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Ohana Aina Association


  • July 23, 2020 1:55 PM | Cindy Wild

    2020 Council Candidate Interviews

    Each interview is approximately 20 minutes

    The candidates are listed in order of District

    Questions can be found here


    Ikaika Rodenhurst

    District 5


    Video Interview

    Jane Clement

    District 7


    Video Interview


    Rebecca Villegas

    District 7


    Video Interview

    Holeka Inaba

    District 8


    Video Interview


    Ranae Keane

    District 9


    Video Interview


    Tim Richards

    District 9


    Video Interview

    West Hawaii Association of REALTORS®
  • July 22, 2020 10:43 AM | Cindy Wild

    By Chelsea Jensen West Hawaii Today | Wednesday, July 22, 2020, 9:05 a.m.

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    • As of 5 a.m. Wednesday, Douglas was spinning 75 mph winds and tracking west at 15 mph approximately 1,785 miles east of Hilo, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, which will monitor the storm until it crosses 140 degrees west longitude, at which time the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu will assume the role. 

    Hurricane Douglas — the first hurricane of the 2020 Eastern Pacific season — is expected to move near or over portions of the Hawaiian Islands this weekend, forecasters said Wednesday morning.

    The storm’s current track brings an increasing chance that strong winds and heavy rainfall could affect portions of the state beginning on Sunday, forecasters cautioned.

    As of 5 a.m. Wednesday, Douglas was spinning 75 mph winds and tracking west at 15 mph approximately 1,785 miles east of Hilo, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, which will monitor the storm until it crosses 140 degrees west longitude, at which time the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu will assume the role.

    Hurricane-force winds currently extend outward from the center of the storm up to 15 miles while tropical-storm force winds reach outward up to 80 miles.

    Additional strengthening is forecast over the next day or two. Forecasters expect Douglas to peak mid-day Thursday as a Category 2 storm packing 110 mph winds more than 1,200 miles east of the islands.

    On Friday, once the storm has crossed into the Central Pacific, which is where Hawaii is located, forecasters expect Douglas will begin weakening as it encounters cooler waters.

    By 5 a.m. Sunday, Douglas is expected to be downgraded to a tropical storm with 70 mph winds approximately 200 miles east of Hilo. The current forecast track takes the storm right over the Big Island into Monday.

    The next advisory will be issued at 11 a.m.

  • July 22, 2020 10:40 AM | Cindy Wild

    By Nancy Cook Lauer West Hawaii Today | Wednesday, July 22, 2020, 12:05 a.m.

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    • Anchored by the white sands of Kaunaoa Bay, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is dwarfed by its namesake, the dormant Mauna Kea volcano that towers 13,803 feet above sea level in the background. It is not unusual during winter months for the mountain to be capped with snow. Illustrates(Bloomberg News photo by Mauna Kea Resort Archive Collections).

    Hawaii Island is joining Maui and Kauai in exploring a new concept in gradually reopening their doors to tourists — a “resort bubble” where quarantining visitors would be allowed freedom to roam within the confines of a “geofence.”

    “(It’s) another idea we’ve been tossing out there,” Hawaii County Managing Director Roy Takemoto told the County Council Tuesday. “They would be allowed to stay at selected resorts and the resorts would control where the visitors would be allowed to range.”

    County officials and tourism authorities currently have more questions than answers. The system would depend on voluntary compliance by resort guests to be monitored. There are also questions surrounding how much space a resort could devote to the quarantiners and how amenities such as restaurants, shops and swimming pools would be handled.

    But the concept could be promising as a way to slowly bring visitors back and put hospitality workers back to work. Most hotels and resorts have had little traffic since the March shutdown of the state and the requirement that trans-Pacific visitors quarantine in their hotel or motel rooms for 14 days before being allowed out.

    The state is working on an alternative method of allowing visitors to bypass the quarantine provided they take a coronavirus screening test 72 hours before traveling. That system wasn’t ready in time for an Aug. 1 reopening, but the state hopes it will be ready by Sept. 1.

