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New South Maui gym to be blessed Monday

OUR COUNTY

Congratulations to the Lahainaluna High School football team for winning an unprecedented, fourth straight state Division II championship with a 21-10 victory over Kapaa High School last weekend. All of the players, coaches, parents and supporters worked hard to take the state crown, again, and they’ve brought much honor and pride back home to Maui County. Four seniors — Joshua Tihada, Derek Perez, Tuipulotu Lai and Nainoa Irish — now have won four state championships.

Congratulations are also in order for everyone who worked so hard to host the annual Maui Jim Maui Invitational at the Lahaina Civic Center. The University of Kansas Jayhawks emerged victorious with a 90-84 win over Dayton in overtime. The tournament gives Mainland residents a glimpse of our warm and sunny paradise, a priceless bit of TV advertising to help our island visitor industry.

On Friday, I hosted a Christmas celebration with a tree lighting ceremony and a parade from the front lawn of the Kalana O Maui building to the First Friday event on Market Street. I hope everyone enjoyed themselves in this good-fun, family-friendly event. Mahalo to everyone who participated in this return to a cherished holiday tradition.

Christmas is also coming early for South Maui residents. With the completion of the long-awaited South Maui Community Park Gymnasium, its blessing and grand opening ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. Monday. Anyone planning to attend should wear soft-soled rubber shoes to protect the gym floor.

The new gym has 31,858 square feet of floor space, two full-sized basketball/volleyball courts with bleacher seating for each or four cross-courts, all air-conditioned with divider screens. There’s 170 new parking stalls, a kitchen, a concession area, space for food trucks and a photovoltaic electric system. The gym is rated as a shelter for a Category 3 hurricane.

South Maui will soon see a mobile hygiene unit to give homeless people a place to “drop in” for personal hygiene and basic necessities. I thank Ka Hale A Ke Ola for leading this humanitarian effort expected to serve at least 100 homeless people. Hopefully, this compassionate approach will lead to restoring dignity and having more people accept housing options.

In this season of giving, please remember to give of your time, talent and treasure to help keep our community no ka oi. One great way to contribute is to donate blood to the Blood Bank of Hawaii. There are five blood drives set for this month at the Cameron Center in Wailuku. Those are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 16, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 17, 8:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 18, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 19 and 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dec. 20. To donate, you need to be in good health, 18 years old or older, weigh at least 110 pounds and have a photo ID with your date of birth. The Blood Bank reports a 20 percent drop in blood donations during the holidays.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, the holiday shopping season is in full swing. So, as you consider your shopping options, please consider buying locally at our community small businesses. The County of Maui Office of Economic Development and Maui Chamber of Commerce are partnering to sponsor the “Shop Small Maui” campaign. More than 250 local merchants are participating, with many displaying a Shop Small Maui poster outside their places of business.

When you shop local, you help keep dollars here at home, circulating within our economy. Of course, a strong economy makes for a strong community. Small businesses employ our family, friends and neighbors. Purchases with local merchants help generate more sales taxes that, in turn, invest in government services for island residents.

To find out more about Shop Small Maui, visit www.shopsmallmaui.com or contact Office of Economic Development Specialist Tokie Ogawa at 270-7415.

I want to wish everyone a happy holiday season. The Maui Police Department will be vigilant during the holidays to enforce traffic laws against speeding, reckless driving and drunken driving. Please buckle up, drive defensively and don’t drink and drive or text and drive. I ask everyone to be patient, respectful and courteous to others.

Aloha, and happy holidays!

* “Our County,” a column from Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino, discusses county issues and activities of county government. The column usually appears on the first and third Saturdays of the month.