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Ka`u News Briefs Thursday, June 5, 2014

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Ka`u Hospital expects to maintain services and jobs amid a $48 million shortfall facing Hawai`i Health Systems Corp. Photo by Julia Neal
KA`U HOSPITAL’S PARENT ORGANIZATION FACES a $48 million shortfall in the next fiscal year starting July 1. While sister hospital Hilo Medical Center will cut staff and delay improvements, such as installing solar electric systems, Ka`u Hospital is expected to continue managing costs very closely. Administrator Merilyn Harris said this morning that she does not expect any service cuts or job losses here. “Cuts at Hilo Medical Center impact us,” Harris said, “because the hospital supports us.” She gave an example of HMC formerly sending a physical therapist to help at Ka`u, but no longer, due to expenses. 
      Harris said the Ka`u facility is busier than ever and in good fiscal condition, with the hospital, emergency room and rural health clinic seeing record numbers of patients.
      Harris also said one of the reasons Ka`u Hospital is in better fiscal condition than other Hawai`i Health Systems Corp. facilities is that Ka`u has already implemented the mandated electronic medical records system, which was very expensive. Other facilities still have to face that expense.
Molly Stebbins is Hawai`i County's
new Corporation Counsel.
      Harris said the Ka`u staff is very committed to provided outstanding service to the community. She also stressed how important it is for residents to let their legislators know that Ka`u Hospital is vital to the community. To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.
   
HOT SPOTS IN THE SOUTH POINT FIRE burst back into flames today and volunteer and county fire fighters are on the job again battling high, driving winds. Earlier in the week, the fire covered more than 1,000 acres, much of the land in pasture. To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I COUNTY COUNCIL COMFIRMED Molly Stebbins as Corporation Councel yesterday. Stebbins was appointed by Mayor Billy Kenoi to replace Lincoln Ashida, who resigned after 13 years to join a private law firm. 
      Stebbins has been with the Office of Corporation Counsel since 2007, serving as the attorney for Police and Fire Departments.
      She received endorsements from the police and fire chiefs, director of the Human Resources Department and chair of the Police Commission, reports Nancy Cook Lauer, of West Hawai`i Today.
      Stebbins graduated from University of Massachusetts at Amherst and University of Hawai`i’s William S. Richardson School of Law.
      During the confirmation hearing, Stebbins told Council members that “having the County of Hawai`i as our client means representing the entire county — the administration and the council — and always in the furtherance of the public interest.”
      Ka`u’s Council member Brenda Ford was the only member voting against Stebbins’ confirmation. According to Cook Lauer, Ford “wasn’t satisfied with Stebbins’ responses to questions she had in a private meeting.”
      Stebbins promoted Deputy Corporation Counsel Laureen Martin to Assistant Corporation Counsel. Martin, litigation section supervisor for the office, has been with the department since 2009.
      See westhawaiitoday.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Na`alehu School Garden educator and FoodCorps Service member Kalu Oyama,
at right, holds a $500 award for the garden's aquaponics project.
Photo from Tania Takashiba
NA`ALEHU SCHOOL GARDEN’S AQUAPONICS GARDEN UNIT was one five Big Island organizations’ projects awarded with 2014 Aloha Grown Malama Honua Awards. Each received $500 toward a specific project, program or initiative that embodies Aloha Grown’s philosophy to “Support Local, Sustain the `Aina & Share the Aloha.” 
      The Na`alehu School garden has been ongoing for the past six years and serves over three hundred and fifty students. Pre-school through fourth grade each have their own garden areas and currently participate in learning about organic methods to plant and grow food. The garden activities encourage learning about nutrition, culture, math, science, language arts, seed saving and creating gardens at home.
      Students will use the aquaponics unit to connect the Hawaiian culture with science by growing kalo. “This will offer students an opportunity to connect a familiar family practice, such as fishing, with growing a traditional staple food while utilizing a resourceful technology,” garden staff said in their award application. “At our school garden, we not only connect classroom curriculum to our garden projects, but we also teach that growing your own organic food contributes to health and the well being of a community. Traditional Hawaiian culture had sustainable methods of growing their own nutritional staple food such as kalo, which encouraged building community and sustainability. 
      “As the children continue to learn and take pride in organic sustainable methods of growing food, their own awareness of food, health, economy and the community grows. As a result, they are each more likely to go out and become self-empowered innovators who understand the connection between food, culture, health, community and the `aina.”
      “We were extremely pleased to once again see such a great response to our Aloha Grown Malama Honua Fund program,” said Aloha Grown Store manager Tyler Owens. “We received a number of applications and essays from well-deserving organizations.”
      Aloha Grown is committed to supporting sustainability efforts in Hawai`i. Two percent of every sale at the Aloha Grown store in downtown Hilo goes to the Malama Honua Fund, which then awards local nonprofits, schools, organizations and initiatives with similar sustainability missions.
      For more information on Aloha Grown and to view essays submitted by all 2014 Malama Honua Award recipients, see alohagrown.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Gil Robinson, at left, has stepped down as president of Ocean View Community
Association. His wife Judy, not shown, also has left her position as editor of
the association's newsletter. Photo by Mo Clements
GIL AND JUDY ROBINSON HAVE RELINQUISHED their positions with Ocean View Community Association. Judy Robinson said, “it's time to take it a bit easier and relieve some of the stress.” She was editor of OVCA’s newsletter for four years. 
      During Gil Robinson’s many years as president of the association, he and others oversaw many improvements. They reduced OVCA’s electricity bill by 50 percent and lowered the annual phone bill by $500. Gil Robinson repaired the community center’s leaking roof and also constructed large reader boards that announce events and activities at the center.
      Judy Robinson said her husband “was able to convince the Veterans Administration to establish a twice-weekly clinic at the community center and made it possible for Tropic Care to hold a free 10-day medical clinic there, as well. In his interaction with local politicians, Ocean View is now on the map, so that County Council was convinced to make the center one of their few off-site locations for meetings.
      “We love Ocean View and always saw the community center as its heart. We are passing the torch to a new group of people, and we can only hope they will love it as much as we have.” For questions about the newsletter, contact Jo O’Donnell at 939-7033 or lava@aloha.net.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I METH PROJECT IS RECEIVING $400,000 in state operating grant funds. Identified by the state Legislature, these funds will be used to educate Hawai`i’s young people about the risks and dangers of methamphetamine through online and direct outreach in schools and community events. 
      “We must empower our keiki to be wise and responsible with their lives,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. “The Hawai`i Meth Project provides them with the education they need in our fight against meth.”
      Established in 2009, the Hawai`i Meth Project is a 501(c)(3) organization modeled after the national Meth Project prototype implemented in Montana in 2005. The project’s statewide prevention program goal is to reduce methamphetamine use among teens and young adults in Hawai`i. The organization is affiliated with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, a national nonprofit working to help families solve the problem of teen substance abuse.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.  

