Goodbye to 2017. We’ll miss you.
It was a good one, in many ways. Lifeguards continued to save lives, people continued to try and help each other, funds were raised for nonprofits, hundreds of dogs and cats were adopted, kupuna showed us how to live with aloha, volunteers rose up, new businesses opened, unemployment dropped to record lows and yes, visitors arrived in record highs.
Sure, there were some not-so-good things. Traffic seemed to get even crazier, North Shore beaches got even more crowded, housing prices climbed, businesses closed, hundreds of dogs and cats still need homes, criminals are still committing crimes, potholes still seem to be everywhere you turn and Coco Palms is still sitting there like it has for the past 25 years.
But hope springs eternal, and 2018 has all the promise to be a great one. Here’s a few things we hope happen in the new year:
w Speaking of Coco Palms, we hope this site finds new life and development plans for it come to fruition. It’s both sad and amazing the shell of the famous resort still stands like it has since it was damaged by Hurricane Iniki in 1992. Something must happen with that land now in dispute in court. We certainly don’t want another 25 years to go by and it continues to remain a reminder of something that once was. A new resort would create jobs and enhance the economy, not to mention help us move forward and stop looking back.
w We find a middle ground in the world of tourism. Our economy depends on tourism. No one disputes that. Without it, jobs will disappear. But too many tourists mars their experience and raises frustration levels for locals. Regardless of what the Hawaii Tourism Authority does, tourists will kept coming to Kauai. It’s a beautiful island. But a marketing plan must take into account the fact that this is a small island and overcrowding will ruin it for everyone. All we’re saying is, moderation is good.
w We lost a good friend in Ric Cox, who passed away in April. The man led the charge for Aloha Angels and did so much for education on Kauai. What this program achieved was nothing short of amazing. In just four years, the nonprofit raised more than $2 million which went to benefit Kauai’s teachers and students. Classrooms were adopted, iPads were donated. Field trips and after-school clubs were funded. Students were motivated and teachers were honored. There are more good people who will do their best to keep Aloha Angels going. They deserve our support.
w That the County of Kauai takes a hard look at its budget and makes the hard decisions necessary to reduce that budget. The budget seems to be climbing steadily every year. Yes, we know all the majority of the money goes to employee wages and benefits. But that only increases the responsibility of our leaders when it comes to finances and, again, making hard decisions in regards to its workforce.
w The Kauai Humane Society finds an executive director who loves animals, excels at managing a budget, leads a staff at a difficult task and connects with the community. And we hope that person sticks around a long time.
w Everyone pitches in to keep our beaches and ocean clean. There are a handful of dedicated volunteers who lead the drive to pick up marine debris, derelict nets and other garbage that washes ashore. But they could use more help. If you see trash where it doesn’t belong, please pick it up. Our natural resources are too precious to litter, and our friends in the ocean — the whales, the turtles, the fish, the monk seals — are counting on us.
w That we all do our best to be physically fit and active. Let’s leave our cars at home every now and then and walk, bike or take the bus to get where we’re going. Let’s get out there and participate in one of the many fun runs around Kauai. Let’s join a canoe club. Volunteer to walk dogs at KHS. When we feel better, we do better. Speaking of fun runs, it’s the 10th anniversary of the Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon in September. It promises to be great, with some surprises in store. Congrats to our friend Jeff Sacchini, owner and founder of the marathon, for having the vision to start this one and stay the course.
w Our community organizations never grow tired of all the good work they do and hope they know how much they are appreciated.
w That everyone visits the Kauai Museum. Chucky Boy Chock has been the director there now for just over a year and he’s done a remarkable job. This museum really is a treasure and one of Kauai’s best-kept secrets. But not for long. The New York Times mentioned it recently and the museum’s reputation is growing. If you want to know about Kauai, its traditions, its culture, its people, stop at the museum. Listen to people like Jim Jung. You can feel the aloha when you walk in.
w And, finally, speaking of aloha, we hope people live by it. Yes, there are plenty of reasons to be crabby. There are reasons to be angry. There are some people who are just naturally rude and disrespectful and for some reason prefer to be negative about pretty much everything. We say, stay away from these people. Let them drag someone else down. Instead, we simply hope people feel the joy and peace of living with aloha — and sharing it, too.
Have a great 2018.