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.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ka'u News Briefs March 31, 2012

The 2008 opening of a vent at Halema`uma`u crater sends up a plume with SO2 that blows through Ka`u.
Photo by M. Poland/USGS

LIVING WITH INTERMITTENT SO2 events can be managed much like living with rain, cold and heat. When SO2 is heavy, go inside and close the windows. If there is air-cleaning equipment in the building, turn it on when SO2 arrives, much like people turn on the heat for winter and air conditioning for summer in more severe climates. While wafts of SO2 are not technically the weather, SO2 traveling across Ka`u from Kilauea volcano is influenced by weather, particularly the wind.
Academic professionals addressed the fifteenth annual
meeting of the Ka`u Rural Health Community Association
yesterday. Photo by Julia Neal
      According to academic professionals who addressed the fifteenth annual meeting of the Ka`u Rural Health Community Association in Pahala yesterday, people can practically manage exposure to S02. Dr. Bernadette Longo reported that SO2 is more prevalent between 7 p.m. and 10 a.m., when winds calm down and gas from the volcano can drift slowly across Ka`u. Residents could reduce their chances of coming into contact with SO2 without disrupting their activities by simply closing windows at night before retiring. Schools and families could schedule regular exercise and other heavy exertion activities between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., when there is likely to be less S02.
      Dr. Elizabeth Tam said there is also a trend toward purchasing personal monitors for homes and public places, as there is a big difference in when and where SO2 is concentrated.
Ka`u Rural Health Community Association founder Jesse
Marques with high school students interested in medical
careers. Photo by Julia Neal
      The two researchers talked about the difference between vog particles and SO2 gas. Communities closest to the source, like Volcano and Pahala, have more exposure to SO2, which usually blows through the villages. It takes about six hours for the volcanic gas to combine with other elements to create the sulfate particles that are seen as vog, Longo explained.  By then, on most days, wind carries vog north to give South Kona the heaviest particulate concentration, then up the coast to Kona where it sits like smog in Los Angeles.
      How dangerous is SO2? Tam said that in high concentrations it is unhealthy, but on most days not likely as unhealthy as the SO2 mix found in cities with heavy industry and traffic. In those places, the SO2 cocktail can include metals and other chemicals dangerous to health, she said. A study of the local vog showed that acidic particulates are comprised largely of sulfur, calcium and salt from the ocean air.
Volcanic gases from Pu`u `O`o also blow through Ka`u.
Photo by R.W. Decker/USGS
      The researchers also talked about asthma, concluding that SO2 and vog don’t cause asthma but can bring on more coughing and asthmatic events for those already afflicted. The more likely cause of asthma, which has become more prevalent in children worldwide, is the exploding population of mites in the home, particularly where there is carpet over slab floors, said Tam. She also talked about smoking, which creates the highest risk for lung health, beyond exposure to vog and SO2 in Ka`u. Not only does smoking compromise health, second-hand smokes creates a serious risk, and new research shows a danger in third-hand smoke. Tam explained third-hand smoke as minute tobacco particles landing on furniture, counters and floors only to be swept up into the air and breathed again.

Colette Machado applauds OHA settlement with the
Legislature and Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
Photo by Garrett Kamemoto from OHA
THE OFFICE OF HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS plans meetings around the state in coming months to talk about the deal that passed the Legislature yesterday to settle debt owed by the state to Native Hawaiians for use of ceded lands. The state House of Representatives passed the measure, and Gov. Neil Abercrombie said he’ll sign it, giving OHA urban land in O`ahu at Kaka`ako in exchange for the debt. OHA chair Colette Machado said the settlement “represents a major milestone and the most critical stage in the process to provide hope for a brighter future for Native Hawaiians and all of Hawai`i Nei.” 

OHA CEO Cylde Namu`o said a master plan will be created in consultation with such stakeholders as Kamehameha Schools, Hawai`i Community Development Authority, University of Hawai`i and members of the community. Revenues from the properties will benefit Native Hawaiians in as far away places as Ka`u. For more, see www.oha.org and sign up for email alerts.

Site G has been selected for the new Kona
Judiciary Complex.
NA`ALEHU COURTHOUSE IS PAU for good as the new judiciary complex location is set for West Hawai`i. Most Ka`u court cases will be handled there - a nearly two hour drive from the old courthouse. The new regional judicial complex will be equipped with more than 500 parking stalls. Sen. Josh Green announced the location yesterday as ten acres of state land in Kealakehe, across the street from the West Hawai`i Civic Center, on the southwest corner of Kealakehe Parkway and Ane Keohokalole Hwy.  Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald made the final site selection. He and Green worked to receive $12 million for land acquisition and design. “This is a major victory for West Hawai`i,” Green said. “The new Justice Complex is a large investment in our community, and it will be a safer and more efficient center for our judicial system to serve the people of West Hawai`i. Green said he will request $75 million in appropriations next year to begin construction. The Kona Judiciary Complex, which will be designed to accommodate seven full-time judges and 220 employees, will meet the anticipated needs of West Hawai`i’s growing population through 2030 and beyond, the senator said. Preliminary plans call for construction of the 142,000-square-foot facility to begin in 2014 and finish in 2017. 
     Green, if re-elected, will serve from Kona Airport to Honu`apo, the new Senate District 3. Rep. Bob Herkes is running for Senate District 2, from Punalu`u into Hilo. 

Marcus Castaing's winning Guardians of
the Heart
koa cabinet.

MARCUS CASTAING, a  more than 30-year resident of Wai`ohinu, has won Best of Show in the 20th Annual Hawai`i Forestry Industry Association’s Hawai`i Woodshow at Honolulu Museum of Art. His Guardians of the Heart koa cabinet will be on display at the Academy Art School Gallery at Linekona on O`ahu from Sunday through April 15. Admission is free. According to a release from the judges, “Castaing’s ability to allow the gorgeous figure and curl of the koa take center stage was what made his koa cabinet stand apart.” The competition drew woodworkers from around the world, but more were selected from the Big Island than any other place. 
       Jurors were nationally known wood artist Wendy Muryama, who is a professor of Furniture Design and Woodworking at San Diego State University; Peter Simmons, a consultant from In the Woods; and Steven Hill, from University of Hawai`i School of Architecture. The show was sponsored by Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods, the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife and Department of Agriculture, Kamehameha Schools, Martin & MacArthur, HFIA Board president Tai Lake and others.

THE `OIWI FILM FESTIVAL has issued a call for entries for films directed by Native Hawaiians. The mission is to highlight films by indigenous Hawaiian filmmakers to show Hawai`i through their own eyes in their own voices. Entries can be submitted April 2 through June 22 with an announcement of winners by July 2. The awards and screening will be held Nov. 10 – 18 at Honolulu Academy of Art’s Doris Duke Theatre. Arts, culture, lifestyle, history and politics are the subjects for qualifying films, which can be documentaries, shorts and features. For more, email oiwifilm@gmail.com.

