FireWise on town meeting agenda

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
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An 80-acre fire last week which caused evacuations in Waikoloa has prompted Waimea Community Association to schedule a FireWise presentation at its 5:15 p.m. Thursday, March 1 Town Meeting in Waimea School Cafeteria.

FireWise teaches communities how to adapt to living with wildfire and encourage neighbors to work together to prevent losses.  Given the very real danger throughout South Kohala due to the ongoing drought and high winds, WCA President Sherman Warner has invited Denise Laitinen to do a presentation.

FireWise is a program co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, the US Department of the Interior, and the National Association of State Foresters. It is premised on the belief that brush, grass or forest fires don’t have to be disasters. The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) FireWise Communities program encourages local solutions for wildfire safety by involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, firefighters, and others in the effort to protect people and property from wildfire risks.

NFPA’s FireWise communities embrace the approach that everyone has a role to play in protecting and minimizing or preventing the risk of wildfire.

Many Hawaii Island communities and neighborhoods have participated in FireWise training.

As always, everyone is welcome to attend WCA Town Meetings and there are no longer membership dues. Instead, voluntary donations are encouraged to support WCA’s activities including an informative community website: that includes a comprehensive community calendar of coming events and links to many community schools and not-for-profit and public service organizations.

All who attend WCA monthly Town Meetings are asked to help continue the association’s commitment to help Waimea’s food pantries by bringing a donation – preferably cash or a check – or non-perishable food items.

For information, call WCA President Sherman Warner (885-1725) or go to


Solomon to hold mid-legislative session update

Sen. Malama Solomon will begin a mandated five-day legislative recess with a community update from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 23 at the Kamuela Vacuum Cooling Plant. The public is invited to share their thoughts and concerns about legislative priorities while there is still time to amend bills before First Decking on March 2, and First Crossover on March 8.

Sen. Solomon has invited representatives of several state agencies to participate in a discussion of issues that are high on the 2012 legislative agenda, including State Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Director Paki Nahalea, Department of Agriculture Deputy Director Jimmy Nakatani, DOT’s Hawaii District Airports Manager Chauncey Wong Yuen, and Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Robert Lindsey.

The community is invited to discuss any issue of concern, including public education, job creation, watershed protection and related game animal concerns, expediting geothermal and other alternative energy resource development, mortgage relief, taxation, etc.  Also up for discussion will be major Capital Improvement Project (CIP) requests and ongoing CIP projects including improvements to Queen Kaahumanu Highway, Kawaihae Harbor and agricultural water systems.

Kamuela Vacuum Cooling Plant is located on Mamalahoa Highway townside of Lalamilo Farm Lots. The cooling plant has large bay entry doors so warm jackets are suggested and hot coffee will be provided. For more information or to express your thoughts about specific bills, contact Sen. Solomon toll free: 974-4000 Ext. 67335, or email [email protected].


Fuata selected as new Civil Defense Administrator

Hawaii Army National Guard Col. Benedict Fuata has been selected as the next Civil Defense Administrator for the County of Hawaii.

Fuata, 50, has been the Commander of the Army Aviation Support Facility in Hilo since 1993. He is also the Guard’s director for logistics. He will transition from his previous position at the National Guard during the coming weeks. Fuata replaces Quince Mento, who retired Dec. 1. John Drummond, an administrative officer at Civil Defense, has been serving as acting administrator since Mento’s retirement.

The Civil Defense administrator directs and coordinates the development and administration of the county’s emergency preparedness and response program to ensure prompt and effective action when natural or man-caused disaster threaten or impact Hawaii Island.

Fuata was born and raised in Honolulu and is a 1979 graduate of Damien Memorial High School. He graduated from the University of Santa Clara in Santa Clara, Calif., with a degree in political science, and received his masters degree in organizational management in 2000 from the University of Phoenix. He serves as a board member for the Hawaii Island Home for Recovery.

“I’m honored to take this position, and I am looking forward to the challenge,” said Fuata. “Hawaii County Civil Defense is a first-class operation, and I hope I can do the office justice. But with 29 years of military training, I will be able to adapt.”

Mayor Kenoi said Fuata was chosen from a pool of outstanding finalists. “Col. Fuata brings to the county impressive credentials, both professionally and as a public servant,” said Mayor Kenoi. “He is a proven leader who will only enhance an outstanding agency and public safety team.”


