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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs August 31, 2011



Photos of TekGar's microwave technology
at a North Carolina plant were provided by
`Aina Koa Pono partner Chris Eldridge.
 `AINA KOA PONO’S MICROWAVE process for its proposed refinery between Pahala and Wood Valley is the subject of an editorial in the Honolulu Star Advertiser this morning, written by the vice president of AECOM, the engineering company hired to manage the project.
     Shawn Kelly writes that, prior to the master agreement, AECOM performed an at-risk assessment of the “microwave depolymerization process” technology, which has taken six months and many hundreds of hours to complete. He says that AECOM initially believed that the `Aina Koa Pono process could be “another ‘pie in the sky’ technology tweak that had little or no merit…. We had to convince ourselves that this new process would work safely, economically, produce a saleable product and, most of all, must be a solid opportunity for AECOM.”

     “To the surprise of many,” writes Kelly, “we have reached a very positive conclusion on all metrics required for a successful roll-out of an old technology in a new industry — the fuel industry. The next step is to prove our assumptions by test data, currently in progress, which will bring the level of understanding down to the ground and ready for prime time,” the AECOM executive writes. 
The feed hopper at a TekGar plant
in North Carolina.
     He says, “Our research has shown that the process is viable, poses no risk to the public or plant personnel, and can be characterized to be as safe as your microwave at home.”
     `Aina Koa Pono will host a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 19, at Pahala Community Center, its first since February.

OCEAN VIEW’S NEW POTABLE WATER STATION will have a bigger turnaround area, following a meeting with community members and the county water department. Work was stopped after Don Nitsche, Mike Dubois and Allan Stafford traveled to Kona to a water department meeting and told officials that the plans were flawed. The water department met with Ocean View residents on Tuesday and agreed to the change. Bolton Construction is set to complete the project without any further delay by Sept. 30.

TUITION HIKES are proposed by University of Hawai`i. During the first year, beginning fall of 2012, U.H. plans to hike tuition per semester by $132 at Manoa, $120 at UH-Hilo, and $60 at community colleges. UH-West O`ahu would face a possible $228 per semester increase, since it has a new campus with higher costs.
     Community colleges like Hilo currently charge $88 per credit hour. Under the proposed tuition schedule, this would rise to $130 by 2016. Undergraduate tuition at UH-Hilo is $2,820, and would rise to $3,828 by 2016. Graduate students, who currently pay $4,392 a year, would have to pay $5,748.
     These increases, we believe, are reasonable,” said president of UH M.R.C. Greenwood, “and they were kept as low as possible in light of how Hawai`i families are struggling financially in these times. These increases will allow us to provide more financial aid, start addressing our long-delayed repair and maintenance backlog, upgrade our business systems to better manage enrollment and the need for classes, and expand the degree offerings in fields that we know will offer good-paying jobs of the future. It’s an investment we absolutely have to make in our only public institution of higher learning in Hawai`i.”
     Public meetings on UH campuses regarding the proposed tuition hikes are to be announced.

DAILY FLIGHTS TO KONA should bring more visitors to Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and through Ka`u as Alaska Airlines is doubling its service with daily fights from Oakland and San Jose beginning next March 12. Introductory rates are $179 but must be purchased by Sept. 3 for travel between March 12 through June 9. 

BIG ISLAND CONSTRUCTION saw no job growth this month, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. While growth remained flat on the Big Island, Maui and Kaua`i suffered a contraction of growth, shedding 12 percent of its construction jobs. Jobs added in Honolulu – six percent growth – offset the jobs lost on neighbor islands. 

LOCAL HAWAIIAN PRODUCTS are being sought by Chinese Ministry of Commerce for export during the billion-dollar gift giving Chinese New Year season. Thirteen representatives of retailers and importers in China will visit Hawai`i in November for high-end products sold individually or used for gift baskets. These include food products, beverages, nutraceuticals, beauty and vanity products, apparel, specialty gifts, wood products, and other gift products unique to the islands.
     “If Hawai`i companies ever planned to do business in China, opportunity just knocked,” said Richard Lim, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, which is coordinating the visitation. “The Chinese government themselves is offering Hawai`i businesses a chance to enter the world’s most rapidly expanding market.”
     The representatives would both purchase and help with product entry requirements and distribution of selected items. Companies interested in registering for this program should contact Milton Kwock at 587-2759 or mkwock@dbedt.hawaii.gov by Sept. 15.
     DBEDT is developing a list of product vendors for a mini-trade show or site visitations and will be asking for samples and digital information regarding the Hawai`i-made products. 

Pu`u `O`o crater is refilling after the recent collapse.
Photo courtesy of USGS
ANOTHER VENT ERUPTION OF PU`U `O`O MAY OCCUR, says Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Geologist Janet Babb said the same circumstances that led to the vent eruptions earlier this month and in March are developing again. “Pu`u `O`o crater filled and became overpressurized and something had to give, and so lava burst out of the west flank,” said Babb. 
     The lava that has been flowing out of Pu`u `O`o in the past weeks covered about 570 acres. “The lava that was in Pu`u `O`o has drained out,” said Babb, “so now it’s begun to refill.” Lava has refilled 25 percent of the crater’s volume, and another vent eruption may occur within the next couple of months.
SEN. GIL KAHELE’S first in a series of community forums will be held tonight at Cooper Center in Volcano from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. He will provide a re-cap of the 26th legislative session as well as address specific issues pertaining to the community. Participants may email questions or concerns prior to the meeting to senkahele@capitol.hawaii.gov. More sessions in Ka`u are scheduled for October.

HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE can be dropped off at Wai`ohinu Transfer Station this Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Automotive fluids, batteries, fluorescent lights, pesticides and latex paints are some of the items being accepted. For more information, call 961-8554 or visit hawaiizerowaste.org.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs August 30, 2011

Kilauea Volcano is the Big Island's trump card, according to U.S. News and World Report.  Photo by Stephen O'Meara

MUFI HANNEMANN, founder of Punalu`u Bake Shop, which is famous for its sweetbread and as a visitor stop, announced today that he will run for Congress. If the Democrat wins, he would represent District 2, taking the place of Rep. Mazie Hirono, who has decided to run for U.S. Senate. 
Mufi Hannemann with Denise Peralta and Big D last
August at Pahala Plantation House.  Photo by Julia Neal
     Hannemann came through Ka`u several times last year when he was running for governor and plans to come back during his new campaign. A former mayor of Honolulu, he is now president and CEO of the Hawai`i Hotel & Lodging Association. He pointed to his experience as mayor and chair of the County Council on O`ahu, as director of the Hawai`i Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, and as a C. Brewer executive.
     Hannemann said his support is strong on the Neighbor Islands, “where I have built and maintained many cherished friendships over the years. As someone who’s traveled from Ka`u to Kapa`a, from Kaunakakai to Kane`ohe, from La`ie to Lana`i, and from Wailuku to Wai`anae, and listened to the counsel and concerns of friends and strangers alike, I’ve decided that I can best contribute to the future of our islands and make a difference in the lives of our people and nation by seeking to serve in Congress,” said Hannemann.

KILAUEA VOLCANO is this island’s “trump card,” according to U.S. News and World Report, which placed the Big Island on the list of best “adventure vacation” destinations this year. The Big Island ranked seventh out of 16 locations, ahead of San Francisco and Miami Beach. The list cited Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park as one the “best things to do,” and noted Kilauea’s spectacular lava flows. The park attracts 1.6 million tourists a year – almost all of the 1.7 million tourists that visit the Big Island.

