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Waimea Town Meeting Will Focus on Post-High School Education

February 2, 2019, 12:30 PM HST
* Updated February 1, 12:57 PM
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More than 30 years ago, North and West Hawai‘i residents started asking the University of Hawai‘i and
State Legislature to make post-high school education accessible and affordable for residents who lived long distances from Hilo-based college and university options. Many—from anxious parents to school teachers and administrators to employers and regular citizens—wanted post-secondary education programs and services on par with those available in Honolulu and East Hawai‘i.

It took years of community advocacy to finally celebrate the construction of a campus at Palamanui above Keahole Airport, and it was just the beginning. Also serving North Hawai’i residents is a smaller campus called North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center (NHERC) in Honoka‘a. Today, both areproviding exciting learning opportunities, including distance learning connectivity to campuses and programs statewide.

To help the Waimea/North Hawai‘i community become more familiar with the wide array of programs and services available, and to listen to current-day community needs and priorities, HCC Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas, Ed.D will be the lead speaker at Waimea Community Association’s Town Meeting, Thurs., Feb. 7, 2019, from 5:15 to 7 p.m. in Waimea School cafeteria.

Solemsaas was appointed HCC Chancellor by the UH Regents in 2016. Joining her will be the new
Interim Director of the Palamanui campus, Kalei Haleamau-Kam.

“Chancellor Solemsaas is a powerhouse educator who is totally committed to throwing the doors wide open to the community—to improve access and affordability and to try to meet the needs and dreams of residents across the age and interest spectrum,” said Kathy Damon, a long time educator and HCC advocate from Waimea. “I’m very excited about her willingness to try new things, and to think about more and better ways to help residents use education to improve their quality of life.

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Also on the agenda will be a 20-minute briefing by the volunteer Chair of the Hawai‘i County Charter
Commission, Douglass Adams, about the ongoing charter review.

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“Doug’s talk will be about ‘the process, not specific charter issues,” said WCA President Patti Cook.
“Understanding the process and thinking about desired outcomes will be our focus. We asked Mr. Adams to let the community know what the charter review is about, what the legal requirements are, and how to participate, most notably how to work with members of the commission to consider issues or ideas of particular interest. He also will review the timeline. While the final proposed amendments won’t be on the ballot until November 2020, which seems like a long way off, the decisions about what will be included will be made very soon.”

The commission will hold a series of six public hearings around the island to give residents an opportunity to comment on specific amendments proposed or that should be considered. Dates for these public hearings are still being finalized, but are expected to occur in late March, early April. Thereafter, the commission will finalize its recommendations for County Council review.

Waimea/North Hawai‘i residents serving on the charter review commission this time around include Dr.
Billy Bergin and Kit Roehrig. Others on the commission include Michelle Galimba, Paul K. Hamano,
Kevin Hopkins, Bobby Jean Leithead Todd, Sally Rice, Donna Mae Springer, Marcia Saquing and
Jennifer Leilani Zelko-Schlueter.

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As usual at WCA Town Meetings, Waimea’s County Council members Dr. Tim Richards and Val
Poindexter will provide an update on county business, and Community Policing Officer Kelena Ho’okano will provide a public safety report.

Membership is not required to attend WCA Town Meetings but is encouraged. It’s $15/year for individuals; $25/year for families or businesses and is a tax deductible donation to the extent permitted by law.

WCA will continue to hold monthly town meetings throughout 2019 on the first Thursday of each month except in July when the meeting will be held on the second Thursday, July 11, 2019, to avoid Independence Day celebrations.

For more information, go online or email Patti Cook at [email protected] or call (808) 937-2833.

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