    Takemoto said all of the Big Island COVID-19 cases except a cluster at Kona Community Hospital have been travel-related. That’s one of the reasons Mayor Harry Kim has been urging the state to take a cautious approach to reopening.

    Puna Councilman Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder agrees with the cautious approach.

    “I don’t agree with the administration frequently, but in this case I agree,” he said. “Hot spots are unable to test their citizens and get results in three days. … That worries me. (Tourists) would be jumping into a plane full of people and not get their test results until into they’re three days into their vacation.”

    Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy also needed more assurance.

    “In the past when we were trying to address COVID, there were different messages from the state,” she said. “If we had a consistent way of tracking people coming to the Big Island, I think it will go a long way toward slowing the curve or smashing the curve.”

    Stephanie Donoho, administrative director of the Kohala Coast Resort Association, said Tuesday the member resorts were just learning about the concept and weren’t ready to comment before evaluating it.

    Craig Anderson, chairman of the Hawaii Island chapter of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association and vice president of operations at Mauna Kea Resort, participated Tuesday in a Zoom conference briefing tourism officials about the program.

    “It’s very early and it’s complicated. … All of us in the visitor industry support having a safe environment for our employees as well as our visitors,” Anderson said. “We’re trying to be a lubricant to help surface solutions and help move things forward. … It’s another example of us all working with the uncertainly of this bizarre pandemic and how we create a new future for all of us.”

  • July 22, 2020 10:38 AM | Cindy Wild

    By Big Island Now

    July 21, 2020, 1:11 PM HST (Updated July 21, 2020, 1:11 PM) 

    Athletes wade into Kailua Bay before embarking on the 2.4-mile ROKA swim course at the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i on Saturday, Oct. 12. PC: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images for IRONMAN

    The 2020 version of the Big Island’s premier sporting event will not be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    IRONMAN announced Tuesday it has canceled its 2020 World Championship, held annually in Kailua-Kona. The IRONMAN World Championship will return to Kona on Oct. 9, 2021, and the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship will return on Sept. 17 and 18, 2021, and take place in St. George, Utah. The 70.3 World Championship for 2020 has also been called off.

    As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact events around the world, both world championship events have seen a majority of their respective qualifying events postponed or unable to take place in 2020, impeding the ability to qualify athletes for the respective 2020 championship events, IRONMAN said in a press release.

    Based on the schedule, the continuation of existing travel restrictions worldwide, and other circumstances beyond control, IRONMAN’s world championship events cannot proceed as rescheduled, the release said. 


    “It is with a heavy heart that we have made the decision to cancel the 2020 editions of the IRONMAN World Championship and IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship,” said Andrew Messick, President and Chief Executive Officer for The IRONMAN Group. “While we were hopeful that we could welcome our athletes, their families, and supporters to these events in early 2021, the continued impact of the pandemic makes this impossible. It is tough to make this decision in July, but it will provide the necessary clarity for our athletes, host cities, and partners.”

    Athletes who qualified for the 2020 editions of the IRONMAN World Championship and IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship event will be contacted directly. They will have the opportunity to race in the 2021 or 2022 editions of the respective World Championships, the release said.

    In June, IRONMAN announced a new IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship qualifying method for athletes. The HOKA ONE ONE IRONMAN Virtual Racing Championship Series is a four-weekend long regulated age-group competition designed to reward top-performing athletes with IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship qualifying slots. 

    Athletes who earned qualifying slots, via that Championship Series, will now receive slots to the 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship taking place in St. George, Utah, on Sept. 17 and 18, 2021.

    For more information and event details for the IRONMAN World Championship, visit Further updates on the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship can be found at

    For more information on the IRONMAN brand and global event series, visit

  • July 19, 2020 8:46 AM | Cindy Wild

    By Nancy Cook Lauer West Hawaii Today | Sunday, July 19, 2020, 12:05 a.m.

    • Screen grab of Facebook live session with Paul Jones, Deputy Chief for the Department of the Attorney General Investigations Division, left, with Attorney General Clare Connors and Gov. David Ige, July 16, 2020.

