Giving the gift that keeps on ... killing?
Business anniversary begets bug banishment
A LETHAL gift to two elementary schools marks a local company's 20th year in business. Lethal to termites, that is.
Environ Control Inc. President Bob Koide was looking for a community-service-oriented way to mark the company's anniversary -- something for a school, perhaps.
"We all know about the big (state Department of Education) maintenance backlog," he said.
Koide approached state education official Gilbert Chun. Chun introduced Koide to Ryan Shigetani, executive director of Hawaii 3R's, a nonprofit grant-making organization that U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye is credited with spearheading.
According to its Web site, the goal of Hawaii 3R's (as in repair, remodel and restore) is "to bring outside financial and human resources together to tackle the approximate $640 million repair and maintenance backlog."
Koide learned that Momilani Elementary in Pearl City wanted a Sentricon termite treatment system. It also happens that his grandson attends the school.
Koide was prepared to spend $20,500 on installation and two years of maintenance at Momilani, but through a $10,500 Hawaii 3R's grant, the wealth was also spread to Kanoelani Elementary, which is in Environ Control's Waipio neighborhood.
The installation of 164 Sentricon stations at Momilani is pau and the Kanoelani installation of 456 stations will be complete by the end of the month, Koide said.
Koide uses the word "blessing" frequently in talking about the longevity of his business, the process of making this gesture -- and even in describing recent rains.
"The ground is so saturated (and soft) our work went much faster than we expected," he said. "It's amazing how things fell into place and everything's working out great."
The bait stations measure 9-and-a-half-inches and laid end to end, they would equal the length of one-and-a-half football fields.
Kanoelani's budget prioritizes student and teacher achievement, said Principal Sandy Ahu in a statement. Facilities fall lower on the list. "We have no money for (termite) prevention," so if the school were to suffer termite damage, "where would the repair money come from?"
Momilani Principal Doreen Higa is also grateful. "We're truly fortunate when someone extends a hand offering resources, volunteers or services. We're really lucky to have this gift -- we couldn't have dreamed it," she said.
Shigetani would like more people to know how much businesses contribute to school repair. Businesses that contribute also receive state tax credits.
"In the past four-and-a-half years we've saved the state $12 million" in repair and maintenance costs through partnerships with businesses, organizations and the community. It receives federal, state and private funds to match to projects on the DOE's backlog list.
Schools usually initiate a project, but sometimes a church that uses a school facility will want to help "spruce it up," he said. "That happens a lot at Farrington (High School) with New Hope (Christian Fellowship)."
The organization has had just about the right amount of demand for the amount of funding it receives to dole out, said Shigetani.
This is a case where more would be more, however.
"We can always use more help," said Chun.
"We're grateful to Hawaii 3R's, because that's basically what has provided us with the means to work with the companies and follow through."
The DOE is looking for another liaison to facilitate Hawaii 3R's projects, to replace Shigetani, who previously had that job.
The mind-boggling backlog list, searchable by school and project, is online at http:// 126.96.36.199/search.aspx.
One would think that $6,000 for replacement of classroom furniture at Keaukaha Elementary School would be an easy project for a Hilo business to help fund.
The $165,000 renovation of the tennis courts at Pahoa High School, your columnist's alma mater, might be a bit more challenging. Wait, tennis courts at Pahoa High School? Ho, my time, neva even have one football team, li'dat.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org