THE KA`U YOUTH INTERN PROGRAM, which trains for work in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and for other resource management organizations, has received a commitment for funding for 2012 from the Omidyar `Ohana Fund at the Hawai`i Community Foundation.
     The effort is a partnership between Ka`u High School, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Friends of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Hawai`i Natural History Association and the National Park Service.
     The Ka`u Youth Intern Program targets underserved youth in rural Ka`u for training and employment in the field of environmental conservation. The 2011 program trained 22 Ka`u High School students over a five-week period during the spring semester. Training provided students with natural and cultural resources interpretation and environmental education knowledge and skills.
     Thirteen of these Ka`u youth and six additional local students were hired to work at the national park over the summer. They worked in a number of park divisions, including interpretation and cultural resources management.
     Supervisory Park Ranger Kupono McDaniel said: “This program helps me meet both my personal and professional goals to help local kids understand how special and amazing Hawai`i is. When they see how interested the rest of the world is in our home, they are proud. When I see how much they have learned and grown, I am proud as well. These are amazing kids doing good work for Hawai`i.”
     For more information, contact McDaniel at 985-6015 or kupono_mcdaniel@nps.gov.

Axis deer are considered highly invasive.
AXIS DEER COULD BE HUNTED on Department of Hawaiian Home Lands following approval of a permit for the Division of Forestry and Wildlife to survey the land around South Point. Reports of axis deer have been made in Ka`u. The deer are considered highly invasive and could destroy plant life and agriculture. There is rumor that deer may have been brought in by helicopter by people who want to develop more game hunting opportunities. 

AVERAGE GAS PRICES DROPPED OVER 10 CENTS during August to an average of $4.03 statewide, according to price-tracker website GasBuddy.com. Gas prices were at their highest this year when they topped over $4.50 per gallon in May. However, Hawai`i residents still pay about 40 cents more per gallon on gas than the average American. Gas prices in Ka`u remain higher than the state average.
     Yesterday, Ka`u Gas in Pahala sold gas for $4.25, the 76 station in Na`alehu for $4.24, Kahala Gas in Ocean View for $4.17, Kahuku Country Market in Ocean View for $4.17, and Ocean View Market sold gas for $4.13.
     What will happen next? Oil on the international market topped $89 a barrel this morning.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT awarded a $13 million grant for Native Hawaiian Housing last week, according to Civil Beat. Secretary Shaun Donovan announced the award at the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement convention in Honolulu, saying that affordable housing is key to reducing poverty among the native population. “For too long,” he said, “you have lacked a federal partner who is committed to Hawaiians.”
     In the same convention, the U.S. Department of Treasury awarded $1.5 million to “help community-based financial institutions provide affordable loans and financial services to Native Hawaiians.”

Cleaning up the Ka`u Coast.  Photo from wildhawaii.org
HAWAI`I WILDLIFE FUND will host its next beach cleanup at Kamilo Point and Ka`alu`alu Bay Saturday, Sept. 17. It is co-sponsored by NOAA’s Marine Debris Program and supported by the Surfrider Hilo Chapter and the University of Hawai`i in Hilo. All volunteers will meet at Wai`ohinu Park on Hwy 11 near mile marker 65 at 7:45 a.m. and are asked to bring sturdy shoes, bag lunch, sun and wind protection, plenty of drinks and four-wheel-drive vehicles if possible. Volunteers will set out to the sites at 8 a.m. and finish cleaning at around 2 p.m. HWF will supply cleanup materials. A second beach cleanup for Nov. 17 will gather debris along an undetermined part of the Ka`u coastline. 
     Those interested can contact Megan Lamson at 769-7629 or kahakai.cleanups@gmail.com.

SEN. GIL KAHELE’S first in a series of community forums will be held tomorrow at Cooper Center in Volcano from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. He will provide a re-cap of the 26th legislative session as well as address specific issues pertaining to the community. Participants may email questions or concerns prior to the meeting to senkahele@capitol.hawaii.gov. More sessions in Ka`u are scheduled for October.

THE KA`U COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN could be in draft form for the public to review by early next year, according to county planners. The 11-member steering committee will meet for the first time in a long time on Sept. 13 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Pahala Community Center, and the public is invited. In the meantime, members of the steering committee have been hosting booths to meet with the public at farmers markets and other events.
     Jason Armstrong, of Stephens Media, has a story today restating elements of the Ka`u CDP values and vision statement. It says, “While other communities may talk about the importance of community character and a lifestyle inspired by a sense of place, Ka`u lives it. Honoring that connection between people and place will be essential.” For more, see www.kaucdp.info.

Recycle Hawai`i, Keep America Beautiful and Coca Cola
sponsor Adopt A Bin.
AN ADOPT A BIN PROGRAM invites community groups to apply for bins for recyclable beverage containers and place them in high traffic areas to raise money for their organizations. The bins come from a grant from Coca Cola and Keep America Beautiful given to Recycle Hawai`i, one of 70 recipients of the 800 applicants nationwide. To sign up, call 969-2012. 

THE OCEAN VIEW FOOD BASKET is today from noon to 2:30 p.m. at Ocean View Community Center. Call 939-7000 for more information.

HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE can be dropped off at Wai`ohinu Transfer Station this Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Automotive fluids, batteries, fluorescent lights, pesticides and latex paints are some of the items being accepted. For more information, call 961-8554 or visit hawaiizerowaste.org.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs August 29, 2011

More Ka`u students are graduating and receiving scholarships for higher education.  Photo by Julia Neal
MORE KA`U STUDENTS graduated from school this year, according to a report by the federal Department of Education’s No Child Left Behind program. According to the report, 92 percent of Ka`u High and Pahala Elementary students graduated this year, up from 84 percent last year and well over the school’s goal of 80 percent. Principal Sharon Beck said more students are also going on to college and other secondary education. More students are also being recognized for academic achievement, receiving scholarships for higher education. 
     The same report records a rise in math proficiency levels, which rose this year from 33 percent to 39 percent, inching closer to the school’s goal of 64 percent. However, there was a drop in reading proficiency levels from 60 percent to 53 percent, well below the goal of 72 percent. The school is currently under a restructuring No Child Left Behind status to help the school meet its goals.
     Na`alehu Elementary school saw improvement in both reading and math proficiency levels this year. Math proficiency jumped up from 24 percent to 32 percent, and reading from 38 percent to 42 percent. Also under restructuring, the school is working to increase its scores to meet standards.
     This year’s and past No Child Left Behind reports on Hawai`i schools can be viewed at http://arch.k12.hi.us/school/nclb/nclb.html.

The University of Hawai`i plans to search for more
geothermal sites on the island.
MAPPING THE GEOTHERMAL POTENTIAL of the Big Island could go a long way toward helping the state plan for its energy future, according to University of Hawai`i’s Don Thomas, who spoke at the energy meeting in Hilo over the weekend. He said U.H. has applied for funding for more sophisticated mapping than was conducted in the past. He said it would take a year and a half to two years to complete the geophysics and another year for test drilling. Thomas said it would cost $1 million to $1.5 million for the survey and $3 million to drill each test hole. A full-size exploration hole costs about $3 million, he said. Hawaiian Electric Co. president Jay Ignacio and other energy experts said that one reason to explore geothermal on various parts of the island is to help with distribution of power - putting it closer to where most of it will be used - the west side of the Big Island and also to spread the risk of a major seismic event on one side of the island taking production of geothermal electricity offline.

Richard Ha wants to buy HECO through Ku`oko`a.
KU`OKO`A, the start-up venture that hopes to purchase Hawaiian Electric, was represented by Richard Ha at the energy meeting. He said he recently returned from Iceland, which he claimed is recovering from its financial troubles through the use of its geothermal power, particularly in processing aluminum. He said that Hawai`i should waste no time in developing its geothermal potential to make the islands not only independent from fossil fuel, but also prosperous, as the energy could be used to make transportation fuel and for manufacturing. 

