About The Kaʻū Calendar

Ka`u, Hawai`i, United States
A locally owned and run community newspaper (www.kaucalendar.com) distributed in print to all Ka`u District residents of Ocean View, Na`alehu, Pahala, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Village and Miloli`i on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This blog is where you can catch up on what's happening daily with our news briefs. This blog is provided by The Ka`u Calendar Newspaper (kaucalendar.com), Pahala Plantation Cottages (pahalaplantationcottages.com), Local Productions, Inc. and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs June 30, 2011

Chef Jean Louis visits coffee orchards and farms and ranches when working on the Volcano Project plan.
CHEF JEAN LOUIS THEMISTOCLE RANDRIANTIANA, one of the partners in the Volcano Project, is serving as personal chef for England’s Royal Highnesses Prince William and Princess Kate this weekend in Montreal, Canada. Chef Jean Louis is senior culinary professor of the renowned International Tourism & Hotel Institute in Montreal. He also works on the culinary educational plan for the Volcano Project and has visited Ka`u Coffee farms and met with local farmers and ranchers to make plans to use locally grown food at the Volcano Project. Volcano Project founders David Howard Donald and Anne Lee said they are hoping to hear soon whether the National Park Service has accepted their proposal to manage Volcano House Hotel for Volcano Project.

AN ACROSS THE BOARD PAY CUT of five percent for all state workers begins tomorrow. The pay cut was approved by all the government unions except the Hawai`i State Teachers Association. It also requires workers to pay for half of their health care insurance. The teachers' union is still hoping to go back to the bargaining table and vote on the issue, but the administration said it has given its last, best offer and will implement the pay cuts on July 1 when the new state budget goes into effect.

THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT has issued a Request for Proposals for making compost in order to prevent green waste from filling up the two county landfills. Free county mulch from green waste is no longer being brought to Ka`u following Ka`u coffee farmers successfully petitioning Mayor Billy Kenoi to end the program. The coffee farmers worried that the mulch could contain a dangerous pest, the coffee berry borer, which has devastated Kona coffee farms. The RFP for processing green waste calls for a fully composted, disease- and pest-free garden additive, hopefully in production within six to eight months, said County Council member Brittany Smart.
Wahine pull down the steer. Photo by Julia Neal
FRIENDS OF HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK will conduct its annual Fourth of July Silent Auction from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Cooper Center on Wright Road in Volcano Village, which is the destination of the annual Fourth of July Parade. Auction items for 2011 include four rounds of golf, Hawai`i Forest & Trail's exclusive Kohala Waterfalls Adventure, an encounter program with Dolphin Quest, a Sea Quest rafting and snorkel adventure, and an underwater adventure for two aboard Atlantis Submarines on Hawai`i, Maui or O`ahu. Overnight stays in Volcano, yoga classes, massage, acupuncture and memberships for `Imiloa Astronomy Center are among the offerings, along with art, food, and gift baskets. For more information, call 985-7373 or admin@fhvnp.org.

S0UTHSIDE JR. BOYS VOLLEYBALL is competing well in Minneapolis. In yesterday’s first day of competition, the 12 and Under team beat the Gigantes from Puerto Rico, Kuikahi from O`ahu, the Borinquen Coqui from Puerto Rico. They lost only to Southern California Volleyball Club and another Puerto Rican Club called the Vaqueros. Ka`u team members are Kameron Iokepa-Moses, Nai`a Makuakane, Addison Enriques and Avery Enriques.

LAST DAY TO SIGN UP to march in the annual Independence Day Parade is tomorrow, July 1. The parade begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday and travels along Hwy 11 in Na`alehu. Call 929-9872. It is followed by two days of rodeo at the Na`alehu Rodeo Grounds. The annual Fourth of July Parade in Volcano will be held at 9 a.m. on Monday.

Punalu`u Bake Shop is one of many Ka`u businesses joining the Independence Day Parade, Saturday, July 2. Photo by Julia Neal

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs June 29, 2011

Halemaumau vent at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
     REP. BOB HERKES is hoping that his vog task force bill, aimed at studying the effects of vog here will survive the veto pen of Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Herkes told the Hawai`i Tribune Herald that the task force would accomplish a job left undone by a state Interagency Task Force on Sulfur Dioxide Emissions, a 45-member group from around the state. The new 15-member task force would be chaired by the County Civil Defense Director. While vog is much less than it was two years ago when Halemaumau’s new vent opened and the major vog events began, it is still a problem affecting agriculture, wildlife and people, said Herkes. Chief of state Civil Defense, Maj. Gen. Daryll Wong helped Herkes write the bill. The governor said it would duplicate exiting programs, but Herkes hopes to change his mind.

     PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS may wind up with a 5 percent wage decrease and paying half of their health insurance costs as the teachers’ union contract with the state expires tomorrow with no agreement in place. Labor law allows the Department of Education to implement its last, best contract offer. The governor said yesterday said that the unprecedented deficit has created a situation in which everyone has to sacrifice.

Military helicopter trainees at
Poakuloa Training Area.
Photo courtesy of PTA.
MAUNA LOA & MAUNA KEA will be free of high altitude military helicopter training at least until the Army completes environmental impact reviews for the sate. Gov. Neil Abercrombie wrote to the military saying that he was sure they could be done “with dispatch.” Environmental studies were already completed and approved by the federal government. Training is for pilots getting ready to go to Afghanistan, where challenging high altitude flying is required for moving troops by helicopter.

     ‘AINA KOA PONO plans to present its proposal for a refinery between Pahala and Wood Valley and a biofuel farm between Na`alehu and Pahala to the Hawai`i Island Economic Development Board today at the organization’s meeting to be held at Puna Geothermal. The development board is comprised of such business leaders as the president of Hawaiian Electric Light Co., mangers of GasCo., KTA, Bank of Hawai`i and First Hawaiian Bank, along with some non-profits such as Kamehameha Schools.

     PAHALA PUBLIC AND SCHOOL LIBRARY will shut down for more than a month beginning on Friday. The stated reason is a staffing shortage. The library reopens on Monday, Aug. 8. Librarians are directing patrons to Na`alehu Public Library on Hwy 11. Call 939-2442. To line up books to check out from public libraries, go to librarieshawaii.org for a catalogue of titles, eBooks, digital audio books and a wide variety of online databases with access to full-text materials from magazines, newspapers, journals and other publications. Also online is an Ask-A-Librarian E-Reference service. A library card is not required to use this service.

    THE KOHALA CENTER has come out with a new report called Energy Efficiency Strategies for Low-Income Communities on Hawai‘i Island, written by the Center for Industrial Ecology at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. It can be seen online at www.kohalacenter.org/research.html. U.S. Department of Energy data shows Hawaii has the highest electricity rates in the country. According to the report, local households spend roughly six percent of their income on electricity, three times the national average of two percent.
     The report analyzes money spent to educate and help low income people with energy efficiency and concludes that a company contracted for this island was paid $3 million but spent less than $1 million here on the service.
     Will Rolston, the county’s Energy Coordinator, said the county will pursue and remedy any inequity in energy efficiency money that should be deployed on our island. “It is self-evident that as we lift under-served community members, it strengthens the entire Island.”

