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, September 30, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs Sept. 30, 2011

This artist's rendering shows `Aina Koa Pono's proposed Ka`u Energy Farm.

THE STATE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION yesterday denied the contract between `Aina Koa Pono and Hawaiian Electric Co. by a unanimous vote. The contract, which called for higher electric bills to pay for the project, would have helped secure financing to build a refinery between Wood Valley and Pahala and to grow biofuel crops on some 13,000 acres between Pahala and Na`alehu. 
     AKP had promised 400 construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs for the mill and farm.
     However, the PUC called the price at which the AKP-produced biofuel would have been sold to the electric company “excessive, not cost-effective,” and “unreasonable and inconsistent with the public interest.” The commission wrote: “In effect, from a real world, bill-paying perspective, the HECO Companies seek the commission’s approval to consistently charge affected ratepayers a premium for HELCO’s purchase and use of AKP-produced biofuel under the terms of the twenty-year contract. Such a result is unreasonable and not in the public interest.” 
PUC chair Mina Morita
     The PUC also called the proposed biofuel pricing a “a mystery to all but a select few,” as it remained confidential to all but the electric company, `Aina Koa Pono, the PUC and the Consumer Advocate. The PUC stated in its decision that the price would have been an estimated eight-figure amount (at least 10 million dollars) in 2015, the first year in which the sixteen million gallons of biofuel could have been produced. “Over the course of the twenty-year contract period, the total estimated cost impact of using AKP-produced biodiesel instead of petroleum fuel will be a nine-figure amount,” (a minimum of 100 million dollars), the PUC wrote.
     While the commission wrote that its decision was largely based on the high cost of the biofuel, it noted commissioners’ other major concerns with the contract, such as the likelihood that using the biofuel to keep the electric company’s existing power plants operating “will displace or curtail existing cheaper renewable alternatives.”
     The PUC also listed community support and opposition in its written decision. Community concern, noted by the PUC included:
     “The lack of an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement for the AKP Project; emissions generated from burning biofuel, which is not a clean renewable energy resource; health, safety, and ground transport (i.e., trucking) concerns related to the AKP Project;
     “Inadequate water supply for the source crops; utilizing the land for food crops, and not as source crops for biofuel. Utilizing other renewable energy resources, which are ‘clean’ and lower in cost, in lieu of biofuel; 
     “The AKP Project will increase, and not decrease, electric utility rates; 
     “Based on the HECO Companies’ estimated amount of the proposed monthly biofuel surcharge, the cost of AKP-produced biofuel (which is filed under confidential seal) is not economical;  
     “The proposed biofuel surcharge is unfair and unnecessary;
     “Arbitrary, preferential treatment for the biofuel industry;
     “The MWDP (microwave) technology is unproven on a commercial scale (i.e., the AKP Project is not technically or economically feasible);
     “Net zero displacement of petroleum diesel, when one energy unit of petroleum diesel is used to produce one energy unit of biofuel;
     “Lack of ratepayer benefits.”

The Halau at Miloli`i is the site of a meeting about the Nani Kahuku `Aina
development today at 2:30 p.m.  Photo by Julia Neal
A MEETING ON THE Nani Kahuku `Aina development will be held at Miloli`i today, sponsored by Pa`a Pono Miloli`i at 2:30 p.m. at the Halau - the Miloli`i Pavilion. The organization is calling for more community involvement in reviewing the plan to change land to Urban designation from Conservation along the coast between South Point and Ocean View Ranchos to create a development called Kahuku Village. The meeting will be followed by a presentation by Conservation International and Pa`a Pono Miloli`i on a marine conservation program. 

TODAY IS THE LAST DAY for comments on the plan to put a sidewalk on the mauka side of Hwy 11 in Na`alehu. The state Department of Transportation’s draft Pedestrian Master Plan ranks the project as number one on the Big Island. The plan can be read, and comments can be made, at hawaiipedplan.com or 808-587-6395. 

VOTING CONTINUES THROUGH tomorrow morning at Ka`u Federal Credit Union in Na`alehu for the cover art for the Ka`u Chamber of Commerce’s Directory 2012. The End of Show celebration takes place tomorrow from noon to 2 p.m. The Directory is Ka`u’s phone book and resource publication. Deadline to submit listings and advertising is Oct. 31. Applications are online at kauchamber.org or call 928-6471.

ELECTRONIC WASTE CAN BE dropped off at the Wai`ohinu transfer station tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is the first day for the program that will rotate between Wai`ohinu and three other locations each Saturday. E-waste will be accepted at Wai`ohinu on the first Saturday of each month. Items accepted include TVs, monitors, laptops, VCRs, DVD players, stereo equipment, cameras and telephones.

SPIRIT WEEK CONTINUES AT KA`U HIGH. Today is Flashback Friday and features students wearing clothes from different eras. The Homecoming Dance is tonight, and the parade tomorrow precedes the homecoming game, with kick-off at 6 p.m. on the Ka`u High football field against Kohala.

KA`U HIGH GIRLS VARSITY VOLLEYBALL beat St. Joseph’s in the Ka`u High gym last night. The Trojans only gave up one set in the match and came back strong to quickly vanquish St. Joe in the fourth set, allowing them to score just 10 points. Set scores were 25-22, 21-25, 25-22 and 25-10. During the game a serious injury to a St. Joseph's player stopped the game for 45 minutes. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs September 29, 2011

Humpback whales are returning to Hawaiian waters.  Photo courtesy of NOAA
IT’S EARLY, but it may be time to start looking for humpback whales in waters off Ka`u. The first reports of seeing humpbacks off the coast of the Big Island were turned in this week. Popular humpback sighting places in Ka`u are South Point, Punalu`u and Honu`apo. The first whales were seen in Kona.
     The staff of the Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary reminds boaters and other ocean users to keep a safe distance from the humpback whales. The whales travel annually to Hawaiian waters to give birth to their young and spend the winter before heading north to Alaskan and Canadian waters where they spend the summer feeding.
     According to NOAA, federal regulations prohibit all ocean users - vessel operators, kayakers, paddle boarders, windsurfers, swimmers and divers throughout the Hawaiian Islands – from approaching within 100 yards of whales when on the water, and 1,000 feet when operating an aircraft. Humpback season generally runs from November to May, when up to 12,000 whales each year migrate to Hawaiian waters.
     “It’s important for everyone to be extra vigilant during whale season, for their own safety and the protection of these magnificent animals,” said Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary operations coordinator Paul Wong.
     People are also being called to report distressed animals. “By locating distressed animals, reporting and providing the initial documentation and assessment on the animal, ocean users are the foundation of our conservation efforts,” says marine mammal response manager for the sanctuary Ed Lyman.
     Anyone who comes across an injured or entangled marine mammal is asked to maintain the required safe distance and call the NOAA Marine Mammal Hotline at 1-888-256-9840 or the U.S. Coast Guard on channel 16. Reports of a suspected approach zone violation are asked to call NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964. Additional guidelines and safety tips can be found at http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov.

LETTERS FROM THE PUBLIC omitted from the online publication of the Nani Kahuku `Aina Draft Environmental Impact Statement are now posted.

RICK WARSHAUER, of Volcano, asked, “Is it fiscally responsible for government officials and commission members to recommend and grant land use approvals when there is a good chance that the development might not progress, but the county still be required to provide services implied by such approvals?”
     Warshauer described a situation in Puna, where he says “over 50,000 house lots were approved over a short period of time, but the county has not kept up with expected public improvements in the area.”
     Resort planner Dean Minakami responded, “Please be aware that all our infrastructure associated with Kahuku Village, including roadways, sewer, water, and drainage systems, will be privately constructed and maintained at no cost to the county.”
     Minakami claims that the development would have a net fiscal benefit for the county by bringing in increased tax revenues.

