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, December 22, 2011

Ka'u News Briefs Dec. 22, 2011

Commercial beekeepers working hives yesterday in macadamia orchards up Wood Valley Road. Photo by Julia Neal
AN ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT is under way for the new Ka`u $16.9 million regional disaster shelter and gym. PBR Hawai`i has been given the contract and is expected to put the EA out to the public for a 30-day review sometime in February, around the same time that the final architectural plan will be completed. Some Pahala residents have received letters from PBR asking how the project might affect them.
     Nearby community members have talked about drainage, should the grass field next to their houses be paved for parking. Water could flow onto the their residential properties instead of sinking into the soil during floods, they contended. However, engineers working on the project said they will be responsible to contain any water and that a variance may be sought to keep much of the grass field unpaved, allowing the water to drain into the soil.
     Surveyors can be seen on the property, just makai of the Ka`u High office building, studying the land for is slope and other measurements needed to design the project.
     Whether parking lot lighting that could shine into the windows of adjacent residents and whether lighting for the parking would disturb the dark Ka`u skies famous for stargazing are other questions.
     Rep. Bob Herkes said funding was raised for the purpose of building a regional disaster shelter and secondarily for athletics for the school and community. Whether the main room – the gym –which could accommodate about 1,000 people – will have the equipment to clean air from vog during athletics and for disaster shelter purposes is still undecided, according to county Public Works director Warren Lee.
     The facility will have a certified kitchen, room for Red Cross supplies and equipment storage, and an emergency communications center, he said. Whether there will be solar photovoltaic electricity and solar hot water to serve the disaster shelter and gym is still on the table, said Lee.
     The roof design, as shown, will be plantation style, and the building will be painted to blend in with the historic campus structures on the Hawai`i Register of Historic Places.

KA`U INTERMEDIATE students will be able to join the After School All Stars program in 2012 to encourage higher academic performance and physical activity. The initiative will create after-school sports leagues for basketball, volleyball and soccer, according to a Dan Nakaso story in this morning’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser. There will be no try-outs or cuts, as the program is aimed at participation rather than winning. It focuses on encouraging all children to be physically and academically active. The only limitation is that students will have to maintain a 2.0 grade average to participate in the sports league. When they are not playing sports they will concentrate on studies after school. 
     Some 3,700 students around the state will have the program on their campuses. On this island, other schools are Kea`au and Pahoa. On O`ahu they are Waianae and Nanakuli.
     Keith Amemiya, former executive director of the Hawai`i High School Athletic Association, said he has dreamed of after-school sports for middle school students for years. Now a member of the state school board, he said the program is a three-year pilot and will cost more than $800,000 funded by donations. 
Keith Amemiya
     Amemiya told the Star-Advertiser that ‘the middle school years are just as critical, if not even more important, than the high school years in making sure our students are appropriately engaged and involved in after-school activities…. Students change physically and emotionally. If you lose some of those kids, they may go down the wrong path. By the time they reach high school, it’s difficult to get them back on the right track.” 
     Amemiya also told the Star-Advertiser that the academic side would include classroom-style instruction, rather than monitoring completion of assignments. Social service workers, psychologists and medical professionals will be involved to help out. “A lot of these kids don’t go to the doctor regularly, so we’ll bring healthcare professionals and counselors to them and offer everything from birth certificates to Social Security cards,” Amemiya said. “We firmly believe that sports and other after-school activities teach teamwork, discipline, perseverance, hard work and accountability. But we’re using athletics as a tool to help students academically as well as in other areas to help their development.
     “The ultimate goal is to roll out this program to every middle school across the state. Already some other complex areas have expressed interest in starting their own middle school athletic programs,” he told the Star-Advertiser.

HAWAI`I SCHOOLS MUST SHOW IMPROVEMENT during a comprehensive federal review in January or risk losing the $75 million Race to the Top grant. A letter from the U.S. Department of Education yesterday said, “We are placing Hawai`i’s Race to the Top grant on high-risk status. The letter, addressed to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, noted “Hawai`i’s unsatisfactory performance during the first 14 months of the grant.”
     The federal DOE also put the state on cost-reimbursement status, meaning that the state must carry out programs and pay for them before receiving the grant funds.
     State school board members and DOE officials said they would work hard on meeting the federal demands to keep the Race to the Top grant.

A BAN ON PLASTIC BAGS provided at retail check-out counters, with the exception of use for meat and produce, passed the County Council yesterday. Plastic bags would still be for sale in stores. The measure, authored by Council member Pete Hoffmann, passed with a five to three vote. Ka`u Council member Brittany Smart voted for the measure, as did South Kona Council member Brenda Ford. Council chair Dominic Yagong, who works for Foodland, abstained. Voting against the measure were J Yoshimoto, Dennis Onishi and Donald Ikeda. The measure goes to Mayor Billy Kenoi for his signature.

Alison Yahna teaches the art of beekeeping.
Photo from www.artemissmiles.com
DROUGHT, SMALL HIVE BEETLES AND VARROA MITES have hit bee colonies hard in Ka`u, according to beekeeper Alison Yahna, who has stopped selling honey to rebuild the bee colonies. She said that after the long drought and invasions by pests, the bees need their honey for energy to survive. Yahna said more than 50 percent of her colonies have survived. Islandwide, more than 70 percent of feral and managed hives have been lost. First the varroa mite came in with viruses that weakened colonies, then came the small hive beetle that preyed on weak colonies already infested by the varroa mite. Hilo and Puna were hardest hit, she said. 
     Yahna said that while her hives were affected, she predicts that they will hold their own without being treated. Once the nectar flow starts from the rains, “I will be working to rebuild colonies from my survivor queens which will hopefully have more resistance to these pests.”
     She asks that people who see bees swarming call her at 929-8117. She said that people are reporting fewer bees in their gardens. See more on her honeybee sanctuary at www.artemissmiles.com.

Reefer keeper
Kaohi Mokuhali`i
PIPIKAULA IS BEING SOLD to help raise funds to keep the Ka`u Reefer in Na`alehu open. Kaohi Mokuhali`i is selling the old Hawaiian-style, marinated sun-dried beef in one- and two-pound packages for $10 a pound. Contact her at 938-9040 or kmokuhalii@yahoo.com, or Carol Massey at 929-9001 or masseys2@hawaii.rr.com.

THE PAHALA AND WAI`OHINU transfer stations, along with all others on the island, will be closed this Sunday, Christmas Day.