     THE DEADLINE TO SIGN UP to be part of the Na`alehu Independence Day Parade is this Friday, July 1. The parade starts at the Hongwanji and travels down Hwy 11 to the school on Saturday, July 2, beginning at 11 a.m. It is sponsored by `O Ka`u Kakou. Call 929-9872 to sign up.
     The Volcano Parade is on Monday, July 4 at 9 a.m. starting at the Volcano Post Office on Old Volcano Hwy. Participants can show up at 8 a.m. Call 967-7800.
Keiki, men and women enjoy the annual Independence Day Rodeo at the Na'alehu Rodeo Grounds. Photo by Julia Neal
     THE ANNUAL INDEPENDENCE DAY RODEO will be held after the parade on Saturday, July 2, and all day Sunday July 3, at the Na’alehu Rodeo Grounds, with events for keiki, men and women.

     THE COMMUNITY BOOKSTORE at Kauaha`ao Church in Wai`ohinu is open tomorrow and every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 938-0411 for more information.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs June 28, 2011

Gov. Neil Abercrombie plans to veto a bill that was put forth as a measure to protect important agricultural lands.
Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
GOV. NEIL ABERCROMBIE INTENDS TO VETO A BILL that passed the state Legislature and was put forth as a measure to protect important agricultural lands. While the bill was intended to encourage landowners to keep the best Hawai`i lands in ag forever, it also gave many incentives for industrial development that could be connected to ag. It would have given property tax breaks, reduced requirements for building permits, reduced electric rates to run the operations and state funding for water development.
     Department of Ag Chair Russell Kokubun testified during the Legislature, calling for the bill to be delayed until the counties come up with their mapping of important ag lands to be preserved. The Land Use Research Foundation, comprised of large landowners and developers, had strongly supported the bill, as did the Hawai`i Cattlemen’s Association.
     The Sierra Club testified against portions of the bill, stating that it could intentionally if not automatically “approve undesirable development projects throughout Hawai`i.” The Sierra Club pointed out that the measure would create a 90-day automatic approval of any construction project connected to crops or other agriculture on lands designated as important ag lands. “Automatic approval of any permit is simply poor policy,” the Sierra Club wrote. “Permits should be granted on their merits, not by mistake or governmental inefficiency,” stated the Sierra Club.

THE GOVERNOR HAS ALSO INFORMED THE LEGISLATURE of his intent to veto the following bills:

THE FOOD SAFETY AND SECURITY PROGRAM proposed for the state Department of Agriculture.

THE VOG TASK FORCE bill, which passed the 2011 state Legislature. An interagency task force, championed by Rep. Bob Herkes, was designed to find ways to address vog and its impact on the people of Hawai`i.

A LIGHT POLLUTION BILL designed to make Hawai`i a “Starlight Reserve.” It would have required new and replacement outdoor light fixtures to be fully shielded beginning on July 1, 2013. It specified that replacement of existing roadway lighting may be partially shielded under certain conditions. 
     The bill stated that “the Legislature finds that the night sky is a tremendously valuable natural and cultural resource for the residents of Hawai`i, and for visitors to Hawai`i. The dark night sky has tremendous scientific value for astronomy, and is vitally important for endangered species in Hawai`i, including birds and turtles. Mauna Kea, on the island of Hawai`i, is the best astronomical observatory site in the northern hemisphere.
     Unnecessary light pollution is threatening the dark night sky over the Hawaiian islands. This light pollution includes sky glow, energy waste, glare, light trespass, visual confusion, and environmental harm. Light can travel enormous distances through the Earth’s atmosphere, and therefore does not respect county boundaries, the bill that passed the Legislature stated.
     While the University of Hawai`i and the telescope companies and a number of citizens testified for the bill, there were calls for delay in passing it because of concerns about the cost during tough economic times.

A VOTER REGISTRATION BILL that would have provided online voter registration requirements and voter registration through the website of the office of elections by Jan. 1, 2014.

COUNCIL MEMBER BRITTANY SMART said she supports the 2 percent fund to purchase land for preservation but decided the money taken from property taxes to conserve lands for the public could be reduced to 1.5 percent for this fiscal year in order to help pay for retirement benefits for county workers. She said she worries that failing to set aside the money for future retirees could not only threaten the county’s ability to pay retirement benefits but could also threaten the county’s good bond rating. She voted for the 1.5 percent clause during Council budget deliberations in early June. This was a compromise, as the Council had been considering reducing it to 1 percent, she noted.
     Last Friday, Smart explained, she voted on an entirely separate issue, along with seven of the other nine Council members to change the county code to require a minimum of 1 percent of property tax income to be put in the land use fund. The wording matches the County Charter amendment passed by voters in the last election that requires at least one percent of property tax income be used for purchasing lands for conservation. She also said she supports Council member Brenda Ford’s Charter Amendment effort to restore the fund to 2 percent of property taxes received. 

Ka`u Summer Fun will again participate in the Fourth of July Parade
in Na`alehu this Saturday. Photo by Julia Neal
THE DEADLINE TO SIGN UP to be part of the Na`alehu Independence Day Parade is this Friday, July 1. The parade starts at the Hongwanji and travels down Hwy 11 to the school on Saturday, July 2, beginning at 11 a.m. It is sponsored by `O Ka`u Kakou. Call 929-9872 to sign up. 
     The Volcano Parade is on Monday, July 4 at 9 a.m. starting at the Volcano Post Office on Old Volcano Hwy. Participants can show up at 8 a.m. Call 967-7800.

THE COMMUNITY BOOKSTORE at Kauaha`ao Church in Wai`ohinu is open tomorrow and every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 938-0411 for more information. 

THE PAPAHANAUMOKUAKEA MARINE NATIONAL MONUMENT is the topic at After Dark in the Park tonight at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. UH graduate Jennifer Nelson discusses the Northwestern Hawaiian Island Chain, which is the single largest conservation area under the U.S. flag and one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs June 27, 2011

The Hawai`i County Band will march in the Na`alehu parade July 2 and Volcano parade July 4.  Photo by Julia Neal

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY yesterday celebrated providing a new four-bedroom, two-bath home in Ocean View for the Deanna and Kealoha Martin family. The mother of four said the family went through hard times and was reduced to living in a “bust up tent.” The father of the family thanked everyone and said his family had grown beyond his wife and children to the members of New Hope Church, Habitat and his neighbors. The new home allows the Martins to service an affordable mortgage without interest. It was provided with help from many community volunteers who offered labor and materials, as well as Habitat for Humanity, which provided financing and logistical support and funding.
The Martin family and friends with a tearful and thankful
prayer for their new Habitat home in Ocean View.
Photo by Julia Neal
    Volunteers, friends and family wrote words of hope on ribbons and attached them to a citrus free provided to the family along with other housewarming gifts and a luncheon. Habitat for Humanity—West Hawai`i covers an area that extends to Ocean View. Habitat for Humanity – Hilo covers the rest of Ka`u. The organization helps provide home ownership in a program that gives families a chance to work on their own success rather than giving them a handout. 

