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Leone church can stand for another 100 years

Problems with roofing urgent and fixable
reporters@samoanews.com
Project manager Dr. (Rev.) Fran Palama (front) assembled a team unmatched in its diverse technical ability to conduct a 360 degree diagnosis and assessment for a structural facility in the Pacific. She is noted for her advocacy and work in Hawaii restoring and strengthening old churches as an option, rather then destroying them to be replaced by modern ones. [courtesy photo]

A technical team of professionals from the State of Hawaii and University of Hawaii College of Engineering recently completed a structural and physical assessment of the historic Leone CCCAS Siona Church structure after the Pacific Business Center Program (PBCP) coordinated the project.
 
The huge project was initiated in February of this year by Chairman Fiu Saelua of the Komiti O Le Atina’e ma Galuega of the Siona CCCAS.  His concerns focused on two priorities; (1) the structural integrity of Siona, and  (2) safety.
 
The good news is preliminary data indicates the Siona’s foundation and walls are solid enough to last another 100 years. While the roofing has suffered severe decay and stress over the years and must undergo repairs and strengthening immediately, it was determined that the problems are fixable with foundation and structural conditions better than originally feared.
 
Supported by Hawaiian Airlines, Tihati Productions and UH National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC) key sponsors and partners, the team arrived Thursday, May 16, and completed the data gathering and analysis sufficiently to deliver a preliminary report to the Siona Congregation the following Sunday May 19.
 
Using the latest technology to assess the structural integrity of the walls, foundation and roof, the data was gathered with ground and structure penetrating equipment that uses radio wave pulses, 3D imaging and aerial photo and videography.
 
The roof and roofing condition was videoed from the air by a remote controlled flying drone that also flew into rafters to photograph and film concrete decay, termite impact and decay level of wooden frames. The drone was able to enter difficult to reach areas in the structure along the ceiling and in the rafters with live time data transmitted to monitors on the ground and viewed by the engineers and architects for assessment purposes.
 
After the technical evaluation was complete, team members interviewed elders of the church for a 45-minute documentary focusing on the love of a congregation and the village of Leone for its church, and their real and imagined fears of having the church building demolished and the amazing circumstances that brought experts together from afar to come to its aid.
 
A ten-minute trailer of Siona’s condition will also be created from the footage to send world wide to solicit donations to complete urgently needed church repairs.
 
BACKGROUND
 
The team consisted of a structural engineer, a ground and structural penetrating technology engineer, an aerial photography and video expert, a 3 D certified design architect, a restoration architect, renewable/alternative energy experts, licensed architects and contractors and a roofing and photo voltaic installment expert.
 
All traveled to American Samoa in May, with the exception of the roofing expert. The roofing expert will travel at a later date to help install and supervise the installation of steel A-frames and rods to strengthen the entire roofing structure to standard based on the initial assessment.
 
According to Dr. Tusi Avegalio, Director of the UH Pacific Business Center Program administering the project, “The Siona Church Assessment Team UH project manager, Dr. (Rev.) Fran Palama  assembled a team that is unmatched in its diverse technical ability to conduct a 360 degree diagnosis and assessment for a structural facility in the Pacific.”
 
Dr. Palama was responsible for the identification, assembly and recruiting of the experts. Most had met for the first time three weeks before departure for American Samoa. She is one of the first female native Hawaiian PhD graduates from the UH School of Architecture and learned about Siona through an initial contact with Dr. Karl Kim, Executive Director of the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC).
 
Dr. Palama was contacted in March due to her advocacy and work in Hawaii restoring and strengthening old churches as an option rather then destroying them to be replaced by modern ones; a tragic reality often based on assessments that do not have the appropriate technology or expertise to make such recommendations.
 
According to Dr. Palama, “Centenarian places of worship are treasures of tremendous wealth that honor the blood, sweat, tears and faith of ancestors that built them. Nothing can replace the spirits in these great and revered structures regardless of how modern or contemporary the structure.”
 
THE SIONA CHURCH ASSESSMENT TEAM
 
Dr. (Rev.) Fran Palama: Project Director and Maunakai and Associates, Principal
 
Professor Ian Robertson: Currently teaches at the University of HawaiʻI Civil Engineering and Environmental Engineering Department. An international and national award winner for his structural engineering knowledge, his expertise includes the Behavior of Reinforced Concrete Slab-Column Connections Subjected to Seismic Loading. He has also been a member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center and American Society of Civil Engineers
 
Leon Hamili & Assistant Chris Moniz, Hamili Akina and Associates, Partner: A Civil Engineer specializing in Geophysical and Geo-Technical assessments and surveys using ground and structural penetrating radio wave pulses. Using Ground Penetration Radar (GPR) equipment, remote sensing and software, Hamili-Akina and Associates are able to investigate structural conditions and physical properties of concrete buildings, structures, roads and runways. Leon also spent time visiting the Air Rescue Fire Fighters (ARFF) station in Tafuna with Airport manager Peter Lefiti.
 
Harry Donenfeld, Maui County Film Commissioner: Owner of Aloha Aerials a Hawaii based state-of-the-art remote film technology to this project. Using propeller remote camera platforms for low altitude surveys of buildings, structures, and landscapes. Harry’s aerials can enhance the capacity of First Responders, Homeland Security, Port Administration, Public Works and Agriculture by providing live time video assessments of large areas, situational conditions, surveillance and other needs instantly for decision making and immediate response.  Meeting was held with the Director of Homeland Security Iuni Savusa and NDPTC representative Kalani Souza.
 
Reid Fisher, Licensed Architect and Contractor in Hawaii: Certified in various 3D computer aided design soft ware. His work integrated the data and transformed the information into 3D images of the basic structure, roofing, foundation and rafters.
 
Stanley Solamillo, Architectural Historian for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART), and former Cultural Resource Planner for Maui County: Provides project research and the preparation of documentation for a listing of the Siona Church in the National Historic Register of Historic Places as a significant example of national patrimony of American Samoa.
 
William Wong, AIA, Jenken Architecture, Principal: Wong established JENKEN Architecture LLC in 1989. William was employed by the Department of Defense as an Architect, for 27 years managing and designing Military projects. After retiring from the DOD in 2006, William obtained his General Contractor license and expanded his now full-time Architectural and Construction business. Today, JENKEN Architectural LLC is a seasoned full service design-build company with over 30 years of experience.
 
James Niimoto Jenken Architecture, Architecture Designer: Niimoto is currently an architectural designer at JENKEN Architecture. His expertise includes architectural spatial analysis, 3D modeling and conceptualizing of spatial analysis environments and buildings.
 
Kevin Kruszona, Pacific Islands Construction, VP Construction: Kevin has more than 36 years in the construction industry and building industry. He is a licensed general contractor in Hawai`i and construction superintendent with projects ranging from shopping malls to high-rise office buildings. His expertise in roofing and renewable energy created Pacific Islands Construction in partnership with Dennis Swart.
 
Rev. M. Kalani Souza, UH NDPTC, National Community, Native and Tribal Outreach Specialist: Kalani is the Native Network Coordinator for FEMA University of Hawaii National Disaster Preparedness Training Center, Indigenous Knowledge and Education Hui of PRiMO: Pacific Risk Management Ohana, Videographer, Producer with Lomikai Media, LLC. And Executive Director of Olohana Foundation a 501C3 community capacity building non-profit.
 
Source: Pacific Business Center Program



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