|Sen. Gil Kahele, right, joined eight other state senators in prayer yesterday.|
KA`U SENATOR GIL KAHELE was one of nine state senators who joined in prayer yesterday on the Senate floor after the Senate changed its rules to abolish official opening prayers for senate sessions. The Hawai`i Senate is the first state legislative body in the nation to do away with prayer. Prayers are given in Congress, city and county councils and state legislatures around the country. The 25 Hawai`i senators voted unanimously last Thursday to end prayers after receiving a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union which stated that prayers referencing Jesus go against the separation of church and state.
COFFEE FARMERS may soon be helped by a fungus that kills the coffee berry borer, which has wiped out some farms in Kona and threatens the Ka`u Coffee industry. The state Board of Agriculture has approved an emergency permit to import the fungus for test trials. Next month, the board is expected to decide whether the trials can be held on all coffee farms or just a sample few. Recent rains are also expected to help the coffee trees be strong enough to fend off the borer that eats the coffee beans.
KA`U COFFEE FARMERS Lorie Obra and Efren Abellera are off to the state legislature today to testify in support of training a few good Ka`u residents to become inspectors who would certify Ka`u Coffee as being from Ka`u and being of decent quality, before shipping to market. Currently there is a shortage of coffee inspectors statewide, leading to delays in shipments. Obra said that taking the coffee to Kona to visit an inspector could result in exposure to the coffee berry borer. No borers have been found in the coffee farms above Pahala, she said.
BIG ISLAND SIERRA CLUB CHAIR Deborah Ward said she is concerned that biofuels projects could be placed on the most protected lands that are classified Conservation by the state Land Use Commission. New rules proposed by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources would allow biofuels projects on most lands. Ward testified at a public hearing on Tuesday in Hilo asking whether public hearings and public notices would be required for major projects. Another public hearing on conservation land rules is scheduled for February 7 at 5:30 p.m. at the Mayor’s Conference Room 103 on Kuakini Hwy in Kailua-Kona.
The Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands is tasked with stewarding more than two million acres of public and private lands that are classified Conservation.
During the Hilo hearing Tom Cummins, of Hawai`i Electric Light Co., supported allowing electric company projects on conservation land because of their “public purpose.” Such uses included power lines and future biodiesel projects.
The proposed amendments can be seen at hawaii.gov/dlnr/occl.
THE KA`U CHAMBER OF COMMERCE will sponsor a meeting on the proposed biofuels project for Pahala on Monday, February 21 at 6 p.m. at Pahala Community Center.
|Janessa Jara guards against Kohala to take the win for the Ka`u High Trojans last night.|
IN SPORTS, Kaʻū Girls Varsity Basketball beat Kohala 44-34 last night on home turf in the first round of the BIIF playoffs. Pili Kailiawa scored 12 points, and Janessa Jara added 11. The girls advance to the second round, which will take place on Friday at Konawaena.
AUTHOR CAREN LOEBEL-FRIED and translator Kaliko Beamer-Trapp read in English and Hawaiian from Legend of the Gourd, a story set in Ka`u, at 5:30 today at Volcano Art Center Gallery.
VOLUNTEERS HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY to monitor humpback whales along the Ka`u coast this Saturday morning during the annual whale count. The count, which begins at 8 a.m., provides important population and distribution information on humpback whales around the islands. To sign up, call 888-559-4253.