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Mayor’s talk-story session in Pahoa heats up with geothermal talk

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Photography by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

By Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

Mayor Billy Kenoi hosted a talk-story session Monday night (March 12) in Pahoa with an overflowing room of people getting raucous at times as the conversation kept gravitating to geothermal development in Puna.

The talk-story session is the second in a series the mayor and his cabinet are hosting across the island in March, the first was last week in Honokaa. The sessions are to update the public on what’s going on in Hawaii County government and to field questions and concerns of area residents.

Parks and Recreation director Bob Fitzgerald opened by giving an update on his department’s projects in the Puna area. Residents had concerns about how a senior center is proceeding and had praise for the new aquatics center manager.

Kenoi then talked briefly about the county budget, trying to maintain services in an economy that doesn’t show signs of recovering soon and the steps taken to reduce government spending.

Kenoi’s update on the addition of an electric vehicle to the county’s fleet turned into a discussion about biodiesel and later geothermal energy as the mayor allowed the audience to speak instead of finishing his presentation.

Many in the crowd took turns voicing opposition to current geothermal plans in Puna with a few speaking in favor of geothermal energy. Issues included moving residents with the geothermal relocation fund, the county building codes and turning Railroad Avenue into a green by-way for pedestrians and bikes.

The meeting ended up running about three hours long as Kenoi said he would stay until everyone who wanted to speak had their chance.

For upcoming talk-story session visit here, the next session is scheduled for Waikoloa on Thursday (March 15).

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