    The state isn’t ready to reopen to tourists Sept. 1 and it’s not ready to bring out-of-state college students back to campus Aug. 24, Mayor Harry Kim said in an hour-long interview Thursday.

    Kim, who spent decades in Civil Defense, including years at its helm, said his operational experience has taught him to locate the weak links in any procedural chain. If one link fails, the whole operation is likely to fail, he said.

    Plans to use a combination of preflight testing with 14-day quarantines for those who aren’t tested or who test positive, simply aren’t feasible without a way of differentiating between the two groups and properly monitoring the quarantiners, Kim said.

    The state wasn’t ready to do that Aug. 1, its first planned reopening, and it won’t be ready Sept. 1 either, Kim said. He said he’d urged the governor and his fellow mayors to not attach a date on reopening, but to wait until the state is ready, especially with the “explosive” situation of double-digit increases in cases and deaths on the mainland.

    “The mission is to protect the people of the state of Hawaii. The system is not ready,” Kim said. “I know I stand alone. But the risk to me is just not acceptable.”

    Kim has often been the odd man out in discussions with the mayors and governor.

    “We are on the threshold of major decision-making. I wish I was wrong. I just don’t feel comfortable with where we’re at right now,” Kim said. “The governor has been informed of that.”

    But he’s also been on the leading edge of responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Kim issued an emergency proclamation in February, days before the governor or other mayors. He set up a multi-agency, public-private task force in March, which is now being emulated at the state level. He created a travelers’ database that’s now being replaced by one the state created.

    Hawaii Island is by far the most successful recently tracking down and arresting quarantine breakers. From July 13 to 16, Hawaii County arrested 99 people, compared to just 21 on Oahu, where most tourists debark. Kauai County arrested 46 and Maui 16 during that same period.

    Attorney General Clare Connors, in a Thursday Facebook live session with Gov. David Ige and Paul Jones, deputy chief for the Department of the Attorney General Investigations Division, defended her agency’s enforcement of the 14-day trans-Pacific traveler quarantine.

    The team calling quarantined visitors is made up of workers from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, Hawaii County Civil Defense and the Maui Police Department. There are approximately 80 members on this calling team, and they work to call quarantined visitors from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, including weekends and holidays. They have contacted well over 27,000 travelers and have made more than 113,000 phone calls, texts and emails since the quarantine order went into effect at the end of March, a press release stated.

    “Enforcement of the quarantine is always going to be a challenge. We know that this is something that is new to our law enforcement community. It’s a very stressful time in the state of Hawaii in general,” Connors said during the Facebook live event. “And so, the idea that we have persons who are subject to quarantine and possibly breaking quarantine causes a lot of stress. But what I do want to reassure people is that we are aware of the need to enforce. And we have set up systems to enforce not just at the airports so that when people come through, they are appropriately screened, they sign orders that they are made aware of the fact that they are subject to these orders, and that it’s for the safety of our community.”

    Many of the public watching the feed were skeptical.

    “Quarantine does not work. Honor system does not work,” said Sarina Wong. “People either break quarantine or have company while their quarantining! Got to figure out something!”

    Gigi Mano agreed.

    “We’re making the sacrifices while you’re allowing visitors to continue to fly in with no enforcement whatsoever!!!,” she wrote.

    A new modified plan will allow students on two islands to participate in campus activities even while they’re in 14-day quarantine, provided they test negative and meet other health requirements.

    Students attending college at campuses on Oahu and Kauai will be allowed the modified quarantine, under plans currently in the works. Kim and Maui Mayor Mike Victorino weren’t supporting the plan, so those islands aren’t reopening as quickly to students. Kim said about half of university of Hawaii at Hilo students come from Texas, Nevada and California, the states with some of the highest COVID-19 hotspots.

  • July 15, 2020 12:24 PM | Cindy Wild

    By Nancy Cook Lauer West Hawaii Today | Wednesday, July 15, 2020, 12:05 a.m.