Dr. Beachcomb offers workshops

Eco-educator, author and leading beachcomb expert, Dr. Deacon Ritterbush (aka “Dr. Beachcomb”) will kick-off a spring series of beachcomb lectures, workshops and field classes with a talk titled Beachcomb Treasures: Portals to The Past at 7 p.m. Friday, Mar. 9 at Kenji’s House in Kappau. Subsequent lectures on sea glass and the importance of context in beachcombing will be held Apr. 6 and May 4. Lectures are free and followed by beach treasure I.D. sessions and author signings of her gold medal book, “A Beachcomber’s Odyssey.”  A portion of proceeds will benefit Kenji’s House programs.

Beach arts workshops and field trips to Kona and Hamakua beaches are fee based. Space is limited and pre-registration is required.


Risk management training for farmers, ranchers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency and University of Hawaii are offering two Waimea seminars to benefit farmers and ranchers.

The first program is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday Mar. 26 at Waimea Civic Center Conference room at 65-5189 Kamamalu Road. John Hewelett, ranch and farm management specialist with University of Wyoming will discuss Ag Risk-5 and the tools available for managing risk on Hawaii farms. Jeff Tranel, agricultural business and economist with Colorado  State University will join Tranel in a discussion of Enterprise Risk Analyzer, a tool to help island operators estimate cost and returns, break-even price and break-even yield and enterprise risk exposure.

The second program is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday Mar. 26 also at the Waimea Civic Center Conference Room. Participants will practice using the Enterprise Risk Analyzer tool using actual farm records of case study information to see how their operations compare to the others. They will also learn to analyze their own records, evaluate risk exposure and more.

To register, contact Mark Thorne at University of Hawaii Kamuela extension by calling 887-6183 or emailing [email protected].

These same programs will be repeated 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Mar. 27 at Keaau Community Center at 16-186 Pii Mua Street.


North Kohala library plans history talks

North Kohala Public Library in Kapaau will host two talk story sessions at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27 and 6:30 p.m. Mar. 12. with North Kohala historian Boyd D. Bond.

The Feb. 27 session will focus on the royal women of Hawaii. At the Mar. 12 presentation, Bond will discuss the story of Kohala,  giving an overview of the history of Kohala from its beginnings to the present.

Bond’s knowledge of Hawaii’s history stems from his academic studies and from a lifetime spent in Hawaii as a sixth generation descendent of early western settlers in Hawaii. Boyd was raised in Hawaii in a sugar plantation family, living on plantations throughout the state.

Bond has always been involved in the study of Hawaiian history. “I can’t ever remember a time when I wasn’t immersed in it,” he said. “Many of the stories of Hawaii’s history are also our family stories.”  Bond earned a BA in Hawaiian history from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and went on to earn a master’s degree in education.

Call the North Kohala Public Library at 889-6655 for more information about this popular lecture series.  Contact the library three weeks in advance if a sign language interpreter or other special accommodation is required.


Swim, bike, run, build

AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America member Erin Stephens will take on the Ironman Honu 70.3 Triathlon to raise funds and awareness for Habitat for Humanity’s upcoming Blitz Build.

AmeriCorps VISTA is a national service program designed specifically to fight poverty. As a member, Stephens has committed to serving Habitat for Humanity full-time for one year.

She will start the 1.2-mile swim at Hapuna Beach State Park, ride 56 miles on Queen Kaahumanu Highway to Hawi, and finish with a 13.1-mile run.

“Taking on such an endurance event is such a thrill to me,” said Stephens. “It is a way I can contribute to the amazing feat of a Blitz Build my affiliate is setting out to achieve.”

In September, Habitat for Humanity West Hawaii will build five houses in ten days at Lai Opua in Kailua-Kona during the Blitz Build.

From now until race day, Stephens will be fundraising. All donations will go directly toward the new windows, doors, walls, and roofs for the homes being built.

“It is inspiring to see Erin, who hails from Boston and has done the Boston Marathon, use her strengths to make a difference in our community,” said Patrick Hurney, Executive Director for Habitat.

To support Stephens, visit or mail a check to Habitat for Humanity West Hawaii, P.O. Box 4619 Kailua-Kona, HI 96745. Checks can be made out to Habitat for Humanity West Hawaii and noted “VISTA Ironman.”