KEAUHOU BIRD CONSERVATION CENTER Tour, next Friday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., still has openings. Attendees see and learn about native birds that the facility houses, including the ‘alala (Hawaiian crow), which is extinct in the wild; the palila, a finch-billed honeycreeper found only on the slopes of Mauna Kea; the Maui parrotbill, an insectivorous Hawaiian honeycreeper; and the puaiohi, or small Kaua`i thrush. Cost is $20 for Friends members and $30 for non-members. Students are half-price. Call 985-7373 or visit www.fhvnp.org to register.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs March 30, 2012

County Council member Brittany Smart, seen here during the last election season with then candidate for governor
Neil Abercrombie, announced she will run for state House of Representatives. Photo by Julia Neal
BRITTANY SMART will run for state House of Representatives, hoping to win the seat being vacated by Rep. Bob Herkes, who is running for state Senate. Smart announced on New Year’s Eve that she would not run for re-election to County Council, but that she would not rule out running for public office in the future. Smart said this morning that she is moving to Volcano Village April 1 and plans to buy a house in Mountain View. She and her husband have been living in Discovery Harbour, which is outside of the new state House District 3 that runs from Punalu`u along the Hwy 11 corridor into the southern part of Hilo.
      Smart faces a challenge from Fred Fogel, of Volcano. Fogel has also run for office in the past, losing to Herkes in 2010. Candidates can file nomination papers until June 5.

Melvin Chiogioji, speaking, and other `Aina Koa Pono
representatives met with Ka`u residents last September.
`AINA KOA PONO, the hui that proposes building a refinery and biofuel plantation in Ka`u, is back at the Legislature this year. Both `Aina Koa Pono and Hawaiian Electric Co. presented testimony to the state House Committee on Energy and Environment, supporting additional tax breaks for building biofuel operations and referring to their plans for Ka`u.
      Melvin H. Chiogioji, chief of `Aina Koa Pono, testified that biofuel production facilities will help the state through job growth, clean energy, economic development and increased tax revenues, while curbing energy costs. “Large-scale biofuel production facilities will provide hundreds of high-paying permanent jobs for the state.” He wrote that `Aina Koa Pono “estimates that its planned Ka`u facility will create 400 jobs during construction and up to 200 permanent jobs for the next 20 to 30 years.”
      Chiogioji testified that building 50 of the same size plants in the next three years could “create 2,000 construction jobs and potentially 1,000 permanent jobs.”
      Chiogioji testified that “biofuel will return thousands of acres of currently fallow land to agricultural production. This will help reinvigorate Hawai`i’ s agricultural economy. There are currently at least 500,000 acres of fallow land suitable for use for biofeedstock production,” he contended.
      `Aina Koa Pono’s testimony says their biofuel plant will have a positive economic impact. “Hawai`i currently imports about two million gallons equivalent of liquid fuel per day at a cost of approximately $5 billion.” It puts forth: “If 25 percent of that fuel could be produced in Hawai`i, the direct economic impact would be $1.25 billion feeding directly back into the Hawaiian economy with a total economic impact of approximately $4 billion per year.”
      `Aina Koa Pono also noted that “energy costs have escalated by 50 percent over the past year. In January of last year, for example, HECO was paying $90 per barrel for low sulfur fuel oil, and they are currently paying $135 per barrel. This has translated into electricity prices in Honolulu going from 27 cents per KWH in January 2011 to approximately 35 cents per KWH today. With world politics as it is, particularly in Iran, there are projections of oil going to $200 per barrel this year. Hawai`i cannot afford this and must develop local resources quickly,” testified the `Aina Koa Pono founder.
      Chiogioji claimed, however, that “large-scale biofuel production facilities will not be built in the near future without an investment incentive tax credit. The technology is too new and the location too remote to attract the large amounts of mainland capital that are needed.”

HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC COMPANY’S biofuels manager Cecily Barnes also testified, listing the `Aina Koa Pono project as one of its incentives: She testified that Hawaiian Electric “awarded a 20-year contract to `Aina Koa Pona to purchase 16 million gallons of biofuel annually, stimulating development of local feedstock and biofuel processing on the Island of Hawai`i. This contract was filed with the PUC on Jan. 6, 2011 and denied on Sept. 29, 2011. Hawaiian Electric continues discussions with `Aina Koa Pono with the intent of negotiating a new contract,” the HECO official testified.

PAHALA PUBLIC & SCHOOL LIBRARY IS DRAWING TESTIMONY at the 2012 State Legislature. Superintendent of Schools Kathryn S. Matayoshi wrote to the House Education Committee that the “Department of Education is willing to explore how the Pahala Library could serve a dual mission as both a school library primarily geared toward supporting students and instruction, and as a community library primarily geared to serving the needs of the larger, non-student community.” She testified, however, that the fundamental challenges to doing both missions adequately are lack of funding, personnel, and other resources. These challenges will arise in reconciling possibly conflicting operational issues, such as hours of operations, staffing profiles and expertise, size and focus of collections, and space utilization.” 
      The Ka`u High School and Pahala Elementary School principal also weighed in. Principal Sharon Beck testified that the school is “unable to support a shared community and school library.”
Principal Sharon Beck testified that she would like the Pahala Public &
School Library to become a resource center for school use.
Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
       The principal stated that, “in order for our students to be competitive in a globally connected and increasingly technological world, they need access to appropriate resources.” Beck wrote that both Pahala Elementary School and Ka`u High School “are challenged by our technology infrastructure and limited space. Every room and large closet is used as a classroom or office.”
      She said that if the library is transferred to the Department of Education, “we would definitely put it to good use,” promising to make it into a technology, resource, and reference center for research, online learning, video-conferencing, and computer use. Our ultimate goal is to prepare our students to be college and career ready,” the principal testified.
      Beck also wrote about the school’s relationship with the library, stating that “up until four years ago, the school and library had a limited partnership which included the school providing a full-time librarian and funding for books. When the school could no longer afford to fund the librarian’s position, the library would not allow students to use the facility without DOE personnel accompanying them,” she stated.
      “We do not see our situation changing, and would not be able to fund a librarian’s position or operate the facility as a library for the community. We would not be able to take on the additional expense of security personnel to ensure student safety,” she wrote.
      “While building community partnerships is important to our school, we have struggled to do so with the Pahala Library,” the principal contended. Beck testified to the Legislature that “Recently, our community has been fortunate to receive a mobile medical van placed on our campus to service the medical needs of our community. Since the library is only open three times a week, we asked for permission to park the mobile medical van in the area used for employee parking. Their employees would only be impacted one day of the week and would be able to park in our school’s parking stalls. This location would have allowed the most convenient access to the medical services.”
      Beck told the House Education Committee that, “unfortunately, the library refused to allow us the use of the area and would not work towards a compromise. As a result, we placed the medical van in the center of our campus.
Principal Sharon Beck testified that at the Pahala campus, "every room
and large closet is used as a classroom or office." Photo by Julia Neal
      “We have not established or maintained open communication that would have been beneficial to both the school and library,” she wrote.
      Beck also told the education committee that “during the library’s transition to more computers and technology, they got rid of or sold a large portion of their inventory which included materials purchased with school funds. I still have questions regarding the inventory that we shared with the library. Our students could have benefited from the use of those resources.”
      Beck suggested an alternative for community members going to the library in Pahala. “I understand the community’s desire to increase their access to technology through the library,” she wrote. “One idea may be to explore the use of the current community center as a place to set up community access to the computers that the library has envisioned. Our school would benefit from developing a school resource center, but is unable to support a shared community and school library,” testified the school principal.”

