Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015

In his first State of the State address yesterday, Gov. David Ige acknowledged the important role public hospitals,
 like Ka`u Hospital, play in an island state. Photo by Julia Neal
CHALLENGES FACED BY KA`U and other rural communities of Hawai`i were part of Gov. David Ige’s State of the State address yesterday.
      Building a strong support network for agriculture is one of Gov. David Ige’s priorities, he said. “We need to support agriculture and help our local farmers dramatically increase the amount of food we grow locally,” he said. “Hawai`i grows about 10 to 15 percent of the total foods residents consume. If we are to become a sustainable society, we must increase those numbers.”
      Ige cited the cost of importing foods as more than $3 billion leaving the state annually. “If we replace just 10 percent of imports with locally grown food, it would generate $188 million in total sales, $94 million for farmers, $47 million in wages, $6 million in new taxes and 2,300 jobs,” he said.
Gov. David Ige during his first
State of the State address.
Image from Olelo
      To promote ag, Ige wants to preserve farm lands, develop agricultural parks, combat invasive species and “reassess areas that determine whether a local farmer can survive.
      “We will be meeting with farmers from each island to hear what they need to make Hawai`i more self-sufficient.” He said Department of Agriculture Director Scott Enright will spearhead that effort.
      Ige said that as a start to promoting more ag, the state is adding $5 million to the agriculture loan program and expanding use of the fund to include biosecurity and food safety needs.
      Ige acknowledged the important role public hospitals like Ka`u Hospital play in an island state. “Unlike other states, good healthcare is not easily distributed throughout the islands,” he said. “Our families and doctors cannot simply drive to another hospital if one is busy or does not have the services they need. … That’s especially true on our neighbor islands where they’re often the only provider of acute care.”
      Ige sees potential in public-private partnerships for hospitals which are faced with financial deficits, “but only if they are shaped in the right way. But no matter our direction, changing how we operate our hospitals to meet changing needs will be key to any long-term solution.”
      Energy self-sufficiency is another of Ige’s priorities. “Importing fossil fuel remains one of our greatest weaknesses, and we simply must move to reduce our dependence on it,” he said. “We have the locally generated resources that can allow us to be self-sufficient.
      “In addition, we will be restructuring and staffing the Public Utilities Commission to give it the expertise and resources needed to deal with its due diligence. I will also be assigning a special counsel to protect the public’s interest for the short and long term.”
      Ige said he plans to empower schools by giving those closest to children authority and resources to take action. “As Governor, I will appoint members to the Board of Education who embrace school empowerment of our principals and teachers as the key to ensure student success,” he said. “I challenge the leaders of public education to stop issuing mandates from the state office and to focus on empowering schools and delivering resources to the school level."
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Mayor Billy Kenoi addressed legislators
at the state Capitol yesterday.
Image from Olelo
MAYOR BILLY KENOI THANKED STATE LEGISLATORS yesterday for their support and contributions to Hawai`i County. “If we make it a good place to live, then it will continue to be a wonderful place to visit,” Kenoi said. Kenoi acknowledged the state’s support of University of Hawai`i – Hilo, the county’s largest employer. Funding of almost $100 million for construction of several buildings, including the College of Pharmacy, came through the Legislature. 
      He also thanked the state for help with recent natural disasters, including hurricanes and tsunami threats, and the current, ongoing lava flow near Pahoa in Puna.
      Requests Kenoi made focused on Puna. He asked legislators to pass legislation requiring insurance companies to renew homeowners policies. “It doesn’t seem right that somebody who pays their policy for a long period of time is all of a sudden told, ‘Oh, sorry, we’re not renewing your policy anymore.’”
      Kenoi also asked for continued support of improvements of state Hwy 130 in Puna and increases in reliability of Civil Defense sirens.
      Kenoi also asked that legislators support Kona Airport’s redesignation as an international entry point to boost economic development for the entire island.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
U.S. REP. TULSI GABBARD IS JOINING other congressional leaders and members of the startup community in convening the new Diversifying Technology Caucus. This bipartisan, bicameral caucus will work to increase representation of women, minorities and veterans in the tech sector, and the ability of these groups to access good jobs that this industry creates.
      Right now only one in 14 technical employees in Silicon Valley is African-American or Hispanic. Women currently represent fewer than 13 percent of employed engineers and hold fewer than 25 percent of STEM jobs. And just three percent of all startups are founded by women.
      Congress will call attention to these challenges, highlighting existing best practices, driving a public conversation and designing initiatives that support and promote diversity. The Diversifying Tech Caucus will be a partnership between policy makers, industry and academia to organize, advocate and create awareness about underrepresented groups and develop strategies for improving access and engagement. Industry and academic leaders will also work together to undertake research that legislators can use to elevate the issue and help develop solutions.
      “So many of our returning veterans have skills that would make them a real asset to tech companies, and others who have the entrepreneurial spirit to launch ventures of their own,” Gabbard said. “But so far veterans remain underrepresented in the tech community, along with women and minorities. Working with Engine, I'm proud to serve as co-chair of this caucus as we bring people together to find innovative solutions to the many challenges we face.”
Ka`u High boys soccer team's final home game
of the season and Senior Night is Friday, Jan. 30.
Photo by Taylor's Treasures Photography
      The Diversifying Tech Caucus will hold initial meetings to set a formal agenda, which will include goals such as proposing creative solutions to address obstacles to diversity in the tech industry; bringing together researchers and academics to conduct in-depth research on diversity issues; forming targeted working groups on specific Diversifying Tech issues such as #WomenStartups, #ClosingtheGap, #DiversityinTech, and #STEMEducation; holding briefings, roundtables, media events and training and networking sessions around the country to bring together policymakers and tech community representatives; and forming a Hill Staff Advisory Council of tech-friendly staffers representing a broad spectrum of Congressional offices.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

