Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Friday, June 13, 2014

Participants learn about the vital role of `ohi`a lehua in native forests during a program at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park's Kahuku Unit Sunday. NPS Photo by Dave Boyle
HAWAI`I NATIONAL GUARD WILL PARTICIPATE in an Engineering Civic Action Project to rebuild a school in the Philippines damaged by Typhoon Haiyan, announced Gov. Neil Abercrombie and State Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Darryll Wong. 
       “The people of Hawai`i stand with our Filipino brothers and sisters who are still suffering from the after-effects of one of the worst tropical cyclones ever recorded,” Abercrombie said. “We’re very grateful to our Guardsmen and women who will be sharing our aloha and kokua with the people of the Philippines.”
Gloria Camba, of Pahala, accepted donations and
sent them to the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan,
or Yolanda, hit her homeland. Photo by Julia Neal
      By the end of June, soldiers from the Hawai`i Army National Guard, along with soldiers and airmen from the Guam National Guard, will begin deploying to Tacloban City to rebuild the Marasbaras National High School. Personnel will rotate in teams of about 15 to 20 at a time.
      “Shortly after Typhoon Haiyan, Abercrombie directed Hawai`i National Guard to develop a recovery mission in the Philippines to help those who had been impacted by the storm,” Wong said. “The governor’s concern was that often recovery efforts lose momentum once activities no longer make the headline news. Based on that guidance, we sought out an engineering project that would help with the long-term recovery, while providing realistic training for our personnel as well as the armed forces of the Philippines.”
      The scope of work includes demolishing and replacing existing roofing panels and damaged structures, constructing new roofs, upgrading electrical systems, installing light fixtures and ceiling fans and replacing classroom windows and doors. The project is expected to be completed in September.
      Pay and allowances for the Hawai`i and Guam National Guardsmen will be funded by the federal government. Most of the materials have been funded through private donations and are being sourced locally, in the Philippines, to help spur economic activity there.
      Acting Consul General Roberto Bernardo said, “On behalf of the Philippine government, we thank you very much for the tremendous outpouring of support from the U.S. government, Hawai`i and all over the world. Mabuhay.”
      Ka`u’s Filipino community raised funds and sent donations to the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan devastated parts of the Philippines in Nov. 2013, killing more than 6,000 people and displacing several million.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

KA`U’S U.S. REP. TULSI GABBARD WANTS new leadership in Veterans Affairs Pacific Islands Health Care System. Following reports that veterans in Hawai`i have the nation’s longest wait times to receive health care, Gabbard is calling for Director Wayne Pfeffer to be fired. She also wants “a thorough review of the cause for the excessive 145-day wait times.”

      In a letter to Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson, Gabbard said Pfeffer lied about and misrepresented “the dire situation our veterans are facing in Hawai‘i.” According to Gabbard, Pfeffer told one of her staff members that veterans wait from 30 to 50 days to see a physician. According to Gabbard, Pfeffer later “denied ever discussing wait times … with congressional staff.”
Wayne Pfeffer
      Gabbard also said Pfeffer was not able to provide adequate answers to questions regarding implementation of the Accelerating Access to Care Initiative, the exact number of new enrollees awaiting care at VA PIHCS, the longest waiting time for a new enrollee, the total number of veterans waiting for care and the measures taken to expedite the pre-approval process for maximizing non-VA care.
      “These responses that my staff and I have received from the office of Director Pfeffer, and Mr. Pfeffer himself, are reprehensible,” Gabbard wrote.
”I have zero confidence or trust in Mr. Pfeffer’s ability to oversee the Pacific Island Health Care System, and I do not believe he deserves to be entrusted with the sacred privilege of caring for our veterans and their wellbeing.”
      Gabbard has advocated for immediate action to allow veterans to seek care outside the VA system. Last week, she wrote to President Obama urging him to use his executive power to take this action immediately.
      The full text of Gabbard’s letter is available at gabbard.house.gov.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

