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.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs August 5, 2011

Crater Rim Drive has reopened after a precautionary closure with the recent collapse of the Pu`u `O`o crater floor and the creation of this new lava flow.  Photo from USGS

LIFE OF THE LAND, an environmental community action group, has formally asked the Public Utilities Commission for a contested case hearing on the proposed contract between `Aina Koa Pono and Hawaiian Electric Company. Approval of the contract would allow the electric company to raise customers’ rates to help fund a refinery and biofuel farm in Ka`u.
     Life of the Land wants to present research and arguments regarding claims of `Aina Kona Pono, concerning the probability that its microwave process and biofuel farming would be viable, as well as its possible effect on the environment, agriculture and community, and the plan to raise electric rates to pay for it.
Life of the land executive
director Henry Curtis
     Henry Curtis, executive director of Life of the Land, said the PUC could also compare the growing commercial viability of wind, solar, geothermal and other alternative energies, and whether development of these alternatives would be hindered by tying up Hawaiian Electric and its rate payers in a long-term contract with `Aina Koa Pono.
     It also contends that Hawaiian Electric is asking the ratepayers to subsidize the utility purchasing biodiesel “at well above the cost that the utility could generate its own electricity and perhaps at the highest price any Hawai`i utility has ever paid for electricity.” Life of the Land points out that other proposals before the PUC would allow for purchase of energy at lower rather than higher rates.
     Life of the Land was allowed to intervene in an earlier case in which Hawaiian Electric planned to import palm oil from Asia to run oil burning power plants. That plan was rejected.
     Hawaiian Electric earlier objected to the participation of the county and community groups in the `Aina Koa Pono case after receiving requests by Life of the Land, Hawai`i Renewable Energy Alliance and Hawai`i County.
     `Aina Koa Pono contends that the cost of making the biofuel could be higher than other energy sources now, but with the cost of fossil fuel expected to rise, it would be come less expensive than fossil fuel in the long run, saving customers money later.

HAWAI`I CARPENTERS UNION representative Dean Au testified during the public hearings held in Hilo and Kona this week. He said that he loves Ka`u and comes shore fishing along the rugged Ka`u coast. He acknowledged that Ka`u would change with the `Aina Koa Pono project but said that many unemployed carpenters need the jobs.

HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK is calling for public input on a new management plan that would replace the one that's more than 30 years old. Proposed are four options, including a status quo plan, and plans that would approach managing the park quite differently. Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando noted that the plans take into consideration the needs of visitors, residents and students. The options can be viewed at www.nps.gov/havo/parkmgmt/gmp.htm. Talk Story sessions will be held at 6 p.m. on Aug. 22 at Kilauea Visitor Center, on Aug. 24 at Pahoa Community Center, and Aug. 25 at Na`alehu Community Center. Park staff will present a brief overview of the options along with informational stations and maps. Some of the ideas included in the plans are incorporating more native Hawaiian land management practices and restricting traffic on Crater Rim Drive to bicycling, walking and shuttles.

CRATER RIM DRIVE has reopened after a precautionary closing with the recent collapse of the Pu`u `O`o crater floor and the creation of a new lava flow. The lava is unlikely to move toward Crater Rim Drive, park officials said.

Mazie Hirono
CONGRESSWOMAN MAZIE HIRONO introduced the Continuum of Learning Act of 2011 into Congress today. The bipartisan early childhood learning initiative helps educators from Head Start, other quality early childhood education programs, and elementary schools work together for successful transition from pre-K to elementary school, said Hirono.
     “Without spending any additional taxpayer dollars, this bipartisan legislation helps our keiki enter school ready to learn and increases their success in the early years,” she said. Hirono, a former teacher, is a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Hirono said the legislation “will strengthen the early education efforts for our nation’s 21.2 million children under age 5, some 86,000 of whom are in Hawai`i.”

TRAUMA INJURIES IN KA`U will receive better treatment at its larger sister hospital, Hilo Medical Center. Hilo has been upgraded to a Trauma Level Three Hospital. Gov. Neil Abercrombie visited Hilo Medical Center this week to commemorate the hospital’s new designation. Hilo Medical Center’s upgrade bolsters the entire Big Island’s readiness and ability to treat trauma patients.

GOV. NEIL ABERCROMBIE also made an appearance at Keaukaha Elementary School in Hilo, and the governor joined the University of Hawai`i at Hilo in celebrating the opening of the campus’ Science and Technology building and then made an appearance at the East Hawai`i State Office Building, where a public hearing was earlier held concerning the plans of the biofuel company `Aina Koa Pono to develop lands in Ka`u. During the Hilo visit, Abercrombie was confronted by citizens supporting the state and the Hawai`i State Teachers Association. Protestors opposed the pay cuts, health insurance hikes, and furlough days that the state imposed on teachers last month.