Mayor tells of county’s plans in drug battle

Mayor Bryan Baptiste outlined several plans the county has going to help in the battle against drugs.

First, he said, it’s important to get support from legislators who represent Hawaii and Kauai at the local, state and federal levels. He said some strong support has come from U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye. Also, Baptiste said that many businesses have called the county asking how to support programs.

Kauai needs a drug treatment facility. “We are not looking at Mahelona,” Baptiste said. Rather, with support and funding from a group of churches and faith-based groups, county- or state-owned land could be used.

Baptiste said the “Punana” program (the word means “nest” in Hawaiian) could help recently-released inmates transition back into the community with transitional living environments, also known as “clean-and-sober houses.” Homes would be constructed and rented to the individuals, who would have to follow certain rules. The homes would be built on 10n15-acre parcels, Baptiste said. Punana, modeled after the KCCC gardening project, will let inmates grow and sell produce and learn entrepreneurial skills.

Baptiste said that Kauai has been guaranteed the placement of two agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency.

He’s also reviewing a list of proposed legislation from the Law Enforcement Coalition and is accepting ideas from the public to add to the proposals.

Lastly, Baptiste said the county is very close to getting funding to purchase a number of 15-passenger vans that can be used to transport kids to safe, drug-free activities during the evening hours.

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