Community Forum Features Mayor Kenoi and Senior Officials

If you want to learn more about current activities and projects of our county officials and staff, come to the free Community Enterprises’ April 8, 2014 West Hawaii Community Forum. The forum will feature Mayor Billy Kenoi and his senior officials.

Community Forum with Mayor Kenoi

Council member Dru Kanuha will also share issues before the Hawaii County Council. And a special presentation will be made to the youth who lobbied Hawaii County Council with the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii which resulted in raising the age to buy cigarettes to 21.

The April 8 West Hawaii Community Forum will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Maka`eo Old Airport Pavilion. Pupus and beverages will be served.

Community Enterprises Inc. is a private non-profit organization with a 501c (3) designation from the IRS. Its mission is to bring educational resources to the residents of West Hawaii so they can better participate in the public policy issues that affect their lives and their communities. Visit us at our website www.konatownmeeting.org.

For more information please call Shirley David at 756-1633 or email at shirleydavid@hawaii.rr.com

Mayor Kenoi to Proclaim April as Child Abuse Prevention Month

Join Mayor Kenoi as he proclaims April as Child Abuse Prevention Month on the Big Island:
Child Abuse Month

Third Annual Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest Names Winners

Over 40 professional, amateur and high school contestants vied in the third annual Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest March 16 at the Sheraton Keauhou Convention Center. Proceeds benefit the $150,000 Equip the Kitchens Campaign for the future Hawai’i Community College-Palamanui campus and the Kealii Pauahi Foundation.

Poke in Cup

New to this year’s contest was a category for using Hamakua Mushrooms and a fun Poke Throw Down. The Throw Down pitted winner Nakoa Pabre of Umeke’s preparing a quick poke in competition with Bryan Fujikawa of Sun Dried Specialties.

Poke Wontons

Florist Barbara Meheula won the Celebrity Poke Contest, besting pro football player Max Unger, Hawai‘i County Mayor Billy Kenoi, West Hawaii Today Publisher Tracey Fosso, Miss Kona Coffee 2014 Jeanne Kapela and Facebook Chef Billy Desmond.

Kila Pablo Tripe Poke

Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest is part of Kamehameha School’s annual Kamehameha III celebration that commemorates the Keauhou-born king, Lani Kauikeaouli.

The contest is sponsored by presenting sponsor Kamehameha Schools, plus Aloha Shoyu Company, Suisan Company Ltd., Hawaiian Springs, Hamakua Mushrooms, West Hawaii Today, the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay, Fresh Island Fish, Coca Cola, BMW of Hawaii, Tanioka’s Seafood & Catering, Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai, Roberts Hawaii, Bacardi, Sun Dried Specialties, Kapa Radio and Young’s Market Co.

2014 Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest Winners

Professional Division

Category: Traditional Poke:

  • 1st Nakoa Pabre of Umeke’s
  • 2nd Wade Tamura of Facebook
  • 3rd Robin Ganir of Broke Da Mouth

Category: Cooked

  • 1st Peter Kaluna of UH Dining Services
  • 2nd George Gomes of King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel

Category: Poke with Aloha Shoyu

  • 1st Robin Ganir of Broke Da Mouth
  • 2nd Nakoa Pabre of Umeke’s

Category: Non-Seafood

  • 1st Paul Muranaka of King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel
  • 2nd Nakoa Pabre of Umeke’s

New Category: Poke with Hamakua Mushrooms

  • 1st George Gomes of King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel
  • 2nd Troy Cataraha of Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai
  • 3rd Robin Ganir of Broke Da Mouth

Non-Professional Division

Category: Traditional Poke

  • 1st Ryan Koyanagi
  • 2nd Chuck Okazaki
  • 3rd Pono Bintliff

Category: Poke with Aloha Shoyu

  • 1st Keauhou Canoe Club Boys #1
  • 2nd Shane Lee
  • 3rd Cal Haena

Category: Non-Seafood

  • 1st Punana Leo Team #2

New Category: Poke with Hamakua Mushrooms

  • 1st Tori Koyanagi

Division: High School

Category-Traditional: 1st Konawaena #304

Category-Cooked: 1st Kealakehe #302

Category-Poke with Aloha Shoyu

  • 1st: Kealakehe #301
  • 1st Runner Up: Konawaena #305
  • 2nd Runner Up: Konawaena #303

Poke Throw Down

  • 1st Nakoa Pabre of Umeke’s
  • 2nd Bryan Fujikawa of Sundried Specialties

Celebrity Poke Contest

  • Winner: Barbara Meheula, florist

Contestants: Pro football player Max Unger, Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi, West Hawaii Today Publisher Tracey Fosso, Miss Kona Coffee 2014 Jeanne Kapela and Facebook Chef Billy Desmond

5th Anniversary Celebration of the Puna Community Medical Center

Come to the 5th Anniversary Celebration of the Puna Community Medical Center on Saturday, March 29th at 4:30 PM:
PCMC Party

Mayor Kenoi on the GMO Issue

Big Island Mayor Kenoi is quoted as saying the following about the Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) lawsuits that are currently floating around the state in Hawaii Business Magazine:

Mayor Kenoi at the APEC Conference

Mayor Kenoi at the APEC Conference

“GMO has been very important and beneficial to our cut-flower, orchid, anthurium and nursery industry. The science research has been cutting-edge and we’ve seen a lot of innovation and creativity, and certainly in our papaya industry, the importance of research is well-known for maintaining, growing and protecting its viability.

I still don’t believe GMO is the issue facing agriculture – it’s water and access to land and how we can grow our next generation of farmers. GMO has taken a lot of energy and emphasis away from more important issues like these. Another important issue is access to markets, making it easier for farmers to overcome regulatory hurdles, reducing our dependence on imported food and providing real food security.

