Unemployment, Ag Staffs Leave

Two state government services have closed their Kaneohe offices in the past few weeks and have limited their assistance to area residents.

The Unemployment Insurance and Workforce Development section, operating in the Atrium building, closed permanently June 25, citing a reduction in federal funding. According to state Sen. Jill Tokuda, who is working with the agency to find solutions, an insurance claims hotline is up and running at Kaneohe Library.

“Access to services is changing,” Tokuda acknowledged. “Now it’s more online and phone, with less need for physical services.”

She noted they are still trying to partner with other agencies and looking for different ways to serve.

The library was a logical choice for a dedicated hotline, since patrons already visit the branch to do computer job searches and resumes. To file claims online, go to uiclaims.hawaii.gov. The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations still has brick-and-mortar claims offices in Honolulu and Waipahu.

Windward farmers and gardeners, meanwhile, will have to seek advice in Wahiawa from their favorite Cooperative Extension agent. The longtime office at Kaneohe Civic Center closed in May with county extension agent Jari Sugano transferring to the Wahiawa office. She and junior extension agent Jensen Uyeda can be reached at 622-4183, or at 910 California Ave. in Wahiawa.

The UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources explained that the closure was to “minimize expenses and combine resources.” The conference room at the site has been retained for commodity group meetings.