RICK BENNETT, chairman of the Kona chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, outlined what he says should be covered by the EIS, including the impact on ground water, marine water, anchialine ponds, and agriculture potential. Bennett also recommended that the statement include considerations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance carbon sequestration. 
     PBR Hawai`i planner Dean Minakami replied to the letter, saying, “An agricultural feasibility study has not been prepared as the property is not suitable for most agricultural pursuits.” He described the majority of the property as “barren lava fields with pockets of vegetation in shallow topsoil. The property’s limited agricultural potential is reflected in its Land Study Bureau agricultural productivity rating of an “E” (the lowest rating), and its unclassified status on the Agricultural Lands of Importance to the State of Hawai`i (ALISH) map.”

ROB SHALLENBERGER wrote as a director of The Nature Conservancy Hawai`i Island. He asked for more detail on a proposed ahupua`a stewardship program. “I hope that the DEIS will provide substantially more data regarding agricultural uses of the property, including the opportunity for bioenergy projects.”
     Minakami replied that planners considered agriculture and growth of feedstock on the land for a bio-energy facility, but that the agricultural potential there is “very limited.” 
     The PBR Hawai`i planner said the potential impact of development on archaeological sites, ground and marine water, shoreline, air quality, and other issues raised by Bennett, Shallenberger, and in other letters are covered by the DEIS.
     The previously omitted letters and responses are attached at the end of the DEIS, which can be read under the state Department of Health website under Office of Environmental Quality Control at
http://oeqc.doh.hawaii.gov/Shared%20Documents/EA_and_EIS_Online_Library/Hawaii/2010s/2011-09-23-DEIS-Kahuku-Village-Vol1.pdf.

A MEETING ON THE Nani Kahuku `Aina development will be held at Miloli`i tomorrow, sponsored by Pa`a Pono Miloli`i at 2:30 p.m. at the Halau - the Miloli`i Pavilion. The organization is calling for more community involvement in reviewing the plan to change land to Urban designation from Conservation along the coast between South Point and Ocean View Ranchos to create a development called Kahuku Village. The meeting will be followed by a presentation by Conservation International and Pa`a Pono Miloli`i on a marine conservation program.

INNOVATIONS DEVELOPMENT GROUP, the Native-to-Native company working on geothermal in New Zealand, is holding a meeting today regarding potential locations for additional geothermal to make electricity for this island. The meeting will feature Mililani Trask, an attorney and principal in the hui; Bob Lindsey, trustee for the Big Island for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs; Wally Ishibashi, of ILWU Local 142 and member of the Geothermal Working Group; and Richard Ha, co-chair of the Geothermal Working Group. Today’s meeting is at 6 p.m. at Kealakehe High School in Kona.

Manila Extract  is celebrating National Coffee Day.
Photo by Tanya Kearns
THIS IS NATIONAL COFFEE DAY. Ka`u Coffee Mill giveaways are part of the Manila Extract celebration on Facebook. Among the giveaways are Ka`u Coffee Mill bags of coffee and Ka`u Coffee Mill coffee bags. Check out Manila Extract on Facebook. 

VOLUNTEERS ARE STILL NEEDED at Ka`u Hospital to help train and certify Emergency Department doctors with a new ultrasound machine. The training will be on Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 3 and 4. Volunteers are asked to arrive 15 minutes prior to the two-hour volunteer shifts, which are scheduled at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Volunteers must be over 18 years of age. To find out more about requirements or to sign up call assistant administrator Nona Wilson at 928-2050 or email nowilson@hhsc.org. 

VOTING CONTINUES THROUGH Saturday morning at Ka`u Federal Credit Union in Na`alehu for the cover art for the Ka`u Chamber of Commerce’s Directory 2012. The End of Show celebration takes place Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. The Directory is Ka`u’s phone book and resource publication. Deadline to submit listings and advertising is Oct. 31. Applications are online at kauchamber.org or call 928-6471.

THIS IS SPIRIT WEEK FOR KA`U HIGH. On Monday, each class wore different colored clothes; Tuesday was Paniolo Day; yesterday was Nerd Day; today is Trojan Wear Day and Flashback Friday features kids wearing clothes from different eras. The Homecoming Dance is Friday night, and the Homecoming Parade is Saturday throughout Pahala Village preceding the homecoming game which kicks off at 6 p.m. on the Ka`u High ball field against Kohala. 

TONIGHT THE KA`U HIGH girls Varsity volleyball will play St. Joseph's at 6 p.m. at the Ka`u high gym. The game, which was originally scheduled for Wednesday, was moved to today. There is no JV game.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ka'u News Briefs Sept. 28, 2011

Native-to-Native company, Innovations Development, is working on geothermal resources in New Zealand and Hawai'i.

INNOVATIONS DEVELOPMENT GROUP, the Native-to-Native company working on geothermal in New Zealand, is holding meetings today in Waimea and one tomorrow in Kailua-Kona regarding potential locations for additional geothermal to make electricity for this island. The meetings will feature Mililani Trask, an attorney and principal in the hui; Bob Lindsey, trustee for the Big Island for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs; Wally Ishibashi, of ILWU Local 142; and member of the Geothermal Working Group; and Richard Ha, co-chair of the Geothermal Working Group. Government maps of places with geothermal potential include the Ka`u desert. Today’s meeting is at 5 p.m. at Kanu o ka`Aina New Public Charter School in Kamuela. Tomorrow’s meeting is at Kealakehe High School in Kona at 6 p.m.
Potential geothermal sites in Ka'u extend from Mauna Loa slope to
South Point and Ka'u Desert Coast. Map from U.S. Dept. of Energy

NANI KAHUKU `AINA'S PLAN for hotel, golf course, condominums, estates and commercial centers between South Point and Ranchos is subject of a public meeting at Miloli`i this Friday. The meeting, sponsored by Pa`a Pono Miloli`i, will be held at 2:30 p.m. at the Halau - the Miloli`i Pavilion. The organization is calling for more community involvement in reviewing the plan to change land to Urban designation from Conservation along the coast to create a development called Kahuku Village. The meeting will be followed by a presentation by Conservation international and Pa`a Pono Miloli`i on a marine conservation program.

INTERISLAND SHIPPING EXPENSES should be dropping slightly as both Pasha Hawai`i Transport lines and Matson Navigation Co. lowered their fuel surcharges, with the drop in fuel prices. Horizon has yet to decide whether to lower its surcharge.

ALAN PARKER, from the County Office of Aging, will be the speaker at District 6 Matters, sponsored by County Council member Brittany Smart Thursday at 9:45 a.m. at Cooper Center in Volcano Village. Rural issues for seniors will be discussed. Call 961-8536 for more.

Keoki Kahumoku at Honu'apo 0ct. 9.
KA`OHANA O HONU`APO celebrates another year of its stewardship of Honu‘apo Park with a Sunday afternoon of Hawaiian music and ono food on Oct. 9 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Whittington Beach Park. Ka ‘Ohana encourages everyone to bring their acoustic music instruments to this free family event and jam with Keoki Kahumoku, Jr. Along with the music, Ka ‘Ohana offers $5 chili and rice bowls, drinks and baked goods to raise funds to help improve Honu‘apo Park. 
     During the event, board members Ken Sugai, Wendy Vance, Megan Lamson, Michelle Galimba, Chris Manfredi and Sue Barnett answer questions about Ka ‘Ohana’s new plan to restore native bird habitat in Honu‘apo’s wetlands. “We’d like everybody to come and have a good time in the park during the long holiday weekend,” announced Ka ‘Ohana’s executive director Lehua Lopez-Mau. “Keoki has done a terrific job teaching some of our keiki how to make and play the ‘ukulele, and now they have an opportunity to play their ‘ukulele along with their uncles, aunties, grandparents and the rest of the family.”
     For more information or to donate baked goods, call 929-9891.

VOTING continues today at Ka`u Federal Credit Union for the cover art for The Directory, Ka`u’s phone book and community and business resource guide put out annually by the Ka`u Chamber of Commerce. Voting is open all week at the credit union in Na`alehu. Deadline to sign up for listings and advertising in The Directory is the end of this month. Download an application at kaucreditunion.org or call 928-6471.