My message to the Council and the community is…”

You can read the rest of his message and other mayor’s thoughts on the issue here: “Talk Story with Neighbor Island Mayors”

Mayor Kenoi Delivers Fiscal Year 2014-15 Budget Proposal

As required by the Hawai‘i County Charter, submitted with this message is the proposed operating budget for the County of Hawai‘i for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. This balanced budget includes estimated revenues and appropriations of $412,608,475, and includes the operations of eleven of the county’s special funds as well as the general fund.

This FY 2014-2015 budget is $9,403,477 or 2.3 percent larger than the budget in effect when this administration took office in 2008. During the past five years of budget challenges caused by the national and international recession, we have continued to invest in county infrastructure while restricting spending and coping with increased health care and other costs. This budget reflects those efforts to control the cost of government while always maintaining essential police, fire and other core county government services.

After five years of declining revenues, we are finally witnessing a modest, measured recovery in property values.  This will gradually translate into a stronger economy and a brighter budget picture. However, we also face a new challenge in the form of $18.4 million in additional employee expenses in the year ahead. Most of these costs were the result of public worker arbitration decisions and negotiated agreements that significantly increase salaries, wages, social security contributions and retirement obligations.  These new employee and retiree costs reflect the difference between last year’s budget and this year’s budget.

Despite those additional costs, this proposed balanced budget does not require any increase in property taxes.

Population vs. Budget


Investing In Our Communities

From the beginning of this administration, we have crafted budgets that limit spending, but also allow for targeted investment in our communities and our future. Through carefully selected initiatives we created or improved parks and playgrounds, built or rebuilt roads and other public infrastructure, and improved public services. Our primary objective has always been to make the County of Hawai‘i a better place for our families to live and work.

We have used the county’s borrowing power and excellent credit rating to help stimulate the economy and create jobs during a period of low interest rates and favorable bid prices. In Kona, we answered residents’ calls for relief from traffic congestion by advancing projects such as the La‘aloa Avenue Extension, the Ka‘iminani Drive Reconstruction and the Ane Keohokālole Highway, and we will soon begin work on the Māmalahoa Bypass.  In Hilo, we are repairing downtown streets starting with the Kīlauea Avenue Reconstruction, followed by the Kamehameha Avenue Reconstruction project. We will continue in the months ahead with repairs and improvements to Ponahawai and Komohana Streets.
We have partnered with the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, which has emerged as a critical component of our economy. Our university allows our young people to achieve better lives for themselves while providing a skilled workforce to help our island economy to grow and innovate. To help the university expand, we are advancing the Kapi‘olani Street Extension to open up lands for new student housing, additional classroom space, and to alleviate traffic congestion.

We are investing in parks, gyms, and playgrounds across the island where our families can engage in positive activities, and where our coaches can teach our youth respect, discipline, and teamwork. We opened covered play courts at Pana‘ewa Park in Hilo, and built the Kamakoa Nui Park in Waikoloa. We have added seven playgrounds islandwide, and will soon be opening the new Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter. We renovated popular recreational facilities such as the Waiākea Recreation Center, Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium, Laupāhoehoe Pool, Kēōkea Beach Park, and Pāhoa Pool. We will soon make the largest investment in recreation in the history of the county by constructing district parks in Pāhoa, Waimea and Kona.

Despite the budget challenges of recent years, we continue to invest in alternative energy and agriculture because we understand those sectors are essential for a sustainable economy. We installed solar arrays on county buildings to reduce oil consumption and utility costs, and will use wind power at Lālāmilo to provide clean energy to supply water to our communities. We are encouraging growth in agriculture by investing in training and support for farmers, and provided 1,739 acres of county-owned lands for ranching and community-based agriculture at the Kapulena Agricultural Park. We joined in a public-private partnership to upgrade the Pa‘auilo Slaughterhouse and provide a new rendering facility to support our grass-fed beef industry.
At the same time, we have preserved funding for public safety and essential core services. We funded additional police officers for the Puna and Ka‘ū communities, and opened the new Makalei Fire Station. We protected funding for nutrition, recreation and other services for seniors, and preserved and expanded programs for our children and youth. We maintained county funding to non-profit organizations serving the people most in need in our communities.

Employee Count

Fewer Employees, Growing Costs

We want to thank our county workers for their efforts during the Great Recession, which was a time when people across our island made sacrifices. Many of our employees accepted furloughs even as overtime was cut and staffing levels in county agencies were reduced because of hiring restrictions. County employees’ workloads increased, but their hard work and dedication allowed us to continue to deliver essential county services and protect public safety.

During these many challenging budget years, the size of the county workforce declined from 2,787 in November 2008, to a total of 2,628 five years later.
Even with that smaller workforce, the new negotiated collective bargaining agreements will significantly increase our employee costs in the year ahead. Wages, salaries and fringe benefits including health care and retirement for all of our employees will increase in all departments by a total of $18.4 million in Fiscal Year 2014-2015, with almost all of that increase attributable to these new agreements.

County of Hawai‘i tax collections in the year ahead will be $6.5 million or 2.9 percent more than the amount of property taxes collected when this administration began in 2008. However, the combined cost of employee wages, fringe benefits and health care expenses has grown by $30.44 million or 16.95 percent during the same period.

OPERATING BUDGET BY FUND

The following table describes the budgeted expenditures for FY 2013-14 and the proposed budget for FY 2014-15 for each fund:

OPERATING BUDGET BY FUND
(Amounts in thousands)
FY13-14 FY14-15 Increase Percent
        FUND Budget Proposed (Decrease) Change
General Fund $300,565 $314,514 $13,949 4.6%
Highway Fund 34,524 35,597 1,073 3.1%
Sewer Fund 9,757 10,743 986 10.1%
Cemetery Fund 10 10 0 0.0%
Bikeway Fund 171 171 0 0.0%
Beautification Fund 183 452 269 147.0%
Vehicle Disposal Fund 2,475 3,655 1,180 47.7%
Solid Waste Fund 25,368 26,515 1,147 4.5%
Golf Course Fund 1,206 1,232 26 2.2%
Geothermal Royalty Fund 1,700 1,700 0 0.0%
Housing Fund 18,060 17,969 (91) -0.5%
Geothermal Asset Fund 300 50 (250) -83.3%
$394,319 $412,608 $18,289 4.6%

