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Waimea Town Meeting to Explore ‘Game-Changers’

July 9, 2019, 9:13 AM HST
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The Waimea Community Association Town Meeting on Thursday, July 11, 2019, will explore two game-changing opportunities: hydrogen-powered buses for Hawai‘i County and a hardened emergency shelter for North Hawai‘i.

Everyone is invited to attend the 5:15 to 7 p.m. meeting in Waimea School Cafeteria to learn more about these possibilities and what the community can do to support them.

Thursday’s Town Meeting will also include an overview of Hawai‘i County Parks & Recreation programs, services, challenges and opportunities led by P&R Director Roxcie Waltjen. She will discuss progress and challenges as the community has settled into using the new Waimea District Park, including current repair of the field. She also will update attendees on vandalism repairs at Waimea Park, progress and issues with other community P&R facilities and programs, including the Waimea Senior Center and Waimea Community Center.

The county will also will address community priorities, including what it will take to secure funding for a hurricane-hardened emergency shelter for the district.

“Given how our island and the entire planet are experiencing more severe storms more frequently, it’s concerning that Hawai‘i Island has only one seriously hardened emergency shelter and it’s in Ka‘ū,” said WCA President Patti Cook.

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“We are grateful that County Councilmembers Val Poindexter and Dr. Tim Richards, and County Parks and Recreation leadership are talking about how to involve the community in working together to pursue blending our urgent need for an emergency shelter with our need for additional recreation facilities,” said Cook.

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Next on the agenda will be a basic “Science 101” lesson about hydrogen as a transportation fuel by Blue Planet Research Director Paul Ponthieux. Learning more about hydrogen is very timely because of the exciting potential it has for transforming the county bus system rather quickly. Using hydrogen would scale down the island’s dependence on burning fossil fuels for transportation, and thereby reduce carbon emissions and climate impacts.

“This isn’t a far-horizon idea,” said Cook. “Hydrogen is already used for transportation all around the world, and contrary to what some think about when the word “hydrogen” is mentioned, aka, the Hindenburg explosion, it’s a fuel that must, of course, be respected, but it’s less dangerous than what we use today in most of our cars.”

Ponthieux will explain why this is so and how we can produce hydrogen right here on island, eliminating the need to ship it in.

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An added reason to learn more about hydrogen is the fact that Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and the University of Hawai‘i have both committed to giving hydrogen buses to the county to help kick-start such a transition.

As usual, the Waimea Town Meeting will include a community safety update by Hawai’i County Community Policing, and a briefing by Hawai’i County Fire Department as we move into the dry season.

The spotlighted nonprofit will be Annunciation Church Food Pantry. Its volunteers provide food for the community every Tuesday morning and, during the school year, backpacks for food-insecure families to help them through long weekends.

As always, everyone is welcome to Waimea Town Meetings. Membership in the community association is not required though is always urged to support the organization’s community information activities.

Starbucks coffee and cookies will be provided.

For more information, go online.

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