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Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs Jan. 9, 2024

Glycine vines are killing the Norfolk pines in "Pine Tree Lane" leading into the village of Pāhala, plus trees in numerous
places throughout Kaʻū and beyond. Some volunteers, including Sophia Ottofaro and Traven Apiki have started to work on
the project, many with the GIVE organization shown above. Photo by Julia Neal

GLYCINE VINES CAN BE SEEN KILLING TREES ACROSS KAʻŪ and beyond. Two of the most noticeable places are the Norfolk pine tree lane coming into Pāhala from Hwy 11 and up Wood Valley Road. On the pine tree lane, many glycine vines with rope-sized bases coming out of the ground have strangled and killed the lower branches of the Norfolk Pines. Up Wood Valley Road, near the main water
Clearing glycine along the pine tree lane
coming into Pāhala. Photo by Julia Neal
crossing, many Norfolk Pines have died. There are also reports of farmers fighting glycine in Kaʻū Coffee fields and of some unkept coffee orchards covered with them. Along roads and highways, palms, fruit trees, shade trees, fences and outbuildings can be seen covered with vine.
    GIVE volunteer college students and leaders, who visit  Kaʻū to assist with coastal stewardship, farms and other projects, helped this week. They filled truckloads of glycine vines from the pine tree lane. Leader Traven Apiki said the volunteers dug out roots and pulled vines from the trees and matted tangles covering the ground. They were assisted by the Eder family in Pāhala and Pāhala Plantation Cottages. 
   GIVE plans to make it a regular practice to help get rid of glycine when volunteering in Kaʻū, said Apiki.
   Glycine was brought to Hawai‘i as animal feed after kukui grass was in decline, but has become an invasive species.

DR. KIMO ALAMEDA MADE HIS RUN FOR MAYOR OFFICIAL ON TUESDAY.  After six months of consideration, he said he will hold his first official campaign rally at 5:30 p.m. this Saturday, Jan. 13 at Wailoa State Park, to publicly declare his candidacy. He held a pre-race event at Nāʻālehu on Dec. 30.       
    The former State and County administrator and non-profit health care chief said that after listening and speaking with communities around the island, "one thing is absolutely clear: our island is at a
Dr. Kimo Alameda, candidate for Hawai'i County
Photo from Alameda campaign.
     Alameda said, “Without thoughtful and decisive leaders who understand the people of our County and the problems we face, we will continue to lose thousands of families every year because of the high cost of living, lack of quality job opportunities, and ongoing crisis of unattainable housing. These are the same issues we’ve been talking about every election for the past eight years.” 
    The candidate has produced a three-part Live-Work-Play platform, saying it is designed to focus on the real needs of local families so that future generations can continue to call Hawaiʻi Island their home. “We need to get back to the basics of providing for all our residents. Whether it's building infrastructure, diversifying our economy beyond tourism, or creating more recreation opportunities for our keiki and kūpuna, our County needs to keep the interests of the people we’re supposed to serve first.” 
     A statement from his team said, "The entry of Dr. Kimo, as he is commonly known, is expected to be a major shake-up for the Big Island mayor’s race, in which incumbent Mayor Mitch Roth is running for re-election. The 54-year-old Alameda brings a wealth of experience, both in the private sector and public service. After 15 years at the state Department of Health as a mental health specialist and later as an administrator, Dr. Kimo served as the Executive of the County Office of Aging under two Mayors Billy Kenoi and Harry Kim. 
    "In 2019, he became the CEO of Bay Clinic Health Center and helped manage its merger with West
Hawaiʻi Community Health Center during the pandemic to form the new Hawaiʻi Island Community Health Center, the largest non-profit healthcare provider in the County, for which he also worked as the vice president for business development. 
    Regarding his experience that would make him an effective mayor, Alameda said, “As a psychologist, administrator for a number of government offices, and as the CEO for a major non-profit, my career has always focused on solutions and problem-solving. As the Executive of the Hawai‘i County Office of Aging, I understand County government and I know the various departments, their roles, and their needs. At the end of the day, that is what this election is about—the people. And that is where my experience lies. We need a Mayor who can put forth his vision, who has the courage to defend it, and who has the ability to engage with everybody in our County, not just certain folks.” 
    The statement from his campaign organization said, "Dr. Kimo also has a wide range of other experiences under his belt, including as a consultant specializing in conflict resolution, cultural competency, and interpersonal skill-building; a university instructor; popular keynote speaker; former chair of the County planning commission; and host of a public access program on Nā Leo TV. 
    Most recently, he volunteered as head of Hawai‘i Island Fentanyl Task Force where he "helped advocate changes to state law to make life-saving fentanyl test strips legally accessible."
     Alameda previewed his announcement and the coming race by saying, “This election goes beyond ideas. I think that as the campaign season continues, voters will be able to see how I am different from the other candidates, in terms of my approach, my vision, and my leadership style. Our campaign is an opportunity to bring the spirit of aloha back to public service, and I hope to earn the support of everyone who wants to see County government start working for all of us again.” 
    Born and raised in Hilo, Alameda graduated from St. Joseph’s High School and earned his Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Nebraska. He and his wife Star live in Hilo with their seven children and one grandchild. More information on Alameda and his candidacy can be found at www.kimoformayor.com.

THE FINANCIAL COST OF SMOKING IN HAWAI‘I IS LOWER THAN ALMOST EVERY OTHER STATE, according to a WalletHub report on Tuesday. The eight states with the lowest cost of smoking are
New York with the least cost, followed by District of Columbia, Maryland, Connecticut, Road Island, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Hawai‘i. The eight states with the highest cost of smoking are Mississippi, Missouri, Alabama, North Carolina, North Dakota, Louisiana,  Georgia and South Carolina.
    In Hawai‘i the Out-of-Pocket Cost per Smoker is $190,092 (Rank: 8th). Financial-Opportunity Cost per Smoker is $3,386,006 (Rank: 8th). Health-Care Cost per Smoker is $210,470 (Rank: 16th). Income Loss per Smoker –is $760,363 (Rank: 5th). Total Cost Over Lifetime per Smoker is $4,562,773. Total Cost per Year per Smoker is $95,058.
     WalletHub reports that "Smoking doesn’t just ruin your health. It can also burn a nasty hole through your wallet. Tobacco use accounts for nearly half a million deaths in the U.S. each year and is the leading cause of lung cancer, according to the American Lung Association. In addition, even those around tobacco smokers aren’t safe from its harmful effects. Since 1964, smoking-related illnesses have claimed over 20 million lives in the U.S., 2.5 million of which belonged to nonsmokers who developed diseases merely from secondhand-smoke exposure."

A DELUGE IN KAʻŪ on Tuesday blocked Wood Valley and Kalaiki Roads, flooded spots on Hwy 11, and sent home students early on buses from public schools to avoid Kawa Flats and other other places where the only road around the island travels through the district. Sporting and numerous other activities were canceled. The storm lifted on Tuesday night.