REVENUES BY SOURCE

The following table presents a summary of projected FY 2014-15 revenues from various sources and the changes from the current budget:

REVENUES BY SOURCE
(Amounts in thousands)
Increase
(Decrease)
Percent From Percent
FY14-15 of FY13-14 Increase
        Source Amount Total Amount (Decrease)
Real Property Tax $232,400 56.3% $13,000 5.9%
Public Service Company Tax 10,340 2.5% 195 1.9%
Fuel Tax 7,330 1.8% 80 1.1%
Public Utilities Franchise Tax 11,047 2.7% (520) -4.5%
Licenses and Permits 21,968 5.3% 2,227 11.3%
Revenue from Use of Money & Property 1,121 0.3% 215 23.7%
Intergovernmental Revenue 60,082 14.5% (1,067) -1.7%
Charges for Service 22,789 5.5% 34 0.1%
Other Revenues 8,491 2.1% 771 10.4%
Fund Balance Carryover 37,040 9.0% 3,354 9.9%
$412,608 100.0% $18,289 4.6%

REVENUE CHANGES

The major changes in projected revenues are as follows:

Real Property Tax. Real property tax revenues are expected to increase by 5.9%, or $13 million, due to new construction and an increase in taxable values.

Public Utilities Franchise Tax. Decreased public utility revenues are expected to result in a decrease of $520,000, a reduction of 4.5% in franchise tax revenue.

Licenses and Permits. Increases in vehicle registration revenue and vehicle weight tax revenue have contributed to an increase of $2.2 million, or 11.3% in this revenue source.

Intergovernmental Revenue.  Reductions in grant revenues of about $1 million reflect those grants we are aware of at this time.

Fund Balance Carryover. This budget reflects a higher projection of carryover savings ($3.3 million) from the current year operations.

EXPENDITURES BY FUNCTION

The following table presents a summary of projected FY 2014-15 expenditures from various sources and the changes from the current budget:

EXPENDITURES BY FUNCTION
(Amounts in thousands)
Increase
(Decrease)
Percent From Percent
FY14-15 Of FY13-14 Increase
        Function Amount Total Amount (Decrease)
General Government $49,149 11.9% $1,082 2.3%
Public Safety 120,382 29.2% 3,631 3.1%
Highways & Streets 25,550 6.2% 2,088 8.9%
Health, Education & Welfare 25,592 6.2% 88 0.3%
Culture & Recreation 20,756 5.0% 1,144 5.8%
Sanitation & Waste Removal 37,330 9.0% 3,741 11.1%
Debt Service 38,338 9.3% (1,561) -3.9%
Pension & Retirement 39,381 9.5% 4,287 12.2%
Health Fund 35,305 8.6% 1,939 5.8%
Miscellaneous 20,825 5.1% 1,850 9.8%
$412,608 100.0% $18,289 4.6%

EXPENDITURE CHANGES

Increases in salary and wages are reflected in all functional areas of county government.  After several years of furloughs or no wage increases, new wages were negotiated for all bargaining units represented in the county. All salary and wages are reported in each department with the exception of the Unit 11 Fire agreement, which has not yet been approved by the legislature and is estimated in the provision for compensation adjustment account.
Major changes in projected expenditures are as follows:

General Government

  • Planning. Appropriations are increased by $495,000 for work on the General Plan update.

Public Safety

  • Prosecuting Attorney.  Three temporary, grant funded positions have been added for victim services.
  • The majority of other changes in public safety are attributable to salary and wage increases explained above.

Highways & Streets

  • Public Works Road Maintenance.  Approximately $350,000 is appropriated for additional maintenance equipment.
  • Mass Transit Agency. Increased appropriations of approximately $1.3 million are attributable to an increase in the cost of insurance and bus driver contracts.

Culture & Recreation

  • Parks and Recreation Department.  Eight positions to provide maintenance and recreation are being added for new locations that will be serving the public, including Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter and ‘O‘oma shoreline.
  • The majority of other changes in culture and recreation are attributable to salary and wage increases explained above.

Sanitation & Waste Removal

  • Vehicle Disposal Fund. An increased appropriation of approximately $1 million will provide additional funding for environmental cleanup.
  • Solid Waste Fund. The appropriation for landfill tonnage costs has increased by about $1.7 million because of increased operations costs.

Debt Service

  • Transfer to Debt Service. As the result of refinancing old bond issues, there is a reduction of debt service cost of $1.5 million for the upcoming year.

Pension & Retirement

  • Retirement Benefits. Contributions to the employee retirement system will increase by approximately $4.3 million, or 12.2%, as the result of new salary and wage costs and rate increases established by the state legislature.

Health Fund

  • Health Benefits. Contributions to the state employee health system will increase by
    $1.9 million, which includes an increase of $1 million for future post-employment health benefits.

Miscellaneous

  • Provision for Compensation Adjustment. This provision contains the estimated cost of salary and wages pursuant to contract negotiations that have not been fully approved, and increased by about $2 million.  The $5.8 million appropriation is related to pending increases for Unit 11 Fire employees.

Conclusion

This proposed budget represents a collaborative effort by our departments to address the growing needs of our growing population in a way that is both responsive and fiscally responsible. Our years of careful planning and conservative budgeting have positioned us to invest in our communities while maintaining core services and meeting our obligations to our employees.

The recent, modest gains in property values point to a gradual economic recovery, and we remain cautiously optimistic that the economic and budget outlook will continue to improve. We believe our efforts to promote renewable energy, agriculture and higher education are an investment in the future of our island. We will continue to invest in recreational projects to support our youth and families and to protect public safety, and we ask for your support in these efforts.

We look forward to working closely with the County Council in the months ahead to address our community’s new and continuing demands for public services while also maintaining a balanced and responsible budget.

