Hilo Public Service Announcement: Toys For Tots Run and Rally is Dec. 14

The Rock and Roll Motorcycle Club will host it’s 13th Annual Hilo Toys For Tots Run And Rally on Sunday, Dec. 14. All motorcycle and vintage car owners will be leaving Walmart parking lot at 10 a.m. For a short run to Aunty Sally’s Luau House, where they will collect toys, eat and listen to live music. For more information, contact Ellsworth Fontes at (808) 895-6467.

*** Commentary *** Waiting With Bated Breath For Announcement of Mayor’s Department Head Pick(s)

Much to my dismay, there was no morning announcement from Mayor Billy Kenoi’s office regarding any of the still-to-be-filled county department head positions. Like any other reporter would do, I contacted the mayor’s public information officer (PIO) Hunter Bishop.
Since this is a commentary, I will say that Hunter and I had a good laugh that I am now calling HIM and asking HIM for information for MY blog. Talk about tables being turned. It was just last week that I was in the position of HIM calling ME for news about Council District 5. Now, I get to go back to being the pesky reporter and HE gets to collect/spin the news from the inside.
Mayor Billy has made a decision on one of the vacant department head positions, PIO Hunter said this morning. But, after some prodding and asking the question a few different ways to try and get him to slip up and reveal more information, Hunter was tight lipped.
He said he was working on a press release announcing the filled position, and he didn’t know yet how many eyes had to see it before it could be released to the public. He expects the press release to go out Thursday morning.
I’m especially curious to see who Mayor Billy picks to lead the Departments of Planning, Public Works, and Environmental Management.
Just for the sake of guessing, two names come to mind:
— Roy Takemoto, the former deputy planning director under Chris Yuen who went to work as Mayor Harry Kim’s executive assistant in charge of planning projects, could be tapped to lead Planning.
— Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd, the former Hilo councilwoman who went on to be a Corporation Counsel attorney and then Environmental Management director, could be asked back to head Environmental Management or be asked to lead the Planning Department. (When she was councilwoman, she headed the Council’s planning committee.)
This morning, I was trying to rack my brain as to who Mayor Billy might think to ask to lead Environmental Management. It has to be someone who is ready to hit the ground running and pursue a solution to the unlined Hilo landfill, and hopefully someone progressive enough to think outside of the box for a long-term fix. This is, like Planning and Public Works, one of the most important decisions he will make. In my personal opinion, I do not think an incinerator is the answer. I have stated previously I think the answer is to recycle and reuse as much as possible and line one of the quarries to create a state-of-the-art “wet” landfill that captures and reuses methane and leachate.
As for Parks and Recreation, someone who popped in my head this morning while I was brushing my teeth was Mary Correa, currently a Complex Area Superintendent for the Department of Education (DOE). I didn’t know her until recently when we met trying to mitigate user/ownership issues regarding the Pahoa Ball Field. I was completely and totally impressed with her awareness of the fact that the public does not differentiate between the state and county governments. She had such a can-do attitude about trying to figure out how the county and state can work together to ensure the public doesn’t suffer while the “transition” field passes from the hands of the county to the state. Too often in government, there is a dismissive “no can” to addressing the public’s concerns, and the public has been really concerned about paying exboritant state DOE user fees for the T-ball and Little League games at Pahoa’s only lighted ball field. Mary Correa, in the meeting to address the exboritant fees and the county-state ownership issue, was so contrary to the norm that it was refreshing. She used to work at Ho’okena School in South Kona, so she has firsthand knowledge of the need for schools to fill the community’s recreation void in rural areas. This is such a crucial mindset for a county Parks and Recreation director to have. Just a shot in the dark, but maybe Mayor Billy will see the same quality in Mary Correa that I did.
As for the director of Public Works, I have NO IDEA who Mayor Billy will tap. Of all jobs, that one has to be pretty thankless, especially since that is the person West Hawaii Today editor Reed Flickinger seems to always rake over the coals for the fact that Kona’s roads are in such a state of disrepair and new road construction there moves as slow as, if not slower than, molasses.
I’m interested to read your comments on these yet-to-be-filled county leadership positions. Write away.

About Tiffany Edwards Hunt

Tiffany Edwards Hunt has taken her journalism talent to cyberspace.  A reporter since high school in the early 1990s, Edwards Hunt had a year and a half hiatus from news writing and commentary while working as a legislative aide for Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole.  Edwards Hunt vacated island politics to spend more quality time with her family, to more effectively manage her and her husband’s business and to pursue work on this very website.  
Edwards Hunt finds fulfillment from being active and helpful to her community.  She is past president of both the Big Island Press Club and the Puna Community Medical Center. Currently, she serves on the Mainstreet Pahoa Association board.
Edwards Hunt is a free-lance writer and the advisor for Ke Kalahea, the University of Hawaii-Hilo student newspaper. She previously worked as a reporter for the Laramie Daily Boomerang, the Casper Star Tribune, and the West Hawaii Today.  She has also contributed articles and photographs to Big Island Weekly and the late Hawaii Island Journal.  Along with her newspaper work, Edwards Hunt produced “Politics Aside” on the now off-air KHBC radio.  She received her bachelor’s degree in communications/mass media from the University of Wyoming in 1998.
Contact Edwards Hunt at (808) 938-8592 or via email at newswoman@mac.com.