FRIENDS OF KA`U LIBRARIES have launched a campaign to save the library for the public and the students. With their Use It or Lose It slogan, they encourage the public to patronize the library and check out DVDs, audio books and music CDs. The library also provides daily newspapers, free Internet use and WI-FI.
      President Ann Fontes urges residents to contact state legislators regarding HCR74, the bill which would transfer the library from the state library system to the public schools. “If enough of you call and email, then there may be a chance that the library will remain open,” she said. Contact Sen. Gil Kahele at 808-586-6760 or senkahele@capitol.hawaii.gov. Contact Rep. Bob Herkes at 808-586-8400 or repherkes@capitol.hawaii.gov.

Jadelyn Moniz Nakamura
THY WORD MINISTRIES KA`U holds its ninth annual Easter Family Fun Day tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Na`alehu Hongwanji Hall. The event includes a craft fair, free lunch, music, hula and an Easter egg hunt for all ages. For more information, call 936-9114.

PARK ARCHAEOLOGIST JADELYN MONIZ NAKAMURA leads a walk through time and teaches how Hawaiians living in the shadow of Pele adapted to life on a lava landscape tomorrow from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The walk, sponsored by Friends of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, is $45 for Friends members. Non-members pay $65, with students (K-12 and college) half price with valid student ID. Call 985-7373 or visit www.fhvnp.org to sign up.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs March 29, 2012

Proposed legislation would waive environmental impact studies for development on State owned lands.
Photo of Mahana Bay by Geneveve Fyvie
WAIVING REQUIREMENTS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STUDIES for state projects, has the support of Neil Abercrombie as a “general idea,” Civil Beat reports today, following an interview with the governor. However, according to Civil Beat, Abercrombie said that he does not want to undermine "the essentials of the environmental law philosophy."
Hawai`i landowners map from DBED
     The governor told Civil Beat: "If I can expedite something without doing any environmental harm, obviously I would like to do that. If there is something that is in the way that's really administrative in nature as opposed to creating some circumstance where there would be some adverse environmental impact that would otherwise be ignored. So, I wouldn't do something like that. But, I'll just have to see how it (the legislation) works out in the end."
      Abercrombie was referring to a bill in the state legislature that has attracted debate since the state is also proposing to use state land for economic development by leasing it out and could potentially wave environmental study requirements for its selected projects. Senate Bill 755 would exempt state projects from the special management area permit and shoreline setback variance requirements. It would also exempts all work involving submerged lands used for state commercial harbor purposes from any permit and site plan review requirements for lands in the conservation district. It would temporarily authorizes a more streamlined process for exempting state and county projects from the environmental review process and shortens the deadline for challenging the lack of an environmental assessment for a state or county project.
      The Building Industry Association of Hawai`i, the General Contractors Association and developer landowner groups support the exemption from environmental study requirements.
      However, the state’s own Office of Planning and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs opposed it along with numerous individuals and groups, including Life of the Land, Hawai`i’s 1000 Friends and Historic Hawai`i Foundation. Kevin Butterbaugh wrote, “The Hawai`i environmental protection law should be followed regardless of economic development concerns….often times we are too easily convinced that it is in the best interest of our economic means to disregard our environment. Keep the existing policy intact.” The Marine and Coastal Advocacy Council wrote that it opposes a measure that would “promote economic development at the expense of Hawai`i’s environment. The overly broad exemptions proposed in this bill would bypass processes designed to protect coastal and marine resources.”
      Testifier Michal Stover wrote: “impacts brought to light by following public review of environmental impacts saves time and money in the long run. Having to implement mitigation later rather than earlier is more costly, and having to deal with impacts for which mitigation measures were never put in place could be doubly so, and could irrevocably harm the environment in the process. Presenting these bills as a choice between economic development and thoughtful planning/ environmental protection precludes the idea that there could be more proactive and well thought out solutions that could address the concerns of all parties.” Read more and testify on any bill at hawaii.capitol.gov.

CUTTING OFF WATER to those who fail to pay sewer bills is under consideration by the county water board. Department of Environmental Management business manager Robin Bauman told the water board this week that residents in Hawai`i County are $1.7 million behind in their sewer bills which cost $27 a month in neighborhoods with county sewer lines. In recent years, the county took over servicing sections of Na`alehu and Pahala where old sugar plantation sewer lines run to gang cesspools. The county is charging for this service and is planning to replace the cesspools with sewage systems.
      The Department of Environmental Service is hesitant to cut off sewer lines when people don’t pay their bills because of health concerns. Cutting off water instead would require legislation.

Willie Tabios is the top
Ka`u farmer in the 2012
Coffees of the Year.
 Photos by Julia Neal
KA`U COFFEE FARMERS are headed for Portland, Oregon in late April for the Specialty Coffee Association of America convention. Ka`u won three spots in the top ten among coffees entered worldwide. Awards will be presented at the annual Specialty Coffee Association of America convention, April 19-22. Among those planning to represent Ka`u during the convention are top Hawai`i finisher Willie Tabios, as well as Lorie Obra and family. This is the third time that Tabios has scored in the top 10, placing 7th in 2007 and earning a Coffee of the Year award in 2010. “I’m so glad that Ka`u won again”, extols Tabios. “It’s the farm and the processing that makes good quality coffee. All Ka`u coffee is good coffee. I’m just trying to do my best.”
Lorie Obra in the top ten at
SCAA, with barista champion
Pete Licata, her daughter
 Joan and son Rusty, Jr.
     Lorie Obra said, “This is a special day at Rusty's Hawaiian Coffee. It was my husband Rusty's vision that Ka`u would become one of the world's top coffee-producing origins. Seeing three Ka`u coffees among the Coffees of the Year continues to keep his legacy and vision alive. This victory is for Rusty, for Ka`u, for Hawai`i and the USA.”
Trini Marques in the
top ten at SCAA.
     Trinidad Marques sees it another way: “It’s the spiritual connection to the `aina (land). As Hawaiians, the `aina and nature speak to us. I knew one day we would make it. It feels great to see the results of our perseverance.” Trinidad and Frances Marques also finished in the top ten.
     Also attending the SCAA Convention will be last year’s U.S. winner Bull Kailiawa, representatives of Ka`u Coffee Mill, Ka`u Specialty Inc., and Chris Manfredi of Ka`u Farm & Ranch Co., who represents the owners of the land where the coffee is grown and brokered the deal to sell Ka`u coffee to Starbucks. Ka`u Coffee Festival Committee Chair Manfredi said, “I’m again so pleased and proud of all the Ka`u growers. Their dedication, combined passion and willingness to work together make Ka`u a very special place and Ka`u coffee exceptional.” For more about the SCAA Convention see scaa.org.