Aloha,

William P. Kenoi

2014 Focus Luncheon with Mayor Kenoi

Mayor Billy Kenoi and select cabinet members tackle current Hawai`i County issues at the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce 2014 Focus Luncheon 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27 at the Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel.

Mayor Kenoi at the APEC Conference

Mayor Kenoi at the APEC Conference

Sponsored by the Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union, the annual luncheon offers a unique opportunity for the local community to meet with County Department representatives in a casual setting. Attendees will have the opportunity to have lunch with a specific department as well as pose questions to the Mayor and other Cabinet heads. Issues to be included in the discussion include the possible increase of the GET via a county surcharge; the County’s solid waste management plan; the controversial GMO bill; and, the quest to reopen the Kona International Airport international arrivals facility.

Cost for the luncheon is $45 for Chamber and Rotary members, $55 for non-members. No walk-ins allowed. For more information and/or to register, visit kona-kohala.com or call the Chamber office at 808-329-1758.

THE KONA-KOHALA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE provides leadership and advocacy for a successful business environment in West Hawai‘i. The result of KKCC’s work is a community of choice as reflected in our quality of life, business and individual opportunity and manifest respect for our culture and our natural resources. For info, 329-1758 or visit www.kona-kohala.com.

 

Hawai‘i County Welcomes Senior Softball Players From Canada, California and Hawaii – Mayor’s Cup Senior Softball Tournament

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation is pleased to welcome kupuna athletes from Canada, California and throughout Hawai‘i who are coming to Hawai‘i Island to play in the 2nd annual Mayor’s Cup Senior Softball Tournament.

Softball Tournament

Games will be played at Maka‘eo Park, also known as Old Airport Park, in Kailua-Kona starting Monday, January 20, and wrapping up Thursday, January 23.  The public is invited to watch players competing in the tournament’s two age-group divisions: 60 years and older; and 70 years and older. Admission is free.

Tournament fees will go to the nonprofit Hawai‘i Island United Way for use in supporting dozens of local health and human service organizations. Last year’s inaugural tournament was a tremendous success, and this year’s event promises to deliver an even greater financial boost to Hawai‘i Island’s less fortunate.

The Department of Parks and Recreation humbly asks residents to serve as good hosts by showing aloha for the visiting senior softball players and their families.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 345-9105 or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Mayor Kenoi Addresses Legislature

Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi addressed the State Senate Committee on Ways & Means and the State House Committee on Finance today, the opening day of the 2014 Hawai’i State Legislature. His submitted testimony is below:

Mayor Kenoi testifying before the legislature in 2011.

Mayor Kenoi testifying before the legislature in 2011.


Aloha, Chair Ige, Chair Luke and distinguished members of the Senate Ways and Means and House Finance Committees. Thank you for this opportunity to appear before you to outline our priorities for the Island of Hawai’i for the 2014 legislative session.
 
We remain cautiously optimistic that the economy is slowly recovering. We are hopeful that the difficult decisions made at both the state and county levels are contributing to the increasingly positive economic trends. However, we recognize that we all have a great deal more work to do to support our communities.
 
We would like to underscore the importance of a number of state initiatives, and respectfully request that the Legislature support these projects to create jobs, provide relief from traffic congestion, protect public safety, and invest in critical infrastructure. We are prepared to assist our legislators and the state of Hawai’i with these projects in any way possible, and look forward to working with you to implement and expedite the following state initiatives.
  
TRANSPORTATION
Improvements to Highway 130, Kea’au-Pahoa Highway
We again ask for your support to provide urgently needed traffic relief to thousands of working people who are commuting each day on the Kea’au-Pahoa Highway. This highly congested state highway is the only major route in and out of Lower Puna, and serves one of the fastest growing regions in our state. Last year the state began construction on the first phase of the plan to convert the existing shoulder lane system on the highway into permanent lanes, and design work is underway for the second phase of the shoulder lane project. We appreciate the support the Legislature has already given to this critically needed transportation infrastructure.
 
We also ask your committees to press ahead with the larger plan to expand more than nine miles of the Kea‘au-Pahoa Highway to four lanes. State studies show that four intersections along this highway rank among the most dangerous in the state based on the numbers of serious accidents, and improvements to this thoroughfare are an urgent matter of public safety. A design consultant has been selected for this larger project to increase the capacity of this highway and make it safer, but no firm source of construction funding has yet been identified. Your commitment to provide state funding for this project would protect public safety and significantly improve the quality of life for the residents of Puna.
 
PUBLIC SAFETY
Civil Defense Sirens
We strongly support the administration’s request for an extra $2.5 million in each of the next two fiscal years to modernize the state civil defense siren system, which is critical to protect public safety. The Legislature has already provided $16.4 million to begin its statewide modernization effort, and we thank you for that support. Contractors began work around the state in 2013 on the first phases of this project, and work in the County of Hawai’i is expected to begin this spring. This initiative will convert the existing radio-activated siren system to a more reliable satellite- and cellular-based system.
 
The additional $5 million for the siren systems over the next two years would be used to add new sirens to better notify the public in the event of an emergency. That would include 36 additional, modern sirens planned for Hawai‘i Island, and we urge your committees to continue this effort to protect our communities and expand this important piece of our public safety infrastructure.
  
CHILDREN AND YOUTH
Statewide Juvenile Intake and Assessment Centers
The Hawai‘i Juvenile Justice Working Group last month issued a compelling report that demonstrates the need for alternatives to incarceration for young offenders, particularly for youths who are convicted of misdemeanor offenses. The report noted that each bed at the Hawai‘i Youth Correctional Facility on O‘ahu costs state taxpayers $199,320 per year, which underscores the fiscal impacts of incarceration of our youth.
 
Last year the Office of Youth Services in partnership with the Hawai‘i County Office of the Prosecuting Attorney launched the first juvenile intake and assessment center in East Hawai‘i with federal funding from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. This pilot program assesses at-risk youth who have been arrested for minor or status offenses, identifies their needs, and links them and their families with appropriate services. These youths are not a threat to public safety, and diverting them out of the criminal justice system helps to free up our police officers for more important patrol duties, making better use of our public safety resources. Additional federal funding has been awarded to continue this initiative in 2014, and we strongly support the effort by OYS to expand this program to other islands and to Kona.
 
