region; 4) document and share lessons learned/successes with CDP ACs around the island; and 5) agree to follow meeting ground rules and operating principles of the Action Committee and Planning Department.
    The County also seeks interested applicants for the Kona, Hāmākua, Puna, South Kohala, and North Kohala CDP Planning Areas.
   To apply, visit www.hawaiicounty.gov/our-county/boards-and-commissions or contact Pōmaikaʻi Bartolome at pbartolome@hawaiicounty.gov.
    For more information about CDPs, visit www.planning.hawaiicounty.gov/general-plan-community-planning/cdp.

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MAYOR MITCH ROTH HAS RELEASED A LIST OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS BY HAWAI'I COUNTY IN 2023, offering a glimpse into the projects set to unfold in the coming year. A statement from his office says, "The successes and future initiatives highlighted are a testament to the dedicated workforce of the County of Hawaiʻi, whose unwavering commitment ensures the delivery of essential services to the Hawaiʻi Island community. Mayor Roth emphasizes that these achievements would not have been possible without the

steadfast support, patience, and guidance of the residents of Hawaiʻi Island."
   "Reflecting on 2023, we witnessed tremendous growth for our County," Mayor Mitch Roth stated. "Through the support of our community and the dedication of our County ʻohana, we made significant progress toward creating a sustainable Hawaiʻi Island, where future generations can thrive. Despite challenges, our staff's accomplishments showcase their resilience and unwavering commitment to the people of Hawaiʻi Island. As we approach the challenges of 2024, we are humbled by the selfless nature of the Hawaiʻi Island community."
    Here are some of the Highlights of 2023 listed by the County.

Infrastructure & Transportation:    
    Streamlined building permitting processes and extended completion timeframes.
    Renovated Wai'ōhinu Recycling and Transfer Station
    Acquired eight new buses, ordered 9 EV buses (to be delivered 2025)
    Enhanced Vehicle Registration and Licensing website

Mayor Mitch Roth points to the completion of the new Wai'ohinu Transfer Station as a significant
infrastructure project completion in 2023. Here he unties the lei at the blessing. Photo by Julia Neal

    Secured an outstanding $9.9 million in grant funds through the Office of Research & Development.
    Obtained additional funding for innovative projects fostering economic development and community engagement.
    Completed a two-year, $3 million Advancing Health Literacy grant.
Affordable Housing and Community Development:

    Surged Affordable Housing Pipeline to over 6,900 units, a 21% increase through '23.
    Issued 2,300 vouchers with a utilization rate exceeding 100%.
    Awarded $4.5 million from HUD to combat inflationary housing costs.
    Mass intake events significantly reduced the Section 8 waitlist.
    Issued over 2,300 vouchers, including 300 for special populations.
    Received an additional $4.5 million from HUD to address inflationary housing costs.
    Added 130+ units to the Section 8 program through the Landlord Incentive Program.
    Collaborated with 72 Section 8 participants in the Family Self-Sufficiency Program.
    Assisted 13 Section 8 participants in the Homeownership Option Program.Civil Defense and Emergency Services:
    Completed renovations and upgrades to the Emergency Operations Center.
    Revitalized the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program.
    Invested in state-of-the-art communication systems.
    Coordinated the update of the Hawaiʻi County Tsunami Evacuation Plan.
    Replaced the aging helicopter with a new H125 Airbus Helicopter.
    Addressed deficiencies in fire stations.
    Swore-in Police Chief Benjamin Moszkowicz.
    Authorized the use of open-bed pickup trucks as subsidized police vehicles.
ʻĀina-based Initiatives:
    Enforced a law to reduce the use of sunscreens with harmful chemicals.
    Published the Hawaiʻi County Climate Action Plan.
    Implemented solar-powered systems for water facilities.
    Expanded Derelict and Abandoned Vehicles Program.
    Received a $1.5 million grant for recycling infrastructure.
Community Planning Initiatives:
    Released final draft of the General Plan.
    Initiated updates to the Zoning and Subdivision Code.
    Conducted extensive public outreach for feedback on planning initiatives.
Employee and Administrative Initiatives
    Coordinated Employee of the Year program, expanded County Tuition Reimbursement program,                Implemented uniform telecommuting program, and established Temporary On-Call Program.
    Committed to diverse hiring practices to foster an inclusive workforce.
    Launched an internal innovation challenge to improve administrative processes and service delivery.
Financial Achievements:
    Upgraded County's bond rating to AA+, lowering interest rates.
    Issued $99 million in bonds for capital improvement projects.
    Implemented cost-saving measures, increasing operational efficiency.
Parks & Recreation:
    Completed ADA compliance projects at various parks. Started working on Pāhala swimming pool.
    Initiated Master Planning and Environmental Assessments for Kealakehe Regional Park, Hilo Skate            Park, Oceanview Skate Park, Kikala Keokea Park (Puna), and Hawaiʻi Paradise Park (Puna).

Pahala Swimming pool has been closed for years and is expected to open in 2024. Renovations are in progress. 
Photo by Julia Neal
Preview for 2024:
    In 2024, the County of Hawaiʻi will continue to invest in enhancing facilities and critical infrastructure islandwide while focusing on developing affordable housing for local families.
Parks Improvement:
    Renovation of Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo.
    Upgrade of electrical services at 12 park sites islandwide.
    ADA compliance improvements in parks: Hilo Maintenance Base Yard, Kolekole Gulch Park, Miloliʻi Beach Park.
    Master plan updates and environmental assessments for Hawaiian Paradise Park and Kahuku Skate Park.
    Various projects, including beach park renovations, gymnasium upgrades, demolition/construction, and safety surfacing enhancements in playgrounds.
Housing Projects:
    A total of 1,544 affordable housing units will be worked on or completed in 2024 islandwide.
Infrastructure Investments:
    The Department of Public Works will be overseeing projects, including Aupuni Center Reroofing, Mamalahoa Road Rehabilitation (Part 2), Highway 137/Pohoiki Road Construction, Shipman Industrial Drywell Reconstruction, Pāhala Fire Station Reroofing, Lanikaula Street Rehabilitation, Public Safety Building Improvements, and more.
    The County of Hawaiʻi's strategy for community development underscores its dedication to strengthening the island economy and fostering workforce development through investments in addressing deferred maintenance and revitalizing neglected infrastructure," says the County statement. "The County of Hawaiʻi extends its warmest wishes to the Hawaiʻi Island community for a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year."

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DEVAN DELANEY OF OCEAN VIEW HAS BEEN FOUND. Hawai‘i Island police report that the 27-year-old, who was previously reported missing, was located in good health on Sunday, Dec. 31 in Ocean View.
    Hawai‘i Police Department would like to thank the public’s assistance in locating Delaney.