Moses and Keoki Kahumoku will perform at the
Ho`olaulea and Triple C Recipe Contest. Photo by Julia Neal
THE KA`U COFFEE FESTIVAL schedule is filling up for the May 12 Ho`olaule`a at Pahala Community Center. Entertainers include Emcee Skylark, Keoki & Moses Kahumoku, Cyril Pahinui & Moses Espaniola, Bruddah Waltah & Sammi Fo, Halau Hula O Leionalani from Lana`i, Keaiwa with Demetrius Oliveira, Ka`u `Ukulele Kids.
     The festival has expanded from one to two weekends with the following events: Ka`u Farmers’ Table: A Feast for the Senses on May 5; Triple C Recipe Contest on May 6; Ka`u Coffee Festival Ho`olaule`a and Ka`u Coffee Experience on May 12; and Ka`u Coffee College on May 13. Call 929-0550 or visit kaucoffeefest.com for more details on all Ka`u Coffee Festival events.

KA`U HIGH GIRLS SOFTBALL got off to a promising start yesterday, leading Hilo by one run at the end of the first inning. Ka`u went to score two more runs in the fourth, while the Vikings scored once in the second, third and sixth innings and two in the fifth. Final score: 5-3, Hilo. The Trojans made eight hits and Hilo only six. Both teams recorded one error. Winning Hilo pitcher was Wendilyn Simmons. Shaylin Navarro pitched for the Trojans.

Photo from gohawaii.about.com
THE FINAL WHALE COUNT for 2012 takes place Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at various locations throughout Ka`u. Volunteers count humpback whales and document their behavior. Sign up at hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov.

THY WORD MINISTRIES KA`U holds its ninth annual Easter Family Fun Day on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Na`alehu Hongwanji Hall. The event includes a craft fair, free lunch, music, hula and an Easter egg hunt for all ages. For more information, call 936-9114.

PARK ARCHAEOLOGIST JADELYN MONIZ NAKAMURA leads a walk, Kealakomowaena: Life On A Lava Landscape, through time and teaches how Hawaiians living in the shadow of Pele adapted to life on a lava landscape. The walk, sponsored by Friends of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, takes place Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friends members pay $45, non-members pay $65, with students (K-12 and college) pay half price with valid student ID. Call 985-7373 or visit www.fhvnp.org.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ka'u News Briefs March 28, 2012

Coffee experts examined coffees from around the world. Ka`u coffee took three of the top ten spots. Photo from scaa.org
THREE KA`U COFFEES placed in the top ten in the world in the annual Specialty Coffee Association of America's Roaster Guild Coffees of the Year competition and will be showcased at the annual convention, this year in Portland, Oregon, April 19 - 22. Top among the Ka`u farmers was Willie Tabios with his Will & Grace Rising Sun, scoring 86.94. Lorie Obra followed with Rusty's Hawaiian scoring 86.47, followed by Francis and Trini Marques with their Ali`i Hawaiian Hula Hands Coffee with 86.41. Ka`u Coffee has been winning top ten in the world in the SCAA Roasters Guild awards, year after year, helping to build its reputation worldwide. Top place finisher worldwide was from Ethiopia. Other top ten finishers were from Honduras and Columbia.

Pahala School and Public Library on Ka`u High campus.  
Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
STATE SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT Kathryn Matayoshi has issued a statement in light of the federal Race to the Top overseers visiting this week. “We are excited to have the U.S. Department of Education here in Hawai`i to conduct their on-site visit. We have clear and compelling evidence to show the federal review team,” she said in a public statement. “Since the U.S. DOE’s last visit in June 2011, Hawai`i has made significant progress on all of the ongoing projects in our Race to the Top initiatives.
     We will move forward with our plans to transform Hawai`i’s public education system. We remain committed to our mission that every child graduates college and career-ready.”
      Hawai`i is attempting to hold on to $75 million in federal funding and must show the fed significant improvement. Hawai`i and Florida are on probation. According to the DOE, the federal team is expected to visit Ka`u schools while here in Hawai`i as they are part of an “improvement zone.”
      See an analysis of Hawai`i schools in the report, Race to the Top: What We Have Learned from the States So Far, which was released this week in Washington, D.C. by the Center for American Progress. The report can be found online at www.americanprogress.org/issues/2012/rtt_states.html.

Horizon Lines could discontinue
serving Hawai`i.
HORIZON LINES, the second largest shipping company serving Hawai`i, is losing money and may not be able to continue serving this state, the company reported yesterday. The firm missed a Security Exchange Commission report due earlier this week. It earlier stopped shipping to China and Guam. Horizon reported yesterday, however that its losses are declining, expecting a $6.4 million dollar operating loss last quarter, compared to a $32.6 million operating loss, same quarter last year. Horizon is attempting to restructure $228 million in debt, the company reported. Rising fuel rates are stated as one of the major challenges of shipping companies.

The first all-electric Mitsubishi car came to Hawai`i last
year with encouragement from policymakers.  
Photo from Mitsubishi
ELECTRIC VEHICLES are a good fit for Hawai`i, according to Hawai`i State Energy Office Chief Mark Glick, writing in the current issue of Pacific Business News. “Three factors have converged to make Hawai`i one of the most attractive markets for electric vehicles in the United States: the highest gasoline prices in the nation, limited driving distances, and public and private partnerships fueled by incentives for EVs and EV charging stations.” Glick writes that a key part of the state’s campaign to increase the number of energy-saving EVs on island roads is the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism’s recently re-energized EV Ready Rebate Program.
      “We’ve added $350,000 through Nov. 1, 2012, for a $4,500 rebate on a new electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and up to $500 for an electric vehicle home charger.” He wrote that “the growing demand for plug-in cars in Hawai`i has led to a number of major automakers focusing on the Hawai`i market. Last year, Nissan, Chevrolet and Mitsubishi made Hawai`i one of the first locations to introduce new EV models. We also expect to see the plug-in Prius made available later this year at a number of Hawai`i’s Toyota dealerships.”

Madalyn McWhite-Lamson, of Ocean View,
 urges Ka`u senior girls to apply. Photo by Julia Neal
TWO SCHOLARSHIPS are open for high school students in Ka`u and Kona from the American Association of University Women. Each scholarship will be $2,000 for senior high school girls headed for a two- or four-year college or university. Criteria includes: academic achievement; involvement in extracurricular high school activities, community organizations or employment experience; educational and career goals; and financial need.
      Deadline is April 18. Applications are available from high school counselors or online at www.aauwkona.org.
     These scholarships may be used for anything that enables the student to achieve her academic goals. AAUW member Madalyn McWhite-Lamson urges Ka`u girls to apply. For more information, contact Toni Rimer at tonirimer@yahoo.com. AAUW is the same organization that sponsors Ka`u fifth grade girls to attend to the annual Girls Exploring Math and Science career event in Kona.

HMSA IS RAISING RATES AGAIN. The Hawai`i Medical Insurance Association is asking the state Insurance Division to raise rates on some 84,000 on small businesses by 3.8 percent. HMSA received permission for an increase of 3.7 percent last year, after asking for a hike of 4.2 percent. HMSA reported $43.8 million in profits for last year.

