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Eagle Scout project benefits neighbors and environment

Teen educates local residents about county Junk Vehicle Disposal Assistance Program

McKay Pali helps Spartan Hauling LLC owner Ryan Graham loosen the chains holding a junker to the bed of his trailer Friday in Paukukalo. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

Old, rusted and covered with moss is how 15-year-old McKay Pali found some of the subjects of his Eagle Scout project.

The soon-to-be sophomore at Kamehameha Schools Maui chose to help residents in all Waiehu Kou phases and nearby Hawaiian Homes in Paukukalo by assisting them in removing personal vehicles they no longer want. Some vehicles were on properties as long as Pali has been alive, and one car even had a tree growing from it.

To make it harder, all of the 21 vehicles he helped remove, with donations and assistance by local companies, were inoperable.

“It was challenging,” Pali said Sunday, a day after his project concluded. “It was hot, too.”

“It took like over 100 hours,” said the Waiehu resident, who added that Eagle Scout project criteria includes the more than 100 hours’ contribution.

McKay Pali

Eagle Scout is the highest recognition in Boy Scouts of America’s program.

“I chose to do this project (because) I felt it would be a cool way to give back to the community, and serving others is what an Eagle Scout is looking for when doing a project,” said Pali who belongs to Troop 56, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Waiehu.

Pali’s beneficiary for the project is listed as the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, whose projects include Waiehu Kou and some in Paukukalo.

Not only are residents pleased to get help with their vehicles, Pali’s project also caught the eye of Maui County’s Department of Environmental Management Environmental Protection and Sustainability Division, which is grateful for Pali’s efforts in helping the community.

“McKay taking on this project has resulted in 21 less vehicles sitting on residents’ properties, continuing to create possible environmental impacts,” said Jennifer Aievoli, the county’s abandoned vehicles and metals administrator.

McKay Pali (right) gets an assist from his friends while pushing a car into a line of junkers being temporarily staged in Paukukalo on Friday. The cars were later hauled to Hammerhead Metals in Puunene for recycling on Saturday. Pali is helping Hawaiian Homes residents rid their yards and driveways of unwanted cars as part of his Eagle Scout project. Helping push are Ryan Graham (from left), Teancum Aiwohi, Levi Maddela and Isaiah Maddela.

She said McKay helped residents take advantage of the county’s Junk Vehicle Disposal Assistance Program, which allows residents to dispose of one junk vehicle per resident, per year, legally and properly and for free in an attempt to reduce the number of abandoned vehicles on public roadways.

The program is funded through the Highway Beautification and Abandoned Vehicles Fund, which is a portion of annual vehicle registration fees and continues until funding is exhausted, said Aievoli in an email.

Pali helped residents through the various steps, including finding proper paperwork to “junk” the vehicles. He and his mother, Sharolyn, took those forms to the Division of Motor Vehicles & Licensing for processing.

Aievoli explained that basically, the registered owner of the vehicle must “permanently junk” the title at DMVL, complete the Department of Environmental Management’s intake form and present the documents to Hammerhead Metals Recycling.

The department and Hammerhead Metals Recycling work together to administer and operate the program, Aievoli said.

A pickup truck is loaded onto Spartan Hauling LLC owner Ryan Graham’s trailer Friday in Waiehu Kou

Pali said at times it was challenging to help residents gather all of their proper paperwork, with some cars having to be left behind as proper paperwork couldn’t be located.

Pali’s older brothers, Tuimana Mateaki and Ronald Min, also undertook the task of removing old cars as their Eagle Scout projects years ago.

But Sharolyn Pali said McKay’s project was a bit more challenging with having to collect the paperwork.

While Pali’s push to help residents with paperwork was mainly on his own, he got help to tow the vehicles to a staging site on Friday and then to Hammerhead Metals Recycling on Saturday, all by friends, family and local companies.

They were Kitagawa’s Towing & Transport, BG Inc., Spartan Hauling LLC, Island Lowboy & Trucking, T. Sniffen & Sons, Tri-Isle and Rojac.

Hammerhead Metals also opened special on Saturday to take in the cars Pali helped junk.

Pali thanked all of the businesses and family and friends for the help and said he was “grateful for this Eagle project and Eagle journey,” but now it’s on to baseball.

He will be flying to the Mainland soon and is trying to obtain sponsorships as he competes with the Maui Colt All-Stars in San Jose, Calif., and also with Maui Collegiate Baseball in Colorado.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.