FEMA CERTIFICATION classes will be offered and the deadline to sign up for the free emergency preparedness course is this Monday, Oct. 3. Classes are sponsored by the Pacific Regional Disaster Preparedness Center and cover community preparation and response to terrorism, tsunamis and other hazards. The classes will take place Oct.11-14 at the Hawai`i Innovation Center in Hilo at 117 Keawe St., and at Bougainvillea Plaza in Kona. For more information and registration, visit the website, prdpc.org, call 933-2439 or email course-registration@prdpc.org. 

This years homecoming parade through Pahala is Saturday. Photo by Julia Neal
HOMECOMING CELEBRATIONS are all this week at Ka`u High School and this is called Spirit Week. On Monday, each class wore different colored clothes, yesterday was Paniolo Day, today is Nerd Day, Thursday is Trojan Wear Day and Flashback Friday features kids wearing clothes from different eras. The Homecoming Dance is Friday night and the Homecoming Parade is Saturday throughout Pahala Village preceding the homecoming game which kicks off at 6 p.m. on the Ka`u High ball field against Kohala.

PIERRE OMIDYAR, the founder of Civil Beat, the award-winning news gathering organization in Hawai`i, is the only Hawai`i resident on the Forbes 2011 list of the wealthiest Americans. He is founder of Ebay and moved to O`ahu a couple of years ago. Omidyar’s Civil Beat editor John Temple will be at the University of Hawai`i’s Media Symposium this weekend in Hilo.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs September 27, 2011

A proposed reapportionment map would split Ka`u for the state House of Representatives.

REDISTRICTING MAPS that would cut Ka`u in half and put Rep. Bob Herkes in a district more aligned with Puna are going to be challenged, according to the Hawai`i Island Democratic Party. The Democrats and several other groups, including one led by Sen. Malama Solomon, are planning an appeal to the state Supreme Court. 
     The statewide reapportionment commission voted to approve the new districts last night on O`ahu. The basis of the suit, however, is to exclude non-residents, such as the military, from the census used for the reapportionment. Excluding non-residents, which are concentrated on O`ahu, would likely give the Big Island a fourth Senate seat. The deadline to file the suit is 45 days from yesterday’s vote.

STATE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE member Richard Ha is warning policy makers about the downside of accepting energy solutions that fail to reduce the cost of electricity. He says it threatens food security, as many agricultural operations require electricity. Ha’s opinion piece is published in this morning’s Civil Beat. Ha is working with a hui to buy Hawaiian Electric Company in order to develop more geothermal and other alternatives that he says could make Hawai`i a growing economy that uses cheap energy. 
     Writes Ha: “Expensive electricity throttles Hawai`i's food self-sufficiency, too. People may not immediately think of maintaining the cold chain – a temperature-controlled supply chain – as a place where a significant cost of getting food to their plate occurs. The cooling costs on a farm, at a wholesaler, at a retailer and in the home refrigerator are all affected by electricity costs.
Richard Ha
“The higher electricity rates become, the higher the costs of growing food in Hawai`i become. These costs must be paid by Hawai`i's farmers and in many cases cannot be passed on to the consumer.
     “As fossil or biofuel oil costs rise, and our farmers’ cost of production also rises, farmers are unable to pass on the increased costs,” Ha writes. See civilbeat.com for more stories on energy and agriculture in Hawai`i.

SIDEWALK TO NOWHERE is what Chris Manfredi is calling the state proposed sidewalk that could threaten large shade trees and rock walls along Hwy 11. Manfredi, a land manager who lives in a house along the proposed sidewalk path, told National Public Radio-Hawai`i in a story broadcast yesterday, that he knew of no stakeholders in Ka`u who asked the state to build the sidewalk. A state Department of Transportation plan listed the sidewalk as the highest priority on the Big Island. According to the NPR story, it was placed in the plan to improve “connectivity and accessibility,” but was neither funded nor scheduled. There is already a sidewalk on the makai side of the highway.
     Marge Elwell, secretary of the Ka`u Chamber of Commerce and a leader in the Scenic Byways movement, noted that one of the rationales for the scenic byways designation is the beautiful drive along the tree-lined highway through Na`alehu. Friday is the deadline to comment on the plan.
     The plan can be read, and comments can be made, at hawaiipedplan.com or 808-587-6395.

A meeting on Nani Kahuku `Aina resort plans will be held at the Miloli`i
Halau this Friday. Photo by Julia Neal
NANI KAHUKU `AINA'S PLAN for a resort between South Point and Ranchos is subject of a public meeting at Miloli`i this Friday. The meeting, sponsored by Pa`a Pono Miloli`i, will be held at 2:30 p.m. at the Halau - the Miloli`i Pavilion. The organization is calling for more community involvement in reviewing the plan to change land to Urban designation from Conservation along the coast. It will be followed by a presentation by Conservation international and Pa`a Pono Miloli`i on a marine conservation program.

POSTAL SERVICE EMPLOYEES are rallying in Honolulu this morning. Across the country the employees are launching campaigns to help keep more funding in the USPS with some national television ads saying that much of the post office fees for stamps and sending packages are kept by the federal government for unrelated services. While thousands of post offices across the country are threatened with closure, none of Ka`u’s post offices are on the list.

THE DEADLINE to sign up for free emergency preparedness classes being offered for FEMA certification is next Monday, Oct. 3. Classes are sponsored by the Pacific Regional Disaster Preparedness Center. They cover community preparation and response to terrorism, tsunamis and other hazards. They will take place Oct.11-14 at the Hawai`i Innovation Center in Hilo at 117 Keawe St., and at Bougainvillea Plaza in Kona. For more information and registration, visit the website, prdpc.org, call 933-2439 or email course-registration@prdpc.org.

More cruise ships expected in Hilo with visitors traveling to Ka`u
 in first week of October. Photo by Julia Neal
MORE CRUISE SHIP VISITORS could be seen at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and as far as Punalu`u Black Sand Beach, as nearly 10,000 visitors will be landing in Hilo on five cruise ships. According to a Stephens Media report, the cruise ship visitor count has been slowly growing over the last few years, following a crash in the business that cut the passenger landings in half.

THE CHINA NATIONAL TOURISM ASSOCIATION sent its top official to the Big Island, and he spoke to the U.S. Travel Association, promising more visitors, particularly if visa restrictions are eased. Hawai`i is receiving fewer Chinese visitors than such places as France because of the difficulty in getting visas, even though Hawai`i represents a dream vacation for many, Chinese visiting officials said.

MANA I KA LEO: THE POWER OF THE VOICE will be shown at After Dark in the Park tonight at 7 p.m. The documentary film examines the cultural importance of oli, the Hawaiian tradition of chant. It won the Audience Award for Favorite Short Film at the 2010 Hawai`i International Film Festival. After Dark is held in the Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park Visitor Center Auditorium. A small donation is requested.

COUNCIL MEMBER BRITTANY SMART holds a District 6 Matters meeting at Cooper Center in Volcano Village on Thursday at 9:45 a.m. Alan Parker, from the Office of Aging, will discuss rural issues with the public. Call 961-8536 for more information.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs September 26, 2011

Hawaiian Home Lands in Ka`u are at Kama`oa, Pu`ueo, Wailau and Wai`ohinu.
THE DEPARTMENT OF HAWAIIAN HOME LANDS is researching the possibility of developing geothermal resources on Hawaiian lands and claims that ownership of the resource could exclusively belong to Hawaiians. According to a story by Civil Beat writer Sophie Cocke, a DHHL committee released a report last week asking the Legislature to make clear “the Department of Hawaiian Home Land’s inalienable rights to the minerals.”
     However, the state government claims it is the state that owns all mineral rights on all lands in Hawai`i. According to Civil Beat, Puna Geothermal paid $12.6 million in royalties between 2001 and 2009. Half went to the state, 30 percent to Hawai`i County and 20 percent to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. The geothermal resource made electricity for Hawaiian Electric Light Co.
     Guy Kaulukukui, a Volcano resident and deputy director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, told Civil Beat that the issue of mineral rights is relatively new in Hawai`i. He said the state did not transfer mineral rights to the Department of Hawaiian Homelands.
     Some DHHL staff members and supportive attorneys, however, argue that Hawaiian Homelands in place before statehood retain mineral rights.
     Hawaiian Home Lands in Ka`u include thousands of acres on the South Point peninsula. They are located at Kama`oa and Pu`ueo. The other Hawaiian Home Lands in Ka`u are at Wailau and Wai`ohinu.
     Several geothermal development groups have been organized by native Hawaiians.