Project Hawai`i is looking for local sponsors for food for the keiki.  
Image from Project Hawai`i
A SUMMER CAMP FOR 45 CHILDREN living in poverty, some of them homeless, is reaching out for help in sponsoring food for keiki. Project Hawai`i Inc. is hosting its seventh annual free camp for three weeks in July with healthy meals, educational programs and a safe environment for summer break. The camp is run by volunteers and public donations. Program directors seek groups, clubs and companies to help with the food. Volunteers can sponsor a full-day menu, or just one meal. Project Hawai`i adheres to the USDA Summer Nutrition Program guidelines. For more, see www.projecthawaii.org or call 987-6018.

THE FINAL WHALE COUNT for 2012 takes place Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at various locations throughout Ka`u. Volunteers count humpback whales and document their behavior. Sign up at http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov.

THY WORD MINISTRIES KA`U holds its ninth annual Easter Family Fun Day on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Na`alehu Hongwanji Hall. The event includes a craft fair, free lunch, music, hula and an Easter egg hunt for all ages. For more information, call 936-9114.

Photo from fhvnp.org
PARK ARCHAEOLOGIST JADELYN MONIZ NAKAMURA leads a walk, Kealakomowaena: Life On A Lava Landscape, through time and teaches how Hawaiians living in the shadow of Pele adapted to life on a lava landscape. The walk, sponsored by Friends of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, takes place Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friends members pay $45, non-members pay $65, with students (K-12 and college) pay half price with valid student ID. Call 985-7373 or visit www.fhvnp.org.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs March 27, 2012

The contract to operate Volcano House has been awarded to Ortega National Parks and Aqua Hotels and Resorts.
Photo from Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park
VOLCANO HOUSE, its hotel, restaurant and retail operations, will be run by Ortega National Parks, LLC and Aqua Hotels and Resorts, Inc., under an agreement announced yesterday by the National Park Service. The 15-year contract also covers operations at Namakanipaio Campground. The NPS statement says Ortega National Parks, LLC has more than 45 years of hospitality experience and over 16 years’ experience operating concessions within other national parks and monuments including Death Valley, Golden Gate, Bandelier, White Sands, Muir Woods and Carlsbad Caverns.
      The contract calls for the partnership, Hawai`i Volcanoes Lodge Company, LLC, to make renovations to the hotel costing between $2.5 million and $3.5 million. It must also pay the Park Service a minimum franchise fee of six percent “to help maintain facilities and other critical visitor services,” the statement says.
Volcano House has been closed since
January 2010. Photo by Julia Neal
      NPS has spent more than $4 million on fire and safety improvements at Volcano House, including seismic upgrades. Volcano House shut down on Dec. 31, 2009 with the end of the contract held by former concessioner Ken Fujiyama.
      Applicants were evaluated on their re- sponses to questions asked, including how to engage and educate the visiting public on the native Hawaiian culture through interpretive experiences and retail services, including the sale of Native Hawaiian handicrafts and cultural demonstrations. Additional guidelines used to evaluate proposals can be found online at www.nps.gov/commercialservices.

THE VOLCANO PROJECT, an effort led by David Howard Donald and Anne Lee, of Volcano, would have taken Volcano House into operation by a nonprofit organization. Their plan was to make it a culinary and hospitality education institution while serving visitors to the park. They attracted numerous letters of support from county, state and federal elected officials as well as business and Hawaiian cultural leaders and community members. The Volcano Project has manned a table every Sunday for several years at Volcano Farmers Market. Their website says, “The Volcano Project is going forward with our plans to open a world-class hospitality school.” See more at volcanoproject.org.

FEDERAL EDUCATION OFFICIALS could come to Ka`u schools this week, as they plan to visit “zones of school innovation” under the Race to the Top program. The federal Department of Education officials are in Hawai`i to meet with administrators and policymakers, as well as teachers union leader Will Okabe.
      The teachers are yet to settle their labor dispute with the state and are working under a “last, best and final offer” from the administration. The dispute is considered one of the reasons that Hawai`i is on probation for some $75 million in Race to the Top funding.
Hawai`i welcomed Race to the Top officials this week who could visit
schools in Ka`u. Photo from www.americanprogress.org
      Hawai`i and Florida are the only two Race to the Top grant recipients that still have a lot to prove, according to a new report from the Center on American Progress. The Washington, D.C.-based think tank for education policy reports that 10 of the 12 Race to the Top winners are scheduled to continue receiving their grants, but Hawai`i and Florida are “not meeting expectations.” 
The report gives a state-by-state review of educational progress and challenges. Regarding Hawai`i, it says, “If desire is any indication, the state is headed in the right direction. But clearly there are still significant promises to keep — and challenges to address – the months and years ahead.” The entire report, called Race to the Top: What We Have Learned from the States So Far, was released yesterday for reading at www.americanprogress.org/issues/2012/rtt_states.html.
      School officials said they are planning to prove to the Race to the Top overseers that Hawai`i schools are making a lot of progress.

KALAEKILOHANA has opened up reservations to the general public for its Ka`u Coffee Festival event on Saturday, May 5. The $100 a ticket evening at the upscale B&B on South Point Road is called Ka`u Farmers’ Table: A Feast for the Senses and features with dinner by Chef Morgan Star of Mi’s Italian Bistro and an evening of music with Robert Cazimero. The gathering is one of the two new official events of the Ka`u Coffee Festival, which will hold its Ho`olaule`a on Saturday, May 12 and its educational day on Sunday, May 13. Also planned as a new Ka`u Coffee Festival event is a recipe contest, this time for cookies, candies and crackers, at Ka`u Coffee Mill on Wood Valley Road above Pahala on Sunday, May 6. See more at www.kaucoffeefestival.com.

Ranger John Stallman
HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK ranger John Stallman discusses the natural history and conservation of Hawai`i’s ancient native palms at After Dark in the Park today at 7 p.m. in Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium. $2 donations support park programs, and park entrance fees apply. 

PANDANUS WEAVING is the topic tomorrow from 10 a.m. to noon on the Kilauea Visitor Center lanai in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Participants learn how to weave bracelets from the leaves of the hala tree. The event is free, and park entrance fees apply.

THE FINAL WHALE COUNT for 2012 takes place Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at various locations throughout Ka`u. Volunteers count humpback whales and document their behavior. Sign up at http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov.

