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 12, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs August 12, 2011

Lands between Pahala and Na`alehu would be cleared and plowed to make a biofuel farm with large combine machines harvesting the grasses.  Photo by Julia Neal

THE HAWAI`I COUNTY ADMINISTRATION is monitoring the country’s economic situation, given the turmoil in financial markets, said County deputy finance director Deanna Sako. In a Stephens Media article by Nancy Cook Lauer, Sako said that changes in interest rates will not affect the county as its $360 million bond debt is at a fixed interest rate. 
     Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has announced that the Fed will keep rates at “exceptionally low levels” for at least two years, further assuaging fears of a rate hike. Bernanke’s announcement came after the country’s credit rating was lowered from AAA to AA+, contributing to a week of market downturns.
     Chairwoman of the County Council Finance Committee, Brenda Ford, however, said the county should have been more conservative in its budget, and should have refrained from deferring $21.1 million in prepaid health cost payments. Ford also said that the county may have to lay off employees to cut expenses next year if the economy does not improve. Mayor Billy Kenoi did retain furloughs this fiscal year, but only once a month for Hawai`i Government Employees Association workers to save the county over $2 million each year in the next two years. This money will help pay for employee insurance, emergencies and deficit reduction next year. 

SPACENET, a Virginia-based Internet service provider, won a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service to provide low-cost, high speed Internet in rural parts of Alaska and Hawai`i, including Ka`u. According to the company’s website, the program, StarBand Open Skies, received $7.5 million from a grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. “Since its inception in 2000,” says CEO Andreas Georghiou, “the StarBand product line has focused on providing high-speed Internet service to the most rural areas without access to alternative options.... I can speak for the entire organization when I say we are immensely proud to be part of this endeavor.” 

HERE IS MORE ON THE `AINA KOA PONO and Hawaiian Electric proposal for a refinery near Pahala and an electric rate hike to pay for it.

JEFFREY T. ONO, Executive Director of the Hawai`i State Division of Consumer Advocacy, reiterated his call at the recent Honolulu hearing, asking for people to send the Consumer Advocate their questions, comments, and suggestions regarding HECO and HELCO’s request for the approval of the biodiesel supply contract with `Aina Koa Pono and a surcharge for Big Island and O`ahu customers of HELCO. “The Consumer Advocate’s role,” he says, “is to represent the interests of all Hawai`i consumers of public utility services by advocating for reliable utility services at reasonable customer costs.” Ono said that the Consumer Advocate will make its own analysis on the proposed contract and surcharge and their effects on customers’ bills.

JOHN FELDMAN, president and CEO of Tori Richard, Ltd., testified to the Public Utilities Commission in support of the HELCO/AKP biodiesel supply contract and the biofuel surcharge provision. Feldman’s company employs 140 people. By the end of this year, it will have invested $2 million of its own money in photovoltaic net metering, feed-in tariffs and demand mitigation. He testified that the `Aina Koa Pono contract “is an essential step toward energy independence.... As both commercial and private ratepayers, we support the Biofuel Surcharge Provision as it helps further diversify Hawai`i’s energy sources away from imported oil.” 

UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS fell over nine percent for the first week of August, said the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Maui saw the largest drop, 29 percent, with O`ahu and Kauai both down five percent. The Big Island saw the smallest decrease at three percent.

MEMBERS OF THE KA`U COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN steering committee will host an informational table at the Ocean View swap meet tomorrow. The swap meet is held at Pohue Plaza from 7 a.m. to noon.

THE LAVA LOUNGE AT KILAUEA MILITARY CAMP in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park is the site of a Portuguese Soup Contest tomorrow. Judging is at 3 p.m. For more information, call Peter Walburn at 960-5155.