    • A window air conditioning unit is seen at Hale Halawai. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

    In the wake of a Department of Public Works press release that drew scorn when it was re-posted on Mayor Harry Kim’s official Facebook page, Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy has written an amendment to the construction code clarifying that building permits are not required to install a window air conditioning unit.

    Lee Loy said Tuesday she was motivated to make a quick fix because of “just how lame the whole idea sounded. I was thinking, you need to pull a permit or pay a fine that could be higher than the actual cost of an AC unit had me rolling my eyes and knowing we needed to fix this.”

    The county’s July 7 announcement, also sent to media as a press release, stated “Air conditioners fall under Hawaii County Code Section 5-19(a) of the recently updated Energy Code and existing residential construction falls under Section R503.2 as amended. Obtaining a permit for your air conditioning system enables you to have peace of mind knowing that the system is compatible with your home’s electrical system.”

    It went on to note in a Q&A section, “What if I buy an air conditioner that fits in a window opening? That type of air conditioner also requires a building permit.”

    Permits would range from a minimum of $10 to $200 and should be granted within a week, the press release states. Fines for not getting a permit could range up to $1,000 per day, and those who installed a unit or system without a permit should get an “as-built” permit, the press release said.

    The county administration deleted the post the following day, after hundreds of negative comments. But Lee Loy, who chairs the Committee on Public Works and Mass Transit, in a joint press release with DPW Director David Yamamoto, said Tuesday the first press release “caused significant alarm but also provided a timely opportunity for correction.”

    Hawaii County is the only county in the state requiring a building permit to install a window AC unit.

    The County Council is scheduled July 29 to consider Bill 179, creating a new construction code. Lee Loy’s amendment, along with three technical amendments, will be considered at that time.

    The amendment exempts permit requirements from window-mounted AC units in residential units where emergency egress is not impaired, exempts portable AC systems and exempts maintenance and repair that do not cost more than $7,500, rather than the current limit of $4,000.

    Permit requirements will continue to apply to permanent air-conditioned systems, more commonly known as central or split air-conditioner systems.


    Lee Loy said she “pushed real hard to get this done,” because she wanted to give the public time to read the amendment and be able to comment on it at next week’s meeting. Public comment can be submitted online or in person at the council meeting.

    Lee Loy said her research of the county’s building permit database did not find any cases where people applied for a building permit for a window AC unit. The county Building Division said in a statement the current law has been in effect since 2009, and the permit process gives it the opportunity to “evaluate the impact of larger concerns related to obstructions of emergency egress.”

  • July 13, 2020 1:16 PM | Cindy Wild

    Governor delays Aug. 1 plan to reopen tourism by at least a month

    File photo. Gov. David Ige holds a press conference to announce which measures he will veto from the 2019 legislative session. (Image: Hawaii News Now) 

    By HNN Staff | July 13, 2020 at 11:15 AM HST - Updated July 13 at 1:05 PM 

    HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state will delay by at least a month the planned Aug. 1 reopening of Hawaii’s tourism industry with a traveler pre-testing program, Gov. David Ige has announced.

    During a legislative briefing Monday, Ige said he would be extending the 14-day mandatory quarantine for all trans-Pacific travelers through the end of August as the state continues to hammer out the details of how the testing program would work ― and ensure that visitors don’t slip through the cracks.

    “We are preparing the emergency, supplemental emergency proclamation for specifically that,” Ige said.

    The governor has faced mounting pressure from several corners, including from all four county mayors, to push back the planned reopening of tourism.

    The plan, first announced on June 24, was considered by many to be a lifeline to Hawaii’s flat-lining visitor industry and would require travelers to get tested before they arrive in the islands.

    But the plan hit a number of roadblocks in recent days, including because of a surge in infections on the mainland and a subsequent shortage of tests in some areas.

    Ige first implemented the quarantine measures back in March, requiring any passenger on any flight landing in Hawaii to spend 14 days in isolation to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

    As a result, the number of passenger arrivals statewide fell from an average of nearly 30,000 per day to fewer than 400 by the middle of April, according to data released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

    Eliminating travel restrictions that pertained to inter-island travel ― which the governor did last month ― was the first step taken toward ushering in the return of the tourism sector in Hawaii.