Street trees and rock walls could be threatened by a proposed sidewalk in Na`alehu.  Photo by Marge Elwell
THE DEADLINE for comments on the plan that would put sidewalks down the mauka side of Hwy 11 in Na`alehu, threatening rock walls and street trees, is this Friday, Sept. 30.
     Council member Brittany Smart said that she contacted project manager Rachel Roper about concerns voiced by the community. Individuals have expressed concern about the possible loss of trees and parking area across from Na`alehu Park.
     Roper’s response was that any plan should be consistent with community values. “We do not want to unnecessarily impact the community,” she said.
     The plan can be read, and comments can be made, at hawaiipedplan.com or 808-587-6395.

KA`U FEDERAL CREDIT UNION is concentrating its operations at its main headquarters in Na`alehu, Monday through Saturday, and in Pahala on Friday. All Ocean View members, where the credit branch has closed, can use online banking, phone services and walk-in services at the Na`alehu office, Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Manager Cheryl Weaver said that the consolidation was made as a cost-cutting measure and to retain overall services for credit union members.
Peter Anderson's Nene won the Ka`u
Chamber of Commerce's Directory
cover art contest last year.

VOTING BEGINS today for the cover art for the Ka`u Chamber of Commerce Directory 2012. Artists delivered their submissions on Saturday to the Ka`u Federal Credit Union, and voting by the public takes place this week during credit union business hours. The Directory is Ka`u’s phone book and resource publication. Deadline to submit listings and advertising is Oct. 31. Applications are online at kauchamber.org or call 928-6471. 

WHILE GAS PRICES AVERAGE under $4 a gallon on the mainland and are under $3 in some places, gas in Hawai`i averages $4.24 cents a gallon, having gone up three cents during the last week. Gas prices this morning in Ka`u were: Ka`u Gas Pahala, $4.32; 76 Station Na`alehu, $4.37; Kahala Gas Ocean View, $4.38; Kahuku Country Market Ocean View, $4.32. 

MANA I KA LEO: THE POWER OF THE VOICE will be shown at After Dark in the Park tomorrow at 7 p.m. The documentary film examines the cultural importance of oli, the Hawaiian tradition of chant. It won the Audience Award for Favorite Short Film at the 2010 Hawai`i International Film Festival. After Dark is held in the Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park Visitor Center Auditorium. A small donation is requested.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs September 25, 2011

The documentary film Mana I Ka Leo: The Power of the Voice will be shown at After Dark in the Park 7 p.m. Tuesday.
NANI KAHUKU `AINA’S DRAFT Environmental Impact Statement for its Kahuku Village resort development has been republished online, this time including comments from the public that had been inadvertently omitted. The deadline for additional public comment has been extended to Nov. 6.
     The Draft EIS can be seen on the state Department of Health website under the Office of Environmental Quality Control. It is titled Kahuku Village DEIS. 
     The plan calls for state Land Use Commission reclassification of Conservation land near the ocean to Urban for hotel, condominium, estate, housing, golf course and commercial development. The resort would be set on the coastal section of 16,000 acres between the Kalae South Point bluff and Ocean View Ranchos, makai of the Kahuku section of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. It would be constructed on the coastal plain below Kahuku Ranch. The developers have promised Hawaiian and wildlife educational centers and protection of the turtle nesting grounds at Pohue Bay. They have offered land for community buildings, including a veterans center. 
     According to the EIS, the development has the following triggers for an EIS: reclassification of approximately 1,600 acres from the State Land Use Conservation District to the State Land Use Urban and Rural Districts; development of a Hawaiian Heritage Center, roadway, infrastructure, and ancillary improvements within the State Land Use Conservation District; possible use of the shoreline area as defined in Section 205A-41, HRS, for trails, signage, resource management, and recreational and cultural purposes; proposed highway intersection improvements on Mamalahoa Highway (a state highway facility); amendment of the County of Hawai`i General Plan to recognize Kahuku Village and allow for its development; development of a helicopter facility; development of a wastewater treatment plant; and possible development of a biofuel power generating facility.

THE NATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY LAB and Hawaiian Electric Co. are working on a solar integration study to determine how much solar energy could be used on its grid while maintaining reliability.
     The study goes beyond the smaller customer-owned sites for which electric bills are offset by the solar power they are providing to the utility. The study is to plan for the eventuality of large solar farms, the largest solar facility in the world being planned for Pearl Harbor on O`ahu and others being considered across the state.
     The study will gather data about the operating characteristics of a system with high penetrations of solar power. The state Public Utilities Commission also opened a study on reliability standards for HECO Maui Electric Co. and Hawai`i Electric Light Co. Relying totally on solar power is considered risky since the sun doesn’t always shine and the power is difficult to store. HELCO president Jay Ignacio said recently during a public `Aina Koa Pono meeting in Pahala that his company is looking toward many different ways of providing alternative energy, including biofuel, which it plans to purchase from the refinery planned for a site between Pahala and Wood Valley.

Art show coordinator Wanda
Aus encourages everyone to
vote for their favorite piece.
Photo by Michael Neal 
JUDGING FOR THE ARTWORK for the cover of The Directory 2012, Ka`u’s annual phone book and information guide, begins tomorrow at Ka`u Federal Credit Union in Na`alehu during business hours. The annual contest drew some top artists who brought in their submissions yesterday, creations in many different media that exude the feeling of this place called Ka`u. The public is invited to choose the next Directory cover by casting votes all this week. The Directory 2012 is expected to be distributed throughout Ka`u in January. 
     The deadline to renew or place an ad or listing in The Directory 2012 is Oct. 31. Applications are available online at kauchamber.org or by calling 928-6471.

KA`U FEDERAL CREDIT UNION has brought its Ocean View branch back to Na`alehu, where the hours are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
     General manager Cheryl Weaver said that phone lines will be open to help members with everything from balances, transfers and check requests to loans. Direct deposits are available through employers, the Social Security Administration and other income sources. Automatic loan payments can be organized. Automatic bill pay can also be set up through the credit union’s online banking at kfcu.org. Call 929-7334.
     The Pahala office is available to assist members on Fridays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

MANA I KA LEO: THE POWER OF THE VOICE will be shown at After Dark in the Park on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The documentary film examines the cultural importance of oli, the Hawaiian tradition of chant. It won the Audience Award for Favorite Short Film at the 2010 Hawai`i International Film Festival.

Kehaulani Ke jumps for the kill while Denisha Navarro, Kerrilynn Domondon
and Shyann Flores-Carvalho provide support.  Photo by Nalani Parlin
YESTERDAY BOTH JV AND VARSITY GIRLS volleyball faced off against the Kohala Cowgirls in the Ka`u High gym. Ka`u High JV won both sets 25-22, 25-15. Freshman Aysha Kaupu served well, while setter Kerrilynn Domondon, also a freshman, turned wild balls into strong plays. Classmate and teammate Kehaulani Ke lent her strong arm for several points. 
     Kohala Varsity, whose team sports several seniors, was determined to best the young Trojan team, who beat the Cowgirls on home turf earlier in the season. The Trojans have just four seniors, with one of them totally new to the sport. After a rocky start, Kohala won the first set, but Ka`u powered up to win the second. The Trojans easily took the third set on the back of a 12-point service streak by junior Marley Nicolaisen. However, errors by the Trojans gave Kohala the edge to win the fourth set, and an exciting battle in the tie-breaking set ultimately led to the Trojans’ loss. Set scores were 22-25, 25-21, 25-9, 14-25 and 16-18. Marley Nicolaisen led the Trojans in kills.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs September 24, 2011

Today is National Estuaries Day, and Honu`apo is one of the estuaries being protected in Ka`u.
Photo from The Trust for Public Lands
OWNERSHIP OF KAWA will not go to a contested case hearing before the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, according to a vote taken by the BLNR yesterday in Honolulu. Abel Simeona Lui asked the board for the hearing in an attempt to prevent the state from passing along funding to the county to complete the purchase of the land for an endangered species preserve and park. However, the board went along with a Department of Forestry and Wildlife recommendation to reject the contested case and to stay out of any ownership question about the land. The county is expected to soon complete the purchase of the popular surfing, fishing and beach-going property with funds from county property taxes as well as the state and federal governments. Lui has lived on the land for many years and claims ownership and rights related to the Hawaiian Kingdom. He said earlier he would sue the BLNR if it rejected his request for the contested case hearing.

