Kilaueaâ€™s Community CaretakersThe unofficial mayor of Kilauea and his sidekick help solve community problems and make life better for all
Kilauea residents Gary Pacheco and Tom Pickett genuinely care about their community. That’s why they are volunteer members of Kilauea Neighborhood Association – an organization that helps address the North Shore town’s concerns and assists in alleviating issues.
“I don’t know everything, but the major things that concern the community, that’s what I look for,” says Pacheco.
The retired Hawaiian Tel employee and owner of Hawaiian Paradise Flowers has lived in Kilauea his entire life, served as KNA president for seven years and has been with the organization since its inception in the 1970s. At the time, residents were expressing concern over unrestricted beach and mountain access, because when the town’s plantation closed up shop and land was sold, free rein was no longer granted.
“A lot of the old-timers felt they had a right to the beach and the mountains,” recalls Pacheco.
So he orchestrated a way to make that happen and helped create public access points.
More recent issues include regulating traffic and development. One recent case in point was an immense traffic jam in Kilauea because of roadway construction.
By communicating with those involved in the project, Pacheco was instrumental in alleviating traffic woes by convincing them to install a temporary traffic light at the main intersection leading in and out of Kilauea.“I want to help others and I always think of them,” he says.
In fact, Pacheco is so concerned with the well-being of North Shore residents that he is considered Kilauea’s unofficial mayor.
Pickett, owner of Kilauea Bakery and Pau Hana Pizza, also is a longtime resident of Kilauea and enjoys working (and laughing) with Pacheco.
While the two joke around with each other, there is no doubt how serious they are about keeping the community as close-knit as possible.
“You’re interdependent on everybody whether you like it or not,” he says.
Making sure everyone stays satisfied and happy is rewarding for both men.
“It’s a healthy way for a group of people to live,” says Pickett.
Having the ear of county government also doesn’t hurt in maintaining that health.
Whenever new development is proposed, the duo, along with KNA’s other 13 members, make sure to gather community input and share it with all parties involved.
“The KNA can be like a policeman,” says Pacheco.
But it’s not only problems the motivated team tackles. They also assist in holding community activities, such as Christmas caroling and Easter egg hunts.
“We are the only community that does something like this,” says Pacheco regarding the annual door-to-door Christmas caroling. “It brings out the warmth and the old plantation style of the community together.”
Pacheco and Pickett encourage more community members to participate with KNA.
“If you’re a Kilauea neighbor, we want to hear from you,” says Pickett. “The more people we touch, the better it is.”
To be included on the KNA email list, send email addresses to firstname.lastname@example.org.