COUNCIL MEMBER BRITTANY SMART said she supports the 2 percent fund to purchase land for preservation but decided the money taken from property taxes to conserve lands for the public could be reduced for a year or two until the county finances are in better order. Last Friday, Smart voted along with seven of the other nine council members to cut the 2 percent fund in half. She said that she decided it was more important to pay ahead for benefits for retired workers, as the county has been doing for years, rather than delay those payments and wind up owing more to the retirement system next year.

COUNTY BAND funding was also a budget item that could have been cut for now, in favor of making payments into the pension system, said Smart. “Why we are funding the County Band while deferring pension payments is beyond me,” she said. She said the County Band could move into becoming a private nonprofit to open up more funding avenues. She also said she helped arrange for the county to cover the cost of transporting the band to Ka`u for the Independence Day Parade on July 2, which would have otherwise cost the sponsoring organization, `O Ka`u Kakou, $400. “The claims of the county cutting the band funding as killing a 128-year-old tradition is inaccurate if they have the amount of support for the band as they claim to have,” said Smart.

FIREWORK PERMITS FOR INDEPENDENCE DAY celebrations will be available this Wednesday, June 29 through Friday, July 1 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. However, you have to drive to Kona or Hilo to retrieve them. The county locations are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays at the Fire Administration Office at the County Building in Hilo and the Fire Prevention Kona Office located at the West Hawai`i Civic Center Bldg. They will also be available at Pinky’s along Hwy 11 in Papaikou and at Thunder Fireworks at 75-1022 Henry Street in Kailua-Kona. Each $25 permit entitles the holder to purchase 5,000 individual firecrackers. Permits will be issued to persons 18 years of age or older and are non-transferable and non-refundable. Permits, if purchased, should be visibly displayed at the site of use on the day at the time of the firing. The recent ban on consumer fireworks implemented on O`ahu does not affect Hawai`i County. Firecrackers (with a valid permit), and consumer fireworks will be allowed to be set off during the approved hours of 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. July 4th only. 
The Fire Department will parade July 2 and stand by for any
Fourth of July fireworks problems. Photo by Julia Neal
     Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira reminds the public it is illegal to remove the powder or pyrotechnic contents from any fireworks; throw fireworks from a moving vehicle; set off any fireworks at any time not within the time periods as permitted; set off any fireworks within 1,000 feet of any operating hospital, nursing home, home for the elderly or animal hospital or in any school building or on any school grounds and yards on any occasion; and to set off any fireworks on any highway, alley, street, sidewalk or other public way; in any park, or within 1,000 feet of a church during the periods when services are held.
     It is illegal for any person to offer for sale, sell, or give any fireworks to minors, and for any minor to possess, purchase, sell, or set off, ignite, or otherwise cause to explode any fireworks, except under the immediate supervision of an adult.
     The Hawai`i Fire Department also asks everyone to do their part to prevent fires and injuries caused by fireworks. Public Fireworks Displays will be at 8 p.m. on Coconut Island in Hilo; 8:30 p.m. from a barge off-shore on Ali`i Drive in Kailua-Kona and at 8 p.m. at Queen's Marketplace in Waikoloa.
     For more information on purchasing fireworks permits, or the use of fireworks, call the Fire Prevention Bureau at 932-2912 or 323-4760.

THE PAPAHANAUMOKUAKEA MARINE NATIONAL MONUMENT is the topic at After Dark in the Park tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. UH graduate Jennifer Nelson discusses the Northwestern Hawaiian Island Chain, which is the single largest conservation area under the U.S. flag and one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world.

THERE IS STILL TIME TO SIGN UP to be part of the Na`alehu Independence Day Parade. The deadline is Friday, July 1. The parade travels down Hwy 11 on Saturday, July 2 beginning at 11 a.m. and is sponsored by `O Ka`u Kakou. Call 929-9872.
     The Volcano Parade is on Monday, July 4 at 9 a.m., starting at the Volcano Post Office on Old Volcano Hwy. Participants can show up at 8 a.m. Call 967-7800.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs June 26, 2011

Keaiwa Farm Lots farmer James Hanka harvests bok choy for the Ocean View Green Market.  Photo by Julia Neal

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY has finished another project in Ka`u, this one a home in Ocean View for the Martin `Ohana. Habitat for Humanity, West Hawai`i is a locally run affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing organization. The nonprofit works in partnership with people in need to build and renovate decent, affordable housing. The houses then are sold to the family at no profit and with no interest charged. 
     Residents can sign up to become recipients of help from Habitat or to volunteer, donate money, labor, building materials and even houselots through habitatwesthawii.org or call 331-8010. 
     A blessing for the Ocean View house for the Martin family was planned for today.

HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC LIGHT COMPANY is proposing more geothermal energy for the Big Island. HELCO has issued a request for information to determine the best way to pursue geothermal development. The utility is seeking input from potential geothermal developers and interested landowners on next steps that take into account renewable energy goals and clean energy policy in “the state’s unique community, cultural, historical, and environmental context. See full RFI at http://GeothermalRFI.heco.com.
Geothermal already produces about 31 percent of renewable energy
statewide, and expansion is planned.  Photo by Puna Geothermal
     Questions or comments may be submitted via email, and answers will be posted on the site. Responses to the RFI are requested by Aug. 31.
     “Geothermal power is already a proven source of firm renewable power that can play an even larger role in Hawai`i’s clean energy future,” said Jay Ignacio, president of HELCO. “This is a first step, and with growing interest and discussions around the state we must consider the best approach because developing geothermal is unique.”
     Geothermal development differs from other renewable energy projects such as wind, solar, biofuel and biomass, waste-to-energy or hydro-electric, according the HELCO. “Community and cultural consultation are a critical part of the process. Typically, a geothermal project must begin with resource identification, resource evaluation, and drilling one or more test wells. These high-cost procedures must precede a formal project proposal. A resource verified through an exploratory well must be found before further steps, including production well drilling and plant construction can begin,” said a statement from the utility company. The RFI focuses on the early phase of geothermal development.”
     More than 30 percent of electricity on Hawai`i Island is generated from renewable resources, including hydro, wind, distributed photovoltaic, concentrating solar and geothermal.
     Puna Geothermal Venture, a subsidiary of Ormat Technologies, operates a 30-megawatt capacity geothermal plant and is planning to expand to 38 megawatts. A proposed purchase power agreement between HELCO and Puna Geothermal is now before the Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission.

MOSES ESPANIOLA III TEACHES `UKULELE today and every Sunday through July at the Old Pahala Clubhouse. The classes for beginning and intermediate youth and adults are held from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Call Chelle at 808-896-1911 for more information.

