Making For A Safer Haleilio Walk

Koloa residents Louie Abrams and Teddy Blake, county engineer Larry Dill, Koloa Elementary School principal Debbie Lindsey, Kaua'i Complex Area Schools superintendent Bill Arakaki, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and general contractor Robby Rask at a blessing of the installation of Kaua'i's first In-Roadway Warning Light

Though it’s posted as 25 mph, Haleilio Road at times is more like the Autobahn of the Wailua Houselots. It seems residents have gotten used to and accepted the cacophony of motorcycles, raised trucks and even buses racing by at what appears (and sounds like) twice the speed limit.

Though you’d think it would be like shooting fish in a barrel to have a police car armed with a speed radar gun parked there at any given hour, what concerns me are the keiki. They are either walking home from the bus stop wearing iPod earbuds, or heading to the beach, Boogie board tucked under the arm, making a path between the rushing cars on the street and the grass, seemingly oblivious to the dangers of being a pedestrian without a sidewalk.

Perhaps those of us in the Houselots can look to the community stewardship of South Shore and Koloa residents Teddy Blake, Koloa Elementary School principal Debbie Lindsey, Kaua’i Complex Area superintendent Bill Arakaki and Haunani Ka’imina’auao Their efforts have helped expedite a Koloa pedestrian safety project, which has resulted in an enhanced crosswalk system fronting Koloa Elementary School. The county recently began installing Kaua’i’s first In-Roadway Warning Light (IRWL) system, helping further expedite the Safe Routes to School initiative. County administrators lauded residents for coming together and lobbying for the change, and for being proactive in their community. Well done, Koloa …

I’ve got to hand it to REC Solar, which recently completed its 1.21-megawatt photovoltaic installation, the largest system of its kind in the state. Of course, worth a nod as well are partners Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative and Kapa’a Solar LLC. Citing it as an example of how good things can happen when collaboration is encouraged, Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. says Kaua’i is setting an example when it comes to energy efficiency: “We’re on our way, thanks to the community, businesses and government stepping up to the plate.” When finished, the facility could power 300 homes. Though this is just a small step toward fulfilling KIUC‘s commitment to generating 50 percent of the island’s power from renewable energy by the year 2023, it’s a step in the right direction …

Mike Dahilig, Beth Tokioka, Mayor Carvalho and Larry Dill at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Kapa'a Solar LLC

As for the months-long buzz surrounding the proposed harnessing of hydropower from Wailua River, let’s hope the assessments for environmental impact are done well and help edify the public before the topic becomes more stale and further fueled by emotion. While I don’t want to see the sacred waters of Wailua adversely affected by a dam, if we keep consuming energy at our current rate, we will further affect climate change and alter our rainfall patterns. The warm air that comes off the sea meets the cold air over Mount Wai’ale’ale and keeps it shrouded in clouds, which brings us mauka showers. If that collision of temperatures is lost, we will lose our rainfall. According to some climate change models, that will happen as the cold air moves higher and away from the warm air. It seems if we don’t change our habits, not only would Wailua River cease flowing, but so would Hanalei, Waimea or any of our great rivers. It seems regardless of what we decide, our current lifestyle will cost us something precious …

It’s with renewable energy in mind that state Sen. Ron Kouchi, who recently was selected to represent the Hawai’i state Senate in this year’s National Conference of State Legislators annual Legislative Leadership seminar in Washington, D.C., met with U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka to discuss possible projects. Also while in D.C, Kouchi met with Marie Blanco of U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye‘s office looking into repairing the breach in Hanalei River, noting that a study is funded and the county awaits its report. Kouchi also took time to meet with U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono. The conference is comprised of state legislators representing all U.S. states and meets once a year to confer with federal legislators to exchange information about issues affecting the nation as a whole. Kouchi also was one in a select group of state legislators chosen to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House …

It appears as though the East side is taking the lead not only across the island but across the state in terms of tolerance. Kapa’a High School has the first certified Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) in Hawaii, according to YWCA Kaua’i director Renae Hamilton. The state Department of Education helped make this a possibility, and grants helped fund a joint program between the Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii and Kaua’i Youth Network (KYN), a youth-driven program for ages 15-24. While the youths decided to target part of their focus on discrimination and bullying in schools, some within KYN came up with the idea of starting a GSA in Kaua’i schools. This comes roughly a year after the first Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) chapter was started on Kaua’i. Hamilton hopes to help establish safe zones at each school, and hopefully start GSAs at the other two public high schools. Malama Pono teamed up with PFLAG and within the KYN won$15,000 in grants, and recently sponsored training on how to help LGBT students in need of support. Data show bullying and harassment of all students – not just LGBT students – decreases when there is a GSA at the school … Kaua’i District superintendent Bill Arakaki is providing the opportunity to meet and train all principals and vice principals from elementary level all the way up …

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