Awarding ‘The uncles’

POIPU — Sandi Kato-Klutke, a former planning commissioner, said some of the elderly people in Kekaha have no electric bills.

A project which spanned several years resulting in about 200 homes in Kekaha having photovoltaic systems installed earned “the uncles,” including Pat Pereira, Garrett Agena, Dennis Eguchi and Buddie Ayudan, the annual Mea Hoomanao award Thursday night during the Kauai Chamber of Commerce 3rd quarter meeting at the Sheraton Kauai Resort in Poipu.

“These men, all retired, went out and hosted community meetings on the project,” said Beth Tokioka, a new chamber board member and nominator. “I don’t like doing community meetings when it’s my job. These people went out and did it, determined in their goal.”

During the project, the uncles worked with Kauai County leaders in getting $750,000 appropriated (through the host community fund) for the photovoltaic systems to be installed.

“We got unbelievable support from the community,” Agena said. “Not everyone was for the project, but the majority of the people were for it, and when you get this kind of support, there is no way you can fail. We also got the support from the mayor and the county council.”

Agena said under the scope of the project, the PV systems would be installed on homes with the elderly and residents living in Kekaha the longest getting priority.

“There are some elderly residents who now don’t have any electric bills,” Kato-Klutke, who sat on the Planning Commission during the project’s execution said. “In fact, there are some residents who produce more electric than they need so it gets put back into the system.”

Ayudan referred to the words of keynote speaker John White, executive director for Pacific Resource Partnership.

“There is always hope,” Ayudan said. “Without the people, none of this kind of things can happen. We always remember to walk in the shoes of others.”

The Mea Hoomanao award was created by former Mayor Bryan Baptiste who wanted people to always remember aloha and the aloha spirit, the vision being enhanced by Larry Rivera who created his “Aloha Begins with Me” mele in commemoration of Baptiste’s vision.

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