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.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs August 16, 2011

A Hawaiian monk seal takes shelter at Honu`apo.  Photo by Julia Neal
THE MARINE MAMMAL CENTER and Hawai`i Wildlife Fund are raising $3.2 million for a Hawaiian monk seal healthcare facility on the Big Island. The center would be built on land leased from the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai`i Authority. “Such a facility,” according to the Marine Mammal Center website, “could not only provide emergency medical care to sick and injured monk seals, but could also be used to help baby seals successfully reach the age of three, after which their survival rate increases to 70 percent.” The Hawaiian monk seal is a critically endangered species with only 1,500 left, most living in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, where they are struggling. 
     Monk seals frequent the Ka`u Coast, sometimes interacting with fishermen and swimming in the brackish waters of Honu`apo estuary. Ka`u, with its long and uninhabited coast, may provide the monk seal the needed secured space to flourish.

MONK SEAL RECOVERY is the aim of plans by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which will hold town hall meetings on its draft Programic Environmental Impact Statement. NOAA Fisheries Service staff will discuss the status of monk seals and proposed recovery strategies and answer questions. The meetings will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 30 from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Keaukaha Elementary School on Desha St. in Hilo and on Wednesday, Aug. 31 from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at West Hawai`i Civic Center on Keohokalole Hwy in Kona. The public hearing will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 14 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Mokupapapa Discovery Center in Hilo.

Nani Kahuku `Aina's proposed Kahuku Village development
would require reclassification of some 1,600 acres.
THE DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is Sept. 21 for Nani Kahuku `Aina’s proposed Kahuku Village development on 16,457 acres makai of Hwy 11 between South Point and Ocean View. The land, which can be seen looking makai from the scenic lookout along Hwy 11 near Ocean View and from Kahuku Ranch and South Point bluffs, includes five miles of coastline and Pohue Bay, which is famous for the nesting of the endangered Hawaiian hawksbill turtle. 
     Upon completion of its first phase, Kahuku Village would have approximately 1,650 units, including condominiums, hotel rooms, golf course homes, villas and estates. Developers promise a Hawaiian Heritage Center, protection of the turtles, a veterans health center with 130 beds and helipad, land for a school and civic center, two community parks, and some 24 acres of shopping center and other commercial development.
     In order to proceed, the developers would have to receive reclassification by the state Land Use Commission of some 1,600 acres from Conservation to Urban and Rural. Developers would also need county zoning changes to allow specific types of development and to determine density. The developers say they would leave 5,800 acres in Conservation, 728 acres in Open along the coast, change 1,400 acres to Rural and put 180 acres into Resort.
     The Draft EIS describes the area as dry with lava rock predominating. The study says it is unused for agriculture and has little potential for growing food or other commercial crops.
     The Draft EIS can be seen on the state Department of Health’s website for the Office of Environmental Quality Control.

HAWAIIAN BIOFUELS COULD PROVE COSTLY is the headline of a Civil Beat story by Sophie Cocke, who writes that the proposed biofuel surcharge for the `Aina Koa Pono Project may be significant to Hawaiian Electric customers. She writes that there is a lack of transparency to the public in pricing information, although Hawaiian Electric is proposing to raise customer rates to help pay for it. The contract between the Hawaiian Electric and AKP is only available to the Public Utilities Commission and the Consumer Advocate. Hawaiian Electric states the surcharge would amount to between $1.75 and $2.00 more a month for the average O`ahu and Big Island residence.
     Hawaiian Electric Spokesman Peter Rosegg defended the confidentiality of pricing information, saying that it is common when negotiating fuel contracts and enabled the “negotiation of the best price for customers.”
     Cocke wrote, however, that the pricing of a number of renewable energy projects have not been confidential in the past. “The PUC,” she says, “recently required that pricing in a contract for a large solar array, currently under review, be disclosed, and the utility complied. Hawaiian Electric officials have said publicly that the Big Wind project is expected to cost ratepayers 19 cents to 20 cents per kilowatt-hour. Pricing information for past wind farms is publicly available in PUC documents. And pricing for a program passed last year that allows independent power producers to sell energy to the utility at fixed rates for 20 years is publicly available and standardized,” the Civil Beat reporter wrote.
     The story also points to a study by the state Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism and the Department of Accounting and General Services, concluding that the cost of producing biofuel is much higher than the cost of fossil fuel oil. Hawaiian Electric, however, anticipates that, in the long run, the cost of biofuel will be equal to or less than the cost of oil as the price of fossil fuels rises over time. The study can be accessed at http://hawaii.gov/dbedt/info/energy/publications/Navigant-2011.pdf.

COUNTY COUNCILMEMBER BRITTANY SMART, state Office of Aging executive director Wes Lum and Hawai`i County Office of Aging executive Alan Parker will tour District 6 this month to discuss with rural residents issues they face and how the county and state can help. The three will participate in four meetings together. The first will be on Aug. 24 at 1:30 p.m. with South Kona Seniors Club at St. Benedict’s “The Painted” Church. They will hold two meetings on Aug. 26, the first at 10:30 a.m. at Na`alehu Community Center and the second at 2 p.m. at Pahala Senior Center. Another meeting is scheduled on Aug. 26 at Mt. View Senior Center. Smart will continue to tour the district in September and join the Volcano Seniors Club at Cooper Center on Sep. 29 at 9:45 a.m.

PAHALA NOVICE SWIM TEAM is still accepting participants. Swimmers must be no older than 17. Registration for the first child is $25 and $15 for each additional child. Practice is 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 928-8177 for more information.

THE SECOND ANNUAL RAIN FOREST RUNS take place on Saturday, Aug. 20 in Volcano Village. Open to runners and walker of all ages and abilities, the event promotes fitness, the natural environment and is a fundraiser to support community art programs by Volcano Art Center. Registration fees for the half marathon, 10K and 5K runs range from $35 to $75. Call 967-8240 to register.

KA`U PLANTATION DAYS is coming up this Saturday, Aug. 20 at Pahala Plantation House. The event starts at 9 a.m. and will feature a cane truck driving through Pahala just like the old days. Tokuichi Nakano, one of the few remaining soldiers from the 442nd Regimental Combat Team of World War II, will share photos, documents and stories. Also planned are ethnic foods, music and dance from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

ONE JOURNEY, the award-winning band of Ka`u High School students, will play at the Hawai`i County Fair in Hilo on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 11 a.m. Lead singer Eunice Longakit and the musicians garnered statewide attention when they won the Brown Bags to Stardom talent contest in Honolulu back in April, beating bands from much bigger high schools.