SENIOR NIGHT FOR KA`U HIGH BOYS SOCCER team is Friday, Jan. 30 at 3 p.m., hosting Parker. The game was originally scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 31.

SPECIAL OLYMPICS EAST HAWAI`I is sending Ka`u to competitions around the island and the state. Special Olympic athletes are selling $9 tickets for teri beef plates through Feb. 14. Call athlete Cindy Hickman at 670-6879 or organizer Lori Nakashima at 938-5144. 

UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI`I – HILO GEOLOGISTS Ken Hon and Cheryl Gansecki discuss Pahoehoe Lava: the Ebb and Flow of Molten Rock at After Dark in the Park today at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.
      The two have spent decades studying and filming behavior of pahoehoe lava and will use time-lapse and recent videos to explain how and why these flows advance, stall and inflate.
      This free program is part of Volcano Awareness Month.
      Park entrance fees apply.

Students are eager to work with Jr. Volcano Choy at a new music program
for Ka`u Middle School. Photo by Julia Neal
ALL THAT JAZZ IN PAHALA is the title of an article in Hawai`i Tribune-Herald about this Saturday’s jazz concert featuring Jr. Volcano Choy at Pahala Plantation House to support a new music program at Ka`u Middle School. 
      The event is sponsored by Volcano Art Center, which has received a grant from Hawai`i State Foundation on Culture & the Arts to bring back band music education to keiki of Ka`u. The afterschool program for beginning brass band will be instructed by Choy, the highly experienced performing artist and educator who lives in Volcano, following a professional performing and recording career on the mainland.
      A Hawai`i native, Choy noted that Ka`u High school’s music building is filled with all the instruments that are part of a full band program. Due to lack of a program, scores of instruments are rusting and non-functional. A statement from Volcano Art Center says, “These instruments need to come alive again. They are trumpets, trombones and more which all need TLC.”
   Those attending are urged to bring a garden chair and the $15 suggested donation.
     For more information and overnight accommodations, call Pahala Plantation Cottages at 928-9811.


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