Monday, April 19, 1999

Name: Domingo "Domi" Beralas
Age: 62
Education: Kauai High School
Position: Grounds maintenance specialist
Hobbies: Gardening, fishing

Landscaping as art

Domingo "Domi" Beralas traveled to Canada 10 years ago, and it changed his outlook on gardening and landscaping.

Beralas, a grounds maintenance specialist at Kauai Community College, and his wife visited Victoria, B.C., and Butch-art Gardens for the first time.

They were inspired by its beautiful flowers and rock gardens.

"That's when my interest about gardening grew, and I began to have a vision about our college campus," he said.

Beralas was recently recognized as the 1998 recipient of the University of Hawaii President's Award for Excellence in Building and Grounds Maintenance.

He wanted to do more than just mow grass, rake leaves, prune hedges and do regular maintenance work.

Beralas started planting gardens with a variety of annual and perennial flowers, including impatiens, petunias, Mexican heather, joy weed, purple foundation and periwinkle. He became like an artist painting beautiful colors on canvas.

"He sees the college as his home," said Earl Nishiguchi, Kauai Community College's dean of students, who nominated Beralas for the annual award.

"Whatever he does, he does it well and with a caring attitude."

Beralas creates fine art and brings smiles to the people who pass by, Nishiguchi said. His creativity, combined with dedication to his work and friendly attitude, earned him the award.

Beralas said he plans to retire in about three years to spend more time with his family, do more gardening and enjoy his favorite hobby, fishing.

He's already bought a small double-hull boat and can't wait to fish for golden perch, papio and barracuda in Lihue's Nawiliwili Bay.

Beralas said he can't ask for a better job: being outdoors and smelling fragrant flowers every day.

Before accepting the grounds maintenance job in 1988, he spent almost 20 years as an electrician at Lihue Plantation, feeling tired and discouraged. Ultimately, Beralas decided he was ready for a change.

"When you want something, you go for it," he said. "Thank God, I did."

By Shirley Iida, Star-Bulletin

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