    The second, the state hoped, was to be the changes to the trans-Pacific travel restrictions that were scheduled to go into effect on Aug. 1.

    In lieu of a 14-day quarantine, the state instead wanted to require passengers to produce a negative coronavirus pre-test, taken within 72 hours of departure to Hawaii.

    And though the state admitted that a rise in cases was expected even if new restrictions were in place, the state Department of Health insisted that Hawaii’s hospital system could handle a potential increase.

    But as coronavirus cases on the mainland have surged in recent weeks, including in some of the markets that typically send the highest number of travelers to Hawaii, the state’s plan has been criticized for being too weak to prevent rash of new cases in Hawaii and ensure visitors were following the rules.

    The Honolulu City Council unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday asking the governor to consider delaying the implementation of the change in travel restrictions in order to fortify certain aspects, like testing and contact tracing.

    The resolution also suggested that the state implement a requirement for a second negative coronavirus test, taken within seven days of the first negative test, in order to avoid quarantining.

    And on Thursday, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell himself cast doubt on the feasibility of the state’s plan, saying he no longer thinks allowing visitors to avoid quarantine starting next month if they test negative for COVID-19 is “safe for everyone.”

    U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and members of the Hawaii County Council also spoke out against state’s plan, urging the governor to reconsider its implementation.

    “The current plan for testing visitors 72 hours before arriving in the State of Hawaiʻi is inadequate as it will increase the exposure of COVID-19 to airline, hotel, and service industry employees,” the Hawaii County Council said in a statement. “These are our families, friends, and neighbors.”

    This story will be updated. 

    Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

  • July 03, 2020 10:34 AM | Anonymous

    The inclusion of a “place of stay declaration form” for all travelers in Hawaii in a gut-and-replace bill about vacation rentals raised eyebrows among some who otherwise support the bill.

    HB 460, unanimously advanced Thursday by the Senate Ways and Means Committee, is one of two gut-and-replace bills proposed by state Attorney General Clare Connors. Gut-and-replace occurs when the contents of an unrelated bill are removed and replaced with new language, a process that often hinders the public’s ability to understand and testify on the legislation before it moves forward.

    The other bill, HB 2502, gives the Department of Health power to declare a public health emergency, and then implement provisions such as airport screening and other infection control methods.

    HB 460, on the other hand, gives counties authority, whether there is a health emergency or not, to require the traveler declaration forms, detailing where the traveler intends to stay and for how long for anyone touching down at state airports.

    The bills now go to the full Senate, and then back to the House, which has never considered the bills in their new incarnations.

    The wording in HB 460 reflects concerns about the spread of coronavirus during the pandemic, but the bill, which would take effect on approval, has no provisions to end when the pandemic does.

    The intent of the bill is to clamp down on illegal vacation rentals in the state, which Mayor Harry Kim said he fully supports. The bill gives counties subpoena power to compel records from short-term rental platforms like Airbnb, HRBO and Homestay. And it authorizes counties to establish a registry, open to public inspection, of permitted transient vacation rentals, defined as stays of less than 30 days or a period defined by county ordinance, for compensation.

    Kim recounted in an interview Thursday how his administration made licensing vacation rentals a priority after hearing many complaints from their neighbors, even before he took office.

    “Most of it, I totally agree with because there are problems,” Kim said. “The County of Hawaii had no regulations governing vacation rentals.”

    Still, he said, the place of stay declaration form gives him pause.

    “I tried to relate this to the purpose of the bill. The purpose of this bill was to regulate vacation rentals,” he said. “I could not make that connection. There is a line that I feel that we in the government should not cross. … I really question the need of that and the relevance of that to the goals of the bill.”

    Many of those submitting testimony urged the Legislature to pass it. They related stories of living near out-of-control vacationers holding loud parties at all hours and otherwise disturbing the peace and tranquility of residential neighborhoods.

