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County Council Update

Updated: 
November 13, 2017 - 12:45am

Aloha everyone, I wanted to give you a brief update of some happenings in our county.

BIG ISLAND STATE LEGISLATOR UPDATE:

Hawaii County Council Chairwoman Valerie Poindexter and the Council Committee on Governmental Relations and Economic Development requested a legislative update by State of Hawaii senators and House representatives. Sen. Russell E. Ruderman was present, along with House Reps. Richard P. Creagan, Nicole E. Lowen and Richard H.K. Onishi, all echoing each other’s sentiments on working together to support Hawaii Island.

Some state bills that previously failed that are likely to be revisited include, but are not limited to, funding for rat lungworm research, agriculture theft, invasive species and lifeguard positions. Each legislator provided their overview on the past session, their opinion on various contentious topics, i.e. TAT, as well as their goals for the upcoming session.

Rep. Onishi noted how he works closely with schools in his district to assist them with their concerns and/or needed projects on the ever growing Department of Education priority listing. Other legislators shared their personal focuses, whether it be agriculture in general, Tiny Homes, prison farming education programs, medical cannabis, or the need for an accredited medical doctor (MD or DVM) be housed in the Hawaii Island Department of Health.

Council members were equally pleased with the update, and noted their support on various upcoming state legislative actions; however asked the state legislators to keep Hawaii County Council apprised of their intentions on bills so that we can provide timely support via Council Resolution.

ANUENUE PARK:

Anuenue Park in Waimea has a new face. The playground has had another facelift and is the fourth version of the park that I remember in my lifetime. In the late 1960s the playground, consisting of a slide, swings, teeter-totter and jungle gym received an upgrade with the addition of a carousel. Fast forward to the early 1990s when we saw the first version of what we have come to know as Anuenue Park.

There were many volunteers on hand, including then Councilman Kalani Schutte, along with then Hawaii County Mayor and now Senator Lorraine Inouye. The newest version was born during the week of Oct. 22 by Friends of Anuenue Playground and the nonprofit organization Friends of the Future. They raised over $400,000, organized the community and had a weeklong demolition and rebuilding of the newest face for our new park. Big shout out to Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Marquez of Pohakuloa Training Area and more than 60 Army soldiers and Marines that volunteered their time to help with removal of the old playground and the new construction.

From the County of Hawaii and the community, a big mahalo goes out to the Friends of Anuenue Playground organization for all your hard work.

DISTRICT 9 REPRESENTED WITH STATE OF HAWAII SENATE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE:

On Oct. 26 I was invited by Kohala High School Principal Janette Snelling to help represent the school and have a discussion on their gymnasium during a tour with the State Senate Ways and Means Committee. The needs of that 1932 structure and the future needs of Kohala High School in general were topics of discussion. The Senate Ways and Means Committee members in attendance included Chair Donovan Dela Cruz, Vice Chair Gilbert Keith-Agaran and Sens. Lorraine Inouye, Kaiali’i Kahele, J. Kalani English, Michelle Kidani, Brickwood Galuteria, Maile Shimabukuro, Glenn Wakai and Gil Riviere. Excellent and thoughtful conversation ensued.

I was also invited by the senators to attend a tour of the Kohala Institute and then on to the new STEAM building at Waimea Middle School. The senators got to see firsthand a brand-new building that unfortunately does not have the funding for the equipment and furnishings it so desperately needs. I was also invited to attend the closing event wherein our conversations continued about the needs of Hawaii County.

A special thank you goes out to Sens. Lorraine Inouye and Kaiali’i Kahele for inviting me alongside them as they hosted this Senate Ways and Means committee tour.

COQUI FROG DETECTION IN WAIMEA:

My office has received a number of calls informing us of coqui frog detection in Waimea and there appears to be a need to re-establish a coqui frog program. The County has spraying equipment available and some funding to assist with this measure, however champions are needed that will volunteer within their neighborhoods, and take the responsibility to manage and staff this mission for the betterment of Waimea and beyond. If you are interested, contact my Waimea office at 887-2043 so we can help orchestrate the process with you.

OTHER INFORMATION:

Hawaii County Department of Environmental Management recently held informational community meetings to explain the Environmental Assessment of the South Hilo landfill closure. The link to the Environmental Assessment is at www.hawaiizerowaste.org, under Events and Announcements, which was published by OWQC on Oct. 23. For more information on this topic, contact Gene Guiamas at 961-8058.

At 6 p.m. Nov 16, Community Forums will explore the connected subjects of “preparedness, self-sufficiency and sustainability” in Hawaii during their “How Prepared is Hawaii for a Major Emergency or Crisis?” to be held at the West Hawaii Civic Center, Council Chambers. It is a free event and the public is welcomed. For more information, go to http://www.westhawaiiforum.org/event/sustainability.

As always, it is a great privilege to continue to serve as your councilman and I look forward to our future together.

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