War Memorial to reopen Friday

LIHUE — Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall is set to reopen Friday, for limited use.

The lobby, two exhibit halls and the conference room will be open for use, while the kitchen and theater will be restricted until repairs are made by the end of May.

“Mahalo to the public for your patience during the convention hall’s closure,” said Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.

The hall was closed at the beginning of the year to undergo asbestos abatement after county employee Charles Rapozo, who worked as a janitor at the hall for nearly 20 years, alerted the county that tiles in certain parts of the hall contained the deadly dust.

Rapozo filed a lawsuit last year saying he was retaliated against for bringing the issue to light and said he was not assigned any work for nearly a year. Instead, he said, he spent his days sitting in his car in the convention hall’s parking lot.

Rapozo was eventually moved to the Historic County Building, where he remains employed by the county. His lawsuit continues.

The scope of the convention hall project was to remove the asbestos-laced floor tiles from the building, install new floor tiles and to also install new ceramic tiles on the kitchen walls, to enhance cleanliness and maintenance, according to a county press release.

Completed by Pacific Concrete Coring &Cutting, Inc., and Creative Partition Systems, the project was slated to cost the County of Kauai $181,000, with an original reopening date scheduled for June 30.

Janice Okubo, spokeswoman for the Hawaii State Department of Health, said a third party was hired to monitor and sign off on the clearance.

“The upgrades and renovations of the convention hall are part of the county’s effort to provide quality customer service, and we are happy to have it open again for limited public use,” Carvalho Jr. said.

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