We fortunately escaped hurricanes Guillermo and Hilda, but were hit with some heavy rains by Tropical Depression Kilo, which found its way into my living room floor via a leaky roof. Hurricane Ignacio is weakening and Jimena is still looming farther to the east in the Pacific Ocean. Please keep emergency preparedness at the top of mind given that hurricane season doesn't end until November 30, 2015. This is why the Get Ready Ewa Beach - 5th Annual Emergency Preparedness Fair is an important event to attend. It's free and provides information on preparing for emergency situations. It will be on September 5th from 9am to 1pm at the Ewa Makai Middle School. For more information, email email@example.com or call 682-0111.
I won't be hosting my Listen-Story meeting in September and October, but please stay tuned for future meeting dates.
I met with Suzanne Case, the Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, on August 19th to discuss an issue that has come up regarding the site for the future East Kapolei High School.
In 2013, the State Legislature appropriated $5 million for the planning and design of the school. The Department of Education's plan is to build the school off Farrington Highway across the street from Tokai International College and UH West O‘ahu. This is a great spot because it will encourage collaboration between the high school and the neighboring colleges.
There's been some back and forth on whether DLNR would commit the 77-acre parcel of land for the high school, given that there could be commercial uses for the land. A big mahalo to Ms. Case, because she informed me at our meeting that DLNR is willing to give the DOE at least half of the 77-acres. This will make the school a reality and will help address overcrowding at area high schools and allow for continued growth of our community.
Our next task will be working to get the construction funding for the high school in the state budget.
I spoke at the 23rd annual Hawaii Conservation Conference on August 6th at UH Hilo. This event brings together over 1,000 natural and cultural resource managers, scientists, community members, students, and educators who work together for the protection and stewardship of Hawaiian ecosystems.
As the new Water, Land, and Agriculture Committee Chair, I'm doing site tours across the state to see DLNR programs up close. On August 7th, I went on a site tour of the Big Island and visited the Hilo Forest Reserve & Nene Recovery Site, Upper Waikea Forest Reserve/Timber Mgt. Area, and Kulani-Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve.
On August 18th, I visited the Super Sucker in Kaneohe Bay with the DLNR Aquatic Resources team. In 2005, The Nature Conservancy partnered with DLNR to develop the Super Sucker, which can remove more than 1,000 pounds of invasive algae an hour; it has removed more than 1 million pounds of algae from Kaneohe Bay since it came online.
Here's how it works: two divers equipped with a 100-foot hose go below the ocean surface and feed the invasive algae into a vacuum, which sucks it up to a sorting platform where it is placed into bags, dried and distributed to local farmers for fertilizer. The Super Sucker crew then seed the reefs with native sea urchins that feed on the algae and keep it from growing back. It was fun jumping in the water and seeing them sucking up "smothering seaweed" which multiplies very rapidly and destroys coral reefs.
I got the opportunity to surprise some "old tennis buddies", Vailima and Jerry Watson, with an honorary certificate from the State Senate at the Kalihi District Park tennis courts on August 13th.
In 1991, Ms. Watson stepped forward to help launch the Kalihi Youth Tennis Program at Kōkua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services (KKV) to help the young people in that community. For 25 years, Vailima and her husband, Jerry Watson, have mentored over 1,000 youth of all ages, providing the attention, and care Kalihi youth need and deserve. Through tennis, they uplift each participant's talents and greater potential, against a backdrop of sportsmanship and fun.
Since 2006, the Watsons have also coached the Farrington High School tennis team. With their "no cut" policy, all youth are welcome and no one is turned away from the opportunity to learn, practice and compete. Partnering with schools, parks, and athletic leagues and clubs, the program has produced USTA Jr. Team Tennis teams known for their sportsmanship. Youth are provided with character-building experiences through health education, social development lessons, and community service. Team members are expected to keep up their grades, fulfill team commitments, and help out in community service projects year-round.
Mahalo to the Watsons for their accomplishments in nurturing and preparing the future leaders of our community. Their humility, grounded in faith and love, is a model to inspire us all.
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