KA`U WOULD BE CUT IN HALF, according to proposed state reapportionment maps. Tentative maps for redrawing the state House of Representatives districts would put the population from Na`alehu through Ocean View into a district with residents up the Kona Coast beyond Kahalu`u. The state reapportionment commission will vote on the maps this coming Monday in Honolulu.
A proposed reapportionment map splits Ka`u into
two state House of Representatives districts.
     The proposal has drawn criticism, particularly from Ocean View residents who say they want to keep their Rep. Bob Herkes, of Volcano, who would no longer be eligible to run for office to represent them. Herkes has campaigned for potable water for Ocean View, the mobile health care van and protection of the South Kona Wilderness area.
     The commission voted to pull out some of the non-resident military personnel who were counted in the census used for drawing the new voting district lines. Some critics, including Sen. Malama Solomon and the Hawai`i County branch of the Democratic Party, have threatened to sue the commission unless enough military are taken out to guarantee the Big Island a fourth state Senate seat. This county’s 25 percent population growth over the last decade requires the commission to adjust the voting district lines so that everyone is represented fairly.

REDRAWING THE COUNTY COUNCIL DISTRICT lines will go to public hearing in Ka`u on Oct. 12 at Na`alehu Community Center at 6 p.m. The county redistricting commission held its last meeting before the public hearings yesterday. The county has experienced an almost 25 percent population growth in a decade, which means that lines must be changed to ensure that each County Council member represents approximately the same number of people all around the island. Ka`u residents have been lobbying to prevent the Ka`u district from being split in half in the state redistricting for the House of Representatives. The County Council district could also be changed, shifting toward Puna and/or Kona. Public input will be taken over the next month, with the redistricting completed by the end of the year. Three proposed maps are being considered for the redistricting for County Council.

The old Pahala gym plans show traditional architecture.
It is on the Hawai`i Register of Historic Places.
DESIGN OF THE NEW GYM and community disaster shelter in Pahala could include rooflines and other architectural elements of the surrounding school buildings and Pahala Village, according to a recommendation by the Ka`u Plantation Days Committee. The group has asked the state, which has sent more than $17 million to the county to build the facility, and the county, which is tasked with building the gym and shelter, to consider that buildings on the campus are on the Hawai`i Register of Historic Places. The new structure could be the largest in the town and be visible from many homes and other vantage points. Members of the Ka`u Plantation Days group said they sent in their suggestion before the design is made in order to offer input without any delay or extra cost for the project. They said that Pahala is becoming known for its historic buildings. 
     The old Pahala gym will be retained for sports and other activities.

NO NEW PLANNING COMMISSIONER from Ka`u for now. That is the way the County Council voted this week in turning away Mayor Billy Kenoi’s nomination of Chris Manfredi to become an at-large member. Manfredi represents a land investment company that owns some 6,000 acres in Ka`u. The hui recently received permission from the county planning department to subdivide 2,000 acres, including the farms where many of the Ka`u Coffee growers have developed a post-plantation economy for their families on leased land. Supporters noted Manfredi’s numerous volunteer positions on community boards and his work in promoting Ka`u Coffee. Ka`u’s planning commissioner is Raylene Moses, of Wai`ohinu.

The Ka`u High varsity football team looks forward to home-
coming next Saturday at 6 p.m.  Photo by Nalani Parlin
KA`U HIGH SCHOOL’s varsity football team held the undefeated Kamehameha Warriors, whose team numbers were twice that of the Trojans, to 35 points at the Pahala ball field. End of quarter scores were as follows: 1st quarter 8-0, 2nd quarter 15-0, third quarter 22-0 and fourth quarter 35-0. Next weekend is homecoming. The Trojans play Kohala on Saturday beginning at 6 p.m. 

ARTISTS ENTRIES are being accepted today for the cover art competition for the next Ka`u Directory, sponsored by the Ka`u Chamber of Commerce. Entries of art in any media are accepted until 11:30 a.m. at Ka`u Federal Credit Union in Na`alehu. Voting will be all next week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the winner will be announced at the End of Show celebration on Saturday, Oct. 1 from noon to 2 p.m.

TODAY IS NATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS DAY, and Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park is waiving entrance fees. Volunteers can do trail work and help remove invasive plants in the park. Call 985-6314.
     Kilauea Military Camp conducts an Open House for visitors to experience how KMC supports America’s troops. All KMC facilities and services, including guestrooms, are available to the general public. Call 967-8371 for more information.

Sen. Daniel Akaka
TODAY IS ALSO NATIONAL ESTUARIES DAY, as proclaimed by a resolution co-sponsored by Sen. Daniel Akaka. “Our estuaries and coastal areas provide critical habitat along with recreation, tourism, and business opportunities,” Akaka said. “In Hawai`i, we believe strongly in malama `aina and malama kai – caring for the land and caring for the ocean – and healthy estuaries are key to both. On this National Estuaries Day, we are reminded to redouble our efforts to protect these valuable natural resources.”

EMBRACING `OHI`A is a group exhibit that opens today at Volcano Art Center Gallery. Members of the Pacific Island Printmakers show their works daily through Nov. 6 at the gallery from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The opening reception is 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. tonight.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs September 23, 2011

Bana grass is `Aina Koa Pono's choice of feedstock for its proposed biofuel refinery between Pahala and Wood Valley.

THE PROPOSED REFINERY AND BIOFUEL FARM between Pahala and Wood Valley and Na`alehu are continuing to generate discussion in the community. Here is more from last Monday’s community meeting sponsored by `Aina Koa Pono: 

RICHARD PORTER, of Na`alehu, who works in finance and real estate, said that the investment banking community looks at these kinds of projects at 10 percent success and 90 percent failure. He asked Hawaiian Electric Co. president Jay Ignacio whether the proposed surcharges on electric bills to pay for the biofuel would continue should the `Aina Koa Pono project fail. Ignacio said that the surcharge, if approved, would be charged to ratepayers only when HELCO buys the fuel and not before or after.

AKP AGRONOMIST John Carroll identified the chosen biocrop for the company’s farm as sterile bana grass. The grass, Carroll said, exhibits robust growth, is non-invasive, and would not require irrigation because it needs 30 inches of rain a year, below the average 44 inches Ka`u receives yearly. Starter fertilizer, however, would be required, but only when the grasses are first planted, he said. Each acre would produce 30 to 40 dry tons of biomass, he predicted.

Beekeeper Alison Yahna
ALISON YAHNA, a beekeeper who owns an apiary on South Point Road, said that even though the proposed grass crops for biofuel may not spread easily by seed, they still can spread by roots. She said similar grasses already can cover open ground in Ka`u. The AKP agronomist responded, saying that the bana grass will be contained and that the entire process reduces the overall carbon put in the atmosphere. “In fact, it’s carbon negative,” he claimed. 

TIM REHA, whose family owns a nature retreat in Wood Valley, pointed to biofuel company Imperium Renewables based out of Washington State that raised hundreds of millions of dollars and shut down. He said later that the problem can be providing sufficient feedstock that won’t be too costly in terms of money and the environment. 

