Yagong seeks cultural commission


By TOM CALLIS

Tribune-Herald staff writer

Hawaii County will have to dust off an ordinance establishing a cultural advisory commission for Wednesday’s County Council meeting.

The ordinance creating the county Cultural Resources Commission went into effect in July 2008, after a council vote the previous year, but the body has since existed only on paper.

Council Chairman Dominic Yagong said he wants to bring the issue into the “light of day,” and has proposed a few amendments to spur council discussion.

The commission was created to preserve Hawaiian history and culture by providing guidance to county, state and federal governments on cultural issues and encouraging preservation of historical sites.

County Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd said the commission hasn’t been forgotten, though she acknowledged a delay.

She said she made a preliminary draft of the commission’s rules this summer and plans to advertise for the open commission positions shortly.

Leithead Todd said the department was faced with starting several new commissions in 2008, including two new planning commissions, and setting up action committees for community development plans, and had to prioritize which ones got started first.

“The reality is we had so many boards and commission that were created in 2008, that implementing them has been a challenge,” she said.

The commission’s duties, among others, would be to advise government agencies on historic preservation, review projects affecting historical locations, and establish a county historic preservation planning process.

The nine-member panel would include people with backgrounds in Hawaiian culture, history, architecture, and archeology.

Yagong’s bill would also require a member to be knowledgeable in pre-contact burial practices. He is also proposing amending the ordinance to require the commission to advise the state historic preservation officer on management of burial sites.

Maui and Kauai counties also have similar commissions.

Joaquin Gamiao, county planning administrative officer, said the county has 36 vacancies on boards and commissions.

Those vacancies will be advertised along with the open Cultural Resources Commission positions, he said.

Applications can be dropped off at the mayor’s office, the Planning Department, or Corporation Counsel, Gamiao said.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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