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are home to more than
7,000 marine species.  Photo by James Watt
THE PAPAHANAUMOKUAKEA MARINE NATIONAL MONUMENT is the topic at After Dark in the Park this Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. UH graduate Jennifer Nelson discusses the Northwestern Hawaiian Island Chain, which is the single largest conservation area under the U.S. flag and one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world. 

THE GREEN MARKET at Ocean View Community Center happens every Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Farmers are invited to sell their foods. So far farmers from growing places like Keaiwa, up Wood Valley Road, have been bringing fresh vegetables, including lettuce, bok choy, kai choi and other oriental vegetables grown by James Hanka and his family. Call 939-7033 for more information.

THE INDEPENDENCE DAY PARADE in Na`alehu on Saturday, July 2 will be preceded by a free pancake breakfast for everyone at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the same village. The parade will be held at 11 a.m. along Hwy 11, followed by the annual Fourth of July Rodeo at the Na`alehu Rodeo Grounds, which continues through Sunday, July 3.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs June 25, 2011

The Two Percent fund has allowed the county to purchase such places for parks as lands surrounding
the Kawa surfing beach.  Photo by Julia Neal
THE TWO PERCENT LAND FUND is threatened by the County Council, with Ka`u’s council member Brittany Smart voting to cut it in half – down to one percent at yesterday’s council meeting. Only council member Angel Pilago voted to keep the funding intact. The two percent fund, also called the Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund, has been used to set aside coastal parklands in Ka`u and other places on the Big Island. It is generated by setting aside two percent of property tax revenues taken in by the county. 
     Mayor Billy Kenoi said that cutting the funding violates the county code. The council will vote on the matter again this coming Thursday. The council members who voted for reducing the two percent fund want to use the money to pay for retirees’ health insurance payments in advance.
     Council Chair Dominic Yagong proposed hiring an outside attorney to represent the council in this and other matters, but the measure was defeated in a 5 to 4 vote.

GOV. NEIL ABERCROMBIE told the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce yesterday that “the Big Island has the best possibilities in the entire world for alternative energy.” According to a report in West Hawai`i Today, the governor said he also sees the possibility of establishing a residential military base for families being relocated from the Okinawa marine base back to the U.S. He also said housing could be a possibility for the families of troops preparing for deployment at the Pohakuloa Training Area. West Hawai`i Today reported Abercrombie as saying, “PTA will be the center for training in the Pacific in the 21st Century.” 

No more mulch will be transferred from
Kona to Ka`u to help prevent further
spread of coffee borers into the famed
Ka`u Coffee farms. Photo by Julia Neal
TO HELP STOP THE SPREAD of the coffee berry borer, the Department of Environmental Management has discontinued hauling mulch from Kealakehe to Wai`ohinu transfer station. Island coffee growers recently brought to the county’s attention the possibility that hauling mulch from one coffee-growing district to another could contribute to the unwanted spread of the coffee berry borer infestation since the pests may be in the mulch. 
     “We appreciate everyone’s understanding and kokua in the effort to prevent the spread of the coffee borer pest on our island,” said Kevin Dayton, of the Office of the Mayor.
     A proposal to make compost from the county’s entire supply of green waste is currently being solicited among private vendors. Under this proposal, compost would be manufactured commercially, and the current practice of offering free mulch islandwide would end soon.
     Until then, free mulch is available at the Kealakehe and Hilo transfer stations. However, users should not transport the mulch to or near coffee-growing areas, Dayton said. 

TWELVE MORE BILLS WERE SIGNED into law by Gov. Abercrombie this week:
• Senate Bill 142 requires the Board of Land and Natural Resources to consider dams and reservoirs as important water resources for the State.
• Senate Bill 14 expands the authorized uses of the Agricultural Development and Food Security Special Fund to include the improvement of dams and reservoirs, and water quality testing and improvement.
• Senate Bill 1328 increases the motor vehicle registration fee from $25 to $45 and to deposit a portion into the general fund.
• House Bill 200 appropriates funds for the operating and capital improvement budget of the Executive Branch for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.
• House Bill 1020 revises the boundaries of the Aloha Tower complex and places the Aloha Tower Development Corporation under the Department of Transportation for administrative purposes.
• House Bill 117 expedites and facilitates work on construction projects within Special Management Areas.
• House Bill 555 extends the area applicable to graffiti removal from 100 yards to 250 yards and allows the court to require 100 hours of community service in lieu of graffiti removal.
• House Bill 593 requires candidates for county elective office to submit a sworn certification that the candidate has complied with the relevant provisions of the county charter and county ordinances.
• House Bill 960 establishes a program for granting low-income housing tax credit loans in lieu of housing tax credits. There is already $7 million appropriated for this function in the state budget.
• House Bill 1368 clarifies the filing process of nomination papers and also defines a party candidate and modifies the withdrawal process for a party candidate.
• House Bill 1434 clarifies that a single violation of the prevailing wage law refers to each separate project where the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations finds a contractor in violation of Hawai`i Revised Statutes Chapter 104.
• House Bill 1447 amends provisions in the Permitted Transfers in Trust Act (Act 182, SLH 2010) to strengthen Hawai`i’s trust laws and allow Hawai`i to compete with other states in this growing industry.
     For more information on these or all measures that have been signed into law, please visit http://capitol.hawaii.gov/session2011.

This fire, started by an electric tranformer along Hwy 11, raged through
brushlands and threatened the Old Pahala Clubhouse in 2007.
Photo by Julia Neal
FIRE SEASON IS HERE, and the Hawai`i Wildfire Management Organization met with residents this week in Na`alehu to teach the strategy Ready, Set, Go! 
     READY means being prepared by taking such actions as screening vents, which could help keep houses from imploding, as it prevents embers or sparks from entering the driest part of a house, under the roof. Specialists also pointed to areas around houses. Anywhere that leaves gather is the same place that embers will gather, because they are both wind driven.
     SET – Be aware of such threats as cigarette butts and catalytic converters and throwing green waste along the road, which can increase the chance of roadside ignition.
     GO – Set up your house so that, in case of fire, you can leave for your own safety without panicking. Get fire safe to leave early and be a part of the fire solution and not the fire problem.

SQUARE DANCING TAKES PLACE TONIGHT and every Saturday night at the Ocean View Community Center from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Everyone is invited, and children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs June 24, 2011

Meleana Ulrich-Manuel and her Hula Halau ke `Olu Makani O Mauna Loa perform tonight at Kilauea Visitor Center.