JULIE DOBBS, a University of Hawai`i student who lives in Wood Valley, voiced her concern over CO2 that would be released from the power plant to run the refinery. “Why in this day and age would we even consider something that’s going to add CO2 to the environment when we know about the impacts of global warming and the whole situation?” she asked.

HERE IS MORE TESTIMONY sent into the Public Utilities Commission and published this week on the docket section of its website:

MICHAEL ASATO asked the PUC to defer the `Aina Koa Pono contract for two years, until an emerging type of alternative energy using a blue green algae is tested on a commercial scale. Asato contended that this CO2-feedstock solar fuel could make the electric company 100 percent self-sufficient and reduce rates. He called the new technology “disruptive” to `Aina Koa Pono’s proposal and predicted that the new technology would be proven on a commercial scale soon. 
Joule claims it can make fuel from sun, CO2, water,
water and algae.
     The C02 feedstock technology involves diesel-secreting, genetically engineered cyanobacteria (blue green algae). On the Big Island, proposed Asato, the process could use carbon dioxide emissions from a HELCO power plant and water from a treatment plant, and the facility could be located on non-arable lands, taking up much less property than biofuel crops. 
     Asato claimed that a company called Joule Unlimited is putting in a full-scale production facility in New Mexico and noted that one of its board members is John Podesta, former White House chief of staff for President Bill Clinton. He also pointed to a presentation at MIT, in which Dr. Troy Campione, of Joule, said the future in alternative energy production is “to control the photosynthetic process to generate the products directly that you want. He said the Joule process uses sunlight, CO2 and water. He said the process is a “reality now” and called using biomass to manufacture biofuel an “inefficient intermediate.” 

Elizabeth Jenkins
ELIZABETH JENKINS, who owns a home, orchard, farm and fruit stand in Wai`ohinu, also wrote to the PUC. “I do not support the rate hike making residents pay for an expensive biofuel venture that has never been tested or proven to work anywhere in the world. We are not interested in being the guinea pigs for this weird science project. We do not feel this is a valid, sustainable project, nor does it appear to actually be a real “green” project. We do not feel this is good for the land or good for Ka`u in any way. Please receive this testimony of our entire family of four from “Ai Lani Orchards – an organic farm on 35 acres in Ka`u.” 

RICHARD PORTER, of Na`alehu, also wrote to the PUC, saying, “I care deeply for the land, the people who preceded me here and current residents. I have serious concerns about the proposed fuel refinery and how it will affect the community. 
     “This technology as presented and on this scale is unproven. It is true that microwave technology and gas depolymerization technology separately have been around for years. The combination of the two technologies, however, on the scale proposed, exists nowhere in the world. To say the least, this is a very risky venture that has no track record.
     “You have it in your hands to bring this project to a halt by denying a rate surcharge and instead pursue proven technologies like geothermal, wind and solar…. There seems to be a perfect storm of interests involved in this discussion: venture capitalists looking for the big pay off; HECO pressing to encourage for energy self sufficiency; rate payers being asked to subsidized this questionable project; and local people in Ka`u who will be asked to live with your decision. Please don’t subsidize this private science experiment with public money,” wrote Porter. 

Marley Strand-Nicolaisen reaches
for the ball.  Photo by Nalani Parlin
ON WEDNESDAY, FANS PACKED the Ka`u High gym to watch Ka`u High volleyball wahine take on Konawaena, both vying to protect undefeated records thus far in the season. Trojan JV girls warmed up the court versus Konawaena, losing in three sets (20-25, 21-25, 11-15). Varsity lost the first two sets 16-25 and 22-25, but eventually shook their home-court jitters, coming back to win the next two sets 25-21 and 25-16. However, after a valiant effort, the girls lost in the tie-breaking set 9-15.
     Come out to support the Trojans as they face off against Kohala in the Ka`u High gym tomorrow at noon.

ENTRIES FOR THE KA`U CHAMBER OF COMMERCE’S Directory 2012 Art Contest must be delivered to the Ka`u Federal Credit Union office in Na`alehu tomorrow between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. They will be on display for voting by the public next Monday through Saturday during credit union business hours, and the winner will be announced at the End of Show Celebration on Saturday, Oct. 1 from noon to 2 p.m. For more information, call Wanda Aus at 929-9139.

TOMORROW IS NATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS DAY. To celebrate, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park is waiving entrance fees. Volunteers can celebrate by doing trail work or removing invasive plants in the park. Call Laura at 985-6304 to sign up.
     Also, Kilauea Military Camp is having an Open House so that visitors can experience how KMC supports America’s troops. All facilities and services, including guestrooms, will be available to the general public. Call 967-8371 for more information.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs September 22, 2011


Money from the state, federal and county governments would buy Kawa lands to protect the wetlands and restore
endangered species.  Photo by Julia Neal
THE FUTURE OF KAWA comes up before the state Board of Land & Natural Resources tomorrow at its meeting in Honolulu. Longtime Kawa resident Abel Simeona Lui said he will attend the meeting to object to the state releasing funding to the county for the purchase of more than 550 acres there. He is asking for a contested case hearing. 
     The state received funding to help buy the coastal property from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The county and state are also chipping in. A letter from the Department of Forestry & Wildlife describes the purchase as a joint effort “to protect wetland and coastal habitat on the island of Hawai`i.” The land would be managed for endangered species recovery.
     Lands at Kawa would also be preserved for surfing, fishing and walking along the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail.
     Lui is asking for a contested case to prevent the acquisition, claiming family ownership. The state attorney general’s office researched the case and gave its opinion, contending that there is no reason for a contested case as the state does not involve itself in land ownership disputes. Paul Conry, administrator for the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, recommended against Lui’s request for a contested case hearing. Lui said he will sue the BLNR if it denies him the hearing.
     The county is purchasing the property from the Olson Trust, which bought it for preservation after former owners put it on the market, advertising it to developers. The county already purchased the adjacent 235 acres from Marcia Johnson, who formerly operated a real estate company in Ka`u. 

INCREASED BUILDING PERMIT FEES were defeated yesterday. The bill before the County Council would have piled thousands of dollars of impact fees onto the construction of even the smallest owner-built home. Voting against the bill were Dominic Yagong, Angel Pilago, J Yoshimoto, Fresh Onishi and Dennis Ikeda. Ka`u’s County Council member Brittany Smart voted for the fees, along with Brenda Ford, Pete Hoffmann and Fred Blas. 
County Council member J Yoshimoto
     According to a Stephens Media report, Yoshimoto said, “I think we are imposing a fee on the people who can least afford it…. This fee, while good-intentioned, basically prevents people from getting a start and owning their own home.”
     The proposed fees would have cost $4,471 for a house 1,000 square feet or smaller, and $7,026 for a house 3,500 square feet or larger. Fees would have been charged on the building of churches, community centers, hospital rooms and visitor accommodations and any renovations that would have added living space. It would have also established impact fees on new commercial and industrial space.
     Those supporting the fees contended that the county needs the money to help pay for roads, solid waste disposal, sewers, fire, police and other basic services tied to population growth. They said they wanted to reduce the temptation to raise property taxes on existing homeowners to pay for the increased cost of services.
     The current way in which the county raises money for public infrastructure in connection with development happens with new zoning approvals.

HERE IS MORE ON THE BIOFUELS MEETING sponsored by `Aina Koa Pono this past Monday, regarding their plan to build a refinery and farm in Ka`u.

DEBORAH "KEPI" DAVIS, a retired National Park Service archaeologist, said she is concerned about the cultural history of Ka`u and of Ka`u as a historic district. She pointed out that the use of any state funds would trigger an Environmental Impact Statement and the use of any federal funds would trigger an EIS as well as Section 106 consultation. She said Section 106 requires one-on-one interviews with native Hawaiians before proceeding with the project. She provided a list of the recently appointed Hawaiian Roll Call commissioners and suggested AKP representatives talk with them. She asked AKP representatives, and they did publicly state, that they are using no state and federal funds.

