Senate WAM Committee Visits Hawaiʻi Island

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The Hawaiʻi Senators that form the Committee on Ways and Means took a three-day tour of the Island of Hawaiʻi beginning on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017.

Hawaii Senators arrive at UH Hilo School of Pharmacy

WAM members on island are Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz (chair), Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran (vice chair), Sen. J. Kalani English, Sen. Brickwood Galuteria, Sen. Kaiali‘i Kahele, Sen. Lorraine Inouye, Sen. Michelle Kidani, Sen. Gil Riviere, Sen. Maile Shimabukuro and Sen. Glenn Wakai.

WAM members spent most of the day on the west side of the Big Island. They started at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaiʻi Authority in Kailua-Kona where they took a quick tour of the facility and talked about the 2017 to 2019 operating budget as well as Capital Improvement Projects to improve and upgrade their seawater system.

After the NEHLA tour, the Senators went to Kohala High School in Kapa‘au, where they discussed the condition of the current gymnasium and current CIPs for planning and design for a possible new gym.


After the high school visit, they had lunch at the Kohala Institute where they learned about sustainable food and water systems in Kohala.

Dr. Susan Jarvi talks about the dire need for funding to help control Rat Lung Disease.

After a quick stop at the Kamuela Vacuum Cooling Plant, the Senators went to Waimea Middle Public Charter School, where they had the chance to view the new STEM classroom building and meet with the principal and faculty.

After visiting the charter school, the Senators made their way up the Hāmākua Coast and stopped off at Richard Ha’s medical marijuana site, Lau Ola LLC, where they learned about requirements and unknowns of the industry and took a short tour of his farm.

Earlier in the day, the Senators took a tour of Banyan Drive and learned about the Banyan Drive Redevelopment Master Plan. After the tour, they stopped at the state’s Historic Preservation Office (Hilo office), where they learned about recent crimes in the area and the need to have a more secured location or security there.


The Senators then went to Hawaiʻi Community College and discussed and listened to future plans and construction details at the college.

The Senators then went to the UH Hilo School of Pharmacy where they met with Dr. Susan Jarvi and discussed the dangers of Rat Lung Disease and the importance of securing more funds for this island.

The Senators at Hale ʻAlahonua

The Senators then visited the new student dorm at UH Hilo (Hale ʻAlahonua) where they learned about the adjoining parcel next to UH Hilo and listened to a presentation about a proposed “UHH Vulcan Village.”

After leaving the student lounge at the dorm, they walked across the street and met with the Associated Student Body Student Representatives in a closed-door meeting.


The WAM members next stop was at Waiakeawaena Elementary School where they had lunch and discussed the lieutenant bovernor’s Farm-to-School Program and other plans to renovate and/or expand or build a new cafeteria.

They then went to Lanakila Homes where they saw the completed phase of 3A and the start of Phase 3B/4—which is four new buildings, approximately 16 units.

The Senators then went to the Hawaiʻi Community Correctional Center where they learned about overcrowding and the future relocation to an alternate site in Panaewa, near Kulani Prison. They also discussed CIPs and the construction of new medium security housing unit.

The Senators concluded their second day at the Hilo Medical Center where they checked out the cardiology unit and discussed funding needed to complete a cardiac catheter lab to treat stroke and heart attack patients, rather than medivac the patients to Oʻahu or Maui.

The Senators headed to the Puna area on Saturday, Oct. 28.

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