PUBLIC HEARINGS ON THE `AINA KOA PONO project would be held in Hilo, Kona and on O`ahu, according to a sample public notice prepared by Hawaiian Electric Companies for the Public Utilities Commission.
     The sample notice also provides supportive testimony for the $350 million refinery and biofuel farm. It says the Biodiesel Supply Contract with `Aina Koa Pono-Ka`u “will provide sustainable, locally grown and processed biodiesel for electric generation in Hawai`i. With planned operation in the Ka`u region of Hawai`i Island, the project will initially supply approximately 16 million gallons of biodiesel for HELCO’s Keahole Power Plant. The AKP Biodiesel Contract is an important step in reaching Hawai`i’s goal of 70 percent of energy for electricity and transportation from clean sources by 2030, which includes the renewable portfolio standard of 40 percent of electric sales from renewable sources by 2030, as required by State law.”
Mina Morita, the new Director of the
PUC, oversees the scheduling of
public hearings on rate increases.
     The proposed notice also maintains that the AKP project “will contribute to achieving State energy policy goals such as stimulating the local agriculture industry; decreasing dependence on imported fossil fuels, primarily oil; reducing the percentage of the gross state product exported annually for energy, contributing to energy independence and security; lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and other local economic benefits.”
     Hawaiian Electric says the surcharge would add about $1.75 to $2.10 per month to a typical residential customer bill.
     The PUC will determine whether, when and where public hearings would be held.

GOV. NEIL ABERCROMBIE is cutting some $133 million for the 2012 and $251 million for the 2013 state budget. In a statement issued yesterday, he said:
     “The budget passed by the legislature requires our Administration to operate with hundreds of millions less than we believed necessary to restore core government functions. Despite tax increases passed by the legislature, services and programs will still have to be significantly cut. 
Gov. Neil Abercrombie
     “I have asked all departments to work together in a deliberate and thoughtful process that will identify programs that may be affected. In recent weeks, our administration began discontinuing financial support of programs that are valuable but can no longer be sustained, such as Vanpool Hawai`i and the State Pharmacy Assistance Program. These cuts and others that follow will be difficult but the financial constraints we face allow for no other course of action. 
     “This in no way alters our commitment to our three-part plan to get Hawai`i moving forward by creating good jobs; transforming government and providing taxpayers with the best value for their dollar; and investing in our priorities and future.”
     Ka`u residents are still waiting to find out if the proposed disaster shelter and new gym for Ka`u High School will be put on hold because of the state deficit.

RETIREMENT AGE FOR STATE WORKERS goes up to 65 years of age, and new workers must put more money into the retirement program to come out with the same benefits as current workers. Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law House Bill 1038, which begins to address the state’s unfunded liability for its retirement system. “We are addressing the very same problem that many other states are struggling with. It’s a problem which represents a growing burden on governments and taxpayers,” said Kalbert Young, Director of the state Department of Budget and Finance. “This measure will help curtail and minimize the future growth in the overall pension liability,” he said. 
     Currently, the state’s liability for the Employees Retirement System is approximately $7 billion. To address this rising cost, among other things, this Act will affect future employees by:
     • Raising the retirement age for certain new employees from 55 to 60 years old, and for most others from 62 to 65 years old
     • Increasing the number of years for state employees to be “vested” to receive retirement benefits from five years to 10 years; and
     • Raising the employee and employer contribution rates.

BUSINESSES AND WORKERS IN KA`U who expense their transportation costs on their federal taxes will get some relief for the second half of the year. The IRS has increased the expense rate to 55.5 cents per mile, raising from the 51 cents per mile that can be expensed for the first half of the year. “This year’s increased gas prices are having a major impact on individual Americans. The IRS is adjusting the standard mileage rates to better reflect the recent increase in gas prices,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “We are taking this step so the reimbursement rate will be fair to taxpayers.”
     While gasoline is a significant factor in the mileage figure, other items enter into the calculation of mileage rates, such as depreciation and insurance and other fixed and variable costs. 

Tim Tunison
A BACKYARD FOREST RESTORATION WORKSHOP takes place tomorrow at Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. Tim Tunison teaches step-by-step methods of ecosystem restoration from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Call 967-8222 to pre-register.

ARE YOU PREPARED FOR THE NEXT NATURAL HAZARD? A workshop about hazard preparedness takes place tomorrow at UH-Hilo’s UCB Lecture Hall from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Topics include Emergency management and evacuation planning, tsunami warnings, hurricane forecasts, home hurricane retrofit measures and the national flood insurance program.

HULA HALAU KE `OLU MAKANI O MAUNA LOA, under the direction of Meleana Ulrich-Manuel, performs tonight from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The performance is free, and park entrance fees apply.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs June 23, 2011

The annual Independence Day weekend rodeo in Na`alehu will be held July 2 and 3 at the rodeo grounds. Photo by Julia Neal

WHERE SHOULD PUBLIC HEARINGS BE HELD concerning Hawaiian Electric Co.’s proposal to raise rates across its customer base to help pay for the $350 million proposed refinery and energy farm near Pahala? This is one of the questions before the state Public Utilities Commission, which is reviewing plans by Hawaiian Electric and ‘Aina Koa Pono to produce biofuel here.        
     Jeffrey T. Ono, Executive Director of the state Division of Consumer Advocacy, said hearings should be held on the Big Island, Maui, Lana`i, Moloka`i and O`ahu – all places where electric rates are likely to rise to help pay for the Ka`u project. Ono submitted testimony on June 17, saying, "The HECO Companies' proposed Biofuel Surcharge Provision intends to establish a new rate, fare or charge that will likely increase the overall amounts paid by the consumers or patrons in the HECO Companies' service territories."
         Ono wrote that his “recommendation is predicated on the belief that allowing public hearings would offer the customers likely to be impacted an opportunity to better educate themselves on the issues as well as to voice their testimonies on those issues.” HECO’s brief to the PUC argues that Hawai‘i law does not require a public hearing. However, the electric company would “agree” to have public hearings on O`ahu and the Big Island. The PUC has given HECO another deadline, which is today, for HECO to submit more information on the issue.

Information is needed regarding the deadly accident on Hwy 11.
MORE INFO ON THE FATAL ACCIDENT on June 12 on Hwy 11 is being provided by Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Chief Ranger Talmadge Magno. He said that 19-year old Julien Quiocho of Hilo was apparently the driver, survived the crash, and was airlifted to Queen’s Medical Center on O`ahu. He reportedly suffered serious brain and spinal injuries and is apparently still hospitalized. Magno said that Quiocho was "in too much pain” to give a statement before being flown to O`ahu. Rangers attempted to contact Quiocho at Queen's, but doctors said he was unable to be interviewed. Several witnesses have come forward to provide information on the crash, but the full story of what happened that night is still unclear, said Magno. Anyone who may have any information about the incident is encouraged to call 985-6001.
         The passenger who died at the scene was 20-year old Bryson Areola, of Kea`au. Car racing has been suspected in connection with the accident and police and rangers are urging the community to discourage drag racing along the highway, which apparently happens most often on weekend, full-moon nights when the Hilo drag strip is closed.

