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.