Letters for Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Our people have spoken

Our Kaua‘i Lifeguard Association’s First Wave fundraiser exceeded its goal of raising money for four Jet Skis and three ATVs for our lifeguards. Our Board of Directors will be meeting next week to determine which ocean safety causes/efforts will be benefiting from your all’s over-the-top generosity.

I need to make a couple of points. First, I am a rather simple man, a rural ER doctor who has an interest (I guess you could all it a passion) for trying to impact what I call Kaua‘i’s ocean safety challenge.

Prior to our fundraiser, I and a small group of ocean safety colleagues (without whom, by the way, I would be nothing in this effort) have worked diligently and doggedly for over two decades, trying to figure out and implement strategies to address this challenge.

I have therefore been somewhat overwhelmed by the public’s outpouring of aloha for this cause.

The outpouring was worthy of celebration — and also for me, it was a somewhat sobering realization that KLA’s leadership in this effort has a large number of people behind us and pulling for us and opening their hearts and wallets for us. KLA will do our best to merit the respect you have given us, that much I can promise. And I believe that our mayor has it right: together we can.

A second point I need to emphasize is that the public’s donation to the KLA, for the purchase of equipment for our lifeguards, must not be construed as evidence that our county government has been delinquent in providing this equipment.

A few people have mentioned to me their concern about this. Quite the contrary. Our county government, extending through several mayoral and council administrations, has been nothing short of exemplary in its upgrading of Kaua‘i’s Ocean Safety Division.

There are a lot of facts and figures that I could present to make this clear, but I want to keep this piece fairly short.

I simply therefore ask the public to understand that this donation and outpouring must be seen in only a positive light, i.e. our people have spoken and they demand to be in partnership with our county government in addressing the very challenging and multi-factorial problem we suffer from with regards to ocean safety.

Interestingly, there will need to be personnel additions and adjustments in the Ocean Safety Division in order to effectively utilize all this new equipment.

I am pleased to note that these nuts and bolts issues will be in good hands under the leadership of our Fire Chief Bob Westerman and our Ocean Safety Supervisor Kalani Vierra.

Our event organizers — Andy Melamed, Roberta Charles, Dave Rullo, Julian Coyner, Melinda Uohara, and Jim Jung pulled this event off, way beyond anything I have ever been a part of. Other than acknowledging Kaua‘i’s Rotary Clubs’ extraordinary contributions — on many levels — to this event and to Kaua‘i’s overall ocean safety challenge, I am not going to specifically thank anyone else for their effort and contribution, for fear of making a glaring omission. Generically however, I appreciate this opportunity to publicly thank each and all of you — our sponsors and our donors and our event volunteers and our security personnel and our entertainers; and everyone who attended and the many who could not attend but who care deeply about this issue.

I have had the opportunity in my 40 years in the Wilcox ER to meet many victims’ families. Quite a number of them have asked me to please try and use their tragedy as a stimulus for figuring out how to prevent tragedy for future families.

I feel very blessed to have been part of a team that has been trying to do this. I now feel more blessed than ever to learn that a huge part of our Kaua‘i community, including not only people in powerful positions but also common working people like you and me, stand together in our determination to try and minimize untimely and unnecessary tragedies in our waters and on our beautiful beaches.

It has proven to be a very tough nut to crack, for a large number of reasons, as far as overall statistics go. On the other hand, there is no doubt that many families have been spared because of our efforts, and we will use your generosity to ever-increase the number of spared families.

I obviously experience other types of tragedies in my work (e.g. untimely deaths from car accidents and drug abuse and illnesses of all types), and in being a “one-issue person” I don’t intend to minimize the efforts that are needed in these other areas.

All I can say is “It takes a village,” and when we all care about each other like we are demonstrating with Kaua‘i’s ocean safety issue, we will truly be “One island, many peoples, all Kauaians.”

So, our First Wave Celebration is in the books. Will there be a Second Wave?

Well, although there can be rogue waves, most waves usually come in sets.

So our KLA Board of Directors will let the dust settle and take some deep breaths, and we will keep you posted.

Thank you all again for your caring and your aloha.

Dr. Monty Downs, Kaua‘i Lifeguard Association

Green Harvest wastes money, scares pets

I have a 150-pound great Dane, who is also terrified by the low-flying choppers from Green Harvest — he was in a panic last week when Princeville agricultural subdivision was besieged by this activity.

Seeing how animals react to this I can only imagine how war veterans must feel. 

Even as an innocent civilian Green Harvest circling my home feels like an attack every single time they conduct one of their missions and waste more of the tax payers money. 

Petrina Blakely, Princeville

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