We also ask the Legislature to support statewide initiatives to increase funding for truancy prevention programs, and to place juvenile parole officers on Neighbor Islands. Current plans call for hiring a juvenile parole officer in East Hawai‘i and a second Kona parole officer to supervise and assist youths who have been incarcerated. We need to provide the necessary resources to intervene and divert these youths out of the criminal justice system and into services that will help them to succeed.
 
HIGHER EDUCATION
College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Building
We ask for your continued support in building on the successes of the University of Hawai’i at Hilo and our community college system, which have allowed higher education to emerge as an economic engine on Hawai’i Island. The university is now the second largest employer in East Hawai’i, and is preparing our young people for success in our community and across the state. The continued growth of our higher educational system is essential for our economic success and our future.
 
In 2011 the College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo became the first school of pharmacy in Hawai‘i and the Pacific Region to become fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. The college is the only school in the state offering a doctorate in pharmacy, and has been an extraordinary success. An economic impact study in 2011 found the college is generating more than $50 million per year in economic activity statewide, and each dollar of investment in salaries at the college is attracting more than three dollars in spending from outside sources.
 
The college was granted accreditation before obtaining permanent facilities, and it is time to provide a permanent home for the college to meet its long-range needs and assure it retains accreditation. Providing a permanent home for the college will allow it to fulfill its promise as a center of excellence in education and health sciences. We strongly agree with the request by the administration and the Board of Regents for $28 million in general obligation and $5 million in revenue bonds to finance the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Building.
 
HEALTH CARE
Primary Care Training and Rural Residency Program
The state and Hawai‘i Island continue to face a severe physician shortage, and projections by the John A. Burns School of Medicine suggest the physician shortage will dramatically worsen in the next five years as many doctors retire. An important piece of the solution for our communities is the Hawai‘i Island Family Medicine Residency Program, which was recently notified that it has met the requirements for two-year accreditation. The program is actively recruiting, and will welcome its first class in July. National research shows that 80 percent of residents practice close to the facilities where they train, and we know this program will help ease the physician shortage in our county and in rural areas across the state.
 
We continue to support efforts by the Hawai’i Health Systems Corporation and our Hawai’i Island delegation to seek a state commitment of $2.8 million per year for the HHSC primary care training program. This includes the Hawai’i Island Family Medicine Residency program, and will also offer training to advanced practice nurses from programs at University of Hawai’i at Manoa and Hilo, and to students from the UH-Hilo College of Pharmacy. This program will produce inter-disciplinary teams that can care for four times as many patients as independent practitioners, and will expand to serve rural communities on each of the islands. We are convinced this is an innovative and effective strategy for improving access to primary care services.
 
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Kona International Airport Improvements
We strongly support the administration’s plans for urgently needed improvements for Kona International Airport, and appreciate the decision by the Legislature to appropriate $37.5 million for an international arrivals building, and $70 million for a major terminal expansion. We continue to work collaboratively with state Department of Transportation and community organizations to encourage the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to reopen the international arrivals inspection facilities in Kona. State investment in Kona airport infrastructure including the international arrivals building is essential to the success of those efforts.
 
Your continued support for the Kona airport improvements is important to the state as a whole. Honolulu International Airport operates at its top capacity during busier times of the year, and the administration’s planned international arrivals area in West Hawai’i will allow Kona to function as a reliever airport to ease congestion in Honolulu. Investment in Kona airport infrastructure will allow our state to continue to grow as an international visitor destination during the busiest travel seasons.
 
Each of these state projects represents a smart, long-term investment in the welfare of our communities and the safety and well-being of our residents and visitors. We thank you for your consideration, and look forward to working with all of our distinguished legislators in the weeks ahead as we press forward together with these initiatives.
 
Mahalo for your support and your commitment to our communities.

 
Aloha,

William P. Kenoi
MAYOR

County Acquires Open Space At ‘O’oma – 217-Acre Shoreline Parcel to be Protected in Perpetuity

The County of Hawai‘i’s latest acquisition in the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resource Preservation program will protect 217 acres in Kona, between Kohanaiki Shores and the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai‘i.

Ooma
‘O‘oma was the last privately-held open coastline area between Kailua town and the Kūki‘o resort, and was the top-ranked property on the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Commission’s latest report. The Māmalahoa Trail and Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail run through the property, and the preservation of ‘O‘oma also will help preserve ocean quality and contribute to a healthy reef.

“This open space purchase is the culmination of over 25 years of efforts on the part of the Kona community, which held onto a vision of an open coastline at Kohanaiki and ‘O‘oma,” said Councilwoman Karen Eoff, who has been involved with the community movement to protect Kohanaiki and ‘O‘oma in various capacities over the years. “This is an awesome gift to our community and validates the power in a shared vision.”

The purchase of the ‘O‘oma property closed on December 31, 2013 for $6.2 million, slightly more than half the $12 million asking price. Kohanaiki Shores, the neighboring development that has shown a commitment to preserving the beauty of Kona, assisted the County in the purchase with a $2 million donation.

This acquisition also enhances the public benefit of the 1.5 mile Kohanaiki Beach Park just to the south of ‘O‘oma, which opened to the public in June 2013. The County anticipates preserving ‘O‘oma in its current natural condition as a buffer between the mauka urban area and the ocean, while allowing access for passive recreation and subsistence fishing.

“This open space purchase adds another important, publicly owned shoreline recreational area that will serve many thousands of our residents, and will provide a place for our children and families to enjoy for generations to come,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “This purchase required a cooperative effort by many community members, and we thank them for their efforts.”