THY WORD MINISTRIES KA`U holds its ninth annual Easter Family Fun Day on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Na`alehu Hongwanji Hall. The event includes a craft fair, free lunch, music, hula and an Easter egg hunt for all ages. For more information, call 936-9114.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs March 26, 2012

Ka`u High students, with advisor Theodore Brattstrom, competed in FIRST over the weekend.
ALTERNATIVE ENERGY TAX CREDIT REDUCTIONS for solar hot water and photovoltaic and wind systems could be on the horizon. The state Legislature is considering several bills. Senate Bill 2288 was referred to the Senate Finance Committee last week, after going through amendments. The latest version would initially raise maximum tax deductions for solar hot water systems from $2,250 to $2,500 and photovoltaics for single-family houses from $5,000 to $7,000. It would eliminate the $500,000 cap on deductions for commercial properties. However, by 2015, the tax credits would be reduced from 35 percent to 20 percent of the cost of purchasing the systems. The new law also would prohibit the tax deductions when the system is established with a power purchase agreement with a government agency, and it would allow one tax credit per tax map key, reducing incentives for putting in solar on `ohana units and for duplexes, triplexes and other multifamily units.
Installations of photovoltaics may decline if tax
credits are reduced. Photo from forms.iapmo.org
      The Solar Voltaic Coalition opposed the reduction in tax credits over time, noting that 15 percent of all construction jobs in Hawai`i in 2011 were related to solar power installations. “The measure’s impact on the residential market will have the greatest impact on PV specialists contractors, who perform the bulk of residential installations. The disruption caused by this measure will ensure that many of these entities will be forced out of business as the market adjusts to the radically changed incentive regime,” the Coalition testified. 
      Blue Planet opposed the House Draft of the measure, saying it would significantly reduce the incentive to invest in renewable energy, likely damage the solar and wind industries in Hawai`i and deliver a major setback to the state’s clean energy efforts.” 
      The Hawai`i Renewable Energy Association also opposed the changes, testifying that they would “set the state back in its overall efforts to increase our use of renewable energy, reduce employment in the construction sector at a most inopportune time, and stymie efforts by state agencies to reduce their energy costs and thereby save taxpayer dollars.” The Sierra Club called the measure “penny-wise, pound-foolish.”
      The state, however, claims it is losing tens of millions of dollars each year to the write-offs for installing alternative energies.
      See more testimony and the bills themselves at hawaii.capitol.gov.

Thermal camera shows temperatures in lava flow field.
Photo from USGS/HVO
HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY has increased its webcams from 6 to 14 webcams these days and has upgraded its website to provide more real time seismic, deformation and gas concentration data, webcam images of eruptive areas and maps, photos and videos. 
      Four of these new webcams are thermal cameras. These cameras provide a picture of temperatures in the field of view, with cool colors (blue, purple) depicting lower temperatures and hot colors (orange, red, white) showing higher temperatures. Lava at Kilauea is erupted at around 2,012 degrees F, but normally develops a cooler crust within seconds of being exposed to the air. One of the primary benefits of the thermal cameras, compared to conventional webcams, is that they can “see” through thick fume (although it may depress the measured temperatures). See more at hvo.wr.usgs.gov.

GASOLINE PRICES ROSE an average of 6.7 cents per gallon across the state in just one week, averaging $4.50 per gallon yesterday. The national average went up to 3.86 per gallon, a 4.5 cent increase, reports the website HawaiiGasPrices.com. Prices in Hawai`i yesterday were 29.2 cents higher than the same day a year ago and 23.5 cents higher than a month ago. The national average is 29.5 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.
      The national average rising 21 consecutive days is “a troubling sign,” said gasbudd.com analyst Patrick DeHaan. “Typically, we expect such increases to occur more so in April,” he said.
      Prices in Ka`u this morning for regular: $4.72 at Ka `u Gas in Pahala and $4.76 at the 76 Station in Na`alehu. In Ocean View prices were $4.60 at Kahala Gas and Ocean View Market and $4.55 at Kahuku Country Market.

Members of the Ka`u High Robotics Team adjust their
 machine. Photo by Andrew Suenobu
KA`U HIGH’S ROBOTICS TEAM is back from the FIRST competition at the Stan Sheriff Center at University of Hawai`i on O`ahu. The students built a robot that competed in putting balls through a hoops in a game called the Rebound Rumble. Team leader Leilani Desmond said the Robotics group is looking for financial support to help pay for their expenses. The faculty advisor is chemistry teacher Theodore Brattstrom. 
      Kohala High and Kealakehe High School teams will travel from the Big Island to the national competition in St. Louis beginning April 25. “Every year student competitors amaze everyone with their teamwork and outstanding technical skills,” said Shelley Rowley, co-chair of FIRST in Hawai`i regional competiton. FIRST means For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. To contribute to the Robotics Team, call Ka`u High at 928-2088.

INDIVIDUAL STUDENTS AND STUDENT GROUPS from public, charter and private schools, as well as for-profit or nonprofit youth organizations are eligible to apply for the county’s Student Malama Award, the first Hawai`i Island student sustainability award to highlight and celebrate youth-led stewardship and sustainability initiatives on the Big Island. Outstanding student leaders in this field will be awarded $500 scholarships.
       Projects may include, but are not limited to, topics such as renewable energy and energy efficiency; agriculture such as school gardens and local foods; resource management such as zero waste, community-based volunteerism, social and community service and environmental projects such as conservation and preservation of the ocean, land and forest.
       Scholarships will be awarded to winners in K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 grade categories. An awards ceremony luncheon with Mayor Billy Kenoi will be scheduled for the end of the school year.
      Applications are available on the Office of the Mayor’s website at www.hawaiicounty.gov/office-of-the-mayor/categories/SMA. The deadline is April 15.
       For more information, contact Barbara Kossow at 323-4448 or Lisa Robertson at 961-8211.

Loulu, Hawai`i's ancient native palms, are the topic at
After Dark in the Park tomorrow. Photo from NPS
AT AFTER DARK IN THE PARK tomorrow, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park ranger John Stallman discusses the natural history and conservation of Hawai`i’s ancient native palms. The program begins at 7 p.m. in Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium. $2 donations support park programs, and park entrance fees apply. 

PARTICIPANTS LEARN HOW TO WEAVE lauhala bracelets from the leaves of the hala tree on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon on the lanai of Kilauea Visitor Center in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The event is free, and park entrance fees apply.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs March 25, 2012

Some Punalu`u condos are rented by out-of-state owners. Photo from Expedia
MAKING OUT-OF-STATE OWNERS of vacation rentals contract with a realtor or broker in order to rent them out is a bill still alive at the Hawai`i Legislature. It has drawn the ire of many owners, who claim they pay transient accommodations and general excise taxes to the state and should not be forced to give part of their income to a realtor. Realtors are claiming they can help the state better secure the taxes.
      The bill to require out-of-state owners to hire agents was all but dead until last week when it bolted back to life in the Senate Tourism Committee. The original bill to require agent involvement was initiated by Sen. Josh Green, set to become Ka`u’s senator from Kona to Honu`apo if he wins the next election. In the Senate Tourism Committee, only Sam Slom and Gil Kahele voted with reservations to let the bill move forward for further discussion. The rest of the committee voted for it, without reservations.
      A website has been launched to oppose the bill by a group called Rental By Owner Awareness Association. See http://rboaa.org.
      See a story on this issue at www.civilbeat.com.

POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEES that indirectly support candidates without giving them money cannot be limited by the Hawai`i Campaign Spending Commission in the amount of contributions they receive, a federal judge ruled last week in Honolulu. According to a Civil Beat story, U.S. District Judge Michael Seabright “made permanent a preliminary injunction he imposed in 2010, ruling that limiting contributions to independent-expenditure-only committees was unconstitutional.” 
      Civil Beat reported that Campaign Spending Commission general counsel Gary Kam predicted the ruling will stand. “The commission has since begun to track independent-expenditure-only committees to better monitor contributions and expenses” wrote Civil Beat reporter Nanea Kalani. The Political Action Groups are legally known as “independent-expenditure-only committees.” The five that have registered in Hawai`i as of March 20 are: A Better Hawai`i PAC, Hawai`i Solutions, Kaua`i Women’s Caucus, MADPAC and Save Paradise.
      Civil Beat reports that A Better Hawai`i is led by Christopher Racine, who gave the maximum allowed donations to the Neil Abercrombie and Brian Schatz gubernatorial campaigns. Save Paradise is led by Steven Sue, whose company built the Ben Cayetano campaign website for his bid to become Honolulu’s next mayor. Both PACs list the same treasurer. MADPAC Hawai`i also supports Cayetano, Civil Beat reports.
      According to Civil Beat, “These groups can support or attack candidates through advertising, mailings and other means so long as they operate independently of the candidate. They can accept unlimited contributions and spend unlimited amounts. Groups cannot qualify if they make any direct contributions to candidates.” See more at www.civilbeat.com.

Sen. Gil Kahele (right), next to Alan Wong, establishing the bee sanctuary. Photos from UH-Hilo
SEN. GIL KAHELE AND CHEF ALAN WONG celebrated the campaign to save honeybees on Friday as the state Legislature honored Wong with a resolution for his Adopt a Beehive program. The program is operated by University of Hawai`i-Hilo and gives participants the opportunity to sponsor beehive care at the campus. The program was prompted by the rapid decrease of bee populations in nature and on farms, creating concern about the future of food for wildlife and humans.
Beekeepers at UH-Hilo
      Says Wong, “Bees are responsible for 90 percent of the world’s food supply whether directly pollinating fruits and vegetables or indirectly pollinating something cattle might eat.” Wong quoted Albert Einstein: “If the bees were to disappear from the face of the earth, we have seven years to live. That's how important they are.”
      Kahele said that “without the honeybee here - just imagine that - if they stopped, bzzzz, you know, pollinating a lot of the vegetables the farmers would be in deep hurt.”
      Wong said the U.H. program brings awareness and education to the community to help reverse the trend because “the bees are disappearing.” See the Adopt A Beehive program at http://www.uhfoundation.org/donor_resources/giving_opportunities/adopt_a_beehive_gallery.aspx.

THE 4.9 MAGNITUDE EARTHQUAKE that hit Honomu, north of Hilo, yesterday at 10:47 a.m. was felt throughout Ka`u and all the way to Maui and O`ahu. The same area was rocked with a 6.2 quake that left $5.6 million in damages and more than 15 injured people in 1973. Yesterday’s quake, however, left no reported damage or injuries.

Transportation is offered for vets' medical appointments.
THE DISABLED AMERICAN VETERANS Kona Chapter Seven offers transportation for veterans from the south side of the Big Island to and from their VA scheduled medical appointments. The vehicle runs daily and picks up passengers at homes at any location from Na`alehu and South Point to Honaunau and return. Three days notice before the appointment is required, and appointments should be scheduled in the morning if possible. For rides, call 756-1350 and leave a message. 

HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK ranger John Stallman discusses the natural history and conservation of Hawai`i’s ancient native palms at After Dark in the Park on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium. $2 donations support park programs, and park entrance fees apply.

MEMBERS OF `AHA PUHALA O PUNA teach participants how to weave lauhala bracelets from the lau (leaves) of the hala (pandanus) tree on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon on the lanai of Kilauea Visitor Center in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The event is free, and park entrance fees apply.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs March 24, 2012

Miloli`i Halau will be one of two gathering places when the new Community Enrichment & Historical Center is built.
Photo by Kai`ali`i Kahele

THE FUTURE OF KAWA, which has been purchased by the county, is drawing interest from some County Council members in regards to Abel Simeona Lui and the other people who live there. According to a Stephens Media article by Nancy Cook Lauer yesterday, County Council chair Dominic Yagong has written a letter to Mayor Billy Kenoi, saying that “members of the public have asked me to question you as to what action you will be taking” regarding a recent court order that would allow eviction of people living at Kawa. 
      Kenoi addressed the public in Na`alehu last Monday, asking for patience, and said that when the mayor was growing up and seeing people evicted from Sand Island and other places around the state, he always hoped he would never be in a position to wield power to carry out evictions.
      During his talk story meeting, Kenoi listened to Hawaiians with ties to Kawa who said they are afraid to go there and feel intimidated by the people living there. Kenoi said he wants to settle the situation “one time,” with a community-based management plan run by Ka`u families. He said he could carry out evictions, but that could lead to $25 fines and people returning to live at Kawa time after time.  Several residents said that Kawa should be managed by the public now, and the mayor promised it will be settled soon.
      Opinions of Council members Brittany Smart and Brenda Ford were quoted in the Stephens Media story, with Ford referring to the court decision that would allow the county to evict  Lui and other Kawa dwellers: “The county has legally acquired the property, and we hold clear title. It’s the mayor’s responsibility to enforce the ruling of the court.”
      The story quotes Smart staffer Nelson Ho saying that Smart understands the Ka`u community is deeply divided over what should be done at Kawa and that any management plan must be publicly transparent and set timelines for actions.

Classes in Hawaiian fishing traditions are planned.
Photo by Kai`ali`i Kahele 
A MILOLI`I COMMUNITY ENRICHMENT & HISTORICAL CENTER is planned for property near the ocean. The Draft Environmental Assessment has been posted on the website of the Office of Environmental Quality Control. The EA describes the multi-purpose community center as three structures totaling 4,800 square feet to be built on state land. “The project purpose is to address the community’s long-recognized need for a covered community center and gathering space for public meetings, activities and educational and recreation programs,” the EA states. The center will be funded by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. Plans call for a historical center/library, kitchen, classroom and 2,000-square-foot covered lana`i. It will be managed by Pa`a Pono O Miloli`i, which has been hosting such programs as creation of a marine managed area, community-based marine management and fishing education programs, Miloli`i Makai watch, the Opelu Project and the Miloli`i Lawai`a `Ohana Fishing Camp at Ho`opuloa Beach.

Ka`u Hospital administrator Merilyn Harris, Ka`u Hospital Charitable
Foundation member Naomi Yoshida, Red Hat Ladies president Barbara
Beatty and Foundation president Bradley Westervelt. 
GOLFERS, QUILTERS & THE RED HAT LADIES have come up with more than $18,000 for Ka`u Hospital in recent fundraising events. Checks were presented yesterday at the hospital for money raised from a golf tournament, spaghetti dinner, a silent auction and dinner, bake and craft sale at Punalu`u, and a weekend rummage sale.

KA`U COFFEE FESTIVAL has expanded to include two weekends of events in May. The main event, the Ho`olaule`a at Pahala Community Center, will be on Saturday, May 12 with a full day of The Coffee Experience inside Pahala Community Center and entertainment with headliners including Cyril Pahinui. Also playing will be Keoki and Moses Kahumoku, Keaiwa, Bruddah Waltah and Sammi Fo. Hula halau will entertain. On the grounds will be educational and vendor booths with Ka`u Coffee, foods and crafts for sale.

