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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, July 21, 2006

Need ride to airport? You got it

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Columnist

Imagine a place where you can get a plot of land to build your home for free.

Free!

A place where you can get help financing a new house through government-sponsored programs, plus get help in coming up with a down payment.

Sounds like a fantasy, doesn't it? Especially in light of what we now live with in Hawai'i and all we've given up hoping for.

Not only can you get free land and help financing in Ellsworth County, the incentive package to move into town and set up your life comes with little gifties like waivers of building permit fees, sewer tap fees, one month of free water, free basic cable, free dial-up Internet and your choice of a family golf pass for one year, an annual family swimming pool pass or monthly recreation fees for one year.

Can you imagine that? Turns out lots of people aren't in Kansas anymore.

Maybe it's because they're all here.

In Hawai'i, there is a lot of empty sales talk about "Come on down!" and pretty sunset ads that say "Welcome home," but the reality is if you can't afford it, you're not all that welcome.

There just isn't the room.

But in Ellsworth County, smack in the middle of Kansas, they have the room, they have the land, and when they say "e komo mai," they back it up with some startling offers.

The Ellsworth County "Welcome Home Plan," home.classicnet.net/wel comehome, is meant to re-populate the rural area known as the "pride of the prairie." It offers free residential building lots for those willing and able to build a new house within 24 months.

That means you have to sign a deal with a contractor within six months, break ground within 12 months and move in within two years.

The house has to be at least 1,000 square feet and sit on a poured concrete foundation: Lot sizes average 100-by-165 feet.

Further, if you enroll your kids in the local Ellsworth school system, you qualify for cash for a down payment on your house.

There just isn't a comparison to our reality. Here, the traffic, the weekend beach crowds, the miserable housing options, the impossibility of even finding a few square feet of real estate on which to safely park your car for a few hours makes you wish Hawai'i had some "Yeah, some of you folks go move to Kansas" incentives, too.

Move to Kansas and we'll help you pack.

Move to Kansas and we'll send you Zippy's chili so you don't get homesick.

Enroll your child in an Ellsworth County school and you get to take your kid out of the Hawai'i DOE system!

So what if the temperature this week has hit 109 degrees? What's a tornado every once in awhile? So there's no beach or surf or fern-scented rain forests not like we get to enjoy that stuff very often, anyway.

Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at 535-8172 or lcataluna@honoluluadvertiser.com.