Since taking office, Mayor Kenoi’s administration has purchased more than 1,247 acres to preserve shorelines and open space for children, families, and the community. Since 2008, the County has acquired open space at Kāwā (785 acres) in Ka‘ū; Kaiholena (228 acres) and Pāo‘o (10 acres) in Kohala; and La‘aloa (6 acres) and ‘O‘oma (217 acres) in Kona under the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation program.

Commentary: Signage Needed Along Bayfront Highway to Help Tourists “Fresh Off The Boat”

Dear Mayor Billy Kenoi,

I don’t know who else to contact as I have tried for the last several years to make this matter known to a few people I thought could help, but so far no one has been able to do anything about it. Hopefully you will know who can help with this matter.

Hike into Hilo
Every ship day in Hilo we see visitors walking into town in pairs or groups all the way from the port to downtown. Most of them follow the coastline after they cross the Wailoa River Bridge and continue hugging the shores of Hilo Bay on Bayfront Park.

When they reach Pauahi Street, there is no sign to direct them to Kamehameha Avenue so that they can approach downtown easily and most of them continue to follow Bayfront Highway, not realizing there is no access to downtown from Bayfront until they reach the intersection of Waianuenue Avenue.

Hike Into Hilo 2

There are several gates on the fence separating the downtown area all the way from Pauahi Street to Waianuenue Avenue, but the gates are locked.

Several times, (including this morning) I’ve picked up visitors, both young and elderly, especially when it is raining, as I drive back home towards Hamakua. After I pick them up, I continue on across the Wailuku Bridge and turn around at Pukihae Street by the Bay Shore Towers, so I can drive back to Hilo and drop them off wherever they wanted to go in downtown. In most cases, it was to drop them off at the Farmers Market.

I cannot believe that it would be such a hardship for the County, the Department of Transportation or the Department of Parks and Recreation (I’m not sure in whose jurisdiction this matter would fall) to have proper signage at the corner of  Bayfront and Pauahi directing them to Kamehameha Avenue and/or at least have the gates open along the fence so we can make it a little bit more welcoming and convenient for our visitors to reach the downtown area without having to walk all the way to the end of the fence.

It doesn’t seem like such a big thing to do and yet, I believe it would make a big difference and maybe visitors would try to stay a bit longer in the downtown area if they weren’t so tired from having to walk the extra few blocks.

Can you think of any other solution?

Cordially,

Sonia R. Martinez

Mayor Kenoi Signs Bill 135 Into Law – Law Targets Stores Selling Cigarettes to Folks Under 21

Mayor Billy Kenoi signed into law Bill 135 to raise the legal age of sale of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes to 21 in Hawai‘i County. A ceremonial signing of the bill was held today at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center at 3 p.m.

Representatives from the Coalition for Tobacco-Free Hawai'i and Kealakehe High School students who advocated for the measure joined Mayor Billy Kenoi and Councilman Dru Mamo Kanuha for a ceremonial signing of Bill 135.

Representatives from the Coalition for Tobacco-Free Hawai’i and Kealakehe High School students who advocated for the measure joined Mayor Billy Kenoi and Councilman Dru Mamo Kanuha for a ceremonial signing of Bill 135.

The Coalition For A Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i (CTFH) West Hawai‘i and East Hawai‘i Coalitions and staff from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids worked closely with West Hawai‘i Councilmember Dru Mamo Kanuha and his staff to pass this bill. Hawai‘i County Council unanimously passed Bill 135, nine to zero on November 20.

“I signed this bill for the benefit of our community, and most importantly, our kids,” said Mayor Kenoi. “Mahalo to Councilman Kanuha for hearing their voices and having the courage to follow through. With all of the known harmful effects of tobacco use, this measure is in the best interest of public health and safety.”

More than 40 students from Kealakehe High and Konawaena High attended the initial committee hearing on October 15 and the final reading on November 20, wearing t-shirts stating ‘One Good Reason’ with an arrow pointing up toward their face. Waiākea High students submitted nearly 300 pieces of written testimony.

“My commitment is to help our young people live longer and healthier lives than the generation who came before them, and to improve the overall health of our island,” Councilmember Kanuha said.

“We are deeply grateful to Councilmember Kanuha and his staff for creating a bill that was easy for the other councilmembers to support,” said Sally Ancheta, East Hawai‘i Coalition coordinator for CTFH. “We thank Mayor Kenoi for taking the initiative to protect our youth and supporting the many voices that came to testify.”

The ordinance will take effect on July 1, 2014 and will exempt people who reach the age of 18 before that date. Any person who distributes tobacco or electronic cigarette products to an underage customer will be subject to a fine of up to $2,000.

Nearly 1,200 Hawai‘i residents die each year from diseases that can be attributed to smoking, according to CTFH. Of those, more than 90 percent of them became daily tobacco users before the age of 18. For more information about the 21 reasons campaign, visit twentyonereasons.org.

Third Annual “Magic Of The Season” Begins Tonight

The County of Hawai’i is proud to present the third annual Magic Of The Season holiday open house at the Hawai’i County Building in Hilo, December 9 to 20, 2013. Unless otherwise noted in the schedule, festivities will run 5:30 to 8:00 nightly with free entertainment, activities, and refreshments hosted by your County departments.
Magic of the Season
County volunteers have decorated dozens of trees and lit up the Hawai’i County Building. Members of the public may view the exciting decorations daily starting at 7:45 a.m.

Cyril Pahinui, Mark Yamanaka, Darlene Ahuna and Henry Kapono will be among the Nā Hōkū Hanohano award-winning performers. Taiko drummers, hula dancers and student musicians also will take turns entertaining audiences. School groups, civic organizations and individuals are invited to experience the holiday offerings by touring the office building located at 25 Aupuni St.

For more details, please contact the office of Mayor Billy Kenoi at 961-8211.

Local Girl and True Blood Star Kristina Anapau made an appearance in 2011.

Local Girl and True Blood Star Kristina Anapau made an appearance in 2011.