APPROVAL OF NEW COUNTY BUILDING CODE will be the subject of public workshops next month. Bill 270 was approved in a four-to-five vote last month, but its approval was postponed in a six-to-three vote earlier this month for reconsideration. The first workshop will be on Sept. 6 between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the West Hawai`i Civic Center in Kealakehe and on Sept. 7 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Aupuni Center conference room in Hilo. Bill 270, Draft 3 can be viewed at http://records.co.hawaii.hi.us/weblink/0/doc/756796/Page1.aspx.

VIETNAM ERA VETERANS have until tomorrow, Aug. 30 to qualify to receive benefits for conditions connected with exposure to Agent Orange. Congresswoman Mazie Hirono said that three new presumptive diseases have been added to cancer and other conditions qualifying for benefits. They are Ischemic heart disease, hairy cell and other B-cell leukemia and Parkinson’s disease. Widows and widowers whose spouses have died from Agent Orange conditions may also qualify by applying to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Online filing is available at the Agent Orange Fast Track Claims Processing System. Veterans must have served in the Republic of Vietnam or inland waterways between Jan. 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 to qualify. 

ALTERNATING LANES ON HIGHWAY 11 are closed near the intersection with South Point Road between mile markers 69 and 72 in the vicinity of South Point Road today, through Friday. The lane closures are scheduled from daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to repair, pave and install guardrails. Lane closure may change at any time without further notice. All projects are weather permitting.

THE OCEAN VIEW FOOD BASKET is tomorrow, from noon to 2:30 p.m. at Ocean View Community Center. Call 939-7000 for more information.

SEN. GIL KAHELE’S first in a series of community forums will be held on Wednesday at Cooper Center in Volcano from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. He will provide a re-cap of the 26th legislative session as well as address specific issues pertaining to the community. Participants may email questions or concerns prior to the meeting to senkahele@capitol.hawaii.gov. More sessions in Ka`u are scheduled for October.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs August 28, 2011

The Marshallese community shares its dance at Ka`u High School functions over the years.  Photo by Julia Neal
ALTERNATIVE ENERGY EXPERTS and promoters met in Hilo yesterday to go over plans for the future. Panelists represented geothermal, Hawaiian Electric companies and the University of Hawai`i as well as a company attempting to purchase Hawaiian Electric to move it more toward geothermal and other alternatives.
     Concerning the biofuel refinery and farm planned for Ka`u, energy expert Robert Rapier said that he would object to the `Aina Koa Pono project using taxpayer money to build it. He said the microwave processor is unproven in its ability to scale up from the size that has been tested and used commercially to the size required for the refinery. He said that he does not object to private money being use for risky business, but the public should not have to pay for it.
Robert Rapier
    Rapier said that scaling up takes time and is done in increments, which is very costly. He said it is like cooking one turkey or 1,000 turkeys. If the scaling up is not done through testing and in increments and you try to cook 1,000 turkeys at once, you can end up with perfectly cooked turkeys in the middle, burnt turkeys on one end and frozen turkeys on the other end of the assembly line.
     Rapier said, “I think they are making representations if you look at the history of the technology, it is not where they said it is.”
     `Aina Koa Pono says it will use all private funding, but Hawaiian Electric has asked for rate hikes to pay for the fuel once it is produced. `Aina Koa Pono also claims that scaling up is not a problem according to their own engineers.
     Rapier said yesterday, “When somebody is skipping from a lab scale to a commercial scale, most things die.” He pointed to a number of alternative energy projects that are scaling up, for which millions of dollars are being spent on the larger test projects.

Joshua Strickler, of the PUC (l) and
Henry Curtis, of Life of the Land
THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION does not have the authority to order an Environmental Impact Statement for the refinery that would be built between Pahala and Wood Valley, nor the biofuel farm that could occupy thousands of acres, much of it now in ranching between Pahala and Na`alehu, according to PUC attorney and researcher Joshua Strickler, who spoke at the energy meeting yesterday. 
     The county and state have also said they have no authority to order an EIS. Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz wrote in June to a Pahala resident that “no environmental assessment is required. I urge you to write to the Public Utilities Commission and call `Aina Koa Pono directly,” he said.
     Henry Curtis, of Life of the Land, wrote that the state could ask for an EIS, contending that the processing plant fits the definition of a refinery.
     `Aina Koa Pono will meet with the public on Monday, Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. at Pahala Community Center, its first public meeting here since February.

Kekuhi Kanahele
KEKUHI KANAHELE, a Hawai`i Community College staff member and cultural practitioner who frequently visits Pahala, urged those at the energy conference to ask the deeper question of “what is the impact of anything we do now for 100 to 400 years? What is the impact on the resource? What is the exchange - life for life?” She said that from the Hawaiian perspective, “we must measure and observe lifetimes of the particular action on the `aina, the heaven, the substrate and the ocean.” 

ADDING SIDEWALKS ON THE MAUKA SIDE of Hwy 11 from Na`alehu Methodist Church to Ohai Road, across from Na`alehu School, is the highest priority on the Big Island, according to the draft statewide Pedestrian Master Plan released last week. “Although the makai side has a sidewalk in good condition, the shoulders beyond the serviced area can be narrow for pedestrian circulation,” the report states.
     The plan can be read and comments can be made at hawaiipedplan.com or 808-587-6395. Comments are being accepted through Sept. 30.

THE MARSHALLESE COMMUNITY of Ocean View invites the public to a community forum and health resource fair being held next Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Kahuku Park in Ocean View. The results of a community needs assessment consisting of 200 questionnaires will be presented along with current and future projects finalizing with a roundtable discussion on the next steps in transforming Ocean View and surrounding communities into healthy and thriving communities to live, work and play. Please RSVP to manitimejmouralliance@ymail.com.

THE OCEAN VIEW FOOD BASKET is this Tuesday, August 30, from noon to 2:30 p.m. at the Ocean View Community Center. Call 939-7000 for more information.

SEN. GIL KAHELE’S first in a series of community forums will be held next Wednesday, Aug. 31 at Cooper Center in Volcano from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. He said the series of community forums will allow local residents to voice concerns and to prepare him for the 2012 state Legislature. Participants may email questions or concerns prior to the meeting to senkahele@capitol.hawaii.gov.

KUMU HULA MAILE YAMANAKA is considering new classes in hula, song, Hawaiian language, culture, mythology, history and place names in Ka`u. Those interested can all her at 937-4249.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs August 27, 2011

Meyer Camp Road between Pahala and Wood Valley, where `Aina Koa Pono proposes to build their more than ten-acre biofuel refinery.  Photo by Julia Neal

‘AINA KOA PONO representatives have been visiting Ka`u, meeting with small groups of people and handing out flyers for their proposed refinery and biofuel farm. The flyer attempts to address fears of its proposed large microwave processors that would be used to make biofuel. “If you have ever used a microwave to cook or heat something, then you are familiar with the core technology of the renewable diesel project,” the flyer states. 
     The flyer also states that “organic fertilizers will be used, and claims there will be “no emissions from the microwave process.”
     The flyer says AKP will harvest, pelletize and microwave local biomass - grasses and woody plant parts. It says the company will protect the soil, stating, “Hawaiian native or recommended Hawaiian pasture mixes of grasses and legumes identified by Natural Resource Conservation Service will be incorporated as needed using a no-till method to protect soil structure and moisture.”
     The AKP flyer also states that the synthetic diesel will be stored at the refinery until being trucked to Kona or Hilo. It states that the expected tons of biochar a day, a byproduct of the microwave process, would be cooled, bulk bagged and shipped to contracted buyers.

