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, October 25, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs Oct. 25, 2011

The Ka`u Scenic Byway program has been officially adopted by the state Department of Transportation.
Photo by Julia Neal

THE KA`U SCENIC BYWAY program, sponsored by the Ka`u Chamber of Commerce, has been designated a State Scenic Byway. A letter from Dr. Glenn Okimoto, Hawai`i’s Director of Transportation, to Marge Elwell, chair of the Byway subcommittee, states: “You are to be commended on the work you have done to date to build support for this project throughout the community and the strong foundation you have laid for the Corridor Management planning process that is ahead.” The next step is to publicize the byway on a new website, www.HawaiiScenicByways.org. 
     The program will lead to educational signage for scenic stops in Ka`u, promotion of Ka`u’s beauty and history and other improvements along highways and roads.

THE NUMBER OF VISITORS to the Big Island is up 2,000 for September over the same month last year. The Big Island had the largest increase in visitors in the state.

Pahala Community Center roof will be replaced after being rusty for many years.  Photo by Julia Neal
FIX UP OUR PARKS, says County Council chair Dominic Yagong. A story in West Hawai`i Today this morning reports Yagong telling reporter Nancy Cook Lauer that he wants the county to spend $10 million on delayed repairs of Department of Parks & Recreation facilities. The total cost to fix up all the parks and recreational facilities would be approximately $80 million. The $10 million to get started would come from a $50 million bond issued by the County of Hawai`i. Lauer also reports that Yagong plans to ask the county that preference for fixing up the parks goes to local companies with local employees. More than 85 percent of East Hawai`i workers and 90 percent of West Hawai`i workers can’t find work, Yagong told West Hawai`i Today
     One of the biggest county projects likely to hire many local workers is the $17.9 million Ka`u Disaster Shelter and Gym in Pahala, which has already been funded and is now in the planning stage.
     Another Ka`u project, already funded with $100,000, is the replacement of the very rusty Pahala Community Center roof. An audit of county parks and recreation facilities also listed Na`alehu Community Center for lead paint that should be covered.

`Aina Koa Pono supporter Jay Fidell says the project would "restore agriculture in Ka`u" on lands "that had been
fallow for more than two decades."  Photo by Julia Neal
`AINA KOA PONO SUPPORTER JAY FIDELL went to bat for the proposed biofuel project in Ka`u with an opinion piece in the Honolulu Star Advertiser this morning. The real estate attorney put forth that “local biofuel is the latest target in the war against renewables.” He writes that the project would “resurrect agriculture in Ka`u” and states that the proposed 13,000-acre “cutting-edge biofuel ‘energy farm’ would be on private land that had been fallow for decades.”
     Fidell calls the `Aina Koa Pono project “a dream deal: local company, local investment, local labor, local feedstock, sending less money overseas, increasing energy security, reducing vulnerability to oil volatility, producing utility-scale renewables that can be shipped anywhere in the state without waiting for an undersea cable, building the economy and making us look good.”
Jay Fidell
     Fidell disagrees with the rejection of Hawaiian Electric Co.’s contract with `Aina Koa Pono based on the price being “excessive, not cost-effective, and thus unreasonable and inconsistent with the public interest.” Fidell writes that the “PUC decision focused on the difference between the price and long-term oil forecasts that are predictably unpredictable. It did not respond to AKP’s calculation that the contract would only add $2 a month to the average consumer utility bill. Nor did it address the consumer advocate’s finding or the state’s clean-energy goals and policies,” he contends.
     “Neither the parties nor the administration liked this decision,” writes Fidell.
     Hawaiian Electric has until Nov. 10 to ask for an appeal or a more complete explanation of the PUC’s decision to reject the contract between the utility and `Aina Koa Pono. The decision was based in part on the biofuel contract costing ratepayers more than $10 million in higher electric bills during the first year and $100 million or more over the life of the 20-year contract. The PUC also stated that tying up Hawaiian Electric with the long-term contract could deter other, more affordable alternative energies.
     In his opinion piece Fidell also notes that `Aina Koa Pono is negotiating to sell biofuel it would manufacture here to California for a higher price than it would have received from Hawaiian Electric.

SADDLE ROAD improvements have made it a more comfortable alternative for traveling to the Kohala Coast and Kona, even for drivers from the east side of Ka`u. Saddle Road will become even more comfortable with an additional 10-mile realignment road. Construction began with a blessing yesterday. The new route will empty onto Mamalahoa Hwy south of the Waikoloa Village Road. Currently the intersection with Mamalahoa Hwy is closer to Waimea, north of Waikoloa Village. The road project is funded by the federal government, and the contractor is from Colorado.

Wes Awana, Nona Wilson and Ti Chun (r) perform at
After Dark in the Park this evening at 7 p.m.
Photo courtesy of NPS/Dean Gallagher
NONA WILSON, TI CHUN AND WES AWANA bring their Hawaiian music to After Dark in the Park tonight with their group Friends and Neighbors. The trio has played at many community fundraisers and gatherings. The concert begins at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Park entrance fees apply. 

SEN. GIL KAHELE holds a public forum at Pahala Community Center tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. Kahele said he will listen to concerns of constituents who can help him prepare for the upcoming 27th Hawai‘i Legislature which begins in January. He will report on the 26th legislative session and address specific issues. Anyone can call 808-586-6760 or email senkahele@capitol.hawaii.gov ahead of the meeting with issues or questions for the forum.

THE KA`U DIRECTORY DEADLINE for listings and ads for the 2012 edition is next Monday, Oct. 31. Published by the Ka`u Chamber of Commerce, The Directory provides information on businesses, community organizations, important phone numbers, an events calendar, maps of Ka`u, and many photographs as well as art from winners of the latest cover art contest.
     For an application, visit kauchamber.org or call Ron at 928-6471.