RALPH GASTON, who works with Rusty’s Hawaiian 100 Percent Ka`u Coffee, asked AKP representatives about the purpose of their meeting with the public. “Is this all about avoiding an EIS?” he asked.

Renowned furniture maker Marcus Castaing
with hardwood trees he planted.
MARCUS CASTAING, who said he has lived in Wai`ohinu for more than 30 years, said that AKP planned to cut down nuisance trees to make biofuel. He said that “anything that is growing here and protecting the land is helping keep this place green.... You cannot go raping the land,” he said. 

CHRIS ELDRIDGE, partner of `Aina Koa Pono, promised the community maps of intended tree clearing on the land. Concerns were raised over cutting down invasive trees due to their role in retaining rainwater and preventing rainwater from converting into runoff.

THE 85-FOOT SMOKESTACK planned for the refinery also drew concern. AKP representatives said the stack is for a small power plant that would operate the refinery. Federal air quality regulations require the smokestack to be 1.5 times the height of the tallest building at the refinery. It would release CO2 into the air for which `Aina Koa Pono has asked for a pollution permit. Bill Kucharski, director of Renewable Energy Pacific for AECOM, the firm selected by `Aina Koa Pono to engineer its refinery, described it as a minor source of air pollution. He said emissions would be below the federal standard of 100 tons of pollutants in the air per year. Kucharski also addressed concerns over the 1.25-million-gallon storage tanks for the biodiesel. He said the tanks would comply with Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures requirements laid down by the Environmental Protection Agency. The tanks would be designed to satisfy building requirements for earthquake zones as well, said Kucharski.

`AINA KOA PONO representatives addressed claims that the proposed biofuel production is associated with the military, as some of the partners are retired military. President and CEO of the company Melvin Chiogioji said that the military is not involved with the AKP project, but that the military has done research related to biofuel production that might be helpful. AKP representatives also said that no military or other federal money is being used for the project.

LAVA IS ONCE AGAIN FLOWING from Pu`u `O`o Crater. If the flows advance, they will likely continue southeast toward the Royal Gardens subdivision, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website. 

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, next to Jaggar Museum, is sponsoring
a poster contest in advance of its centennial celebration.
Photo courtesy of USGS
THE HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY is sponsoring a poster contest for fourth-grade students in advance of its centennial celebration in January. “We chose this grade level because volcanic processes and scientific observation are topics included in Hawai`i’s fourth-grade curriculum,” said centennial poster contest coordinator Janet Babb. 
     Award-winning and honorable mention posters will be displayed at KTA Super Stores around the island in January. The award-winning posters will also be featured on HVO’s website.
     Complete contest details and submission guidelines are available online at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/education/postercontest2011 or by contacting Babb at 967-8844 or jbabb@usgs.gov. 

VOLCANO ART CENTER hosts a poetry slam tomorrow from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at its Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. Up to 15 poets chosen at random perform their works, with prizes awarded to the top finishers. Call 967-8222 for more information.

ENTRIES FOR THE KA`U CHAMBER OF COMMERCE’S Directory 2012 Art Contest must be delivered to the Ka`u Federal Credit Union office in Na`alehu this Saturday between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. They will be on display for voting by the public next Monday through Saturday during credit union business hours, and the winner will be announced at the End of Show Celebration on Saturday, Oct. 1 from noon to 2 p.m. For more information, call Wanda Aus at 929-9139.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs September 21, 2011

Pete Hunter, of Eke Nui Mango Farm in Na`alehu, asks the PUC to wait until the EA is done before deciding
on the `Aina Koa Pono contract.  Photo by Julia Neal
IMPACT FEES that would drive up the cost of building new houses and other buildings were scheduled for first reading by the County Council today at its Kona meeting. The proposal would have the county levy $4,471 for a house 1,000 square feet or smaller. Impact fees charged to new homebuilders would be $7,026 for a house 3,500 square feet or larger. 
     Renovations that increase the size of housing units would also be impacted.
     County fees would also raise the cost of building new multi-family dwellings, motels and hotels. Nursing homes, schools, hospitals and churches would also be hit with the impact fees. New construction of stores, offices, and any other commercial building, as well as industrial and warehouse structures would be charged. Impact fees for these buildings would range from $1,080 to $5,451 per 1,000 square feet. 
The cost of building additions and new buildings would
go up with new building fees to be paid before
building permits are issued.
     Council member Pete Hoffmann introduced the bill, saying that the county needs a way to pay for infrastructure, tied to the growth in population. Tying fees to construction of new places for people to stay or live is a direct way to keep up with building roads, parks, solid waste, police, fire and other county infrastructure and services, he said.
     Council member Brittany Smart voted for the bill in committee. Council members Donald Ikeda, Fresh Onishi and J Yoshimura voted against the measure, saying it would make it difficult for people to build homes and hurt the already decimated construction industry.
     The impact fees would be used in the communities on the island in which they are collected.
     One concern is whether the system would make the county dependent on constant growth – the construction of new buildings - to keep up with its infrastructure expenses.

TOWING DRUNKEN DRIVERS’ cars may be the next move to reduce traffic deaths on Big Island highways. According to County Council member Brenda Ford, this county has the highest rate of deaths from drunken driving in the country. The bill would give the police officers stopping drunken drivers the option of having the car towed and impounded. The owner of the vehicle would have to pay for towing and storage fees and have 30 days to retrieve the vehicle.
     The towing would also be allowed for vehicles driven by persons with suspended or no drivers’ licenses, and those with fake license plates, emblems or tags. The bill passed Council Committee 9-0 and will be sent to the full Council for final passage and then to the mayor for final signature.

Ledward Kaapana
LEDWARD KAAPANA, the master of `ukulele and slack key guitar, a teacher at musical workshops in Pahala, as well as concerts and backyard parties throughout Ka`u, receives a national honor today in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. 
     Kaapana, a Big Island native, has earned the National Endowment of the Arts 2011 National Heritage Fellowship Award and a check for $25,000.
     A concert honoring Kaapana and other recipients will be streamed live from Washington – from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Ka`u time this Friday. For the link to the live broadcast, see arts.gov/honors/heritage. An archive of the concert will be available after the event.

HERE IS MORE ON THE `AINA KOA PONO MEETING held on Monday in Pahala regarding the proposed refinery between Pahala and Wood Valley and the biofuel farm proposed for lands between Pahala and Na`alehu.

THE REFINERY would use 4.5 tons a day of zeolite in its processing of biomass into biodiesel. The zeolite could be shipped in from China or the U.S. mainland, said `Aina Koa Pono CEO Melvin Chiogioji. He said the U.S. Navy is working on a synthetic zeolite that could possibly be available for `Aina Koa Pono’s use. He explained that zeolite is comprised of aluminum, calcium and silica. It was compared to sand. “You have sand here,” said Chiogioji. Zeolite would help to change the structure of the feedstock to make the biofuel.

BIOCHAR was another point of discussion. `Aina Koa Pono representatives said they are looking for a market for biochar, the major bi-product that would be generated by the refinery. The biochar was described as a valuable soil amendment that acts like a magnet for nutrients for crops. An `Aina Koa Pono representative said that some experiments show plants growing two to three times faster with the addition of biochar to the soil. It was also put forth that the biochar binds fertilizer to the soil, so that the fertilizer doesn’t flow away during rain.
     `Aina Koa Pono engineer Alexander Causey said at the last community meeting that 900 tons of feedstock a day processed in microwave ovens would generate 72,000 gallons of synthetic diesel, plus 600 to 1,000 pounds of biochar. The rate of production would be 80 gallons of biofuel per ton of feedstock. Ten pounds of feedstock would create three lbs of fuel, four lbs of char and 1.5 lbs of non-condensable material, he said.

Sophia Hanoa called for an EIS.  Photo from Big Island
Video News
SOPHIA HANOA, of Pahala, took on the `Aina Koa Pono representatives during the community meeting, challenging `Aina Koa Pono to produce a full Environmental Impact Statement. `Aina Koa Pono announced that it would hire an independent company to write an Environmental Assessment. Chris Eldridge, a partner in `Aina Koa Pono, asked Hanoa why she wants an Environmental study. She replied, “Because I am born, raised and I will die here.” She claimed that Eldridge told her earlier that `Aina Koa Pono did not want to do an EIS because “we don’t have the money, and we don’t have the time.” 

