Gateway project needs volunteer help

A single figure, weed-whacker in hand, attacks a bougainvillea stand that threatens to overwhelm a small plot along Ahukini Road.

The vehicle parked nearer the gateway signs at the intersection of Ahukini and Kapule Highway, with a lonesome lawn mower waiting for someone to fire it up, gives a clue as to who that solitary figure might be.

It is a county van, and on a hot, sunny Sunday afternoon earlier this month, Eddie Sarita and his gas-powered helper worked to tame the bougainvillea.

Sarita is manager of the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall, head of the county’s volunteer Ho’olokahi program, and coordinator of various volunteer groups and individuals who have signed on to help maintain stretches of Ahukini and Kapule known as the gateway project.

On this Sunday, he looks like he is trying to maintain the entire gateway himself.

In some real ways, he is.

Volunteers are still needed, not only to sign on for commitments to maintain small stretches of the gateway, but to help those who have already signed up to help.

“We need a few more groups” to volunteer, said Mayor Maryanne Kusaka, who earlier convinced the federal government to for the first time ever, anywhere, agree to allow volunteer hours worked serve as a county’s matching-funds share in a highways beautification project that received federal funds.

Those who are already volunteering need to keep track of their hours spent maintaining the gateway, as those volunteer hours translate into those matching funds, Kusaka said earlier.

Funds from the annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk are or will be used to buy boots, gloves and other equipment, to be used by Kauai Community Correctional Center inmates volunteering to maintain the gateway, said Kusaka.

Recently, the Poipu Beach Foundation received a $3,200 grant from the Hawaii Hotel Association to assist in buying equipment for maintenance of the gateway.

Those funds came from the charity walk as well.

Regular volunteer hours are the third and fourth Saturday of each month. Sarita has sent maps, rules and procedures to each volunteer group.

But more volunteers are still needed, Kusaka stressed.

Groups or individuals interested in volunteering may call Sarita, 241-6623.

In the meantime, Kusaka drives on nearly a daily basis the portions of Kapule and Ahukini defined as the gateway. “I’m like the inspector general,” she said.

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