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Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs Jan. 30, 2024

Kawa plant and roots used to make the 'awa drink. See more below. Wendy Hollender Art from National Tropical Botanical Garden

COUNTY COUNCIL LEGISLATION ON TRANSIENT ACCOMMODATIONS is "one of the most far-reaching pieces of legislation, in process at this time," says Kaʻū's County Council member Michelle Galimba in her newsletter released on Tuesday. 
    Bill 121 "seeks to provide a consistent framework to regulate the
Kaʻū's County Councilmember
Michelle Galimba
Transient Accommodation Rental (TAR) business in Hawai‘i County. You can learn more about this bill at https://www.hawaiicountytar.com/," notes Galimba.
    "The Planning, Land Use & Economic Development Committee of the County Council recently heard Bill 121 and moved to pass it on to the Leeward and Windward Planning Commissions, as well as the Planning Director, for review and recommendation. Bill 121 will receive another hearing in Committee, as well as two hearings at the full Council, so there are numerous opportunities to provide feedback on this Bill."
    Galimba writes that to "help address the lack of housing and the affordability crisis in our County, District 2, County Councilmember Jenn Kagiwada and I are currently working on Bill 107, which will create a new Long-Term Rental tax class that will provide a preferential real property tax rate for property owners to rent their houses long-term (more than 180 days)."
   They will host a Zoom meeting this Thursday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. at https://bit.ly/104Mtg "to get feedback from the community on this proposed legislation," says Galimba. 

'AWA IS RECOGNIZED AS SAFE, BUT WITH RISKS, depending on how the drink is prepared from the kawa root. That's the message from state Department of Health in collaboration with University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources. They and Gov. Josh Green issued a statement in late January saying the memorandum "was developed to recognize the substantial history of consumption of the traditional 'awa beverage by Native Hawaiians."
    The determination by DOH aimed to respond to a 2020 memorandum published by U.S. Food & Drug
Administration titled Review of the published literature pertaining to the safety of kava for use in conventional foods. The Hawai'i state memorandum says the "FDA concluded that 'awa is not safe for human consumption but did not clarify that the studies referenced describe the use of organic 'awa extraction and did not review the health effects from consumption of the traditional 'awa beverage."
    The memorandum notes that "Extraction of kavalactones, the active ingredient in 'awa, ordinarily
Kava plant stems and roots.
involves steeping the root in a liquid. Organic extraction (i.e., using acetone, ethanol, or similar solvents) results in two to 10 times the total amount of kavalactones than is extracted via aqueous extraction (i.e., using water). Per the FDA, the highly concentrated amount of kavalactones extracted via non-traditional methods may pose a significant health hazard due to liver toxicity."
    After numerous scientific journals and publications were provided to DOH by UH CTAHR, the memorandum says that DOH concluded that "use of the noble variety of 'awa root, mixed with water or coconut water to make a beverage through aqueous extraction, comports with the substance and intent of the federal Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §170.30(c)(1) GRAS exception, based on common use in food prior to January 1, 1958. Consequently, 'awa root of the noble variety as a food additive for use in a beverage prepared in this specific, traditional, and customary manner shall not be deemed a violation of chapter 328, Hawaii Revised Statutes, provided that all other relevant federal and state food safety laws are satisfied."
   The statement says, "Any other preparation of 'awa, or the use of any other variety of 'awa, will be considered an adulterated food and/or an unapproved food additive by DOH pursuant to §328-9, HRS, and a violation of chapter 11-29, Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR), and/or chapter 11-50, HAR, unless the elements of 21 CFR §170.30 can be satisfied.
   Visit DOH Food and Drug Branch website to review the DOH memorandum and 2020 FDA memorandum and additional dietary supplement, safety, and advisory information: https://health.hawaii.gov/food-drug/recalls-guidance/.

MATTHEW KOI, OF NĀ'ĀLEHUTURNED HIMSELF IN to Hawaiʻi Island police, who reported that the 20-year-old was previously wanted for an outstanding bench warrant and for questioning in two other criminal investigations. He was arrested in Ka‘ū on Sunday January 28, 2024, at 6:45 p.m., after he turned himself in at the Nā‘ālehu Police Station.
    The investigations Koi is believed to be involved in will be forwarded to the County Prosecutor’s Office for review.

