As Mauna Kea Protests Grow, Some Hawaii Island Residents Worry About Jobs

Kathy DeMello, 59, remembers when the first telescope was built on Mauna Kea.

It was 1968, and her father was one of the construction workers. “It was exciting,” said DeMello, a third-generation Portuguese immigrant to the Big Island of Hawaii.

On Saturday, DeMello sat at a market in Hilo selling handmade jewelry and chatting with neighbors and friends. Like many in the community, she doesn’t understand the staunch opposition to the Thirty Meter Telescope that’s erupted over the last few weeks.

“This is education. It’s jobs,” she said.

That means a lot to DeMello: Most of her family has moved away because the Big Island’s tight economy means that there aren’t many jobs available.

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