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 9, 2011

Ka'u News Briefs Sept. 9, 2011

Sen. Gil Kahele expects an extension on public comments for the draft EIS for Nani Kahuku 'Aina's proposed resort development near the coast below Ocean View.
HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC INDUSTRIES has submitted testimony to the Public Utilities Commission arguing for raising electric bills on both O`ahu and the Big Island to help pay for its proposed `Aina Koa Pono contract to purchase biofuel that would be manufactured at a refinery between Wood Valley and Pahala. The state Consumer Advocate had suggested that the Big Island be exempt from the electric bill hike since this island already has a high amount of alternative energy toward meeting state goals.
     The proposed contract calls for O`ahu and Big Island customers to pay an additional $1.75 to $2.10 more per month on the average household electric bill. The Consumer Advocate suggested that the surcharge should apply only to O`ahu ratepayers because the Big Island has made the most progress in producing renewable energy.
     The electric company’s attorneys, however, argued that the Big Island customers should pay for the benefits of the new alternative power source. Nonetheless, the electric company said it would still go forward with hiking electric bills only on O`ahu, should the PUC approve its `Aina Koa Pono contract and require it. The attorneys noted that the rates are a PUC policy decision. The surcharge would have a “relatively small” impact on costumers and would producing benefits of employment and self-sufficiency to outweigh the costs, argued the electric company.

AN EXTENSION ON PUBLIC COMMENTS for the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed resort development on the coastal section of the 16,000 acres at Nani Kahuku `Aina between South Point and Ranchos is expected, according to Sen. Gil Kahele. He said that the developers have been asked to resubmit their draft EIS, as some sections are incomplete. This means that the comment period could go into November.

The historic Ka`u High School Gym would be retained on the campus, with the addition of a new $18 million gym and community shelter. Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
THE PAHALA DISASTER SHELTER AND NEW GYM will go into its design and planning phase, according to Sen. Gil Kahele, who made the announcement at last night’s annual Ka`u Farm Bureau meeting. Referring the governor’s office, he said he went to the “Fifth Floor” of the state capitol to find out about funding for Ka`u projects and learned that funding for the gym is being released and would make its way to the county. He also said $200,000 is being released for surveying and design work to restore and improve the old plantation irrigation system between Kapapala and Na`alehu, above Pahala and the pasturelands. Several million dollars have been approved for the project and will be released in phases by the state government.

THE COUNTY COUNCIL PLANNING COMMITTEE, yesterday, sent a recommendation to the full County Council saying it wants a different nomination for a new Windward Planning Commissioner. Mayor Billy Kenoi’ had nominated Chris Manfredi, of Ka`u Farm and Ranch, who represents the owners of 2,000 acres where Ka`u coffee farms are located and recently approved for an agricultural subdivision, plus 4,000 acres of additional land in Ka`u, some of along the ocean. According to a statement from the office of County Council member Brittany Smart, “It was concern about the overall philosophical balance of the Planning Commission (perceived as already friendly to development) and the number of opposition letters from the community concerning that balance” that resulted in No vote. The full County Council, which is made up of the same nine members as the Planning Committee, will hear Manfredi’s nomination again on Sept. 21 when a final vote will be taken. The committee recognized Manfredi’s work with the Ka`u Farm Bureau and other community organizations in Ka`u.

Chris Manfredi
CHRIS MANFREDI, of Ka`u Farm & Ranch, was reelected last night to be the President of the Ka`u Farm Bureau. Vice President is Phil Becker, Secretary is Michelle Galimba and Treasurer is Lori Obra. Additional board members are Jeff McCall, Gloria Camba, Manuel Marques, Brenda Iokepa-Moses, Ellis Hester and Effren Abellera.

NO APPLICATIONS TO DESIGNATE KA`U LAND as Important Agricultural Lands have been received by the state Land Use Commission. Passed in 2008, the Important Agricultural Lands law provides financial incentives to land owners to preserve their land for agricultural use. Landowners who apply receive up to $7.5 million in annual tax credits for ag facility investments, up to a $2.5 million in loan guarantees, expedited ag processing facility permits and employee housing allowances on prime ag land. Parker Ranch has petitioned the Land Use Commission for IAL designation for almost half its property - 56,772 acres. Parker Ranch would join other landowners in the state to receive an IAL designation, including Alexander & Baldwin Inc. on Maui and Kaua`i, Castle and Cooke Homes Hawaii Inc. on O’ahu, and Mahaulepu Farm LLC on Kaua`i.

THE COUNTY COUNCIL IS CALLING for more public input on a new bill to once again allocate 2 percent of tax revenues to the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund. The County Council’s Financial Committee voted this week for the bill 7 to 1, sending to a vote by the full council. The fund has been used to purchase coastal lands in Ka`u, including a portion of Kawa. Another several hundred acres at Kawa is expected to close soon. If passed, the bill would effectively double the current funding of $2 million a year. The fund previously received 2 percent of county tax revenue, but was reduced to 1 percent in response to the economic crisis and the county’s need to balance its budget.

Shree Padre
THE TIME FOR QUALITY AND PROFITABILITY, is the theme for the 21st Annual Hawai`i International Tropical Fruit Conference, which starts today and continues through Sunday at the Keauhou Beach Resort. Headliner is Shree Padre of India, a specialist in value-added products and a farmer/journalist who is known for his passion for rainwater harvesting and water conservation. USDA employees fig expert Howard Garrison and pomegranate guru Jeff Moresfelder of Davis, California, will also be presenting.
    Dr. Kent Fleming of UH Manoa's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources will present Understanding Risk Management and the Cost of Production. Attendees will be invited to participate in sessions like Selling to Wholesalers and Ag Tourism; a lively Farmer-Chef Roundtable with members of the ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Association; and a plantation tour of the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory in Keauhou. HTFG, a statewide association, was incorporated in 1989 to promote tropical fruit grown in Hawai'i. The Kona event is open to the public. Registration forms and fee schedule are available at http://www,Hawaiifruit.net or by contacting kenlove@hawaiiantel.net.

THE VOLCANO ART CENTER NIAULANI CAMPUS will host the Volcano Rain Forest Autumn Harvest Art Camp next month. The center invites participants ages 6 to 14 to join in on luau cooking classes, traditional tool making, and art and outdoor activities. The camp will take start on Oct. 3rd and end on the 7th, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. Regular campers cost is $165 and $148 for VAC family members. Partial financial aid is available. To register call 967-8222 or email community@volcanoartcenter.org. Applications are due by Sept. 21.

MAYOR BILLY KENOI asks residents to participate in “Stop and Remember” in honor of the 10th anniversary of the September 11th Attacks. “Stop and Remember” was passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate to call for everyone to stop regular day activity for one minute as bells and sirens sound. “Stop and Remember” will occur 7 a.m., Hawai`i time this Sunday, 9/11.