TESTIMONY OF CONCERN about the proposed refinery and biofuel farm was recently submitted to the Public Utilities Commission by Chris Manfredi, of Ka`u Farm and Ranch, which owns approximately 6,000 acres in Ka`u. The letter says Ka`u Farm & Ranch leases land to more than 40 ranch and farming families.
     Manfredi writes that the microwave depolymerization technology AKP intends to use is unproven at the scale described in its application. Before asking ratepayers to subsidize the project with surcharges, the plant should be required to demonstrate the plausibility of their plans, he says. 
Chris Manfredi
     Manfredi writes that an Environmental Impact Statement should be required to answer many questions about the project, including impacts on air quality, watersheds, public roads and how refinery emission would interact with vog. Third party verification to AKP’s claims of safety should be required, he says.
     Manfredi claims that AKP has no actual agricultural plan as the feedstocks have not been clearly defined, and their claims that their biofuel crops would not need water is contradictory since recently planted test plots require water. The water issue should be addressed since Ka`u is known for is periodic droughts, states Manfredi.
     He also states the that PUC’s approval of the application would lead to a layering of biofuel surcharges and increased costs of energy to ratepayers as the electric company has stated that its Ka`u project would be the first of many biofuel contracts in consideration. Hawai`i should pursue proven technologies that lead to reduced cost of energy, states Manfredi.
     He also claims that the biofuel project could threaten biodiversity and food production as much of the land is currently used for cattle grazing. He also states that the biofuel farm could lead to the introduction of invasive species and damage Ka`u’s diversified economy, as monocropping leads to unpredictable boom and bust cycles.
     While Manfredi said he was testifying for himself and his company, he is president of the Ka`u Farm Bureau, vice president of the Ka`u Chamber of Commerce and serves on many other boards and committees in the community.

EKE NUI NURSERY OWNER Marla Hunter, of Kalae, wrote to PUC chair Mina Morita and state Consumer Advocate Jeffrey Ono. She noted that the fuel would not be for Ka`u residents. “ How do we benefit from this technology in the form of energy use? She asked. “It is suited for ships and jet planes for the military,” she contended.
     She also called for an EIS, saying, “We have potential unknown threats to our water supply.” She asked: “If the crop chosen for fuel production needs more water than naturally occurs through rainfall, will the customers of Ka`u go without water while `Aina Koa Pono uses the water to irrigate their crops? We just need to have more answers from a scientific perspective.”
     Hunter also stated that “the movement of this fuel along our highways is a source of added risk for us all. If we are going to be subjected to this risk and the added traffic and emissions from these large trucks on this tiny highway, an EIS needs to be conducted to show us, where, if any weaknesses exist in this plan.
     “What is the best for the children of our community,” asked the nursery owner.
     A public meeting in Ka`u, the first by `Aina Koa Pono since February, will be held on Monday, Sept. 19 at Pahala Community Center at 6 p.m. 

Don Thomas
HOMEGROWN ENERGY EXPERTS AND LEADERS meet today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Aupuni Center conference room in Hilo. The public is invited to attend the free event and ask questions on the benefits and drawbacks and viability of biomass and geothermal energy. 
     Speakers, who will comment and answer questions, include manager of Puna Geothermal Venture Michael Kaleikini; co-chairs of the county’s Geothermal Working Group, Richard Ha of Hamakua Springs Country Farms and Wally Ishibashi of ILWU Local 142; director of the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes at UH-Hilo Don Thomas; HELCO president Jay Ignacio and others.

THE MARSHALLESE COMMUNITY of Ocean View invites the public to a community forum and health resource fair being held next Saturday, Sept 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Kahuku Park in Ocean View. The results of a community needs assessment consisting of 200 questionnaires will be presented along with current and future projects, finalizing with a roundtable discussion on the next steps in transforming Ocean View and surrounding communities into healthy and thriving communities to live, work and play. RSVP to manitimejmouralliance@ymail.com.

Hawai`i County Fire Chief
Darren Rosario
NEW FIRE CHIEF FOR HAWAI`I COUNTY is Darren Rosario, who was elected by a unanimous vote this week by the Fire Commission. Rosario, 44, is the assistant chief for emergency operations. The Papaikou resident has 21 years experience in fire fighting and fire prevention. He will lead more than 400 firefighters on the Big Island. 

THE OCEAN VIEW FOOD BASKET is this Tuesday, August 30, from noon to 2:30 p.m. at the Ocean View Community Center. Call 939-7000 for more information.

A MEETING AT THE OCEAN VIEW well site is scheduled for Tuesday at 10 a.m. Department of Water Supply manager Milton Pavao will meet with the Ocean View Water Committee and contractor Bolton, Inc. to try to resolve safety and design issues brought up at the last Board of Water Supply meeting. After the meeting, Pavao ordered a halt to construction.
     The slated completion date is Sept. 30, but solutions may require a delay of the opening, Pavao said.

Elena Welch
ELENA WELCH PRESENTS an evening of Chicago Jazz tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. Tickets are $20. 

KUMU HULA MAILE YAMANAKA is considering new classes in hula, song, Hawaiian language, culture, mythology, history and place names in Ka`u. Those interested can all her at 937-4249.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs Aug. 26, 2011

The county operates a Hele-On Doubledecker bus and has raised the bus fair to $1 per ride with exemptions for students, seniors and the handicapped.
THE KA`U DISTRICT served by the County Council should be reduced by 1,512 people or more, according to population statistics being used by the county Redistricting Commission. One plan calls for all of Volcano to be placed in the Puna County Council district, removing it from Ka`u.
      The Reapportionment Commission plans to take comments and suggested maps until Sept. 15 and take chosen ones for consideration to public hearings in October. The approximate population to be represented by each council member is 20,564. County law requires the commission to attempt to avoid cutting communities in two - with part served by one council member and the rest of the residents by another. It also requires, however, that each councilperson represent about the same number of people.

Michael Kaleikini
A HOMEGROWN ENERGY FORUM from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. will bring together experts and leaders at the Aupuni Center conference room in Hilo tomorrow. Speakers will comment and answer questions on the benefits and drawbacks and viability of biomass and geothermal energy.
     Speakers include manager of Puna Geothermal Venture Michael Kaleikini; co-chairs of the County’s Geothermal Working Group, Richard Ha of Hamakua Springs Country Farms and Wally Ishibashi of ILWU Local 142; Director of the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes at UH in Hilo Don Thomas, HELCO president Jay Ignacio and others. The event is open and free to the public.



A friendly Hele-On bus driver, photo by Julia Neal
RIDERSHIP OF HELE-ON BUSES decreased 7.7 percent last month from the number of riders a year ago. This comes after the County mandated a $1 bus fare in the beginning of July, possibly suggesting that the fare is discouraging ridership. According to a Stephens Media article by Jason Armstrong, Mass Transit administrator Tom Brown points to a summer trend of lower ridership as the cause of the decline rather than the effect of the fare. Manager of the Hilo Downtown Improvement Association Office Georgia Pinsky said she has not noted a decline in ridership, and that “In fact, there may be more [riders] because we have people coming in to buy bus tickets, which we didn't have before.”

CONSTRUCTION SLUMP harms economic recovery in the Big Island, says economist Leroy Laney. In a Pacific Business News article, Laney cites increase in foreclosures as one of the reasons why fewer homes are being constructed. “The prices of existing homes,” he says, “have fallen so far that one can get a better deal on a resale than a new home, so developers just aren’t building new product. Foreclosures and short sales are an overhang on the market that will continue to put downward pressure on prices.”
     The Big Island saw a 19 percent rise in foreclosures between April 1 and June 30 this year as compared to last year, and foreclosures accounted for 27 percent of county home sales. This was higher than the state average rise in foreclosed homes – 4 percent – and the percent of sales that are foreclosed homes – 21 percent, according to Pacific Business News.

Senator Gil Kahele,
photo by Julia Neal
SEN. GIL KAHELE’S first in a series of community forums will be held next Wednesday, Aug. 31 at Cooper Center in Volcano from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. He said the series of community forums will allow local residents to voice concerns and to prepare him for the 2012 state Legislature. Participants may email questions or concerns prior to the meeting to senkahele@capitol.hawaii.gov.

