Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u Calendar News Briefs Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016

Ka`u District Gym opens a week from today with the cutting of maile lei. Photo by Julia Neal
THE NEW KA`U GYM & DISASTER SHELTER opens to the public with the traditional cutting of the maile lei and dignitaries coming to the Pahala campus a week from today on Wednesday, Oct. 5. The start time is 10 a.m.
Politicians, contractors and community members wielded golden shovels
to break ground for the gym on Oct. 3, 2012.
Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
      Maka Andrade is the project manager for the project under the county Department of Parks & Recreation. Ground broke on Oct. 3, 2012 to begin construction with retired police officer Bobby Gomes and Father Martin Mwanshibula, of Pahala’s Holy Rosary and Na`alehu’s Sacred Heart Catholic Churches, officiating.
      Golden shovels were held by many, including the contractors, Principal Sharon Beck, then Gov. Neil Abercrombie, former County Council member Guy Enriques, then County Council member Brittany Smart, Mayor Billy Kenoi, the late state Rep. Bob Herkes and the late state Sen. Gil Kahele, who at the time represented Ka`u.
Bobby Gomes spoke and invited the Father Martin Mwanshibula
 to bless the site.
      Herkes said during the ceremonies that he worked on funding in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Even though the concept was approved, he explained, the Department of Education ranked it 42nd on its priority list. He asked the mayor if the county would own and manage the building in order for faster construction. Kenoi agreed, and the county agreed to take it.
      School principal Beck said during the groundbreaking that in 2012, the dream of the gym was more than seven years in the making. She explained that it was difficult to play regulation games with the low ceiling and confined space in the old gym. The new gym will have multiple courts. She and other public officials acknowledged Kamehameha School volleyball coach Guy Enriques for lobbying for the gym and also for the tournaments and sports camps he could bring there.
      One of the largest gyms at one of the smallest public schools in the state, the gym is the largest building built in Ka`u since the sugar mill in Pahala, which was torn down almost two decades ago.
      The gym was funded in part through government money for a disaster shelter for the region. Gov. Abercrombie released more than $17 million for planning and construction in September 2011, following lobbying from all of Ka`u’s public representatives.
      See more in future Ka`u Calendar News Briefs.
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

Ka`u Coffee Mill hosted a talk story with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
last month. Joining Gabbard left to right are Ed Olson,
Sammi Stanbro, Troy Keolanui, Lisa Wright
and Randy Stevens. Photo by Ron Johnson 
FOLLOWING HER TALK STORY AT KA`U COFFEE MILL and tour of farms in Ka`u and other districts on Hawai`i Island, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard introduced legislation today to help fight the macadamia felted coccid. The invasive species is destroying macadamia trees and threatening the domestic macadamia nut industry at large. Since the insect was introduced to Hawai`i in 2005, it has cost the local macadamia nut industry millions every year, threatening the vitality of one of Hawai`i’s most important crops. The Macadamia Tree Health Initiative would authorize highly sought research and development to help fight the invasive insect and establish an Areawide Integrated Pest Management plan in affected areas to help manage the invasive pest in a sustainable, environmentally friendly and cost-effective way.
      “The macadamia felted coccid is one of more than 4,300 invasive species that threaten our agriculture industry in Hawai`i and across the United States. In Hawai`i alone, this pest costs our local farmers, landowners and agriculture industry millions of dollars a year and puts hundreds of local farms, thousands of local workers and the future of one of our most important crops at risk,” Gabbard said. “As I visited multiple farms on Hawai`i Island last month, I heard story after story of how this tiny invasive insect is destroying farms and threatening the livelihood of communities like Kona, Ka`u and Hilo. Very little is known about this invasive pest, making it difficult for our agriculture workers to fight back. The Macadamia Tree Health Initiative will authorize much needed research and development and establish a comprehensive management plan to help our local agriculture industry combat these invasive, harmful insects.” 
Macadamia felted coccids on nut husks.
Photo from Hawai`i Department of Agriculture
      Hawai`i Farm Bureau Federation applauded Gabbard’s efforts: “Federal funding is desperately needed to find a solution to controlling the macadamia felted coccid which has severely impacted the Hawai`i macadamia growers. The initiative can be a game changer in our farmers’ fight against this devastating pest.” 
      John Cross, land manager for the Edmund C. Olson Trust II, said, “The Edmund C. Olson Trust II is a grower of over 1,100 acres of macadamia orchards on the island of Hawai`i and a part owner of Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company, a processor of several million pounds of nuts grown by the trust and many dozens of independent growers around the island. We truly appreciate Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s proposed Macadamia Tree Health Initiative. The invasive macadamia felted coccid is an especially damaging pest to many growers on Hawai`i Island. The health and wellness of our trees translates into a healthy industry able to keep our employees and their families with good jobs. Further, healthy trees also assure consumers that Hawaiian-grown macadamia nuts will continue to be the finest macadamia products for many years to come. This bill will help not only our farm but that of the 16,000 acres of other growers and processors that combined produce some 50 million pounds of nuts each year.”
      Martin E. Ramirez, Director of Farming Operations at Royal Hawaiian Services with offices in Pahala and Hilo, said, “The threat to the macadamia orchards in Hawai`i from the macadamia felted coccid is real and potentially devastating. The plan to develop and disseminate the best science-based tools for treating MFC will make the Macadamia Tree Health Initiative exactly what the industry needs.”
      Last year, Gabbard introduced the Areawide Integrated Pest Management Act to support long-term sustainable solutions to many pest management problems and reduce invasive species impact on agriculture and the environment. The bill would help farmers in Hawai`i and across the country fight invasive species like the coffee berry borer, fruit flies and macadamia felted coccid. AIPM systems reduce reliance on a single pest management tactic, reduce risks to human health and the environment, and increases economic benefits for farming communities across the nation.
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

VA Inspector General
Michael Missal
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO CALLED FOR CONTINUED ACTION after Veterans Affairs Inspector General Michael Missal released an inspection report on a six-point plan the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System undertook to improve patient wait times for VA medical services.
      The VA first pledged to implement the plan at Hirono’s 2014 field hearing, which shed light on the long wait times and other obstacles Hawai`i veterans face seeking care. Since the 2014 hearing, average wait times for new primary care patients shrank from 43 to seven days in FY 2015. However, the report also recommended that VAPIHCS must continue efforts to “enhance the availability of and access to a comprehensive network of care and services.”
      “Although the VA has made important progress in improving patient care in Hawai`i, it’s clear we have more work to do,” Hirono said. “I will continue to hold top officials accountable until every veteran in Hawai`i gets the quality of care they deserve.”
      Hirono requested the inspection as part of her continuing efforts to address issues raised by Hawai`i veterans about VA health care and benefit services. As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Hirono has brought top VA officials to Hawai`i to hear directly from veterans and held veterans roundtables in every county. In the wake of this report, the senator will continue to travel across the state to solicit feedback from our veterans on how to continue improving access to VA services.
      Hirono has successfully championed legislative solutions signed into law to address health care access, housing and other obstacles that Hawai`i veterans face.
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

OCEAN VIEW COMMUNITY CENTER invites Ka`u residents to free dinner tomorrow and every Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Bring a can; have a meal. Donations are accepted c/o OVCC.
      For more information, call 939-7033.


Click on document to enlarge.

See kaucalendar.com.
See kaucalendar.com/TheDirectory2016.html
and kaucalendar.com/TheDirectory2016.pdf.

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