U.S. SEN. BRIAN SCHATZ IS COSPONSORING the Ensuring Veterans Access to Care Act of 2014, legislation that would make the Department of Veterans Affairs more accountable, make way for a major new VA medical facility on O`ahu, cut wait times and improve access to health care for veterans. The Senate is likely to consider the new legislation on the floor next week.


      “Our veterans and their families have made tremendous sacrifices in service to our nation, and we have a responsibility to make sure they get the health care and benefits they have earned,” Schatz said. “Veterans facing long wait times to see a doctor and access health care is inexcusable. Our bill will make VA executives more accountable, cut wait times and establish a major new VA medical facility on O`ahu that would double VA clinical services on the island, helping make sure Hawai`i veterans get the timely care they deserve.”
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Learn Zentangle this Saturday.
STEWARDSHIP AT THE SUMMIT TAKES PLACE tomorrow and every Friday this month, June 6, 13, 20 and 27. Volunteers meet at Kilauea Visitor Center in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park to help remove invasive Himalayan ginger from park trails from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 
      No advance registration is required. Park entrance fees apply.

JULIE EVANS AND LOIS AND EARL STOKES offer an Introduction to Zentangle Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. Call 967-8222

AN EVENING OF SOUTHERN GOSPEL AND HULA is set for Saturday at 6 p.m. at Ocean View Evangelical Community Church. This fundraiser for Mission to Uganda 2014 features the Southern Cross Singers, OVECC Hula, Marshallese Choir, a Uganda slideshow and more.

SUPPORT OUR SPONSORS AT PAHALAPLANTATIONCOTTAGES.COM AND KAUCOFFEEMILL.COM. KA`U COFFEE MILL IS OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.

See kaucalendar.com/Directory2014.swf.
Click at bottom right to turn pages.




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