THE OCEAN VIEW FOOD BASKET is this Tuesday, Aug. 30, from noon to 2:30pm at the Ocean View Community Center. Call 939-7000 for more information.

ELENA WELCH PRESENTS an evening of Chicago Jazz on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. Tickets are $15 in advance.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs August 25, 2011

`Aina Koa Pono hosts a public meeting on Monday, Sept. 19 at 5:30 p.m. at Pahala Community Center.

JEFFREY ONO, THE STATE CONSUMER ADVOCATE, has recommended that the proposed contract between the HECO companies and `Aina Koa Pono, as well as the Biofuel Surcharge Provision – the rate hike – be approved by the Public Utilities Commission with some modifications. “The provisions of the Supply Contract appear to be fair and reasonable and in the best interest of the HECO Companies and its ratepayers,” Ono said in his statement released yesterday. The Consumer Advocate further states that he does not object to recovery of the costs of biodiesel, transportation, and related taxes incurred as a result of the supply contract up to the amount it would cost for HELCO to procure, transport, and use an equivalent amount of petroleum fuel in its operations.
     As part of its consideration, the Consumer Advocate took note of the state administration’s support for the proposed project, saying that “the concept of the project ostensibly serves a number of principles that are set forth in the comprehensive plan that embodies the ‘New Day’ initiatives. For instance, relying on fuel deemed to be renewable that is grown in Hawai‘i not only serves the objective of reducing reliance on fossil fuels, it also reduces the current reliance on imported fuels, thereby increasing Hawai`i’s self-sustainability. The proposed contract will provide support for the local economy by productively utilizing land that had been laying unused and also providing additional job opportunities for residents in the immediate vicinity.”
     The Consumer Advocate’s primary concern is whether recovery of the contract costs from only HELCO ratepayers will make the rate impact of the contract too burdensome for the contract to be approved by the Commission. While he states that the biofuel surcharge is reasonable, he recommends that recovery of the costs be applied to O`ahu customers only. In his recommended plan, Hawai`i Electric Light Co. customers would not see a hike in electric rates; only those on O`ahu would see a rate hike. The impact on HELCO and Maui Electric Co. ratepayers (Maui rate increases have already been dropped for the proposal) would be eliminated since both of these systems already provide a significant contribution to the ability of the HECO Companies to meet state Renewable Portfolio Standards and “such contributions are already reflected in the rates that are experienced by the customers on the HELCO and MECO systems,” the statement says.
     While Ono suggests that HECO customers bear the rate increase, he points out that HELCO customers “should be found responsible for the costs of the fuel required to run the units that will be producing the energy consumed by HELCO’s ratepayers.” He suggests that, instead of raising rates, HELCO could recover costs by billing HECO, which would be getting increased revenue from its customers.
     The Consumer Advocate’s statement can be read at puc.hawaii.gov/dockets.

`Aina Koa Pono's proposed biofuel refinery would be
built on Meyer Camp Road.  Photo by Julia Neal 
`AINA KOA PONO WILL HOST a public meeting at Pahala Community Center on Monday, Sept. 19 at 6:30 p.m. according to the Office of Councilmember Brittany Smart. The company plans a question-and-answer session and to update the public on its plans for a refinery between Pahala and Wood Valley and a biofuel farm on 13,000 acres near the refinery and along the old sugar cane haul road between Pahala and Na`alehu. The company promised to hold monthly meetings with the community; the last one was held on Feb. 21 in Pahala. 

THE BIG ISLAND WAS NAMED the top Hawaiian island by the annual Travel and Leisure Magazine World’s Best Awards for 2011. Among other islands around the world, the Big Island was ranked seventh, Kaua`i eighth and Maui ninth. In 2010, Kaua`i was ranked second, Maui was ranked eighth and the Big Island was ranked tenth.
     Who did the ranking? From December 15, 2010, to March 31, 2011, Travel and Leisure Magazine readers were asked to complete a survey with five characteristics about the islands to rank them on: natural attractions, activities/sights, restaurants/food, people and value. To protect the integrity of the data, after March 31, 2011 Travel and Leisure screened respondents and eliminated any identified travel industry professionals who completed the survey from the final tally. Hotels, destination spas, hotel spas, cities, cruise lines, tour operators and safari outfitters, airlines, rental-car agencies and golf resorts were also ranked in this survey. Visit travelandleisure.com/worldsbest to find out more.

COMMENTS ON OPTIONS FOR HAWAI`I VOLCANOES National Park’s future are being taken through September following three meetings this week where the plans were explained to the public through presentations by national park staff and consultants. The plans can be seen on the national park website. Local meetings wrapped up last night in Na`alehu.

Bluegrass teachers including Auntie Belle from Alaska
taught and performed in Ka`u this week and are inviting
enthusiasts to Kona this weekend. Photo by Julia Neal
THE TROUPE OF BLUEGRASS MUSICIANS who performed at Ka`u High School this week is inviting local youth and adults to follow them to Kona for teaching sessions at Queen Emma Community Center on the grounds of the Episcopal Church just below Konawaena High School. The musicians from Nashville, San Francisco and Alaska will teach singing, guitar, mandolin, fiddle and stand up bass with registration on Friday beginning at 3 p.m. The weekend camp will last through Sunday. Cost is $100 for the entire camp. Call 960-8385. 

THE KA`U FARM BUREAU ANNUAL MEETING will be held Thursday, Sept. 8 at 6 p.m. at Pahala Community Center. Guest speakers will be state Sen. Gil Kahele and County Council member Brittany Smart. There will be an election of the board and officers. The event is potluck, and anyone interested in the future of Ka`u agriculture is invited to attend. For more information, call 929-9550.

COUNTY COUNCILMEMBER BRITTANY SMART, state Office of Aging executive director Wes Lum and Hawai`i County Office of Aging executive Alan Parker are hosting meetings on needs of senior citizens today at 10:30 a.m. at Na`alehu Community Center and 2 p.m. at Pahala Senior Center. Another meeting takes place in Mt. View Community Center tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Elena Welch
PARTICIPANTS WILL LEARN STRATEGIES to protect homes and families against wildfires during a Wildfire Preparedness Workshop tonight at 6 p.m. at Ocean View Community Center. For more information, call Carolyn Stewart at 885-6354. 

ELENA WELCH PRESENTS an evening of Chicago Jazz on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 on Saturday. Call 967-8222 or visit volcanoartcenter.org.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs August 24, 2011

More hiking and vehicular trails could be established in the Kahuku section of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.
THE NA`ALEHU MEETING for Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park’s public input on options for its new General Management Plan will be held tonight from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center. Options for the future of the park include more trails, camping, activities and facilities at Kahuku, as well as connecting Kahuku with upland trails across Mauna Loa to Volcano. Another option is limiting vehicular access around Halema`uma`u Crater. The proposed options can be read on the park’s website. The park hopes to gather community comments by Sept. 30. They can be sent in by email through the park website or by mail to Cindy Orlando, P.O. Box 52, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, HI 96718. Comments will also be taken this evening at the Na`alehu meeting.

The drilling is long finished for the new
Ocean View well.  Photo from
bigislandliving.blogspot.com
WORK ON THE WELLS at Ocean View to provide potable water to residents and businesses could be delayed, according to county Department of Water manager Milton Pavao. Ocean View residents Don Nitsche, Mike Dubois and Allan Stafford asked to see a plan that would show more clearly how water will be loaded into water hauling trucks. They also said they need to understand how individual residents will pick up small quantities of water. 
     According to Stephens Media, Pavao said, “We have a right to stop a contractor, and if there is this much concern, we have to stop it,” Pavao said. “I'm not going to go ahead with this after hearing the concerns,” declared the water manager.
     Completion of the project was scheduled for September, and the water would be available at the spigots in October.
     Pavao plans to visit the site soon.