“DO YOU COUGH EACH DAY?” was one of the questions Dr. Bernadette Longo asked during the Pancake Breakfast in Ocean View last weekend. She also took blood pressure and pulse readings for her research: The CARE-Vog Study: Cardiorespiratory Assessment of Residents Exposed to Vog. Longo, Assistant Professor of Nursing at the University of Nevada, Reno, has a PhD in public health, is a Hawai’i registered nurse, and researcher on Volcano health studies. Her husband, a volcanologist, offered graphs showing evidence of particulates and sulfur dioxide in the air for Pahala, Ocean View and Kona. 
Dr. Bernadette Longs will take blood pressure and gather other data for
her vog and health study. Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
         Longo hopes the study will help researchers gain an understanding of any effects of air pollution from Kilauea Volcano on the health and wellbeing of nearby residents. 
    People volunteering to participate must be over 20 years of age, and residents of Pahala, Ocean View, Honoka'a, Mountain View or on the Kona Coast for at least seven years. Participants’ identities are protected and information gathered is confidential. Participating in the study is free and those examined receive a record of their pulse and blood pressure- which, if taken to a doctor, could detect early signs of long-term illness. Anyone interested in can call 775-815-9162.

CONGRESSWOMAN MAZIE HIRONO says she supports President Barack Obama’s plan, announced yesterday, to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. “I strongly support President Obama’s decision to bring 10,000 of our brave men and women in uniform home from  Afghanistan and 30,000 by the end of 2012. The President has successfully dealt with Osama bin Laden, and this is the right time to focus on responsibly winding down our mission in Afghanistan,” said Hirono.
THE HAWAI`I WILDFIRE MANAGEMENT ORGANIZATION holds a workshop about wildfire preparedness tonight from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center. It covers strategies to protect homes and families against wildfires. Call Carolyn at 885-6354.
Patriot marches in local parades. Photo by Julia Neal
COUNTY MASS TRANSIT is conducting a Community Outreach Campaign to assess the transportation needs of the community, particularly the route from Volcano into Hilo. Community members can call 961-8744 or visit heleonbus.org and click on the Volcano to Hilo Bus Service Survey.
IT’S TIME TO GET READY for the July 2 and 4th Independence Day Parades. The Na`alehu Parade travels down Hwy 11 on July 2 beginning at 11 a.m. and is sponsored by `O Ka`u Kakou.The deadline to enter is July 1 by calling 929-9872. The Volcano Parade is at 9 a.m. starting at the Volcano Post Office on Old Volcano Hwy. Participants can show up at 8 a.m. Call 967-7800.
THE ANNUAL INDEPENDENCE DAY RODEO will be held on July 2 following the parade in Na`alehu. The rodeo will take place both Saturday and Sunday, with roping, mugging, barrels and other paniolo events for men, women and children. The rodeo grounds are next to Na`alehu Community Center.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs June 22, 2011

  R.I.P. means Rest In Peace and was painted on Hwy 11 by friends the car crash victim. Photo by Bobby Tucker

THE DEADLY CRASH ON HWY 11,allegedly related to full-moon midnight car racing, between Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and Pahala is the subject of a community outreach to find out more about the accident and to discourage racing on the highways. The latest theory is that the crash on June 12 was precipitated by an earlier accident the same night at milepost 31, also involving car racing. Allegedly, two youth in the first racecar called for help from their friends. Their friends raced to help them, crashing themselves into the lava between mileposts 35 and 36 on Hwy 11.
            Coincidentally, drivers of an ambulance, which happened to be transporting a patient from Ka’u Hospital to Hilo, discovered the fatal accident near milepost 35 around 1:30 a.m. and called for more help. When the Medic 19 ambulance from Kilauea Military Camp was approaching the crash site, they came first upon the earlier accident and found two unharmed men. Medic 19 proceeded to the second accident and found the passenger, 20-year old Bryson Areola of Keaau, dead at the scene. Driver, 19-year old Julien Quiocho of Hilo, was airlifted to Queen’s Medical Center on O'ahu with reportedly serious brain and spinal injuries.
            Police and National Park officials are encouraging all the community to help discourage racing. Apparently, when no races are scheduled at the track in Hilo, some of the racers dive to the straight-aways on county and state roads in Kapoho and Ka`u, usually on a full moon weekend.
            In lieu of specific evidence surrounding the crash, rangers believe the victims may have speeding and lost control of the vehicle, causing them to crash. Their bodies were thrown from their vehicle into the lava field. The victims may also have been under the influence of alcohol. However, HVNP and HPD officials are still investigating. Anyone who may have witnessed the accident or have any information about the incident is encouraged to call 985-6001.

HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK has hired 12 of the 22 Ka`u High School juniors and seniors trained this spring for summer employment. Kupono McDaniel, Supervisor Ranger, said that 17 of the 22 students completed the training program and the top 12 individuals were selected. The hired students are approved for 24 hours a week or paid employment for a duration of eight weeks. McDaniel hopes the other five trainees will be hired on by other non-profit organizations in Ka`u or become volunteer rangers at the park. 
Daniel Elmore, of Ocean View, guides visitors at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park
during last year's Summer Youth Employment Program.    
            Mentoring the students is Gorge Zamudio, of Ocean View, a participant in last year’s Summer Youth Employment Program. He is now a full-time employee through a Hawai`i based non-profit called KUPU, which empowers youth through environmental stewardship. Permanent rangers mentor new hires while the park’s five new university student hires cover the front desk. There are three student temporary employees, two from University of Hawai`i-Hilo and one from Hilo Community College. Two additional U.H.–Hilo interns were hired through KUPU. For more information about the program call McDaniel at 985-6015.

NOONE WILL HAVE to worry about going to county offices and finding them closed on a Friday. Furlough Fridays are pau, the last one shutting down county offices just last week. With the new fiscal year arriving July 1, county workers will have their regular schedule and pay restored. The Furlough Fridays were enacted to save about $7 million a year through cutting worker wages and reducing utility bills. The County Council wanted to continue Furlough Fridays, with Chairman Dominic Yagong saying it was the best option for cutting the budget again next year.

THE COUNTY COUNCIL plans an emergency meeting this Friday to go over Mayor Billy Kenoi’s veto of the County Council budget and to consider the possibility of hiring an outside attorney.  The mayor claimed the council’s version of the budget is fraught with illegalities. Since the mayor and the council have the same attorney, there is confusion on why this possible problem was not handled by county attorneys before the budget was passed and vetoed. Council Chair Dominic Yagong has long contended that the mayor and council need independent attorneys to avoid a conflict of interest and potential allegiance to either the administration or council when representing both arms of county government.
Rep. Bob Herkes and his Nene goose are regulars at July 4 parades in Volcano and and Na`alehu.
Photo by Julia Neal
THE JULY 2 AND 4 INDEPENDENCE DAY PARADES, first in Na`alehu, then in Volcano are open for participants. Community groups, clubs, schools, ranches, farms and other businesses are invited to represent their interests.
            The Na`alehu Parade on Saturday, July 2 at 11 a.m. is sponsored by O Ka`u Kakou and the deadline to enter is July 1 by calling 929-9872.  The parade will include the Hawai‘i County Band, Ka‘u Hospital, KAHU Radio, Summer Fun, Boys & Girls Club, and 18 riders on horseback representing the Paniolo community.
Summer Fun marches in the July 2 Independence parade in Na`alehu. Photo by Julia Neal
            The Volcano Independence Day Parade, on Monday, July 4, at 9 a.m., is sponsored by the Volcano Community Association. It starts at the Volcano Post Office and winds up at Cooper Center for food, entertainment, crafts and displays. To participate in the parade, show up 8 a.m. at Volcano Post Office or call 967-7800. Among the participants are Volcano Art Center, Hawai`i County Band, Volcano School of Arts and Science, Volcano Rotary, floats, antique cars, fire engines, bicycles, horses, animals in costumes, dancers and musicians.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs June 21, 2011

Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park is waiving entrance fees today to celebrate the first day of summer. Here, Halema`uma`u is seen from the Kilauea Iki Overlook.  Photo by Geneveve Fyvie

GOV. NEIL ABERCROMBIE has signed 15 more bills passed by the 2011 Hawai`i State Legislature, bringing the total signed this year to 146. 
     One of the Acts stiffens penalties for labor trafficking and is, in part, a response to the Global Horizon case that is in federal court and involves a labor company that provided Thai workers for macadamia and coffee in Ka`u and elsewhere.
     This House Bill 141 establishes class A and B felony offenses for labor trafficking; establishes an offense for nonpayment of wages; and establishes an offense for unlawful conduct with respect to documents.
     Here are the other recently signed Acts and what they mean: 
Gov. Neil Abercrombie
* House Bill 953 recruits Board of Education staff positions by amending the salary cap. 
* Senate Bill 1282 provides schools the option – but no requirement – to administer a test that compares each Hawai`i student nationally.
* Senate Bill 806 changes term lengths on the Hawai`i Teachers State Board.
* Senate Bill 1068 makes killing or attempting to kill the pet of another person without their consent animal cruelty in the first degree.
* Senate Bill 1489 attaches attorney’s liens to proceedings after commencement of arbitration proceedings, and orders settlements and awards pursuant to an arbitration proceeding. Also, removes the deadline to file a notice of claim of the attorney’s lien.
* Senate Bill 1089 allows the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations penalizes businesses that fail to give notification of 60 days before relocating or ending their operations.
* House Bill 747 relates to liquor liability insurance by removing the definition of convenience minimarts.
* House Bill 663 requires clear and conspicuous disclosure of automatic renewal clauses and cancellation procedures for all consumer contracts and offers with an automatic renewal provision.
* House Bill 909 authorizes family court to issue financial restraining orders.
* House Bill 1333 increases the maximum monetary claim that may be filed in small claims court.
* House Bill 1613 requires an application to register to vote to include a space to request a permanent absentee ballot.
* House Bill 716 establishes new election deadlines to comply with state primary election date required by federal law (for overseas military voters).
* House Bill 1107 authorizes members of the Army and Air National Guard who are qualified by training and authorized by their commanders to use electric guns subject to state law when assisting civil authorities in disaster relief, civil defense, or law enforcement functions.
* House Bill 240 gives the Attorney General and City Prosecutor more tools to combat prostitution by providing security and protection to witnesses in cases that involve promoting prostitution.
     See more at http://capitol.hawaii.gov.

Barbara Chung Ho
SUMMER READING WORKSHOPS AT KA`U LIBRARIES will feature Barbara Chung Ho. Admission is free. 
     Chung Ho will present two interactive and customized workshops: The Folk Art of Chinese Knotting and The Folk Art of Chinese Paper Cutting. Chung Ho will share history of folk art and conduct step-by-step demonstrations on basic techniques of Chinese knotting and paper cutting.
     The one-hour workshops are suitable for ages 12 and older. Supplies will be provided. Interested children and adults can call the Pahala Library at 928-2015 for the Monday, June 27 event at 1 p.m. or the Na`alehu Library at 939-2442 for the Tuesday, June 28 event at 10 a.m.
     Performances by Chung Ho and other featured artists from the Statewide Cultural Extension Program are co-sponsored by the University of Hawai`i’s Outreach College, Hawai`i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

TO MARK THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park is waiving entrance fees today. Also, Kilauea Military Camp, inside the park, is making all of its facilities and services available to the general public for the day. For more information call 967-7315.

THE MISS KA`U COFFEE PAGEANT airs on Na Leo O Hawai`i Community Television channel 54 tomorrow at 6 p.m.

Learn how to protect against wildfire Thursday evening at Na`alehu
  Community Center. Photo courtesy of Hawai`i Wildfire Management Org.
THE HAWAI`I WILDFIRE MANAGEMENT ORGANIZATION holds a workshop about wildfire preparedness on Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center. The workshop covers strategies to protect homes and families against wildfires. To register, call Carolyn at 885-6354.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs June 20, 2011

Brad Wood, of Roast, Inc. in Nashville, TN purchased Bull Kailiawa's coffee during the Grounds for Health auction.
Photo by Julia Neal

`AINA KOA PONO, LLC was seventh among lobbyists spending money to influence government officials in Hawai`i during the first four months of this year, according to Civil Beat, a Hawai`i news organization created by E-Bay founder Pierre Omidyar. `Aina Koa Pono and its lobbyists shepherded legislation through the state House of Representatives and Senate this spring to change Public Utilities law and garner tax breaks for its proposed $350 million refinery between Pahala and Wood Valley and a fuel farm between Pahala and Na`alehu.
     According to online postings by the State Ethics Commission, `Aina Koa Pono spent $58,049 on lobbying from January through April. The other top ten lobbying organizations in Hawai`i included the American Beverage Association, Kamehameha Schools and the teachers union. `Aina Koa Pono, as seventh in spending among Hawai`i organizations lobbying the Legislature, outspent the Hawai`i Chamber of Commerce. Ethics Commission filings by `Aina Koa Pono President Mel Chiogioji reported that almost all of the money spent on lobbying went to the law firm Alston, Hunt, Floyd & Ing. Registered lobbyists for `Aina Koa Pono are William Kaneko and Zachery McNish, who both work for the law firm.
     According to the filing, the purpose of the lobbying was to support or oppose legislative and/or administrative action in the area of ecology, energy and environmental protection. 
     Representatives of `Aina Koa Pono said the legislation and tax incentives will help to raise money in financial markets to support its venture. The company promises 300 construction jobs and 100 permanent jobs in Ka`u. The refinery would process trees, brush and crops it would grow or arrange to harvest in Ka`u. Its microwave processors would vaporize feedstock to create biofuel that would be tanker-trucked to Kona for the Hawaiian Electric Light Co. power plant near the Keahole Airport. The company also promises to make fuel for transportation to help relieve Hawai`i from purchasing fossil fuel.