HAWAI'I PUBLIC RADIO, WITH TWO STATIONS REACHING KAʻŪ, PRAISED ITS PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER WHO WILL STEP DOWN. José A. Fajardo will leave his post on July 31, due to his ongoing battle against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurodegenerative disease with no known cure. HPR serves Kaʻū with 89.3 FM, 91.3 FM and is streamed, with programing ranging from Hawaiian to jazz and classical music to in depth stories and current news.
    The HPR Board of Directors will oversee a nationwide search for Fajardo's successor. Fajardo was appointed president and general manager of the independent, community-licensed service in May 2016.
HPR credits Fajardo with making it financially
stable while improving programing.

Under his leadership, HPR has completed the buildout of its statewide network of transmitters; realigned the programming schedules on its two distinct streams, HPR-1 (news, information, entertainment) and HPR-2 (classical music); made significant investments in news, digital content and staff resources, adding new positions and establishing a professional development fund for staff; and maintained the highest rating, four stars, on Charity Navigator, an evaluator of nonprofits nationwide.
    An HPR statement says, "Loyal and widespread community support throughout Fajardo's tenure has fueled the growth in HPR's services and bolstered its financial stability—HPR remains debt-free, has $4 million in reserves and a $7 million endowment fund."
    Fajardo said, "I've been fortunate to have enjoyed a four-decade career in radio, my dream job since I was eight years old. Along the way, I've been privileged to serve in varied and progressively challenging roles. Without question, my role at HPR, and working alongside such a passionate and talented team, has been the most fulfilling. With a strong team and steadfast community financial support, the community can look forward to the sustained excellence and integrity of this service and to its continued development and growth."
    Kathryn Matayoshi, HPR Board Chair, writes, "José's passion for public radio; his deep experience and expertise; his strategic mind; his dedication to the development of the HPR staff and an environment of caring, teamwork and commitment to community, have elevated the caliber of HPR's services. He has shaped HPR into the 'go-to' place for trusted news; expanded coverage of local news, stories and culture; and music that soothes and intrigues. José has put his heart and soul into HPR. His many contributions as a wonderful leader and human being are and will be enjoyed by HPR listeners today—and into the future."
    Joe Uno, Vice Chair of HPR's Board, states, "So rare is the opportunity to meet and work with someone like José. His leadership, knowledge and vision are second to none, and I am humbled and deeply appreciative of the time that I have spent with him. His legacy and impact on our beloved HPR will always be present."
    Francis S. Oda, who served as HPR's Board Chair during the pandemic, writes, "Extraordinary! Inspirational! Visionary! These are all apt descriptions of José Fajardo. Yet, they don't adequately capture the true essence of his leadership of Hawai'i Public Radio. He has established a solid foundation of financial support for the stations and a heart-to-heart relationship with all who treasure Hawai'i Public Radio. Thank you, José!"
   Before joining HPR in 2016, Fajardo was Executive Vice President for the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce. He was also President & CEO of WMFE-TV/FM, the member-supported public broadcasting stations for Central Florida, where he served in various roles over 16 years. Fajardo's broadcast career started in Central Texas, where he worked for three years in commercial radio before joining KNCT-TV/FM, the public broadcasting stations located in Killeen, Texas. Fajardo has also served two terms on the Board of Directors for NPR, and one term on the Board of the Association of Public Television Stations. In 2022, Fajardo received a national leadership award from the Public Radio Regional Organization for his contributions to the field.
    Fajardo has been public about his battle with ALS since his diagnosis in 2021. During HPR's The Conversation last October, Fajardo said: "I'm a very optimistic person. I haven't let this disease define me. I don't sit in the corner, you know, depressed. I still enjoy life."
    Fajardo's plans after his departure from HPR are undetermined. He and his wife Jennifer plan to continue posting updates on his personal blog, teamjose.com.

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