WATER BILLS GO UP AGAIN on Sept. 1, this time by eight cents for every thousand gallons. The increase is called a power cost charge and is blamed on the rising cost of electricity. It was approved by a unanimous vote of the county board of water yesterday. The power cost charge has been steadily increasing. Back in February, it was $1.75 per 1,000 gallons. In March it went to $1.80, and June it went to $2.23. In September it goes to $2.31.
     No one testified on the bill hike at a public hearing called before the meeting. The Board of Water is allowed to change the power charge to customers every two months. 

FORMER COUNTY MANAGING DIRECTOR Barry T. Mizuno, who is also a geothermal energy expert and a Certified Public Accountant, will sit on the University of Hawai`i Board of Regents. He starts immediately, but his volunteer task won’t be permanent until confirmation by the state Senate when it convenes in January. Mizuno, from Hilo, was appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to fill the vacant East Hawai`i seat formerly held by Harvey Tajiri.
     The Regents oversee the three University of Hawai`i campuses and seven community colleges.


THE DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT for Nani Kahuku `Aina’s proposed resort development between South Point and Ocean View along the coast states that the project “will change the character of developed portions of the site from open space to a rural community character.” It contends that most highway travellers would not notice the changes, because there is already little development present. It further claims that development would make the coast more accessible as there is little present infrastructure. A 300-foot conservation zone along the coast would minimize effects on the shoreline. The plan calls for a hotel, golf course, golf estate, condominium and commercial development and would require changing land along the coast from conservation to urban and resort. 
     Traffic would increase, says the Draft EIS, as part of a general trend on Mamalahoa Hwy with or without the development of Kahuku Village. Nani Kahuku `Aina would implement road improvements to minimize increased traffic.
     Construction and operation of Kahuku Village would inevitably produce solid waste. Green waste from construction, like shrubs, the Draft EIS says, would be turned into mulch for the site or recycled. All unrecyclable waste would be dumped at the county landfill. At the village’s completion, there would be 21 solid waste transport station sites and the option for some residents to hire private waste disposal companies.
     The Draft EIS says Nani Kahuku `Aina would consider lowering energy consumption with renewable energy sources like solar. The resort may also have access to wind-powered electricity from Kamaoa Wind Farm. However, the decision on whether to connect to the wind farm or HECO’s facilities would “be made based upon factors such as reliability of power supply, construction and operational costs, and the availability of easements or access rights for transmission lines,” says the Draft EIS. 
Nani Kahuku `Aina resort developers
promise to protect hawksbills, which
nest at Pohue Bay.
     Adverse effects on air quality could be unavoidable during construction when dust could be released into the air. In the long-term, the Draft EIS says, the impact of dust and traffic in Kahuku Village on air quality would be below State and Federal standards “even during worst-case conditions,” says the Draft EIS. During construction, the greatest noise impacts would most likely come from bulldozers and diesel trucks, but will fall under state and federal regulations.
     Adverse environment effects from Nani Kahuku `Aina’s Kahuku Village resort development would be offset by the benefits it would offer, claims the draft EIS. The county would expect to collect about $10 million more in net revenues through taxes collected from the resort development. The Draft EIS claims the development would add 393 temporary full-time jobs during construction, and 1,509 permanent full-time jobs upon completion. Wages of these workers would also benefit the economy, the EIS says.
     According to the Draft EIS, Kahuku Village would implement a Natural Resources and Cultural Management Plan to help preserve the land’s natural and cultural resources. A Hawaiian Heritage Center would help preserve archaeological and cultural resources. The development would dedicate 100 acres to the county and state for civic facilities as well as offer affordable housing. However, the construction and environmental assessments of the civic facilities would be up to the county and state.
     Comments on Nani Kahuku `Aina are due Sept. 21 through the state Department of Health’s Office of Environmental Quality Control. The entire document can be downloaded from the state health department website under the OEQC.

SEN. GIL KAHELE’S first in a series of community forums will be held a week from today, next Wednesday, Aug. 31 at Cooper Center in Volcano from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. He said a series of community forums will allow local residents to voice their concerns and to prepare him for the 2012 state Legislature. Participants may email questions or concerns prior to the meeting to senkahele@capitol.hawaii.gov.

COUNTY COUNCILMEMBER BRITTANY SMART, state Office of Aging executive director Wes Lum and Hawai`i County Office of Aging executive Alan Parker are hosting meetings on needs of senior citizens tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. at Na`alehu Community Center and 2 p.m. at Pahala Senior Center. Another meeting takes place in Mt. View on Friday at 10 a.m.

PARTICIPANTS WILL LEARN STRATEGIES to protect homes and families against wildfires during a Wildfire Preparedness Workshop tomorrow at 6 p.m. at Ocean View Community Center. For more information, call Carolyn Stewart at 885-6354.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs August 23, 2011

Ka`u Coffee farms would be subdivided and sold at market rate under a Project Unit Development plan
approved by Hawai`i County.  Photo by Julia Neal

FARMERS AT MOA`ULA COFFEE FARMS will be protected in their land tenure, according to Chris Manfredi, of Ka`u Farm & Ranch, LLC, the entity that recently received approval to subdivide the 2,000 acres into 101 parcels. The land would still be designated for agriculture except for 1.5 acres, which would be taken out of production on each farm lot should new owners decide to build their houses. Farmers will be compensated for three years of production on the land taken out of coffee, he said. 
Chris Manfredi
     Manfredi said he is working on long-term leases for the existing farmers. The plan for the land also calls for an agricultural research station on a lot with a minimum size of 2.4 acres. It also creates a lot for housing for coffee workers and a parcel for a coffee processing plant. Manfredi said that in addition to the existing farmers, people inspired by the success of Ka`u Coffee, including experts in the field, have shown interest in buying farm lots and becoming part of the coffee-growing community. The Project Unit Development approved by the county requires building roads in the area, water for the lots through catchment or delivery from a well, and prohibits more than one house on each lot.
     The land is zoned for 20-acre agricultural lots, but the PUD allows smaller lots.

THE FIRE COMMISSION began hosting public meetings and interviews this morning to determine who will succeed Darryl Oliveira as fire chief. The names of five candidates are Aaron Arbles, Glen Honda, Gerald Kosaki, Paul Paiva and Darren Rosario. The hearings allow public input on the candidates. The first was set for Hilo this morning at the Department of Liquor Control Conference Room. Another will be at 9 a.m. on Thursday at West Hawai`i Civic Center. Submit testimony in person or by mail to Fire Commission, Corporation Counsel, 333 Kilauea Ave., 2nd Floor, Hilo, HI 96720, or email to jkualii@co.hawaii.hi.us. 

KA`U HIGH SCHOOL, PAHALA ELEMENTARY AND NA`ALEHU ELEMENTARY Schools are continuing to work on bringing up scores this year in required standardized testing. The schools are managed under the “restructuring” category of No Child Left Behind, as scores over six years came in under required improvements. 
     The state Department of Education released school-by-school assessment results yesterday.
     According to the Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement, schools that do not make progress must take “corrective action.” Schools may choose to replace school staff, contract an organization to run the school, charter the school, or turn over school operations to the Hawai`i Department of Education, among other options.
     Principal Sharon Beck said that Ka`u schools are improving over time. 

MONEY FOR BEAUTIFICATION is available for one elementary, one middle and one high school. The $5,000 grants by the Cooke Foundation are for completing projects that beautify the school environment “and significantly enhance the school's overall appearance and ambiance." Schools in Hawai`i, including charter schools, can apply.
     “A beautiful environment at school is conducive to learning and encourages respect for one’s school, respect for others and respect for oneself,” said Lynne Johnson, Cooke Foundation trustee. Students, parents and faculty are required to participate in the beautification. To apply, call Tasha Tanimoto at 808-772-2300 or email tasha@bennetgroup.com.