Mayor Kenoi Signs Bill 113 – Relating to Genetically Engineered Crops and Plants

Kenoi Apec

Aloha, Chair Yoshimoto and Members:

On Nov. 19, 2013 the Hawai‘i County Council adopted Bill 113 Draft 3 adding a new article relating to Genetically Engineered Crops and Plants, and on Nov. 21, 2013 delivered the bill to me for my consideration. After careful deliberation and discussions with members of my administration and the public, I am signing Bill 113.

Our community has a deep connection and respect for our land, and we all understand we must protect our island and preserve our precious natural resources. We are determined to do what is right for the land because this place is unlike any other in the world. With this new ordinance we are conveying that instead of global agribusiness corporations, we want to encourage and support community-based farming and ranching.

The debate over this bill has at times been divisive and hurtful, and some of our hard-working farmers who produce food for our community have been treated disrespectfully. We are determined to protect every farmer and rancher. Agriculture on Hawai‘i Island will continue to grow with county assistance, investment and support. That commitment includes initiatives such as the public-private partnership to improve and expand the Pa‘auilo Slaughterhouse to support our grass-fed beef industry, and the launch of the Kapulena Agricultural Park, the largest agricultural park in the state on 1,739 acres of county-owned land. It also includes support for innovative training programs to grow the farmers of the future, and to train veterans to engage in agriculture on Hawaiian Home Lands, and the introduction and advancement of Korean Natural Farming as a sustainable method of producing healthier crops and livestock. It includes completion of the first-in-the-state Food Self-Sufficiency Baseline Study of Hawai‘i Island to measure the island’s progress toward food self-sufficiency.

We are determined to reunite our farming community to create a stronger and more vibrant agricultural sector. It is time to end the angry rhetoric and reach out to our neighbors. Our farmers are essential to creating a wholesome and sustainable food supply on this island, and they deserve to be treated with respect and aloha. We must turn now to a meaningful, factual dialogue with one another.

With my approval of this bill, our administration will launch a year of research and data collection to investigate factual claims and to seek out new directions that farming in our community should take. This work will include an expanded database detailing the locations of both organic and conventional farms, the crops that are grown, more accurate estimates of the revenue earned from these enterprises, and the challenges our farmers face in meeting food safety and organic certification requirements. We will work with our farmers and our ranchers to carefully monitor the impacts of this bill over the next year to separate speculation and guesswork from the facts.

Today our communities expect that government will be as cautious as possible in protecting our food and water supplies. We all want to minimize impacts to the environment while also producing abundant, affordable food for local consumption. This ordinance expresses the desires and demands of our community for a safe, sustainable agricultural sector that can help feed our people while keeping our precious island productive and healthy.

Aloha,

William P. Kenoi
MAYOR

Mayor Kenoi On Vacation Beginning Dec. 6 – Mayor to Accompany His Son to the Pop Warner Super Bowl in Florida

Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi will be on vacation beginning Friday, Dec. 6 to cheer on his son Justin, 13, at the Pop Warner Super Bowl in Kissimmee, Fla.

Proud "Dad Moment" for Mayor Kenoi as his son will be playing for the Pop Warner Championships on the mainland.

Proud “Dad Moment” for Mayor Kenoi as his son Justin will be playing for the Pop Warner Super Bowl on the mainland

Justin Kenoi is a member of the Big Island Pop Warner champion Pana’ewa Ali’i football team, which is the first Hawai’i Island team to win the Western Regional finals to advance to the Pop Warner Super Bowl.

Mayor Kenoi will remain with the team while the Pana’ewa Ali’i participate in the tournament. Managing Director Wally Lau will be acting mayor until Mayor Kenoi returns.

Public Invited to Opening Ceremony of Mountain View Gym and Park’s New Children’s Playground

Mayor Billy Kenoi, Puna Councilman Zendo Kern, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Friends of Mountain View Gym and Park invite the public to an opening ceremony for the new children’s playground at A.J. Watt Gym in Mountain View.

Mt. View Park

Mt. View Gym and Park new playground equipment

Festivities will start at 2 p.m. Friday, November 22, at the Nā Wai Ola Public Charter School campus located next to the gym.

Friends of Mountain View Gym and Park will hold drawings for donated prizes.

Covering 2,300 square feet, the new playground is comprised of two modular-design play areas designed for children between the ages of 5 and 12 years old. A climbing wall, stairs, platforms, a protective roof and five slides, including a tunnel slide, are among the features. A special synthetic turf and impact-absorbing layer comprise the safety surface installed under the playground.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 345-9105, or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Mayor Kenoi Proclaims “October 25th, 2013 – Body Glove 60th Anniversary Day” in the County of Hawaii

Last week, Body Glove International celebrated it’s 60th Anniversary with a party in Kona, Hawaii that was attended by the family of Body Glove and was open to the public.

Creature From the Black Lagoon and Mayor Kenoi

Creature From the Black Lagoon and Mayor Kenoi

The following night the party continued at the Wyland Gallery in Kona where Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker was signing merchandise and had his new Body Glove 60th Anniversary “Tiki Mug” release party.

Brad "Tiki Shark" Parker, Mayor Kenoi and Abbas Hassan

Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker, Mayor Kenoi and Abbas Hassan

Here is a photo of the new mugs:

Brad Parker Tiki Mug

Mayor Kenoi was on hand and proclaimed October 25th, 2013 as Body Glove 60th Anniversary Day in the County of Hawaii.