GROUNDS FOR HEALTH, which raised money for health care in underserved coffee regions, has announced that its online auction that featured many Ka`u Coffees generated a record sum for the nonprofit. Justin Mool, of Grounds for Health, said more than 200 coffee companies from around the world participated, “despite high green coffee prices and a tight market.” Coffee producers, importers, roasters, and retailers came together, and 52 coffee importers and producers donated over 25,000 pounds of green coffee, which was then bid upon by roasters and retailers during the online auction held by the Stoneworks auction house in Vermont.
     Some notable donations, said Mool, included a gourmet El Salvador package from Aida Batlle that fetched $24.60/lb (earning $7,380.00 total), an Ethiopia Bench Maji Gesha from Royal Coffee, Inc. that was purchased for $12.04/lb (earning $6,370.60), and SCAA Coffees of the Year Winners Hawai`i Kailiawa Coffee from Ka`u Coffee Mill and Colombia Valle del Cauca that closed at $40.20/lb and $53/lb respectively.
     Grounds for Health Chair of the Board and Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Company CEO Frank Dennis expressed appreciation that during “a very volatile coffee market the coffee industry continued to show great support and commitment to the Grounds For Health initiative, with a 30 percent increase over 2010 in total auction value.” See groundsforhealth.org. Grounds for Health is also on twitter and facebook.

THE PARENTS OF PRESCHOOL YOUNGSTERS program is no more this week. The program, run by Parents and Children Together and Family Support Hawai`i, suffered funding cuts by Congress. The program helped three- to five-year-olds by training their parents for tools, skills and confidence to help their children succeed in school and beyond. The program offered weekly activities that included home and group meetings. More than 3,000 children have been served since the program started in 1996.

Modeling of lava coming up in the hot spot that forms the
Hawaiian islands chain may have to be revised to show the
hot spot west of the islands. Image courtesy of USGS
THE PLUME OF LAVA coming out of the Earth to create the Hawaiian Islands and the ongoing volcanic activity may be farther west than originally believed, according to the latest Volcano Watch report from Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. New ways of measuring seismic activity have shown activity that could locate the hot spot west of the islands, which could mean that the plume travels laterally before rising into Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes. A debate will continue, and modeling of the ongoing creation process of the islands could be revised, the report says. 

RAINS THAT EASED THE DROUGHT in Ka`u have helped grow a lot of plant life on wild lands, creating fuel for wildfires, particularly if we have a dry summer. That is what Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira is predicting, noting that rains overall are still below normal across the island. He said there could be “more intense, active burning. Oliveira sees every day as a possible brush fire day and encourages people to haul green waste to the dump and plant more succulents around the house. He suggested making sure smoke detectors work with new batteries.

TO MARK THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park is waiving entrance fees tomorrow. Also, Kilauea Military Camp, inside the park, is making all of its facilities and services available to the general public for the day. For more information call 967-7315.

THE MISS KA`U COFFEE PAGEANT airs on Na Leo O Hawai`i Community Television channel 54 this Wednesday at 6 p.m.

THE HAWAI`I WILDFIRE MANAGEMENT ORGANIZATION holds a workshop about wildfire preparedness on Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center. The workshop covers strategies to protect homes and families against wildfires. To register, call Carolyn at 885-6354.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs June 19, 2011

One Journey and friends at the recent Ka`u Family Fun Fest to raise money for Bay Clinic's new building. The group won top high school music video at last night's ceremonies in Honolulu. Photo by Julia Neal
ONE JOURNEY WON BEST MUSIC VIDEO in Honolulu last night for the statewide Brown Bags to Stardom contest. One Journey also won best musical arrangement and best song. 
Eunice Longakit won Best Female Vocalist
 in the Brown Bags to Stardom music video
competition last light in Honolulu.
Lead singer Eunice Longakit won best music vocalist. One Journey took runner-up trophy in the best musical group category. Their music video came in third place in the online popularity voting, more than 600 votes ahead of the fourth-place winner. Producer Johnny Kai said the win was incredible given the small school size of Pahala and the big school populations at the O`ahu schools that competed. 

THE AXIS DEER INVASION CHALLENGE was discussed at a small gathering of Hawaiian Homes Commissioners and Native Hawaiians yesterday at Na`alehu Community Center. According to community organizer Anna Cariaga, who attended the event, Hawaiians asked the commissioners to help organize local hunters to get rid of the invasive deer, which were previously found only on Lana`i, Moloka`i and Maui and have been seen now in Ka`u. She said the local hunters would make use of the meat for their families. She said organized eradication through local hunting groups would be much better for the community than helicopter hunts that sometimes leave the game to decompose in the wild. She said she strongly disagrees with anyone who might think it is OK to import axis deer to build herds for hunting. “This is illegal, and anyone doing this can be arrested and fined,” she said. The commissioners on hand were Lei Mana DaMate and Ian Lee Loy. 

HAWAIIAN HOMES’ PURCHASE OF 40 houselots in Discovery Harbour has not gone well, and only one house has been built. Anna Cariaga, who met with commissioners yesterday, said construction is too expensive and Hawaiians who live a rural life of ranching, farming, hunting and fishing are hesitant to move into a subdivision with restrictions on what can be in the yards, hanging out clothes to dry and other attempts to upscale the community.

GEOTHERMAL FOR KA`U was also discussed at the Hawaiian Homes meeting, with emphasis on Native Hawaiians being the beneficiaries of such alternative energy projects. Thousands of Hawaiian Home acres in Ka`u are in the South Point, Kalae, area.

Abel Simeona Lui says he is appealing last week's ruling
that would turn over Kawa to the county.
ABEL SIMEONA LUI traveled around Ka`u yesterday and told the press and community members that he is appealing a decision by Judge Joseph P. Florendo that could clear the way for the county to make more than 800 acres between Punalu`u and Honu`apo into a coastal preserve and park. Lui and his followers, who oppose the park, said they are working on federal court cases and also claimed that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is helping them to avoid eviction. Florendo ruled last week that former owner Thomas Okuna owned the property and legally sold one section at Kawa to realtor Marcia Johnson who sold it to the county for a park. He also ruled that Okuna legally sold two other sections to the Edmund C. Olson Trust, which purchased them for the purpose of providing them to the county for coastal preservation. The area has estuaries and many Hawaiian historic sites. Lui claims that it was unfairly taken from his family and that he is the heir tasked with stewarding Kawa. 

THE DEADLINE TO ENTER the Na`alehu Fourth of July Parade has been extended to July 1. `O Ka`u Kakou is sponsoring the parade on Saturday, July 2 at 11 a.m. Patriotic citizens, businesses and organizations interested in participating or donating can call Debra McIntosh at 929-9872.

KILAUEA MILITARY CAMP CELEBRATES Father’s Day with a brunch until 1 p.m. and a Surf ‘n’ Turf special from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Crater Rim Café in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Call 967-8371 for more information. 

TO MARK THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park is waiving entrance fees on Tuesday, June 21. Also, Kilauea Military Camp, inside the park, is making all its facilities and services available to the general public for the day. For more information call 967-7315.