Options for Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park's new General
Management Plan are being presented at public
meetings this week. Photo by Lanaya Deily
THE FUTURE OF HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK continues to be discussed in talk story sessions from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight at Pahoa Community Center, and tomorrow, Wednesday, Aug. 24, at Na`alehu Community Center. 
     Options for the new General Management Plan for the park include status quo to dramatic changes, like restricting some of the vehicular traffic on Chain of Craters Road and putting more roads, campgrounds and a restaurant at Kahuku.
     Options include more recycling and self-sustaining, enhancing communication with the community to tackle issues, establishing high-level trails linking upper slopes of Kahuku on Mauna Loa with the Mauna Loa Wilderness, and more money for restoration.
     The current General Management Plan was adopted over 30 years ago. Since then, the park has more than doubled in size, and visitation has grown, with Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park becoming one of the most visited places in all of Hawai`i.
     The park asks for comments to be sent by Sept. 30 online by going to http://parkplanning.nps.gov/havo or by mail to Cindy Orlando, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, P.O. Box 52, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, HI 96718.

BLUEGRASS MUSICIANS return to Pahala Plantation House tonight at 6 p.m. with the same group of musicians who brought down the house in March when they performed in Ka`u. Tyson Alteri sings and plays lead mandolin. Katy Rexford sings and plays lead fiddle. Rion Schmidt sings and plays lead banjo. The stand-up bass player will be Shea McKusic, who is also famous for her Johnny Cash and June Carter duets. Also joining in will be Keoki Kahumoku and friends. The concert is free, but donations are accepted for the musicians. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. at Pahala Plantation House.

GEOPHYSICIST MIKE POLAND is the featured speaker tonight at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park’s After Dark in the Park. He will review Kilauea’s March Ka-moa-moa fissure eruption and discuss Pu`u `O`o’s current activity. The floor of the Pu`u `O`o vent on Kilauea’s east rift zone collapsed in March. Lava erupted between Napau and Pu`u `O`o, beginning the Ka-moa-moa fissure eruption that reached over a mile long. The event begins at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium.

Wes Lum
COUNTY COUNCILMEMBER BRITTANY SMART, state Office of Aging executive director Wes Lum and Hawai`i County Office of Aging executive Alan Parker are hosting meetings on needs of senior citizens. The first will be tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. with South Kona Seniors Club at St. Benedict’s “The Painted” Church. This Thursday, they meet at 10:30 a.m. at Na`alehu Community Center and 2 p.m. at Pahala Senior Center. Another meeting takes place in Mt. View on Friday at 10 a.m. Smart joins Volcano Seniors Club at Cooper Center on Sep. 29 at 9:45 a.m. 

KILOHANA DOMINGO AND HIS MOTHER LEHUA share the skills and arts of lei hulu, or feather lei making, and papele lauhala, or lauhala weaving, from 10 a.m. to noon tomorrow on the lanai of Kilauea Visitor Center in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.

PARTICIPANTS WILL LEARN STRATEGIES to protect homes and families against wildfires during a Wildfire Preparedness Workshop on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Ocean View Community Center. For more information, call Carolyn Stewart at 885-6354.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs August 22, 2011

More events and facilities at Kahuku are in the option plans for Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.
Photo by Kenji Kuroshima
OPTIONAL PLANS for the future of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park go to public meetings tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday. Possible plans include more infrastructure, like a restaurant and other facilities at the Kahuku section above South Point, restricting the private vehicle and rental car use of Chain of Craters Road, more trails, and more interpretation throughout the park.
     Talk story sessions will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight at Kilauea Visitor Center, then tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 23 at Pahoa Community Center, and finally on Wednesday, Aug. 24, at Na`alehu Community Center. Options include more recycling and self-sustaining, enhancing communication with the community to tackle issues, preserving Kahuku, high-level trails linking upper slopes of Kahuku on Mauna Loa with the Mauna Loa Wilderness, and more money for restoration.
Volunteers will continue to play a major role in the
conservation of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.
Photo by Dave Boyle
     The current General Management Plan was adopted over 30 years ago. Since then, the park has more than doubled in size, and visitation has grown, with Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park becoming one of the most visited places in all of Hawai`i.
     The park asks for comments to be sent by Sept. 30 online by going to http://parkplanning.nps.gov/havo or by mail to Cindy Orlando, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, P.O. Box 52, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, HI 96718.

THE FIRE COMMISSION will host two public hearings this week to determine who will succeed Darryl Oliveira as fire chief. The names of five candidates ware: Aaron Arbles, Glen Honda, Gerald Kosaki, Paul Paiva and Darren Rosario. The hearings allow public input on the candidates. The first will be tomorrow at 9 a.m. at the Department of Liquor Control Conference Room and the second at the same time this Thursday at West Hawai`i Civic Center. Those interested may submit testimony by mail to the Fire Commission, Corporation Counsel, 333 Kilauea Ave., 2nd Floor, Hilo, HI 96720, or by email to the Commission secretary at jkualii@co.hawaii.hi.us. Testimony must be submitted by this Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

SECOND ANNUAL RAIN FOREST RUNS winners are in. Jason Braswell won the half marathon, and Rani Tanimoto came out as the fastest woman. Mark Noetzel won the 10K race, and close behind him at third was the top woman, Serena Chamberlain. Scott Hunter won the 5K race, with the fastest woman Karina Lawrence at ninth place. The event held at Volcano Village promotes fitness, the natural environment and is a fundraiser to support community art programs by Volcano Art Center.

Volcano Skate Park may re-open in October.
VOLCANO SKATE PARK may re-open in October, said county Department of Parks and Recreation and Cooper Center staff. County inspectors determined damage to ramps was repaired, but the park needed further minor improvements. Parks and Recreation closed the park in January due to maintenance and safety concerns. The facility was transported from Hilo to Volcano in 2003 and 2004 and rebuilt without building permits, as there are no standards for skate parks.

PUBLIC HEARINGS ON REAPPORTIONMENT will be held next month to receive public input on proposed plans. One plan would divide Ka`u’s Congressional district in two. Longtime representative for Ka`u, Bob Herkes, would have to campaign to represent a district that would run from Punalu`u to Pahala, Volcano, and subdivisions in Puna. Another candidate would run for a district that would represent Na`alehu, Discovery Harbour, Green Sands, Kalae, Ocean View, and Miloli`i, which would be thrown in with people living in Kona all the way to Kahalu`u.
Hearings are scheduled for Sept. 13 at 5 p.m. in the Hilo Council chamber and Sept. 14 at 5 p.m. in the Kona Council chamber.

BLUEGRASS MUSICIANS return to Pahala Plantation House tomorrow at 6 p.m. with the same group of musicians who brought down the house in March when they performed in Ka`u. Tyson Alteri sings and plays lead mandolin. Katy Rexford sings and plays lead fiddle. Rion Schmidt sings and plays lead banjo. The stand-up bass player will be Shea McKusic, who is also famous for her Johnny Cash and June Carter duets. Also joining in will be Keoki Kahumoku and friends.
The concert is free, but donations are accepted for the musicians. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. at Pahala Plantation House.

Kamoamoa Eruption.  Photo from USGS
GEOPHYSICIST MIKE POLAND is the featured speaker tomorrow at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park’s After Dark in the Park. He will review Kilauea’s March Kamoamoa fissure eruption and discuss Pu`u `O`o’s current activity. The floor of the Pu`u `O`o vent on Kilauea’s east rift zone collapsed in March. Lava erupted between Napau and Pu`u `O`o, beginning the Kamoamoa fissure eruption that reached over a mile long. The event begins at 7 p.m.