LEAD-UP EVENTS to the Ka`u Coffee Festival begin on Saturday, May 5 at 5 p.m. with the Ka`u Farmers’ Table: A Feast for the Senses hosted by Kalaekilohana Bed and Breakfast on South Point Road. The event features an evening of music with Robert Cazimero and a paired five-course gourmet meal from executive chef Morgan Starr of Mi’s Italian Bistro. A Ka`u Coffee dessert bar complements the feast. Tickets are $100 in advance. The event is sponsored by Mi’s Wine and Cheese Shop, Hana Hou Restaurant and Kalaekilohana. For information and tickets, contact Kalaekilohana at 939-8052.

Brandy Shibuya won Miss Ka`u Coffee and Miss Aloha Hawai`i
and heads for Miss Hawai`i where the Miss America
contestant will be chosen. Photo from Miss Hawai`i
A KA`U COFFEE RECIPE CONTEST for cookies, candies and crackers will be held Sunday, May 6 at 2 p.m. at Ka`u Coffee Mill. Chef Brad Hirata and other culinary experts will blind judge the professional, amateur and student entries. Grand prize is $500, and entrants earn a chance for their recipes to become a signature food of Ka`u Coffee Mill. The public is invited to visit the new mill and visitor center and for Ka`u Coffee tasting. The event is co-sponsored by Pahala Plantation Cottages, OK Farms and Edmund C. Olson Trust. Rules for the competition will soon be available at www.kaucoffeefest.com and www.kaucoffeemill.com. Call 928-0550 or 928-9811.

BRANDY SHIBUYA, who won the Miss Ka`u Coffee and Miss Aloha Hawai`i titles, recently assisted Sam Choy with the annual poke contest at the Sheraton Keauhou Beach Hotel. Jayson Kanekoa of Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa took first in traditional, spice and cooked categories. Kevin Lanning, of Island Thyme Gourmet, won the soy sauce category. Shibuya will compete in the Miss Hawai`i pageant in Honolulu. 

THE HURRICANE TAKES PLACE today at 4 p.m. at Ocean View Community Center. Attendees to the murder mystery play are asked to bring canned food equivalent to $10 or a check made out to Hawai`i Island Food Basket, with a notation in the top left corner stating Ocean View Pantry 551, for the same amount. For more information, call 929-7236 or email marge@hawaii.rr.com.

THE FINAL WHALE COUNT for 2012 is next Saturday, March 31 from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Volunteers count and record whale behavior on the Ka`u Coast and inside Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Register at http://sanctuaryoceancount.org. See http://hawaiihumpackwhale.noaa.gov. T-shirts for the 2012 Sanctuary Ocean Count are also available.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs March 23, 2012

Ash covered Ka`u during a volcanic eruption 222 years ago, as shown along the Footprints Trail between Pahala and
Volcano. Photo from Hawaiian Volcanoes Field Course/National Science Foundation.

TODAY IS THE LAST DAY to submit comments on the Ka`u Gym & Shelter Draft Environmental Assessment and  County Councilmember Brittany Smart has weighed in. She expressed support, saying, “It is a much needed component of our island’s disaster response infrastructure,” but pointed to several issues.  Smart asked the design and engineering company PBR Hawai`i to clarify in its Final EA that Ka`u Hospital is not available to the general public as a disaster shelter. “To imply that the ‘vog hardened’ and retrofitted Ka`u Hospital would be available during a vog incident is inadequate,” she said. 
      Smart asks PBR Hawai`i to thoroughly discuss and explain the process used to determine total capacity of the disaster and vog shelters. “The maximum number of residents able to receive shelter on bad vog days is inadequate, especially when taking into account the total population of Pahala while school is in session,” she said.
      Regarding the claim in the draft EA that “Civil Defense is comfortable with the present design capacity for 120 persons,” Smart said the final EA “should provide an elaboration of the basis for this number and documentation that it is Civil Defense’s position. As stated earlier in these comments, we strongly believe this number is inadequate and will be considered a serious defect of this proposal until appropriately addressed.”
Vog from Kilauea Volcano has triggered many vog
alerts since 2008. Photo by Julia Neal
      Smart said the Final EA should also discuss in greater detail explosive volcanic eruptions with accompanying venting of large amounts of toxic gasses, in addition to tephra. “These rare events could trigger the use of this emergency shelter, even if Pahala itself is not directly impacted,” she said. “Please include a thorough review of the 1790 ash fall disaster which killed a group of traveling Hawaiians” in the Ka`u desert.
      Smart also suggests that the final EA should discuss the need for disaster emergency managers to have a triage plan to determine “who gets sheltered and who gets turned away when shelter capacity is exceeded.”
      “We support using high efficiency LED lighting where possible,” Smart said. “Reduced light pollution by providing shields and reflectors on exterior light fixtures is desired.”
      She also supports the inclusion of solar panels to offset energy costs.

COUNTY COUNCIL CANDIDATE Bradley Westervelt also weighed in on the shelter gym. “It has repeatedly come to my attention that the state finds it difficult or impossible to meet FEMA standards for emergency shelters. Stepping back from such requirements is fiscally wise and will allow design that best harmonizes with the unique conditions and needs of our island communities.”
      He urges the county and designers Mitsunaga & Associates “to design and build the Ka`u Gym and Shelter in such a manner to make it secure enough for short-term effective sheltering against the toxicity of heavy vog and ash fallout.” However, he contends, “It need not have expensive HEPA filtering or other AC kind of systems, because it is reasonable to expect in the event of a major disaster that evacuation of the region will be the first priority. Plan for it to be a practical, multi-purpose shelter.” He also said that the “open plaza design is a most welcome direction, and I hope it is pursued.”

COMMENTS ON THE DRAFT EA for the Ka`u shelter and gym can be made today. It is available at Pahala and Na`alehu Public Libraries and online at hawaii.gov/health/environmental/oeqc/index.html. Comments can be sent to Tammy Kapali, Planner, PBR Hawai`i & Associates, Inc., 1001 Bishop Street, Suite 650 Honolulu, HI 96813 or faxed to 808-523-1402. Comments can also be sent to County of Hawai`i Department of Public Works, Attn: David Yamamoto, Aupuni Center, 101 Pauahi Street, Suite 7, Hilo, HI 96720 or faxed to 808-961-8630.

CAREN LOEBEL-FRIED demonstrates her linoleum block print process and signs prints and copies of Legend of the Gourd, her latest book about a story set in Ka`u, at Volcano Art Center Gallery in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is free, and park entrance fees apply.

NA`ALEHU MAIN STREET presents its original murder mystery play, The Hurricane, tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Ocean View Community Center. Attendees are asked to bring canned food equivalent to $10 or a check made out to Hawai`i Island Food Basket, with a notation in the top left corner stating Ocean View Pantry 551, for the same amount. For more information, call 929-7236 or email marge@hawaii.rr.com.