Hawaii County officials, employees and residents celebrated the completion of a long-awaited repair project in Captain Cook.
The renovated Yano Hall at Greenwell Park was rededicated Tuesday morning with speeches, prayer, music, food and pride.
Following the ceremony, South Kona/Ka‘u Councilwoman Brenda Ford said she was just part of the succession of council members who diligently pushed county administrators to repaint and repair the facility for years. But it took the mayor to get the job done and in a more practical way, she added. The end result, Ford said, is “fabulous.”
Originally, the project was only to repair one roof on one building. However, Mayor Bill Kenoi made improving the entire facility a priority and found a means to do so all at once. Funding came from the county’s Capital Improvement Project budget and Office of Housing and Community Development’s Community Development Block Grant program, said Department of Parks and Recreation Director Clayton Honma.
The total cost of the project was $752,978. Work began in April and the finishing touches were completed last week, said T. Ilihia Gionson, county public relations specialist.
The majority of the funds, $640,700, was used for painting, accessibility and site improvements, re-roofing, and hazardous materials abatement of the office, recreation and multipurpose buildings. A change order was issued for additional work, totaling $62,278, on the recreation building, where vinyl floor tiles were replaced and the existing roof framing structure, affected by years of weathering, was repaired. This “wonderful” work was “done in a timely fashion” by Stan’s Contracting Inc., Honma said.
In addition, Parks and Recreation carpenters remodeled the kitchen in the multipurpose building, putting in new counters, cabinets and appliances. Meanwhile, the department’s maintenance employees painted exterior railings; pressure washed sidewalks, stairs and ramps; and made other beautification improvements, Honma said. This in-house work was valued at $50,000, including materials, Gionson added.
While repairs were underway, the popular facility was off limits to many of its users, who had to relocate to different county facilities or find other venues to hold club meetings, classes, recreation programs and events. During that time, the Kona Daifukuji Soto Mission in Honalo let the senior programs use its building for free. Several speakers Tuesday thanked the temple for its generosity.
There was a soft reopening of Yano Hall in November, when most of the work was completed and groups were allowed to again use the facility.
The Rev. Jiko Nakade of Kona Daifukuji Soto Mission performed the blessing. She wished for continued happiness, safety, peace and well-being within Yano Hall’s walls, as well as ongoing bonds of friendship and collaboration.
Built in the late 1960s or early 1970, this facility honors Sgt. Rodney J.T. Yano of Kona. A Medal of Honor recipient, Yano was killed in Vietnam in 1969 while serving as a helicopter crew chief with the Air Cavalry Troop, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. In an exposed position aboard a command and control helicopter, Yano fired upon the enemy in the face of intense small arms and anti-aircraft fire. Even after an exploding grenade covered him with burning phosphorus and left him severely wounded and partially blinded, Yano hurled blazing ammunition from the helicopter at the enemy until the danger was past. This selfless action prevented further injury and loss of life to the rest of the crew members, according to the Army.
Yano’s family was present for Tuesday’s rededication. Glenn Yano, his youngest brother who lives in Kealakekua, called the renovated facility “beautiful.” He showed off the Dec. 11, 1970, program from Yano Hall’s original blessing and, like his father did then, thanked everyone for the tribute to his brother. Not only is Yano the namesake of the facility, it’s also that of a public library at the Schofield Barracks area, a noncombat U.S. Navy cargo ship, a fitness center at Camp Zama in Japan, and a helicopter maintenance facility at Fort Rucker in Alabama, he said.
Yano Hall is open from noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday. For more information, call 323-3060.