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Road site blessed at Palamanui; campus ready in two years

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Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

The road between Kaiminani Drive and the new community college campus at Palamanui was blessed Friday, with hopes that the college will open for students in about two years.

The $4.7 million road already is underway, said Roger Harris, director of governmental affairs for Palamanui Glodal Holdings, and should be complete by the end of the year.

Work then will begin on the first two buildings to house Hawaii Community College at Palamanui.

Funding for Phase I totals $9.4 million, which includes $5 million from Palamanui. The other $4.4 million originally had been dedicated to the road project, but the university is picking up that tab, so Palamanui rolled its road contribution over the campus fund, Harris said.

UH President M.R.C. Greenwood said, “We have the resources and partnerships in place for Phase I.”

Developing the campus has not been an easy project, she said, but “hopefully, hopefully between 18 and 24 months from now, we’ll be back to untie a maile lei.”

Greenwood said West Hawaii was one of the first places she visited after taking on the university presidency and she was proud to attend Friday’s blessing.

“You don’t get a lot of opportunities to build a community college campus from the ground up,” she said. “For me it has been an extremely high priority.”

During the ceremony, guests were asked to help complete a ceremonial ku ahu, or rock cairn, to serve as the foundation for enlightenment. Forming a human chain and joining in a chant, guests handed rocks along to the ku ahu, where they were placed in perfect position.

Hawaii CC at Palamanui will be built on a 78-acre site owned by the University of Hawaii, just north of Kona Airport. It is expected to be the one of the most energy-efficient college complexes in the United States with a Leadership in Energy Efficiency Design (LEED) Platinum designation.

The first phase will include one complete building and a stand-alone portion of a second building, to be extended during Phase II. The campus provides some 23,000 square feet of space, and it will include the University of Hawaii Center in West Hawaii, which will be relocated from its current 12,500-square-foot rented space in Kealakekua.

It will have enough room for all the programs currently offered to the 700 students with room to comfortably house double that number of students.

Among the those making the move to the new campus will be the culinary arts students, who are launching a fundraising drive to ought the new kitchens.

Jean Hull, long-time culinary teacher and program advocate, said a $5,000 contribution from Randy Townsend helped kickstart the campaign, but the goal is $1 million.

Donations to the West Hawaii Culinary Arts campaign may be sent to: ACF KKC Charitable Fund, PO Box 390056, Keauhou, Hawaii 96739.

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