COUNTY COUNCILMEMBER BRITTANY SMART, state Office of Aging executive director Wes Lum and Hawai`i County Office of Aging executive Alan Parker are hosting meetings on needs of senior citizens. The first will be this Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. with South Kona Seniors Club at St. Benedict’s “The Painted” Church. They will hold two meetings this Thursday, the first at 10:30 a.m. at Na`alehu Community Center and the second at 2 p.m. at Pahala Senior Center. A meeting in Mt. View is scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m. Smart will continue to tour the district next month and join the Volcano Seniors Club at Cooper Center on Sept. 29 at 9:45 a.m. Call 961-8536 for more information.

KILOHANA DOMINGO AND HIS MOTHER LEHUA share the skills and arts of lei hulu, or feather lei making, and papale lauhala, or lauhala weaving, from 10 a.m. to noon this Wednesday on the lanai of Kilauea Visitor Center in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs August 21, 2011

The coffee orchards of the Ka`u Coffee Growers Cooperative are on the 2,000 acres where a subdivision is planned.
Photo by Julia Neal
CHRIS MANFREDI has been nominated by Mayor Billy Kenoi to serve on the Windward Planning Commission as an at-large member. The nomination must be confirmed by the County Council. Manfredi is the representative of the real estate investment group that owns 6,000 acres of former C. Brewer sugar lands in Ka`u.
     The hui recently received approval from the county Planning Department for a Project Unit Development Plan for some 2,000 acres, which could eventually lead to subdividing the land and selling it. The plan includes the land where most of the Ka`u Coffee Growers Cooperative members have been growing coffee since sugar shut down in 1996. The plan calls for selling coffee estates but allowing the local coffee growers to stay and farm while providing room for new owners to build their homes. He said he hopes to have long-term leases for the coffee growers soon.
Chris Manfredi
     Manfredi has promoted Ka`u Coffee for years and recently said he has lined up the sales of Ka`u Coffee to 140 Starbucks in Japan, Canada and on the U.S. mainland.
     Manfredi is vice president of the statewide Hawai`i Farm Bureau Federation, president of Ka`u Farm Bureau, one of the organizers of the Ka`u Coffee Festival, a director of the statewide Hawai`i Coffee Association, a district steering committee member of the Ka`u Agricultural Water Cooperative, vice president of the Big Island Resource Conservation and Development Council, statewide origin representative for Ka`u on the coffee berry borer task force, a director of Ka `Ohana O Honu`apo, vice president of the Ka`u Chamber of Commerce and a director of the Ka`u Soil and Water Conservation District.
     Public comments on the nomination of Manfredi are welcomed by the mayor’s office and the County Council, as the County Council must confirm the nomination.

OPTIONS FOR A NEW MANAGEMENT PLAN for Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park go to public meetings this week from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dates and locations are Monday, Aug. 22 at Kilauea Visitor Center, Tuesday, Aug. 23 at Pahoa Community Center, and Wednesday, Aug. 24, at Na`alehu Community Center.
     The General Plan was last implemented over 30 years ago. Since then the park has more than doubled in size, acquiring more than 117,000 acres at Kahuku, stretching high across the slopes of Mauna Loa, to Volcano. In addition, the number of park goers has grown dramatically, making Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park one of the most visited places in all of Hawai`i.
     Options include making some of the roads only open to bicycles and group transportation but not to individual cars. Building more infrastructure at Kahuku for visitors is also an option.
     The Park asks for comments to be sent by Sept. 30 online by going to http://parkplanning.nps.gov/havo or by mail to Cindy Orlando, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, P.O. Box 52, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, HI 96718.

Sugar truck is decorated in flowers, ti leaves and cane to open Ka`u Plantation Days.  Photo by Michael Neal
KA`U PLANTATION DAYS drew many former sugar workers to a decorated sugar cane truck with the signage “Last Run” yesterday near the old mill site in Pāhala. Retired police officer Bobby Gomes and Pastor Troy Gacayan opened the event with stories of plantation days and prayer. 
WWII veteran Tokuichi Nakano, who served in the 442nd,
talked about Japanese sugar workers leaving Ka`u to fight
for the U.S.  Photo by Michael Neal
     Portuguese songs and dancing, an impromptu Bon Dance and many displays of the photographic history of the plantation and the multiethnic community that grew up here highlighted the day, along with ethnic foods and talk story sessions. 

BARBARA FAHS discusses Hawaiian medicinal plants today at 1 p.m. at Na`ohulelua Historical Garden on Kamaoa Road during the monthly plant and seed exchange. Fahs owns Hi`iaka’s Healing Herb Garden and authored the Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens. The garden is open from noon to 3 p.m.

THE STATE AND COUNTY have pretty much given up on trying to control coqui frogs on this island, according to a Stephens Media report. Funding dried up, and the state now hopes to simply keep the tiny, noisy frogs from spreading to the other islands. Coquis can live from the seashore all the way up to at least 5,000 feet and have even taken hold in Volcano. Without funding the county keeps its anti-coqui spray equipment at the Department of Research and Development for community members to use in their own neighborhood fights against the pest. The coqui is native to Puerto Rico and is believed to have come here in a shipment of potted plants. Ka`u is one of the least infested areas on the island when it comes to the coquis.

AFTER DARK IN THE PARK on Tuesday will feature geophysicist Mike Poland of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. He will review Kīlauea’s March Kamoamoa fissure eruption and discuss Pu`u `O`o’s current activity. The floor of the Pu`u `O`o vent on Kilauea’s east rift zone collapsed in March. Lava erupted between Napau and Pu`u `O`o, beginning the Kamoamoa fissure eruption that reached over a mile long. The event begins at 7 p.m.


Bluegrass musicians return for a concert at Pahala Plantation House
this Tuesday, Aug. 23 at 6 p.m.
BLUEGRASS MUSICIANS return to Pahala Plantation House this coming Tuesday, Aug. 23 at 6 p.m. with the same group of musicians who brought down the house in March when they performed in Ka`u. Tyson Alteri sings and plays lead mandolin. Katy Rexford sings and plays lead fiddle. Rion Schmidt sings and plays lead banjo. The stand-up bass player will be Shea McKusic, who is also famous for her Johnny Cash and June Carter duets. Also joining in will be Keoki Kahumoku and friends. 
     The concert is free, but donations are accepted for the musicians. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. at Pahala Plantation House this coming Tuesday.

COUNTY COUNCILMEMBER BRITTANY SMART, state Office of Aging executive director Wes Lum and Hawai`i County Office of Aging executive Alan Parker are hosting meetings on needs of senior citizens. The first will be on Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 1:30 p.m. with South Kona Seniors Club at St. Benedict’s “The Painted” Church. They will hold two meetings on Friday, Aug. 26, the first at 10:30 a.m. at Na`alehu Community Center and the second at 2 p.m. at Pahala Senior Center. Smart will continue to tour the district in September and join the Volcano Seniors Club at Cooper Center on Sep. 29 at 9:45 a.m.

WHAT REMAINS OF FORMER tropical storm Fernanda has the potential to dump heavy rain on Hawai`i Island today, forecasters at the National Weather Service said. Also, a high surf advisory is in effect until 6 p.m., with a small craft advisory in effect until tomorrow morning.

Jaggar Museum will remain open during
repaving of exterior areas. 
REPAVING THE EXTERIOR OBSERVATION areas and pathways at Jaggar Museum in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park begins tomorrow and is expected to last until mid-October. Visitors are encouraged to use the Kilauea Overlook as an alternate area to view Halema`uma`u Crater. Jaggar Museum will remain open throughout the repaving project.

THE PHILIPPINE CONSULATE OUTREACH TEAM will be in Hilo tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to process Philippine passports and accept applications for dual citizenship, delayed registration of birth, report of marriage abroad and other consular services. The consulate comes to Hilo only once a year from Honolulu in order to help citizens avoid interisland travel expenses when submitting applications.