PETE HUNTER, of Eke Nui Mango Farm in Na`alehu, said the Public Utilities Commission should wait for the Environmental Assessment to be completed before issuing its decision on whether to approve the contract between `Aina Koa Pono and Hawaiian Electric Company and the proposal to allow the utility to raise rates to pay for the biofuel once `Aina Koa Pono delivers it to Hawaiian Electric.
     `Aina Koa Pono representatives said the EA and the PUC decision are unrelated.
     The gathering was organized as a District 6 Matters meeting by County Council member Brittany Smart, who said that more meetings will be held on the subject in the future.
     See more in tomorrow’s Ka`u News Briefs.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs September 20, 2011

A full house greeted representatives of `Aina Koa Pono at their public meeting in Pahala last night.
Photo by Michael Martin-Neal
`AINA KOA PONO representatives promised last night to hire an independent company to make an Environmental Assessment on their proposed refinery up Wood Valley Road and biocrop farm between Pahala and Na`alehu. The District 6 Matters meeting, sponsored by County Council member Brittany Smart, drew a full house at Pahala Community Center. The facilitator was Paula Donovan of Ocean View. Chris Eldridge, a partner in AKP, said he wanted to clarify that electric rates would not go up to pay for the construction of the $400 million `Aina Koa Pono facility, until such time as the company is actually making biofuel and the electric company is buying it. Should the company fail, the ratepayers would no longer pay the surcharge toward purchasing the biofuel. The agreement to raise the rates once the biofuel is being sold to the utility is needed in order to obtain money from equity partners and financing from banks, said Eldridge. Eldridge and Hawaiian Electric Light Co. president Jay Ignacio said that AKP is offering a fixed price per gallon over the next 20 years and that the biofuel would likely become less expensive than fossil fuel over time. AKP representatives said that this first plant is more expensive to build than refineries they plan to build on other islands. They said they have already issued Requests for Proposals for biofuel plants on other islands.

A COMMUNITY BENEFITS PACKAGE of at least $250,000 a year was also announced by `Aina Koa Pono representatives, who have been meeting with members of such community organizations as `O Ka`u Kakou to determine community needs.

MAPS OF THE 13,000 ACRES where the biofuel crops would be planted were promised by `Aina Koa Pono. Most of the properties are owned by the Olson Trust and the Mallick family, and a significant amount of the land was once in sugar cane. Regarding the scenic vistas and stands of monkeypod and silk oak trees along Hwy 11, Olson land manager John Cross said after the meeting that the dry, rocky lands at the low elevations along Hwy 11 would be largely inappropriate for biofuel and that the trees and Christmas berry may be thinned out to make more room for cattle grazing, to open up more grassland while leaving shade for the livestock. “We are not looking at wholesale bulldozing and harvesting of these trees. We are looking at selective work in order to improve the grazing capacity of the land,” said Cross.

John Carroll, agronomist for `Aina Koa Pono, talks with Lance Santo,
of Hawai`i Agricultural Research Center, about biofuel crops.
Photo by Julia Neal
AGRONOMIST JOHN CARROLL said that the establishment of the biofuel crops would be incremental and that the lands would not be bulldozed like they were in the days of the sugar plantations. The planting would be done on 20 to 30 acres at a time. 

TWO ROADS are being considered to take the biofuel from the proposed refinery site off Meyer Camp Road to Hwy 11 to keep all trucking out of Pahala Village. One would go from Meyer Camp Road across Wood Valley Road and through ML Macadamia orchards. The other route would come down Wood Valley road toward Pahala and turn makai near Pa`a`au Gulch and head along the Volcano side of the open pasture down to Hwy 11, just outside of Pahala.

Bobby Gomes
RETIRED POLICE OFFICER BOBBY GOMES addressed the idea that `Aina Koa Pono is coming to Pahala to make jobs for the people. He asked CEO and retired Admiral Melvin Chiogioji whether he woke up one morning and decided to come to Pahala to make jobs. Chiogioji said that is not how it happened. He and other company representatives said they looked for land around Hawai`i for two years and approached area land owners with their idea of growing biofuel here to help relieve Hawai`i from its dependence on fossil fuel. 

TRANSPORTING THE FUEL from the refinery up Hwy 11 to the power plant at Kona was another concern, and several people asked whether it wouldn’t trigger an Environmental Impact Statement. A painting contractor who drives to Kona on workdays said she was worried about the trucks damaging the state highway and causing traffic problems. `Aina Koa Pono representatives projected six round trips by fuel tanker trucks each day on Hwy 11. Another 30 to 40 biomass truckloads would be coming in from the fields on the old sugar haul road between Na`alehu and Pahala and up to Meyer Camp Road to reach the refinery. Rights- of-way through other properties would have to be worked out in order to avoid the trucks from the fields skirting the back of Pahala and turning up Wood Valley Road.

IMPACTS OF THE REFINERY on nearby residents were voiced by people living along Wood Valley Road and in Wood Valley. Noa Caiserman, who said she lives about 1.5 miles from the proposed refinery site, said that people travel to Wood Valley because of its special beauty. She called the idea of putting a refinery along the way “ugly” and said she couldn’t believe it was being considered. Caiserman runs a small business in Na`alehu and said she raised her family in Wood Valley, where she has lived for 30 years.
     Sandra Reha, who operates visitor accommodations in Wood Valley, said she is concerned about how fast the location of the refinery was changed from downtown Pahala to land off Wood Valley Road without consultation of people living nearby. “An oil refinery? To just pick a place that fast, I find hard to understand.
     You are asking us to have all the risk and also have to pay for this. Here you come into our community, come in from outside and plunk a refinery into our neighborhood.”

`Aina Koa Pono representatives (l-r) Bill Kucharski,
Chris Eldridge, Melvin Chiogioji and Sandy Causey.
`AINA KOA PONO representatives outlined the jobs they promised for the community. They said the 400 jobs to build the refinery would provide opportunities for local hire for apprentices and that some of the skills learned could be valuable for landing permanent jobs in factory maintenance. 

AKP ENGINEER SANDY CAUSEY said that 55 workers would be needed for day-to-day operation and maintenance and that jobs would include operation of the plant, loading, dispatching and catalyst loading. Workers would be trained in emergency response for any upsets at the refinery, and could also respond to other upsets in the larger community.
     Maintenance, lubrication, and minor repairs to factory and ag equipment would also be needed. There would be 40 to 50 various types of equipment used, requiring mechanic and welding skills, Causey said. He said that local residents could apply for scholarships and that Leeward Community College would bring classes to Hilo for training in power plant operations.
     In the fields, 90 to 100 people would be working. There would be training for CDL driver licenses, heavy equipment operations and small hand tools safety and operation.
     In management, there would be more than 15 employees, in bookkeeping, human resources and general administration.
     See more on the AKP presentation and public testimony in tomorrrow's Ka`u News Briefs.

Peter Anderson won last year's
Ka`u Chamber of Commerce
art contest with his Nene.
KA`U ARTISTS ARE INVITED to submit their works for the Ka`u Chamber of Commerce’s Directory 2012 Art Contest. Entries must be delivered to the Ka`u Federal Credit Union office in Na`alehu this Saturday between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. They will be on display for voting by the public next Monday through Saturday during credit union business hours, and the winner will be announced at the End of Show Celebration on Saturday, Oct. 1 from noon to 2 p.m. The winning artwork will grace the cover of The Directory 2012. For more information, call Wanda Aus at 929-9139.

OPE`APE`A, THE HAWAIIAN HOARY BAT, is the topic at After Dark in the Park tonight at 7 p.m. Wildlife ecologist Frank Bonaccorso presents findings about its elusive behavior and examines current and emerging threats to the survival of the bat, which is Hawai`i’s only native land mammal.