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.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ka'u News Briefs Nov. 17, 2011

Boys and Girls Club of Hawai`i Youth Center
  Photos from mitsunagaassociates.com
THE NEW GYM & DISASTER SHELTER to be built in Pahala will be the first Federal Emergency Management Agency-certified shelter constructed in Ka`u. According to an Associated Press report, “Mayor Billy Kenoi says Ka`u is vulnerable to natural disasters ranging from lava flows to tsunamis, yet there are not FEMA-approved shelters in the district.” 
     The AP reports that Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s office says the FEMA-certified “facility will include a specially designed air filtration system to protect residents when emissions from Kilauea volcano reach high levels.” 
     Whether the entire gym will be equipped to clean the air during vog alerts so that athletic events and practices could continue despite bad air is one of the planning decisions to be made. Full-time air conditioning and air treatment could be cost-prohibitive due to the high cost of electricity, planners told community members at a public meeting on Tuesday. They said they plan for the gym to be ventilated with natural air as much as possible. 
Kapolei Middle School
     Another decision is the site on which the gym would be located. Principal Sharon Beck and county planners have said the likely site is the open field between the tennis and basketball courts and the gym, as it would have easy access directly to the shelter from public roads and have a large open space on which to build the facility.
     The selected architecture and engineering firm is Mitsunaga & Associates of Honolulu, which has designed many Hawai`i buildings, including those shown here. County Department of Public Works chief Warren Lee told Ka`u community members Tuesday that the designers would attempt to design the building with LEED sustainability standards in mind.  
John A. Burns School of Medicine is a LEED certified
complex designed by Mitsunaga.
     County planners said that $16.9 million has been released by the state for design and construction. The money must be encumbered by next June, setting a tight deadline for planning.
     Public comments on design and function of the gym are being taken through Dec. 6 by emailing project manager David Yamamoto at dpwnews@co.hawaii.hi.us. or sending mail to the Department of Public Works, 101 Pauahi Street, Suite 7, Hilo, HI 96720. Notes from this week’s public meeting are on the Department of Public Works link at www.co.hawaii.hi.us.
     A draft plan is expected in December, an Environmental Assessment will be conducted, and the bids could go out for construction by March.

MITCH ROTH will run for Hawai`i County prosecutor, he announced yesterday. Roth, 47, served as a deputy prosecutor on O`ahu for five years before signing onto the Big Island prosecutor’s team 15 years ago. He will face county corporate counsel Lincoln Ashida.
     He is a board member of the Big Island Boys & Girls Club. He describes himself as a “community oriented prosecutor,” which he says is necessary to help with the rehabilitation of people who have fallen into drugs and crime.
     According to a Stephens Media story this morning, Roth said he creates partnerships to address social problems and solve crimes. “My passion for the last 15 years has been to improve the quality of life for the community and my family,” he told reporter Nancy Cook Lauer.
     Lauer reports that “in 2003, Roth used a civil action, the first successful attempt at drug-nuisance abatement, to rid drug dealers from a downtown Hilo building. He later employed the same strategy successfully in Pahoa, which received a federal Weed and Seed designation in 2005 due to the efforts of Roth and others.
     Roth said he wants more treatment programs for drug users and more jail time for drug dealers. He said he worries about driving under the influence of marijuana, the Stephens Media story says.

Current Hawai`i County Council Districts
WILL A COUNTY COUNCIL MEMBER MOVE ASIDE? That could be the question in next year’s County Council race for District 6 in Ka`u. Brenda Ford and Brittany Smart, both Democrats, could face one another, as both have residences in the proposed new District 6, and Ford has said she will not move. Freshman council member Smart declined to comment on her plans yesterday when questioned by Stephens Media. She said she would wait until the final redistricting lines are drawn. 
     Ford owns her home in South Kona, and Smart rents in Discovery Harbour, having moved to Ka`u several years ago. Whether Smart would move to a Puna or Hilo council district and leave Ka`u open for Ford to seek her fourth and final term as a council member is a question that remains open.
     Other changes in the council voter maps put council members J. Yoshimoto and Dennis Onishi running against each other for the same district. Before finalizing the maps, as early as Nov. 30, public hearings will be held on Monday in the West Hawai`i Civic Center at 6 p.m. and on Tuesday at the Hilo Council Chambers, both at 6 p.m. See the proposed redistricting map at co.hawaii.hi.us/council/reapp/index.htm.

Proposed Hawai`i County Council Districts
IT’S A LONG DRIVE BETWEEN COUNCIL MEETINGS in Kona and Hilo, and County Council members voted yesterday to eliminate their $600 a month gas allowance. Instead, they will turn in their miles. Previously, they were allowed to turn in mileage or take the flat fee.

DRUG TESTING FOR PUBLIC OFFICIALS is another issue before the County Council, which will discuss the matter on Dec. 7. The proposal is to send a charter amendment to the voters next year that would require the mayor, prosecuting attorney and council members to be tested twice a year. They would lose their jobs if testing positive twice within 90 days. The council met privately with a county attorney, however, who told them that there are questions of constitutionality.

VOLCANO ART CENTER GALLERY’S annual Christmas in the Country celebration begins Saturday. Special holiday celebrations include the annual invitational wreath exhibit, art demonstrations and print and book signings by gallery artists, plus handcrafted decorations and gifts offered only during the holiday season. Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park entrance fees apply.

THE KAHUKU UNIT of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park is the site of a ranger-led hike on Sunday  from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Participants explore Kipuka`akihi, an isolated refuge of rare plants in a remnant old-growth forest. Pre-registration is required; call 985-6011.