    “The operators of illegal vacation rentals not only disturb residents in neighborhoods with single-family dwellings, but also those who live in residential condo buildings,” said Kim Jorgensen in testimony. “People on vacation are not concerned about the residents who have to get up at 6 a.m. for work or the senior citizens who are trying to live out their lives peacefully without being in a building that has turned into an illegal hotel.”

    But a flurry of testimony in opposition, primarily from vacation rental owners and real estate professionals, has more recently been submitted.

    “OMG! Is this real? serious? If I visit Hawaii and are required to register my whereabouts including the place I choose to stay in or move around, etc., then I wonder if I lived in the communist China’s Xinjiang that the government can watch me everywhere!!,” wrote Hawaii First Realty. “This is America! Not perfect, but we should not head our community toward the direction that both homeowners and visitors are being spied, watched upon by the government.”
  • June 17, 2020 12:05 AM | Anonymous

    Along with the reopening of the state Tuesday to quarantine-free interisland travel, comes the reopening of short term vacation rentals to those not under quarantine.

    Mayor Harry Kim on Friday joined two other county mayors allowing STVRs to reopen, but he clarified Tuesday it applies only to renters not under the mandatory 14-day quarantine. His latest emergency rule doesn’t spell it out, but he said there was no need to, as the state law prevails.

    “State policy takes precedence,” Kim said. “If you don’t have a residence here, you need to quarantine in a hotel.”

    Gov. David Ige’s emergency proclamations have continued to require a 14-day quarantine for all out-of-state travelers coming to or returning to Hawaii. The order, which last week was extended to July 31, states “Persons who require paid or commercial lodging while subject to the mandatory self-quarantine shall designate a hotel or motel as their designated quarantine location.”

    An Ige spokeswoman confirmed that order Tuesday, saying the Department of the Attorney General relayed that, “Mayors in all counties can allow short term vacation rentals to open, but short term vacation rentals are not permitted as designated quarantine locations.”

    Hawaii County Planning Director Michael Yee said he sent out an email blast Friday night to 5,000 STVR owners and managers, informing them of the relaxed rule. He said he directed them to a FAQ page,

    “The first phase of reopening has begun with vacation rentals, timeshares and bed and breakfasts to inter-island travelers, local residents and to guests who have completed any mandatory quarantine order,” Yee said. “Rentals may be for short term or long term.”

    The rentals had been closed by law statewide since March under Ige’s emergency proclamations, causing a group of rental owners on four islands June 8 to threaten a lawsuit. Since then, all counties except Oahu have allowed them to reopen to those not under quarantine.

    An attorney representing the vacation rental owners couldn’t be reached for comment by press-time Tuesday.

    Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino and Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami spelled it out in press releases accompanying their revised rules.

    “The governor’s proclamation includes host liability, which means that STVR owners may be subject to enforcement if they rent to individuals who are subject to the 14-day quarantine. (A conviction could include jail time of up to one year and a fine of up to $5,000),” Victorino said in a June 12 press release.

    Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, in a guidance bulletin updated Monday, continued to hold that “short-term rentals may not operate during the term of the Order, and they are not legally recognized places for visitors to lodge or self-quarantine.”

    Neighbors of vacation rentals remained on edge Tuesday. Several had concerns about how the county would monitor the rentals to ensure they weren’t being used for quarantines, and one noted that screening at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport seemed lax. Screeners, said Stefan Buchta, seemed to merely check that the address was valid via Google maps and dialed the telephone number provided by the traveler, which was generally their cellphone number, to check on them.

    “As you can imagine, we neighbors all are very concerned that, now that our residential STVRs operate again, they will put increasing numbers of travelers from high virus count states such as, for example, California or Oregon, directly into the middle of our community, into our local grocery stores, into our restaurants, and onto our neighborhood beaches,” said Buchta, who’s kept close watch over the island’s progress toward registering and regulating the rentals.

    “The argument of the vacation rental hosts that their properties in residential areas are safer than hotels during the pandemic doesn’t hold water. Maybe they are safer for tourists who stay in them, but definitely not safer for the communities around them,” he added.




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