Meistrell Brothers, Abbas Hassan and Mayor Kenoi

Billy Meistrell (2nd generation Owner and Co-Founder of Body Glove), Russ Lesser (President), Abbas Hassan and Mayor Kenoi

Here is the proclamation that he read to folks in attendance:

Proclamation:

WHEREAS, growing up in Missouri, twin brothers Bob and Bill Meistrell fell in love with the water. They dreamed of making a life in the ocean, and those dreams came true when the family moved to California in 1944; and

WHEREAS, in 1953, the Meistrell brothers turned their passion for the ocean into a business venture. They joined Bev Morgan and the three became business partners at Dive N’ Surf, the first dive and surf store of its kind; and

WHEREAS, Dive N’ Surf became quickly known for being the home of the first practical and commercially viable wetsuit, invented by the Meistrell brothers and Morgan. The name given to the suit – Body Glove, because it fit like a glove – has become an iconic brand worldwide; and

WHEREAS, over their sixty years in business, serious watermen and waterwomen worldwide have come to count on Body Glove’s products, and Body Glove-sponsored teams in surfing and wakeboarding are made up of many of the most skilled athletes in those sports in the world; and

WHEREAS, the values that have guided Body Glove for the past six decades – hard work, perseverance, love of family, and love of the environment – are values shared by the people of Hawai‘i Island and the many long-standing family-owned businesses that are the cornerstones of our economy; and

WHEREAS, we are honored to host Body Glove’s 60th anniversary celebration on Hawai‘i Island here in Kailua-Kona, home of local partners Body Glove Cruises and Tiki Shark Art Hawai‘i,

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BILLY KENOI, Mayor of the County of Hawai‘i, do hereby proclaim October 25, 2013, as BODY GLOVE 60th ANNIVERSARY DAY in the County of Hawai‘i, and we hope to celebrate many more Body Glove anniversaries in the future.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused The Seal of the County of Hawai‘i to be affixed.  Done this 25th day of October, 2013 in Kailua-Kona, Hawai‘i.

Billy Kenoi
MAYOR

You can click on the pictures in this gallery to open them up for larger views:

Video – Naniloa Resort Faces County, State in Court

The Naniloa Resort faced the County and State of Hawaii in court regarding the conditions of the Naniloa and what has been going on with the bankruptcy proceedings.

The Naniloa Hotel

The Naniloa Hotel

Video courtesy of Big Island Video News:

Results of the Second Annual Keiki Triathlon

Mayor Billy Kenoi’s third annual Health Fest was held today at the Kekuaokalani Gymnasium in Kailua-Kona. The Health Fest included the second annual Keiki Triathlon for triathletes 7 to 14 years old. (Results are below.)
See below for results

See below for results

Nearly 70 young athletes from around the island finished the challenging swim, bike and run courses at the Kona Community Aquatic Center and around Maka‘eo Park, also known as the Old Kona Airport. The Keiki Triathlon was organized by the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Hawai‘i Isle Police Activities League (HI-PAL) with the support of volunteers from Lava Kids, Lavaman Triathlons, Keauhou Canoe Club, Ultraman, PATH, Big Island Running Co., Bike Works, IRONMAN volunteers, IRONMAN finishers, Kealakehe High School Waveriders Triathlon Club and the Hawai‘i Cycling Club.
The Health Fest included health screenings, information booths, lessons and live demonstrations, as well as free food, entertainment, and activities. Held in the Kekuaokalani Gymnasium, the fest was organized by the Office of Mayor Billy Kenoi with the support of HMSA and Kaiser Permanente. The Health Fest in Hilo was held on September 28 at Bayfront Park.

Today’s Health Fest and Keiki Triathlon were part of Mayor Billy Kenoi’s Healthy Hawai‘i Island initiative, which includes programs to connect, build, and activate a healthy community.

Keiki Triathlon Results

Big Island Men to Walk in High Heels to Raise Awareness of Sexual Assault

YWCA Hawaii Island hosts the third annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 7:30 a.m.  In East Hawaii, the one-mile march begins at the YWCA Ululani Street campus.  In West Hawaii, the march will be at the Kona International Market.  October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and is a call to end sexual assault, rape and gender violence in the community.

Mayor Kenoi holding his selected pair of heels for the 2012 Walk-a-Mile event

Mayor Kenoi holding his selected pair of heels for the 2012 Walk-a-Mile event

Mayor Billy Kenoi and Deputy Managing Director Wally Lau will lead the march and address participants at the YWCA kick-off sites in Hilo and Kona, respectively.  Also joining the march and leading their respective organizations are Police Chief Harry Kubojiri, Fire Chief Darren Rosario, County Prosecutor Mitch Roth, Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveria, Police Deputy Chief Paul Ferreira, Police Assistant Chief Paul Kealoha, and radio personality J.E. Orozco.

“Inspired by the saying, ‘You can’t understand a person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes,’ we’re asking men to walk in women’s shoes to show their support to end violence against women and girls,” said Karen Hayashida, YWCA board president.  “Every three hours someone on Hawaii Island is sexually assaulted, which is unacceptable.  The community must work together to create a safer, healthier place to live and work.”

The event is sponsored by KTA Superstores, Hawaii Radiology, Big Island Toyota, HPM Building Supply, HFS Federal Credit Union, Atlas Insurance and Target in Kailua-Kona.

All proceeds from the event directly benefit the YWCA Hawaii Island Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS) program, the only 24-hour, 7-days a week rape crisis center for the island. SASS services are free and include crisis counseling, therapy for assault victims and their families, and violence prevention education for schools and the community.

March participants are asked to report to the kick-off sites by 7:30 a.m. to register, select their shoes and warm up for the walk.  All participants must complete an entry form and submit a $25 fee.  The community is invited to participate in the event and help raise funds to meet the $25,000 goal.  For more information, visit ywcahawaiiisland.org or call the YWCA Hawaii Island office at 935-7141.

About the YWCA Hawaii Island
YWCA Hawaii Island is a not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is the elimination of racism and empowerment of women.  Established in 1919, the organization offers services and programs which include: a nationally accredited preschool; the only Teen Court for the Big Island; and the only home visitation program to prevent child abuse and neglect for 0-3 year olds in all of East Hawai’i.

The YWCA Hawaii Island is part of the YWCA USA, the oldest and largest national women’s organization with the mission of empowering women and eliminating racism.  Nationally, the YWCA represents 2 million women, girls and their families in the US each year.  Globally, the YWCA USA is a member of World YWCA, which has affiliates in over 100 countries that serve 25 million women and girls worldwide.