DISCREPANCIES IN REPORTED WAIT TIMES AT HAWAI`I Veterans Affairs facilities is also a concern of Sen. Mazie Hirono. According to a response to her request for information about wait times, the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System responded that for over 91 percent of established patients requesting primary, specialty and mental health care, the wait time was 14 days.
      “I recognize and commend the hard work by the majority of VA employees and the care given our veterans at VA facilities,” Hirono wrote in a letter to VA’s Acting Inspector General Richard Griffin requesting that he verify the data. “However, the information provided to me by the VA is inconsistent with what veterans share with me and my staff regarding wait times. Veterans claim much longer wait times.”
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

SIERRA CLUB OF HAWAI`I HAS ANNOUNCED several endorsements of candidates on primary election ballots in Ka`u Saturday, Aug. 9. In federal seats, Sierra Club chooses Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. 
      Endorsements for Ka`u's state legislators are District Three Sen. Josh Green, of Kona, and District Five Rep. Richard Creagan, of Na`alehu. Endorsement of a candidate for House District Three is still being considered.
      For Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ at-large seat, Sierra Club backs Hina Wong-Kalu, of Honolulu.
      Richard Abbett, of Ocean View, is Sierra Club’s choice for Hawai`i County Council District Six. 
      “Candidates endorsed by the Sierra Club understand that a healthy environment is the foundation of a strong economy,” said Vice Chair Roberta Brashear-Kaulfers. “We are particularly interested in candidates who will fight to make sure our utility allows greater levels of rooftop solar onto the grid. We’ve helped pass programs which will enable residents of all income levels, including renters, to install rooftop solar. Now we need to make sure the utility does its part to let working families participate in the savings and simultaneously help Hawai`i achieve energy independence by transitioning off of dirty fossil fuels.”
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.  

KA`U CHILDREN IN PRE-SCHOOL TO 12TH GRADE are invited to bring their parents, tutus or guardians to receive free basic school supplies at the 10th annual School Supplies Distribution on June 28, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Maku`u Farmers Market in Puna and St. Theresa Parish Hall in Mountain View. Adults need to be accompanied by a child. School supplies are given on a first come, first served basis while supplies last.
      Light refreshments will be provided at both sites. Keiki ID will be available at Maku`u Farmers Market.
      The event is presented by the Neighborhood Place of Puna in an effort to help Big Island families ensure that their keiki begin the school year Ready to Learn.
      For more information, contact Jay at Neighborhood Place of Puna, 965-5550 or jihara@neighborhoodplace.org.

Ron Hanatani is one of 15 artists participating in the sixth annual
Volcano Pottery Sale. Photo from Ron Hanatani
FIFTEEN HAWAI`I ISLAND POTTERS PARTICIPATE in the sixth annual Volcano Pottery Sale today from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. 
      For more information, see ryhpottery.com/volcano_pottery_sale or call Ron Hanatani at 985-8530.

KA`U FARMERS UNION UNITED meets tomorrow at 5 p.m. at Ka`u Coffeehouse and Guesthouse next to the 76 gas station in Na`alehu. Election of officers will take place, and Malian Lahey will discuss the Economics of Value-Added Products.
      For more information, contact Lahey at malian@kauspecialtycoffee.com.

TO CELEBRATE ITS 40TH ANNIVERSAY, Volcano Art Center presents Dancing at the Source, Dancing on the Edge: The Birth tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at its Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. Architect, photographer and VAC founder Boone Morrison shares history of the center and beginnings of the dance program with Earnest Morgan. Members of the original dance company, Trina Nahm-Mijo and Richard Koob, as well as Morgan’s protégé, Kea Kapahua, share dance excerpts from Morgan’s choreography, which mixed modern dance and hula movement.
      Fees are $10 for VAC members and $12 for non-members.
      For more information, call 967-8222.

KAHUKU UNIT OF HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK invites Ka`u residents to its free `Ohi`a Lehua program Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Participants bring lunch and learn about the vital role of `ohi`a lehua in native Hawaiian forests, the many forms of the `ohi`a lehua tree and its flower. 
      Call 985-6011 for more information.

FATHER’S DAY BRUNCH IS AVAILABLE SUNDAY from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Kilauea Military Camp’s Crater Rim Café in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Buffet features prime rib, shrimp alfredo with mushrooms, Asian-infused Hawaiian ono and more. $27 adults, $14.50 children 6 – 11.
      Call 967-8356 for more information.


See kaucalendar.com/Directory2014.swf.
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